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Why Israel Matters

Zionism and Jewish Emancipation

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for President Trump, is currently celebrating the publication of his new book Jerusalem: A Biblical and Historical Case for the Jewish Capital. Chief among the arguments presented in the book is Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish nation-state and, inevitably, the right to defend itself against any threats.

While the book itself presents very worthwhile and justified ideas, it has the drawback of playing into the rhetoric of modern, passive antisemitism. That is, Israel is the only country where the “right to exist” is questioned and/or debated at all. In the words of Menachem Begin: "We don't need legitimacy. We exist. Therefore we are legitimate.” 

There is no question of a Korean right to exist or a Polish right to exist, but the Jewish right to exist, with dignity and outside of the ghettos of Europe and North Africa—remains a legitimate topic of political dialogue and debate. The same people who suggest the best solution to Palestinian displacement is a Palestinian state for the Palestinians subsequently insist that the solution to 20 centuries of Jewish suffering, genocide, and humiliation is not a Jewish state for the Jews. It is this line of thinking—the kind that is promoted by a large percentage of the American Jewish community, that suggests assimilation and non-Jewish influence is the best form of salvation for the Jewish people. If only the Jews would stop being so Jewish, then we could exist comfortably in exile.

This is one of the many lasting negatives of the diaspora. Exile inevitably forces Jews to give up some part of being Jewish. Be it the Hebrew language or subservience to whitewashing. Among them—a rejection of our religious observance. This is out of the desire to not stray too far from the comforts of white privilege. That is, Jews benefit from many of the same effects of systematic racism because we allow ourselves to. We embrace whiteness while rejecting Jewishness.

This, in turn, generates all the expected responses from non-Jews, who are under the false impression that Jews are merely a religious group and not the ethnoreligious and ethnolinguistic people rooted in the Hebrews of ancient Israel. The rebirth of Israel in 1948 represents not only the rebirth of Jewish self-determination, identity, and the liquidation of the exile, but it is, and perhaps most importantly, the rebirth of Jewish dignity. Israel, unlike its neighbors, maintains its indigenous language, culture, religion, and people. There is no Phoenicia or Assyria or Numidia or Egypt that is not overshadowed by non-native (I.E: Arab) influence. Every nation-state of the Middle East and North Africa has essentially submitted themselves to Arab dominance, colonization, and imperialism with the sole exception of Israel. The Assyrians, Maronites, and Copts (often incorrectly referred to as “Arab Christians”) took the language of the Arabs. The Kurds and the Persians took the religion of the Arabs. The Berbers took both. It is both incorrect and immoral to assert that the mass conversions and Arabization of many Middle Eastern ethnic groups was entirely voluntary. Like their European counterparts in Southern Africa, the Arabization of the Levant and North Africa was a gradual process of linguistic, cultural, and religious erosion of the indigenous way of life against that of the colonizer. This period in history is referred to as “The Golden Age” in the Arab World, in order to downplay its adverse and lasting negative effects. Much like how the European period of colonization, cultural rape, and mass enslavement is “The Age of Exploration” in the Western World. This is why Israel is a champion of indigenous rights, not an affront to them. It is why Israel is an international symbol against imperialism, not an example of it. 

The millions of Arabs currently living in Israel are, like their White counterparts in Southern Africa, an invasive population. They arrived by way of religious conquest and Arab colonization of the Levant in the Middle Ages. They only began calling themselves "Palestinians" after Jews showed an interest in reclaiming our land. "Palestinian" is, in every sense, an invented nationality. There is no Palestinian language, nor history, nor religion, nor culture that differentiates from other Arabs.

When the comfortable life of British settlers in Southern Africa began to erode in the 1970s, they turned to calling themselves "Rhodesians" and their country "Rhodesia" as opposed to what it really was: Southern Africa under British occupation. The new "Rhodesia" was an attempt to distract the world from the Rhodesians colonial, non-African roots.

The exact same can be said for the Arab population of not only Israel, but Lebanon, Egypt, and the Maghreb. The Arabs became "Palestinians" and Judea, Samaria, and Gaza became "occupied Palestine".  The imperialistic expansion of Arabs out of the Arabian peninsula and into the Levant and North Africa is the only historical explanation for the current demography of the region. The problem is that it does not receive the same scrutiny or condemnation that European imperialism does. Palestinian nationalism is nothing more than a political tool to delegitimize Jewish self-determination. Zuheir Mohsen, the head of the Palestinian Liberation Army in Syria, expanded upon this idea when he said:

“Between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese there are no differences. We are all part of ONE people, the Arab nation. Look, I have family members with Palestinian, Lebanese, Jordanian, and Syrian citizenship. We are ONE people. Just for political reasons we carefully underwrite our Palestinian identity. Because it is of national interest for the Arabs to advocate the existence of Palestinians to balance Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity exists only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a new tool to continue the fight against Israel and for Arab unity."

Not a single person, organization, political body, country or a multitude of countries reject the idea of a Japanese state for the Japanese, or a Turkish state for the Turks, or a Greek state for the Greeks. It is, however, acceptable to suggest a Jewish state for the Jews is too much to ask. There are many who argue that 2000 years of exile is "too much time" to take our land back. Jews must "get over it" and reject our roots and our history. The essence of Jewish self-determination and Zionism is that we control our destiny, not anyone else. If Armenia, Greece, Egypt, Korea, Croatia, Serbia, Mali, Ghana, Ireland, Ukraine, and India can go centuries under imperial rule. If they can then reemerge in the 20th century as independent countries, after decades and centuries of foreign occupation, then so can Israel.

Every political, religious, and intellectual phenomenon that has emerged among the world's Jews is a direct or indirect response to persecution and anti-Semitism. The Hasidic Movement to preserve fundamentalist Jewish lifestyle in a non-Jewish world. Zionism as a result of the continuous subjugation and murder of our people in exile. Guilt and secularization among modern Jews to conform to, again, a non-Jewish world. All are a reaction to the circumstances of our existence, and all have the potential consequence to divide us. That is part of the problem. Jews ought to stop thinking in terms of Orthodox or Secular interests, Ashkenazi or Sephardic interests—and start thinking in terms of Jewish interests. The oneness and unity of God should be reflected by the oneness and unity of the Jewish people. 

As for peace in the Middle East. The sole obstacle to peace is the world's failure to accept that Jews refuse to be subservient to others. We will live with dignity in our land or not live at all. Once the world views Jews as their equals and not anything less, then there will be peace.

"The rebirth of Israel in 1948 represents not only the rebirth of Jewish self-determination, identity and the liquidation of the exile, but it is— and perhaps most importantly, the rebirth of Jewish dignity."

- Dane Ezra Kunes

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