Friday, November 26, 2010

Jerry Haber: FAQ on Zionism and Racism

FAQ on Zionism and Racism [] Many in Israel and abroad have equated Zionism with racism – but is it justified?

By Jerry Haber

Is Zionism inherently racist?

No. Zionism was never based on theories of racial or even cultural superiority. Zionism, was and is a movement to achieve Jewish self-determination (there are other elements as well). For most Zionists, the place for that self-determination was and is the Land of Israel.

Is there racist Zionism?

Sure, there are certainly racist versions of Zionism, if we broaden “racism” to include theories of religious-racial superiority.

Have there been racist Zionists?

Sure, but not by virtue of their Zionism. Even the attempts of certain religious Zionists to posit a metaphysical distinction between Jew and Gentile, or who suggest that the Ishmaelites have inherited their ancestor’s hatred of Isaac, etc., can not be laid at the feet of their Zionism, but rather their understanding of Judaism. And, of course, there are racists everywhere. Even cultural Zionists like Magnes expressed feelings of cultural superiority towards local Arabs in his private correspondence. But that did not figure into his Zionism. He simply was an American who had spent time in Germany, and who had the cultural snobbery that infects many people. In America, German Jews didn’t let Russian Jews become members of their country clubs because they viewed the latter as uncouth and vulgar. A person can be a bigot and a Zionist, but that doesn’t make Zionism bigotry.

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