Zionism

Ilan Pappé: Zionism as Settler-Colonialism

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Ilan Pappé speaking at the conference The Israel Lobby and American Policy in Washington, DC, on March 24, 2017. (photo: Phil Portlock)

Keynote address: “The Value of Viewing Israel-Palestine Through the Lens of Settler-Colonialism.”

By Ilan Pappé / Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
March 24, 2017


Zionism is not an event. It is a structure, and it’s a setter colonialist structure.


. . . What I’m going to argue today, this afternoon, is that as much as the lobbies are important in affecting and influencing American policy, there is a basic and fundamental misunderstanding of what the conflict in Palestine is all about, including among those American diplomats, pundits, politicians who see themselves champions of Palestinian rights.

The level of — I wouldn’t call it ignorance, because these are very educated well-read people, so ignorance would not be a fair concept here — the level of blindness, or the level of ignorance in the sense of ignoring certain chapters rather than not being able to understand reality, this level is so high that it really makes it impossible, even when you have a period in which the lobbies are not strong or even when you have a president who is more pro-Palestinian than anyone before him. The level, the depths, of that ignorance is so significant that it would not allow the two other factors, even if they are diminished or weakened, to influence fundamentally the American policy and, in association, the reality on the ground.

Now, what is missing? And this is what I would like to point out. What is missing is an understanding of the nature of Zionism, the nature of the Zionist project in Palestine — not as a nostalgic journey into the past, but as a current analysis. The late and amazing scholar of settler colonialism, Patrick Wolfe, said famously that settler colonialism is not an event. It’s a structure. Zionism is not an event. It’s a structure, and it’s a settler colonialist structure. It was a settler colonialist structure in 1882, and it is a settler colonialist structure in 2017.

You don’t appease a settler colonialist project by dividing Palestine into two states. That will never appease the settler colonialist project. The only way to challenge a settler colonialist project is to decolonize the settler colonialist project. This challenge has not been digested by American policymakers, including those who regard themselves as open-minded, balanced — if you want — objective above the situation.

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Between The Dome of The Rock and a Hard Place

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The Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem. (photo: Getty Images)

By J. J. Goldberg / The Forward
April 13, 2017


Permitting Jewish presence on the mount is actually a controversial question among Israel’s Orthodox rabbinical authorities. The traditionalist Haredi rabbinate still upholds the centuries-old rabbinic ban on Jews even entering the Temple compound, for fear that they will tread on the long-forgotten spot where the forbidden Holy of Holies once stood. Traditionalists believe the Temple cannot be rebuilt until the Messiah comes and restores the ancient Jewish kingdom.

Religious Zionists maintain that the survival of the Jewish state against all odds proves that the messianic era is already underway and that Jews today should be working to restore the Temple.


Passover came early to Jerusalem this year when a group of Jewish religious nationalists gathered in the Old City of Jerusalem April 6 for a live reenactment of the original, biblical holiday ritual: sacrificing a lamb.

Hundreds gathered in the Jewish Quarter to watch barefoot, white-robed priests slaughter, skin and roast a lamb on a makeshift altar and hear speeches by rabbis and a Likud Knesset member. It was held in a public square outside the Hurva Synagogue, a stone’s throw from the Temple Mount where priests conducted daily sacrifices in ancient times

The event was an awkward reminder of the tight spot Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is in as it tries to balance the competing religious claims over arguably the world’s most volatile shrine. The government and its defenders have long been trying to debunk Palestinian accusations — deliberate lies, Israel argues — that Israel intends to build a third Jewish Temple on the site where Al Aqsa mosque and the iconic Dome of the Rock now stand. Unfortunately, events like the Passover reenactment illustrate the growing influence within the government itself of Jewish activists who aim to do just what some Palestinians accuse them of. (more…)

Apocalyptic Extremism: No Longer a Laughing Matter

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(photo: Getty Images)

By Rabbi Brandt Rosen / Shalom Rav
February 27, 2017


We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict . . . to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.
— Steve Bannon, White House Chief Strategist


In my previous post, I explored how Zionism historically fed off the existence of anti-Semites and anti-Semitic regimes to justify the need for a Jewish state. In this post, I’d like to discuss a phenomenon that has even more ominous resonance for the current political moment: the willingness of political Zionists, Israeli politicians and right wing Israel advocates to court the support of Christian millenarians and apocalyptic extremists.

Some history: In the century after the Protestant reformation, the religious ideology of millenarianism began to spread throughout Europe. Millenarianism took many forms, most of which were rooted in the belief that the physical restoration of the Jews to the land would be a necessary precursor to the apocalypse and the eventual second coming of the Messiah. This religious dogma was eventually brought by English Puritan colonists to North America, where it evolved into present-day Christian Zionism.

It is safe to say that Jewish political Zionism could not have succeeded without the support of Christian millenarians. Reverend William Hechler, a prominent English clergyman who ascribed to eschatological theology and the restoration of the Jews to the land of Israel, was a close friend and colleague of Theodor Herzl, the founder of the political Zionist movement. Lord Arthur Balfour, who issued the historic Balfour Declaration in 1917 was likewise a Christian Zionist, motivated as much by his religious convictions as by British imperial designs in the Middle East.

