It may have taken prophetic inspiration to write in 1921, as Ameen Rihani did in The Descent of Bolshevism, that the Bolshevik revolution was an instance of egalitarian criminal conspiracies like the Assassins. When Rihani read the Balfour Declaration, he commented that: 'The British Government has either to perform a miracle or let one of its clients go to the devil' (Fate, p. 39).
It did not require prophecy to write in the 1930s that State-Zionism would result in unending and increasingly violent conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine (Fate, p.26). I use the term 'State-Zionism' instead of 'political Zionism' to refer to those who believe that Jews must have their own state if they are to be Jews at all. Cultural or religious Zionists may or may not be StateZionists, just as State-Zionists may or may not be religious or follow any particular Jewish practice. Reading the Balfour Declaration in the context of State-Zionist claims would have sufficed. Unfortunately, for over fifty years Rihani's expectations have come true. State-Zionism, along with other destabilizing factors and absolutist movements, has been a 'menace ... to peace in the Near East' (Fate, p. 37).
Rihani knew who would make the journey to hell, as millions of Palestinian refuges can attest. For State-Zionism, from its inception, would make every effort to resolve the contradictory objectives of the Balfour Declaration in favor of a Jewish state. When in 1948 the West recognized the State of Israel, it in effect placed a period after the word 'object' in the Balfour Declaration. Seldom has a punctuation mark resulted in so much bloodshed and misery.
In contrast to this straightforward reading, consider the interpretation of a leading American exponent of State-Zionism: 'The Jewish people, like other historic nationalities, have a right to self-determination. The Jews, having been exiled from their ancestral homeland, cannot effectively exercise their right to self-determination until restored to sovereign possession of their country. Ergo, the Jews are entitled to sovereign possession of Palestine. The subordinate clauses that were appended to the Balfour Declaration had the following significance, in terms of this scheme: Other legitimate rights existed which might conceivably be affected by restoring Jewish sovereignty in Palestine. The restoration should be so conducted that these would not in fact be adversely affected. This was entirely possible, moreover, since the rights in question, by definition, were not incompatible with Jewish sovereignty in Palestine' (Halpern, p. 299). Leaving aside highly problematic historical premises, e.g., the forced exile of all Jews from Palestine without any possibility of return until sovereignty be achieved, note the question begging assumption that Jewish sovereignty in Palestine is to occur first, before other rights have to be considered. The plain reading of the English states that a Jewish Homeland in Palestine - note "sovereignty" is not used - is conditional upon the upholding of other rights of non-Jews already living in Palestine. Before a homeland can be pursued on the ground an agreement must be reached with the indigenous population regarding their rights. Note also, the Declaration refers to a homeland in Palestine, not a homeland of Palestine. Note also the enormous omission that the Palestinians, certainly a historic nationality, might have a right to selfdetermination. At the very least they have been an identifiable people living in the region for two thousand years since the Jews left, and several millennia before that.
The Balfour Declaration does not mention sovereignty at all. If Halpern wishes to introduce the term in his eccentric reading of the document, then he must allow the concept to be used by the Palestinians, the principal non-Jewish community in Palestine. That he does not do so demonstrates his avowed attempt to give an impartial "Wilsonian'" assessment of the idea of the Jewish state and thereby maintain the crucial distinction between scholarly discourse and political advocacy.
This picture of unending ethnic violence, to say nothing of dishonest scholarship, may seem an eccentric way to begin a paper on reconciliation. Yet reality must be confronted, if reconciliation is to be more than a pious hope. The reality of State-Zionist Israel has been disastrous for Palestine, but not because of Jews or Judaism. Like many moderate advocates of the Arab position, Rihani drew a sharp distinction between Jews, who wished to be considered citizens of a different faith and the proponents of State-Zionism, who considered themselves citizens of the Jewish nation, regardless of their domicile or legal status. This distinction has been the crux of the dilemma faced by all those who would understand the conflict in Palestine, including many Jews, particularly those who are fully assimilated into western countries, and Israelis. It was brought into high relief with the Enlightenment and the French Revolution and the consequent rise of the Nation-State.
