Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Great Anti-Zionist Strawman

It isn't easy to attack Jewish rights of self-determination and nationalism (aka Zionism). To single the Jews out as being the one nation who shouldn't be granted their basic rights is discriminatory and in fact is anti-Semitic. That is why the people who are anti-Zionist want to set up the Great Anti-Zionist Strawman when they make their arguments. 

What is the Great Anti-Zionist Strawman (GASZ)? It is simply a misrepresentation of Zionism that makes it seem more evil and/or discriminatory than it actually is. Here is the basic definition of (regular) Zionism:
"Zionism is the national revival movement of the Jewish people. It holds that the Jews have the right to self-determination in their own national home, and the right to develop their national culture. Historically, Zionism strove to create a legally recognized national home for the Jews in their historical homeland. This goal was implemented by the creation of the State of Israel. Today, Zionism supports the existence of the state of Israel and helps to inspire a revival of Jewish national life, culture and language. "
Notice some things that are missing from this definition: Borders, land, a state, and Arabs. That will be important when we take a look at some of the example of GAZSs to come. Notice how most of the time the AZs will bash "Zionism" or "Zionists" and don't like to define what exactly Zionism is. But there are some: 
Zionism is a racist ideology. But you knew that already. Defining a state on religious or ethnic grounds is backward and antiquated. But you knew that already."
 "[Zionists areThose who have decided to turn the clock back to the days when might was right, ethnic cleansing and discrimination were the norm, your borders were determined by how strong your army was, and there were no such things as Geneva conventions and war crimes."
 You get the idea. Notice how in the first quote it mentioned a "state" while the original definition it did not. Mostly the GAZS goes that it is racist for the Jews to want a state of their own. This is not so much a distortion of what Zionism is but it is instead a distortion of everything around it: The AZ pretends that Zionism is the only national movement of it's kind in the history of the world, all the while ignoring the fact that there is very little difference between Zionism and Palestinian nationalism (among others). The second quote, of course, just accuses "Zionists" of having traits that they don't have for the purposes of slander. Also it handily ignores the question of defining just exactly what Zionists are. What a surprise.

Alternatively, the GAZS is that "Greater Zionism" (aka Israel gaining land from the Jordan River to the sea) is the goal of regular Zionism right from the start. This is a perfect example of the GAZS, because it relies on distorting Zionism from what it actually is. Another example of a GAZS is from this article by Ahmed Moor, which I will write about in further detail a little later:
"Israel represents people who believe that Jewish people should have a state in Palestine/Israel to the exclusion of the Palestinians. Those people are Zionists. Many Zionists are Jewish, but not all of them."
 In this case "the exclusion of the Palestinians" is the strawman part, and it reveals Moor's lack of knowledge about Zionism. Zionism was never about excluding anymore (at least not any more than other forms of nationalism). But the Jews did need to rule their state on their own, the same way all other groups do. In that sense what Moor is saying is that distinctly incorrect but (like the "Zionism is racism" GAZS above) it is misleading: It implies that every other form of nationalism isn't for the exclusion of others. As if England was created specifically to exclude the Irish.

In the end, the reliance on GAZSs just showcase the AZs greatest weapon: The ignorance of their audience. If they were truly informed about Zionism and still believed Zionism was wrong, they wouldn't need to distort and strawman as they do. They should be able to win the argument on their own merits. But to end these distortions would mean acknowledging that Zionism really is not a unique thing. And that's something they just can't accept.

2 comments:

  1. The point is not that Zionism ignored the Arabs but that it is independent of them. In contrast, Palestinian Arab nationalism is based on the negation of Zionism, not on pride in one's people, language, faith, culture, etc. that make up a true nationalism. And this brings us to the real point. If Palestinian nationalism was a true nationalism as opposed to a counterfeit nationalism, it would have no problem with Zionism. But since it does have one with it that explains the anti-Zionists obsession with Israel's existence and with what it does. If Palestinian nationalism was truly genuine, there would be no debate about the legitimacy of Zionism and no debate about Israel's very right to exist.

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  2. It is the essence of anti-Semitism to "particularize" the Jews.

    Left-liberal anti-Zionists do not do this, however, because they understand this would be racism.

    Instead they particularize the Jewish state.

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