HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

May 7, 2005
I Love the Jewish People of Israel but
See Orthodox Zionist Fallacies Everywhere

James Adler


To say it again.

I love the Jewish people of Israel, and I want their safety and security and peace; and for that matter since I think all civilians have the right to live in peace and security, I support the temporary Israeli security fence and other Israeli security measures; and this helps also illustrate the diversity within many progressive groups, as many members may disagree; but here at least a few of the fallacies of orthodox conservative Zionist apologetics may here be ticked off one by one.

I hope that instead of "identifying" or "labeling" these arguments as this or that one "bad thing" or another, they can be simply rationally answered if possible.  But I would like to emphasize that there is a distinction between these Zionist fallacies and a love for the Jewish people -- and the safety and security of the Jewish people -- of Israel.

Many of the progressive groups interested in the Middle East, like Unitarian Univeralists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME), and Jewish Voice for Peace, have no views on the question of whether there should be a "two state solution" or "binationalism" -- a one state solution --  for Israelis and Palestinians. People believe in everything; some have progressive Israeli views, such as in the progressive Israel Meretz party and support Geneva Accords-like solutions, that is, the Two-State Solution; others go on to one state and bi-Nationalism; and, at least for me, as I often say to my friends, depending on which side of the bed I happen to get up on in the morning!

 
- - 1 - -

The "18 Arab states" fallacy.

The "18 Arab states" or whatever is a classic Zionist fallacy: Can a foreign group come and steal one of the 50 states of the US and toss out its people because there`d be 49 left? Or even steal 2 or 3 US states and expel the Texans and Californians, because there`d still be 47 or 48 left? I can hear them now:

"The US still has 49 states.  We've only stolen one and deprived the few remaining un-expelled Californians of many of their rights.  If we let the Californians come back, and gave them equal rights, then the US would have 50 states again and we wouldn't have any."   So which foreign group shall we let come in and take over which state and throw all the Americans out of it because "the US still would have 49 states left". Doesn't make much sense, does it?  But Zionism thrives on such fallacies, and Zionism desperately wants us Americans to believe them-- so we can continue to keep the Palestinians in their refugee camps.

And the idea that the return of the refugees would "destroy Israel" is another typical Zionist fallacy.  Giving equal rights and letting everyone return would no more destroy Israel than abolishing segregationism in the south "destroyed the South," though the Segregationists back then were loud and vociferous in claiming that it would be so, or any more than abolishing Apartheid in South Africa would "destroy South Africa," though the conservative Apartheidists in South Africa were loud and vociferous in claiming that it would be so.


- - 2 - -

The "destruction of Israel" and "return of refugees would destroy Israel" fallacy-- in the usual form of the "argument," that is.

That the re-introducing nonethnicity and re-instating the refugees in Palestine "destroys Israel" makes no sense unless Israel is a racialist state.  What could it mean, anymore than the destruction of South Africa? Before the massive ethnic cleansing, the land was almost equally populated between Jews and Palestinians. Since Palestinians have a higher growth rate,  unless the Palestinians had been massively ethnically cleansed how could there have been a state with stable Jewish majority in the first place? The state that Ben-Gurion declared as Israel was almost equally Arab and Jew, and that was because of immigration that the resident population opposed but was colonially imposed over their heads.  Even so, with normal demographics after that, the Palestinians would have quickly become the majority again without the massive Serbian Milosevic-type ethnic cleansing that happened.    Zionist apologetics says that if the "Arab's hadn't attacked, there wouldn't be one refugee."  But if there wasn't one refugee -- the state the way it was when David Ben-Gurion declared it -- it would today be equivalent to the state with the return of the refugees.  So the state with the return of the refugees would be equivalent to the state that David Ben-Gurion declared as Israel on May 15, 1948.  So how could the state, without one refugee, which David Ben-Gurion declared to be the new State of Israel, be equivalent to the destruction of Israel that would allegedly come if --  there "were not one refugee"?  It is incoherent.  The dilemma is this:  Either post-Ben-Gurion Declaration's massive ethnic cleansing was required,  regardless of the "Arab attack," to create the genuine Israel, or "the return of the refugees", that is, "no refugees," as there were no refugees when Ben-Gurion Declared the State of Israel before "the Arabs attacked,"  could not be "the destruction of Israel." Underlying the future Israel as a Jewish state was the massive displacement, which makes sense, because, since there was never "a land without people for a people without land," but, on the contrary, only a land full of people, so that this land's people had, as much as possible, to be massively expelled in order to artificially construct the state.


