Thursday, July 12, 2007

Post-scaffolding for Israel: Avnery Replies to Avneri

In this reply to Shlomo Avneri's article on Post Zionism (See Post-Zionism: the bumph that wouldn't die ) Uri Avnery claims that it is he who invented the term "Post-Zionism." For him, Post-Zionism is not anti-Zionism. Rather, he takes the tack that Zionism accomplished its purpose in building the state, and now we must move on and address other issues. Quoting Ben-Gurion, he tells us that Zionism is the scaffolding that was used to build the state of Israel. Now the scaffolding must be removed.  
Apparently, the bumph really has nine lives or more.
Ben-Gurion did not, obviously, mean that after the Jews have a Jewish state, the Jewish state must be abolished, and replaced by a non-ethnic non-national state. Ben-Gurion was always insistent that every Jew should come on Aliya. How could he believe that the purpose of Zionism is accomplished, when most Jews still live abroad? Moreover, Ben-Gurion could not, and did not, foresee some of the problems we have now, some of which are partly his own creation. The original Zionists of Hibbat Tziyon, the Maskilim faction, feared that Zionism in the land of Israel would be overwhelmed by orthodox Jewry and the ghetto, Halukka mentality of the ultraorthodox Jews of the old Yishuv, or by messianists wishing to rebuild the temple. We can see this nightmatre coming true. In five years, state education will be overwhelmed by the non-Zionist, ultra-orthodox schools (see Anti-Zionist plot: End of State Education ). At the same time, the voice of extremists who want to rebuild the temple and institute animal sacrifice, still a tiny minority, grows stronger within the "Zionist" movement, simply because moderates are less and interested in the fate of Israel.
The scaffolding cannot be removed until the work is really done.
Avnery's letter is below.
Ami Isseroff 

Uri Avnery

Zionism, Anti-Zionism and Post Zionism

A week ago, Haaretz published an article by Shlomo Avineri, a respected professor and former Director General of the Israeli Foreign Office. I tried to refute his views in a letter to the editor.

Being restricted by the format of a letter, my remarks were necessarily brief. Haaretz cut the letter even more. I am sending here the ...full (unabridged) text of my letter.
Uri Avnery
Post-scaffolding for Israel
A letter of Uri Avnery

In response to The Lie of post-Zionism [Hebrew title of article] by
Shlomo Avineri (Haaretz 4/7)

In 1976, a Jerusalem periodical wrote that I and my colleagues - i.a. Gen. Matti Peled, Eliyahu Elyashar, Col. Meir Pa'il - the founders of the "Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace", are anti-Zionists. We sued them for libel, won the case and were awarded considerable compensations.

In the course of the proceedings, I testified at length, on the basis of my book "Israel Without Zionists". When the judge interrogated me about my attitude towards Zionism, I used, for the first time, the term "Post-Zionist".

"Post-Zionism" in its true meaning is a long way from "anti-Zionism". It recognizes Zionism's historical achievements: the formation of a new society, the revival of the Hebrew language and the creation of the state [of Israel.] It does this without ignoring the dark aspects – the historical injustice done to the Palestinian people.

The essence of post-Zionism lies in recognizing that Zionism had fulfilled its role with the foundation of the State of Israel. Since then a new nation was born, the Israeli nation, composed of the citizens of Israel, much as the American nation is composed of the citizens of the United States. Jewish citizens feel a natural affinity to the Jewish world while Arab citizens feel a natural affinity to the Arab world.

An Israeli who is asked abroad "What are you?" answers automatically: "I am an Israeli." It would not enter his mind to say "I am a Jew", unless asked specifically about his religion.

David Ben-Gurion said that the Zionist Federation played the role of the scaffolding in the building of the state of Israel. That is true for Zionism as a whole. A building is not the anti-scaffolding, it is the post-scaffolding.

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