Left, armed with the systematized victimology of Michel
Foucault and the brash self-confidence of those who have
nothing to lose but their white male guilt, may be intellectually
and politically bankrupt, but they know a good propaganda
ploy when they see one. They have very cleverly seized on
two issues Israel and reparations for American blacks as
restitution for slavery and run with them, and the Bush
administration has been forced to respond with a threat to
boycott the meeting. While maintaining that they really do
want to attend, US officials were clear that if the "Zionism-is-racism"
and reparations issues were raised the American delegates
somehow manage to miss their planes. "The United States
intends to go to this conference. The only thing that would
stop the United States from going," said White House spokesman
Ari Fleischer, "is in the event that this conference and its
organizers equate Zionism with racism in the agenda leading
up to the conference or if they look backward at the very
tangled question of reparations and slavery.''
we mustn't "look backward," at least not too far. Naturally,
it's okay to look back at the Holocaust, and at the depredations
faced by blacks in the American south in, say, the 1950s and
'60s. But as for examining how the Palestinians were ethnically
cleansed from their homes by Zionist ideologues in league
with various colonial powers (the Ottomans, the British, the
Americans) forget it. As Israeli bulldozers demolish Palestinian
homes, and the blood of their children stains the soil that
is no longer theirs, Zionism in action certainly seems
like racism to them. But, then, these are the victims of Zionism,
and what do they know?
Zionism was originally a tendency of the Left,
a subset of the socialist movement inspired by Marx, the German
Social Democracy, and the Russian Social Democratic Labor
Party of Lenin's time. As such, it was egalitarian, internationalist,
and its militants were convinced that with the onset of true
socialism, all racial and religious strife would automatically
disappear along with capitalism, the nuclear family, and bourgeois
individualism. It was only later that the right-wing "revisionist"
school, embodied by today's Likud party, arose amid the realities
of the Zionist project. For the onset of Israeli socialism
did not give rise to the idyllic commune envisioned
by Zionists of the Left, but to an increasingly militarized
and expansionist society that turned the Palestinians into
an inferior caste. Labor
Zionism created the supreme irony: Israeli national socialism.
THEY CAME AS
LIBERATORS . . .
inversion of the original Zionist vision is a function of
the failure of socialism. The all-powerful Israeli state,
invested with total power over the economy, naturally sought
to expropriate the private property of the Palestinians.
In the Zionist socialist mindset, these were the evil landlords,
who were oppressing the Palestinian workers and peasants.
That they were also an obstacle to the creation of an explicitly
Jewish state was obscured in a fog of left-wing jargon. The
Palestinians understood this very well, however, and failed
to welcome the Zionists as their liberators. Why, those ingrates
even resisted this latest assault by foreign religious zealots
with some imagined theological claim to their land and livelihood,
just as they had resisted the medieval Crusaders. Palestinian
hostility to Zionist aims led to an equal and opposite reaction,
and Zionism began to evolve in a troubling direction.
. . . AND ENDED
UP AS CONQUERORS
a religious dimension, the Zionist brand of socialism easily
took on a millennialist coloration, which, early on, inspired
its fanatical adherents to commit acts of terrorism against
civilians with impunity. The Stern
Gang and other underground groups were no less violent
than Hamas. The only difference is that they had a success
that Hamas can only dream of: they won, after all,
and their leaders became the founders and chief executives
of the Israeli state.
power, Zionism became an ideology that justified what we call
today "ethnic cleansing," the systematic expulsion of entire
communities based on their ethnicity. The aim of this Israeli
government policy was to repopulate the emptied land with
settlers, replacing the ousted Palestinians with the aliyah
(or in-migration) of their religious brethren from all over
the world. The last dregs of the "internationalism" of this
variety of socialism was an appeal to the Jews
not the workers of all countries to unite in a single
nation, a clarion call that married the narrowest exclusivity
with the "proletarian internationalism" of classical Marxism.
LOVE IS BLIND
the novelist Ayn Rand, "is exception-making," and certainly
by this standard the relation between Israel and the US can
only be described as torrid. We ignore, in Israel, the sort
of actions that would normally have the US government in a
permanent lather. Here, after all, is a state that brazenly
discriminates on the basis of religion: Jews from all over
the world have the "right of return," and are granted automatic
citizenship as well as numerous subsidies, but Palestinians
displaced by Israeli bulldozers have no such rights.
government, which directly subsidizes religion and regulates
social and economic life so that it conforms to the strictures
of a religious dogma, is arguably a theocracy closer to the
Iranian model than to any Western democracy. But the Zionists
make the mullahs look mild in comparison, for consider their
actions: a whole population has been ghettoized and corralled,
much as the Jews of medieval Europe were penned up in overcrowded
fenced-off areas, and all on the basis of race and ethnicity.
The last government that did these sorts of things also massacred
multi-millions, at least 6 million of which were Jews. The
irony of this should leave a bitter aftertaste in the mind
of the reader, while I segue safely on to the next paragraph.
NOT ALWAYS . . .
