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Dazed and Confused – The Trouble with Defining Zionism

March 5, 2013 – 6:40 pm59 Comments
Media coverage of the Zygier Affair has highlighted the confusion over defining Zionism

Media coverage of the Zygier Affair has highlighted the confusion over defining Zionism

By Philip Mendes
When I was growing up, I was told by my parents and others that Zionists believed that all Jews should live in the State of Israel. This was confirmed by my Aunt and Uncle leaving Australia to live in Israel in 1974 and never returning. I didn’t hold this view because I was content living in Australia, and considered myself an Australian not an Israeli. So I assumed that meant I wasn’t a Zionist.

Conversely, I was told by far Left activists at Melbourne University that anybody who supported Israel’s existence was a Zionist. I always believed Israel had the same right to exist as any other nation state irrespective of concerns about specific policies towards the Palestinians so I assumed this meant I wasn’t an anti-Zionist.

When I became involved in Israeli-Palestinian peace advocacy in the late 1980s, these discussions became more complicated. Some leaders of the Australian Zionist movement said that Zionism meant supporting a Greater Israel including settlements that dispossessed Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Given that I totally opposed these proposals, they suggested that I was an anti-Zionist.

However, anti-Zionist fundamentalists said that Israel was a racist colonialist state that should be destroyed by military force. They said I was not only a Zionist but a very right-wing Zionist for opposing this allegedly progressive political agenda.

It’s easy to get confused. Eventually, I settled on a relatively simple philosophical interpretation. In my opinion, Zionism had won the historical battle with Bundism and other Jewish or universal ideologies for providing an effective solution to the Jewish problem. The creation of the State of Israel in 1948 represented the achievement of the core aims of Zionism, but equally it meant that Zionism as an ideology no longer really mattered. So I could sit safely in neutral space as a non-Zionist. But to some Zionists and anti-Zionists, the ideology clearly did still matter.

People continued to provide varied definitions of Zionism. The 2008-09 Jewish Population Survey conducted by the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University ambiguously defined Zionism as “You feel connected to the Jewish people, to Jewish history, culture and beliefs, the Hebrew language and the Jewish homeland, Israel”. Other than perhaps the reference to “Hebrew” and “Jewish homeland”, this was arguably a broader definition that even a Bundist could endorse.

Others, who called themselves Zionists but had no intention of moving to Israel, told me that Zionism involved political, financial and/or emotional support for Israel. This definition provoked two further questions:

  1. Was this support for a particular Israeli political perspective – that of Greater Israel or that which favoured a two-state solution?
  2. And could a non-Jew be a Zionist, given that Zionism seemed to mean Jewish nationalism?

The recent discussions about the Zygier Affair and associated issues such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign have provoked me into further rethinking about the meaning of Zionism. Mostly, this relates to the misrepresentation of the term by anti-Zionist fundamentalists. For example, my recent mild reflection on the question of divided loyalties in Eureka Street provoked one reader to suggest that I was involved in some sort of “Zionist apologetic” – whatever that means.

Some of my earlier activities opposing the BDS campaign also provoked similar unintelligent labelling. Anti-Zionist fundamentalist Antony Loewenstein responded to my factual criticism of the BDS as involving the ethnic stereotyping and demonization of all Israeli Jews by calling me a “self-described Left Zionist Jew who uses McCarthyist smears to monitor public criticisms of Israel”.

Actually I have never used the term “Left Zionist Jew” anywhere. Loewenstein just made it up. As for the spurious charge of McCarthyism, Loewenstein and other anti-Zionist fundamentalists clearly don’t like having their views critically analysed and challenged. Some people call this freedom of speech, which is a hard concept for BDS advocates to digest, given the whole purpose of their movement is to silence and censor those with whom they disagree.

Regardless, what Loewenstein and the Eureka Street reader seem to be implying is that any supporter of Israel’s existence must be a Zionist and indeed an evil person, and that it is ridiculous to suggest that one can be both a leftist and pro-Israel. None of this suggests much insight into the ideological diversity of political movements such as Zionism (varying from the secular Marxist Hashomer Hatzair to the religious right-wing settlers’ movement), or the fact that the Left incorporates egalitarian agendas on a wide range of issues from welfare spending to industrial relations to gender concerns around family violence and abortion to foreign policy. What it does tell us is that Zionism has a symbolic binary meaning for these fundamentalists that bears little resemblance to its practical meaning for those who term themselves Zionists or in some cases non-Zionists.

