Endgame for Liberal Zionism?



it seems that the endgame is coming into view around Zionism and Israel. In today’s the New York Times Sunday Review Anthony Lerman a lifelong liberal Zionist wrote about the growing disgust much of the world feels toward the state of Israel. Borderline psychopaths like Binyamin Netanyahu with his murderous assault on Gaza has managed to do what a gang load of antisemites could never accomplish, turn israel into a pariah state, create even more antisemites and saddest of all, degrade an honourable world religion.

Now Lerman does not write from a religious perspective but as a liberal Zionist. For those unfamiliar with this genre, a few words.

There was always a stream of Zionism which though not overly Judaic in observance really believed in the civilizing aspects of Zionism. Putting aside the dispossession of another people , there were many such believers. The names Ahad Ha’am (“One of the people”) and Hannah Arendt spring to mind. In the area of religion Martin Buber and Judah Magnes are prime examples.

These were people of a large spirit, ecumenical in the best sense of the word, very respectful of the indigenous Palestinian community whose land sadly they eventually stole , Ha’am (Asher Ginsburg) died in 1927, Magnes in 1948. They believed Jews and Arabs could coexist in amity. Here’s Ha’am in 1891!

We tend to believe abroad that Palestine is nowadays almost completely deserted, a non-cultivated wilderness, and anyone can come there and buy as much land as his heart desires. But in reality this is not the case. It is difficult to find anywhere in the country Arab land which lies fallow; the only areas which are not cultivated are sand dunes or stony mountains, which can be only planted with trees, and even this only after much labor and capital would be invested in clearance and preparation..

We tend to believe abroad that all Arabs are desert barbarians, an asinine people who does not see or understand what is going on around them. This is a cardinal mistake. The Arab, like all Semites, has a sharp mind and is full of cunning…But when the day will come in which the life of our people in the Land of Israel will develop to such a degree that they will push aside the local population by little or by much, then it will not easily give up its place..

One thing we certainly should have learned from our past and present history, and that is not to create anger among the local population against us…We have to treat the local population with love and respect, justly and rightly. And what do our brethren in the Land of Israel do? Exactly the opposite!…and they behave toward the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, infringe upon their boundaries, hit them shamefully without reason, and even brag about it.


Magnes was an American Reform rabbi who emigrated to Israel in 1923. He clearly saw in the 30s the options for Jews in Palestine—a nationalistic state of militaristic imperialism ‘which the Arabs or deprives them of their rights or a pacific state, a Jewish spiritual centre, a country of two nations and there religions, equal rights and no special privileges…in short the Holy Land.”In 1929 he pondered: Was it possible to enter any country—no less the Holy Land—and build it up pacifistically: ”if we cannot(and I do not say we can rise to these heights, I for my part have lost half my interest in the enterprise. If we cannot even attempt this I should much rather see the eternal people without such a National Home.”

Tomorrow the growing alienation of the liberal Zionists.


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    mushafta Says:

    Right on Ted! You keep finding great stuff! What a capitalist culture has done to truth in our democracies that we brag so blindly about. It takes little time for intelligent informed folks to see through the lies and callous disregard of human rights by Netanyahu ; sadly, it may take centuries for a population addicted to work and the politics of simplicity and ignorance to see the light.

    Keep shining the spotlight Ted!

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