“In Defense of Zionism”

A very good column by Michael Oren, who knows a thing or two about Zionism:

But not all of Zionism’s critics are bigoted, and not a few of them are Jewish. For a growing number of progressive Jews, Zionism is too militantly nationalist, while for many ultra-Orthodox Jews, the movement is insufficiently pious—even heretical. How can an idea so universally reviled retain its legitimacy, much less lay claim to success?
The answer is simple: Zionism worked. The chances were infinitesimal that a scattered national group could be assembled from some 70 countries into a sliver-sized territory shorn of resources and rich in adversaries and somehow survive, much less prosper. The odds that those immigrants would forge a national identity capable of producing a vibrant literature, pace-setting arts and six of the world’s leading universities approximated zero.
Elsewhere in the world, indigenous languages are dying out, forests are being decimated, and the populations of industrialized nations are plummeting. Yet Zionism revived the Hebrew language, which is now more widely spoken than Danish and Finnish and will soon surpass Swedish. Zionist organizations planted hundreds of forests, enabling the land of Israel to enter the 21st century with more trees than it had at the end of the 19th. And the family values that Zionism fostered have produced the fastest natural growth rate in the modernized world and history’s largest Jewish community. The average secular couple in Israel has at least three children, each a reaffirmation of confidence in Zionism’s future.

Worth reading in full.

7 thoughts on ““In Defense of Zionism””

  1. Oren, for those who are not familiar with him, is an American born and raised Israeli. He was Israel’s ambassador to the US from 2009 through 2013. He is a graduate of Columbia, and of Princeton where he earned a PhD in Near Eastern Studies. He emigrated to Israel as a young man and served in the IDF. He has written two books that would reward anyone who wants to understand events in Israel and neighboring states, and the relation of the US to them:

    Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present” and “Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

  2. As P. J. O’Rourke once said, Zionism was more realistic than the 20th Century’s other -isms. They were wrong about human nature. But people did want to kill Jews, and were going to do more of it, and Zionism prevented it.

  3. I’m working up an essay of my own on this topic … really, there is no pleasing anti-Semites – meaning Jew-haters. They b**tch and moan about a ‘rootless cosmopolitan’ religious minority and their loyalties or projected lack of same … and then b**tch and moan about the existence of a country made by those very same not-so-rootless-now cosmopolitans. Honestly there seems to be no pleasing the international Jew-haters,

  4. Jews have made the near fatal mistake of being too successful. Paul Johnson’s book A History of the Jews explains much of this as a Darwinian process in which Jews had to learn to survive and, if possible, to prosper.

    They invented Capitalism as a way to transfer ownership among others when forced to move and relocate. Intelligence was probably selected as a means of survival, as well.

    When denied ownership of land and the right to exploit land as farmers, they adopted those areas of commerce permitted. It was interesting to me to read that new Zionist pioneers were determined to be farmers and work the land to prove that Jews could do so. After all, they had been denied these rights for centuries.

    The poor Arabs were never prepared by their own history of servitude and stagnation to deal with these new aggressive competitors. The Ottomans had stagnated as soldiers and transferred these duties to the Janissaries who were slave soldiers. The Mongols swept away much of this weak society and are hated hundreds of years later as invaders and, if the truth were known, superior fighters. How humiliating to see the Jews as another superior fighting force. It has driven Hamas insane.

    Oren’s book on the Six Day War is terrific but Steven Pressfield’s new book The Lion’s Gate is a worthy companion as it explains the war through the eyes of the men who fought it.

  5. … and not a few of them are Jewish.

    When the USSR switched sides in the early fifties it was only natural that a number of Jews would follow. Remember when Arab terrorists were trained and armed by the Soviet Block? That is not to say that there aren’t other reasons that someone might be anti-zionist, but I think most of the activism traces back to the Cold War.

  6. The birth of national socialism, a far more attractive and powerful version of socialism, the defeat of national socialism by les anglo-saxons, the defeat of international socialism in the Cold War, the terrible (and still ongoing) mass murder by socialist regimes, and the continuing success of free economies and corruption and degradation of socialist economies, caused socialist intellectuals to realize that nationalism, the bond that held the United States, Great Britain, and the rest of the prosperous and free nations together had to be sundered.

    To this end socialist intellectuals conceived of a program to bring every citizens’ fellowship into disgrace, disrepute, and defeat. The first part is the “refutation” of nationalism by claiming nationalism is the source of Nazism (which les anglo-saxons fear and hate), and by claiming that the socialist agenda of Nazism was not socialism.

    The second part follows from the recognition by socialist intellectuals that National Socialism was far more attractive than International Socialism. And so instead of mythical “races” or real “nationalities” socialists remade the word community, creating the feminist community, the black community, the homosexual community, environmentalism community, et. al., substituting these communities for nationalities in Nazism.

    These communities are international and thus the intellectuals feel their program derives from their good communism, but actually it derives its popularity and power from Nazism. In any case, both international and national socialists hated les anglo-saxons.

    Now socialist intellectuals citing their own ideology as truth seek to destroy nations by importing alien populations. The program of alien substitution will end the reign of les anglo-saxons while the nations’ confused and contradictory (and subverted by socialist regimes) response to their own destruction will discredit liberty and capitalism.

    The one nation which will not import alien religion, alien peoples, and alien ideologies, the one nation which fights to remain nation because it has had the glorious rule of both international and national socialism already visited upon it is hated because it refutes by its freedom, strength, and prosperity the goals of socialism

    That nation is Israel.

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