Thursday, August 19, 2010

Not "Post-Zionism", say "Advanced-Zionism"

As it turns out I am not an NGO nor am I a college professor. I have only rarely attended commemorations of the Nakba (What's that? Google it.), and there are no foreign money sources that help pay my bills at the end of the month. What a relief. Were I any one of those abominations, I would be in a mess of troubles. Why, you ask??.........because I'd be waiting for the sound of boots and a knock on my door.

As an Israeli Jew, and a Zionist too, I think we need to know more about the history and troubles of our area than our Zionist theology allowed us years ago. I think that in order to better understand ourselves we need also to understand our neighbors. Chronicles of a conflict are blurred when related only through one pair of eyes. National maturity brings with it the ability to investigate more closely the creation of national myths. Research and analysis into the annals of our past can help us better understand both the rights and the wrongs of our difficult climb to renewed nationhood, and perhaps even better help us adjust from the weariness and the necessities of the climb to the stability and strength of achievement. Research and analysis into our Zionist narrative strengthens for me the inescapable need of our people to have ventured on the road to national independence in the Land of Israel, and nowhere else. But it also enlightens me to the injuries and suffering of others along the way. Having reached my destination, research allows me to analyze and determine which of the injuries can I alleviate today, what can or cannot be redressed while continuing to develop my own national character. In the jargon of today's Israeli milieu, this research and analysis is often referred to as "Post-Zionism". I refer to it as "Advanced Zionism".

Proponents of "Advanced Zionism" are today under a massive attack by right wing organizations wedded to either "Messianic Zionism" or the more modest "All-Is-Mine Zionism", sometimes known by me as "Narcissistic Zionism".

NGOs who support causes championed by "Advanced Zionism" are under great public attack, with a smear campaign designed to portray them us unpatriotic traitors aiming knowingly for the destruction of Israel as the Jewish Homeland. Universities are being threatened by financial boycotts for harboring too many professors in social science departments with leanings towards "Advanced Zionism".

So what??.......there are always fringe groups, almost-fascist groups and wholly fascist groups who tend to be a royal pain to our national behind, but also tend to remain fringe groups. These are groups who don't debate an issue. They portray opponents as traitors, fifth-columnists, quislings and Judas's. So what?.........Well, today they are coming out of the fringes onto center-stage. They reach the ears and the power of Knesset members and Ministers within the government coalition. They have been instigators of proposed legislation in the Knesset to limit the foreign financial support of "leftist" NGO's. They have brought one University president to accede (unwillingly) to a demand to check the syllabi of his social science departments. They have been supported by the Minister of Education who announced his own investigation into the power of "Advanced Zionism" within Israeli education. This is all within a background of supported proposed legislation by coalition parties………from the illegality to commemorate the Nakba (which is when I will begin commemorating….), to the proposed loyalty oaths, to the proposed prison term for boycotting goods from the conquered territories, to more and more, and we're just beginning……………..beginning to set aside democratic principles of public protest and debate and progressing into the realm of a jingoistic/xenophobic nationalism planted firmly in the roots of "Messianic and Narcissistic Zionism". Woe to "Advanced Zionism"…… Vei-Is-Mir to Zionism, period.

As mentioned earlier, I am not an NGO nor am I a college professor. I have only rarely attended commemorations of the Nakba, and there are no foreign money sources that help pay my bills at the end of the month. What a relief. I show up at one place or another in the cause of "Advanced Zionism", talk a bit to people, write a few words read by the very few, and never get in the News. So I'm not worried. No one has come to knock on my door………yet.


Efraim Perlmutter said...

In theory universities are supposed to be places of open debate and an interchange of ideas. When a faculty is all of one opinion, it is usually an indication that the place has become one of mutual reinforcement of the same ideas. This is not particularly unusual in universities where professors, being flawed human beings, have been known to prefer like-minded colleagues around them, which may make their professional experience much more self-satisfying but it does harm to the idea of the interchange of different ideas. It is probably not such a bad idea, in those cases where departments have become intellectually uniform, for a university administration to come along and stir the mix and it is most likely those with different ideas who will first notice the situation.

Efraim Perlmutter

אהרון שריף said...

Thanks for your comments. There is much justification to what you write when observed through the eye of a monocle attempting to assess a particular occurrence within a limited range of view. The occurrence may or may not need adjustment, all according to the investigation. But when observing a much broader range of attacks on a wider spectrum of public life, it becomes clear that the motivation has moved over from the investigative to the political. Of course, there is nothing wrong with political motivation in and of itself. By the same token, my own political motivation is a clear abhorrence of a process that leads to a concerted attack on the openness of democratic principles and leads to a variety of legislative proposals that are meant to inhibit alternative political thought and action (in conjunction with legislative proposals of a prejudicial racial nature). This is a process that has increasingly exemplified our public and legislative life of this past year (with previous years being worthy preludes).