Jews Against Zionism–an intro to their perspective
Editor’s note: While the article below has a narrow conception of Zionism, equating it with the policies of its most racist and reactionary elements (though not without some foundation, given that these elements are currently dominant in the Zionist movement)–a mistake similar to that made by some in the Left when they identify American patriotism solely with the right-wingers who wrap themselves in the American flag to defend imperialist policies and not with the liberal and progressive movements that have flourished and often triumphed in American history– it is nevertheless important for Tikkunistas (those who mobilize to heal and transform the world, hopefully by joining our Network of Spiritual Progressives) to inform ourselves about the views of people who totally reject Zionism in all its iterations, even if we do not fully agree with them.
Check out the article here on Stephen Lendman’s blog.
–Rabbi Michael Lerner.
Jews Against Zionism
by Stephen Lendman
They’re numerous, outspoken, and range from secular to orthodox to one group calling itself “True Torah Jews Against Zionism.”
They believe that “traditional” Jews don’t support Zionism, an ideology they call “contrary to Jewish law and beliefs and the teachings of the Holy Torah.” They say Zionism:
– advocates “a political and military end to the Jewish exile;”
– fosters “pseudo-Judaism” based on secular nationalism;
– coercively seeks “armed materialism” in place of “a Divine and Torah centered understanding;”
– endangers all Jews worldwide;
– wants to disassociate Jews and traditional Judaism from ideological Zionism; and
– calls Israel a “Zionist State,” not a Jewish one.
– cite their concern for “peace and safety of all people throughout the world including those living in the Zionist state” and in Occupied Palestine;
– say from ancient times until 100 years ago, Jews and Arabs lived in peace and friendship until Zionism changed the relationship;
– believe Zionists abandoned the Torah and traditional Judaism, demanded political sovereignty over the Holy Land, and aroused anger in the Arab world; and
– Torah Jewry doesn’t recognize or support a Zionist state; nor do they represent world Jews; even the name “Israel” is a “forgery,” they believe, because the Torah forbids violence in the words of the prophet Isaiah who said:
“And they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. No nation will lift its sword against any other, nor will they learn warfare anymore.”
Toray Jewry says that believing Zionism protects Jews is “probably the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the Jewish People” and accuses Zionists of fostering global anti-Semitism. “Indeed, hatred of Jews and Jewish suffering is the oxygen of the Zionist movement, and from the very beginning has been (used) to deliberately incite hatred to justify the existence of the Zionist state – this is, of course, Machiavellianism raised to the highest order.”
Zionist founder Theodor Herzl (1860 – 1904) said:
“It is essential that the suffering of Jews….becomes worse….this will assist in (the) realization of our plans….I have an excellent idea….I shall induce anti-semites to liquidate Jewish wealth….The anti-semites will assist us thereby in that they will strengthen the persecution and oppression of Jews. The anti-semites shall be our best friends.”
In 1920, other Zionists voiced similar ideas, including Nahum Goldmann, later president of the World Zionist Organization and World Jewish Congress head. Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizman, said Germany had too many Jews. In 1921, Jacob Klatzkin called for German Jews to undermine Jewish communities as a way to acquire a future state.
In 1963, Moshe Sharett (Israel’s second prime minister from 1953 – 1955) told the 38th Scandinavian Youth Federation Annual Congress that Jewish freedom imperiled Zionism. Delegates at the 26th World Zionist Congress were told that easing US anti-Semitism and freedom endangered Jews.
Torah Jewry disagrees in affirming its desire to live in peace with their Arab and Palestinian neighbors and abide by sacred commandments “with a perfect heart and to delight in the radiance of the sanctity of the Land.”
They believe: “Zionists have no right of any sovereignty over even one inch of the Holy Land. They do not represent the Jewish people in any way whatsoever. They have no right to speak in the name of the Jewish people.” Their ideology is “antithetical to Jewish law,” and because they don’t behave like Jews, “they desecrate the sanctity of the land.” They feel that when Israel is recognized as a Zionist, not a Jewish, state, “Jews worldwide will be able to live in peace” and do it alongside Arabs in the Middle East.
