Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I Had an Anti-Zionist Orthodox Jewish Grandfather


Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss--worth reading every day!--was kind enough to post my 1989 article from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs--also worth reading regularly!--about my anti-Zionist orthodox Jewish grandfather, Samuel Richman: "My Grandfather Sparked My Interest in Debate over Zionism."

13 comments:

Richard Witty said...

As I am not permitted to comment on Mondoweiss, I would like to post my comment directly here.

You present two polar ideologies, Zionism (imposition), and anti-Zionism (religious and political).

Those are 1948 (earlier) discussions. This is 2012, and the present reality is very different than in the 00's, 20's, 30's, 40's.

The basis of Zionism, self-governance for the Jewish nation in Israel (those that choose to reside there) isn't substantively the original Zionist urges mixing slivers of Biblical invocations with socialist utopianism (of those socialists that did not purge their Jewishness in Soviet Russia and were oppressed for it).

The current basis of Zionism is literally simply the consent of the governed, that in the area west of the green line, there is a majority that desire to self-govern as a Jewish national state.

The application of that self-governance is the problem. The rational complement to a healthy self-governing Jewish democratic state would be the facilitation of a healthy self-governing Palestinian state, obviously not happening.

But, the originating ideology is historical only at this point.

"I told you so" accomplishes less than nothing. By "less than nothing", I mean that, that it causes a renunciation of working for reconciliation and remediation, in favor of an equally vain self-talking ideology (equally self-talking to the self-talk of original Zionism in various forms).

It also ignores the reality of need for coherent restoration of the European Jewish community after WW2.

Both communities deserve understanding, appreciation and respect, so that a better future is possible, rather than a repetition of dehumanization.

Roderick T. Long said...

The current basis of Zionism is literally simply the consent of the governed, that in the area west of the green line, there is a majority that desire to self-govern as a Jewish national state.

Suppose twenty people burst into your house, take it over, and then say "a majority of us here living in this house desire [whatever], and you're frustrating the consent of the governed by resisting our will." Would that be leigitimate?

Richard Witty said...

Are you advocating for the forceful removal of the 6 million Jews west of the green line, or just seeking to deny them their right to self-govern, you know one-person, one-vote?

They've been there for generations.

In 1949, you might have had a point. But, 1949 is 63 years ago.

Will said...

"In 1949, you might have had a point. But, 1949 is 63 years ago."

Ok...so then Roderick's question becomes:

"Suppose twenty people burst into your house, take it over, stick around for sixty-three years, and then say 'a majority of us here living in this house desire [whatever], and you're frustrating the consent of the governed by resisting our will.' Would that be legitimate?"

At what point exactly does occupation become legitimate?

Richard Witty said...

The example is a bad one for the question of democracy.

"If 20 people entered your house" is a question of property, not of due process or democracy in an polity.

To not affirm the rights of the Jews in the region to one-person one-vote is to deny those rights.

Its a hard reality, but a moral choice must be made whether one advocates for democracy of what should have been, or of democracy in the present.

There is no question that West Bank Palestinians and even much more prominently Syrian and Lebanese residing Palestinians are denied civil rights.

That is a present phenomena.

Sheldon Richman said...

Mr. Witty, when the Zionist movement got underway, the fact that Palestinians had lived on and worked that land for a thousand years at least cut no ice with the movement's leaders. Why the double standard? In fact there is good reason to believe that the Palestinians can trace their family lines back to ancient times. In 1918 Ben-Gurion co-wrote a book (with an authority in the field) making just that argument. Later this line of argument was dropped because its obvious inconvenience.

I do not advocate force. I favor a peaceful process for sorting out the property claims. The first thing to be done is to acknowledge the crimes committed against Palestinians. I note that anyone sympathetic to the Palestinians' cause is at least implicitly a libertarian.

Sheldon Richman said...

It is not a bad example. The "democracy" that is taking place is doing so on stolen land.

Richard Witty said...

Sheldon,
There were WIDE varieties of ideologies, policies and actions that were all "Zionist".

Ben-Gurion's changed conclusions. It is very hard to know whether they were cynical opportunist land grabs, or were responses to the violent rejection and terror by similarly opportunist ideologues in various Arab communities.

Its still an open question of whether you consider democracy to be a present phenomena or a past one.

I consider it a present one.

One person-one vote among those that are there.

