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What Do Zionists Believe? (What Do We Believe) Paperback – 2 Apr 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (2 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 186207836X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862078369
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 875,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Colin Shindler teaches at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and is a former editor of the Jewish Quarterly and of Judaism Today. His most recent book is The Triumph of Military Zionism - a study of the Zionist right. He lives in London with his wife and family.

Customer Reviews

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Shindler really knows his stuff, and it shows. If you want to follow the origins and subsequent history of Zionism, I can't recommend anything better. It's not a history of Israel, but of the ideology that created and sustains it. Kol Hakavod.
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We are living in an age where Zionists, Zionism, the State of Israel and the Israeli people are being increasingly demonized and de legitimized by the media, universities and others who control public opinion. In elite circles Zionism has become a dirty word. It is therefore necessary to explore works like this that examine what Zionism really is and the origins and history of Zionism-which is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.

The author de constructs the diabolical lie that Zionism-the return of the Jews to their ancient cradle of birth is somehow ,as the far left and Islamists have brainwashed much of the world, an act of 'colonialism' and that the system of ideas behind the only democracy in the Middle East is 'fascist'.

As Shindler explains "Out of the conflicting narratives of Jew and Arab, the megaphone war between Israelis and Palestinians has reduced a complex history to a hollow sound bite. One of it's casualties has been any serious consideration of Zionism. Instead Zionists have often been deemed responsible in some left-wing publications in Europe and in the mainstream Arab media for orchestrating many acts of terrorism in the world-from the killing of Westerners in Saudi Arabia to the massacre of children in Beslan. In 2001 conspiracy theorists throughout the world were adamant that in their belief that 'Zionists' were behind the tragedy of the twin towers on 11 September 2001. In certain parts of the Arab world in particular 'the crimes of Zionism' have reached hitherto unimaginable levels of fantasy.
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Zionism has become a term of abuse in the Arab world and among Western supporters of Arabs in their fight against Israel. This is accompanied by the attribution of demonic characteristics invented by the accusers.
So why not read a calm exposition of what Zionists really do believe? This book is an unspectacular down-to-earth and simple account by a knowledgeable Zionist. It is a straightforward read which could be salutary for people who have gained their picture from caricatures and will serve as a simple reminder for those who support Zionism but feel they could do with being a bit better informed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x89b1a69c) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8988f408) out of 5 stars Getting to grips with what Zionism really is 12 Nov. 2012
By Gary Selikow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
We are living in an age where Zionists, Zionism, the State of Israel and the Israeli people are being increasingly demonized and de legitimized by the media, universities and others who control public opinion. In elite circles Zionism has become a dirty word. It is therefore necessary to explore works like this that examine what Zionism really is and the origins and history of Zionism-which is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.

The author de constructs the diabolical lie that Zionism-the return of the Jews to their ancient cradle of birth is somehow ,as the far left and Islamists have brainwashed much of the world, an act of 'colonialism' and that the system of ideas behind the only democracy in the Middle East is 'fascist'.

As Shindler explains "Out of the conflicting narratives of Jew and Arab, the megaphone war between Israelis and Palestinians has reduced a complex history to a hollow sound bite. One of it's casualties has been any serious consideration of Zionism. Instead Zionists have often been deemed responsible in some left-wing publications in Europe and in the mainstream Arab media for orchestrating many acts of terrorism in the world-from the killing of Westerners in Saudi Arabia to the massacre of children in Beslan. In 2001 conspiracy theorists throughout the world were adamant that in their belief that 'Zionists' were behind the tragedy of the twin towers on 11 September 2001. In certain parts of the Arab world in particular 'the crimes of Zionism' have reached hitherto unimaginable levels of fantasy.

