By Shimon Z. Klein

Prof. Shlomo Avineri wrote a rather thought provoking article on post–Zionism, equating it with anti-Zionism and non-recognition of Israel. He maintains that post-Zionism does not exist.
 According to his article, the idea of post-Zionism “is a radical criticism not just of Israel’s policy; at its base is total denial of the Zionist project and of the very legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish nation-state.
According to his article, the idea of post-Zionism “is a radical criticism not just of Israel’s policy; at its base is total denial of the Zionist project and of the very legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish nation-state.The arguments called “post-Zionist” have various aspects – not only political but also cultural. They view Zionism as a colonial phenomenon, not as a national movement that is contending with another, Palestinian, national movement over its claim to the same territory. Some of those who are called “post-Zionists” go even further in their argument that the very existence of a Jewish people is a “narrative” that was invented in the 19th century, and that the Jews are at base a religious community. The attitude of Zionism, which has most of its roots in Europe, toward Jews from the Muslim countries is also perceived in the context of colonial exploitation.”
Somehow, there seems to be a problem with the term post-Zionism. Post-Zionism is actually the period after Zionism. It is not a theory or philosophy as Prof Avineri states. Zionism is the “national revival movement of the Jewish people. It holds that the Jews have the right to self-determination in their own national home, and the right to develop their national culture. Historically, Zionism strove to create a legally recognized national home for the Jews in their historical homeland. This goal was implemented by the creation of the State of Israel. Today, Zionism supports the existence of the state of Israel and helps to inspire a revival of Jewish national life, culture and language.” (From Zionism – Definition of Zionism).

Zionism played an important historic role in the establishment of Israel. The idea of post-Zionism is the period after Zionism, of which the latter has become irrelevant today. It was a Jewish liberation movement in the Diaspora where Jews had been a persecuted minority for many years because of anti-Semitism.

Now that Israel exists, Zionism has become history. The term non-Zionist is probably more accurate than post-Zionism, which according to Prof. Avineri is a development for delegitimizing Israel. While this may or may not be true, it is a misleading term.

Zionism is a term that is bandied about in Zionist Conferences but has no relevance to Israelis today. Many Zionists, who live in the Diaspora, meet at World Zionist Conferences in Jerusalem in order to salve their consciences by fundraising for causes whose impact on Israel is marginal (they are mostly wealthy people who have no intention of ever living in Israel, or at least, they intend to retire in Israel after achieving financial success in the Diaspora). They also have no clue as to the major problems facing Israel – not least of all, the corruption in government including what was Israel’s first citizen – ex-President Moshe Katzav – who has left office in disgrace after being accused of sexual offences bordering on rape. He has been offered a plea bargain if he admits to his sexual assault offences. This will wipe his slate clean of close to 90% of his sexual offences according to Katzav’s statement in an interview with Israel TV 2nd Channel. The conclusion reached is that with much money for legal defense, one can buy justice. The Diaspora Zionists hobnob with VIPs in the Israeli establishment and indulge in familial backslapping of each other, exuding self praise for their efforts of churning out hot air. Zionism has now been relegated to the wealthy, sitting in armchairs in living rooms, polluted with expensive cigar smoke, where their platitudes of solidarity with Israel is expressed and many conscience-salving financial donations are discussed. The World Zionist Conferences held in Jerusalem are becoming less and less relevant every year. These conferences are not given any prominence in the Israeli Press. Surely this is a barometer of its irrelevance!

Israel’s faults and its treatment of the Arab minorities, not to mention the Palestinians, are not even addressed. This is not their problem. It is the problem of the Arab World according to their thinking.

The greatest contribution that could be made to Israel is also dependent on the contribution made to the wellbeing of the Palestinians. After all the Palestinian People is an integral part of the Middle East, including Israel. They will not disappear. Neglect of the Palestinians will only result in the development of further extremism, hate and terrorism against Israel. Israel had occupied the Palestinian People in the 1967 Six Day War. This makes Israel responsible for Palestinian wellbeing which they neglected. Israel, despite its claims to the contrary, is a “colonial phenomenon” because it occupied another people. It also “colonized” territory by allowing settlers to build their homes in the occupied West Bank. Surely it makes Israel’s claims of not wanting to colonize the Palestinian People a farce. Settlers, amongst them religious Zealots, uproot Palestinian olive plantations, take over Palestinian agricultural lands, and get away with it. Is this Zionism – the usurping of Palestinian lands? The Palestinians view Israelis as the SS (Soldiers and Settlers).

Army check posts, barriers to Palestinian movement as well as army excesses is not going to bring security to Israel. The only solution is an agreement between the two sides to lay down their arms and start negotiating a permanent settlement for the good of both nations.

Zionistic platitudes by rich Diaspora Zionists in conference halls discussing marginal issues to salve their “tortured consciences” will knock the last nail into the Zionist coffin. This will herald the era of post-Zionism or non-Zionism. Zionism is an integral part of Israel’s history but it is irrelevant to Israel’s future and the future of peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbours.





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