The Zionist Identity Crisis
By Tali Shapiro at Jul 28, 2009
I've always been a very self aware little girl. At the age of 7, I had a conversation with myself (out loud) and had arrived at the conclusion that there is no god. It's a personal conclusion, it assumes nothing but a personal belief, it's an example of a case of "it's the thought that counts". That's the kind of person I am, and that may very well partially explain, why in the midst of the Zionist Hasbara nightmare, I woke up screaming. This post is not about me, however, it aims to understand a phenomena which is much deeper, the Zionist identity crisis.
That's not exactly correct, or even begins to cover it- to say the least. Just for comparison's sake:
Speaking to a curious Israeli, I came up with something that sums it up well for me:
"Zionism is a nationalistic movement (with many factions from orthodox religious to atheist) that uses- consciously or unconsciously- the historic evidence of Jews inside of the territory that has been known as Palestine for over 2000 years, religious ties to the territory, the holocaust and other historically documented Jewish sufferings, and more recently the excuse of national security, to excuse the displacement and murder of the indigenous people of the territory.
Zionists are those who define themselves as such. The majority of Israelis are Zionists, whether they are aware or not, active zionists or not. The only way one could not be a Zionist, is to oppose Zionism."
Just to try and keep the levels of confusion down, here's a calling card:
Ancestry: Polish, Russian, Lithuanian
Nationalism Vs. The Individual
In Nationalism there is no room for individualism. Since Zionism is a nationalistic movement, naturally there's no room for the individualistic Israeli. I've given many examples of this in my latest articles, as Zionist queers put the ole' white&blue before the rainbow, and despicable ads, such as the one below, are bleeding with irony:
Cellcom 2001 - "Express Yourself"
The age of seven, would prove to be a pivotal age for my identity. When I was 7, my family and I moved to Seattle, Washington and I was sent into public school (many secular Israeli Jews choose to enroll their children in Hebrew Schools, as part of the self-ghettoizing mentality, but luckily for me, my dad decided that he wanted me to learn English). It would be in the American public school that I would first be confronted with the national identity dilemma. Every morning (as the American reading this knows all too well), American kids, in public schools, all across the country, stand up, put their hands on their hearts and pledge allegiance to the flag. It didn't take more than once, for me to feel the conflict. And it didn't take much thought, either, to reach the logical conclusion that I'm not American, so I can't pledge allegiance to it's flag.
These simple, logical thoughts would lead to much more complex self-questioning, however. It seems that the organic flow of thought, that would result from a seven year old questioning nationality, would be to question her own nationality. Being the stickler for efficiency that I am, I decided to make a mental note to listen to the Tikva (Israel's National anthem), when we get back from the states, and decide if I can sing that one, as well.
Two years later, I did in fact do that, and for this one line, I decided it was irrelevant to me:
"As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart"
When I was reaching the conclusion that god doesn't exist, I also reached the conclusion that that would make me non-religious. If I'm non religious, most obviously, I'm not Jewish (more on this later on). Today, of course, I realize I'm an Anarchist and I oppose the state and as such will not sing any national anthem.
You'd think that in "the only democracy in the Middle East", one would be free of controversy, when deciding not to sing some song that she can't identify with. The truth is, I didn't want to offend anybody, so as a child I still lipped the damn thing, and as a teenager I stood up when they sang it. Today I manage not to find myself in circumstances that would bring up the national anthem, but I ask myself what happens if you don't stand? What level of hostility are you asking for?
One of my most memorable clashes with the anthem was in Poland. A tour in a concentration camp must end with the Tikva. As if it were not enough that the descendants of the victims are there, that they are predominantly Jewish, we must sing the Israeli national anthem (the irony stings today, much more than back then). Typically of teenagers (and quite typically of kids that don't naturally feel a nationalistic need to stick their flag on every soil), most of us mumbled the words. I, of course, took the time to enjoy the chilling breeze, because what else could I do in this moment of coerced solidarity.
It seems, however, that not everybody can live and let live, and in the closing discussion for that evening, one of the girls in the group (a scout, a straight A student, and an all around "good girl") decided to bludgeon us with her Zionist values:
"You should be ashamed of yourselves! We are here in Poland, after all that's happened to our grandparents [half the convoy was Mizrachi], and we have won! You should be singing your anthem loud and proud!"
Forcing the Jew Down Your Throat
A few paragraphs ago, I said "I'm not Jewish", but apparently that doesn't mean I'm not a Jew. Israel is the only country where Jews first identify themselves as Jewish and then as Israelis. In every other country, Jews are first American/German/Iranian and then Jewish. Israel has the only people in the world that are offended by my rejection of Judaism and are so incapable of comprehending it that they say the following typical statements:
"Judaism is also a nationality." [To this I reply that nationality is a legal status. My nationality is Israeli and European, and seeing that Jews are dispersed all over the world, Judaism is not a nationality, even though Israel wishes it to be so.]
