The imaginary Jew-Zionist

 

By Richard Mather…

Throughout the ages, Jew-hatred has taken on different forms at different times. Sometimes it is religious in nature; other times it is motivated by race or economics. Today, it is often motivated by hatred of Zionists. The demonisation of Jews and Zionists, the imputing of diabolical influences to the Jew-Zionist, is the product of a fevered gentile imagination.

The demonised Jew-Zionist is made malevolent. He is beyond the pale: outsider, foreigner, blasphemer, devilish, alien, unhuman. The Jew-Zionist is a baby-killer. He is accused of murdering Christian children for ritual purposes, of killing Arab babies in Gaza, of harvesting the organs of dead Palestinians. The Jew-Zionist poisons wells in Christian Europe and spreads AIDS among Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

Ultimately, the Jew-Zionist is guilty of killing God and ethnically cleansing the Arab Palestinians. The twin crimes of deicide and genocide are laid at the feet of the Jew-Zionist. No wonder Israel Apartheid Week coincides with Easter.

Anti-Zionists don’t always require flesh and blood Jews to pursue and harass. Anti-Zionists can thrive without Jews because it is an idea that motivates their hatred: the idea of the Jew-Zionist as imagined Other, as devil, as the scapegoat on whom the sins of the world are loaded before being cast into the awful wilderness.

Anti-Zionists never tire of telling us that because there are Jewish anti-Zionists, there must be a qualitative difference between the Jew and the Zionist.  There isn’t. Their argument overlooks two things: firstly, the majority of Jews are, in fact, Zionists; secondly, there is a long history of a minority of Jews turning their backs on the Jewish community.

In bygone centuries, some Jews converted to Christianity and wrote long diatribes against Judaism and petitioned the Pope to ban the Talmud. But this does not prove that Christian anti-Semites were right to hate the Talmud. All it shows is that Jews are just as capable as anyone else of betrayal and opportunism.

Hatred for the Jew-Zionist preceded the creation of the State of Israel by several decades. In 1911-1912, British journalists began a campaign accusing “Zionists” of fomenting the Turkish Revolution. Back then, anti-Zionism wasn’t about a Jewish homeland but a paranoid reaction to a rumours of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. It had nothing to with Jewish settlements or the Arab Palestinians.

It’s the same now. Imagined anti-Zionism has very little to do with actual life in Israel or the territories. The Far Right believes the cunning Jew-Zionist is conspiring with other Jew-Zionists to destroy Christian Europe by facilitating unchecked Muslim immigration. Meanwhile, the Far Left holds the Jew-Zionist responsible for stoking up nationalism and fomenting hatred of Muslims.

Anti-Zionism is free-floating. It exists irrespective of the Arab Palestinians, the settlements and the status of east Jerusalem. It attaches itself to every challenge the world faces. It goes everywhere. It is a kind of Freudian “partial object”: a weird autonomous organ, surviving without a body. It is pure surface, without substance. It is indestructible, able to change form and move from one medium to another.

The Jew-Zionist is a stand-in for everything the world fears and hates the most. The Jew-Zionist is the archetypal oppressor. According to one theory, racism, sexism, homophobia, classism and disablism constitute an intersecting system of oppression. At the centre is the Jew-Zionist.

In the recent riots in Ferguson, Missouri, a sign hoisted by marchers linked the unrest between the police and African-Americans to Israel and the Arab Palestinians. One placard read, “the Palestinian people know what it means to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity.”

In December 2015, the National Women’s Studies Association passed a resolution in support of BDS on the basis that “one cannot call oneself a feminist and address inequalities and injustices without taking a stand on what is happening in Palestine.”

The intersectional social justice movement has put the Jew-Zionist on trial because he is synonymous with all forms of oppression. The fact that I refer to the Jew-Zionist as “he” is proof that the Jew-Zionist is a misogynist.

Of course, the issue of police brutality in Missouri has nothing to do with actual Zionists or Jews. Zionism is simply a way of talking about other things. It is shorthand for the neuroses of the West – colonialism, nationalism, militarism, and racism and so on.

Matti Friedman, former AP reporter, speaking at the BICOM annual dinner in January 2015, said: “The facts don’t matter: We are in the world of symbols. In this world, Israel has become a symbol of what is wrong – not Hamas, not Hezbollah, not Great Britain, not America, not Russia.”

All of which begs the question: is the Jew-Zionist bad or is it the case that the people who say the Jew-Zionist is bad are themselves bad? And what sort of mental contortions are being performed in the minds of people who use the Jew-Zionist a scapegoat for all of the world’s ills?

