Neo-Zionism

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Neo-Zionism is a label applied to opponents of Post-Zionism. The label was coined by Sociologist Uri Ram.[1] According to Ram, Post-Zionism is ordinated around citizenship, favoring equal rights and universalism. It stands in opposition to Neo-Zionism. In contrast "Neo-Zionism is particularist, tribal, Jewish, ethnic nationalist, fundamentalist, and even fascist on the fringe."[2] Israeli centrists have come to use both Neo-Zionism and Post-Zionism as pejorative terms, viewing them as a threat from right and left respectively.[3]

Thus, Neo-Zionism is a right-wing, nationalistic and religious ideology that appeared in Israel following the Six-Day War in 1967 and the capture of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Neo-Zionists consider these lands part of Israel and advocate their settlement by Israeli Jews. Some go as far as advocating the expulsion of Arabs in accordance with their ultra Zionist beliefs. The ideology evolved in parallel with, and in opposition to, the conventional left-wing politics of Post-Zionism and Labor Zionism. Uri Ram considers it as an "exclusionary, nationalist, even racist, and antidemocratic political-cultural trend" in Israel.[4]

Ideology

Uri Ram defined Neo-Zionism as an Ideology that emerged in Israel following the Six-Day War in 1967 and the conquest of Jerusalem.[5]:121 He links the rise of Neo-Zionism to the anxiety following the near loss of the 1973 war.[6]:51 For Uri Ram, Neo-Zionism is a reinterpretation of Zionism that is religious rather than secular. Judaism instead of being a peripheral cultural tradition is a core element in his definition.[5]:121 In Ram's formulation Post-Zionism is globalist and liberal, while Neo-Zionism is local and ethno-religious. Asima Ghazi-Bouillon challenges Ram's classification of Neo-Zionism as anti-globalist. He instead sees some strains of Neo-Zionism as globalist, similar to Neo-Conservatism and Neo-Nationalism.[5]:8 Whereas Post-Zionism was a largely unsuccessful direct challenge to Zionism, Neo-Zionism is instead a challenge to Labour Zionism.[5]:8 Asima Ghazi-Bouillon argues that Neo-Zionism is not entirely an ethno-religious movement but also incorporates a national security discourse.[5]:8-9

Uri Ram contends that Neo-Zionists consider "secular Zionism", particularly the labor version, as too weak on nationalism, and never understood the impossibility of Arabs and Jews living together in peace. Neo-Zionists claim that the Arab attitude to Israel is inherently rooted in anti-Semitism and that it is a Zionist illusion to think living in peace and together with them is possible. They consider Arabs in Israel to be a fifth column and to pose a demographic threat to the Jewish majority in Israel. From their point of view, the only solution for achieving peace is through "deterrence and retaliation" or preferably "transfer by agreement" of the Israeli Arabs and the Palestinian population of the occupied Palestinian Territories to neighboring Arab states.[7]

For Neo-Zionism, "the weakness of Israeli Nationalism derives from his alienation of Jewish sources and culture (...). Only a new national-religious and orthodox coalition [could] cure Zionism of this moral bankruptcy".[7] Neo-Zionists consider all areas under Israeli military control to be part of “the biblical Land of Israel.”[6]:57 Neo-Zionists assert that the goal of Jewish statehood is not only about creating a safe refuge for Jews but also about the national-historic destiny of the people of Israel in the land of Israel.

Representation

In Uri Ram's formulation of Neo-Zionism the Movement for Greater Israel[6]:51-52 and the Gush Emunim settler movement founded in 1974 are used as examples of Neo-Zionism and its precursors, Gush Emunim being a hybrid of religion and nationalism.[5]:121[6]:51 Ram also labels parts of Likud and the National Religious Party, as well as other, smaller, splinter parties including Yisrael BaAliyah, Moledet, Tehiya and Tzomet as Neo-Zionist.[6]:57

In the media, Neo-Zionism is associated with Arutz Sheva.[8] According to Yishai Fleisher, Arutz Sheva director of programming and founder of the Kumah neo-Zionist lobby, "Zionism is the yearning of the Jewish people to come back to the land of Israel with the creation of the Jewish commonwealth and the era of the third Temple. It's a renewal of lost values, and an answer to post-Zionism. If post-Zionism is the theory that Israel was created and the project is now finished, then neo-Zionism states that we are far from done with the project. The Jewish people are not yet back home, and we have yet to educate Jews to the concept of living a Torah life in the land of Israel".[9]

