It's almost taboo to say this, but the establishment of Israel is one of the great foreign policy disasters of the 20th century. While one cannot question that Jews were not safe most anywhere in Europe, creating a state under constant siege that has to displace the people already living there and then oppressing them in occupied territories has not exactly been a huge success. The failure of the Jewish state to establish long-term stability in the face of low birthrates compared to the Islamic population suggests either it losing its Jewish identity or apartheid; either way, it's likely that we'll still be dealing with these same problems in another 60 years.Are Israelis allowed to think of themselves as a nationality in their own right and not somebody else's foreign policy issue? Isn't this Erik Loomis fellow being a trifle Big-Satan-o-centric? To supply some context, he was observing that "Roosevelt's classic ambivalence shows up very strongly in figuring out what to do with Jews after the war." Of course, the Jews had their own ideas about their destiny and they found themselves considerably at odds in a number of respects with the Western colonial power that ruled Mandate Palestine. The Jews were kicked out of East Jerusalem, after all, by the British trained, supplied, and commanded Arab Legion. The passage quoted above is part of a 20-part (!) review (of From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 by George Herring) undertaken as a joint project with another blog. The other blogger also essays some pronouncements about Israel:
. . . one of the things I learned from the latest chapter of Herring is that King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia proposed that the Allies carve a Jewish state out of Germany, rather than settle Holocaust survivors in British Palestine. Roosevelt and Churchill rejected this proposal out of hand. I'm thinking that there would have been substantial upside; it would have made the connection between the Holocaust and the Jewish state explicit rather than implicit, and would have had the merit of hurting the people who had actually caused the Holocaust rather than those who hadn't been involved. The German population could have been expelled from, say, Schleswig-Holstein, which is only a bit smaller that present-day Israel. Israel on the Baltic would control the Kiel Canal, and its security could eventually have been guaranteed by NATO. The Germans might complain, but they were enduring far more violent population expulsions in the East. Moreover, present-day Germans seem to have gotten over the loss of Danzig and Konigsberg. That said, the fact of strong Jewish immigration to Palestine in the 1930s and 1940s rendered this proposal dead on arrival.Not to mention a million or so Jews in Muslim countries who would shortly require liberation. The big daddy of leftist pronouncements on Israel is, of course, Juan Cole. Here he notices that Zionism is a nationalist movement:
Zionism is a form of nationalism centered on the necessity of turning Judaism into a base for a nation-state. Probably a majority of Jews, and virtually all American Jews, were offended by this notion before WW II. And although Zionists think they were vindicated by the events of the 1930s and 1940s, it is not at all clear in the 21st century that having a state makes you safe (my state has nuclear missiles aimed at it), or, just as important, adds to your wellbeing. Moreover, having an ethnically-based state is invidious (Jim Crow in the US was a form of white Protestant ethnic nationalism).It was, more precisely, a program of discrimination with racialist underpinnings, but it had something to do with nationalism. Which should remind us that besides the matter of the nuclear missiles aimed at Cole's state and the danger to Israel, there is also the matter of the civil liberties enjoyed by the citizens of some states. Does that figure in someplace?
But in any case, Zionist nationalism isn't any different from any other nationalism (all nationalisms fetishize some marker or markers of identity, whether language, religion, folkways, etc.) and it doesn't deserve to be privileged in any way. Nationalism where healthy can be a sane form of patriotism and pride in the achievements of a people,and many Zionists fit that description (though more Jewish Zionists than Christian Zionists are humane in my experience).The history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been one of conflicting nationalist movements. Nationalist movements, for better or worse, were the form that opposition to colonialism took in the Middle East. I wonder what his chances were of noticing that half his blogging life is spent expressing solidarity with Palestinian nationalism.
But nationalism can also easily turn pathological. You saw the way Christian Zionism becomes pathological when John Hagee said God had been angry with the Jews for not forming a state or going to Palestine, and so sent Hitler as their divinely appointed hunter. When nationalism turns pathological, it becomes a 00, a license to kill. The pundits who tried to smear Freeman and then Walt think they are 00's.And thus Cole's analysis of the role of nationalism in the Middle East arrives at anger at "pathological" "00" nationalists who criticize Chas Freeman and Stephen Walt. Meanwhile, a blogger at the Lancet discovered the new Zionist super-weapon until our operatives disappeared the offending post. Tim Blair reports.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad