Zionism Israel Flag
There are some zionists in Israel and the United States who consider themselves liberals. Liberalism is generally identified as a political philosophy embracing the values of liberty and equality, as well as "ideas and programmes such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, gender equality and international cooperation." Zionism, on the other hand, is "the national movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel (roughly corresponding to Canaan, the Holy Land, or the region of Palestine)."

Since establishing a Jewish homeland is done at the expense of the non-Jewish people already living in Palestine, who have to face either becoming second-class citizens at best (if they are assimilated into Israel proper), eviction from their homes, a permanent military occupation or genocide at worst (if they live in the West Bank or Gaza), then the term 'liberal zionism' turns out to be an oxymoron if not a logical contradiction.

Liberal Zionism identifies with European middle class values and "free market principles, democracy and adherence to human rights". In the 2000's, the now defunct Israeli party Kadima - which was liberal zionist or 'general zionist' - advocated "the need for Palestinian statehood in order to form a more democratic society in Israel, affirming the free market, and calling for equal rights for Arab citizens of Israel." Another source tells us that while liberal zionists' view of "Jewish history shows that Jews need and are entitled to a nation-state of their own, this state must be a liberal democracy, which means that there must be strict equality before the law independent of religion, ethnicity or gender." Some will point out that the father of Zionism, Theodor Herzel, was a liberal zionist, that he "believed that while the Jewish state should provide room for Jewish religion" it should do so in isolation from the state and politics, and that he saw "no place for theological notions that Jews had some God-given right to the Land of Israel."

Theodor Herzel Zionism zionist
© Reproduction: Emil Salman
Theodor Herzel, father of Zionism
Although at first sight it is encouraging to see a political ideological streak in Israel that in principle aspires to equal rights for non-Jews, the contradiction is inescapable. If the state is built on laws which are strictly independent of religion, then it can only mean that Israel would be the Jewish people's "nation-state of their own" as much as say, Brazil or France would belong to Jewish citizens of those countries - exactly in the same way that it belongs to all their citizens of all faiths. This would effectively leave the 'zionist' out of the equation - and it would actually be a good idea, as in theory it would open the door for a one state solution in which Arab and Jewish populations would share the land on equal terms and determine via a majority vote what sort of country they want. If, on the other hand, they mean that Israel can be both 'the Jewish nation' and grant equal rights to its Arab minority (or majority, if they were to annex the whole of Palestine) instead of treating them like second-class citizens, then they are deluding themselves, and the term 'liberal' is there simply to appease their troubled consciences.

Rebecca Steinfeld has written an excellent summary of the contradictions (conceptual, historical and political) of 'liberal zionism'. She writes:
"It seems that this ideology [zionism], which privileges one group on the basis of their membership in an ethnic, religious or national group, is inherently at odds with a political philosophy [liberalism] premised on individual rights and universal equality: a state founded by and for the Jewish people, living both within and outside of its territory, cannot also be a democratic state for all its citizens within territorial limits. It is illogical to claim that everyone is equal, yet some are more equal."
George Orwell quote Animal Farm animals are equal
© TheThingsWeSay.com
Liberal zionists appear unwilling to sacrifice the predominantly Jewish character of their nation.The idea of sharing a national identity with non-Jews in a single state is so anathema to liberal zionists that Michelle Goldberg, writing for the New York Times, declared liberal zionism dead with Trump's decision on moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, which cancels the two-state solution - the only one acceptable in their eyes. In 2016, The Daniel S. Abraham Center for Peace, a liberal zionist lobbying group, purchased a full page of the NYT calling for the segregation between Israelis and Palestinians, because "no separation today means a Palestinian majority by 2020... Separation today means a Jewish majority, State of Israel now and for Generations ahead."

advertisement an Israel lobby group ran in the New York Times

Part of an advertisement the liberal Israel lobby group ran in the New York Times.
Philip Weiss recently quoted Talia Sasson, the president of the liberal Zionist group the New Israel Fund, who is also a former government official and candidate to the Knesset, as saying that a two-state solution is the only option,
Because the other way round is one state, and one state-... maybe there are many people who believe in it in Israel, but I really doubt it, and I believe that it won't last for the long run in the future. And therefore I believe that if Israel will continue by this situation, the end will be - in that way, or that way - one state, with Palestinians in the West Bank, maybe in the Gaza strip would have the right to vote in the Knesset. Then Israel would change its character and one day won't be ever more the home nation of the Jewish people. In my opinion Israelis will never accept that. And therefore I believe it's a matter of price, the two state solution would be. The question is, on what price? As long as the time is running out, the price is higher and higher.
It is quite apparent that the real reason liberal zionists are interested in a two-state solution is not Palestinian rights to self-determination or peace, but the desire to retain the purely Jewish character of Israel. One alarming possibility is that if the Palestinians ever get anything resembling a state of their own recognized by Israel and the international community, then liberal zionists may support expelling Arab Israelis from Israel and into this political entity.

