Jews paying price for Zionist experiment
By: Jamal Doumani
In the midst of the unspeakable carnage inflicted on Gaza, in the midst of those gut-wrenching images of bloodied children with severed limbs being wheeled into woefully understaffed hospitals, and in the midst of diplomatic babble in Washington about “Israel’s right to defend itself” that presumably includes the right to bomb a UN school sheltering unarmed refugees, one may ask the question: What price Israel?
No, not the price that Arabs have had to pay for the establishment of Israel in Palestine. We know how horrendous that price was in 1948, and how heavy it continued to be in subsequent years.
Rather, the question is what price the Jews themselves have had to pay to see the Zionist experiment triumphant — an experiment articulated by the movement’s founder, Theodore Herzl, in 1896, formalized the following year by the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland.
The ostensible goal of Zionism was to establish a Jewish state in Palestine that Zionists were convinced was a land without a people. This they thought would act as a haven for Jews — safe from anti-Semitic assault in European countries where they were putatively “inassimilable.”
They would have a “state like any other” in which every Jew from anywhere around the world would be welcome in the “Jewish haven” called Israel. So abandon your homelands, all ye Jews, and come to Israel. There, all is safe, all is secure, and leave the taunts of anti-Semites behind.
Well, guess what? The Zionist experiment has failed miserably. If it had succeeded in doing anything at all, it succeeded in doing harm to all Jews, all around the world, which clearly is the very opposite of its intended goal.
Look at it this way: The only place in the world today where Jews are not safe is in Israel. They are safe everywhere else. Jews have prospered in the US, where they represent its vanguard in the world of literature, academe, art, music, media, politics and jurisprudence, and, after the WWII, in Western Europe as well. No one can claim they are under threat there. Israel, their purported “haven,” on the other hand, is a hellhole reviled by virtually the whole of humanity for its brutalities, and repudiated by the UN for its disregard of, even contempt for, international law.
Then we have the issue of anti-Semitism, a venomous ideology that the world was beginning to leave by the wayside well over half a century ago, which Israel was directly responsible in recent years for stoking. Because Israel has always insisted on defining itself as the ultimate “Jewish state,” the arbiter of Jewish values and the embodiment of the “Jewish identity,” then every time that entity committed an outrage over the years, it triggered the re-emergence of long-banished anti-Semitic ghosts. The inevitable argument would go: What Israelis are doing is evil, Israelis are Jews, ergo Jews everywhere are evil.
In the wake of Israel’s savageries in Gaza in recent weeks, where its military forces have killed and maimed countless civilians, bombed homes and gutted entire neighborhoods, anger against Israel has reverberated as anti-Semitism. Across Europe, all the way from Greece to Germany and from Spain to Britain, the conflict in the Strip has generated a backlash not just against Israel itself but against Jews in general — hardly what Theodore Herzl would have anticipated.
So what has Zionism, this movement born at a time when colonial projects proliferated, that is, when colonial settlement of land belonging to men of color was considered the white man’s privilege, done for the Jews? Instead of establishing for them a “haven” where they would be safe, it dragged them to a land where they found themselves the only Jews in the world where they were least safe. Then, by its resort to the infliction of violence on its victims, a practice that became its trademark, it succeeded in resurrecting all the hateful myths about Jews everywhere as a vile people, regardless of where these Jews lived and what political values they espoused.
Even in Germany, a country whose people have every reason to be overly concerned about accusations of anti-Semitism directed at them, where atonement for their Nazi past is encoded in the laws of modern society, a wave of anti-Israel sentiment has swept the country, a sentiment that has facilely degenerated into outcries against Jews. And it’s not easy for any of these Jews, who deplore Israel’s practices, to plausibly say, “Hey, I’m not my brother’s keeper.”
Last Saturday, Mellissa Eddy, the New York Times correspondent in Germany, filing a report from Berlin, quoted a distraught elementary school principal, a long-time Jewish resident of the city, as saying: “We have all always felt latent anti-Semitism here. But what we have experienced in recent weeks and days, not only in Germany but across Europe, is a prevailing mood of outward anti-Jewish sentiment in the streets.”
That’s the price that Jews have had to pay for the Zionist experiment in Palestine, the mother of all failed experiments anywhere around the world. As for the price Arabs have had to pay, well, ask Gazans today, the overwhelming majority of whom are refugees, or the descendants of refugees, who were kicked out of their homes and homeland in 1948 in order to make room for the grafting of Israel on their land, the most destructive vanity project in the whole history of humanity.
And these are the very Gazans, according to the White House, whom Israel has every right to “defend” itself against. Yes, you heard it right: Israel is defending itself against the very people
it had robbed of their land, and then rendered destitute and stateless.