Well, another Israeli “war” on the Palestinians, another shelling of UN facilities where refugees fled to escape massacre, another round of brazen excuses, another Palestinian government building reduced to rubble, another round of craven U.S. politicians falling all over each other in their rush to defend Israel’s boundless “right to exist” – a right that entails the destruction of another nation’s existence – another magnanimous Israeli truce that it will break whenever it feels like then blame on its opponents.
By now it should be clear that this litany of war crimes and rationalizations for those crimes are not a reaction to anything happening in the moment. They are, unfortunately, the inevitable products of Zionism, Israel’s dominant ideology. Just as the Bush Administration’s embrace of preemptive war, torture, and disregard for the Constitution was not a reaction to 9/11 but expressions of the Administration’s philosophy, so state-sponsored terror, lawlessness, massacre, death squads, and ethnic cleansing are expressions of Zionism.
This should come as no surprise. Zionism was born of the late 19th century ferment of politics, race, pseudo-science, imperialism, and rejection of 18th rationalism, a “Blood and Soil” fever that ultimately gave rise to all of the fascist or semi-fascist movements of the 20th Century.
In Poland between the wars, Zionism took a toxic turn to the right when its original goals were clarified and hardened by what came to be known as Revised Zionism promoted by Ze’ev Jabotinsky and his followers. Revised Zionism called for the creation of a Greater Israel that would stretch from Iraq in the east and into Southern Lebanon in the north. Unabashed admirers of Mussolini, the Jabotinsky sect took to wearing black shirts and employing the fascist salute.
Many members of Zionist terror organizations like the Stern Gang – the folks who, incidentally, invented the car bomb – came from the ranks of Jabotinsky’s followers, including Menachem Begin and Yitzak Shamir, the first two Likud Prime Ministers. The Likud Party, still one of the dominant political forces in Israel today, is itself the direct heir of Revised Zionism.
Fearing that the creation of a Jewish state would end up subsuming Jewish identity, many Jews vigorously opposed the establishment of Israel, ranging from prominent secular Jews like Albert Einstein to the Orthodox wing of Judaism.
Over the past 60 years, Israel and its apologists have carried on a cynical campaign to erase those misgivings, playing on the horror of the Holocaust to silence critics within and without the Jewish community, turning all concerns about Israel’s crimes into evidence of Jewish self-hatred or anti-Semitism, even though it could be argued that Zionism betrays both the moral strivings of the Jewish people and the long history of suffering of European Jewry.
Fortunately, this bullying propaganda campaign has never succeeded in silencing Jewish opposition to Israeli crimes. It is heartening to see that some of Zionism’s fiercest critics are still Jews: Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein; Jewish Voices for Peace, the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolition, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and Peace Now.
As for the rest of us non-Jewish Americans — why should we care about any of this?
Good question. Israeli apologists repeatedly make the case that Israel is signaled out for criticism, implying that this is so because of covert anti-Semitism. The subtext of this argument is that, even if Israel is subjecting the Palestinians to politicide, that oppression pales in comparison to the horrors being committed elsewhere in the world – that Gaza might be hell, but it certainly doesn’t compare to the lower rings of hell in places like the Congo or Burma or Sudan.
And it’s true – Israel’s crimes against humanity are not on a scale found in some other parts of the world. But here’s the difference. While you and I and other American taxpayers are not underwriting the junta running Burma, we are very much paying – through the nose – for the oppression, degradation, and massacre of the Palestinians. We’re also arming the forces that carry out those abuses and offering critical political cover for the government that orders those forces into action.
How much are we paying? Well, the $3 billion in direct U.S. aid to Israel we keep hearing about is only a drop in the bucket to the real sum being transferred from our pockets. A State Department report in the early 80s estimated that the total value of all U.S. support for Israel was closer to $20 billion a year if you count trade concessions, tax deductions claimed by individuals and organizations contributing to Israel, loan forgiveness and so on in addition to direct aid.
No one knows what that figure might be today, but it is safe to say that it is far greater than $20 billion. Whatever the precise figure, one thing is certain: What has happened and will go on happening in Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank, what happened in southern Lebanon in 2006, in Jenin in 2001, and in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982 could not take place without our help.
In this moment when America has taken a huge step in redeeming its shameful history of racial oppression, it is painful, indeed infuriating, to consider the extent to which our nation’s resources are being diverted to serve the cause of an indelibly racist ideology in another part of the world.
But that is precisely what is going on. It is time for all of us, Jews and Gentiles alike, to stand up and repudiate not just the crimes of the Bush Administration, but also the crimes of the Zionist movement. Time for us all to stand up and say, “No. No more. Not in our name.
Rich Broderick is co-founder of The Twin Cities Media Alliance and the Twin Cities Daily Planet. An award-winning journalist whose articles and commentary have appeared in The Journal of Law & Politics, Minnesota Monthly, City Pages, and many other periodicals, he teaches English and Journalism at Anoka Ramsey Community College. Broderick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his Daily Planet blog for more of his musings on Minnesota and national politics.