Defending Zionism: Arming allies and countering critics – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on May 28, 2020

Kiev native and Sydney resident Alex Ryvchin (currently co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry) is on a mission to counter anti-Zionism. Toward this noble end, he has composed a primer, Zionism: The Concise History, with which to arm allies and controvert adversaries in the impassioned struggle over the meaning and legacy of the Zionist movement.With a legal background, Ryvchin enters the fray in earnest with an extended factum about how and why Zionism came to be. He reaches back briefly through Jewish history to touch upon the origins of the Jewish people and the first and second commonwealths in the Land of Israel. He recounts the lachrymose chronicle of Jewish sufferings in exile, including Russian and Arab pogroms and the Holocaust, to contextualize the condition of Jewry in the Diaspora. The book also discusses the sundry conferences, policy papers, treaties, and memoranda that feature or at least figure in the story of Zionism and in the shaping of the modern Middle East, some of which remain little known and even less understood: the San Remo Conference (April 1920), on the Italian Riviera, that created the mandatory system and incorporated the Balfour Declaration into the British mandate; the Treaty of Svres (August 1920), signed in France, that abolished the Ottoman Empire; the Transjordan Memorandum (September 1922), presented in Geneva, Switzerland by the British to the approving Council of the League of Nations, wherein Britain exercised its right to separate the territory east of the Jordan River (equivalent to three-quarters of the geographical region known as Palestine) from the Mandate for Palestine, thereby summarily depriving the Jews of important ancestral lands, namely the tribal territories of east Menashe (the Golan and Bashan), Gad (Gilead), and Reuben (the Mishor), and lands to the south of these that constituted part of the united monarchy of Israel; and the Treaty of Lausanne (July 1923), signed in Switzerland, that solidified borders and concluded World War I.The account also lingers on how Zionism has fared at the UN, foregrounding the prescience of US ambassador Patrick Moynihan, who lamented the fallacy equating Zionism with racism and who understood the full implications of such a lie being laundered into respectability by the UN. Such a brazen assault on truth conducted in a forum of immense moral authority and prestige was a threat to the international system itself. Indeed, it is arguable that despite repealing Resolution 3379 in 1991, the credibility of the United Nations has never fully recovered. In the international effort to delegitimize Zionism, the acme of absurdity was that it had become possible, even plausible, to explicitly associate Zionism, a movement for Jewish liberation, with Nazism, a movement for Jewish destruction. Ryvchin accurately portrays how the latest incarnation of anti-Zionism the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) movement demonizes Zionism and cynically strives to divert public opinion from support of the State of Israel: Modelled on anti-war and anti-apartheid movements, BDS evokes the imagery of resistance, appropriates the language of human rights and international law, and makes a direct appeal to the spirit of rebellion by casting Israel and its supporters as all-powerful and uniquely evil and those who oppose it as enlightened and morally pure.Ryvchins narrative highlights Herzl, Weizmann, and Ben-Gurion among the scores of Zionist leaders. Intrigued readers will use this volume as an introduction prompting further investigation into Zionism, consulting such standard works as The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader (Arthur Hertzberg, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959), A History of Zionism: From the French Revolution to the Establishment of the State of Israel (Walter Laqueur, London, UK: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1972), and The Making of Modern Zionism: The Intellectual Origins of the Jewish State (Shlomo Avineri, New York, NY: Basic Books, 1981), and perhaps newer offerings including Zionism: A Brief History (Michael Brenner, Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2003) and Zionism: A Very Short Introduction (Michael Stanislawski, Oxford, UK: Oxford UP, 2017). Ryvchin believes in refuting falsity and dispelling disinformation. Knowledgeable readers may find little new in this work, but nevertheless will appreciate the sustained rebuttal leveled against the anti-Zionist zeitgeist. When Zionism is wielded as a pejorative by derogatory antagonists, a rejoinder is in order. Zionism: The Concise History aspires to reclaim the narrative and will certainly assist Jewish pupils on college campuses, pundits in the media, and advocacy professionals at Jewish organizations seeking an accessible backgrounder to inform their perspectives and positions. Zionism: The Concise HistoryAlex Ryvchin Connor Court Publishing (Cleveland, ustralia, 2019)250 pages, $29.95

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Defending Zionism: Arming allies and countering critics - The Jerusalem Post

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