Zionism – a false idol

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By NAOMI KLEIN*

Intervention in the protest in New York against Israel's military policy

I have been thinking about Moses and his anger when he came down from the mountain and found the Israelites worshiping a golden calf. The ecofeminist in me has always felt uncomfortable with this story: What kind of God is jealous of animals? What kind of God wants to accumulate all the sacredness of the Earth for himself?

But there is a less literal way to understand this story. These are false idols. It's about the human tendency to worship the profane and glittering, to look at the small and material rather than the large and transcendent.

What I want to tell you tonight, in this revolutionary and historic Seder in the streets, is that many of our people are worshiping a false idol once again. They are ecstatic with him. Drunk on him. Desecrated by him.

This false idol is called “Zionism”.

It is a false idol that takes our deepest biblical stories of justice and emancipation from slavery – the very story of the Jewish Passover – and turns them into brutal weapons of colonial land theft, into scripts for ethnic cleansing and genocide.

It is a false idol that took over the transcendent idea of ​​the promised land – a metaphor for human liberation that reached all corners of the world through different religions – and dared to transform it into a purchase and sale contract for a militaristic ethnostate.

Political Zionism’s own version of liberation is unholy. From the beginning, it demanded the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their ancestral homes and lands in Nakba.

From the beginning, it has been at war with dreams of liberation. It is worth remembering that, in a seder, this includes the dreams of liberation and self-determination of the Egyptian people. This false idol of Zionism equates Israeli security with the Egyptian dictatorship and client states.

From the beginning, it produced a kind of ugly freedom that saw Palestinian children not as human beings but as demographic threats – just like the Pharaoh of Israel. Book of Exodus who feared the growing population of Israelis and therefore ordered the death of his children.

Zionism has brought us to the current moment of cataclysm and it is time to say clearly: it has always led us here.

It is a false idol that has led many of our own people down a deeply immoral path that now leads them to justify the destruction of fundamental commandments: Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not covet.

It is a false idol that equates Jewish freedom with cluster bombs that kill and maim Palestinian children.

Zionism is a false idol that has betrayed all Jewish values, including the value we place on questioning – a practice embedded in seder with its four questions asked by the youngest child. Including the love we have, as a people, for text and education.

Today, this false idol justifies the bombing of all universities in Gaza; the destruction of countless schools, archives, printing presses; the murder of hundreds of academics, journalists, poets – this is what the Palestinians call scholasticide, the murder of the media of education.

Meanwhile, in this city, universities call the New York police and close themselves off against the serious threat posed by their own students who dare to ask them basic questions, such as: how can they claim to believe in something? thing, much less in us, while they allow, invest in and collaborate with this genocide?

The false idol of Zionism has been allowed to grow unchecked for too long. So tonight we say: this ends here. Our Judaism cannot be contained by an ethnostate, as our Judaism is internationalist in nature.

Our Judaism cannot be protected by the raging armed forces of this state, for all these armed forces do is sow sadness and reap hatred – including against us Jews.

Our Judaism is not threatened by people who raise their voices in solidarity with Palestine, across boundaries of race, ethnicity, physical ability, gender identity, and generation.

Our Judaism is one of these voices and knows that in this chorus lies both our security and our collective liberation.

Our Judaism is the Judaism of seder of Passover: the ceremonial gathering to share food and wine with loved ones and strangers, the ritual that is inherently portable, light enough to carry on our backs, needing nothing but each other: no walls, no temple, no rabbi, a role for each of us, even – especially – the smallest child. O seder it is a diaspora technology if there ever was one, made for collective mourning, contemplation, questioning, remembrance and the rekindling of the revolutionary spirit.

So look around. This here is our Judaism. When the waters rise and the forests burn and nothing is certain, we pray at the altar of solidarity and mutual aid, whatever the cost.

We neither need nor want the false idol of Zionism. We want to be free from the project that commits genocide in our name. Free from an ideology that has no plan for peace other than deals with murderous theocratic petrostates in the neighborhood, while selling robot assassination technologies to the world.

We seek to free Judaism from an ethnostate that wants Jews to be afraid forever, that wants our children to be afraid, that wants us to believe that the world is against us so that we will run into its stronghold and under from its iron dome, or at least so that the weapons and donations continue to flow.

This is the false idol. And it's not just Benjamin Netanyahu, it's the world he created and that created him – it's Zionism.

What are we? We, on these streets for many months, are the exodus. The exodus from Zionism. And to the Chuck Schumers of this world, we do not say, “Let our people go.” We say, “We’re gone. And your sons? They are with us now.”

*Naomi Klein is a journalist. Author, among other books, of It’s not enough to say no (Bertrand Brasil).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.

Originally published in the newspaper The Guardian.


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