The absolute nation:
The total state
The position of the nation-state dealing with ethnic minorities has never been framed more acutely than by Clermont-Tonneur in his famous address to the French National Assembly in 1789: 'Jews, as individuals, deserve everything; Jews as a nation nothing. One has to disavow their judges; they should have none, other than ours. The legal status of their pretended statutory Jewish corporations must be removed. Within the state there can be neither a separate political body nor an order. There can only be the individual citizen. It is being argued that they themselves would refuse to become citizens. Let them say that and they would be expelled, because it is inconceivable that there should be in the state a society of non-citizens, a nation within a nation (Katz, From Prejudice to Destruction, p. 109). Of course this declaration of exclusive sovereignty did not apply only to Jews but to all groups with political aspirations independent of the Nation-State, yet the Jews had been liable to the charge as voluntary outsiders and therefore not fully committed to the state of their residence. However acceptable their status as outsiders, with or without state granted privileges, was in a given European state, after the French Revolution it became unacceptable. Citizenship henceforward would trump ethnicity, whether of the dominant group or minority.
All nations are to some extent created and are to this extent precarious. Minority groups are inevitably wary of the linking of the nation to the state. Any group, however constituted, which qualifies its affiliation to the state cannot be tolerated. This is especially true when the nation-state, as France did in 1789, offers national citizenship to all without prejudice or qualification. Although citizenship need not presume cultural homogeneity, at least not to the degree that nation-states early in their development tend to insist upon, it does preclude political claims of any other national group. Citizenship must define the legal relationship of the individual to the state. There is little or no room for any legal relationship of any subnational group to the state. However much this concept of citizenship liberates individuals to pursue their lives as they see fit, whether they are members of the dominant culture or ethnic group or not, it outlaws all other national aspirations, designating them in the extreme case treason. When national home means national state and there are two nations, only one will be able to realize its nationhood.
If Rihani had been a political scientist, he might have made this point in this way. That he appreciated the distinction between citizenship and individual expressions of culture is, however, beyond dispute. He repeatedly celebrated the revival of the Hebrew culture and the cultural achievements of the Jews. He praised 'the intellectual Jews [who] everywhere are in the vanguard of the internationalism that is the harbinger of universal peace' (Fate, p. 33). State-Zionism was another matter: 'In a nutshell, it is an effort to create with foreign money and foreign force a national home for one race in a country which is, and which has been for more than thirteen hundred years, the national home of another. No, a national home for the Jews in Palestine cannot be accomplished without putting the Arabs out of their own homes' (Fate, p. 68). Rihani was not alone in this assessment. 'In New York in 1918, David Ben Gurion and Yitzak Ben-Zvi ... stated that the country had more than a million natives, but those did not feel at home and showed no signs of attachment. Therefore ... Palestine was a land without a people ...' (Beit-Hallahmi, p. 75). Pushing this logic to its absurdity soon followed: 'at some point the natives [became] ... invaders and aggressors.... Arabs were compared to eastern European gentiles, engaging in pogroms against peaceful Jews' (Beit-Hallahmi, p. 77).
Here it may be useful to indicate the propositions my paper assumes, but does not defend. For reasons of brevity: first, all absolutist ideas are inimical to reason and tend to find the material world problematic if not depraved; second, all racial nationalisms are totalitarian in nature, however circumscribed their practice is by reality. The Nazi regime provides the least disputable historical example of totalitarian excess. So much has the Nazi period become the incarnation of evil that even suggesting that other absolutisms, including extreme racist nationalisms, can be bracketed with it seems to diminish the horror of the Third Reich. Yet not to do so is to remove historical events from the plane of analysis and to place it at the level of religious remembrance. Not only does this restrict scholarly inquiry, it risks placing other catastrophes in some less horrifying category without sound reasons. As Arno Mayer, a leading scholar of the Third Reich and European history has observed, 'Critical and scrupulous revision is the lifeblood of historical reflection and inquiry, and this is as true of the Judeocide as it is of the cold war or any other momentous and perplexing historical event' (Mayer, Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?). Unfortunately, one could cite many examples of mass slaughter or the imposition of hardships like forced emigration in the past century. Let one example stand for all the rest, an example which perhaps makes the point best because it involved Protestants and Catholics in civilized Europe.
