To Criticize Zionism is to attempt to de-legitimize Israel; that is the claim. After all, Zionism is simply the desire of the Jewish people to have a safe and secure homeland. In the context of Europe in the second half of the 19th century that’s not an unreasonable desire and surely the Jewish people have a right to a land of their own. There are a number of things wrong with this simplistic view.
First, even today, a majority of ‘Jewish people’ have no wish to live in Israel/Palestine. At the end of the 19th century most wanted to get to ‘the Promised Land’ – of America! Very few Jews favoured Zionism and many today still say, “Not in my name”. And, if a desire for a safe and secure homeland’ sounded reasonable for (let us say) a Polish Jew, what did it look like and feel like for a Palestinian Arab living in Jerusalem or Jaffa or Nazareth?
From their perspective it was a European colonial invasion. Zionism stole their land and many of their lives. It created one of the greatest refugee populations of modern times – sadly hidden from the blinkered eyesight of Western leaders. Zionism today demolishes their homes, makes access to their fields difficult, attacks their children on the way to school, administers detention without trial or access to legal aid and builds a wall on their land. It denies their right of return contravening international law whilst applying such a ‘right’ to ‘Jewish’ people who have no connection with the land. Except, don’t bother if you’re ‘Messianic Jewish’ unless you’ve got a pile of money to fight a court case.
Zionism has nothing to do with Judaism and the biblical and historical justifications don’t stand up to examination, (unless you like your eschatology ‘Hollywood style’). Palestinians have been let down by their leaders, part of Israel’s policy of assassinating anyone who looked capable; but they have also been let down by the international community. There are no Palestinian votes in the UK or US elections but Zionism has a large lobby and massive fianancial and media resources.
So I will continue to attack the ideology of Zionism, including and especially it’s ‘christian’ incarnation. But I will not attack the Zionists; I am allowed, even required, to hate the ideology, but I cannot and will not hate the people, (though I can’t claim I’ve not been tempted).