Perception of Israel in the mainstream Western media as the “Jewish homeland” and the “only democracy in the Middle East”; But this common tone in news coverage is based on a host of questionable assumptions from a book, based on the views of independent Jews who have challenged hard-line Israeli policies.
The book “Conflict with Zionism: Voices of Jewish Dissent,” published in 2020 by Interlink Press, presents the positions and transformations of 21 Jewish thinkers, including scholars, researchers, journalists and activists who have opposed Zionism since its inception politically and religiously, on cultural, moral or philosophical grounds, including Albert Einstein. Martin Popper, Hannah Arendt, Noam Chomsky, and Israeli oppositionists such as Yeshayahu Leibovich, Ziv Sternhill, Shlomo Sand, Ilan Pappe and others. Read also Lost hope and blocked horizon .. Israeli intellectuals narrate the journey of immigration without returnLate confessions of the son of the founder of Israel .. Remorse for the Zionist projectLonger lived than Israel .. The residents of Palestine tell their testimonies of the Nakba in international language sImagine “Israel” in Russia or Eastern Europe … the forgotten history of the anti-Zionist Jewish left
The author, Daphna Levitt, is an Israeli who currently lives in Canada, served in the Israeli army, and slowly realized that the Israeli version of events contradicted the logic of history, and saw for herself the daily abuse of Palestinians in the occupied territories; She writes, “My long steps began with disappointment in the Zionist narrative, and the search for other dissenting voices shortly after the 1967 Six Day War, when I served as a press liaison officer at Allenby Bridge, and watched Palestinian refugees try to flee across the border. The separation from my country was gradual and took several Decades… In 2002, I left Israel for Canada, at a time when the Zionist agenda became more militant and less tolerant of dissent.
The book explains multiple (and contradictory) opinions that emerged since the late 19th century, long before the founding of the State of Israel, explores the opinions of leading figures up to the present time, and highlights a tradition of courageous intellectual inquiry and activism rooted in Jewish moral imperatives.
Judaism opposed to Zionism
In the 21st century, hardly anyone remembers that Zionism was a minority movement among the Jews in the 19th century, when Theodor Herzl began to advocate for it. The Austro-Hungarian journalist, who founded the Zionist Organization and encouraged Jewish immigration to Palestine, faced strong opposition from Jewish leaders around the world, including the chief rabbi of Vienna Moritz Goodman, who rejected the idea of ”Jewish nationalism” asserting that “belief in one God is the factor.” (The only one), which gathers the Jews, “stressing that” Zionism contradicts the teachings of Judaism. “
The American rabbis of reform, meeting in Pittsburgh, rejected nationalism of any kind, and declared, “We do not consider ourselves a nation; rather, it is a religious community, and therefore we do not expect a return to Palestine, nor the restoration of any of the laws related to the Jewish state.” It was the advent of Hitler and the Holocaust that changed the conviction of many Jews, according to the book’s presentation , which Alan C. Brownfield gave to the Washington Report.
The author states that “with the exception of those described by the Israeli and Jewish institutions as extremists, Jews who hate themselves and even” traitors “, there were relatively few Israelis and Jews or friends of Israel who describe themselves as resisting or criticizing the inherent racist ideology of Zionism, and considers that her book gives Vote for some of those who were brave enough to oppose the prevailing “national” narrative about Israel, as the homeland of the Jews and the democracy of the Middle East. “
Levitt holds degrees from Tel Aviv, Indiana and Cornell universities, and has also been an activist in the “Gush Shalom” movement (the Peace Bloc), “B’Tselem” (an organization that works to end the occupation), Physicians for Human Rights, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and others. She is the co-author of a previous book on the Middle East entitled “The Israeli Rejection: A Hidden Agenda for the Middle East Peace Process” (Pluto Press, 2011).
The author says that she was indoctrinated from the Zionist education system, as she believed “from the bottom of my heart that Israel has the exclusive right to the land, which was then called Palestine,” while denying “the existence of such a thing as the Palestinian people in Palestine.” https://www.youtube.com/embed/d4DQ4Ojhavg?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=ar&autohide=2&wmode=transparent
Popper, Einstein, and Arendt
In the book Levitt writes contradictory positions of some personalities. The German philosopher Martin Buber, who bitterly condemned the Zionist treatment of the indigenous Arab population, could not abandon the nostalgia for the idea of the meeting of Jews in Palestine, and even the traditional Jewish religious currents, which rejected the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine, turned in The end of Zionism, and settled in countries that had previously refused immigration.
On his visit to the Palestinian territories in 1891, Popper considered that Palestine is not a land without a people, and later he said that Jewish settlers treat the Arab population in cruel, aggressive and violent ways, stressing his rejection of that position that is contrary to the traditions and morals of Judaism. But later he came to be seen as a cultural viewpoint of Zionism, and in 1904 the religious Austrian philosopher withdrew from most of his Zionist organizational work and devoted himself to study and writing. A shared homeland, in which the two sects have an opportunity for free development, “rejecting the domination of the Jews over the Arabs.
On the other hand, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Albert Einstein, had a different position on Zionism, as he too had nostalgia for his Jewish heritage; But he warned against transforming the ethical and cultural nature of the Jews into a “narrow nationalism”, and said, “My awareness of the essential nature of the Jews resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army and a measure of power.” On November 25, 1929 he sent a letter to Chaim Weizmann – who later filled The position of the first president of Israel – in which he said that if we do not succeed in finding a way for honest cooperation and sincere dialogue with the Arabs, we will not have learned anything from the suffering of two thousand years that have passed, and we will deserve what happens to us accordingly. “
However, he seems to have changed his ideas, as he wrote to the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1947, asking him to support the establishment of a Jewish state at the time of the United Nations partition resolution, before returning in 1948 to severely criticize Zionism, and later called for cooperation Economic development between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and the creation of a ground based on coexistence between the two parties.
The writer considered that the philosopher of German origin, Hannah Arendt, is one of the “dissidents” from Zionism, considering that the Israelis avoid her. Because it provided the most profound analysis of the contradiction of Zionism, according to a presentation by platform Mundoas (Mondoweiss).
Arendt’s circumstances led her to be one of the most important cultural and intellectual faces at the beginning of the fifties of the last century, and her experience also crystallized through her relationship with her German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, where philosophy and their political divisions brought them together after the latter supported the Nazi party. This shocked Arendt, who – as a Jew – fled the Nazis to America.
Arendt studied European Jewish history and the relationship of the Jews with the Germans, to understand the causes of Nazi hostility towards the people of her religion. Arendt admitted what she called “the Jewish tradition of violent hostility to Christians and nations (of non-Jews)”. This did not satisfy the Zionists of course, who strongly criticized her, especially after Publication of its reports in the New Yorker about Israel’s trial in Jerusalem of Nazi Holocaust leader Adolf Eichmann in 1961, referring to aspects of the “show trial” and the “propaganda” nature of the proceedings, and revealing the “immoral cooperation of some Jewish leaders with” the Final Solution For the Nazis, and her 1963 primary book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, was not translated into Hebrew long after its publication. https://www.youtube.com/embed/Qtlmkgz_6E4?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=ar&autohide=2&wmode=transparent
The future of Zionism
The author believes that the “Jewish” state has become something very different from what was hoped. It has turned into a “military force, armed and blind to the victims of our cruelty …”, and continues, “I have found other spirits, perhaps more enlightened, in my endeavor to recover from the guilt of my complicity with the actions of my country.”
The book focuses on the idea of the moral Jewish traditions in contrast to the excesses that the national idea leads to, and its author says that the Zionist slogan “A land without a people for a people without a land” was refuted by the early Zionist settlers in Palestine, who discovered that the land was inhabited by people who had been there for many generations .
The book dedicates a chapter to Isaiah Leibovitch, an Orthodox Jew and longtime professor at the Hebrew University. He says that no nation or state should ever be worshiped as sacred, considering that this is similar to idolatry, calling for the separation of religion from the state, and stressing that the occupation of Palestinian lands corrupts the spirit of Israel, while Shlomo Sand, professor emeritus of history at Tel Aviv University, believes that The Jewish community in Israel has become intolerably racist and ethnic, according to the book.
Another chapter deals with Zeev Sternhell, who served as head of the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University and wrote an article in 2018 entitled “In Israel, the growth of fascism and racism is closer to early Nazism.” Sternhill asks, “How can a historian, after 50 or 100 years, explain our period of time? When did the state turn into a true brutality of its non-Jewish population? Sovereign?
The author appears in the book frustrated with the future of Zionism on the moral and human level. In her book, she invites “every Zionist to read the poems of Mahmoud Darwish and the works of Edward Said,” which opened her eyes to the void left by the failure of Herzl’s dream.