Consider Schiller's account of the destruction of Magdeburg in 1631. While he dwelled on the "brutal appetites" of the multinational troops, he also made a special point of stressing that Tilly [the Catholic commander], ignoring the scruples of several of his own officers, did nothing to restrain them once they were inside the city gates. "Here commenced a scene of horrors for which history has no language, no poetry no pencil. Neither innocent childhood, nor helpless old age; neither youth, sex, rank, nor beauty, could disarm the fury of the conquerors. Wives were abused in the arms of their husbands, daughters at the feet of their parents; and the defenceless sex exposed to the double sacrifice of virtue and life. No situation, however obscure, or however sacred, escaped the rapacity of the enemy. In a single church fifty-three women were found beheaded. The Croats amused themselves with throwing children into the flames; Pappenheim's Walloons with stabbing infants at the mother's breast. These horrors lasted with unabated fury, till at last the smoke and flames proved a check to the plunderers. To augment the confusion and to divert the resistance of the habitants, the Imperialists had, in the commencement of the assault, fired the town in several places. The wind, rising rapidly, spread the flames, till the blaze became universal. Fearful, indeed, was the tumult amid clouds of smoke, heaps of dead bodies, the clash of swords, the crash of falling ruins, and streams of blood. The atmosphere glowed; and the intolerable heat forced at last even the murderers to take refuge in their camp. In less than twelve hours, this strong, populous, and flourishing city, one of the finest in Germany, was reduced to ashes, with the exception of two churches and a few houses ...."
Scarcely had the fury of the flames abated, when the Imperialists returned to renew the pillage amid the ruins and ashes of the town. On the 13th of May, Tilly himself appeared in the town, after the streets had been cleared of ashes and dead bodies. Horrible and revolting to humanity was the scene that presented itself. The living crawling from under the dead, children wandering about with heart-rending cries, calling for their parents; and infants still sucking the breasts of their lifeless mothers. More than 6,000 bodies were thrown into the Elbe to clear the streets; a much greater number had been consumed by the flames. The whole number of the slain was reckoned at not less than 30,000 (Mayer, p. 22).
How comforting it would be if Nazi atrocities were unique. Then Hitler, his henchmen, and those Germans who enthusiastically supported the regime could be consigned to an episode of historical inexplicability. Yet the facts must be faced, if they are not to surprise us yet again. Racism, whether armed with pseudo science, religious literalism, nationalistic absolutism or any other denial of reason and evidence, seems to be inherent in the human psyche, available to all of us under the proper circumstances, available to justify bestiality which we could not even imagine normally. Like the rest of us, Israelis have their share of extremists, many of whom, according to Teddy Preuss, 'see the Arabs as nothing more than disease-spreading rats, lice or other loathsome creatures; this is exactly how the Nazis believed that the Aryan race alone had laudable qualities that were inheritable but that could become polluted by sheer contact with dirty and morbid Jews. Kahane, who learned nothing from the Nuremberg Laws, had exactly the same notions about the Arabs' (Shahak and Mezvinsky, p. 106). Third, all sectarian dogmatic monotheisms tend towards theocracies; the more literal and fundamental the theology, the greater the tendency towards tyranny in the name of God; fourth, when racial nationalism and fundamentalist theology combine, the rush to totalitarianism becomes all but irresistible. The political becomes subordinate to 'God's will', which speaks to the communicant or the priest in eschatological terms. The end justifies the means because only the end counts.
