Tuesday, September 14, 2004

on the old notion that Zionism is Racism

In the olden days (up until a few years ago) there was a standing UN resolution that Zionism was racism. Not like I care about UN resolutions, nor should you, but bare with me.

I think I now understand why all of Europe was able to take this resolution seriously, and even perhaps why they believed it independent of their antisemitism.

Nationalism means different things to different people. In Europe nationalism is a very bad thing. When you hear that say a Frenchman or a German is a nationalist, what you are supposed to think is that he believes in a whole bunch of things. First he believes in the inherent superiority of his local culture, race, language, ethnicity, and religion. He believes in removing all other traces of otherness from HIS land. He believes in a form of racial cleansing, and he believes that his language is the only accptable and pure language. He believes in a whole bunch of crap that no self-respecting human believes in anymore.

When an American calls himself a nationalist, he means none of this. An American means he believes in democracy and capitalism, and he happes to like his life in the U.S. Being a nationalist in the US has no racial connotations, or anything like that. SOMETIMES it means that you think everyone should learn English. That is about it.

So when Americans and Europeans fight over the the goods and evils of nationalism, they are generally not really understanding each other. Each thinks the other is talking about something the other is in fact not talking about. This is obvious to anyone who is American and has had a conversationa about natioanlaism with a European.

But on to my main point.

Zionism is clearly a form of nationalism. There are various forms of Zionism, but however you look at it, it has something to do with Jews building a nation, and a nationality. When you have nations and nationalities, you have nationalism.

So when Europeans heard that someone wanted to equate Zionism with racism, it was natural for them to agree. After all, Zionism is a nationalist movement. Nationalist movenents(in their world) tend to be racist, so Zionism is probably racism. Thus it was natural for them to support that.

Americans on the other hand, had no such notion. For us, nationalism is not associated racism, it is a naive patriotism, which is something we are generally comfortable with: if you have a good country, there is nothing wrong with liking it.

I think this explains how, whith a straight face, Europeans can insist that anything Zionist is inherently racist, and how with an equally straight face, Americans can think that Europeans are just being Antisemetic.

In reality, the Europeans are not being antisemetic, they are simply projecting, that is, they are assuming that since many Europeans are racist facists, and call it nationalism, so to are the Zionists.

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