Is Zionism “creepy”?

The question at the heart of a social-media controversy deserves an answer


Is Zionism creepy? It is a strange question, prompted by the recent controversy surrounding Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. In early July, Sarsour addressed the annual meeting of the Islamic Society of North America, during which she is alleged to have advocated violent jihadShe did not, but her many online detractors nevertheless used the speech to reiterate their claims that Sarsour sympathizes with terrorists, is an anti-Semite, and is hostile to Israel. Among the evidence for the latter is a tweet by Sarsour dating back to Oct. 31, 2012, in which she declared, “Nothing is creepier than Zionism.”


One can understand Sarsour’s anti-Zionism. She is Palestinian-American. Given Palestinians’ history of loss and dispossession as well as the way in which the Arab-Israeli conflict is framed in the United States to favor Israel’s narrative, it should not come as a shock that Sarsour is hostile to Israel. She also has a lot of followers. A quick check of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram reveals about 227,000, 186,000, and 74,000 followers on those social media platforms respectively. It stands to reason that not all are supporters, but it is clear that Sarsour is an influential voice.


So when she declares that Zionism is "creepy," it no doubt has an effect on how people think about Israel and its legitimacy. Because creepy connotes something strange and unnatural, her tweet has the practical consequence of making it easier to boycott Israelis and Israel (likely her intention, given her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS) or to use “Zionism” and “Zionist” as epithets. To subscribe to the notion that Zionism is somehow abnormal, however, reflects a basic illiteracy in the history of the development of nationalism.


As Shlomo Avineri wrote in the introduction to his edited volume "The Making of Modern Zionism: The Intellectual Origins of the Jewish State," Zionism is the product of a complex interaction of European Jewry, Enlightenment ideals, and nationalism in the late-18th and 19th centuries. It was a milieu in which identity was being forged by the dialectical relationship between values that were alleged to be universal and the particularity of geography, culture and historical context. In France, for instance, in conjunction with liberté, egalité et fraternité, there was also an emphasis on what it meant to be French, which was inextricably linked with land, language and France’s contributions to Western civilization.


Similar developments were happening all over Europe, which were instilling people with ideas about being French or German or Polish, for example. Jews, who prior to the Enlightenment had been outcasts in European societies because they were not Christian, were not immune to the effects of the Enlightenment and nationalism. As they became more accepted in European lands, Jewish identity crystalized in response to the same sets of issues and stimuli as the people around them.


As Avineri explains, there remained practical problems for Jews becoming integrated in secularizing societies, though over time many did and thought of themselves primarily as French or German, though their neighbors clearly did not. More enlightened secularizing societies did not bring an end to the persecution of European Jewry. More important to Zionism’s development, however, were Jewish efforts — parallel to those of Germans, Poles, the French and others — to discover and understand their roots. Given the history of the Jewish kingdom's defeat, and exile, the search for identity led naturally to Palestine, the revival of Hebrew as a secular language, and the restoration of the Jewish nation (in contrast to Judaism as a religious sect). These are the basic tenets of Zionism. At a level of abstraction, they and their origins fit neatly within the general trajectory and history of the development of nationalism, self-determination and identity pretty much anywhere.