By political I mean the ancient Greek idea that all public matters are at the disposal of the citizenry. Of course, they may have religious views, that is, beliefs which transcend the material world, but these, however much they inform their citizenship, have no place in the public debate. Transcendental views count privately but not publicly. Above all these transcendental ideas are not the province of priests or rabbis or any other special interpreters of the divine. In other words, transcendent ideals have to become politicized, that is, brought within the body politic to be debated and criticized like any other idea. They possess no special status.
Reconciliation and State-Zionism
Although not in so many words, no political theorist, Rihani largely subscribed to these propositions and to this conception of the political. Many illustrations could be drawn from his prose and especially his poetry. Given his views of State-Zionism and assuming the truth of my propositions, the question becomes, Can Rihani's passionate belief in reconciliation be squared with his analysis of the conflict of Arabs and Jews in Palestine?
Here again, let us define terms. Although not often emphasized, tolerance has the negative connotation of indifference (or, as Rihani expressed it, 'apathy'). One does not mind an obnoxious person or trait so long as that person or trait can be avoided. So understood tolerance is a long way from reconciliation and may be closer to irreconcilable differences than to accommodation. Reconciliation implies acceptance of the 'other' in the presence of the other. Ideally, and there is evidence that Rihani pursued this ideal, reconciliation suggests the absorption of the other without diminishing the other's otherness. Reconciliation thus becomes a synthesis where neither of the initial terms loses its distinctiveness, yet manage because of their differences to form an enhanced third term. Consider an ideally consummated sexual union, whereby the bodies of the lovers mirror their souls and their souls their bodies. In its most spiritual formulation, the two become one, without ceasing to be two, an exalted third term, the Thou and the Me, which allows each to thrive.
Yea, Man is as near the Beloved As far from the world he may be;
He is full of the beauty of Allah
As he's void of the Thou and the Me.
Life and the world we abandon That the life of the world we may see.
O, come to the assembly of Lovers In the shade of the Tuba tree.
O, come to the Banquet of Union And taste of the ecstasy. Chant of Mystics. p. 104
If, for Rihani, reconciliation implied transcendental spiritual powers, what made State-Zionism resistant to reconciliation? Why did he believe that State-Zionism was an impregnable barrier to peace among Arabs and Jews in Palestine? Before 1 discuss these still explosive questions, let me say what Rihani did not do. He did not make an anti-Semitic argument. He did not follow the dominant European idea that the Jews, both as historical actors and as symbols, were the cause of the world's ills. He did not write, as T.S. Eliot did, 'The rats are underneath the piles,/the Jew is underneath the lot'. Such contemptible scapegoating was beneath Rihani. Most apposite for this paper, he did not define the Jews, as Hitler and other anti-Semites did, as fundamentally anti-spiritual, as irremediably materialistic. In other words, Rihani believed that Jews were reconcilable in the fullest senses of his use of the term. 'The Native Jews are our Brothers. But the Jews who come from Central and Eastern Europe are the vanguards of a dream of conquest, a dream which is being supported with American money and English bayonets' (Fate, p.25). Rihani did not condemn the Jews of Europe out of hand: 'It is in their power to help in promoting the highest ideal of mankind, which is much higher than the ideal of Zion' (Fate, p. 33). State-Zionists, however, like all other ethnic nationalist projects can easily fail to distinguish between its own ideals and the highest ideals of humankind, considered in universalistic terms. Insofar as state-Zionism has placed its own prerogatives above these more universalistic ideals, it has contributed more to conflict than to peace. As Rihani recognized, any particularist nationalist project must ultimately seek intellectual and moral legitimacy from ends that lie beyond its narrow vision, ends which reflect the highest aspirations of mankind. For Rihani, nationalism was progressive in two respects. First, in the structure of the nation-state it had the best chance of protecting its citizens from domestic criminality and from foreign domination. Secondly, it could point the way towards a more universalistic set of ends: the ends of bigotry, of tribalism, sectarian barriers, corrupt privileges and the other scourges of premodem societies.