“The Hidden History of Zionism”
In his 1988 book, Ralph Schoenman explained four Zionist myths:
– the notion of “A land without people for a people without a land” to promote the fiction that an empty Palestine was there for the taking by its rightful original inhabitants;
– Israeli democracy, the only “real” one in the Middle East; in fact, Israel is democratic like South Africa was apartheid and much worse; “Civil liberty, due process and the most basic human rights” apply only for Jews;
– “security (is) the motor force of Israeli foreign policy” because it’s surrounded by hostile Arab states; and
– “Zionism (is) the moral legatee of the victims of the Holocaust….the most pervasive and insidious of the” Zionist myths; in fact, Zionists, like future prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, openly colluded with the Nazis for their own purposes – to use persecution as justification for a future Zionist state and more.
It wasn’t just to colonize Palestine. It was also to exploit indigenous people as cheap labor, dispossess and disperse them, replace them with arriving Jews, legitimize ethnic cleansing, and remove Palestinians from their land and history. Historical records were falsified. “Palestinians were re-invented as a semi-savage, nomadic remnant.” Mass elimination methods were justified for a “people too many.”
In 1923, hard line revisionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky argued that Arab nationalists opposed a Jewish state and wouldn’t accept one. Thus peaceful coexistence was unattainable, and Jews had to build “an iron wall of (superior) Jewish military force.” The idea was to discourage Arab hopes of destroying Israel followed by a negotiated settlement giving Israel the upper hand to dictate terms.
Terror was to be used the way Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department, wrote in 1940:
“Between ourselves, it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples together in this country. We shall not achieve our goal if the Arabs are in this small country. There is no other way than to (get rid of) all of them. Not one village, not one tribe should be left.”
The secret Koenig Report, later published in 1976, said:
“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”
Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-Election of Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat (1974 – 1993) stated:
“We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves.”
Former IDF Chief of Staff Raphael Eitan (1978 – 1983) said:
“We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel….Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.”
Other Israeli leaders voiced similar extremism, including David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, saying in 1937 that “We must expel the Arabs and take their place and if we have to use force, to guarantee our own right to settle in those places – then we have force at our disposal.”
At inception, Zionists like Herzl were pragmatic, yet devious, in believing imperial power backing was needed to establish a Jewish state. It could have been anywhere, but Palestine was chosen for its symbolic significance as the ancient Jewish homeland. Colonization began after the first Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland in 1897. Herzl later wrote:
“At Basle, I founded the Jewish state….If not in five years, then certainly in fifty everyone will realize it.”
It took 51 by dispossessing indigenous Palestinians and replacing them with Jews. Ever since, Zionism’s most effective legitimacy claim is the notion of preventing another “Holocaust.” It’s justified the most outrageous crimes, characterized as “self-defense” by a tiny Jewish minority surrounded by hordes of hostile Arabs. It seized Palestinian land, Judaized it, created a new nation for Jews alone – undemocratic, imperial, militant, violent, exploitive, oppressive, racist, and hostile to core Judaic dogma.
It’s why growing thousands of Jews globally oppose an ideology based on power, conquest, dispossession, and violation of the most fundamental Jewish ethical and moral teachings, ones Zionists disdain.
Not In My Name
It calls itself a “predominantly Jewish organization deeply committed to a peaceful and just resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, a resolution that will provide safety, security and freedom for Jews, Palestinians, and all others living in this region.”
– the illegal West Bank and Gaza occupations;
– the West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements;
– Israel’s Separation Wall;
– the collective punishment of millions of Occupied Palestinians and Israeli Arabs; and
– Israeli human rights abuses, home demolitions, land seizures, arbitrary arrests, torture, travel and movement restrictions, and closure and encirclements of villages and communities.
It champions Palestinian self-determination, the right of return, and “full equality, civil rights and economic justice for all.” It’s for a shared Jerusalem and nuclear-free Middle East. It wants an end to violence and injustice and the equitable sharing of vital resources, including water, oil, gas, electric power, and all other essentials to life and well-being. It wants all US aid stopped until Israel ends its occupation and acts like a civilized state.
It deplores Zionism and what it represents. It’s activists have chapters around the world. They organize protests and demonstrations, hold vigils and religious ceremonies, communicate with the media, foster dialogue between Jews and Palestinians, sponsor teach-ins, educational forums and study groups.
They believe that moral human beings are obligated “to speak out and take action.” They refuse to remain silent or accept Israeli crimes passively. They’re one among other like-minded organizations that say “Not In My Name.” Not now or ever.
