This will probably be my last post on this subject. I just want to give a few final thoughts, and try to cut to what I understand to be the heart of the matter.
In her article, "Zionism and its Impact
," Ann Lesch summarizes the fundamental tenets of Zionism, as enumerated at the Paris Peace Conference of February 1919, by Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization:
1. The movement was seen not only as inherently righteous, but also as meeting an overwhelming need among European Jews.
2. European culture was superior to indigenous Arab culture; the Zionists could help civilize the East.
3. External support was needed from a major power; relations with the Arab world were a secondary matter.
4. Arab nationalism was a legitimate political movement, but Palestinian nationalism was either illegitimate or nonexistent.
5. Finally, if the Palestinians would not reconcile themselves to Zionism, force majeure, not compromise, was the only feasible response.
In this post, I would like to focus on point #2.
It seems clear to me that at the root of the Zionist defence of the creation of Israel, is the belief that the Jews were spiritually, culturally, and/or racially superior to the Palestinians they displaced. This is rarely explicitly stated, and in some cases perhaps not even fully consciously believed. However, this assumption lies at the root of the idea that the Israelis could not have moved to any other place than Palestine. This belief leads to the idea that Jewish suffering is more significant than the suffering of other peoples, whether Palestinians or Roma or whoever, and that any means necessary to preserve Jewish culture and identity may and will be taken, even if this necessarily leads to the suffering of others. This view is reflected in a repugnant statement of Rabbi Moshe Levinger, who, commenting the Hebron massacre of 1994, said, "I am sorry for everything that gets killed. I am not only sorry for dead Arabs. I am also sorry for dead flies."
The roots of this kind of belief are not hard to discover. It must be recognized, of course, that the Israelites were in fact the "chosen people" and had a special role in salvation history (though not entirely without parallel, if we are to believe St. Justin Martyr). At one time, God did in fact give his chosen people a command to drive out those dwelling in the land of Canaan (and "Greater Israel" is a rather larger piece of land than the modern state of Israel). The Bible, of course, goes on to tell the story of a holy nation which through its disobedience lost its temporal power, and whose true Messiah was rather different from the one they had expeceted.
Dispensationalist Protestants and certain religious Jews believe that the same promises given to Abraham justify Jewish occupation of modern Palestine. This is where we get statements such as that of Sen. Inhofe: "God appeared to Abraham and said: 'I am giving you this land,' the West Bank. This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true."
This, as I began my contribution to the discussion saying, is not the traditional, historical viewpoint of rabbinic Judaism, though even many of the Orthodox have taken up this wholly untraditional concept. Is also not the traditional Catholic or Orthodox Christian viewpoint, as we are certainly "replacement theologians," though in the former case the concept of "development of doctrine" leaves room for a bit of fudging in this and other regards. For different reasons, the tradition of Orthodox Judaism and the tradition Orthodox Christianity would each indicate that the divinely granted territorial claims of the ancient Israelites are not applicable to modern Jews as a group.
A second source of the belief in Israeli Jewish superiority over the Palestinians is plain old European ethnocentrism. According to this view the Palestinians should have welcomed the invaders, who would enlighten them, perhaps gently if they met no resistance, but violently if necessary. It is a fact that the Palestinians were not a nation state before the arrival of the European Jews, but this is not the real reason they are denied ancestral property and the right to self-determination (and in the 1947 were presented with disingenous offers). As has been pointed out by others in this thread, many other peoples who were not historically a united national or cultural group have been recognized as a unified people in modern times (the racially, culturally, and religiously diverse Israeli Jews are a prime example). The real reason that it is considered legitimate to deny the rights of the Palestinians is the simple fact that they are seen as primitive and savage nomads, or backwards village dwellers, just they have been presented by Zionist propagandists. Forget the fact that the Palestinians, like those of us of a primarily European ancestry, are the heirs of the moral codes of Levantine monotheism and the legal tradition of the Roman Empire; to many a Zionist they are just wogs.
Of course, European Jews believed they must also enlighten the Oriental Jews they brought in to bolster their population. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion wrote in 1964 that these Oriental Jews lacked "the most elementary knowledge" and were "without a trace of Jewish or human education." As Jewish writer Les Levidow notes: "Abba Eban warned that Israel must infuse them 'with an Occidental spirit, rather than allow them to drag us into an unnatural Orientalism'."
Yes, it is true that not even all Israeli Jewish citizens have escaped the effects of the Zionist belief in European Jewish superiority. Nor have non-Jewish Palestinians who happen to be Israeli citizens escaped the discriminatory policies of the Israeli state. In many respects, these Israeli Arabs are second class citizens. Policies tend to be particularly discriminatory when the Likud Party in power, giving the lie to the Israeli insistence that their state is western democracy which protects the opportunities of minorities.
The belief in Jewish superiority is why dead Palestinian children are "collateral damage" and those who kill Israeli children are "terrorists." This is why Israeli massacres of Palestinian villages are simply the use of "necessary force" but those Palestinian Arabs who bomb buses are "crazed mujahadeen." This is why I can be called "anti-semitic" for opposing Israeli policies, but I have often heard comments like "We should just nuke all them damned Ay-rabs" from people who are otherwise sensitive and loving individuals (and who don't understand that they are proponents of the "other anti-Semitism"). It is why pointing out that Mossad (Israeli intelligence) probably had at least some advance knowledge of September 11th
will in many circles automatically win you the label of "anti-Semite," while on the other hand a Palestinian American friend of mine, on September 11th, was informed of the events that occurred in the following way, in front of a whole university class:
"Didn't you hear? Some stupid Palestinian blew up the World Trade Center."
As an American citizen, as an Orthodox Christian, I want no part in the sickening enterprise of conquering the Palestinian people. I do not want my tax money spent to fund Israeli military operations, nor to fund military operations of which the Israeli government is the primary benificiary.
Even our resident Christian Zionist here at www.orthodoxchristianity.net
, Jennifer, has admitted that the creation of the state of Israel was "probably wrong," as I believe she put it. So why force our taxpayers and our soldiers to support injustice? I don't want any US tax money going to the Palestinian side either. As Samer has suggested, led the staunch supporters of Palestine or Israel put their money and lives on the line and enlist in the military forces of either side, or at least support them directly from your own pocketbook.
For my part, I will pray, Christian and Sinjin. I will pray for the health, peace, salvation, and deliverance of all parties involved. I will pray for God's mercy and his justice.
And I will speak out against my own government's support of oppressive regimes. I will support humanitarian and peace organizations which seek safety and health of Israelis and Palestinians.
This has been a good discussion. I have learned a lot. My hope is that those who are unfamiliar with these topics will try to learn more, and will prayerfully consider the statements of our own Orthodox and Catholic hierarchs concerning these issues.