Op-Ed by Scott Lazarowitz
The ignorant buffoons in the U.S. Congress have passed a bill including a declaration that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism, which is absurd. Do they even know or understand what Zionism is?
Well, this is what Zionism is: Unlike Judaism which is a religion, Zionism is not a religion, but a political movement that encourages Jews worldwide to move and relocate to the land of Israel. And it promotes a Jewish State. And that’s it. And thanks to this non-religious secular Jewish individual named Theodor Herzl from the late 19th to early 20th Centuries.
Just because one opposes the ideology of Zionism, that has NOTHING to do with one’s views toward Jewish people or Judaism. Anti-Zionism is NOT anti-Semitism, so the dishonest people in congress really ought to cut it out and stop lying about those who oppose collectivism and statism and who think that a “Jewish State” was not a rational way of helping Jews to find a “safe haven” to live.
I don’t want to get too much into the origins of the current state of Israel here. I tried to discuss that stuff in this article in 2010.
The two main problems with the founding of Israel are 1) that it was based on the religious idea that Israel “belongs to Jews” and is “God’s promised land to the Jews” based on Biblical scriptures, and 2) that Israel was founded by way of military conquest, not of voluntary land transfer or trades or contracts.
The belief that Israel “belongs to the Jews” based on Israel being “God’s promised land,” and that “God gave us Israel,” etc., is a religious belief.
Is there legal proof that Israel belongs to the Jews of the world? Are there legal documents of title transfers, or deeds? Since all Jews have this alleged right of ownership, given to them by God, are there deeds on file with the names of all Jews? I know, I’m just pointing out the absurdity of the whole thing.
See Shlomo Sand’s Haaretz article, The Twisted Logic of the Jewish “Historic Right” to Israel.
So, the belief that the land of Israel “belongs to the Jews” because God gave it to them, is a religious, spiritual belief that many people over the centuries have been indoctrinated with, but it is just that: a religious belief.
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That religious belief is based on the Bible, or Hebrew Bible, whatever you want to call it. Some people will say, “Well God wrote the Bible, so that is proof enough.” Hmmm, the proof that God wrote the Bible is that the men who wrote the Bible assert that God wrote the Bible. So, we have a document, these Biblical scriptures, that is a religious document, not a legal document, and its assertions in it are not legally binding. This set of beliefs is what Zionism is based on.
Here is a history of the events in the decades leading up to the 1948 founding of Israel. It has a lot to do with Western governments’ power grabs (“on behalf of Jews,” of course), a lot of political conniving and shenanigans, and seizures of lands, in my view. Not by Jews, remember, but by politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, NGOs and corporate (especially oil) interests.
If Jewish people were the victims of pogroms and oppression in European countries like Poland they didn’t need a whole new “Jewish homeland” or Jewish State to live, they could have just come to the United States of America, which many of them did do, like my grandparents. The U.S. provided a society of freedom, for the most part, to make use of one’s abilities and talents and prosper, and live in a free society. (I don’t know about currently in the U.S., of course.)
The U.S. provided a “safe haven” for people to settle and live their lives. However, the more socialist and fascist the U.S. became in the 20th Century, the less safe from the ravages and tentacles of government intrusions and overreach it became.
And less welcoming for immigrants. For instance, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned away Jews escaping from Nazi Germany in the 1930s and ’40s, citing “immigration quotas” having been reached. (And also because FDR was an ignorant anti-Semite as well.)
Anyway, should there really be a “Jewish State”? I say no, just as there shouldn’t be a Christian State, an Islamic State, a Hindu State, or an Atheist State.
There should just be a free society based on self-ownership and the non-aggression principle, private property rights and voluntary association. And if people want to live in communities mainly of others of the same faith or ethnicity they can do that. But not a State that’s based on a religion.
And the second, perhaps more important, problem with the founding of Israel is that it was founded by way of military conquest, not by voluntary property or land transfer by the people who were already living there.
As Murray Rothbard wrote in his 1967 article, War Guilt in the Middle East,
The one Jewish movement that made no sense was Zionism, a movement which began blended with Jewish Territorialism. But while the Territorialists simply wanted to preserve Jewish-Yiddish identity in a newly developed land of their own, Zionism began to insist on a Jewish land in Palestine alone. The fact that Palestine was not a virgin land, but already occupied by an Arab peasantry, meant nothing to the ideologues of Zionism. Furthermore, the Zionists, far from hoping to preserve ghetto Yiddish culture, wished to bury it and to substitute a new culture and a new language based on an artificial secular expansion of ancient religious Hebrew.
In 1903, the British offered territory in Uganda for Jewish colonization, and the rejection of this offer by the Zionists polarized the Zionist and Territorialist movements, which previously had been fused together. From then on, the Zionists would be committed to the blood-and-soil mystique of Palestine, and Palestine alone, while the Territorialists would seek virgin land elsewhere in the world.