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)
JVP is “a diverse and democratic community of activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and human rights.” They support the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination. Their agenda mirrors Not In My Name and states that “We are among the many American Jews who say to the US and Israeli governments: “Not in our names!”
They call on America and the international community to end wars and violence and support Palestinian self-determination free from occupation and oppression. They headline: “Israelis and Palestinians. Two Peoples, One Future,” free from Zionist oppression.
Brit Tzedek V’Shalom
It’s a Jewish Alliance for Justice & Peace calling itself “America’s largest grassroots Jewish organization dedicated to promoting a negotiated two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” With around 50,000 supporters, including over 1,000 rabbis, they educate and organize the US Jewish community for a US foreign policy supportive of Israelis and Palestinians alike. It conducts campaigns, holds conferences, sponsors tours, and engages in various other activist efforts.
>Its founding principles include:
– evacuating Israeli settlements;
– non-violent solutions in place of state terrorism and “state-initiated violence;”
– “a complete end to the Israeli military occupation,” including over East Jerusalem;
– a viable Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders;
– Jerusalem as the capital of both states, free and open to all Muslims, Jews, Christians and others;
– “a just resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem;” and
– “the recognition that (US) Jews….have a special responsibility to urge (their) government to pursue policies consistent with the requirements of a just peace for Israel and the Palestinian people.”
It publishes articles on social theory, religion and spirituality, social change, contemporary American and global politics and economics, Israel/Palestine, and other topics. It features issues that “both advance the pursuit of tikkun olam – social justice and the repair of the world – and break down issues of contemporary concern in completely new and thoughtful ways.” It supports progressive spirituality and challenges established orthodoxies in all spheres of thought and politics. It’s “dedicated to healing and transforming (a troubled) world.”
Its editor is Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of “The Left Hand of God: Taking Our Country Back from the Religious Right,” and “Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation.” On May 8, 2008 on the HuffingtonPost.com, writing “On Zionism, Healing, and Israel’s 60th Anniversary,” he noted how Palestinians were dispossessed of their homes and villages by Jews “determined to be as ruthless towards others as others had been towards” them. “Yet, there are alternatives” not taken so conflict ever since has persisted.
As for Zionism, he described what emerged as “fundamentally incompatible with the highest values of the Jewish tradition, and must be rejected even as we develop a compassionate attitude toward the Jewish people of Israel.” To preserve Judaism, Lerner quotes the following Torah injunction:
“When you come into your land, do not oppress the stranger: remember that you were strangers in the land of Egypt. A Jewish state that has been unwilling or unable to live by that command has no religious foundation and can generate no lasting support from those committed to God and Torah.”
Doing it right requires abandoning “a naive utopian fantasy” and building a society based on “open-heartedness, compassion and caring for others….” Abandoning Zionist extremism for traditional Jewish moral values is essential.
They’re “Jews Not Zionists” and quote Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum in 1958 speaking out against Zionist heresy:
“….if we place all the immodesty and promiscuity of the generation and the many sins of the world on one side of the scale, and the Zionist state on the other side of the scale by itself, it would outweigh them all. Zionism is the greatest form of spiritual impurity in the entire world. (It’s) polluting the entire world. (It’s) polluted the Jewish people with (its) heresy….Everything our blessed rabbis cried out about earlier in the century about the dangers of Zionism (have) been forgotten….It is impossible to describe to what extent the world has become sunken in such a falsehood which is destroying the entire Torah.”
Jews Not Zionists believe that Zionism is heresy, and “the existence of the so-called ‘State of Israel’ is illegitimate.” Zionism violated Torah doctrine, the very essence of Judaism. It believes that human life is sacred and human rights aren’t to be denied by those who would sacrifice them for national security or any other reason.
“Judaism and Zionism are by no means the same. Indeed they are incompatible and irreconcilable.” Good Jews can’t be Zionists, and Zionists can’t be good Jews. According to Jewish tradition, seven universal Noacide morality laws apply to everyone. Also the Ten Commandments for all monotheistic religions, and another 613 obligatory laws for traditional Jews.
They eschew violence, military power, and brute force. They’re about morality and spiritual purity. Zionists made belief in the Torah and fulfillment of religious obligations a private matter, not a common obligation for all Jews. They made Judaic dogma subject to party or parliamentary votes and set their own ethical and moral standards, suiting them alone.
