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Zionism: Pitting the West Against Islam

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    Zionism: Pitting the West Against Islam M. Shahid Alam December 1, 2006 The Wisdom Fund It is tempting to celebrate the creation of Israel as a great triumph,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2006
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      Zionism: Pitting the West Against Islam
      M. Shahid Alam
      December 1, 2006
      The Wisdom Fund


      It is tempting to celebrate the creation of Israel as a great triumph,
      perhaps the greatest in Ashkenazim history. Indeed, the history of
      Israel has often been read as the heroic saga of a people marked for
      extinction, who emerged from Nazi death camps - from Auschwitz, Belzec
      and Treblinka - to establish their own state in 1948, a Jewish haven
      and a democracy that has prospered even as it has defended itself
      valiantly against unceasing Arab threats and aggrehkenazim mission.
      Without taking away anything from the sufferings of European As, I
      will insist that this way of thinking about Israel - apart from its
      mythologizing - has merit only as a partisan narrative. It seeks to
      insulate Israel against the charge of a devastating colonization by
      falsifying history, by camouflaging the imperialist dynamics that
      brought it into existence, and denying the perilous future with which
      it now confronts the Jews, the West and the Islamic world.

      When we examine the consequences that have flowed from the creation of
      Israel, when we contemplate the greater horrors that may yet flow from
      the logic of Zionism, Israel's triumphs appear in a different light.
      We are forced to examine these triumphs with growing dread and
      incredulity. Israel's early triumphs, though real from a narrow
      Zionist standpoint, have slowly mutated by a fateful process into
      ever-widening circles of conflict that now threaten to escalate into
      major wars between the West and Islam. Although this conflict has its
      source in colonial ambitions, the dialectics of this conflict have
      slowly endowed it with the force and rhetoric of a civilizational war:
      and perhaps worse, a religious war. This is the tragedy of Israel. It
      is not a fortuitous tragedy. Driven by history, chance and cunning,
      the Zionists wedged themselves between two historical adversaries, the
      West and Islam, and by harnessing the strength of the first against
      the second, it has produced the conditions of a conflict that has
      grown deeper over time.

      Zionist historiography describes the emergence of Israel as a triumph
      over Europe's centuries-old anti-Semitism, in particular over its
      twentieth-century manifestation, the demonic, industrial plan of the
      Nazis to stamp out the existence of the Jewish people. But this is a
      tendentious reading of Zionist history: it obscures the historic offer
      Zionism made to the West - the offer to rid the West of its Jews, to
      lead them out of Christendom into Islamic Palestine. In offering to
      'cleanse' the West of the 'hated Jews,' the Zionists were working with
      the anti-Semites, not against them. Theodore Herzl, the founding
      father of Zionism, had a clear understanding of this complementarity
      between Zionism and anti-Semitism; and he was convinced that Zionism
      would prevail only if anti-Semitic Europe could be persuaded to work
      for its success. It is true that Jews and anti-Semites have been
      historical adversaries, that Jews have been the victims of Europe's
      religious vendetta since Rome first embraced Christianity. However,
      Zionism would enter into a new relationship with anti-Semitism that
      would work to the advantage of Jews. The insertion of the Zionist idea
      in the Western discourse would work a profound change in the
      relationship between Western Jews and Gentiles. In order to succeed,
      the Zionists would have to create a new adversary, common to the West
      and the Jews. In choosing to locate their colonial-settler state in
      Palestine - and not in Uganda or Argentina - the Zionists had also
      chosen an adversary that would deepen their partnership with the West.
      The Islamic world was a great deal more likely to energize the West's
      imperialist ambitions and evangelical zeal than Africa or Latin America.