It is also
interesting to note that some of the biggest advocates of
the alleged benefits of virtually unlimited immigration
Wattenberg, and many
non-Jewish neoconservatives come to mind would
never dream of imposing such an "open borders" regime
on Israel. For that would lead, very shortly, to the demise
of Israel as a specifically Jewish state, and would force
Israelis to make a fateful choice between Zionism and democracy
and basic human decency. Indeed, they are already making
that choice in favor of the former as Ariel Sharon gets ready
to impose a semi-Final
Solution to the Palestinian Problem.
the US applauds the kidnapping and prosecution of Slobodan
Milosevic for alleged war crimes, we aid and abet eerily similar
crimes in the Holy Land. If Milosevic is guilty of "ethnic
cleansing" in Bosnia, and Kosovo, then didn't the same sort
of war crimes occur in Palestine? More interestingly, weren't
these atrocities rationalized by two varieties of national
socialism that are brothers under the skin?
With the threat of a Danish court to indict
the Israeli ambassador to Denmark, Israeli ambassadors all
over the world must be wondering whether to pack their bags
rather than take the risk. After all, the evidence of Israeli
war crimes is a lot more plentiful and convincing than what
Carla Del Ponte has on Slobo.
So, is Zionism racism? If we are talking about
the Zionism that is, then the answer is an emphatic
yes. But Zionism per se the idea that
Jews, like all peoples, have the right to national and cultural
self-determination is certainly not inherently racist.
While the term has been much abused indeed, in our
era, it enjoys a special status as the single most
abused term in the English language racism is a valid
concept in its original meaning, which is a variety of collectivism
based on race instead of class. Yet Zionism could conceivably
be separated out from its collectivist historical roots, and
understood as a strategy for the survival of the Jewish people.
If Zionism is seen as a survival strategy, then the interests
of the Jewish people cannot be well-served by the unabashed
arrogance and violence of the present regime. The founders
of the Zionist ideal must be spinning in their graves. Instead
of building a socialist Elysian Fields they birthed a theocratic
in this pure, a-historical sense, Zionism could conceivably
evolve in a free market and therefore a just direction.
This movement would depend on the growth of a libertarian
tendency in Israeli society, one that is based on the inviolability
and centrality of property rights as the basis of a
free and prosperous commonwealth. There is no such movement
in Israel, at present, and no sign that one will arise in
time to avert disaster.
AND JUST RESTITUTION
Furthermore, a truly libertarian movement in Israel would
be concerned, above all, with the protection and restoration
of just titles to land and other property: once in power,
Israeli libertarians would not only denationalize but also
restore stolen property to its rightful owners or their heirs.
For the defense of private property, the prerequisite
for human civilization, does not exist only in the present,
but must extend back in time and there is no cutoff point,
nor can there be. For what is the difference, in terms of
justice as an absolute principle, if my stolen property
is recovered and I or my heirs are recompensed inside of five
minutes, five hours, five weeks, or five centuries? While
the original victims of a theft may be long dead, their heirs
and legatees are still being ripped off, continually, so long
as restitution is not made.
applies to the bicycle you stole when you were in high school
(all those years ago) and is still stored away in your parents'
garage, and to the Israeli government, which has expropriated,
bulldozed, and overrun the private property of Palestinians.
Justice will not be done until you return that bike to its
rightful owners the family of the kid you stole it
from. (He has since passed away, but his family still lives
in the old neighborhood and they always wondered what happened
to that bike.) The same principle applies to Palestinians
and to American blacks, whose very liberty was stolen
AS BOURGEOIS RIGHT
Left has latched on to issues that, ironically, should be
of paramount concern to those who uphold a thoroughgoing enforcement
of property rights and strict adherence to free markets, that
is, markets cleansed of all coercion and fraud, whether past
or present. The "reparations" movement that has sprung up
among blacks, for all its demagogic white-baiting, has a kind
of popular resonance not because it is revolutionary but precisely
due to its complaint that the rules of a bourgeois society
based on property rights are not being followed to the letter.
Something was stolen from us, they aver, and justice requires
the reparations movement arose out of a sense of perceived
injustice a violation of property rights. This is not a
socialist or leftist grievance, but the complaint of a dispossessed
owner. For a libertarian solution or, at least,
a basis for one see page 75 of the New York University
Press edition of Murray N. Rothbard's The
Ethics of Liberty. This reference will have to suffice,
for the moment: it can be only a hint of a column to come,
as this column is already overly long.
A SINKING FEELING
moment, however, let us focus on the UN conference itself,
and the sheer unselfconscious pomposity of such an event,
reflected in its official title. The absurdity of Americans
being judged by the tribal chiefs of Zimbabawe and the mullahs
of Tazikistan gives the whole production the air of Kakfa
novel, a surrealistic nightmare in broad daylight. This is
the Zeitgeist of the new millennium, the cultural ethos
of the New World Order: the sinking feeling that we Americans
are caught in a bad dream from which there is no awakening.
LOOK ON THE
good thing about the UN racism conference is that it further
discredits the idea that the UN has any moral legitimacy or
authority over the people of the United States, or that it
ought to. Unfortunately, the efforts of the Left to discredit
the US abroad are aided and abetted by Washington's unconditional
support for Israel. Such a policy is not in America's national
self-interest: furthermore, as long as we subsidize and encourage
the Israelis by our silence, we enable them to carry out what
are genuine war crimes against the Palestinian people.
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