Zionism is Broken – Global Issues


  • Opinion by James E. Jennings (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • Inter Press Service

But how can the most powerful state in the Middle East, the most economically prosperous, with the strongest superpower support, go under? It cannot, unless somehow its very raison d’être, its founding philosophy, collapses. It has already.

After the Hamas attack on October 7, the deep-rooted racist core of Zionism was clearly visible in the indiscriminate slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians, including many thousands of children.

No reason of state can ever justify that. Israel’s righteous anger at Hamas for the obscene attack on October 7 quickly turned into racial hatred, which ended in, if not genocide, then certainly war crimes and crimes against humanity. Netanyahu and his Likud allies have not hidden their racism for decades. Now it is explicit and in full view of the world.

The Zionism of Netanyahu and his followers must be rejected by Israelis themselves. Israeli leaders from Menachem Begin to today have long endorsed statements that Israel above all.

Zionism can only be rehabilitated if it detaches its raison d’être from the current triumphalist military identity, an identity determined to kill, kill, kill until all tangible and ideological enemies are completely destroyed and suppressed.

In a recent interview with CNN, former Shin Beth director Ami Ayalon was explicit: He said that “Prime Minister Netanyahu’s toxic leadership” “will lead to the end of Zionism.” In that case, he said, “we cannot be safe and we will lose our identity.”

Ayalon was preceded by a number of courageous Israeli thinkers and writers who warned of the same outcome: Israel was founded in 1948, but Zionism, they argued, had already failed ideologically by the mid-1960s. Among them was Israel Shahak (1933-2001), a professor at Hebrew University, who wrote: “I am of the opinion that the State of Israel is a racist state in the full sense of the word.”

He maintained that “you cannot have a humane Zionism. It is (also) a contradiction in terms.” Uri Avnery (1923-2018), a decorated Israeli soldier and later publisher and politician, published a book in 1968 entitled Israel Without Zionists.

Many of the original Jewish settlers had utopian dreams, but their leaders would probably not recognize the grim, vengeful militarism of today’s Israel. A few small Orthodox religious parties in Israel have never joined the military machine that is the pride and joy of the Likud party.

Some have steadfastly refused to even serve in the Israeli army because they do not believe in the Israeli state. Now even they are being called up.

The original dream of Zionism, from Theodore Herzl to Chaim Weizmann to David Ben Gurion, certainly contained the seeds of a contemporary military identity, but it also expressed a grand humane, even universal goal: to become a “light unto the nations.” In this Israel has clearly failed.

Like Hamas and most Palestinians, the Israeli people – and Israel as a country – have become increasingly and profoundly racist. Now racism – hatred of others because of their differences – has become racism, and worse, a doctrine of racial superiority, which was the Nazi credo.

The Israel of Benjamin Netanyahu and his aggressive coalition has succumbed to such racial hatred that Zionists from pre-1948 Palestine would not recognize it. A January 6, 2024, op-ed in the Jerusalem Post urges Israel to reform its politics along better Zionist lines and take power away from the extremists now in power. Commendable, but not nearly enough.

What if Abraham Lincoln had tolerated the original sin of slavery in America by taking only half steps? Then we might still have had “slavery light.” No, Israel’s race-based philosophy must change to the democratic ideal: one state in Israel and the occupied territories for Muslims, Christians and Jews. One person, one vote.

When Palestinians are treated like human beings – like real people rather than enemies to be exterminated en masse – people around the world will quickly see how quickly peace can come to the Middle East.

James E. JenningsPhD, is chairman of Conscience International
www.conscienceinternational.org(e-mail address)

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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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