Friday, July 13, 2007
Two Bad Arguments for Political Zionism
1) The Holocaust proved Herzl right. Because of antisemitism, Jews will never be safe until they have a state of their own. 2) Had the State of Israel existed in 1939, a large number of the six million would have been saved. Of course, neither argument has anything to do with having a Jewish state in Palestine. Even if both were valid, they would not provide sufficient justification for displacing the Palestinians, unless the latter were themselves responsible for the Holocaust. I don’t even think they would justify giving a large chunk of Germany to the Jewish people after World War II, but that is at least debatable. The first proposition is untested. Since 1948, very few Jews have had their physical safety threatened that was unrelated to the State of Israel. So had there been no Zionism movement, it is not clear that, after 1945, the physical security of the Jews would have been worse off. Arguably, it would be better off. As Y. Leibowitz used to say, Israel has been indirectly and directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews -- but Israel has not saved the life of a single Jew that would have been at threat had there been no Zionist movement. (Well, maybe one or two…) The second proposition is a historical counterfactual, and hence it has no real force. Let us assume that it is true; it does sound reasonable. But so what? Had Hitler not come to power in 1933, even more of the six million would have been saved. And it was more likely for Hitler not to come to power in 1933 then for there to be a Jewish state in 1939. In fact, it was because of the Holocaust that Israel came into existence when it did. There are much better arguments for political zionism than these. I will consider them at a later date.