      Israel was the product of a partnership that seems unlikely at first
      blush, between Western Jews and the Western world. It is the powerful
      alchemy of the Zionist idea that created this partnership. The Zionist
      project to create a Jewish state in Palestine possessed the unique
      power to convert two historical antagonists, Jews and Gentiles, into
      allies united in a common imperialist enterprise against the Islamic
      world. The Zionists harnessed the negative energies of the Western
      world - its imperialism, its anti-Semitism, its Crusading nostalgia,
      its anti-Islamic bigotry, and its deep racism - and focused them on a
      new imperialist project, the creation of a Western surrogate state in
      the Islamic heartland. To the West's imperialist ambitions, this new
      colonial project offered a variety of strategic advantages. Israel
      would be located in the heart of the Islamic world; it would sit
      astride the junction of Asia, Africa and Europe; it would guard
      Europe's gateway to the Indian Ocean; and it could monitor
      developments in the Persian Gulf with its vast reserves of oil. For
      the West as well as Europe's Jews, this was a creative moment: indeed,
      it was a historical opportunity. For European Jews, it was a stroke of
      brilliance. Zionism was going to leverage Western power in their
      cause. As the Zionist plan would unfold, inflicting pain on the
      Islamic world, evoking Islamic anger against the West and Jews, the
      complementarities between the two would deepen. In time, new
      complementarities would be discovered - or created - between the two
      antagonist strains of Western history. In the United States, the
      Zionist movement would give encouragement to evangelical Protestants -
      who looked upon the birth of Israel as the fulfillment of end-time
      prophecies - and convert them into fanatic partisans of Zionism. In
      addition, Western civilization, which had hitherto traced its central
      ideas and institutions to Rome and Athens, would be repackaged as a
      Judeo-Christian civilization. This reframing not only underscores the
      Jewish roots of the Western world, it also makes a point of
      emphasizing that Islam is the outsider, the adversary.

      Zionism owes its success solely to this unlikely partnership. On their
      own, the Zionists could not have gone anywhere. They could not have
      created Israel by bribing or coercing the Ottomans into granting them
      a charter to colonize Palestine. Despite his offers of loans,
      investments, technology and diplomatic expertise, Theodore Herzl was
      repeatedly rebuffed by the Ottoman Sultan. It is even less likely that
      the Zionists could at any time have mobilized a Jewish army in Europe
      to invade and occupy Palestine, against Ottoman and Arab opposition to
      the creation of a Jewish state on Islamic lands. The Zionist
      partnership with the West was indispensable for the creation of a
      Jewish state. This partnership was also fateful. It produced a
      powerful new dialectic, which has encouraged Israel, both as the
      political center of the Jewish Diaspora and the chief outpost of the
      West in the heart of the Islamic world, to become more daring in its
      designs against the Islamic world and beyond. In turn, a wounded and
      humiliated Islamic world, more resentful and determined after every
      defeat, has been driven to embrace increasingly radical ideas and
      methods to recover its dignity and power - and to attain this recovery
      on the strength of Islamic ideas. This destabilizing dialectic has now
      brought the West itself into a direct confrontation against the
      Islamic world. We are now staring into the precipice. Yet do we
      possess the will to pull back from it?

      [M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at a university in Boston,
      and author of Challenging the New Orientalism: Dissenting Essays on
      America's 'War Against Islam'. © M. Shahid Alam]

      MORE at http://www.twf.org/News/Y2006/1201-Zionism.html

      A.K. Ramakrishnan, "Mahatma Gandhi Rejected Zionism," The Wisdom Fund,
      August 15, 2001

      Tim Wise, "Reflections on Zionism From a Dissident Jew," The Wisdom
      Fund, September 9, 2001

      Rabbi Dovid Weiss, "Judaism: An Alternative to Zionism," The Wisdom
      Fund, April 1, 2002

      Julian Borger, "The Spies Who Pushed for War," Guardian, July 17, 2003

      John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, "The Israel Lobby," London Review
      of Books, March 23, 2006

      Karen Armstrong, "We Cannot Afford to Maintain These Ancient
      Prejudices Against Islam," Guardian, September 18, 2006

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