Some associations in Israel, such as Im Tirtzu, defend Neo-Zionist ideology. Ronen Shoval, founder of the association, states that "We need every Jewish heart and Zionist soul. Coordinators and activists of Im Tirtzu are hereby called to the flag. (...) [W]e will turn the Hebrew University into a Zionist society, and continue the second Zionist revolution!" His aims are "to restore Zionism to the center – for poets to poetize Zionism, for the writers to write Zionism, for academia to support Zionism and for the Ari Folmans (...) to make films about our ethos. Just as there are movies about gladiators, we will have movies about Judah Maccabee. What's wrong with that?"[10]

Critics

According to Uri Ram, "Neo-Zionism (...) is an exclusionary, nationalist, even racist, and antidemocratic political-cultural trend, striving to heighten the fence encasing Israeli identity."[6]:58

According to Dana Eyal, "[her] country is hijacked by a group of racist religious Jews, who are much more of a threat to Israel than any Arab or Muslim country, including Iran". She gives the example of children of illegal immigrants born and living in Israel for years and that neo-Zionist groups want to see expelled because their presence is un-Zionistic. She thinks that "[t]his very narrow definition of Zionism dictates that Israel is and will remain a racist Jewish state" but also "that in Israel itself there is a (lazy) majority that is far from this. Zionism for us equals patriotism much like it does to Americans; wanting the best for your country, believing in its principals [sic] and defending it when necessary. Only we don't believe in many of the neo-orthodox principals popping out like mushrooms in the rain. For that matter, we no longer feel very Zionistic in an environment that embraces totality and purity of race (a calamitous similarity to things that should not be named)".[11]

Referring to Im Tirtzu, Eli Osheroff, editor of the student newspaper at the Hebrew University, says that "[t]he ideology of this organization is a cross between Greater Israel and the security activism of Mapai. (...) But their tactics are borrowed from Lieberman, which means sowing hatred, factionalism and violence. For example, during Operation Cast Lead there was a demonstration by Arab students at the university, and Im Tirtzu activists shouted things at them like 'We will burn your village,' and 'We will meet in reserve duty.' But it doesn't stop there. Every lecturer who proposes a different way of thinking about the situation here is accused, not of being a post-Zionist – which is the usual allegation – but of engaging in 'anti-Zionist incitement.' The goal is to frighten and intimidate everyone who thinks differently from or dares to criticize them."[10]

Further reading

Academic views about Neo-Zionism

Journalistic views about Neo-Zionism

Neo-Zionist authors

  • (English) Eliezer Don-Yehiya: Memory and Political Culture: Israeli Society and the Holocaust. Studies in Contemporary Jewry 9, 1993.
  • (Hebrew) Eitan Dor-Shav: Israel Museum and the Loss of National Memory. Tkhelet, 1998.
  • (Hebrew) Avraham Levit: Israeli Art on the Way to Somewhere Else. Tkhelet 3, 1998.
  • (Hebrew) Hillel Weiss: Defamation: Israeli Literature of Elimination. Beit El, 1992.

Neo-Zionist lobbies

Interview

  • Amos Oz: In the Land of Israel. -The Finger of God ?-, Harverst, 1993, pp. 49–73.

See also

References

  1. Ronit Lenṭin (2000). Israel and the Daughters of the Shoah: Reoccupying the Territories of Silence. Berghahn Books. p. 218. 
  2. Gilbert Achcar (2010). The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives. Macmillan. p. 185. 
  3. Eran Kaplan (2015). Beyond Post-Zionism. SUNY Press. p. 55. 
  4. Anita Shapira, Derek Jonathan Penslar, Israeli Historical Revisionism: from left to right, Routledge, 2002, pp.57-58.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Ghazi-Bouillon, Asima (2009). Understanding the Middle East Peace Process: Israeli Academia and the Struggle for Identity. Routledge. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Uri Ram (2003). "Historiosophical Foundations of the Historical Strife in Israel". In Anita Shapira, Derek Jonathan Penslar. Israeli Historical Revisionism: From Left to Right. Psychology Press. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Uri Ram, The Future of the Past in Israel - A Sociology of Knowledge Approach, in Benny Morris, Making Israel, pp.210-211.
  8. [1]
  9. We Need To Put The Spirit Back Into The People: An Interview with Arutz Sheva’s Yishai Fleisher, The Jewish Press, February 2010.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Kobi Ben-Simhon, Neo-Zionism 101, Haaretz, June 5, 2009 (Internet archive)
  11. Dana Agmon, Neo-Zionism -- Israel's True Threat, Huffington Post, October 12, 2010.