Liberal Zionism Isn’t Dead, Liberalism Is

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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It’s another year and another war, which means it’s time for the mainstream media to run more essays on the death of Liberal Zionism which has been declared dead during every previous war.

Sensitive souls are taking to the pages to bemoan how Israel fighting terrorists violates their sense of morality.

Liberal Zionism isn’t dead. Liberalism is.

Liberalism has been thoroughly cannibalized by the left. It is thoroughly dominated by an instinctive Third World Nationalism and a distaste for Israel is part of the package. The left has a long history of hating Israel. It’s not a New Anti-Semitism, but a very old one, as even a cursory look at some of the rhetoric from the earlier part of the last century reveals.

The sensitive souls complaining about the peril that Liberal Zionism is neither liberals nor Zionists. They’re generic leftists whose pro-Israel bio is a package of nasty reporting dating back decades or work for some Jewish organization, not for love but for money, and some family history of Zionism.

It’s the same story over and over again.

Proclaiming the death of Liberal Zionism is just more leftist spin in its campaign against Israel. It assumes that if the proclamation is made often enough and loudly enough then it will become a self-fulling prophecy and anyone who combines the two will realize that supporting Hamas is the right thing to do.

Case in point is Antony Lerman’s crazed rant in the Sunday Times which begins by trying to sound reasonable and then devolves into something that sounds like a cross between a Marxist professor on acid and Norman Finkelstein.

We start out with “Liberal Zionists are at a crossroads” and then come to…

The only Zionism of any consequence today is xenophobic and exclusionary, a Jewish ethno-nationalism inspired by religious messianism. It is carrying out an open-ended project of national self-realization to be achieved through colonization and purification of the tribe.

That probably sounded better in the original Russian. Or was it the original German? I have trouble keeping track. Is this a personal vendetta? Do Hamas terrorists defecate in tunnels?

I used my position at the think tank to raise questions about Israel’s political path and to initiate a community-wide debate about these issues. Naïve? Probably. I was vilified by the right-wing Jewish establishment, labeled a “self-hating Jew” and faced public calls for me to be sacked. This just confirmed what I already knew about the myopia of Jewish leadership and the intolerance of many British Zionist activists.

That probably sounded better when it was being shrieked by a mad scientist holding on to a large lever. “The fools! They mocked me in the 92th Street Y! They laughed at me in London! But now I’ll show them all!”

Today, neither the destruction wreaked in Gaza nor the disgraceful antics of the anti-democratic forces that are setting Israel’s political agenda have produced a decisive shift in Jewish Diaspora opinion.

In summary, Liberal Zionism is dead… but most Jews are Liberal Zionists.

Everyone can meet back again in two years to write the same editorial about the death of Liberal Zionism.

  • patechinois

    Funny how Netanyahu’s approval rating jumped from a dismal 28% to, I just checked the latest…55%….when he finally demonstrated “Zionism” in forcefully defending Israel’s right to exist.

  • Marc

    Actually I read not to long ago that 85% of the Israeli public is behind the war and think good things about Netanyahu.

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