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Zionism’s Marriage of Convenience to Anti-Semitism

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By Rabbi Brant Rosen / Shalom Rav
February 19, 2017


I wish to place on record my view that the policy of His Majesty’s Government is anti-Semitic and in result will prove a rallying ground for Anti-Semites in every country in the world . . . . When the Jews are told that Palestine is their national home, every country will immediately desire to get rid of its Jewish citizens, and you will find a population in Palestine driving out its present inhabitants.
— Edwin Montagu, August 1917


I’m sure many have been scratching their heads trying to figure out why on earth the government of Israel and so many staunch Zionists are just fine with the election of Donald Trump — the darling of the anti-Semitic alt-right. The answer however, is really pretty straightforward: this is nothing new. Zionism has had a cozy, if somewhat Faustian relationship with anti-Semitism since its very origins.

The founder of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl never made a secret of his belief that his new movement would have to depend upon anti-Semitism and anti-Semites in order to create a Jewish state. In his pamphlet, “The Jewish State,” he suggested raising money for the effort by means of a “direct subscription,” adding that “not only poor Jews but also Christians who wanted to get rid of them would subscribe a small amount to this fund.”

In his diary, he was even blunter: “The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.”

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For American Jews, The Era of Trump Marks the End of the Zionist Dream

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Protesters near the prime minister’s residence, demonstrating against Trump’s recent refugee and Muslim ban, Jerusalem, January 29, 2017. (photo: Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

By Ben Lorber / +972 Magazine
February 6, 2017


When Israel backs a regime, here in America, that threatens our liberty as humans and our safety as Jews, the claim that Zionism protects Jews no longer holds. An Israel that cheers on Goliath, as it raises its hand against the Davids of our world, is an Israel that has become startlingly unrecognizable to us. While mainstream American Jewry could choose to ignore the spread of ultra-nationalism and xenophobia in the far-off “Jewish homeland,” when these same forces wash now upon our own shores, the familial resemblance, and active collaboration, between Trump and Netanyahu becomes impossible to ignore.


For most American Jews, the regime of Donald Trump has ushered in the most profound and destabilizing existential crisis since the Holocaust. We watch in horror as President Trump launches a full-frontal assault on the institutions, and the very principles, of the liberal democracy upon which we have built our lives for generations. We stand aghast as his administration tramples the civil liberties of our Muslim, immigrant and refugee neighbors, and we brace ourselves as a potent anti-Semitism simmers at the edges of the alt-right movement that helped propel him to power.

American Jewish establishment and legacy institutions, which already possessed little relevance for many of us, seem ill-equipped to guide us through this new reality. And the state of Israel, far from standing with us against this fascist menace, appears to be egging it on. As we all weather the short-term shocks Trump inflicts upon the political and civic institutions of American life, the full reverberations of this longer-term shock have yet to be felt by American Jewry. In the future, the era of Trump will be remembered as the end of the Zionist dream.

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Trump’s “One-State” Remarks Embolden Right-Wing Zionists — Jewish and Christian

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At a press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump signaled openness to a one-state solution in the Middle East. (photo: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

President of oldest US pro-Israel group salutes “new sane era” as Trump’s views underscore divisions among Jews and influence of evangelical Christians.

By Ed Pilkington / The Guardian
February 17, 2017


Critics of the one-state solution point out that it would destroy the fundamental character of Israel as a democratic Jewish state: Arabs and Palestinians would numerically be dominant in a single state and that in turn would either eradicate the Jewish nature of the country or force it to forgo democracy by relegating the Palestinians to second-class status.


Donald Trump’s apparent readiness to accept a one-state solution to the Middle East conflict that would permanently rule out a Palestinian nation is emboldening rightwing Zionists in the US — both among Jewish Americans and the much larger pool of pro-Israeli evangelical Christians.

Some Zionist groups welcomed with delight the president’s unexpected comment on Wednesday that tore up the longstanding US adherence to a two-state solution in which Israel would coexist peacefully alongside a fully-formed Palestine.

“I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like,” he said.

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Celebrating a New Jewish Diasporism

A Sermon for Rosh Hashanah 5777

Rabbi Brant Rosen
October 4, 2016


“While we appreciate the important role of the land of Israel in Jewish tradition, liturgy and identity, we do not celebrate the fusing of Judaism with political nationalism. We are non-Zionist, openly acknowledging that the creation of an ethnic Jewish nation state in historic Palestine resulted in an injustice against its indigenous people — an injustice that continues to this day.”


As I’m sure you know, Tzedek Chicago has received a great deal of attention — some might call it notoriety — for calling ourselves a “non-Zionist” congregation. But contrary to what our most cynical critics might say, we didn’t choose this label for the publicity. When we founded Tzedek Chicago last year, we used this term deliberately. We did so because we wanted to create an intentional community, based on specific core values. Our non-Zionism is not just a label. It is comes from our larger conviction to celebrate “a Judaism beyond nationalism.” [Continue reading here . . . ]