Survival against the odds

I am as resolute in my defence of Taiwan’s sovereignty and independence as I am of Israel’s although I naturally have a deeper emotional tie to the Zionist state. Yet some Jews especially on the left, have become anti-Israeli and have religiously sided with her enemies. So I bring this to your attention: The Left’s Favorite Dirty Word, which tells part of the story and is a review of a book that tells even more of it. These are the first two paras:

Zionism was not always a dirty word for leftists. Communists and socialists alike supported the creation of Israel in 1948, denouncing the neofeudal Arab regimes that tried to destroy the new Jewish state. At the same time, some leftist thinkers, many of them Jews, were ambivalent about Zionism, even in the wake of the Holocaust.

In her new book, The Lions’ Den: Zionism and the Left from Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky, Susie Linfield provides a stunningly cogent account of how Jewish nationalism has troubled leftist thought from the foundation of Israel until today. Like The Cruel Radiance, Linfield’s earlier book on photography and politics, The Lions’ Den is compulsively readable and nearly always persuasive. She says correctly, “there is no other issue, either foreign or domestic, that is debated in such rancid tones” as the sinfulness of Zionism and Israel.

It will all be different in a thousand years, but in the meantime everything is contested with some parts surviving, going on into the future, while other parts disappear and are gone. Politics – which is much much more than voting every so often but is actually hard graft with real struggle in real time with not just actual lives but the fate of entire ways of life always on the line – determines which fate any particular entity will follow. Being anti-semitic and anti-Israeli gives some people meaning in their lives. It is a worry, though, how many Jews are part of this as well.

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