Jeffry Gilbert Added Oct 10, 2017 - 7:08pm
Answer to the question in your title:
Dino Manalis Added Oct 10, 2017 - 7:16pm
We have every right to critique Israel's policies, but anti-Semitism is wrong and inhumane.
Flying Junior Added Oct 11, 2017 - 3:45am
Given the fact that the Jewish State, Israel, is the dominant power in the Middle East, challenged only by Iran, isn't Zionism more or less a fait accompli?
I think that Zionism had more impetus as a movement when the Diaspora had not yet had the time to settle in Israel some decades ago.
No one is talking about manifest destiny for the U.K. or the U.S.A. so much these days.
Simply Jews Added Oct 11, 2017 - 4:14am
I have to agree with FJ here. The only reason that the word "Zionist" is being bandied is the existence of so called "anti-Zionists". 
Calling Zionism an ideology, to which one ascribes all kinds of genocidal intentions, calling for the so called "failure of the Zionist project" (meaning destruction and dispossession of an existing state) is in most cases a cover for some ancient hate. 
The only impetus to Zionism (or people calling themselves Zionists) is the existence and activities of the "anti-Zionists".
These days, when Europe (to use one example) is being torn apart by nationalistic movements, to protest existence of one single state, while disregarding others, is peculiar, to say the least.
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Oct 11, 2017 - 6:29pm
Jewish kingdom? That's utter fiction and Bible myth! There was a Hebrew kingdom, built on the genocide of the native indigenous Canaanite people. But the modern white European Jews have virtually no genetic ties to the ancient Hebrews, no more so than the white European settlers in the Americas have ties to the native indigenous population there.
But to answer the question that the article poses, yes it's creepy. Anything unnatural is creepy. Zionism, like Naxism is an unnatural racist political philosophy. That is simply the fact of what it is today irregardless of however it may have began. 
Stone-Eater Added Oct 12, 2017 - 3:20pm
Zionists are the same assholes as Muslim Wahhabia extremists or Christian evangelists. All religious fanatics have a mental brain disorder. Or they simply use that shit for personal gains and manipulating others which have even less brain.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 12, 2017 - 4:05pm
Ask Weinstein LOL Or Greenspan (Grünspan in German), Zuckerberg etc. Names tell a lot....Spielberg meets Mayer and Cohn, Koch and Rothschild...Mafia.
Yawn 2. Fucking network.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 12, 2017 - 4:07pm
No they're not. Zionism is a racist political movement.
It is basically a financial "movement". A bloodsucker movement. Politics is money and power.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 12, 2017 - 4:09pm
BTW: I'm not against Zionists. Why ? They're no different than US hegemonists, although...Weinberger, Horowitz....hmmmmm LOL
Saint George Added Oct 12, 2017 - 11:50pm
Answer to the question in your title: Absolutely.
Especially to inveterate anti-Semites. And the more ignorant of Middle East history, the better.
Simply Jews Added Oct 13, 2017 - 3:00am
"Ask Weinstein LOL Or Greenspan (Grünspan in German), Zuckerberg etc. Names tell a lot....Spielberg meets Mayer and Cohn, Koch and Rothschild...Mafia."
A bit obsessed, LOL aren't you, SEF, LOL? 
Where did I hear all that, LOL?
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Oct 13, 2017 - 3:04am
Some definitions for the curious:
Zionist - racist pretend Hebrew
Antisemite - 1, someone racially opposed to the semetic people of middle eastern origin (such as the Palestinian people). 2, to Zionists, someone opposed to European Jewish colonialists with zero semetic blood (thus a fake definition).
History - 1, actual documented events from the past. 2, to Zionists, make believe Jew fiction and mythology with zero actual historical basis in fact (thus another fake definition). 
Simply Jews Added Oct 13, 2017 - 3:14am
Is this another attempt to shed some light on the events of 9/11?
Lady Segmented at her best, with same typos...
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Oct 13, 2017 - 3:18am
Simply Adolf how about you take a frosted fucking leap off of Hitler's cock you antisemitic racist prick. 
Simply Jews Added Oct 13, 2017 - 3:21am
"I am a Kemetian (Priestess of Sekhmet - Magistari Tempi, Siaon of the Ancients, Kemetic Temple)  Progressive (NOT a Democrat) Socialist environmentalist and social activist female. Married with one child (a daughter). I'm on Twitter and Medium as @Sekhmetnakt (Lady Sekhmetnakt) 
Pro- Renewables, Feminist, Liberal, Intellectual, World History, Science, Palestinian/BDS movement, Indigenous peoples, Russia, Family, Military, Equality, LGBT, BLM, Green Party, Independent Media, Truth & Justice. 
Anti- GOP/fascist, Climate Change "denier", nuclear, fossil fuels, historical revisionist, imperialism, neocon/neoliberal, war criminal/crimes, colonialism, Zionist, racism/antisemite, illegal wars of aggression, fake news/propaganda, warmonger, corportist, corporate mainstream media outlets." 
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Oct 13, 2017 - 3:27am
Thanks for that Simply Adolf! I'm quite proud of my work and life as represented by my profile here. Why wouldn't I be. I'm not a fake person from a fake clan like some. 
Simply Jews Added Oct 13, 2017 - 3:30am
"I am a Kemetian (Priestess of Sekhmet - Magistari Tempi, Siaon of the Ancients, Kemetic Temple) "