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The Palestinian Contribution to the Revival of Zionism

In an op-ed published in Yediot Ahronot, Guy Bechor - a left-leaning Israeli expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - discussed the contribution of Palestinian violence to the morale and national unity of the Israeli public. Following are excerpts from Bechor's op-ed.*

"There is one positive consequence to the recent cycle of Palestinian violence: the re-awakening of Jewish nationalism, namely Zionism. Up until last year, post-Zionist attitudes and other wise-guy notions regarding the global village were common among us, when people were saying that Zionism was obsolete. [However,] recent events in the territories and among Arab-Israelis have revived Zionism and made it immensely relevant for our time. Zionism jumped out of the civic classes' [textbooks] and reemerged as a relevant political position."

"It is hard not to notice [this trend] in our day-to-day lives: the immense support in the national unity government headed by Ariel Sharon, a dramatic lessening of religious, political, and ethnic divides [within Israeli society], our impressive endurance in the face of frequent suicide attacks, the opening and closing broadcasts of the Macabbiya ceremonies [the Jewish Olympics] which received record-breaking ratings, reserve soldiers demanding to be recruited, and even an attack by the founding fathers of the [academic] establishment, as professor Shlomo Avinery did [when he came out] against the Ha'aretz newspaper for being post-Zionist."

"This is classical Zionism of persistence, of long-term outlook emanating from the fact that there are no alternatives, and of willingness for self-sacrifice. Due to these circumstances, Zionism is reemerging as a potential self-defining element among Jews and Israelis, who up until a year ago saw themselves as citizens of the world."

"The Zionist awakening is also enhanced by attacks from the outside [of Israel], mainly from Europe. The attempt to equate Zionism with racism, and the despicable attacks against Israel result in the opposite affect from the one hoped for in Europe: isolationism, stubbornness, and the strengthening of Jewish nationalism. In the past, Jewish hatred was the main accelerator of Zionism. It is not any different these days, as Palestinian nationalism is legitimate in Europe while Jewish nationalism is perceived as being colonialist, patronizing, and absurd."

"Unlike Jingoism, nationalism is of great significance as a unifying element, strengthening solidarity in any society. However, during the past decade, the feeling that Jewish nationalism is a thing of the past, an embarrassing, and an antiquated phenomenon, has become stronger in Israel."

Source: The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization providing translations of the Middle East media and original analysis and research on developments in the region. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.


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