Weiss comments on Sasson:
Sasson's remarks are a reminder of the fact that even the left in Israel deploys a rhetoric of Jerusalem-is-the-capital of the Jewish state, and Palestinian resistance to occupation is "terror". And left-wing Zionists are opposed to one state because they themselves despair over the end of a Jewish state, or argue that Jewish Israelis will never accept that outcome. Ali Abunimah has said that Jewish Israelis can change their minds on this question the same way that intransigent South African whites changed theirs. For my own part, I'd say that I work in my community, and it's important to me to see that American Jews abandon the idea of a Jewish state, and support the principles that govern our existence here, and that we have insisted on through many a struggle - separation of church and state; one person, one vote.
This is, perhaps, one reason why the Israeli right has historically done its best to kill the two-state solution: because they know that not even the Israeli left will accept a fair one state solution for both parties. This leaves no option but the continuation of the conflict indefinitely, which serves Zionism well, as Israel creates facts on the ground through the establishment of illegal settlements and military occupation, effectively taking over and ethnically cleansing Palestinian land.

Israel has turned the lives of the Palestinian people into a tragedy. But the tragedy of Israelis themselves is the blindness to this madness, to the point that those ideologies which are supposed to care the most for the oppressed and marginalized (the left and liberalism) fail to see the crux of the matter. By perpetuating the myth that the land belongs to the Jews - whether predominantly or exclusively, and in detriment to those living there for generations - and pretending that a just society is simultaneously possible, they are only helping to cover-up a historical crime. Instead of calling a spade a spade, left-wing and liberal zionists will instead respond to international criticism of Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestine with weak calls for moderation or debates adorned with narratives about law and equality. Their virtue-signaling while failing to address the most basic injustice does more harm than good as it obscures the issue.

Israeli Apartheid Wall
© Unknown
Israel's 'security fence'
As journalist Joseph Dana put it in the Israeli web magazine +972, "liberal Zionism, as used today, is a dangerous and, in some profound ways, dishonest system of thought." I would add that it is gaslighting performed on the global public and the Israelis themselves to protect Israel from well-deserved outrage - whether liberal zionists realize it or not.

The fundamental contradiction permeates much more than liberal Zionism. The desire to keep the higher moral ground in spite of the facts is what enables Israel to call itself a democracy, its occupation army the Israeli 'Defense' Forces, and the concrete apartheid wall dividing communities in the West Bank a 'security fence'. This narrative is also behind an Israeli settler's claim on camera of ownership of Palestine because "this land was promised to the Jewish nation by God" - an 'argument' we often hear from the most fanatical of Israeli apologists, and which requires no reply because of its absurdity.

Only a crazy-making environment like this could produce tourist attractions for both adults and children which consist of 'anti-terrorist' training camps where people can pretend they shoot Palestinian terrorists. Jewish American comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who presumably shares at least some liberal and progressive values, recently enjoyed the shoot'em-up ride with his family and a smile.

Jerry Seinfeld at Tel Aviv Israel at the Menora Mavtichim Arena
© Unknown
This 'national spirit' is what allows for 16 year old Palestinian girl Ahed Tamimi to be indefinitely detained in a military court while awaiting a trial that could put her in prison for up to 14 years for slapping an Israeli soldier. Jeremy Ben-Ami, head of liberal zionist organization J-Street, timidly criticized the policies that guide IDF policies, but offered more sympathy for the soldiers than Ahed, and forgot to mention that the event in which she was involved occurred around an hour after Israeli soldiers shot Ahed's cousin Mohammed in the face, leaving him in a coma for a week and deforming his face and skull.

It is also what made professor Asa Kasher, an expert in ethics, to declare that it is right to leave Ahed in jail because she is a "danger in the sense that she can slap another officer, and another". Meanwhile, Education Minister Naftali Bennett suggested Ahed and the girls that were with her "spend the rest of their days in prison", and journalist Ben Caspit, who writes for liberal peace-oriented outlet Al-Monitor, expressed himself like a psychopath when he proposed in an article written in Hebrew:
"In the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras."
Presumably, Israel is entitled to this sort of criminal revenge because it is the perennial and international victim par excellence. Indeed, when called out for the obvious monstrous implication of what he was saying, Caspit played the victim, claiming that he had been misinterpreted and mistranslated, and defended himself by pointing out his 'noble' leftist views:
"No one bothers to ask him/herself whether or not you've devoted your entire career to the peace cause, supported and continue to support the peace agreements and proposals, support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, see the settlements an enterprise that has caused more harm than good and is considered in Netanyahu's office as one of the right's greatest media enemies", he bemoans.
Another left-wing Israeli, retired general Amiram Levin has told Israeli media, that the Palestinians deserved the occupation and most of them "are born to die anyway, we just need to help them to it." Regarding the peace-process:
We'll give [Palestinian leadership] a carrot in the form of a state, and if it doesn't want it, we'll tear it apart. I would also have wanted the whole of Israel [referring to the whole of historical Palestine]. Many times I have said that if they violate agreements, the next time we'll fight here they will not remain, we will toss them across the Jordan. That's how you need to fight. We were way too nice in '67.
Inevitably, the truth comes to the surface. When passing judgement we would do well to first look at actions and only then at words - always in that order. Thus, by assessing what the state of Israel has done since its foundation, we understand that the true spirit of Zionism has nothing to do with liberty and equality, but with a belief in ethnic and religious supremacy, a sense of victimhood and a feeling of entitlement over that which legally and morally belongs to others.

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