Which brings us back to the question of what Zionism means for at least some Jews, and the vexed question of divided loyalties. About a month ago, the Australian Jewish News featured a dazzling photo of members of Zionist youth groups who were about to commence a one-year stay in Israel. One of the groups held up a banner stating “We are going home”. This statement was hardly surprising given that members of this group had presumably been taught for many years that Israel was the homeland of the Jewish people. Nevertheless, I have to admit this banner left me feeling uncomfortable because it suggested that Australia was not the home of these young people.

There is no evidence that this banner would be representative of the feelings of most Australian Jews. And even those idealistic youngsters that held the banner may not necessarily have believed they were privileging Israel over Australia. It is possible in a multicultural society to have two homes, and to feel no contradiction between loyalties to both countries.

However, I do feel that we as a community need to think more about what we mean by Zionism. Does it only mean going to live in Israel, or does it mean general solidarity with Israel, or does it mean taking more interest in Israeli than Australian politics? It may legitimately include all these meanings, but until we have this debate ourselves, it is unlikely that we will be able to provide a cohesive definition to others.

Associate Professor Philip Mendes is the Director of the Social Inclusion and Social Policy Research Policy Unit in the Department of Social Work at Monash University, and also holds an Honorary Appointment in the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation. He is currently preparing a book titled Jews and the Left: The Rise and Fall of a Political Alliance for publication in late 2013.

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  • Doodie Ringelblum says:

    Thank-you Phillip for a lucid exposition of the definitional problem. Whilst the topic has the potential to degenerate into arguments over semantics with little practical relevance, I’d like to throw in my 2c worth.

    The youth group I spent years working in is excluded from the Zionist Youth Council because it doesn’t fulfil their criteria of a Zionist (which is to subscribe to the WZC Jerusalem Program).

    I was rejected from joining LionFM radio for basically the same reason. A Zionist, I am told, has to believe “in the centrality of Israel to Jewish life and support the ingathering of the exiles.”

    There are those who think that the Bund has no right to be a member of the JCCV – for the same reason.

    Now I do not regard myself as a Zionist, and nobody I know regards me as one. Yet I comfortably answered Yes to the Gen08 question because of how it was phrased. So I am counted in the 80% whom the State Zionist Council proudly state are Zionists.

    It is interesting that even using the most anodyne definition of Zionist possible, the Gen08 survey still drew 20% responses in the negative – and that from Jews motivated enough to answer the survey.

    There is an another interesting point. I queried with the Gen08 researchers why the Zionism question was the only one in the whole survey which required an explanation of what the question meant.

    Their response was:
    ” In 2008, when we were trialling the questionnaire, not having a
    definition of Zionism caused a problem in that many people felt they
    could not answer the question in the abstract. This was not the case
    with other questions – for example, people had no problem indicating
    that they were Traditional when presented with a list of possible forms of religious/ not religious identifiers.”

    It therefore appears Phillip, you are not the only one who has trouble identifying whether or not you are a Zionist!

    I think the definitional issue comes down to this. If you have a sense of affiliation/identification with the Jews of Israel, does that make you a Zionist – or just a concerned Jew?

    Does Zionism need to have a political sense as well?

    As to the question of whether the “Zionists won and the Bundists lost” …. we should leave that for another thread!

  • Sol Salbe says:

    Philip, at the risk of denting your reputation, I also come to praise you. I have only skimmed through your article because of time constraints. [will come back later] But I seem to agree with a lot of what you write.

    One thing I will query is your use of the term anti-Zionist fundamentalist. It seems to me as a matter of formal logic (at this stage) that if you have issues with definition of A they may have impact not only on “not-A” but the “-A” (the opposite of A). May I therefore suggest that in your next version of this article you use a longer, more descriptive, term in order to avoid this problem with definition of terminology and logic.

  • letters in the age says:

    Nice article.

    Identity is fluid and complex.

    “It is possible in a multicultural society to have two homes, and to feel no contradiction between loyalties to both countries….”

    Agree to some extent.

    Identity crisis occurs and people adopt the worst from both cultures.

    Sociology 101.

    Some Jews can’t deconstruct their own identity as it becomes a sort of middle-class apartheid of the right- wing in their Jewish day school bubble…

    Spoon fed nationalism is not beneficial at all but just contributes to the schools “Zionist” agenda AND a profitable business model.

