Saturday, February 24, 2024

To Oppose Zionism, We Have to Deal with Christian Zionism


Christian Zionism colonialism British imperialism Palestine genocide Gaza Israel ethnic cleansing supremacism ethnostate racism

In the face of the genocide Israel is unleashing against Palestinians in Gaza, and the continued campaign of ethnic cleansing in the rest of historic Palestine, the spectre of antisemitism looms large. The Israeli state itself is far from the only entity advancing the pernicious idea that it’s antisemitic to critique Israel, the genocide in Gaza, or Zionism. In fact, several countries (32 in Europe) and US states have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which condemns all criticism of Israel as antisemitic, and many jurisdictions have adopted laws against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which is modelled on the global solidarity campaign that helped to dismantle apartheid in South Africa. 

This conflation between Zionism and Jewishness is pure farce. Jewishness is many things – a culture, an ethnicity, a religion, a tradition – but it long predates Zionism as a political philosophy and the state of Israel as a political entity. To say that Jewishness is constituted in part or in whole by conscription into a genocidal project is not only politically despicable, but intellectually vacuous. 

I have spent the last months (and most of the last decade) as a Jewish person organizing in Jewish community around the liberation of Palestine. Judaism is not Zionism. Jewishness cannot in any way be reduced to the political ideology supporting a Jewish-supremacist ethnostate in the land of Palestine. While many institutions, including the State of Israel, promote this conflation, activists working for the liberation of Palestine must remain attentive to the ideological character of this association and find ways to counter it wherever it appears. Calls for violence against all Jews or treating Jews as a whole as responsible for the actions of the Israeli state are problematic, as are protests outside of Jewish institutions that do not have a specific material connection to Zionism. Simply replacing the word “Jews” with “Zionists” is not sufficient to alleviate this problem. Such a conflation also misrepresents history and material concentrations of power in important ways.

In critiquing Zionism, it’s imperative that we centre the diverse range of actors that constitute the Zionist project, both historically and in the contemporary world. Much of the current discourse around the State of Israel’s grotesque violence in Palestine focuses on the politics of Jewish communities and institutions in the rest of the world, which essentially gives a free pass to Christian Zionism and non-Jewish liberal Zionism. There are today more Christian Zionists in the US than all Jews – not Jewish Zionists, but all Jews in the whole world. Some Christian Zionism is based on theological principles, but political and racial elements are prominent as well. Christian Zionist organizations operate in at least 90 countries. There is even historical evidence to suggest that Christian Zionism predates Jewish Zionism, and perhaps even caused it. Though Israel is a Jewish-supremacist state, our analysis and theory of power must reflect the actual concentration of power worldwide in the Zionist movement – and that isn’t predominantly with Jews.  (more...)

To Oppose Zionism, We Have to Deal with Christian Zionism

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