This mindset has been strongly influenced by the international left , ironically the European Left which is today so venomously anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli was once strongly supportive of the Zionist enterprise, the creation of the State of Israel after world War II.
But the ideology of left metamorphosized in the last few decades into a nihilistic monstrosity of tawdry Third worldism, the cult of the noble savage returned with a vengeance. Israeli Jews are depicted as too white and well to do to be objects of sympathy or understanding and the Palestinian as the exploited and dispossessed dark skinned Third world masses. It is this anti-Western third worldist cult of the noble savage mentality that also accounts for the contempt which the post-modern left to hold the white working class in Britain, persecuting the latter in favour of 'noble victims', the Third world immigrants. The neo-Maoist strategy of Yeasser Arafats' Al Fatah terrorist organization suggested that the invented Palestinian cause was an integral part of the 'struggle against imperialism and colonialism'

The left also today violently suppress any idea that anti-Zionism may be linked ever to anti-Semitism, disseminating the lie that any reference to a relationship between the two is a sinister Zionist plot to deflect condemnation of the occupation and the great Israeli crimes supposedly committed against the innocent Palestinians.
And yet Anti-Zionism is the conviction that Israel, of all the world's countries, does not have the right to exist. It is the conviction that the determination of what constitutes Israel's 'secure and defensible borders' should not be made by the Israeli people, either directly or via representation.
Israel constitutes today the world's largest Jewish community , with the numbers of Jews living in Israel approaching nearly half of the world's Jewish population. Any destruction of Israel would mean a second holocaust of Jews. The anti-Zionists claim that they are not anti-Semitic as they only hate and want to harm Jews who live in Israel. This is as absurd as claiming one is not a racist as one only hates and wants to harm Blacks who live in Africa , not Blacks elsewhere. The enemies of Israel want the physical elimination of the Jewish people from the Land of Israel. This constitutes anti-Semitism.
The point is that they want a Judenreihn "Palestine" the same way that Hitler wanted a Judenreihn Europe.
Jews in Israel are targeted for one thing , being Jews.
The anti-Zionist believes that the only children, who it is justified to murder are Jewish children (in the Land of Israel).

Someone who is prejudiced against Israel or Israelis is just as much a bigot as someone who is prejudiced against Jews per se.

The point is that anti-Zionism should be treated the same as anti-Semitism BECAUSE the aim is to destroy the Jews of Israel the same way the Nazis destroyed the Jews of Israel.

I just find it interesting that if somebody is against British Jews they are anti-Semitic, if they are against American Jews they are anti-Semitic , if they are against European Jews they are anti-Semitic , but if they hate Israeli Jews they are merely 'anti-Zionist' but not anti-Semitic.

As Judea Pearl puts it : "As a form of racism, anti-Zionism is worse than anti-Semitism. It targets the most vulnerable part of the Jewish people, namely, the people of Israel, who rely on the sovereignty of their state for physical safety, national identity and personal dignity. To put it more bluntly, anti-Zionism condemns 5 million human beings, mostly refugees or children of refugees, to eternal statelessness, traumatized by historical images of persecution and genocide. "

Shindler quotes Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah who declared "If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind and ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew, notice I do not say the Israeli".

In the past Jews were denied equal rights as individuals because they are an ehtnic group regarded as unassimalable. today they are refused. Today they are denied a collective sense of identity and self-determination bu the rejection of their right to a nation-state of their own. Why do leftwing intellectuals so violently oppose the right to statehood but not object to such claimns of other groups?

The author of the book in tracing Zionist history , shows us what never occurs to the detractors of Zionism-that Zionism was never monolithic. And he studies the development of socialist Zionism, religious Zionism and Zionism in its variable other forms.

He explains how in the late 19th Jews racial anti-semtism made Jews realize they could never be pure Frenchmen, Germans Autrians or Britons and had to rebuild their own nationalism , in their own ancient territory! The Land of Israel then named Palestine
Most interesting is his study of the support of the Old Left for Zionism. Anuerin Bevan, that great champion of the British working class as well as the liberal David Lloyd-George styled themselves 'Zionists'. Bevan and the Old Left of the West saw Jewish resettlement in the Land of Israel as a unique socialist experiment. In 1948 in Britain in fact the further left you were the more supportive you were of Zionism, the diametric opposite of the situation today, where the hard left are genocidally opposed to Israel even calling Israeli children 'Zionists' In 1948 The Guardian was pro-Zionist, today it is the most venomously anti-Israel newspaper in Britain.