In a book which analyzes many of the chief exponents of State-Zionism, Shlomo Avineri's The Making of Modern Zionism, it is clear that State-Zionism assumes that the Jewish People in their own state are necessary to the accomplishment of their missions, secular and sacred, to the rest of humanity. It is clear that Rihani radically distinguished Jews from the advocates of State-Zionism, which he saw as 'the only barrier between the Arabs and the Jews.' Remove that barrier, and the Palestinian problem could be solved without prejudicing the rights of any individual or the legitimate claims of the Palestinian people. (For a sensitive and moving portrayal of the plight of the Palestinians, see Hanan Ashrawi's, This Side of Peace.) 'Remove that barrier and the doors of Arabia will be open to the Jews who are fleeing the Kultur Lords of Europe' (Fate, pp. 122-23). If the Jews were as spiritually open to reconciliation as any other people, then there must be something in State-Zionism which makes them closed to it. Shahak and Mezvinsky (p.132) echo Rihani's point: 'An intellectual compromise with Jewish orthodoxy is no more possible than with any other totalitarian system.' The authors are not referring to what is in America a ritually precise form of Judaism, but to Jewish Fundamentalism, especially as it has found political expression in extreme State-Zionist policies, most particularly the settlements of the Gush Emunim, the assassin Baruch Goldstein, and the various rabbis who believe, among other things, that the Jews are the only truly human species, born to rule all others. What is this element which makes reconciliation impossible in principle and not merely a practical obstacle to the reconciliation of Arabs and Jews? A short primer on State-Zionism is here necessary. Before I begin this section, I should note that Islamic fundamentalists and sectarian Arab extremists have benefited from extreme forms of Zionism, providing their followers with what seems to them indisputable evidence of the inhumanity of their enemies. Absolutisms procreate.
In many respects State-Zionism was merely another 19th century nationalist movement. Indeed the success of European nationalism necessitated Jewish nationalism for those Jews who believed the Jews were a nation, not merely a group of citizens, who might or might not practice Judaism. Yet there was more to State-Zionism than the political aspirations of yet another ethnic or racial group in Europe. There was more to State-Zionism than an effort to retain cultural identity.
The first premise of State-Zionism, and this is what makes it unique among European nationalisms, is the concept of Absolute Anti-Semitism. This axiom states that every nation has been and must be anti-Semitic. No matter what rights might be proffered the Jews under this or that universal creed, no matter how these rights were to be guaranteed, sooner or later, anti-Semitism would reveal itself. With the Enlightenment West European countries eliminated the legal restrictions on the Jews in an effort to diminish their political and social disabilities. Citizenship and with it allegiance to the nation-state became more important than religion, ethnicity or any other claim to nationhood independent of citizenship. Many religious Jews properly feared that political equality would lead to assimilation, the loss of Jewishness. Many Jews, religious or not, believed that assimilation would never be complete. A Jew would remain a Jew for gentiles no matter what he or she did to accommodate the dominant community. This view was the lesson many drew from the Dreyfus case. If a totally assimilated French staff officer could not escape his Jewishness and its disabilities, no one could. This lesson precipitated the Zionist movement among secular Jews, who provided intellectual energy and leadership for Jews across Europe.
With the rise of State-Zionism another reason for fearing the Western democracies arose. These countries, particularly the U.S. would attract Jews who were still persecuted, mostly from Eastern Europe, thereby making it more difficult to populate Palestine. For these reasons, one doctrinal, one practical, the axiom of Absolute Anti-Semitism has support of both atheists and Fundamentalist Jews. Moreover, the nation-states of the Enlightenment were considered more insidiously dangerous to Jewry than the nation-states of reaction. For concepts of natural rights would seduce Jews into becoming non-Jews far more effectively and permanently than the tortures of the Inquisition.
