Saturday, June 25, 2011

Israeli History

I grapple with the question of how the idealism of the Zionists has become the difficult situation of the current Israelis, and how propaganda to delegitimize Israel and accept only a pro-palestinian narrative has muddied the wathers of history. An article in the current Ha'aretz presents a useful summary about how the past is relevant to the present. "A still-relevant miracle" by Fania Oz-Salzberger makes the point that "Today's Israel -- depending on your preference, a regional superpower, a fast-tracking start-up nation or the bane of the Middle East -- germinated in a process so swift, dramatic and inventive, that it defies comparison with any other nation-building module in modern times."

Key quote:
"Is Israel's pre-state miracle relevant, in any way, to its present-day economic miracle - or to its less-than-miraculous political inability to attain peace with the Palestinians and Syria?

"I believe it is deeply relevant. Not for the sake of triumphalism. Not in order to reiterate, for the umpteenth time, that post-Holocaust Jews played their meager historical cards far better than pre-Nakba Palestinians. Today's Palestinians have a right to claim the sovereign state that their grandfathers threw to the winds, although the lines of division will differ a great deal from the old UN partition map.

"But no historical narrative upholding Palestinian hopes and suffering can dispense with Jewish hopes and suffering. Zionism was an authentic national movement, and any attempt to demonize it (and denounce the State of Israel ) while otherwise "having nothing against" the Jewish people (and disclaiming anti-Semitism ) is a historical non sequitur. Only a serious engagement with the human energies, accomplishments and failures of the pre-Israeli Zionist movement can explain the tenacity, success and shortcomings of Israel. Israelis, in particular, must shun the politics of despair sometimes heard in political discourse. Existential panic and cynicism have never been part of the Zionist ethos. Sowing seeds in dry soil, peace-seeking self-defense, hoping and building - these were the true hallmarks of Israel's grassroots founders."

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