An article recently written by David Breakstone, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), evidences the degree to which the founding principles of Zionism have been manipulated in a contemporary, concerted attempt to nullify the original meaning and purpose of the Jewish nationalist movement.
The title of the piece, “Beinart’s good old-fashioned Zionism,” is itself problematic, as it is difficult to conceptualize how Breakstone could label Peter Beinart, the fringe American author of The Crisis of Zionism, who advocates for a boycott of Israeli products manufactured across the Green Line, as a “good old-fashioned” Zionist.
In fact, “good old-fashioned” Zionists, from Theodor Herzl to Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, promoted Jewish settlement throughout Palestine, a geographical region formerly under Ottoman rule encompassing all of the territory currently claimed by the Palestinians. If Herzl or Jabotinsky were alive today, it is unfathomable that either of them would do anything less than vehemently denounce any proposed Israeli boycott over the “occupation” of land they themselves envisioned as an integral component of the future Jewish state.
In a half-hearted attempt to reconcile this glaring paradox, Breakstone, towards the end of his article, finally does “take issue” with Beinart’s call for a boycott, though he makes certain to inform the reader that, “My rejection of Beinart’s prescription of how to heal that which ails Israeli society does not mean I reject his diagnosis of the disease.”
This “qualification” is grossly inadequate coming from a senior executive of an organization founded at the First Zionist Congress—convened by Herzl himself in 1897—and which, according to its website, maintains a commitment to “establishing for the Jewish people a legally assured home in _Eretz Yisrael_”; in the past by “promoting the settlement of Jewish farmers, artisans, and tradesmen in Palestine,” and presently through “settling the land.”
Therefore, to alleviate any possible confusion arising from Breakstone’s article, the following clarification is necessary: Peter Beinart is in reality a leading proponent of a “New Zionism,” the central tenet of which demands the creation of a Palestinian state, whereas “good old-fashioned Zionism” promoted the emergence, and then advocated for the rights of the Jewish state.
To convince people that they are “pro-Israel” when, in practice and effect, their platform advances pro-Palestinian positions, the New Zionists have undertaken, systematically, to chip away at the ideological foundations of the Jewish nationalist movement. This process of historical revisionism has resulted in the transformation of the definition of Zionism, such that today’s “real” Zionists are those, ostensibly, who promote Palestinian sovereignty on land previously allocated by the international community, at the behest of “good old fashioned” Zionists, to the Jewish People.
To “validate” this twisted logic, Beinart is dependent on people like Breakstone, who hold high-profile positions in organizations such as the WZO, to assure the public that the New Zionists are in fact “zealously concerned” about Israel, despite their anti-Israel tendencies. In this manner, the New Zionists gain “legitimacy,” while Zionism becomes “inclusive,” incorporating even those who promote damaging Israel economically.
In this New Zionist wonderland, devoid of historical and theoretical context, cause and effect have become subjective. This, in turn, has enabled Beinart’s thesis—that Israel’s demise will come about less “because Arab armies invade the West Bank than because Israel permanently occupies it”—to gain traction; when, in fact, Israel’s survival depends on its continued control over parts of the West Bank, as evidenced by the emergence of existential threats, in the form of Arab-Islamic terror enclaves, in the wake of previous withdrawals from Lebanon (Hezbollah), Gaza (Hamas) and increasingly in Sinai (al-Qaida-linked jihadist groups).
And herein resides the true appeal of the New Zionists: History is a blank slate. In their distorted paradigm, the millennia-long Jewish struggle for independence; the repeated subsequent attempts by Arabs, including Palestinians, to annihilate Israel; and ongoing Palestinian rejectionism and terrorism are minimized, if not discounted altogether. This allows Beinart to claim, as paraphrased by Breakstone, that “collectively [Jews] might yet avoid our own undoing” by withdrawing from the West Bank, even though historical precedent assures said territory would eventually be overrun by sworn enemies committed to bringing about “our undoing.”
