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Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Judaism, Zionism, and the Dual-Loyalty Charge

Zionists, that is, Jewish nationalists, who hold that Jews qua Jews constitute something more than a religious community, open themselves up to the dual-loyalty charge. And that is exactly what the majority non-Zionist Jews warned against from the start.

As Joseph Levine writes:
It’s particularly ironic that Zionists should be making this charge [that dual loyalty is an anti-Semitic trope]. When [Howard] Lovy (along with many others...) refers to the “ancient specter of Jewish disloyalty”, I take it he means in particular the standard anti-Semitic charge during the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe over the Emancipation of Jews from the ghettoes and their integration into civil European society as full citizens with full rights. Anti-Semites considered Jews a nationality, a people, a race, and as such they could never be truly assimilated into European society. The liberal democratic argument in response was to say that Jews can just as much be English, French, German, etc. as members of any other religious community. French Jews, on this view, are as legitimately considered full French citizens as French Catholics and Protestants. Judaism is a religion, not a nationality. 
But of course Zionism was founded on the Romantic nationalist idea that Jews really are a people apart from other peoples, and so historically shared a general outlook on the question of the relations between collectives and individuals with the right-wing and anti-Semitic camps. Yes, we are a people apart, argued the Zionists, and that’s why we deserve to have a homeland and state of our own. That this position leads inexorably to worries about “dual loyalty” is evident from the response to Zionism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from leaders of the Jewish community throughout Europe and the US that the doctrine of Jewish nationhood is extremely dangerous for the position of Jews in these countries. They flat out rejected the Zionist-nationalist framework largely because it did rationalize the charge of dual loyalty. So, for Zionists and their supporters to now trot out this charge of anti-Semitism in the guise of “dual loyalty” is hypocritical and cynical.
So let's have no more of this hypocrisy, okay?

NOTICE: Watch for my new book, Why Palestine Matters, from The Libertarian Institute.

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