We find, then, that the members of a variety of peoples and races, blond and black, brown and yellow, became Jews in large numbers. According to Zand, the Zionist need to devise for them a shared ethnicity and historical continuity produced a long series of inventions and fictions, along with an invocation of racist theses. Some were concocted in the minds of those who conceived the Zionist movement, while others were offered as the findings of genetic studies conducted in Israel.
It is somewhat ironic that issues and subjects that relate to the Palestinians and Zionism that are virtually taboo in North America are openly discussed in Israel. These same subjects are much more openly discussed in Europe and in the rest of the World.
The journalist Gideon Levy wrote the following commentary on Zionism and the Israeli Left in the Israeli daily Haaretz. Can you ever imagine seeing a similar opinion piece in the mainstream North American media? Levy wrote:
And what is Zionism nowadays? An archaic and outdated concept born in a different reality, a vague and delusive concept marking the difference between the permitted and the proscribed. Does Zionism mean settlement in the territories? Occupation? The legitimization of every act of violence and injustice? The left stammered. Any statement critical of Zionism, even the Zionism of the occupation, was considered a taboo that the left did not dare break. The right grabbed a monopoly on Zionism, leaving the left with its selfrighteousness.
A Jewish and democratic state? The Zionist left said yes automatically, fudging the difference between the two and not daring to give either priority. Legitimization for every war? The Zionist left stammered again yes to the beginning and no to the continuation, or something like that. Solving the refugee problem and the right of return? Acknowledgment of the wrongdoing of 1948? Unmentionable. This left has now, rightly, reached the end of its road.
One of the most prominent Israeli critics is Avi Shlaim. He is professor of international relations at Oxford University. Shlaim is one of the world's foremost authorities on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and the author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World and many other books. Shlaim has commented on the character of the debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in North America,
On the other side of the Atlantic, on the other hand, the public debate on the subject of Israel is much more fierce and partisan, leaving relatively little space for the dignity of difference. The passion with which many prominent American Jews defend Israel betrays an atavistic attitude of "my country, right or wrong."
In an article published in the International Herald Tribune the Oxford professor addressed the question, "Is Zionism today the real enemy of the Jews?" His answer was Yes:
Sharon's government is waging a savage war against the Palestinian people. Its policies include the confiscation of land; the demolition of houses; the uprooting of trees; curfews, roadblocks and 736 checkpoints that inflict horrendous hardships; the systematic abuse of Palestinian human rights; and the building of the illegal wall on the West Bank, a wall that is as much about landgrabbing as it is about security.
It is this brand of cruel Zionism that is the real enemy of what remains of liberal Israel and of the Jews outside Israel. It is the enemy because it fuels the flames of virulent and sometimes violent antiSemitism. Israel's policies are the cause; hatred of Israel and antiSemitism are the consequences . . .
Israel's image today is negative not because it is a Jewish state but because it habitually transgresses the norms of acceptable international behavior. Indeed, Israel is increasingly perceived as a rogue state, as an international pariah, and as a threat to world peace.
This perception of Israel is a major factor in the recent resurgence of antiSemitism in Europe and in the rest of the world. In this sense, Zionism today is the real enemy of the Jews. It is a tragedy that a state that was built as a haven for the Jewish people after the Holocaust is now one of the least safe places on earth for Jews to live in. Israel ought to withdraw from the occupied territories not as a favor to the Palestinians but as a favor to itself and to world Jewry for, as Karl Marx noted, "a people that oppresses another cannot itself remain free."
After Israel launched its attack on Gaza on December 27, 2009 Shlaim published the following statement criticizing Israel's actions.
The only way to make sense of Israel's senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel's vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration's complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.. . .
This brief review of Israel's record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel's real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones. Politicians, like everyone else, are of course free to repeat the lies and mistakes of the past. But it is not mandatory to do so.
Many other Israelis also protested the Israeli assault on Gaza. For example there is a letter from 22 prominent Israelis who published an appeal in The Guardian. They wrote: