Anti-Zionism: the "big" ideology
Communism explained history in terms of a struggle between classes for political and economic power. Nazism explained history as a struggle between races for world domination. What claim does anti-Zionism make (that you haven't heard before) ?
Zionism = apartheid = racism. The once reviled and then revoked UN resolution was archived and mothballed when some quick-witted people nicked the concept, hid the birth certificate, gave it a pseudo-humanitarian suit of clothes, then held aloft a rollicking rallying cry. Israel the apartheid practitioner!
Did it work? Did it just! Apartheid experts and legal minds, try as they might, were like straws in the wind. Richard Goldstone fired every argument in the armory to prove that apartheid was a libel. Did it make a jot of difference? If anything, picketers wielded their banners more flamboyantly.
What does that tell us about anti-Zionists? Were they called forth by a real situation? Whosoever reflects on the word ‘ideology’ connects the dots. As a modern-day ‘ism’ anti-Zionism is probably second only to humanitarianism or human rights. Indeed the two could well be Siamese twins. One lives off the other. Separate the human rights half and the anti-Zionist twin would have little to say.
Are we looking at a new world-wide ideology? Yes, when we look at the essential elements, anti-Zionism takes the cake all right.
Turn up a lexicon and we learn that ideology is a body of beliefs that have the power to stir up and mobilize people. Now turn up a political philosopher such as Hannah Arendt.
Ideology, Arendt says, must claim a total explanation through an historical force. Communism explained history in terms of a struggle between classes for political and economic power. Nazism explained history as a struggle between races for world domination.
We’re told by Arendt that ideology must provide (a) a total explanation of the past; (b) a total knowledge of the present, and (c) a reliable prediction of the future. But even then the job is not done. All current happenings must be explained and interpreted through the ideology’s body of beliefs.
These may seem tough shoes to fit. Yet, anti-Zionism fits them to perfection. Only sit at the feet of the faithful and listen. Consider the teachings of the BDS -- the boycott franchise, and be wise.
Anti-Zionism explains history in terms of the struggle of Jews to control the world. The chosen weapon is not force but conspiratorial games. Jews are clever ‘Elders of Zion’ type manipulators. They rely not on their own physical power but on that of others: political powers and the media do their bidding.
Zionists twist those powers to get special treatment for Israel. They get what they want by pushing the right knobs, manipulating the right leaders, hijacking American foreign policy; playing the Holocaust card for all its worth. Their behaviour is “beyond chutzpah” in the words of Norman Finkelstein, a member of the anti-Zionist priestly caste.
So far so good; but that is by no means all Arendt can teach. Ideology, says the great political scientist, has no link to real experience. Believers are incapable of learning anything new, not even from something that lately came to pass. Belief is not only divorced from reality, it insists on a truer version of events. And here the role of teaching comes into play. The truer version is provided by indoctrination.
Nothing new here: anti-Zionism’s political soldiers are trained up at school and university. The Palestinian Authority puts indoctrination in the school syllabus. Pupils are taught to that Israel has no right to exist; to rely on maps with Palestine where Israel ought to be. Nor in the developed world are places of education far behind.
They fulfill the same purpose as the old Soviet Comintern. Graduates leave hallowed halls with the idea of Israel as a rogue among nations. Zionists = Nazis; Israel = Apartheid.
Because ideology has no power to transform reality, it emancipates followers by making certain premises axiomatic. Arendt is particularly clear on this point. Facts are created that don’t exist in the realm of reality.
Anti-Zionism’s axiomatic premise is that done to death word, ‘Occupation.’ Occupation suffuses every claim, colours every accusation made against Israel. Even professor-of-law anti-Zionists rely on the axiom that Israel occupies Palestinian territory.
Neither history nor law holds back the likes of John Dugard or Richard Falk.
But anti-Zionism, to be an ideology, must explain the past…Which it does, with a simple yet emotive narrative. In the past Jewish Europeans came over and stole the land from "indigenous" Palestinians. Israelis are colonial usurpers. Hence even erecting a family house, or drawing water becomes an act of theft.
How would anti-Zionist belief explain the present? Israel is a powerful aggressor and the Palestinians helpless bystanders. Case closed, members of the jury.
What kind of future does anti-Zionism predict, and how does it work towards that future? It predicts one state – one more Muslim state, and works to see that happen.
Muslims will govern a Jewish minority. At this point the anti-Zionist may take a back seat and wait for the natural course and pattern of history to mete out the Jewish fate. Ethnic cleansing will solve the problem. The Jews won’t last long in Palestine, no siree. In quick time Jews will revert to their ordained status of homeless wanderers, poor sojourners.
Strip away the veneer of anti-Zionists – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and secular, and what are we left with? A body of belief, a hand-rubbing, mouth-watering vision of the future.
Steve Apfel is director of the School of Management Accounting, Johannesburg. He is the author of the book,'Hadrian's Echo: The whys and wherefores of Israel's critics' (2012) and a contributor to, "War by other means." (Israel Affairs, 2012). His articles and blogs are published in several foreign journals and his new work, 'How the West was won' is due out next year
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