Among the many misconceptions about the history of the various inquisitions is that it targeted Jews. No inquisition had jurisdiction over Jews. The mandate of all inquisitions was to root out heresy among the baptized. As a practical matter the inquisitors tended to pay scant attention to the sincerity of Christian beliefs among the poor, focusing their attention upon the more affluent, who could and did often buy their tormentors off. The inquisitions did pay a great deal of attention to baptized Jews for two good reasons: their sincerity was often properly suspect and only affluent Jews had incentives to convert.
Naturally, not all the advocates of State-Zionism have believed in all its tenets, or in any of its tenets to the same degree or in the same way. Nevertheless, Absolute Anti-Semitism lies at the heart of its doctrine. What matters to this paper is not its truth of the State-Zionists' position, but its absolutism. State-Zionism is an ideology based on an absolute conviction, one impervious to history and experience, to emendation and to compromise. State-Zionism is a secular faith, with similarities to the secular faith that deluded Germans into believing Hitler was their messiah.
As this essay suggests State-Zionism has elective affinities with intolerant nationalisms which assert the biological inferiority of human groups, the right of the dominant group to rule absolutely all others in the interest of the Chosen group, and the right of conquest. These absolute nationalisms deny individual civil and political rights to any but the chosen few. More positively, such movements are idealistic. Their strength and energy come from the belief in their sacred mission to cure the world of its ills, to make it more spiritual, to make it conform to a transcendent divine plan which only its leaders know.
State-Zionism's founders were for the most part enthusiastic atheists. Not only were they antithetical to religious ideas, they particularly despised the Judaism and the Jewish way of life of the Diaspora. 'According to Zionism, the effects of Diaspora-living on the Jewish people have been thorough and devastating. The abnormal state of the Diaspora has created physical, psychological and social abnormalities that became typical of Jewish life. Two thousand years of death in life created a sick human group, profoundly perverted and parasitic' (Beit-Hallahmi, p. 49). Not incidentally, the Nazis shared this assessment of Diaspora Jewry. If the Jews were to assert their destiny as a people, medieval Judaism had to go and with it all the practices of the Diaspora that had enabled Jews to survive in a generally hostile Christendom. The ideological aim of the founders of State-Zionism was to eliminate Diaspora Jewry without having the Jews become Germans or Poles who practiced Judaism or who had ancestors who did so. The State-Zionists quite properly understood this would be impossible without a homeland, not conceived merely as a place where Jews could live as Jewish citizens or this or that state, but as a place where Jews would rule. The second cardinal principle of State-Zionism: If the Jews were to survive they needed their own state.
The least likely support for this idea was among the most religiously fundamental sects of Judaism, which tend to be anti-political. Yet this is the source of much of the contemporary energy of State-Zionism. This is not as paradoxical as it may seem. For absolutists tend to share the same cast of mind. Because the propensity to believe absolute ideas is more important than the content of those ideas, it has proved a short mental step from State-Zionism to Fundamentalist Judaism. Fundamentalist Judaism believes in the absolute, divinely ordained superiority of the Jewish people, which is expressed by control of the land of Israel. The racist implications of this doctrine are also beyond dispute. The most obvious, but not the only, expression of this union of State-Zionism and Fundamentalist Judaism can be seen in the alliance of the New Religious Party (NRP) and the Gush Emunim, the settlers of the Arab territories taken in 1967. 'During the time of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, for example, the military rabbinate in Israel ... exhorted all Israeli soldiers to follow in the footsteps of Joshua and to re-establish his divinely ordained conquest of the land of Israel. This exhortation of conquest included extermination of non-Jewish inhabitants' (Shahak and Mezvinsky, p. 64). Ideologically, this policy of extermination is justified by the dogma that Jews are of God and non-Jews are not. In the words of Rabbi Ginsberg, 'If every simple cell of a Jewish body entails divinity, is part of God, then every strand of DNA is part of God. Therefore there is something special about Jewish DNA ...' As Shahak and Mezvinsky assert: 'Changing the words "Jewish" to "German" or "Aryan" and "non-Jewish" to "Jewish" turns the Ginsberg position into the doctrine that made Auschwitz possible in the past' (Shahak and Mezvinsky, p. 62, both quotations).
