Israeli Philosopher in NY Times: On ‘Liberal Zionism in the Age of Trump’

Israel’s leaders have no problem stomaching 'anti-Semitism' so long as the 'anti-Semite' supports Zionism. (Photo: File)

In his article, “Liberal Zionism in the Age of Trump”, Israeli professor of philosophy, Omri Boehm confronts the sinister nature of Zionism which has no qualms labeling Israel’s critics, anti-Semitic, while embracing pro-Israeli anti-Semites.

Here are a few excerpts of the article published in the New York Times on December 20,

“The idea that Israel is the Jews’ own ethnic state implies that Jews living outside of it — say, in America or in Europe — enjoy a merely diasporic existence. That is another way of saying that they inhabit a country that is not genuinely their own. Given this logic, it is natural for Zionist and anti-Semitic politicians to find common ideas and interests. Every American who has been on a Birthright Israel tour should know that left-leaning Israelis can agree with America’s alt-right that, ideally, ”Jews should live in their own country.”

“Since this continuity is so natural, it has a long and significant history. Last April, Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, was embraced in Israel by top members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. Strache’s party now celebrates mostly anti-Islam and anti-immigration policies, but it was originally founded by former Austrian Nazis. Jörg Haider, a previous leader of the party, was infamous for showing sympathy for some of Hitler’s policies. Another case in point is Geert Wilders, the xenophobic far-right Dutch politician. This month, it was revealed that Wilders’s visits to Israel and his meetings with Israeli personnel have been so frequent that the Dutch intelligence community investigated his “ties to Israel and their possible influence on his loyalty.”

“This phenomenon has been somewhat familiar also in the United States given the close ties between fundamentalist evangelical Christians — whose views on the Jews’ part in a larger messianic scheme is flatly anti-Semitic — and the state of Israel. But with Trump, this type of collaboration is introduced to the heart of American politics.

“Nothing demonstrates this alliance better than the appointment of David Friedman to be the United States ambassador to Israel. Friedman, an ardent supporter of Israel’s occupation project, has argued that J Street’s liberal Zionist supporters, who are critical of the occupation, are “worse than Kapos” — the Jews who collaborated with their Nazi concentration camp guards. In fact, however, it is Friedman’s own politics — and the politics of the government that he supports — that’s continuous with anti-Semitic principles and collaborates with anti-Semitic politics.

“The “original sin” of such alliances may be traced back to 1941, in a letter to high Nazi officials, drafted in 1941 by Avraham Stern, known as Yair, a leading early Zionist fighter and member in the 1930s of the paramilitary group Irgun, and later, the founder of another such group, Lehi. In the letter, Stern proposes to collaborate with “Herr Hitler” on “solving the Jewish question” by achieving a “Jewish free Europe.” The solution can be achieved, Stern continues, only through the “settlement of these masses in the home of the Jewish people, Palestine.” To that end, he suggests to collaborate with the German’s “war efforts,” and establish a Jewish state on a “national and totalitarian basis,” which will be “bound by treaty with the German Reich.”

“It has been convenient to ignore the existence of this letter, just as it has been convenient to mitigate the conceptual conditions making it possible. But such tendencies must be rejected. They reinforce the same logic by which the letter itself was written: the sanctification of Zionism to the point of tolerating anti-Semitism. That’s the logic that liberal American Jews currently have to fight, but it will prove difficult to uproot. Stern is memorialized in street names in every major Israeli town, and it is not unreasonable to assume that Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son, whose father celebrated Stern as a mythical model of Zionist struggle, is called by Stern’s nom de guerre.”

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