March 17, 2010

What is zionism today?

There's been an interesting discussion on the Just Peace UK list about the meaning of the term "zionism". I know we've had this definitional focus stuff before but Frank Fisher, one of the administrators of the list, has made an interesting comment in response to the idea that the anti-zionists leave themselves open to being misconstrued, usually deliberately, by using the expression "zionist".
The current aims of World Zionism are laid out in the Jerusalem Program: see http://www.azm.org/the-new-jerusalem-program-adopted-june-2004. This is a fairly clearly defined manifesto and I attempted to pinpoint those elements of it which inform current political activity and which I oppose. I referred to 'Modern' Zionism in order to focus on CURRENT policy. Historical criticism of Zionism has it place; but current political activity needs to engage with the policies of contemporary Zionism. The World Zionist Organisation, The Jewish Agency and their affiliates have an existence and programme distinct from the Israeli State, albeit intertwined with it. Opposing these policies does not today require opposition to the existence of the Israeli State, only to many of its current activities.

I don't use 'Zionist' as a term of abuse; but to denote (!) an adherent to the Zionist Movement and its policies. I don't believe there can be a meaningful and Just peace in Israel/Palestine without addressing the ramifications of, in particular, the 1st 2 elements of Zionist policy that I mentioned previously, viz:

1) Maintaining Israel's status as a Jewish State (with all the implications for non-Jewish citizens, natives, returnees and residents).

2) Preserving the Law of Return and Israel as a state of all Jews everywhere.

The 3rd I oppose for additional reasons:

3) Ensuring the centrality of the State of Israel in diaspora Jewish life.

I don't ask others to describe themselves as anti-Zionist. However, semantic argument alone will not cause the very real activity and influence of the present-day Zionist movement to disappear.
All very well put, I thought, but I have an issue with this bit:
Opposing these policies does not today require opposition to the existence of the Israeli State, only to many of its current activities.
How many of its "current activities" that one would describe as zionist could Israel jettison and still be Israel? That's the question.

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