Hard to know what a "libertarian" means.

My in-laws from Hungary, in 1937, before the naziis occupied allied fascist Hungary (1944), were prohibited from practicing professions or any political participation, on the basis that they were not "original residents", that six - ten generations of residence was not sufficient for them to be native.

I think that is a suppressive ideology whether expressed in fascist Hungary, Palestine, US ("native Americans" invoked against the Irish in the 1850's/60's, and then against eastern Europeans in the 20's including prominently Jews), wherever.

Democracy is a more progressive ideology than any reference to "native", as any basis of exclusion from equal rights.

I advocate for the repeal of the 49-51 knesset laws institutionalizing the prohibition from return, even among peaceable residents. But, to get there, it will take assuring Israelis that their aspired self-governance is confident.

But, I also advocate for the application of equal due process to settlers.

Rule of law, color blind.

Tom said...

Would you agree that any improvements to the land would have to be taken into account? I think Rothbard made a similar point in one of his books when referring to how property rights would be restored to American Indians. Once they demonstrated legitimate claims to certain land, it would not follow that they get everything "on" the land. Some kind of arrangement would have to be made as to the compensation the illegitimate land owners would get for the improvements.

Sheldon Richman said...

Tom, I suppose that would be taken into consideration. But priority should be given to the victims. It seems if you build on stolen land, you take your chances.

Richard, there is no actual democracy for the Arab "citizens" of Israel. See Ben White's book, Palestinians in Israel.

"It is very hard to know whether they were cynical opportunist land grabs, or were responses to the violent rejection and terror by similarly opportunist ideologues in various Arab communities."

We know about Plan Dalet. Read Jeremy Hammond's The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination. Your second alternative indicates an unjustified bias. The Arabs were the ones being imposed on violently and without moral authority by the British, the Zionists, and the UN. It's disconcerting that Americans--who have their own revolutionary heritage--can't see that.

Richard Witty said...

Sheldon,
To state that there is "no actual democracy" is an exageration. If you think it, then there is an exageration in your thinking.

I know more than a few Israeli Palestinians that differ with that statement not quite 180 degrees, but maybe 120.

Better to have a qualified realistic view of Palestinian life in Israel than the unqualified caricature.

The conspiratorial interpretations of Plan Dalet are also exagerations, to the point of misrepresentation, not representation.

The plan Dalet was a contingency plan during a war of mutually attempted ethnic cleansing, and also mutual acceptance in some areas.

"The Arabs were the ones", is a misrepresentation as well.

The Zionists claimed that the British and the Arabs were in cohoots. The Palestinians claim that the British and the Zionists were in cohoots.

The reality is as always in the middle. The official British policy of the 30's and 40's was primarily oriented to the control of oil. Among the top leadership in the Arab armies were British soldiers still fighting in British uniform.

Even quoting Martin Buber or Albert Einstein is misrepresentative, if you pick 37 or 44 quotes. In 1947 and 48, both Buber and Einstein worked for Zionist victory (rather than defeat). They both, like most current liberal Zionists, felt qualms as to what they had to temporarily advocate for, even indirectly, in sympathy with the traumatized European Jewish community's survival.

And, they felt a strong obligation to achieve real peace, real mutual acceptance.

Anti-Zionism is not exactly acceptance. Those two were Zionists, fully humane ones.

Tom said...

Mr. Richman wrote,
"Tom, I suppose that would be taken into consideration. But priority should be given to the victims. It seems if you build on stolen land, you take your chances."

Of course, I thought it went without saying (maybe I should have said it) that property rights are the issue.

Sheldon Richman said...

Tom, I don't mean to suggest that this is a simple matter. However, it might be made more simple by strong indications that most Palestinians would be happy with a state comprising the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, and would not seek a return to their homes inside the "green line." Over the years many offers along these lines have been tendered by the popularly supported leadership. What most appear to want is an acknowledgement of the Nakba and their right of return. As Jeff Halper (pdf) of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions writes, "But they have said repeatedly that when it comes to addressing the actual issue, a package of resettlement in Israel and the Palestinian state, plus compensation for those wishing to remain in the Arab countries, plus the possibility of resettlement in Canada, Australia and other countries would create solutions acceptable to all parties."

Of course public opinion polling must not take precedence over individual rights. Palestinian individuals should not be at the mercy of majority rule in the disposition of their cases.