    Zionism sometimes is a dirty word when you don”t know exactly what it means…

  • Reality Check says:

    Great article Philip. Sol Salbe does have a point here, re: use of term anti-Zionist fundementalists; for starters, it’s too long and secondly, to be anti-Zionist, like say the ulta-frum hassidim, anti-Zionist suffices. For Loewenstein, Israel is his little earner. That is, he makes a living out of bashing Israel. That is why he doesn’t care much about sense or logic, as long as he keeps feeding the masses with anti-Israel slogans to stimulate his readership.

  • Reality Check says:

    I also think that by calling Loewenstein a fundemalist, it gives him notoriety and he’ll gloat over it to his fellowers.

  • letters in the age says:

    Who is exactly is his readership and demographic these days Reality…?

    Be specific if you may??

    ab middle class anglo etc?

    Just curious


  • Reality Check says:

    His readership would be the independent voices and that crowd.

  • letters in the age says:

    “that crowd…??”

    Hipsters as well i would assume…



  • Reality Check says:

    Geez Letters, we are really getting down to the deep and meaningful stuff here. Who cares, he sold heaps of copies of his book. I certainly didn’t waste my money on one.

  • Michael Burd says:

    Gee Sol it appears to me you are all over the shop on one hand your claim to fame is that you have been fighting for Palestinian rights for over 35 years ( this statement of yours is now About 10 years old so now you have been fighting for Hamas … Sorry Pal rights for 45 years ) your organization AJDS is linked on loewensteins web site and he strongly advoctates that Israel should be integrated into the Arab/ Muslim middle east .Your AJDS often partner Palestinuan lobby groups in their propaganda so I am confused are you for or against Zionism ?

  • letters in the age says:


    From a marketing/sociological perspective it does matter…

    Demographic and audience speaks volumes.

    Think about it.

    Stay sane…..


  • Reality Check says:

    Mr Burd, relax. do you have a file on Philip. I would be over the moon if you had one on me.

    Letters, I am the first to admit I have no idea on socialology, demographics etc. so i guess i am not qualified to comment further.

  • Philip Mendes says:

    Guys: I will be sticking with the term anti-Zionist fundamentalism as you will see below from a draft chapter of my forthcoming book. It reflects my experiences over nearly 30 years in trying and failing to have a rational conversation with this group of people. Fundamentalism is the best word I can think of because it accurately reflects the quasi-religious and evangelical basis of their beliefs which bear no relation to objective reality.

    The third Left perspective I have called anti-Zionist fundamentalism (Mendes, 2008) because it is akin to religious fundamentalism. This view, which is held mainly but no longer exclusively by far Left groups, regards Israel as a racist and colonialist state which has no right to exist. Adherents hold to a viewpoint opposing Israel’s existence specifically and Jewish national rights more broadly which is beyond rational debate, and unconnected to contemporary or historical reality. Active support is provided to groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah which are overtly anti-Jewish as well as anti-Zionist. Suicide bombings and other forms of violence directed specifically against Israeli civilians are viewed as legitimate strategies for eliminating the Jewish state (Benedek, 2007; Berman, 2004a; Cohen, 2007).

    This form of anti-Zionism is substantively different to the earlier pre-1948 Left tradition of anti-Zionism. That tradition opposed Zionism as a political movement on theoretical grounds. In contrast, anti-Zionist fundamentalists today wish to eliminate the actual existing nation state of Israel (Hirsh, 2007; Julius, 2010; Taguieff, 2004). Israelis and their Jewish supporters are depicted as inherently evil oppressors by the simple process of denying the historical link between the Jewish experience of oppression in both Europe and the Middle East and the creation of Israel. Conversely, Palestinians are depicted as intrinsically innocent victims. In place of the fundamental and objective centrality of the State of Israel to contemporary Jewish identity, anti-Zionist fundamentalists portray Israel as a mere political construct, and utilize ethnic stereotyping of all Israelis and all Jewish supporters of Israel whatever their political views in order to justify their claims (Spaeti, 2005; Ziegler, 2012).

    For example, the Congress of South African Trade Unions simplistically summarize the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as follows:

    In Palestine there lives a peace-loving people like all of us, who look forward to enjoying a life of decency and dignity. These people once had a place they called their own; the land, the peace, the environment, the natural resources and all that they possessed then. It was so until the arrival of the forces of occupation, in the form of the Israeli Zionists who took all that was ever possessed by these people and turned them into perpetual slaves without land and freedom (Masuku, 2010).

