Economist promotes “eloquent critic” of Israel’s existence

An Economist article (“Why Israel is becoming a partisan cause in the United States”, April 27), in attempting to contextualise American progressives’ putatively increasing “unease” with Israel, includes the following:

The American left’s objections go beyond Israel’s policies to the very nature of the state. As living memory of the Holocaust fades, many progressives, including Jews, see a contradiction between struggling for a multiracial democracy at home and supporting a Jewish state in the Middle East. “Many younger progressive Jews see white Christian nationalism as a form of ethnocracy that parallels Zionism,” says Peter Beinart, an eloquent critic of Israel whose intellectual evolution over the past 15 years has tracked, and advanced, the shift on the left.

First, Peter Beinart isn’t merely a “critic” of Israel.  Though he once fancied himself a “liberal Zionist”, he announced his conversion two years ago to the anti-Zionist movement.  So, he opposes Israel’s continued existence, within any borders, as a Jewish state – a view the overwhelming majority of U.S. Jews not only reject, but view as antisemitic.

He’s also become an apologist for some anti-Semites, claims that the US Jewish establishment’s fight against antisemitism is a threat to human rights, charges that antisemitism is cynically used to silence Israel’s critics, defends those using Israel-Nazis analogies, and suggested that Zionism is a form of Jewish supremacy.

In other words, Peter Beinart’s rhetoric has become indistinguishable from many of the Corbyn-supporting anti-Semites who were subsequently expelled from the Labour Party.

As Shany Mor wrote, Beinart demands that “American Jews must choose between their liberalism and their Zionism, between membership in good standing in the community of the good or, sounding almost like someone who tags a synagogue with graffiti, ‘our community’s complicity in the oppression of Palestinians‘”.

Regarding Beinart’s claim, uncritically quoted by the Economist, that “Many younger progressive Jews see white Christian nationalism as a form of ethnocracy that parallels Zionism,” it’s unclear what “many” means, as he doesn’t cite polls on how many Jews hold this view.  But, more importantly, it’s an intellectually unserious analogy.

First, while white Christian nationalism is motivated by fear of its loss of majority power and privilege, Zionism was the answer of a historically oppressed, minuscule minority responding to the failure of emancipation to resolve the enduring problem of European antisemitism, and fueled by the age-old hope of returning to their ancestral homeland.

Moreover, “white Christian nationalism” is a white supremacist and antisemitic movement which peddles the “great replacement theory” – the accusation that Jews, among others, encourage non-white immigration to the US to replace whites.  So, the Economist is legitimising the suggestion that a profoundly anti-Jewish ideology somehow has parallels to a Jewish nationalist movement embodied in a country that’s home to nearly half of the world’s Jews, and is embraced the overwhelming majority of non-Israeli Jews.

To characterise the Zionist aspiration, which was realised a mere three years after one out of every three Jews on the plant were murdered in the Holocaust, as racist is not only morally obscene. It also obfuscates the pesky fact that many democratic states, like Israel, have immigration laws or constitutions favouring the main ethnic group of that country, and, also like Israel, codify their national identity based at least in part on the ethnic and/or religious background of its majority.

The Latvian Constitution, for instance, declares the “unwavering will of the Latvian nation to have its own State and its inalienable right of self-determination in order to guarantee the existence and development of the Latvian nation, its language and culture throughout the centuries.” Latvia’s population is about 25% ethnically and linguistically Russian.  And, the Slovak Constitution opens with the words, “We the Slovak nation,” possess “the natural right of nations to self-determination.”

Are either Latvian or Slovakia nationalism racist, and do they have parallels with Christian white nationalism, also?

Once again, we’re faced with what Yossi Klein Halevi refers to as the “classical continuity of thousands of years of symbolising the Jew”, turning Jews “into the symbol of whatever it is a given civilization finds as its most loathsome quality”.  As we live in a civilisation, he noted, where “the most loathsome qualities are racism”, it’s not surprising to see attempts by those motivated by the desire to undo 1948 paint Israel as an intrinsically racist or even supremacist state.

But, what is if not quite surprising then disturbing is the fact that journalists and editors at respected media outlets don’t recognise such accusations as the toxic agitprop that it its.

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