Friday, February 21, 2014

Self-hate and militant exceptionalism

The influential 2.5-million member US Presbyterian Church stands ready this June to move for full financial divesture from companies that “promote Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”
This week, the Presbyterian Church, a conservative mainstream religious group began distributing a study guide, “Zionism Unsettled.”  Published by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, their arm dedicated to ethical concerns in the Holy Land, this publication is extremely critical of the role of Zionism and the “Exceptionalist” doctrines it cites as “heretical.”
The influential 2.5-million member PCUSA stands ready this June to move for full financial divesture from companies that “promote Israel’s occupation of Palestine.” This move can be seen in a variety of ways, a great advance for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement or as strong support for Secretary of State Kerry’s calls for a settlement based on broad “right of return” for the over 4 million Palestinian refugees and diaspora.
A broader implication is taken from the source of this unique and powerful critique of Zionism, a group neither activist nor “leftist” but largely conservative, Southern based, with heavy membership within the Tea Party, the political group that recently broke with the Israel lobby.

Citing doctrine, the traditional “Nazi” comparisons

The Presbyterian Church cites Zionism as “a doctrine that promotes death rather than life.”
A key tenet of the observation made, that of promoting death over life, is the nature of “Exceptionalism” itself.  Our most recent parallel, one Zionists and their defenders loathe to shake off is that of Germany after the First World War.
The German people stood alone, threatened by Communist revolution, vilified by the world after years of racist wartime “anti-Hun” propaganda.  If anything, it is the German people who have suffered most at the hands of what, in disturbing contrast, also parallels “anti-Semitism.”
Why then is it surprising that the Exceptionalist aspects of Nazism are seen in Zionism, the expansionism, the racist profiling and, quite curiously, the eugenics policies Israel has taken to heart, policies central to Third Reich philosophy.


The issues are several:
1. The Presbyterian Church is virtually unassailable, a traditional Calvinist denomination long tied to America’s founding fathers and political leadership.
2. The usual “hue and cry” has already begun, now trying to tie open discussion of Zionist extremism to the usual “soap and lampshade” genocide rhetoric, a serious mistake.
3. Real issues of “Exceptionalism,” framed in constructive dialog, will inexorably lead to a “Zionism/Nazism” comparison rooted in disappointing realities rather than childish name-calling.
The booklet actually uses the terms “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid” adding that Zionism manipulates public opinion by “cloaking secular nationalism with sacred messianism.”
In an article published by Press TV last week, Israel’s Geography Doubletalk, this author examined issues supporting these claims: “Let us remember that the Geneva Conventions do not allow for settlement or development,” of areas seized during war.
Where our maps begin to lie is in their dependence on the 1949 armistice demarcation lines which, when foisted on the public, give a very distorted version of reality, omitting all real Palestinian rights.  These maps intend to corral the Palestinian people outside of Israel entirely.
Judea and Samaria, on these maps at least, cease to exist and with that “paper exclusion” began the move toward what we have today, a full apartheid entity without any Arab population whatsoever.  Moreover, even outside what is technically Israel, the lands seized during the 1967 war, first apartheid and now full expulsion is underway as well.”
The first attack, quite predictably, comes from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  This organization, foisted on the public as heroic Nazi hunters is, in reality, an infamous scam.  The group purchased the use of Wiesenthal’s name long ago for $50,000 and has been involved in misleading fundraising efforts ever since, preying on Jews with “Nazi hiding under the bed” fairy tales.

Redressing “the heart”

Were one to interpret the rationale for the Presbyterians for making these moves at this time, where Jewish leaders have failed miserably is in assuming that there is nothing positive to be found.
The continual rush to judgment, the quashing of dialog, the “circling of wagons,” is as it has been for decades, not just the return to “victimization mythology” but an utter refusal to take responsibility.
Where any group that sought to open reasonable dialog, something impossible without confronting the evils of censorship, tortured history and Zionist propaganda, now increasingly cited as racist and bigoted, was always smeared as “anti-Semitic,” those charges are now wearing thin.
Fanatical groups like the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), for years, financially supported White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi causes, engaged in acts of vandalism against Jewish centers of worship and culture, in what it deemed as necessary “for the good of Jews.” Whenever responsible groups spoke up for open dialog and justice, the ADL would quickly republish their writings on Nazi websites and, often within minutes, cite the “connection” in newsletters and on the web.
The end result has been to, perhaps inadvertently, strengthen “nativist” groups in America’s rural South and West that find the idea of Jew hating attractive in its simplicity.
Thus, the most fertile ground for what has been a real and perhaps even dangerous resurgence of anti-Semitism has been the Christian Zionist community in the US, a move tied directly to overly successful effort by Jewish organizations to justify both fund raising and attempts to increase Jewish militancy.
Thus, when groups genuinely amenable to open and intelligent dialog such as the Presbyterian Church attempt to address issues of glaring injustice, what could have been seen as an “open hand” is immediately “amputated.”

Self hate

Exceptionalism is, inexorably, an expression of self-loathing and feelings of inferiority. The real contributions of the Jewish people…are overshadowed by continually reinforced “victimization” efforts.
It is impossible to be adequately cynical when confronted with these efforts.
The outcries when the ironic comparisons are made, Israel and Nazi Germany, are increasingly falling on deaf ears.
While efforts in the past were always “tit for tat” vilification, the unconstructive nature of decades of failed dialog shows signs of engineering.
The most dangerous dialog has always been that which has been both constructive and open.  The messengers who have been the most threatening to Zionism have been those who have traditionally come from within the Jewish people themselves or those who have had the most admiration and affection for the Jewish religion. There is nothing in Zionism that is, in any sense, tied to the Jewish religion.
What may well be driving the Presbyterian Church in their surprising “heavy-handed” approach to Zionist misdeeds is a very real defense of the Jewish people as well as the Palestinians.
Their history makes any other possibility unlikely.