September 13, 2006

Linda Grant on anti-zionism

I don't want to get drawn into discussion on the provisional wing of Engage, ie Harry's Place, so can someone explain this pearl of wisdom from zionism's elder stateswoman, Linda Grant?
Anti-Zionists point out, quite reasonably, that they they are entitled to have a divergent opinion on Israel without being accused of anti-semitism. I don't disagree with that. However it remains the case that since the end of WWII most Jews have been Zionists. If you have a politics, which the SWP does, of demonizing Zionists, of saying that they're as bad the Nazis,. that they are the source of all the trouble in the world, then whether you mean to or not, whether you think you are taking on a political ideology which exists independently of Jews, de facto, you are making the case against the Jewish majority.

The charactersitic of this form of anti-Zionism is that it seldom has any interest in doing the parctical work of making solutions to the conflict that guard the rights of Jews in a future post-Zionist state. The responses are a pollyanaish belief that since human natuire is essentially good, it will all work out; or a shrug of indifference. I find it interesting that those who believe that human nature is benign, who believe that after all their suffering the Palestinians will treat the Jews fairly and equally, do not fail to point out that after the Holocaust, the Jews took on the characteristics of the perpetrators. So suffering will ennoble the Palestinians, despite it apparently doing the opposite to the Jews. It must be the fault of the Jews, then, that they were not ennobled.
I'm sure it's worth discussing in a serious forum which is why I think it's pointless trying to discuss it at Harry's Place. But Linda raises an interesting point. She seems to be acknowledging that some bad stuff has happened to the Palestinians at the hands of Jews. She thinks that most Jews support the right of Jews to do that stuff. She rejects the idea that having suffered, the Palestinians will not seek revenge on Jews and that therefore Israel has to be a state that denies justice to non-Jews. She uses the fact that the Jewish victims of the nazis in Europe have been beastly to the Palestinians as evidence of the fact that victim communities can be (or indeed are) vindictive to their persecutors. She doesn't notice that most Israelis engaged in wrongdoing to Palestinians are not holocaust survivors. She also doesn't notice that cruelty to the Palestinians (even if it was by holocaust survivors) does not amount to vindictiveness towards a persecutor because the Palestinians were not the persecutors in the holocaust. The nazis and their allies were. So, why is Israel so cruel to the Palestinians? Anti-zionists suggest it is because of the colonial settler nature of the state of Israel. Linda Grant suggests that anti-zionists are saying that it is because the colonial settlers are Jewish that they are cruel. What does Linda Grant say? The corollary of her point would be to suggest that non-Jewish colonial settlers would not be or are not cruel. This isn't born out by history or the present but Linda Grant doesn't get into that comparative stuff.

And that's all without getting into the idea that the SWP believes that Israel "is the source of all the trouble in the world."

The main thing I noticed is that Linda is happy to use the expression "zionist" without the quotes on Harry's Place, but when she is playing the war-weary elder stateswoman, usually she puts it in quotes as if it is somehow euphemistic.

But anyway, whilst Linda is engaging in yet another smear against anti-zionists, I feel that what she has said deserves discussion in a forum that doesn't lend itself to the ad hominem attacks and bullying that we find on the Engage and Harry's Place sites.

So please somebody, have a look at the quote above and tell me what she's on about. I've even turned the moderator off but remember, her main motifs are name dropping, recalling her past articles in the Guardian and claiming that she has been misrepresented. And she dines with libel lawyers, so be careful now.


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