Lately I've been looking at the vicious debate between liberal Jews and those Jews who represent Zionism. Zionism, if you haven't heard, is and was the political movement to create a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. Much of the groundwork for Zionism came from pressure in Russia to drive out Jews. This pressure took violent form in some instances in the form of pogroms
, mob terrorism.
We all tend to make assumptions about the causes of anti-Semitism. Chief among our assumptions is that it originates from Christians blaming Jews for the crucifixion death of Jesus. But I've been wondering if that's really the root cause of all the hatred that's been expressed against Jews in the past century and a half. Might there be more to the story?
If there is more to it, it seems to me that the reasons are being suppressed by history, and that idea has been nagging me for a couple of years now, like a voice whispering in my ear that there's something I need to pay more attention to. My suspicions were raised by the participation of powerful Jewish neo-conservative pro-Israel voices at high levels in the Bush government. Then a library book reached out to me and whispered, "There's something inside here that you should look at." A pale blue paperback showing signs of age, that book is titled Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, by Lenni Brenner, Croom Helm, 1983.
I've checked the book out from the library several times but never been able to wrap my mind around it enough to get past the first few pages. Somehow the book seemed almost unreadable to me, so I would wind up taking it back to the library after a couple of weeks and leaving it till the next time I heard the voice whisper in my ear. A couple of weeks ago I resolved to try again, but found another similar paperback right beside it that seemed to relate to the same topic. This second book is America and the Founding of Israel: An Investigation of the Morality of America's Role, written by John W. Mulhall, CSP (a Catholic priest), Deshon Press, 1995. I read this second book first and it gave me enough history and enough straight talk about Zionism for me to then tackle reading the first book. Now I am on page 160, starting Chapter 15, of Zionism in the Age of the Dictators.
It seems to me that throughout my life I have been wearing a required pair of blinders relative to the topic of the Jews. When I was young, anti-Jewish sentiment was still fairly strong in America, or at least in my corner of America. But in time, the writers of political correctness conditioned America to look at Jews through the filter of the Holocaust by showing sympathy for this downtrodden race of persecuted innocents. It became a moral sin in America to criticize the Jews. To top it off, within fundamentalist Christianity it was treated as a sin against God to criticize Israel. What resulted from this post-Holocaust conditioning of thinking towards the Jews was that people started seeing the Jews as one single entity. It was just like before the Holocaust when the anti-Semites treated all Jews alike, they hated all Jews - or at least that's how the story goes.
That single-mindedness towards all modern (post-Holocaust) Jews, seeing them all as unfortunate victims of racism, was my starting point. How can a world which has treated the Jews so badly possibly deny them a homeland in Israel? But that sentiment, the sympathy I was conditioned to feel for the Jews, blinded me from seeing more deeply into the historic problems of the Jews. It was watching the neo-conservatives at work that forced me to remove those blinders. I want to know the real politics involved. I want to know why I feel so much like just a puppet on a string, dancing to tunes I don't even recognize on a stage somewhere in the Diaspora
Although I will never really understand the dynamics of politics, what I seem to be finding is that there is a very large division among the Jews, a division that has split the Jews for at least the past century and a half. This division is exactly what is being played out today in American politics. It is the split between the "left" and the "right," between the forces of socialism and Communism and the forces of Jewish nationalism, the Zionist movement. What that faint voice was whispering in my head was that I needed to understand just how influential the Jews were in the spread of socialism and Communism. That is the piece of history that is being suppressed.
In the world of today there is a powerful wave of conservative ideology sweeping away the structures of socialism that have been erected around the world in the past century and a half. We can see that wave right here in the United States where conservatives have openly declared their goal of permanently removing liberals from power and transforming government to meet the conservative agenda.
Unspoken is the idea that these liberals are historically the liberal Jews from Russia and eastern Europe who overthrew the existing repressive regimes in the early 20th Century with Communism. Russia and Europe, and eventually England and America, felt threatened by the socialist movement, a movement representing the welfare of the working class against the oppressive interests of both oligarchy and capitalism.
European anti-Semitism was much more anti-liberal than we are allowed to think. We aren't allowed today to have any understanding of the minds of those who wanted the Jews out of Europe.
Yet here we are in the first decade of the 21st Century trying to drive the liberals out from our midst.
In other words, and this is what the voice has been whispering to me in an ever-increasing volume, conservatives are the anti-Semites of the modern world. The objective is exactly what the objective was in Nazi-ruled Europe, to drive out the socialists and hand all the power over to the wealthy capitalists. What an irony that it is those who appear to be pro-Israel who function as the modern day anti-Semites.