Political Zionism and Capitulation to Terrorism


Chemi Shalev notes that a call for a French aliyah is not does not fulfill the historical narrative of zionism so much as it is a capitulation to terrorism. He states,

It gives its instigators a prize they could never have dreamed of: a frenzied flight of Jews, at best, or the complete elimination of Jewish presence in France, at worst. By encouraging mass emigration, Israeli politicians could very well be helping terrorist fanatics finish the job started by the Nazis and their Vichy collaborators: making France Judenrein.

Yet, the either/or Shalev suggests is unmerited because political zionism relies on the historical claim (whether real or imagined) that Jews will be oppressed in whatever land we live. Therefore, we need a homeland (read: State) where we can be secure from anti-semitism. In other words, it never seemed Herzl’s political zionism intended to seek elimination of anti-Semitism because his historical claims take it as an quasi-ahistorical fact: non-Jewish populations would always commit acts of terrorism against Jewish populations.

Shalev, I think, wants some distance from this part of political zionism because in the end it requires acts of terrorism against Jews to be a viable narrative. There are, of course, various forms of zionism (I can only think of the Arendt-Buber vision of the Jewish homeland as a binational state, where Jews and Palestinians cooperate). Yet, this is the image that prevails. In fact, it is difficult for me not to see a connection between this narrative and fear of African refugees, where the security apparatus brings out the worst in the Israeli population, such as racist attitudes towards non-Jews: any outsider becomes a potential anti-semite.


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