    The purpose of negating the reality of Israel’s existence is to overcome the ideological barrier posed by the Left’s historical opposition to racism. Any objective analysis of the Middle East would have to accept that Israel could only be destroyed by a war of partial or total genocide which would inevitably produce millions of Israeli Jewish refugees, and have a catastrophically traumatic effect on almost all Jews outside Israel (Julius, 2003). But advocacy of genocide means endorsing the most virulent form of racism imaginable. So instead anti-Zionist fundamentalists construct a subjective fantasy world in which Israel is detached from its specifically Jewish roots, and then miraculously destroyed by remote control free of any violence or bloodshed under the banner of anti-racism (Taguieff, 2004).

  • Levi (a Refugee from the USSR) says:

    Philip, your description of anti Zionist fundamentalists reads like a description of the AJDS

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Philip’s provocative short piece ( I do want to see the larger version ! ) has the attractiveness of a “artisanale”, home made, well crafted multiple forays into issues tailor-made for the present audience , among the expected respondents Michael Burd being, as ususal, so spot on !!
    I suspect – favourable to me – that Philip is also courting reactions as to verify his own intellectual suspicions cum not finalised views.

    Here is my opinion on smething not quite fully baked:

    Institutionalised excessively Left anti Zionism was launched more or less coincidental with the formation of Medinat Israel. Soviet Union and all satelite communist regimes at the time, made feeble attempts at enlisting Israel as a “para satelite” country. The local Israeli CommnistParty and also some sections ( extremme left, of course ) of the Histadrut were “approached” with the known tools and stratgies. The most curious result was that one of the largest post war Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, Romanian , was ENCOURAGED and, in some cases almost FORCED to make alya through the Israeli communist channels. Thus, by 1950, Romanian Jews formed amost a MAJORITY within the Israeli demographics. Th “architects” of the move were Ana Pauker, Romania’s Foreign Affairs Minster and a few emissaries from the CPI ( Communist Party of Israel ). All with the imprimatur of Moscow/Stalin.
    The whole move turned viciously anti Zionist when Israel was determined to be a well established pro American political establishment, thus an active component of the Cold War. With instant vigour and bile an anti Zionist campaign followed, directed from Moscow and, in most parts, conducted by Jewish communists from all associate communist regimes, Romania, of course, included. By 1951, known Zionists still active in the said countries were persecuted in the most ferocious way. I had known personal cases, included a famous Zionist , relative of my family’s, jailed for a number of years, eventually saved and taken from his prison cel straight to Lod Airport, later to become a Poet Laureate in Israel and Hebrew Uni. top academic.
    The anti Zionist literature, which I read at the time, had the PRECISE structure and content of what we see today peddled by the known anti Zionist activists from all quarters, Hamas, lowensteins, even salbe type . The Bundist variety has nothing, as we all know, over the origins and development of this pernicious anti Zionism.
    Bundism contained Jewish values, whereas State controlled anti Zionsim contained cathegorical anti Jewish comprehensive policies.

    Otherwise, as we deal with terms and terminology, all and sundry are allowed – and shall take advantage – to express the various ethymological shades of their own intellectual output. More interesting is the oxymoron term found in so many places of : “post Zionism” !!!

  • Philip Mendes says:

    Levi: I think you are confusing AJDS with Loewenstein’s IAJV which openly calls for the elimination of Israel, and can reasonably be called an Uncle Tom or Kapo organisation. AJDS is more complex. Until the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada the organisation basically mirrored the mainstream peace movement in Israel. It has changed a lot since then both in terms of policy and personnel (see http://www.ajds.org.au/committee/ – three of those eight Committee members are unapologetic philosophical anti-Zionists, only one – Robin Rothfield – is definitely not, I am not sure about the other four.

    But I doubt it will ever explicitly support the elimination of Israel. Still whenever supporters of two states such as myself are involved in conflict with anti-Zionist fundamentalists, you can guarantee that Larry Stillman will line up 90 percent of the time with the fundamentalists as AJDS did with Overland Magazine for example. And they will then claim it is unfair to expose that is what they are doing. How pathetic.

    By the way I don’t think Sol Salbe has been actively involved with AJDS for a number of years. If anything his views are probably more moderate than the majority of the current committee.

    Also Otto I have a long-standing fondness for Ana Pauker based on Robert Levy’s biography and other material I have read about her life. This sympathy does come through in my book. I realize you probably won’t agree with me on this.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    glad to confirm that my fondness for Ana Pauker has been boundless.
    Not only did I know her personally, although she was on forced domicile, but my first wife’s Mother ( Cristina – nomme de guerre – Boico ) was Ana’s Chief of Staff and my own Father worked with Ana Pauker. My Father was in the Central Committee of the Rom. Comm. Party for some time .