Because of the Arabs resident in Palestine, Zionism had to become in practice an ideology of conquest.
The bureaucrats of the Western governments including the U.S. and its NGO supporters and the British Empire acted on behalf of Zionist organizations to take the land of Israel, and because many of the people who were already living there didn’t want to leave, it became a campaign of expulsion and “ethnic cleansing,” and in some cases “extermination” of mainly Arabs. See Plan Dalet.
So this new “Jewish State” was so important to implement the Biblical dreams and desires of the Zionists that military conquest was the way to do it. That is how statists do things. They believe in the power of the State and its compulsion, aggression and force. Statists aren’t big on voluntary trade, peace and freedom.
The modern state of Israel was formed by forcibly placing an artificial Western country and population in the middle of a somewhat primitive region and culture, the Middle-East, and surrounded by Arabs and Muslims. Hmmm.
So, we can criticize the idea of Zionism and the current State of Israel, and that has nothing to do with saying anything about Jewish people or the religion of Judaism.
I can’t believe how so many prominent people are ignorant of the facts of Israel’s founding, or they are just dishonest about it. Such as the conservative talk radio personalities I listen to, including “Clay and Buck,” Howie Carr and Glenn Beck. They are in LOCKSTEP with Israel. I think these people are deathly afraid of being called anti-Semitic, so they go overboard in making sure that we know just how “pro-Jewish” they are, in my view.
And the ignoramuses in Congress are doing that as well in their equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.
During the 1980s, much of the anti-Semitism I heard was coming from the right, from “conservatives,” such as when President Reagan would have the Christian televangelists visit him in the White House, including the “Rev.” Jerry Falwell, Sr.
On talk radio, liberal Jerry Williams read various anti-Semitic quotes from those televangelists from articles and from their sermons and speeches.
Falwell was a typical “Christian Zionist,” who staunchly supported Israel but mainly out of hope that Jews, who he described as “spiritually blind,” would convert to Christianity when the “End Times” and the “Rapture” would occur. Mike Pompeo is a strong believer in those things, and George W. Bush can’t wait for the Jews to convert as well, by the way.
So, the way I see it, these “Christians” aren’t such supporters of Jews and Israel as much because they care for Jews, but more because they hope to see Jews convert to Christianity.
But I digress.
Now, given how the Israeli military has been extreme in retaliation for the October 7th Hamas attacks, destroying entire villages and many civilian buildings and infrastructure and murdering thousands and thousands of innocent people especially children, I am not surprised that the aforementioned conservative talk radio personalities and other Americans continue to approve of the slaughter and destruction.
Many Americans have a strong belief in moral relativism. Many of these true believers in American Exceptionalism and militarism supported U.S. wars and bombing campaigns in Iraq for 30+ years, and Afghanistan, drone strikes slaughtering innocents in the Middle-East, and the bombings and mass murders of civilians in Vietnam, Korea, Japan and Germany.
For some, “war” is their rationalization to murder innocents. But it is not “defense” to murder an innocent human being.
Dehumanizing the enemy or “the other” makes it easier for militarists and statists to rationalize the targeting of innocents and civilians with violence and destruction. The truth is, while Hamas is a racist, Jew-hating terrorist organization, the Israelis also have their racists and haters, as I wrote in this recent article.
Regarding Israel’s 2009 war on Gaza, according to Breaking the Silence, “testimonies describe use of … white phosphorus ammunition in densely inhabited neighborhoods, massive destruction of buildings unrelated to any direct threat to Israeli forces, and permissive rules of engagement that led to the killing of innocents … and … harsh statements made by junior and senior officers that attest to the ongoing moral deterioration of the society and the army.”
During the 2008-09 war between Israel and Hamas, the IDF destroyed much of Gaza’s civilian water and sewage treatment centers, forcing the Gazan civilian population to have to use untreated water and deal with sewage flowing in residential areas. And again in 2014 Israel repeated such aggressions against civilian infrastructure in Gaza.
In 2014 Human Rights Watch documented the Israelis’ many strikes against alleged military targets yet killing mostly civilians, and how Israeli spokesmen claimed to be targeting “terrorists” but gave no evidence to support such claims. And even the Israeli claim of Hamas using civilians as “human shields” is questionable.
But as we can see from Israel’s almost complete destruction of Gaza and mass murders of thousands and thousands of innocents now in 2023-24, the government and military’s lack of moral scruples shows an extreme zeal in preserving the Zionist dream of a Jewish-only State.
Scott Lazarowitz is a libertarian writer and commentator. Please visit his blog.
Image: The Free Thought Project
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