The New anti-Zionists Are Trying to Destroy Israel

As the new Muslim fanatics aim to do to Islam, so the new Jewish chauvinists aim to drag Jewish nationalism back to the darkness of previous centuries.

Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit
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The Knesset plenum.
The Knesset plenum.Credit: Emil Salman
Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit

Never has there been such a comprehensive, serious and profound offensive on Zionism.

The Jewish nation-state law? This is an anti-Zionist law that shatters the complex, delicate, vital idea of a Jewish democratic state. When the Jewish element of our life is placed above the democratic one, they both vaporize. In the 21st century there’s no Jewish state that isn’t democratic, and in the Middle East there’s no democratic state that isn’t Jewish.

So it’s imperative to preserve the precise balance between the two elements. That’s what Herzl, Jabotinsky and Ben-Gurion did in their time, and what Aharon Barak, Dan Meridor and Amnon Rubinstein did in theirs. That’s how Israel developed as a free state in the thicket of its contradictions.

But the savages of the anti-liberal Likud and the anti-democratic Habayit Hayehudi don’t understand this. The lowbrows of nationalist populism don’t grasp the basic premises of the Herzlian movement. When they lay their rough hand on the unique conceptual structure of Israel, everything crumbles. What was built so laboriously over more than 100 years of enlightened Zionism is eradicated and vilified. What was built in 66 years of Israeli democracy is defiled.

As the new Muslim fanatics are trying to drag Islam back to the Middle Ages, so the new Jewish chauvinists are trying to drag Jewish nationalism to the darkness of previous centuries. They have taken leave of their senses. Since its beginning, Zionism hasn’t had such bitter, dangerous enemies as the zealots sitting in Jerusalem today and doing everything they can to destroy the temple.

The settlements? The settlements are an anti-Zionist project. The state faces many burdens, unbearably heavy. The importance of the Iranian nuclear challenge cannot be overstated – it threatens our survival. The importance of the challenge posed by Arab chaos cannot be overstated – there’s a real danger in the collapse of the Middle East’s stabilizing structures; the regional system has gone into an unprecedented spin.

The importance of the internal challenge cannot be overstated – there’s a genuine threat of Israel becoming a lacerated society of tribes, with no common ethos or narrative and with no leadership worthy of the name. The importance of the social-economic challenge cannot be overstated – Israel’s social democracy has crumbled and been replaced with a regime of extreme inequality, one that doesn’t enable the middle classes to aspire or the working classes to breathe.

But instead of tackling these fateful challenges, we’re dealing with the wacky inanity called settlements. More and more and more and more settlements. Do we really want to lose the Jewish majority, the moral dimension and the Zionist project? Do we really want to take Israel out of the family of nations for good? Since its beginning, Zionism hasn’t had such bitter and dangerous enemies as the settlement worshippers, who are painting Israel in Rhodesian colors.

The secret of the national Jewish movement’s success was that it created a sharp contrast between itself and the space it settled in. If there’s a desert around us, we’re an oasis. If there’s despotism around us, we’re a democracy. If we’re surrounded by backwardness, we’re progress. If there’s fanaticism and death ritual around us, we’re moderation and choice of life.

But the band of fools who took over the 19th Knesset and 33rd government insists of blurring the contrast. In the most sensitive period of our history they are trying to turn us into an inseparable part of a tribal, nationalist, messianic, violent region.

The new anti-Zionists who have taken over our government and Knesset are undermining Israel’s foundations, setting Jerusalem on fire and bringing disaster upon us.

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