  • letters in the age says:

    Interesting bloodlines Otto…..

  • Philip Mendes says:

    Otto: What was his name, was he by chance one of the people below?

    Ana Pauker was the Foreign Minister of Romania, Secretary of the Communist Party, and arguably the most powerful person in the Communist government. Other Jews including Iosif Chisinevski, Leonte Rautu, Simion Bughici, Iosif Sraier, and Mikhail Roller held prominent roles in the Romanian Communist Party. A significant number of Jews also appear to have held positions in the leadership of the secret police

  • MIchael Burd says:

    Whilst slightly off topic I would like to see Phillip write a piece on the Uncle Toms or Kapos like Loewenstein and what makes them tick. I am a friend of [ Ant] Loewesnteins first cousin Ronald Green who lives in Ramat Hasharon a suburb of Tel Aviv. I remember him telling me when Ant first came to Israel his very first trip [ only syared about one week and became an expert on Israel over this time] he stayed with Ronald to do so called research for his fist anti -Israel Book ‘ My Israel question’ although at the time Ron had no clue on Ant’s peculiar self hating Jewish obsession.Ron thought Ant was a genuine writer or Journalist not a Palestinian activist.
    Ron told me in retrospect he found it strange why during his very short stay at the dinner table each night Ant would tell the family where he had been . Ants research into the Israeli /Palestinian conflict consisted of Ant only going to West Bank, East Jerusalem only talking to Arab Israelis, speaking to Left wing Israeli so called Human rights Organizations and he only refereed to Haaeretz for his information. Dinner table conversation always with ant always negative about Israeli Jews . Notwithstanding this was Ants first trip to Israel he made no attempt to speak to non Left wing Israelis and it was only later on Ron realized Ant had no intention of writing a balanced book about Israel and the Palestinians.he had an agenda …
    In fact it was only when I contacted Ronald out of the blue after reading his name in Loewensteins book just released so I searched Ron out rang him up and asked him why he would host such a person Ron had no idea his cousin had written such a book and was even quoted out of context personal dinner conversations with his family in his anti- Israel book. Needless to say after I sent Ron a copy of the book he was devastated as Ronald is a passionate Zionist originally from UK and obviously has nothing to do with him or Loewensteins German born parents who now have joined the anti- Zionist bandwagon and their sons biggest fans.
    Subsequently I attended the The Age writers Festival launch of Ant’s book where he had a high profile group of mates and fellow Palestinians supporters to help him on stage launch his Anti- Israel book namely Robert Richter, Julian Burnside QC ,Louise Adler. Incredibly Richter went on to tell the packed al’ Age Audience [ wait for this ] his mate Ant Lowenestein was a better friend of Israel than those Australian Jewish leaders { I.e Mark Liebler, Danny Lamm, Phillip Chester, Peter Wertheim I imagine ] that had the ear of the Israeli PM.

    It would be very interesting to know what makes these self hating Jews tick, why if they were so ashamed of their heritage and so supportive of the Muslims why they didn’t convert to Islam .
    The only reason I can think of why they don’t renounce their Judaism is the ABC and Fairfax would never continually invite these self hating Jews to bash Israel and Jewish Israelis if they weren’t Jewish this way they can be accused of antisemitism. What better Israel basher than a Jewish one.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Firs, Levi’s book is excellent and he is not even Romanian., but has acquired valuable inside information, very accurate dates and events and a wealth of accounts regarding less important Jewish activists within the Romanian Communist structure before and particularly after the War. Almost all names mentioned by him in the post 1950 era were well known to my family and quite a few by me personally.
    I don’t know who you are attemptng to identify but I shall cover a few, most of whom are RELEVANT to the notion of Zionism as coincidental with the Jew, specifically I would mention, of the old shtettl origin,turned, as it were, ostensively at least NON Zionist if not even ANTI Zionist, only go see at some of them directly and, almost completely at their children a decisive departure from the anti Zionist attitude and, in some very telling cases, becoming devout Zionists.A very important phenomenon !
    Iosif Kishinevski and his wife Lyuba lived some 100 metres from my house in Bucharest and one of their four sons, Andrei, is my age. We spent countless summer holidays in Comm.Party special camps and later I was in their house quite regularly. Andrei and I ended up together in Sept. 1970 in kibbutz Gan Shmuel ( Hashomer Hatzair !!! ) . Andrei is STILL a haver kibbtz there after 43 years etc. His brother Ghita also emigrated to Israel but, sadly, died of a heart attack quite a few years ago.
    Their father Iosif, aka Joska, although not at all of Hungarian origin, was one of the MAIN drivers of the anti Zionist propaganda within the Comm. Party in the 50’s. His wife was also heavily involved in it. By 1960 they were both demoted, but still ejoying party privileges. I clearly remember sometime in 1975 visiting Romania and being at Lyuba Kishinevski’s place at a dinner party. She just returned from a visit to Israel, incl. the kibbtznik Son, of course and relatd to me how “fantastic” the whole place was. She then said to me ” That is what we always dreamt of !!” (!!!!!)

    Leonte Rautu lived for a while just two doors from my place, at No. 30, me at No. 34 on the same street. He was THE LAST mohican to remain in power during Ceausescu’s regime as SECRETARY of the Comm. Party. He only resigned when one of his daughters, Lena, emigrated to USA. His other daughter, Anca, my age, still lives in Romania and is a well known art critic/journalist, married to a Romanian His nephew, Andrei Oisteanu, whose father was the Dean of the Rom. Comm. Party Academy, is now a top leader of the Rom. Jewish Community. His brother emigrated to USA in the early 70’s and is an ardent Zionist. He visited me in Syd. a few years ago and we had a fantastic time. He is a poet in NYC.

    Mihail Roller was a fairly insignificant figure, but famous for writing the first ” History of People’s Republic of Romania ” in 1952 I think, a Comm. party idologocal blue-print. He elived only 300 metres from my place, but only 5o from Miron Constantinescu, anothr Secretary of the PC, who was Romanian, but whose wife was Jewish, a very tough, uncompromising Comm. Levi relates how, after a visit to Stalin in 1948, Stalin told the RCParty leader Dej that if he dislikes Ana Pauker he should murder her and Dej assigned Miron to do the job which he, obvioulsy, did not carry out. Miron Ctscu’s wife died very tragically murdered by her 17 year old daughter, also called Lena. They lived at the end of my street and I remember that day…….

    Simion Bughici was a Bessarabian Jew who followed Ana Pauker as the FA Minister. My sister went to school with his son and he used to visit us , but not a family friend relationship. The adjunct FA Minister for a while was another Jew, Ana Toma, whose nephew I met in 1982 in Haifa, also making alya. Ana Toma’s husband, Pantiusa Pintilie, not Jewish, was a famous “executioner” cum secret service top ranking officer, responsible for murdering in cold blood the RCP Secretary Foris, not Jewish, but of Hungarian origin.

    Iosif Sraier was not significant at all in the leadership. Jewish, a lawyer and then working in the scret police ( Securitate ).

    Happy to help……….

  • Sol Salbe says:

    Amazing how Philip wrote about the problems of defining Zionism and almost every contributor has decided to place that in the too hard basket. Instead everyone gets excited about anti-Zionism. Sorry I don’t think letting self-selected anti-Zionists define Zionism would be very useful. I’ve been labelled a Zionist by then. Is there anyone here who can think of a circumstance in which placing Michael Burd and yours truly in the same “Zionist” basket would make much sense?

  • TheSadducee says:

    I’m not even sure that the term is appropriate – aren’t we past Zionism now in terms that Israel has existed as a national state for Jewish self-determination and identity for like 60+ years?

    Isn’t the Jewish problem solved?

    You could refer to people as anti-Israeli advocates or advocates of a greater Israel position, pre-6 day War advocates and/or a few other variants I guess?

    They certainly make greater sense to me than arguing about Zionism’s definitions.

  • letters in the age says:

    We have a new premier in Victoria Otto…

    The ramifications to the Jewish community is “enthralling” to say the least…


  • MIchael Burd says:

    Basically Sadducee the way I see it or understand the left or as they now like to be called Progressives is that there should not a be a ‘Jewish state” like there are say 57 Islamic states , with the 58 th on the way ”Islamic state of Palestine” as per Hamas charter. To have a Jewish state is racist of course to have an Islamic state is not but hey thats the way these people think.
    They would like to see a Arab/Muslim Jewish state. So the Jews would be a minority. Of course if Jews were a minority in a Arab/ Muslim state they would be treated very well, just as the Shea/ Sunni get along so well and just as the Minority Christians are treated so well in Muslim countries……

  • Otto Waldmann says:


    it sounds like this bloke, Naphtine , could one of ….. us.

    Trouble is the “Kreisky syndromme”. When a Jew attains high office in any country apart from Israel, his/her Jewish “credentials” seem to dissipate. Tis is the kind of issue we should also “attack”, I reckon.
    If Jewishness is only incidental/partial, it makes for “interesting” biographical notes, but affection/association ith that detail has no bearing at all on the official policies of the “interesting” individual.

