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National identities have consequences


Newishlawyer, in the comments to my previous post:

I think there is an unwarranted assumption that Zionist=Likkuidnik in general.

I consider myself a Zionist. I have never been a fan of Likkuid or Hamas. I’m absolutely on the side of people like Rabin. Yet sometimes it feels like when I say I support the idea and right of a Jewish state to exist, people think of me as a Likuidnik.

I would say that Israel should do a unilateral withdrawal and still people in settlements “best of luck” unless it is with help to move back to Israel proper.

On one level this is a fair point. There is no reason to assume that all Zionists support Likud’s policies.

That said: if you support creating a religiously ethno-nationalist and democratic state, you can’t simply disavow any responsibility for the conduct of a right wing nationalist party. In democracies, one faction never retains control forever. The ideology, conduct, and treatment of perceived enemies of the nation we find in Likud seem pretty typical of right wing nationalism generally (they seem worse because the occupied territories and Hamas belligerence provide some unique opportunities for bad behavior). You simply can’t count on a state with a religious ethnonationalist identity that isn’t going to have a belligerent conservative faction in charge occasionally.

Furthermore: Likud’s current policies reflect the composition of the political coalition they lead, which includes a parties that represent a fast-growing and influential anti-modern ultra-orthodox population*, and a recent immigrant group who came from political cultures without a the liberal traditions that promote treating members of the outgroup with equality and respect. The increasing size and power of both of these populations is hard to divorce from Zionism, and they also make the likelihood of a political coalition for the kind of liberal Zionism newishlawyer would like to support increasingly unlikely to emerge. A Jewish Israeli state as part of a two state solution once seemed the best and most reasonable path to peace to me, along with most of the world. That, along with newishlawyer’s policy preference of unilateral settlement withdrawal, are all but dead now, and demographic changes that follow directly from the commitments, policies and priorities of Zionism are a non-trivial part of the reason why.


*Thanks to rewenzo below; this is not the untra-orthodox political party; that is Shas, which is not currently part of the governing coalition. Insofar as their growing presence makes a governing liberal political coalition less likely to emerge a weaker version of my initial point stands.

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