Enough with the sniveling Zionists! – opinion – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on September 22, 2021

Enough with the Sniveling Zionists! Since the Gaza eruption, I have endured dozens of hand-wringing Zooms obsessed with bringing back progressives. Most discussions assume we erred, and if we would only repent, or get better PR, the megaphoned minority of un-Jews undoing modern Jewrys core consensus uniting peoplehood, religion and statehood would repent. But critics using our enemies language to attack their own people arent open to reason. Remember Daniel Patrick Moynihans advice regarding anti-Zionists: dont accuse the accused, accuse their accusers.

Sniveling violates the Zionist ethos of Jewish pride and dignity. Rooted in mucus, snyflung or snofl in late Old English, it means to run at the nose, be plaintive, tearful.

American Jews Achilles heel is only on the left foot. Contempt from the Left unnerves them. It feels unnatural, like unkosher gefilte fish. Right-wing Jew-hatred confirms that all is right with the universe, providing just the right enemies.

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Unfortunately, Americas ideological winds are shifting. Liberalism and Zionism are Siamese twins, conjoined at the hip, sharing much DNA, without being identical. But while Zionism is inherently liberal, Wokeness is fundamentally illiberal. Wokeness, including Critical Race Theory, encourages blaming and shaming, with a strong totalitarian streak ever-so-quick to cancel. As a movement of liberal-nationalism and national liberation, Zionism takes responsibility and problem-solves, fostering a strong democratic political culture ever-so-slow to excommunicate, because so many arguments are so robust.

I am a Big Tent guy. Jews need an expansive, welcoming Zionist conversation from Left to Right. The Trumpified-Zionist Right is too defensive, too suffocating, not tolerating the debate and self-criticism democratic communities need to grow. The anti-Zionist Left is too offensive, too delegitimizing, not tolerating the kinds of defensive actions every sovereign country sometimes needs to survive. Between those two extremes, theres much room to maneuver and a large platform suiting most Jews today, the silenced majority including the 83 percent of American Jews who support Israel.

By definition, every community needs boundaries. Our Zionist tent therefore, no matter how broad and blue-and-white, requires red lines. That is why we must lean in without falling over. That is why I shudder at so many spineless leaders, fearing the young, refusing to call out the few, the loud, the un-proud, who long ago stopped listening, the Woke who cannot even be shaken awake by the shrieks of missiles launched against their people or the muffled cries of traumatized Israeli children in bomb shelters.

IDEOLOGIES CANNOT protect themselves by debasing themselves. Remember the Zionist Pilates slogan: strengthen your core! That internal strengthening comes from effective messaging. Yes, reach out to the Left enough to reassure liberal Zionists, but stop overreaching, neglecting the Center while wooing the unwooable.

Too many apologists indulge Yasir Arafats conceit that every Israel conversation must be about the Palestinians. That obsession distorts reality. It defines last year by Gaza, not the Abraham Accords. It defines the last half-century by the intractable Palestinian conflict, not Israels progress with Egypt, Jordan, even Saudi Arabia. And it defines the last 75 years by Israel fighting, not Israel thriving, building, ever-improving. My Israel timeline is not 48,56 67 war-war-war. My chronology pivots around the Forties, the Fifties, the Sixties viewing the conflict in context, not making the conflict the context.

Most modern anti-Zionism is not logical or ideological but sociological and irrational. In his important book The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth, Jonathan Rauch quotes social science research proving that believing is belonging. Most people cater their arguments and, increasingly, their truths, to reinforce their defining reference group.

These hyper-critical Jews are most committed to being Woke, to fitting in with Social Justice Warriors. They may sing Leonard Cohens Hallelujah, but they overlook Cohens lesson during the 1973 Yom Kippur, when Montreals legendary singer-songwriter traveled the Sinai, singing to buoy Israels troops. Asked what he was doing there, despite having criticized Israel harshly, he explained: I am joining my brothers fighting in the desert A Jew remains a Jew. Now its war and theres no need for explanations. My name is Cohen, no?

A Jew remains a Jew is the strategic insight and ideological stance shaping Identity Zionism. Emphasizing belonging invites Jews to dream about what we can become working together, tapping into our rich heritage. Its about values and vision, community and continuity, patriotism and pride. We didnt come to Israel to build what the writer Herman Melville called a snivelization we mastered that for millennia in Exile!

Thats the recipe for long-term pride. Thats the recipe for a Zionism which isnt about twisting ourselves into pretzels thats junk food! but baking tasty Gen Z challahs: evoking warm memories, braiding us and our ideas together, while leaving us satisfied yet hungry for more.

The writer is a Distinguished Scholar of North American History at McGill University, the author of nine books on American History and three books on Zionism, and the voluntary lay chair of the Birthright-Israel International Education Committee. The views expressed here are his own.

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Enough with the sniveling Zionists! - opinion - The Jerusalem Post

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