‘I am repulsed by supporters of Israel, Zionism is naive dream’

August 3, 2016  

Two prominent American Jewish historians sparked controversy this week with a scathing opinion piece in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper attacking Zionism and Jewish support for the State of Israel.

The article, published on the paper’s online edition on Monday, was co-authored by Hasia Diner, Director of New York University’s American Jewish history center, and Marjorie Feld of Babson College in Massachusetts.

Declaring the Israel they loved to be a “naïve delusion”, Diner and Feld decried Zionism for its “negation of the diaspora and as such the ending of Jewish life outside a homeland in Israel”, along with accusations of ethnic cleansing and imperialism.

Yet unlike many contemporary critics of Israel, Diner and Feld do not locate the historical locus of Israel’s alleged ill-behavior in the 1967 Six Day War and the liberation of much of the ancient Jewish homeland, but in the ‘original sin’ of Israel’s foundation.

Ridiculing the notion that Israeli “colonialism and racism” began only in June 1967, Diner traces the origins of Israel’s “imperialism” to 1948.

“The Israel that I loved, the one my parents embraced as the closest approximation to Eden on earth, itself had depended well before 1967 upon the expropriation of Arab lands and the expulsion of Arab populations.”

“The Law of Return can no longer look to me as anything other than racism. I abhor violence, bombings, stabbings, or whatever hurtful means oppressed individuals resort to out of anger and frustration.”

But while Diner refused to justify such violence against Israelis, she suggests it is understandable.

“I am not surprised when they do so, after so many decades of occupation, with no evidence of progress.”

Diner’s hostility towards Zionism and the Jewish state are hardly limited to the present Israeli government, however, with even American supporters of Israel causing a sense of “repulsion”.

“I feel a sense of repulsion when I enter a synagogue in front of which the congregation has planted a sign reading, “We Stand With Israel.” I just do not go and avoid many Jewish settings where I know Israel will loom large as an icon of identity.”

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