British Labour politician Tony Benn. now an anti-Israel propagandist was once a died in the wool advocate for Israel and a regular contributor to the Labour Zionist Jewish Vanguard.
But it is how so many on the left have betrayed Israel and the Jewish people with such a radical about turn that makes me question the values and integrity of the left. How could people who supported the justice of Israel's cause simply turn on Israel in hate simply because hating Israel was now the new fashion-what ever happened to loyalty. Is it only about shifts in political fashion. Truth does not change. If something was true 30 years ago, 40 years ago, 50 years ago it is still true today. Therefore what the older leftwing intellectuals such as Sartre and even the Soviet representative Gromyko's references to Zionism as a legitimate national liberation movement still must hold true today despite Zionism being the target of hate and de facto calls for genocide on the part of the post modern left.

The author also successfully describes how after the exile of the Jews from the Land of Israel by the Romans, the idea of a national Jewish Home in Israel never vanished. "Ahavat Tsion, a became a dormant but dominant theme foe the Jews of the Diaspora. Jerusalem was not forgotten. In their thrice daily prayers, Jews referred to the holy city and faced in it's direction. Indeed the rabbis counted 70 names for Jerusalem , and one Talmudic commentator loudly proclaimed "Ten measures of holiness descended on the world, Jerusalem took nine and the rest of the world one".

Shindler identifies with the liberal stream of Zionism. While I agree with him that Zionism should return to it's communalist and social responsibility-based roots as far as soci-economic reations between Israeliss go, as opposed to Netanyahu's libertarian abomination, it seems a tall order to expect Israelis to give way to those (the Palestinians) who want to burn their children alive and drive them into the sea. Until there is a strong movement for peace and conciliation with the Israeli Jews among Palestinians, and the acceptance of the permanence of Israel as a Jewish State, talk of negotiation, compromise and a two state solution will be pie in the sky.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8988f678) out of 5 stars De- Demonizing 'Zionism' 27 April 2007
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent introduction to understanding the historical meaning of 'Zionism'. Shindler is keenly aware of the misuses and misunderstandings which have characterized much of contemporary political discourse in relation to 'Zionism'. The distortions of the extreme left who see Zionism as a form of colonialism and of the Islamists who see it as the major force responsible for their own deprivations are pointed out at the outset.
Schindler is aware of the deep religious and political roots of the Jewish people's connection with the land of Israel. 'Zionism' which is the modern political expression of an ancient yearning has taken a number of different forms as Schindler explains.

" Zionism was a movement of national liberation, modeled on nineteenth century European nationalism and the French revolutionary tradition. It sought to both normalize and modernize the situation of the marginalized Jewish people. For the religious it was the beginning of the redemption and the onset of the messianic age. For Marxist Zionists it was an opportunity to rectify the abnormal socio- economic structure of the Jews in the Diaspora by settling them on the land. For idealists and dreamers , it was the construction of a perfect society based on socialist theory merged with themes of social justice cemented in the biblical teachings of the prophets. Others ridiculed all this as utopian and proposed a modern technological - capitalist state. The Hebrew Republic which arose as the state of Israel in May 1948 embraced all these possibilities. "

Schindler does a masterful job in tracing the 'Zionist idea ' over two millenium. He also makes clear the fundamentally peaceful intentions of the Zionist movement, and the central part the repeated refusal of the Arab community to accept the Jewish one has played in the conflict over the Holy Land.
Schindler does not go into detail in describing the great achievements of the Zionists in reviving the Hebrew language,in absorbing over two millions immigrants from over eighty countries, in building a modern state. Nor does he does he provide a close picture of the challenges Zionism and the Jewish people are facing today.
But in showing the basic developments of this complex phenomenom he does show how it has been a central idea of Jewish history and faith - a just cause- which through hard work, and sacrifice has been brought to considerable fruition.
His own take on 'Zionism ' if I understand him correctly is close to that of traditional Labor Zionists- a most liberal conception which at present would aim for a peace based on 'two states for two peoples'. It is possible to quarrel with him on this idea, but not on the quality of this fascinating summary of a concept so often misunderstood in our time.
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