February 4, 2017

Zionism, Anti-Semitism, Nationalism and Civil Rights

I find it remarkable that we've reached a point in history where elements of White House leadership are basically anti-Semites or linked to anti-Semites, yet are praised by Israeli leadership because they give more money to the Israelis to build walls and buy guns and "fight terror." The implications of this apparent contradiction are consistent with the views of Bannon and other's ethno-nationalists in Trump's administration. What is ethno-nationalism? Ethno-nationalism basically believes that each ethnicity or race needs their own nation. This belief is a big part of the underlying worldview of Trump and other right wing populists. The message? : "The other" is raping, murdering and taking "our" jobs. This country belongs to "us" and we're taking it back. In the olden days international socialists correctly called this "the socialism of fools." The policy that proceeds from this thinking is as follows: Bannon, Miller and his crew will deride Jewish accomplishments for human rights and civil liberties in the US, while encouraging the racist fortress mentality of right wing Israeli leadership. Lest you think this tendency unique to Israel and its diaspora, the current leadership will also racistly denigrate Muslims as non-Americans while courting the authoritarian leadership of Muslim countries. Contrary to some people in my circles, I do believe Zionism was originally a movement with a deep moral core, as many diasporic movements for nationhood are. But ironically the success of becoming a nation has damaged the moral authority of Zionism, because it had to displace a whole other people in the process of fulfilling its destiny. Israel today, in my opinion, is little better than any other state that discriminates on the basis of ethnicity and religion. "But Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East," you say. The US is a democracy too, but that hasn't stopped it being a state based on the once explicit, now implicit dominance of a single group. Democracies can develop a kind of autocracy of the majority, just as pernicious as dictatorship or theocracy. The struggle for universal civic rights, that is, the struggle for governments to transcend the tyranny of BOTH majority and minority, is the most significant unfinished struggle of the modern era, encompassing everything from the Haitian, French and American Revolutions, to the civil rights movement, African decolonization and the fight against fascism. To see the current administration walking that struggle back ought to be deeply concerning for those who have seen where this has led in the past. Hannah Arendt is rolling over in her grave.


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