Many times in Jewish history, an extremist minority misled the majority. Worshiping the golden calf happened earlier. Today it’s political Zionism. Before its emergence, piety, decency, learning, and belief in justice and mercy characterized most Jewish leaders. Now they’re the minority. It’s why they believe a good Jew can’t be a Zionist, and a Zionist can’t be a good Jew and aren’t the legitimate spokespersons for anyone but themselves. From a religious point of view, they’re heretics.
Jews Against Racist Zionism
They include distinguished figures who speak out for “anti-racist Jews and indeed all anti-racist humanitarians.” They decry “anti-Arab anti-Semitic racist Zionists running Apartheid Israel and their Western backers.” They’re appalled by the continuing Palestinian, Iraqi, and Afghan genocides that have killed and dispossessed millions. They see Zionism as a threat to all Jews and humanity unless something is done to stop it.
Neturei Karta International (NKI)
NKI is an Aramaic term for “Guardians of the City,” given to a group of Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem who “opposed the establishment of and retain all opposition to the existence of the so-called ‘State of Israel!’ ” They demonstrate publicly and state their belief in the Torah and “authentic unadulterated Judaism.”
In 1938, NKI was founded in Jerusalem to struggle against Zionism. Most of its members now live outside Israel, many in New York where they’re prominent, vocal, and ignored by the dominant media.
For refusing to accept Zionism, they were harassed, incarcerated, and physically tortured by “Zionist police and agents.” As a result, they scattered internationally and established synagogues, educational institutions, publishing houses and organizations espousing their beliefs.
They’re orthodox, but not ultra-orthodox or extremist. They’ve “added nothing to nor have taken anything away from the written and oral law of the Torah as it is expressed in the Halacha (traditional Jewish law) and the Shulchan Aruch (codification of Jewish law).”
They’re allied with many thousands of other Jews sharing similar anti-Zionist views. They oppose the “State of Israel (because) the entire concept of a sovereign Jewish state is contrary to Jewish law.” It conflicts with traditional Judaism.
They quote Talmudic doctrine teaching that Jews are prohibited from using force to establish a Jewish state or to rebel against other nations. “Jews are not allowed to dominate, kill, harm or demean another people and are not allowed to have anything to do with the Zionist enterprise, their political meddling and their wars.”
“The true Jews remain faithful to Jewish belief and are not contaminated with Zionism. The true Jews are against dispossessing the Arabs of their land and homes. According to the Torah, the land should be returned to them….The world must know that the Zionists have illegitimately seized the name Israel and have no right to speak in the name of the Jewish people!”
NKI seeks peace and reconciliation with people of all faiths and nations. Of greatest concern is reconciling with the Muslim world after decades of Zionist abuses. They support peace, justice, and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.
They decry Zionist propaganda, bullying tactics, censorship and lies. Its weapon is state terror. Its dogma is a profound disregard for human life and moral values. Its false idol is a “lack of truth on its side.”
NKI notes how greater numbers of people now question Zionism, its version of history, and values. They blame it for massive bloodshed and suffering and believe they’ll be no Middle East peace until there’s no more State of Israel, at least under Zionism. They think that a coalition of anti-Zionist Jews and Palestinians can unite as a moral force for peace and good in the world. They welcome the abolition of Zionism “in a peaceful manner.”
“We’re not celebrating Israel’s anniversary”
In a public April 30, 2008 petition, Harold Pinter was among 105 prominent Jews who said “we….will not be celebrating” Israel’s May 2008 60th anniversary. They noted the 1948 slaughter and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, the destruction of their villages, their erasure from history, the 1967 occupation, the continued persecution for decades, the defiling of international law, and utter contempt for human rights and peaceful coexistence.
“We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations.”
“We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East,” something impossible under Zionism.
A Final Comment
At its core, Zionism is fundamentally racist, extremist, undemocratic, and militant:
– in espousing Jewish supremacy, exceptionalism, and uniqueness as God’s “chosen people;”
– in relying on occupation, oppression, violence and dispossession;
– in justifying a Jewish ethnocracy based on structural inequalities;
– in ruling by force, not coexistence;
– in choosing confrontation over diplomacy and the rule of law; and
– by denying Arabs and all others the same rights as Jews.
No ideology that destructive can endure. No regional peace and reconciliation is possible until it’s repudiated.
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.