    Not allowed to write any more, a very tollerant wife is showing me a time piece to which big brown Sephardi eyes acquire larger and ominous expansions…………

  • TheSadducee says:


    I think your oversimplyfying a complex issue. The “left” is constituted by an enormous range of diverse opinions and I don’t think you could say that they all (or even the majority) hold the opinion that you characterise them as having.

    Even so, that still doesn’t address the issue of language/definition that the author is addressing.

    OT – I would suggest that you can’t control a state’s ethnic/religious composition to maintain a particular position without adopting measures which could be discriminatory in effect (if not intention).

    Putting aside a bi-national solution what do you suggest that Israel does with the 20% non-Jewish minority which is demographically growing?

  • Michael Burd says:

    ”Putting aside a bi-national solution what do you suggest that Israel does with the 20% non-Jewish minority which is demographically growing? Sadduce,

    Very simply Saduce ensure to be eligible for Israeli citizenship they must sign an allegiance to the ” Jewish state’ and not try to make a state within a state that Muslims all over the world try to do.
    If these 20.6 % of Arab/Muslims do not wish to live in the Palestinian terror- Tories, Lebanon , Syria , Egypt etc and they wish to take advantage of Israels Jewish democracy , way of life where all religions are free to practice and unlike Islamic/ Arab countries then they should sign allegiance to the Jewish state and everything that goes with it.
    I find it hard to understand why Jews seem to find it totally acceptable that Muslims can have their own countries , and practice intolerance to non Muslims and thats ok ,yet find it unacceptable for Israel to be a Jewish state with those that wish to live in it to abide its rules and standards of behavior. Israel may not be perfect but its zillion times better than its barbaric neighborhood and surrounds that i,m sure even you would agree .

    Quite frankly Sedduce its called survival if it were up to the left /Progressives along with the Arab/Muslim Minority Israel would end up exactly how our friend MR Loewenstein would like it to be.
    It is disappointing that so many Jews are not willing to stand up and fight for their own Jewish state, at the end the way it is going Israel will self destruct with out the Arabs/Muslims having to fire another shot or Missile.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Considering the tangibles, the very solid, reliable existence of today’s Israel, as a tremendous accomplishment of Zionism, the redundancy of some Jewish baked alternate “definitions”, not to mention the laughable incitement to, in fact current, dialectics on the very function of Zionism by one just as laughable Sol Salbe, make one wonder if those purveyors of hollow palaver can retain the most elementary notion of what is happening in REALITY under their, obviously, cronically blocked noses. As the caravan has long passed their tents and the Zionist State makes successive and successful international inroads in its existential assertions, debates of this nature do have a certain function, to be fair, and that is to smoke out and leave out to dry the obvious detractors, whether of Jewish extraction or otherwise. The arguments are necessary simply because the complexity of anti Zionist camp implies that pernicious fallacies may not be allowed to prosper, lest innocent people are likely to suffer. The innocent ones, mind you, are also those fighting in IDF uniform tosafeguard what Providentially has been given to the ENTIRE world to respect and safeguard, precisely the very Medinat Israel, the very edifice of Zionsim. Some are active with well intended pragmatism in constantly improving Israeli society, which by natural extention follows necessary, timely adjustments, while others, including those with tenuous Jewish connections, are happy to “contribute” with home made half baked “ideologies” or, worse, alogned to the un-disguised columns of the haters of anything Zionist, anything Jewish.
    Would Lowenstein, Stillman, even Salbe find a peaceful spot under the sun of Israel !!! I reckon not, but then, such are the requirement of their “temperament” that obstructing rationale seems to work within their seriously twisted methabolism…………

  • Sol Salbe says:

    Mmm… do you actually know what I stand for?

  • Michael Burd says:

    Very simply if Zionism is so so Bad , Israel is such a hell hole and Israeli Jews such a bad lot as the Loewensteins, Stillmans, Salbes and CO would have us believe why wouldn’t they denounce their Jewish heritage and all connections with the Jewish state?
    Could it be that being Jewish makes a much more successful in demand Israel/ Zionist critic.


  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Hey Sol, mate, isn’t all that stuff written over the years above your name ….. your stuff !!!??? If so, then the answer is a resolute : YEP !!!!

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Burdy : cute as ever .

  • letters in the age says:

    Self hating Jew Mr Burd……. example?

    Should have watched sky news the other day , theres one on t.v!