Whatever the answer, people who comfort themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life usually end up acting out their problems in the guise of irrational fixations. Such people become neurotic, impervious to logic. They delude themselves and they delude others.

Hence the obsessive hatred for the Jew-Zionist, a hatred that quickly becomes all-consuming. Such people lose contact with reality. They dissociate themselves from the world of facts because they are under the illusion that the world is the construct of the nefarious Jew-Zionist.

There is no reasoning with such people. How can you reason with someone who believes that the Jew-Zionist is at the nexus of everything? How can you reason with someone who believes that rationality is the privileged concern of the Jew-Zionist, that Reason itself is suspect?

To quote Philip Larkin’s poem “Days,” solving that question brings the doctor and the priest (or should that be rabbi?) “in their long coats / running over the fields.” Pondering the question for too long is an open invitation to madness because nothing, not even the hallowed sciences of philosophy and psychology, can fully explain the mentality of the obsessives who believe the imaginary Jew-Zionist is the diabolical Other.

 

 

 

 

Abbas’ poor grasp of Palestinian history has a peculiar relevance

If Mahmoud Abbas is so proud of being leader of a people named after ancient Greek sea-farers who invaded the land of Canaan and occupied its southwestern coast, he should accept the limits of his forebears’ territorial victories and acknowledge the Gaza Strip as the de facto Palestinian state. This means relinquishing any claims on the rest of “Canaan.”

By Richard Mather

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has taken falsehood to a new level by claiming that the “Palestinians” have lived in the land of Israel for a staggering six thousand years. According to Abbas, the so-called Palestinian people predate the Hebrew patriarch Avraham.

“Our narrative says that we have been in this land since before Avraham,” Abbas proclaimed in a video from March 21, 2016, translated from Arabic by the Palestinian Media Watch.

Presumably, Abbas is basing his claim on a line from Bereshit (Genesis) 21:34, “And Avraham resided in the land of the Philistines a long time.”

Abbas continued: “I am not saying it. The Bible says it. The Bible says, in these words, that the Palestinians existed before Abraham.”

Here’s a history lesson for the intellectually-impoverished PA president:

The words Philistine and Palestinian do indeed share the same etymology. Both words derive from “Peleshet” or “Pelestim,” from the Semitic root “p-l-s”, which means “to divide” or “to invade.” Despite the name, the people who call themselves Palestinians are entirely unrelated to the Philistines. The current Palestinians are very recent Arab migrant-settlers who came to Eretz Israel in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The name “Falastin” that Arabs today use for “Palestine” is not an Arabic name, but adapted from the Latin Palaestina.

The original Philistines were a non-Semitic sea-faring people who came from the Aegean Islands and Crete circa 12th century BCE. They attempted to invade Egypt and were forced northward into Canaan by Ramses III. Having killed the coastal Canaanites in the area known as Gaza, the Philistines began to move into the interior of Canaan, which belonged to the Israelites. They were defeated by King David.

The Philistines who remained in Gaza were ruled by Sargon II of Assyria. After that time, they vanished from history, having been assimilated into the Assyrian and Persian empires. There is no mention of them after the Babylonian Captivity.

Here’s the good bit: If the modern-day Palestinians really aspire to be Philistines, then the only land in the whole of Canaan/Palestine/Israel they have any claim to is the Gaza Strip. The original Philistines occupied the southwestern strip of land on the coast and not much else. They failed to expand into Judea, Samaria or Galilee. The only other place they attempted to conquer was Egypt (and they failed).

In other words, if the Palestinians say they are Philistines, they can only claim Gaza as their rightful inheritance. In so doing, they must relinquish any territorial claim to Hebron, Shechem, Jerusalem, Tiberias, the Jordan Valley, and so on.

So: Judea and Israel for the Israelites/Jews; and Gaza for the Philistines/Palestinians. That’s the two-state solution solved.

True, the original Philistine State was slightly larger than the current Gaza Strip (it included Ashdod and Ashkelon) but it’s a strange quirk of history that the Palestinians have chosen to name themselves after an invading force who came from another part of the world. It is also curious that the land occupied by the Philistinian settlers from Crete and the Islamic migrant-settlers who now manage Gaza have ended up in almost the same place. There may not be a genetic or cultural connection between the ancient sea-faring peoples and the modern-day Arab Palestinians, but they occupy the same land, share the same name and share the same enmity towards the Hebrew-speaking people.

So if Mahmoud Abbas wants to recast the Palestinian Arabs as the modern-day Philistines, he must concede that his own presence in Judea and Samaria has no political legitimacy.  Moreover, it means that Gaza, which is run by his Hamas rivals, is the true – and only – seat of Palestinian sovereignty.