Without intending to diminish the absurdity of such view or their genocidal implications, it must be mentioned that extremist nationalisms tend to flourish together. In these matters it is nearly impossible to sort out cause and effect, so dialectically do hateful absolutisms dance. State-Zionism is neither the first nor the only nationalist movement that preaches intolerance and worse. As Rihani pointed out in the Descent of Bolshevism, these movements have found a home in the Middle East. He also realized they tend to feed on each other, if not cause each other. Rihani did not say so, but one of his fears surrounding the imposition of a Zionist state in Palestine might have been it capacity to precipitate extremist responses from the Arabs, responses he most certainly would have regretted.
Rihani did not analyze State-Zionism in this manner anymore than he parsed Bolshevism in 1921. He seems to have not understood State-Zionism's secular atheistic origins. But he deeply appreciated its absolutist nature. He knew that absolute creeds, whatever their ideal, cannot be reconciled with differing outlooks. Moreover, as he said, 'One holy howl has provoked in Palestine another' (Fate, p. 80). Absolutes create absolutes. And conflicting absolutes lead to genocide. All of Rihani's thought rebels against ideological and dogmatic absolutes.
Nor Crescent Nor Cross we adore; Nor Buddha nor Christ we implore;
Nor Muslim nor Jew we abhor: We are free. We are not of the East or
the West; No boundaries exist in our breast: We are free. Chant of
Mystics, p. 106
While this antipathy to dogmatic rigidity can be most profoundly appreciated in his Sufism, it was reflected in his entire experience, which can be reduced to two Spinozist propositions. First, the universe is God's creation; and second, man could be reconciled to God because he was of God, quite literally God's creature. Only man's fears, his weaknesses, his cowardice, his pettiness, especially as these grounded his ideologies, alienated man from Creation. Note: it is man who alienates himself from God.
The Balfour Declaration:
Distorted Language and Devastated Lives
Conditions for reconciliation
State-Zionism, like Bolshevism, Nazism, and absolute nationalisms in general, is an ideology that in its logical conclusion places its advocates outside the realm of reconciliation. That this provides obstacles to peace in the region is beyond dispute. Yet, if peace is to come, it will occur within the realm of reconciliation. This either means that the extremists on all sides of the issue are either excluded or that they suspend their views during the negotiations. How to get there from here--from the ideological here of extremist ideologies and the here of historical events--remains the critical issue. American leaders who think in ideological terms do not aid this process or, more realistically, this hope. President Bush in his speech on terrorism, 20 September 2001, cited 'Nazism, fascism and other totalitarian movements as the enemies of civilization', omitting Bolshevism or Stalinism, to say nothing of State-Zionism. He also condemned the takeover of states by Islamic fanatics. Similarly, liberal politicians and journalists routinely condemn fundamentalism, Christian and Islamic. Fundamentalist Judaism is seldom acknowledged, ostensibly in an effort to avoid intensifying anti-Semitism. (Anti-Semites, in their rush to condemn everything Jewish, do not bother with such distinctions.) State-Zionism, like Fundamentalist Judaism, views non-Jews as simple creatures of the universe, not as men and women created in the image of God. It is secular without being prudential or mindful of existential limits and religious without being mindful of the participation of all creation in the Creator. State-Zionism, for all its success in creating the Israeli state and a new Israeli identity has not. in the view of some Israeli scholars, fulfilled its promise to normalize Jewish life. In its extreme form, State-Zionism becomes allied with Jewish fundamentalism, which does not try to reduce man's alienation from himself and his brother creatures and from his profound alienation from God. Alienation particularly afflicts Jewish intellectuals: 'The Jewish intellectual shares first in the garden-variety disaffection of the normal person in the modern world. Then he or she suffers from the normal estrangement which is the lot of Jews among non-Jews. And then he or she experiences an alienation from Jewish culture and tradition ...'(Beit-Hallahmi, p. 29).
