May 4, 2006

Yesterday was the 58th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.

Now more than ever, with the world increasingly awash with anti-Semitism, we should remember why it was that Israel came into being.


And remember, too, that anti-Zionism (the mantle behind which much contemporary anti-Semitism hides), if it means anything, means the de-legitimation of the Jewish state and foreshadows its destruction.

Via Norm Geras, here is a radio broadcast of Hatikva, The Hope, sung by survivors of the concentration camp at Bergen Belsen in April 1945, after their liberation by soldiers of the British 2nd Army.

As long as deep in the heart,
The soul of a Jew yearns,
And forward to the East
To Zion, an eye looks
Our hope will not be lost,
The hope of two thousand years,
To be a free nation in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

Fittingly, the new state of Israel adopted Hatikva as its national anthem.



  1. *grouch on*

    Shorter Rob:

    1) The Holocaust caused Zionism.

    2) It’s anti-semitic to be anti-zionist.

    3) The zionist creators of the zionist state of Israel chose a zionist song for their anthem.

    Only one of the above is correct. Can you guess which?

  2. I suppose you have a point to make, Fyodor, but not for the first time I’m buggered if I understand what it is.

  3. I echo Fyodor’s grumpiness: you’re just outright teleologically wrong, Rob.
    That the Holocaust immediately preceded the establishment of Israel as a nation-state doesn’t imply a causal relationship between the two events, and totally essentialises and simplifies both of them. You need a few more ‘whys’ in your historical question before you can slap a ‘because’ into your conclusion.
    Zionism is a far older, more complicated and more interesting historical phenomenon and set of ideas. So is anti-Semitism.

  4. I didn’t say the Holocaust brought Zionism into existence — I said it brought the State of Israel into existence. Without the Holocaust, the United Nations would not have mandated the existence of the Jewish state. Of course Zionism pre-dated the creation of Israel — by several generations.

  5. Rob, your comment from the Rodeo:

    You signally failed on the link cited, comrade.

    Um, I didn’t say you argued the Holocaust brought Zionism into existence. I simply told you you can’t simply explain the presence and continuing meaningfulness of the State of Israel simply by the historical event of the Holocaust. You may have heard of a fellow named Arthur Balfour.
    I’ve explained your problems with implying historical causation. That you think your argument isn’t insulting is your problem.

  6. Well, I think you would be very hard pressed to argue that the UN would have mandated the State of Israel into existence but for the evidence before it and its member governments of the extermination of European Jewry.

    All previous arguments for a homeland for the Jews, including the Balfour Declaration, were worthy. But they did not institute the State of Israel.

    The United Nations did, by virtue of UNGA Resolution 181.

  7. Interesting factoid: the UK abstained on the vote. I didn’t know that. Glad Austraila voted with the righteous.

    “Adopted at the 128th plenary meeting:

    In favour: 33

    Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Byelorussian S.S.R., Canada, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Liberia, Luxemburg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Sweden, Ukrainian S.S.R., Union of South Africa, U.S.A., U.S.S.R., Uruguay, Venezuela.

    Against: 13

    Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen.

    Abstained: 10

    Argentina, Chile, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mexico, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia. “

  8. Do John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have a valid critique or are they simply ant-semetic?

  9. err…there should be an ‘i’ after ‘ant.’

  10. Shaun, I do think they have a valid critique. I’ve said so — after a fashion — here.

  11. So how do we differentiate between valid criticism of Israel’s polices towards the Palestinians or the influence of the Israel lobby (admittedly a nebulous term) on US politicians and anti-semetism? What are the criteria for differentiation?

  12. Common sense, good faith and a sense of history, I’d have thought, Shaun.

  13. Nice words Rob but they do not answer my question. In the context of the debate regarding US-Israeli policy the authors of the aforementioned article were labelled ‘anti-semitic.’ Robert Fisk is routinely, and falsely smeared with the tag ‘anti-semetic.’

    Anti-semitism always should be condemned as per your links but when does legitimate criticism of Israel policy cross the line? I don’t think Fisk or Mearsheimer and Walt have done so. Why is the term used then?

  14. I don’t know if there are hard and fast criteria — yet it’s not just in the eye of the beholder. I don’t think the Mearsheimer/Walt article is anti-Semitic, but it has attracted charges that it is because it has been seen as an echo of the ancient ‘a cabal of Jews controls the world’ libel. Some people are too quick to pull the anti-Semitic trigger — Melanie Phillips, for example, sees it everywhere, and she’s wrong, IMHO, as often as she’s right.

    The vigorous debate we had at LP about Leunig’s cartoon illustrates the difficulty. I think it’s anti-Semitic because it colonises the Holocaust and the sufferings of the Jews in the service of an anti-Zionist statement. Others did not.

    There is no policy prosecuted by Israel that should not be open to criticism. I am firmly against the maintenance of settlements in the occupied territories, and very ambivalent about targeted assassinations. Equally, I support the establishment and the continuation in existence of the Jewish state, and its right to defend itself, even if the means are regrettable and unpleasant.

    It’s when you can see the ancient libels and caricatures lying behind such critiques — for example, Margo Kingston blurting out that the Zionist lobby controls politics and the media in the US and Australia, in the context of commentary on Israel’s security fence — that you know you are confronting anti-Semitism in its new form.

  15. Thanks Rob. Sorry for taking awhile but over the weekend glib comments were all that I could manage.

    Mearsheimer/Walt now have a response to their critics. I don’t think M/W ever proposed the ‘Jewish cabal’ libel either. They have some very salient points regarding the problems of US Mid-East policy revolving around Israel. Israel deserves to be able to live in peace. But the willingness to politically defend Israel at all costs has not served the best interests of peace in the Middle-East. The fact that Iran sees the US and Israel as being one in the same is a grave problem.

    You can’t excuse the Arab nations and their obstinance towards Israel. And you can’t excuse the Arab Nations ambivalent attitude towards the Palestinians. Using the Palestinian cause for their own ends, having the Palestinian issue unresolved politically is welcome.

    But the US by placing its Mid-East policy in the Israeli basket has missed an oppurtunity. Historically I think there was the possibility a fairer approach to the Middle-East by the US may have lessened some of the problems that now exist.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: