Reaching out to the devil, or coming to terms with Zionism
Posted by worriedlebanese on 25/07/2008
It’s comes to no surprise that the Lebanese consider “zionism” as the vilest words in the dictionary. They find it so offensive and derogatory that they use it to silence their opponent when a discussion becomes heated (just as Europeans would use “fascist” or “nazi”).
I did exactly that a couple of years ago when someone was advancing a certain electoral law for Lebanon. “But that’s a zionist strategy to eliminate minorities, that’s why it’s only found in Israel”, I told him.
The first time I met and listened to a zionist, I cannot tell you how suspicious I was of every word he said. Many ideas crossed my mind when I heard him speak: “This guy is up to something”, “he doesn’t want Peace, he just wants to get rid of the Palestinians”, “Peace Now should be rebranded “Jewish majority now and forever”… It took me almost a year to overcome my suspicion.
How did I do that? I started reading zionist literature. I tried to understand their outlook, why they were writing what they were writing… I also tried to see what the word (and concept) meant to Jews and Jewish-Israelis. I started discovering that all zionists do not think the same. Some are religious others are secular, some are leftists other are rightists, some were conscious of Palestinians others were oblivious to them…. And then I realised that zionism was just like any other nationalism:
It’s not necessarily bad. It’s not necessarily good either. It’s true that any nationalism runs the risks of turning xenophobic, chauvinistic, supremacist… especially in times of conflict. But that doesn’t mean it’s intrinsically evil.
So instead of denouncing zionism, which has proved to be counterproductive, why not accept it like a form of nationalism, and instead focus on denouncing its racist or exclusionary expressions.
Understanding is not approving.