Massad on Zionism

Joseph Massad’s recent piece on Zionism has been greeted with justified indignation.  It opens with a perverse attempt to equate Zionism with antisemitism.

Jewish opponents of Zionism understood the movement since its early age as one that shared the precepts of anti-Semitism in its diagnosis of what gentile Europeans called the “Jewish Question”. What galled anti-Zionist Jews the most, however, was that Zionism also shared the “solution” to the Jewish Question that anti-Semites had always advocated, namely the expulsion of Jews from Europe.

It’s difficult to know quite where to start here, except to make the very obvious point that antisemitism did not stop at such a solution, and that Zionism does not advocate the expulsion of Jews from Europe.  Later Massad misuses the same word in order to whitewash Soviet antisemitism:

That Israel would jump on the bandwagon by accusing the Soviets of anti-Semitism for their refusal to allow Soviet Jewish citizens to self-expel and leave to Israel was part of the propaganda.

There is no hint here that preventing people from leaving the Soviet Union might in any way have been a problematic policy. Massad goes on to imply that the link between ‘modern Jews’ and ‘ancient Hebrews’ is an entirely contrived one, and then frames the history of Zionism as nothing more than an attempt, on the one hand, to promote agents of ‘European Imperialism’ and, on the other, as an ideology locked in an unholy alliance with genocidal antisemitism.  This paragraph reflects the twisted nature of Massad’s logic:

While the majority of Jews continued to resist the anti-Semitic basis of Zionism and its alliances with anti-Semites, the Nazi genocide not only killed 90 percent of European Jews, but in the process also killed the majority of Jewish enemies of Zionism who died precisely because they refused to heed the Zionist call of abandoning their countries and homes.

His account of the position taken by post-war Germany is similarly warped:

Since the establishment of the country after WWII, every West German government (and every German government since unification in1990) has continued the pro-Zionist Nazi policies unabated. There was never a break with Nazi pro-Zionism. The only break was with the genocidal and racial hatred of Jews that Nazism consecrated, but not with the desire to see Jews set up in a country in Asia, away from Europe.

At no point are the many Jews who emigrated to Israel from Middle Eastern countries acknowledged by Massad.

In a limited sense there may be something in his suggestion that ‘the Nazi genocide … killed the majority of Jewish enemies of Zionism’  – because the Holocaust might certainly affect anyone’s stance towards Zionism, and thus account for the implied shift in Jewish views towards Israel.  And it is ironic that some of those who currently seem most unwilling to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist are helping to reinforce that case.

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