BY CHARLEY REESE
Many Jews oppose Zionism, including some belonging to highly orthodox religious groups, such as Neturei Karta, who are well noted for their valor in protesting Israeli policies.
One of the myths created by the Israeli lobby is that Jews around the world are unanimous in their support of Israel, regardless of what it does. That’s not true and never has been true.
Modern political Zionism, whose ideology demands a Jewish state with a Jewish majority, was invented by an Austrian journalist and for decades struggled desperately. It wasn’t God who created the modern state of Israel. It was British colonialism, the U.S., the Soviet Union, and Zionists.
Only about a third of the world’s Jews choose to live in Israel, despite nearly a century of efforts to persuade Jews to immigrate. There were many early Jewish critics of Zionism, and there still are, despite modern Zionists adopting fascist tactics to silence debate.
Joel Beinin, a Jewish liberal who has been on the receiving end of the campaign to silence critics of Israel, had this to say in a recent article reprinted on Znet:
“Organizations claiming to represent American Jews engage in a systematic campaign of defamation, censorship and hate-mongering to silence criticism of Israeli policies. They hollow the ethical core out of the Jewish tradition, acting instead as if the highest purpose of being Jewish is to defend Israel, right or wrong.
“Why discredit, defame and silence those with opposing viewpoints? I believe it is because the Zionist lobby knows it cannot win based on facts. An honest discussion can only lead to one conclusion: The status quo in which Israel declares it alone has rights and intends to impose its will on the weaker Palestinians, stripping them permanently of their land, resources and rights, cannot lead to a lasting peace.
“We need an open debate and the freedom to discuss uncomfortable facts and explore a full range of policy options. Only then can we adopt a foreign policy that serves American interests.”
Avigail Abarbanel, a native-born Israeli Jew who lived there 27 years before emigrating, has even harsher words:
“Palestinian citizens of Israel live under an arbitrary and brutal police state. Their dealings with Israeli bureaucracy are not just frustrating but can be outright dangerous.
“The Palestinians in the Occupied Territories live under a Pinochet-like regime. They can and do disappear in the middle of the night. They are blindfolded, cuffed, beaten, humiliated, taken to unknown locations with no information given to them or their families, tortured physically and psychologically and incarcerated indefinitely, often without charges and regardless of whether they are guilty of anything.
“Israel is not a nice country. It is a powerful police state founded on pathological paranoia with only a veneer of civility, carefully crafted and maintained for the consumption of those who still believe in the myth of Israeli democracy.”
You might want to send that paragraph to the next politician you hear repeating AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) propaganda that “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.”
Abarbanel is a psychotherapist, and her article appeared on the Web site ElectronicIntifada.net, which I highly recommend as a source of information about the Middle East.
America badly needs an open and frank debate, based on facts, with no name-calling. Our politicians are as timid as an introverted baby when it comes to Israel. The Israeli lobby likes to boast about defeating candidates who don’t toe the Israel-right-or-wrong line. As a tip to the not-completely-gutless politicians, the way to handle that is to make AIPAC an issue in the campaign.
A group of Zionist leaders is meeting in Israel as I write this, worrying about an increase in criticism of them for stifling debate. They are not invincible. They can’t silence any American unless the American succumbs to fear of being called names, and I learned as a child that sticks and stones can break bones, but words can’t hurt you.
Charley Reese is a veteran iconoclastic journalist with a career spanning five decades. His work appears in some of the web’s leading sites.