The New Post-Zionists

To the strident voices of the post-Zionists have in the past years been added the voices of our prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and one of his newest sidekicks, Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister.


By Moshe Arens

(A version of this column appeared in Haaretz on December 11, 2007.)

We used to think that post-Zionists were out there on the fringe of Israeli society. They were Israelis who had concluded that so many injustices had been committed in the name of Herzl’s dream, that the time had come to turn their backs on the State of Israel. Or, more extreme yet, they believed that Zionism had been one big mistake that now needed to be rectified, and the Palestinian population compensated for the wrongs that had been committed in the name of Zionism – by replacing the Jewish state with a Palestinian one. They insisted that they had seized the moral high ground, but in their sensitivity to the suffering of the Palestinians, they showed zero tolerance for any measures taken in Israel’s defense.

To the strident voices of the post-Zionists have in the past years been added the voices of our prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and one of his newest sidekicks, Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister. At Annapolis, Olmert expressed his sympathy for the suffering of the Palestinian people, without bothering to mention that this suffering had been the direct result of decades-long Arab attempts to destroy the Jewish state, and was their own fault. His minister of education, Yuli Tamir, has given instructions to include the “Palestinian narrative” of the War of Independence, which is nothing but a fabric of lies, in the curriculum of Israeli schools. In the Israeli-Palestinian declaration that was read out at the conference two weeks ago by President Bush, Olmert agreed on wording that equated “Israeli terror” with Palestinian terror. And then he went the limit, when he stated that unless a Palestinian state is set up, “Israel is finished.” This is a fitting crescendo to an Olmert statement of some years ago to the effect that “we are tired of fighting, and tired of defeating our enemies.”

“Dividing the land” and establishing a Palestinian state has become the prime minister’s ultimate aim, just as in the past the establishment of a Jewish state had been the aim of the Zionist movement. If this is not post-Zionism, just what is it?

To help stamp the idea of “dividing the Land” into the consciousness of the Israeli public, gala celebrations were held last week to commemorate the UN decision of November 29, 1947, which aimed to divide Palestine into a Jewish state and an “Arab” one. Perish the thought that if that decision had been implemented, the State of Israel would have been stillborn, and that only by “occupying” territories beyond the UN partition lines was Israel able to assure its survival. Thrown into the dustbin of history is the League of Nations mandate for Palestine of 1920, which gave international recognition to the rights of the Jewish people to Palestine and Jewish settlement on the land. These rights were not limited to the UN partition lines, nor to the 1949 armistice lines. As a matter of fact, they included what is today the Kingdom of Jordan.

Now, according to these new post-Zionists, the armistice lines of 1949 have been sanctified, and anything beyond these lines is “occupied territory” that must be turned over to the Palestinians as quickly as possible, before the State of Israel finds itself “finished.”

Settlement in the Land of Israel has been the Zionist credo since the days of the Biluim, in the 1880s. The moral basis for the settlement activity was the belief that Jews had a right to settle in the Land of Israel, and that this right was not restricted to certain areas. Now along come Olmert and Livni and maintain that it is wrong for Jews to be living beyond the 1949 armistice lines, and that this wrong has to be corrected by the uprooting of settlements.

The trauma that followed the uprooting of the Gush Katif settlements, and the conclusion by most of the Israeli public that this was a tragic mistake, has, for at least the time being, stayed the Olmert government’s hand from pursuing further uprooting of settlements by force. The new tactic that Ehud Barak, the defense minister, wants to try is to have the government offer the settlers money to leave their homes. This is another departure from the Zionism of Herzl, Jabotinsky and Ben-Gurion. Olmert has already announced his in-principle agreement with this move, though he feels that the time is not ripe for passing the necessary legislation.

Devoid of any moral basis is the Olmert government’s aim of ethnic cleansing of all the areas they intend to cede to the Palestinians. If it can’t be done by force it will be done by providing monetary incentives. The Palestinian state that Olmert and Livni dream of handing to Mahmoud Abbas must not have a single Jew in it. This is the immoral low ground to which the new post-Zionists have sunk.

Translate »