Rihani's concept of reconciliation implies two conditions: First, man must approach his brothers as well as all other living things as created beings partaking of the divine. The corollary of this principle is that all men are spiritually equal and spiritually free. Second, any political doctrine which denies this principle and its corollary, as State-Zionism does, is a tyranny which can lead to genocide. By denying the spiritual equality of all beings and by denying freedom to all men, all such tyrannies detach themselves from creation. In this sense State-Zionism is anti-spiritual.
Is there no hope? If hope depends on State-Zionism or fundamentalist Judaism or fundamentalist Islam or secular Arab extremists, the answer is of course, no. Death and destruction will persist, leaving millions of the survivors in straits so desperate they many envy the dead. But matters need not be so bleak. For just as there have always been Jews of many expressions, so too has Zionism a variegated heritage.
Not all Zionists have been State-Zionists. Many Jews who believe in the necessity of the state of Israel and are Zionists to this extent do not support the Sharon government or the policies of other governments that have led to the immiseration of millions of Palestinians without providing security for Israelis. There is and there always has been so long as there have been Jews those who see their mission and their heritage in universalistic terms. These Jews have been ornaments in every culture they have contributed to. More than this they and their brothers and sisters in Israel remain the best hope of peace.
If one holy howl creates another, why cannot one civilized human response create another and another, until we see the face of God in every person we encounter?
Arendt, Hannah: The Origins of Totalitarianism, New York: World, 1958.
Ashrawi, Hanan: This Side of Peace, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Avineri, Shlomo: The Making of Modern Zionism, New York: Basic Books, 1981.
Beit-Hallahmi, B. The Israeli Connection. New York: Pantheon, 1987.
Beit-Hallahmi, B. Original Sins, NY: Olive Branch, 1993.
Cassirer, Ernst: The Philosophy of the Enlightenment, Boston: Beacon, 1951.
Cohn, N.: The Pursuit of the Millennium, rev. ed., New York: Oxford, 1970.
Fest, Joachim: Hitler, translated by Richard & Clara Winston New York: Harcourt, 1974.
Flapan, Simha: Zionism and the Palestinians, New York: Barnes & Noble, 1979.
Friedlander, Saul: Nazi Germany and the Jews, New York: Harper Collins, 1997.
Goldhagen, D.J.: Hitler's Willing Executioners, NY: 1996.
Halpern, Ben: The Idea of a Jewish State, Cambridge: Harvard, 1961.
Katz, Jacob: From Prejudice to Destruction, Cambridge: Harvard, 1980.
Katz, Jacob: Exclusiveness and Tolerance, New York: Oxford, 1961.
Mayer, Arno: Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? New York: Pantheon, 1988.
Rihani, Ameen: The Chant of Mystics, Lebanon: Rihani Publishing, 1970.
Rihani, Ameen: The Descent of Bolshevism, Boston: Stratford, 1921.
Rihani, Ameen: The Fate of Palestine, Lebanon: Rihani Publishing, 1967.
Rhodes, James M., The Hitler Movement, Stanford: Hoover Institute, 1980.
Rodinson, Maxime: Israel: A Colonial-Settler State? New York: Monad, 1973.
Rodinson, Maxime: Israel and the Arabs, New York: Pantheon, 1968.
Rose, Paul Lawrence: Revolutionary Anti-Semitism in Germany, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990.
Shahak, I. and Mezvinsky, N.: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, London: Pluto, 1999.
Shahak, Israel: Jewish History, Jewish Religion, London: Pluto, 1994.
Talmon, J.L.: The Myth of the Nation and the Vision of Revolution, London: Secker& Warburg, 1980.
Trachtenberg, J: The Devil and the Jews, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1983.
Vital, David: A People Apart: The Jews in Europe, New York: Oxford, 1999.
Weber, Max: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Talcott Parsons, New York: Scribner's, 1958; and his Sociology of Religion, trans. T. Parsons, Boston: Beacon Press, 1963.