"Judaism is a culture." [There is a Jewish culture and I did grow up getting a taste of it, but Israel has a westernized culture that resembles the USA more than anything else, thus I'm not particularly entrenched in Judaism. Even if I were, it still doesn't make me Jewish.]
"Your mother is Jewish." [To which I intelligently reply, "get off of mothers, I just got off of yours". Judaism is not passed through DNA. It's a religion and a remains of a unique culture- it's a choice.]
"You're still Jewish, you're just in denial." [To which I yawn.]
"Hitler would have burned you in the ovens, no matter what you say." [To which you can hear the distinct sound of my blink.]
The last conversation of this sort that I had online, ended with the person (An Israeli, Jewish Zionist) calling me a kike, which he mistook to mean "self hating Jew". He wasn't particularly stupid, just highly ill-informed. It appears you can't take the Jew out of a Zionist, but I do believe you can take the Zionist out of the Jew. I happen to know some Jews that don't live in fear of a constant Hitler and don't scare the shit out of you, because they love you and are only trying to protect you.
Zionism Vs. Humanism
The above conversation with above Zionist also included me mentioning the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which said Zionist called "the most fascist statement ever". Of course, I can only assume he has no idea what declaration we're talking about, but the reason he gave was that "the countries that signed it don't exactly keep up with human rights and secondly it expresses the cultural European colonialism, the mother of all conquerers". Seeing as Israel signed it, at least part of his statement is correct.
It's a wonder to me how one might reach this twisted conclusion, but one of the basic reasons would be that Israel doesn't Include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as part of its basic educational system. A document so fundamentally positive (you deserve to be treated with dignity as an equal on the simple merit of being a human being- only vegans can dispute this!), that has been written basically as a reaction to the Eastern European holocaust, is perceived by the Zionist-"democratic" mind as fascist. The inherent paradox that not acknowledging the declaration, would create a world in which you forfeit these rights, doesn't really matter to the fear-ridden Zionist. For the Zionist believes that legal documents are just pieces of paper, and that "those primitive Arabs" won't respect papers, because they just want to kill us, as such we should rise earlier and kill them... You following?
Zionism Vs. The Freedom of Movement
The final thing that most offends a Zionist is immigration from Israel. So much so, that immigration to Israel is called "Aliyah" (moving up) and immigration from Israel is called "Yeridah" (moving down). This is not a coincidence, one of the Zionist projects was to revive Hebrew and this tainted version of the language is what they came up with. Most Zionists, at a very early point of the conversation will tell me to move to Gaza, and wish anal rape upon me in the process. If we manage to actually get past this part of the "debate" (Zionists that know the words ad hominem, don't know how you could have a debate without it), they'll rhetorically ask:
"If you hate it here so much, why don't you just move."
As if this isn't my home and I wasn't born here and I don't have a right to fight for changing it, let alone say I'm interested in seeing change. In my case- and this is a personal matter, not a political one- It just so happens that I don't feel at home and am planning immigration, as soon as I can make it into a reality. If I actually get to this personal revelation with said Zionist, I'd be confronted with the following baffling claims:
"You may enjoy it there, but this is the only place that feels like home." [Ignoring what I just said, but I guess if you can shove Judaism down my throat, you can shove the feeling of "home" in there, while you're at it.]
"There's a lot of anti-Semitism there." [There's more anti-Semitism here.]
"It's not safe for Jews anywhere but here." [Says the victim of a three year conscription to the politically persecuted Leftist activist, eating tear gas every week, courtesy of "my" Jewish "nation".]
Don't be confused by all this concern, said Zionist is lovingly throwing my way. In reality the hypocrite is only worried about him/herself. Seeing as an inherent part of Zionism is "Judaizing" the land formerly known as "Palestine", long ago, Zionists had already figured out that there are only two ways to go about this:
I politically offend #1 and directly offend #2... You'd think they'd want me to leave...
As you can see, Zionists suffer from an inherent identity crisis. You can't be a humanist or a pacifist, have compassion, or trust, which I believe human beings naturally have (a child instinctively trusts its mother and doesn't bite her nipple off). You can't be non-religious, even if you're an atheist. You can't be an individual (although you can have the capitalist illusion of individualism). And you can't move away from a country that reduces you to a Hasbara spewing robot. You are, however, allowed to be a murderer and oppressor. You're allowed to be proud of it, to excuse it, to be oblivious to it. And finally, you're allowed to die for it.