January 09, 2013

Freedland avoids zionism as cause of Israel's rightward drift

Jonathan Freedland had a comment piece in The Guardian just the other day.  It was one of those where he tries to explain away Israel's increasingly overt racism by reference to anything other than its racist official ideology, zionism:
the blame can be shared evenly between the Israeli centre-left, Palestinian leaders and the international community.
But there were two responses in yesterday's Guardian, one offering an ideological explanation and the other being more technical:
While Jonathan Freedland's evident horror at Israel's shift to the right is welcome (Comment, 5 January), his explanations fail to account for the country's steady drift to the right since its inception and the ineluctable logic of imposing a Jewish state in someone else's country. The internal contradictions of a state in which the rights of Jewish and Palestinian citizens were supposedly "separate but equal" could only be resolved by the transformation of the state into one of genuine equality, ie a secular democracy, or by the rising hegemony of those who celebrated separateness and inequality.
That religious extremism and rightwing anti-egalitarians have become dominant in Israel is inextricably linked to the theocratic underpinning of the state. Like most other European Jews, I lost family in the Holocaust and I have experienced racism in the country of my birth, but my survival as an English Jew does not depend on the existence of the state of Israel and my right to "return" to a country to which I have never been. It depends on my being treated as a human being with the same rights and needs as everyone else. The same rights that everyone born in Israel or Palestine or anywhere else in the world should have.
Keith Lichman
London
• Jonathan Freedland's analysis that the nationalist right filled a vacuum is flawed. The radical right had been infiltrating the echelons of government for years. Ben Gurion's weakness in allowing religious parties into his coalitions has led to the fragmented nature of the Knesset, and its eventual dominance by settlers, and the rise of parties like Shas and now Jewish Home. Netanyahu's financial backers for the leadership of Likud, and the saviours of its finances in 1993, exerted their influence on the settlers and subsequent land-grabbing techniques. Politicians like Avigdor Lieberman and Sharon were purveyors of land and finances to the settlers.
Richard Morris
London
There just seems no other place for a self-defined state for Jews to go but to the right.

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