-  -  3-4  -  -

That "Israel is a Western Democracy" and "Israel is picked on" or "double standards" fallacies.

The US bears the responsibility for the creation of the State of Israel, and for the conflict, as it has been in no other situation.  And we're by far more endangered by the consequences of it than any other.    For example we're not responsible for China in Tibet.  In fact China is our cold friend or more even an enemy, with whom we were long in a cold war, still are partly, and could easily be again.  Partly because they do things like occupy Tibet.  But Israel occupies Palestine, and in this case we have a "special relationship" with the expeller and occupier, which gets more than 1/3 of all our foreign aid to the entire world.  Again, about Darfur:  the Sudanese government is our enemy.  It kills, Israel only expels.  But Israel does get 1/3 of our aid.

We even intimidated and threatened and bribed the UN to vote for partition to produce Israel, giving much more than half the land to an invading and expelling people.  More than a third of our foreign aid is to Israel. The U.S. spends at least 200 times more on each Israeli than it does on either each (starving or aids-suffering or anyway desperately poor) Sub-Saharan African or each average deeply poor Latin American.

Israel is a "democracy" in fact in the classic South African sense.  All the "democracy thesis" seems to mean is, that if you take a few million Europeans or other First-Worlders and place them into a parcel of land in the middle of any region of the Third World and afterward expel or induce the flight of most of those who lived there for centuries, then that parcel would indeed be the "only democracy." This seems apparently the "democratic point" which the Zionists are trying to establish, but it is incomprehensible.

Likewise all the conservative and apartheidist South African defenses - that they were being unfairly singled out because all the countries in Black Africa were dictatorships, and that blacks in apartheid South Africa were much better off than in the rest of Black Africa - proved unacceptable in the West. This is because the West rightly viewed the Afrikaners as Euro-Westerners or at least First Worlders and therefore subject to higher standards as compared to behavior of Black African rulers and systems of government and society in nonwestern Black African countries. That is the way it was for South Africa, and that is the way it is now for Israel.

And from the time of Lord Balfour's explicit wish to deny Palestinians the right to vote on the substance of the Balfour Declaration to Israel's 1948-49 expulsion (or inducement to flee) of the Palestinians, and then its refusal to let them return to their homes, the Palestinian majority was denied the right to any input on even a single step in this process.

So the formation of Israel/cleansing of Palestine was thus encased in the continuous, explicit and deliberate violation of not only democracy but the even more basic rights of not being expelled from people's homes and farms.  Remember-- more basic even than democracy.

And to summarize:

If anywhere in the world it had been a non-Jewish state, such as an Afrikaner or Evangelical one, that had recently originated in the recent movement to and takeover of a region of the Third World, such as in Palestine, including the displacement of its people and refusal of their return, history would have proceeded exactly as it already has, with the same western criticism, regional hostility, and Palestinian resistance, including even the same loathsome terrorism against what would have been the NON-Jews who had done it.

Therefore, moreover, the indigenous terrorism against Israel logically is not and cannot be against Jews, per se, but against people perceived as foreigners who are only happen to be Jewish, and which would happen against them just as much against them if they were Afrikaner. "Terrorism against Jews" therefore is an inflammatory phrase that gets it wrong: It is loathsome terrorism against Israelis, loathsome terrorism against innocent civilians among the usurpers and occupiers of Palestine, whether they had been Evangelical, Afrikaner, American, Jewish, Christian, Evangelical Christian, Israeli, or anyone else.

So it is impossible to see the logic of the view that any of this could stem from anti-Semitic prejudice.

In fact it would even seem to be the opposite:

That is right, the opposite.

Criticism of Israel throughout the West has been softened and weakened and attenuated because of Israel's Jewishness, as can be seen in comparison of the West's boycott of South Africa with the West's complete bottom-line support for Israel and indeed America's famed "special relationship" with it.

In a decisively instructive contrast, if it had been non-Jews, such as Afrikaners or Evangelicals, who had been the ones who had done what had been committed against historical Palestine, world criticism and action against such non-Jews would be unconstrained and unlimited and infinite.

