Thursday, February 1, 2007

Anti-Zionist, not non-Zionist

In a post about a suicide bombing that killed three Israeli Jews in Eilat on Jan. 29, I referred to Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv as "anti-Zionist." The post appeared at ZioNation, and at Israel: Like This, As If.

A reader has taken me to task for referring to Rabbi Eliashiv as "anti-Zionist."
This reader writes:

"I am neither a supporter nor a follower of Rabbi Eliashiv, but I think your dig at him was somewhat unjustified.

"Firstly, he is not a Zionist, but neither is he an anti-Zionist, as you state. He is not Neturei Karta, but the spiritual leader of part of Agudat Yisrael, a party which has members in the Knesset and supports (sort of) the government."

No dig was intended. I would like to explain the use of the term "anti-Zionist."

Zionism, reduced to its essence, is the assertion that Jews have national rights.

A Jew who does not agree with this assertion is, by definition, an anti-Zionist.

This definition may seem harsh, or arbitrary. It is both.

It reflects the harshness and the arbitrariness of the world in which Jews have lived, either as a minority without the rights of others, or as a nation battling enemies who reject these rights.

"Non-Zionist" is not a label to apply to a Jew. Jews cannot credibly profess to be agnostic on the question of whether they should be entitled to rights.

It can be added that Zionism is what provokes the question and sets its terms.

If no one claimed that Jews have national rights, there might be no question to debate. The claim has been put, though, and only two answers are possible: Yes, or no.

-- Joseph M. Hochstein, Tel Aviv

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