Posts tagged Zionism

RIP Natasha Richardson

I was so saddened to hear of Natasha Richardson‘s tragic death today. I cried for her and her family, and it really reminded me that each day has to be lived fully with integrity. In reading about Natasha’s life, I read about her mother Vanessa Redgrave.

Vanessa Redrave has been a radical activist for most of her life. Her outspokenness is inspirational. In 1977 she won an oscar for her role in Julia which was about the terror of the Nazi regime against Jews. Because she had also produced and narrated a documentary about the plight of the Palestinian people, many people in the Zionist propaganda machine tried to block her nomination. In her acceptance speech for Julia, she addressed and thanked the Academy for not being swayed by the “Zionist hoodlums.” I personally think this is great. Later a Jewish screenwriter broke from the script and stated how much he hated people using the Oscars to spout their politics.

Here is the clip of both:

This reminds me that I should not shy away from being outspoken and opinionated regardless of the feelings I might hurt or the attacks I might receive. 

What I admire most about Redgrave’s politics is that she felt so deeply for both the Jewish people’s suffering and that of the Palestinians. She understands the difference between Jews and Zionists. I want to contribute to teaching people about the difference. I want more and more Jews to stand up against Zionist Israel. 

Israel is becoming more and more isolated according to a new york times article. The world public opinion is turning away from them as the truth of their expansionism and militarism is becoming more widespread. It is an interesting article, I suggest you take the time to read it. It talks about the new public imaging and rebranding that Israel is going to implement. I think it will be pretty hard to rebrand after the last 60 years of war. The only rebranding they can do is to seriously embark on a peace process, which the new Bibi administration says is not on their priority list!

Anyway, back to the Natasha Richardson. I truly pray for your family right now. Just in a few days these peoples lives have been changed. When celebrities die it impacts us because we felt we sort of knew them. But it reminds me that so many nameless people are dying, not by tragic accidental deaths, but by preventable violent acts of war. The tragedy of one mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend dying can impact people exponentially, and for the rest of their lives. Imagine the rage, shock, and horror when this is not an accident, but the result of a process of occupation and violence. 

I pray for Tristan Anderson who is has also is suffering from a head injury. He will hopefully pull through, but his injury was not a ski accident, but the Israeli Military firing a high velocity tear gas canister into his head. 

I recently had to write a paper on my personal philosophy of history. I wrote about radical history, and the practice of history for the goal of social change. Radical history is not always popular, but it is important. The radical element in the way I practice history will probably marginalize my audience, but it is still important to speak the unpopular truths.

Anyway, this has been a sort of incoherent blogpost…but thats okay…I just thought the clip of Vanessa Redgrave was pretty great, and I wanted to say how sad and affected I am by Natasha’s death.

Its just so sad:


Rest in Peace Natasha…

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Academia and Zionism

In recent years the hotbed of protest on American campuses against Israel’s policy of Zionism and Apartheid has put the universities in a precarious position due to the economic relationships between these institutions and Israel. The academic world has not really dealt very professionally when it comes to voicing dissent against Israel and American policy in the Middle East. Besides the campaign of Alan Dershowitz to sabatoge and end Norm Finkelstein’s career at DePaul University, another case of academic bullying has occurred. This time Joel Kovel, the social scientist, has been suspiciously dropped from his affiliated university, Bard College. Joel Kovel wrote, Overcoming Zionism, a critique of the present day zionist movement and a call for a one state solution. This solution is fervently feared by Zionists because it would mean the end of a ‘Jewish’ state. This is ever more pertinent due to the rise of the Israel political party of Lieberman that wants to eventually expell Arab-Israeli’s from Israel.

The academic world was shaken in the 1950s when professors were required to sign loyalty oaths. Looking back, I am not sure anyone respects that movement. Academic freedom is supposedly one of America’s staples of proving what a ‘free’ society we have. It seems that the likes of the Israel Lobby bullies would like for all professors to sign loyalty oaths to Israel and Zionism! There is a website dedicated to stalking ‘radical’ professors that lie about Israel. There are facebook groups that monitor what they consider anti-semetic and anti-zionist propaganda on campuses. (it should be noted that I believe the two to be wholly differetn) One of the anti-semetic/anti-zionist posters? A simple green sticker reading ‘free palestine.’ Really? That is anti-semetic? It didn’t even say end Israel’s apartheid!

Clearly this is a hot issue right now, and sensitivities are boiling. I think that the larger issue of student activism on campuses is going to work its self out. Both ‘sides’ of the issue practice their freedom of assembly and speech, and while they get flack from the opposing voice, they are both pretty much on agreement that they both have the right to protest. (Even though they repeatedly call the others racist and want to ‘end’ that racism on campus- good luck)

But, when it comes to the firing, or the more diplomatic ways in which they ( the universities) ‘let go’ the blacklisted professors, I find the consequences more dire. It is too reminiscent of Cold War politics and censorship. The politics of tenure are probably ridiculous anyway, but adding  to it the fear of pertient and critical scholarship on one of the biggest trajedies of our time is beyond what I consider to be within the realm of acceptable practices.

The precendent of sabotoging the academic careers of Finkelstein and now Kovel is dangerous to the suppossed academic freedom that we want in our universities. I find it so funny when I read about different groups wanting politics to stay out of lectures! People should know, especially at the college level, that there are inherent politics in everything that you learn. Objectivity is a pipe dream, and essentially meaningless. There ARE politics in academia. Deal with it. And stop trying to silence and bully the scholars that are adding to the important public discourse of international and global affairs!


