By Omar Zahzah
On Wednesday, July 13, Joe Biden arrived at David Ben Gurion airport on what might be thought of as the first leg of his “Imperial All-Star” Tour of the region. The presence of any US President on stolen Palestinian land constitutes an ethical travesty, given the financial, political, and symbolic extent of the US’s support for the Zionist entity, a militarized settler colony just like the US.
Heaping salt onto the ever-fresh wounds of colonized Palestinians, Biden soaked up the arrogant pageantry of colonial Zionist pomp, reveling in the proceedings like a gnarled lizard saps the sunlight.
In his opening remarks at Air Force One at Ben Gurion Airport, Biden reiterated his oft-stated claim, stating “You don’t need to be a Jew to be a Zionist… The connection between the Israeli and American people is bone deep … I am proud to say that US relations with Israel are deeper and stronger than they have ever been.”
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid concurred with Biden’s sentiments, calling the US President a “great Zionist.”
The Truth Comes Out
It’s rare that I find myself agreeing with US Presidents (who are, in general, de facto war criminals) or Zionist entity politicians (settler-colonial genocidal overlords,) let alone the two of them combined, but there is indeed a great deal of truth in this exchange: one does not need to be Jewish to be a Zionist.
Zionists often insist that their ideology has a premium on inherent Jewish cultural identity, but in fact this is mere revisionist colonial propaganda, given that Zionism’s defining historical affinity was rather with 19th century European colonial and imperial culture, practices, and ideology.
As such, it was gladly supported by prominent non-Jewish patrons and institutions who had no issue helping the Zionist movement realize its settler-colonial aims of ethnically cleansing Palestine, given that such a project was merely the latest variation of imperial, colonial, and settler-colonial ventures pursued by European forces that were often underwritten by a clearly racialized understanding of humanity and civilization–one that Zionists would increasingly adapt as their own through the foundation and brutal fortification of the colonial Zionist entity.
Political Zionism “is a homegrown European movement.”
In further contrast to Zionist propaganda, Zionism’s notion of a homeland seized by force in contrast to the well-being of the Indigenous Palestinian population was neither the only or even most popular Jewish movement in response to European antisemitism until the 1930s. All of this is to say that Zionism is about colonial European ideas of humanity and political culture rather than ethnoreligious identity.
And while Zionists claim to be concerned with antisemitism, Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism, justified what he felt to be the growing Zionist movement’s necessary reliance on antisemitic states and parties (including the Nazis) in writing, “the anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies”.
In the US today, white Evangelicals far outpace Jews when it comes to supporting for the Zionist entity. Christian Zionism (which in fact greatly precedes Jewish Zionism,) virulently antisemitic and Islamophobic, plays an outsize role in fortifying US far-right support for the Zionist entity; Christian Zionist support predominantly stems from the religious conviction that the rise of the Zionist entity is a necessary precursor to the Biblical End Times prophecy.
Getting it Right
What else to make of Biden and Lapid’s agreement that “you don’t need to be Jewish to be a Zionist?” What other added significance is there to the mask being ripped asunder?
Another clue lies in the next leg of the “Apartheid All-Star” Tour: Saudi Arabia, which saw Biden pushing to strengthen normalization between Saudi Arabia and the Zionist entity.
In fact, both nations have already engaged in clandestine military operations in the past. Pushing Saudi Arabia to follow the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain in explicitly normalizing ties with the Zionist entity is an attempt, as Ali Abunimah explains, to further entrench the anti-Palestinian and anti-Iran regional alliance meant to tamp down resistance to imperialism and colonization. As Dana El-Kurd explains, such normalization efforts can serve as a political smokescreen by obfuscating how regimes in power violate human rights because so-called “progress” is defined as the cementing of ties with the colonial Zionist entity.
What do we make of powerful regional regimes who capitulate to the imperial US and Zionist entity’s political agendas and designs? Wouldn’t we call such governments “great Zionists” as well?
What to make of the corrupt Palestinian Authority, which shamefully participates in security coordination with the Zionist entity?
Biden and Lapid, those two paragons of imperial and settler-colonial violence, got it right: you don’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist.
You just have to be an oppressor.