June 02, 2014

The Lure of Zion?

I got this article by Adi Schwartz out from behind the paywall of Ha'aretz.  It's mostly tosh, being an interview with Zionism: False Messiah author, Nathan Weinstock.  Weinstock was one of these star anti-zionist Jewish writers like, say, Ilan Halevi or Uri Davis but he had this epiphany, denounced his former self and became a rather nasty zionist.  I heard that he had banned anyone from promoting or selling his old book but it is still findable on google and it is still obtainable from Amazon brand new (£97.60) or used (from £4.84)

Here's a taste of the article:
According to Weinstock, underlying the growing hostility toward the Jewish population in Palestine was the realization that the dhimmi Jews were shaking off their traditional legal status of humiliation and submission. In retrospect, the writer maintains, dhimmi status, on the one hand, and the declared attempt by the Zionist movement to be free of it, on the other, led ultimately to the Arabs’ rejection of the United Nations partition plan in 1947 and to the War of Independence the following year.
It's interesting that much of the article takes the form of an interview whereas that bit and some others are in reported speech.  I'm guessing that, like Benny Morris, his direct speech has become too openly racist for Ha'aretz transfer straight to the page.  But I'm only guessing.

Anyway, Weinstock's position is that the rejection of The State of Israel by the Arabs is nothing to do with ethnic cleansing or discrimination or the fact that Israel is a colonialist plant but because of some inborn negative feeling that Arabs have towards Jews.  I should note here that Christians don't warrant a mention in the article.  I don't if they get a mention in the book.

But all that above is not actually the point of this post.  The point is that after so much anti-Arab hasbara, Adi Schwartz looks for and finds a balancer in the form of Dr Sami Shalom:
“[Nathan] Weinstock is a classic servant of the erasure of my history and of the history of the Jews in the Islamic lands,” says Dr. Sami Shalom Chetrit, a Moroccan-born Israeli intellectual who deals extensively with relations between Ashkenazim (European-born Jews) and Mizrahi (Jews of Middle Eastern or North African origin). He teaches Hebrew culture and Middle Eastern studies at Queens College, in New York.

“Like the textbooks in Israel, Weinstock focuses primarily on the Zionist, national era, in which Jewish nationalism developed in Europe in parallel to Arab nationalism from the Maghreb to the Mashriq [i.e., from the West to the East]. There he finds ‘pogroms,’ which are an Eastern European Jewish issue. He ignores the role played by the Zionist movement in undermining the relations between Jews and Muslims in the Arab countries. He talks about ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Arab countries and about expulsion, after much has been written about the ties between the Zionist leadership and the corrupt leaders of Iraq and Yemen, which lead to the decision to deport the Jews from those countries – without a passport and with only a laissez-passer – to Israel only.

“Let’s assume that things were very bad and stressful – why didn’t they get a passport allowing them to choose any destination? Or the Jews of Morocco, who were not allowed to leave after Morocco became independent. No one was allowed to leave Morocco in those years unless he was close to and well connected with the authorities. The Zionists had to use the Jews of the United States and the administration in Washington to bring pressure to bear on the palace in Morocco to allow the Jews to leave after 1956. Why not talk about the years before Moroccan independence, when [Prime Minister David] Ben-Gurion could have brought all the Jews of Morocco to Israel, but took fright and chose to conduct a racist selection in which the strength of their muscles and the width of their shoulders were measured!

“Let us not forget, also, that in the background, the Mossad was running Zionist ‘undergrounds’ that incited the Muslims against the Jews, including throwing a grenade into a Baghdad synagogue, painting anti-Jewish slogans in French on Jewish stores, and spreading harsh rumors about the Jews in order to hasten their departure. This was all done by good Zionists, and I am not saying anything new here.

“Indeed, the life of the Jews in the Islamic lands was no paradise, but neither was the life of the Muslims a paradise in the Islamic lands, unless they were close to the government. And above all, the life of the Jews in the Islamic countries was never the hell of the Jews of Europe. Never at any point in history. The Jews from the Islamic lands came to Israel out of love. Not because of hatred, not because of persecution and not for revenge. Only for love of the Land of Israel.”

That's a tad enigmatic at the end, but note it's "love of the Land of Israel", not the State of Israel and not hatred of or in the lands they left.


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