Here is Kovel speaking about the issue of Zionism and the taboo of honestly discussing the issues surrounding it


And here is Kovel discussing the attack of what he calls the Zionist Apparatus

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Rabbis against the occupation


I really believe it is the job of Jewish Americans to stand up against Zionist aggression and crimes committed by the Israeli government and the IDF.

This along with many other organizations are beginning to expose the truth of what Israel stands for, and these organizations are making it possible for Jews to reclaim their reputations in international community. Protesting Israel is not anti-Semitism. Protesting Israel is standing up for human rights which is the concern of not just Jews but all people.

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And yet more musings on Israel, Holocaust, Zionism, and world peace

So I think that I might be loosing my sensitivity about the Holocaust.  I need to check that, because I do not want to come across as someone who doesn’t understand how truly awful the deliberate and scientific persecution of Jews (and gypsys and gays) was.

But, I keep thinking about trying to value all life equally, and that the way we (the generations since the Holocaust) think about the Holocaust is too singular. Meaning, that we need to be more angry about current genocidal practices than past ones. When I say we should move towards forgiveness, I by no means think that we should forget the Holocaust. I mean, I am a historian so I obviously think it is incredibly important to remember our shared past, which includes some of the darkest acts possible by fellow human beings. In stead of talking about the politics of how we remember the Holocaust, maybe we should learn from it. And by learning from it I don’t mean perpetuating the idea that there is evil in this world and that Jews are not safe unless they are armed with nuclear weapons. I don’t mean that Anti-Semitism in our  (global) history is too omnipresent for there ever to be an era of newfound good feelings and mutual respect among religions and ethnicities. I just am looking towards the perhaps unrealistic idea that there can be a new world order with mutual respect amongst everyone. 


The situation in the Middle East is intolerable, just as the situation in Germany and greater Europe in the 1930s and 40s. We (global community) did not do enough then. Maybe back then the answer would have been more public outcry, less appeasement and isolationism, and yes perhaps more military action against Nazi aggression. Today, I do not think that the answer is in military action. The threat of nuclear and biochemical weapons is too great, we cannot afford to use violence to solve any problems anymore. 

So what does that leave us? Diplomacy, World Courts and International Laws, and Education. I think the lesson of Vietnam can be that you cannot win over hearts and minds with nepalm. The lesson of Iraq is that preemptive war does not bring peace, and the lesson of Iran is that interventionism has blowback effects and that when there are countries that have paternalistic and imperialistic ideas on how to run the world, the people of the world suffer.

The situation in Gaza right now is a tragedy, and not just for those living there, but for Jews all over the world. The Jewish identity is being dragged into a war that MANY do not support. By doing research, one can find countless groups of Jews who organize with each other and with Muslim groups to advocate for the end of the occupation. By doing even more research one can find evidence of the contraversy over the Zionist state in Israel. It was not supported by all Jews and a incredible propaganda movement was unleashed to convert American Jews to the idea that there had to be a Jewish state in the land of Israel.

The history of the modern world has unfolded often tragically, especially for the Jewish people. But now that Jews have a degree of political and economic power, it is time to show the world what good they can do for world peace. 

May an era of forgiveness, justice, and peace be in our future.

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Just a quickie… What is Zionism?

My answer when asked that question the other day was simple at first: Jewish Nationalism.

The problematic part of this definition is the Nationalism part. 

Inherent in all nationalisms is a sense of shared history, claim to a land, and a call for unification and defense against aggressive ‘others.’ 

I learned more about the rise of Nazism today. Some of the basic reasons were the punitive nature of the Versailles Treaty put Germans in an economic and political situation and the anti-semitism that blamed Jews for Socialism. If Nazism was Nationalist Socialism, Zionism in many ways is also. The first blueprints for Israel was to make it a Nationalist Socialist society.

And now the parallels with expelling populations and committing humanitarian crimes in order to achieve political and military agendas make the comparisons even more plenty.

I know how terrible it is for Jews to be compared to Nazis. Nazis were part of one of the worst ethnic cleansing plots in World History. But the collaborators and appeasements of the 1930s by other European nations bare some of the responsibility for the magnitude of the Holocaust. Likewise, nations that do not speak out against both Palestinian and Israeli atrocities and do what they can to stop the crisis in Israel and Palestine also bare some of the responsibility. 

Here is my point: Zionism does share historical similarities to Nazism. 

And another point is this: the death and destruction of World War II goes far beyond the 6 million Jews killed by Nazis. Estimations are that the lowest that probably perished in just the Soviet Union is 50 million, and that is just one country. Everybody suffered during the war, not just Jews. If we are to avoid the total war of last century, we need to thwart the power and rise of extreme nationalist movements, of which Zionism is one. Militant and Pan-Islam is another. I do not suggest we do this with war or violence, but with open and honest negotiations and diplomacy that I think can arise out of nations such as Israel and America becoming right sized and humble in the UN and become willing to give up their monopoly on International “moral” superiority, and listen to the UN when they say for instance, don’t invade Iraq or lets try in court countries who commit war crimes, even if those countries are Israel and America.

But here is a question for you…what does zionism mean to you?

I’m tired…just some thoughts for today 🙂

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