Whither Zionism?

Whither Zionism?

In July 2008, the Viennese daily Die Presse published a caricature of two stocky Nazi-looking Austrians, one of them holding in his hands a newspaper and commenting to his friend: “Here you can see again how a totally justified anti-Semitism is being misused for a cheap critique of Israel!”

This joke turns around the standard Zionist argument against the critics of the policies of the State of Israel: Like every other state, the State of Israel can and should be judged and eventually criticized, but the country’s critics misuse the justified critique of Israeli policy for anti-Semitic purposes.

When today’s Christian fundamentalist supporters of Israeli policies reject leftist critiques of those policies, is their implicit line of argumentation not uncannily close to the caricature from Die Presse? Remember Anders Breivik, the Norwegian anti-immigrant mass murderer: He was anti-Semitic, but pro-Israel, since he saw the State of Israel as the first defence line against Muslim expansion—he even wanted to see the Jerusalem Temple rebuilt.

His view is that Jews are okay as long as there aren’t too many of them—or, as he wrote in his Manifesto: “There is no Jewish problem in Western Europe (with the exception of the U.K. and France) as we only have 1 million in Western Europe, whereas 800,000 out of these 1 million live in France and the U.K. The U.S., on the other hand, with more than 6 million Jews (600% more than Europe) actually has a considerable Jewish problem.”

His figure thus realizes the ultimate paradox of a Zionist anti-Semite—and we find the traces of this bizarre stance more often than one would expect.

On his visit to France to commemorate the victims of the recent Paris killings, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a call to France’s Jewish community (which is the largest in Europe) to move to Israel for safety reasons. Even before his departure for Paris, Netanyahu announced that he planned to tell French Jews that they would be “welcomed with open arms” in Israel.

The title in the main Polish daily Gazeta wyborsza tells it all: “Israel wants France without Jews.” So do the French anti-Semites, one might add. The constitution of the State of Israel was, from Europe’s standpoint, effectively the realized “final solution” of the Jewish problem (getting rid of the Jews) entertained by the Nazis themselves. Was the creation of the State of Israel not, to turn Clausewitz around, the continuation of the war against Jews by other (political) means? Is this not the “stain of injustice” that pertains to the State of Israel?

[Extract. Appeared in In These Times, on March 2nd, 2015. (full text).]


Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst, and a senior researcher at the Institute for Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London. He has also been a visiting professor at more than 10 universities around the world. Žižek is the author of many books; his latest are Against the Double Blackmail and Disparities.

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