This rejection of history, coupled with a fundamental misunderstanding of “good old-fashioned Zionism,” precludes the New Zionists from accurately “diagnosing” what “ails” Israel, particularly as regards its declining global status.
To begin with, Israel was not created so that the Jewish People’s destiny would become intimately intertwined with that of Arab Palestinians, but, rather, to reaffirm for the first time in 2000 years Jewish independence. This always has been, and forever will remain, Zionism’s guiding principle, from which the most obvious moral obligation stems: To advance and defend Jewish rights.
In this respect, Zionism does not mandate that Israel forge “peace” with the Palestinians in order to survive, but rather that the Jewish People extricate itself from the Palestinians in order to thrive as a distinct nation in its rightful land. Although present circumstance precludes this from being achieved in all of historical Palestine—as the mistakes of the previous generation have made this impractical—this can yet, and should include those parts of the West Bank essential to securing Israel’s citizenry. Once these vital territories, comprised primarily of Jews, are incorporated into Israel, the Palestinians should be left—even encouraged—to carve out in the remaining areas the autonomous statelet originally envisioned for them in the Oslo Accords.
In the absence of such “unilateralism,” Israel’s global standing will continue to deteriorate; not, as the New Zionists propose, because of a refusal to vacate for a fourth time in its brief history territory claimed by Arabs, but, rather, because the continuing failure of the Jewish People to assert its sovereign rights invites ongoing attacks.
This failure to assert independence is intimately connected to what Beinart describes as Israel’s ongoing “ethical collapse,” which he claims portends the Jewish state’s “physical collapse.” Ironically, Beinart is, in all likelihood, correct in his estimation that Israel is doomed “if [Jews] abandon the moral foundations of what it is that the Zionist movement set out to do.” The problem is that Beinart and his supporters have confused their own “morality” with that promoted by Israel’s founders.
If ever Israel did have a moral obligation to the Palestinians, in accordance with Zionist principles, the Jewish state fulfilled it by offering them comprehensive peace/statehood proposals in 2000 and 2008, respectively. That the Palestinians responded with terror absolves Israel from any further responsibility.
The Jewish state’s moral decay, therefore, is not predicated on the “occupation,” but rather on misguided policies of appeasement of Palestinian tyranny, which has jeopardized the security of Israel’s population.
Israel’s “ethical collapse” did not begin when it legally acquired territories gained in a defensive war in 1967, but, rather, when the Jewish state agreed to engage in a “peace process” with arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat, who at the time had been exiled by Lebanon to Tunis. This moral degeneration has continued for two decades in the form of unending concessions to the Palestinians—the so-called “bold sacrifices for peace” so admired by the New Zionists—which have resulted not in peace, but countless Jews maimed and killed by Palestinian “martyrs.”
This “ethical collapse,” in parallel to Israel’s decreasing international standing, accelerated significantly with the uprooting of Israeli citizens from Gaza in 2005, and accounts for why Hamas continues not only to terrorize Israelis, but also to rule over half of the Palestinian people, who, despite their alleged peaceful nature, democratically elected the terror group to represent them at the first opportunity. This ongoing “ethical collapse” is currently best exemplified by the incessant pandering to Arafat’s deputy-in-terror Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party’s armed wing recently took credit for the indiscriminate launching of 560 rockets at Israeli civilian centers, as well as the Tel Aviv bus bombing, during Operation Pillar of Defense.
In the result, Israel’s “ethical collapse” began when the country shifted its focus towards promoting Palestinian sovereignty at the expense of its own legitimate rights of statehood; that is, precisely when the Israeli government progressively embraced the New Zionists’ doctrine.
Unless this ideology is rejected outright, the standing—and resolve—of the Jewish state will continue to erode, as will the continued purpose of its people, until reaching a critical moral decay; at which point, the New Zionists and pro-Palestinian sympathizers worldwide will have their way and Israel’s “physical collapse” will usher in “Palestine”—in the words of the Hamas terror organization, the most popular Palestinian faction—“from the Jordan River to Mediterranean Sea.”
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