Almost all the double standards about this conflict -- from creation of Israel (what other modern invaders would get the license to do this?), to the aid we give Israel (1/3 of our aid to the world, etc.), to our American reluctance to criticize Israel and how much infinitely more we and the entire world would be criticizing Israel if it were non-Jewish First Worlders like Afrikaners or  Evangleicals who were doing exactly the same thing to Palestine as Israel is -- again, almost all the double standards are to the benefit rather than to the detriment of Israel.

Again: Apologists for South Africa's Western Apartheid made the same (basically four-step) argument that now gets made for Israel'-- that (1)  Apartheid South Africa was "the only democracy in the Black African world"; that (2)  the Black African world consisted of failed and corrupt and authoritarian Third World societies; that (3) blacks in Apartheid South Africa lived better than blacks in the Black African World; - - and,  therefore, (4) Congratulations to Western Apartheid South Africa.

Again, these apologetics were firmly and implacably rejected by the liberal West.

The liberal west, antipodally from being prejudiced or anti-Semitic, considers Zionism's main tragedy to be that the theft of Palestine reversed what had become the post-World War II decline and loss of the "social acceptability" of anti-Semitism.  To liberalism the tragic high-handed way Zionism took over most of historical Palestine has regenerated anti-Semitism, in much the same way that apartheid in South Africa generated an anti-Afrikanerism against that people and its language and culture.  The liberal west notes that anti-Afrikanerism nearly disappeared with the disappearance of the Afrikaner program of enforced displacement and apartheid

All this leads liberalism to believe that, with the disappearance of Israel's own broadly analogous system of ethnic- and religious- and refugee- and demographics- based social engineering, there would resume the long natural and wholesome course of decline of anti-Semitism, and so bring a hopeful future to all people of historical Palestine, and bring a newfound secure and hopeful future around the world to the Jewish people.


-  -  Summary  -  -

As Ha'aretz published in a letter of mine back in 2003:

"What Israelis and Palestinians alike need more than ever is a nonviolent civil rights movement that profoundly concurs with the Likud's official platform that the whole of Palestine, including the West Bank and Gaza, belong to Israel. Then, in the same way as what happened in the U.S.  and South Africa, the movement should call for a democratic system of one man-one vote.

The state finds itself in this position: Having already ethnically cleansed and refused the return of 750,000 Palestinians now you have had to occupy more land in order to protect the land you have already stolen; and many of you have wanted to settle and expand into and steal this land as well. To adopt the simple and fundamental democratic Western principle of one man-one vote on both sides of the green line in all of Eretz Israel, that is, the dismantling of the ethnic cleansing and apartheid, would change this troubled and violence-ridden society, just as the apartheid-era South Africa and the Jim Crow South and the Confederacy were changed by Tutu and Mandela, and King and the American Civil Rights Movement, and Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln's motto holds: "With malice toward none and charity for all.""

And I love the Jewish people of Israel.

I hope that instead of "identifying" these arguments as such-and-such that they can be rationally answered, though in fact I tend to think that progressives realize that they cannot be answered, just as progressive realize that their critiques of Fundamentalist Christianity and the Religious Right, for all the sound and fury coming from that quarter, cannot be rationally answered.


-  -  Epilogue  -  -

But still I have much belief and hope in the two-state solution.


Believe it or not, a large part of me still believes in a two-state solution of an Israel that withdraws to approximately the '67 boundaries.  So much historical water has gone over the dam, and at this point it's more like something of an ethnic conflict.  But if there's a two-state solution, it seems to me we have to remember and acknowledge what happened.

Again, so much water may have gone over the dam that a two state solution based on apologies, acknowledgements, peace, security, and the approximate 1967 boundaries, but find the typical Zionist arguments for this fundamentally fallacious, just as some believers may love their God while still realizing that all of St. Thomas Aquinas's or Maimonides's 5 or 6 or 8 or whatever "arguments" from the "Thomistic Talking Points" are fundamentally fallacious.  So while I think the old orthodox Zionist talking points are deeply fallacious, that's not necessarily the same conversation as talking about the future of Israel and Palestine and the Middle East today.

Peace and all best to all.


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