  • Levi (a refugee from the ussr) says:

    there is a misconception out there that in order to support israel, one has to be a zionist. I don’t consider myself to be one – and I happen to support israel. I always thought that a zionist is someone who would make aliyah. How can u be a zionist and live in caulfield? @philip mendes, in regards to the ajds, we can probably agree that that they are worse than fundamentalists. Fundamentalists @ least don’t pretend to believe in a plurality of ideas. The ajds on the other hand, uses that as a guise to stifle other opinions and promote their own brand of in tolerance. Anyway, slighty off topic – why do still cling to the 2 state fantasy?

  • Michael Burd says:

    http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/29648ShareJun 11, 2003 – COMMENT BY SOL SALBE. Green Left Weekly [Israeli-born Sol Salbe has been campaigning for Palestinian human rights for 35 years.]

    So If Salbe AJDS ‘s Editor or chief propagandist, J Steeet, NIF & Progressive movenemnt are all fighting for Palestinian Rights, Loewenstein , Brull, Avigail Abarbanel, Liam Gertru,Vivienne Porzsolt,Gay Mannie, ACJC are all fighitng for Palestinian rights who is fighting for Jewish Israeli rights, Geert Wilder ?


  • Reality Check says:

    Michael, old son, by putting together people like Loewenstein who is a downright self hating Jew, as shown on his recent interviews on the ABC, with Liam Gertru and Sol Salbe, you are doing yourself a great diservice. The AJDS is not anti-Israel, although they campaign for human rights for the Palestinians as many Jews in Israel do. Loewenstein is anti-Israel and anti-Jewish, plain and simple.It’s like saying all right-wingers are Nazi sympathizers: know what I mean.

  • Michael Burd says:

    Reality, I don’t know what you mean actually ?

    To me they are all the same just different degrees .. If only the Palestinians had Jewish activists, sympathizers and self hating Palestinians ..but hey thats not ”Reality “‘

  • Reallity Check says:

    Michael, that’s what makes us so special. But there have been a number of Arabs who have stood up for Israel over the years. I can’t remember their names, but there are, and they risk their lives doing that.

  • Reallity Check says:

    Loewenstein doesn’t, no one except us and the ABC are interested in him. Which raises an interesting point. If Israel was as bad as he says it is, Loewenstein would be behind bars in some Israeli jail, but he ain’t. He’s no security risk to Israel, although he incites hatred towards us Jews here.

  • Michael Burd says:

    Reality with respect do you self a favor you loose all credibility when you make dumb statements like ” a number of Arabs who have stood up for Israel over the years. I can’t remember their names.. You sound like some of those imbeciles that demonstrate outside Max Brenner and when you try to get into a debate with them they come up with similar statements like yours..

    when you refer to those mysterious Arabs that love us Jews maybe you mean the Arabs or Muslims that are coming to Melbourne on the 15 th March at the ”Muslim Peace conference”{ what a oxymoron] as guests of the peace loving Muslim community, you know reality Clerics like Saudi Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais who calls Jews apes and Pigs [ no doubt Richter or Burnside would argue this taken out of context ] and the other ever so tolerant Arabs and Muslims invited here some of which have been banned form UK and Canada.
    Reality perhaps you should read the latest article on the Australian Muslim community most popular web site ‘ Muslim Village about how Australia should Limit Jewish immigration…

    But gee no doubt I guess you are unaware of what goes on in Multicultural Australia …


  • Otto Waldmann says:

    “Reality”, let’s accept that reality is something all should be mindful of.
    As such, all those you reckon are an acceptable variety among the Jewish complex Zionist ideology, such as NIF, Salbe, Getreu – I just said NIF -, Stillman etc., in reality have been proven and told that they are NOT contributing the the welfare of Israel, but aid, aware or not, the OTHER camp, the one that promotes useful idiots AGAINST Israel and all that is Jewish.. And the other camp, idiots as well, have been using them with enough ostentation to make THAT a bloody ostentatious………reality.
    Still not getting it !!??

  • Reallity Check says:

    I’ll just leave you guys to quvech over all your demons and slap yourselves on the back for the wonderful work you are doing for Israel, the place wouldn’t survive without you.

  • Reallity Check says:

    Michael, you may know about how people take on the characterises of your enemies. You are a prime example

  • Michael Burd says:

    Well the one thing I have never been accused of is a ‘Palestinian useful idiot”…….

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Reality, now your talkin’ and, mindya, it goes both ways , i.e. I wouldn’t survive without Israel, hasvSholem !!!

  • Joe in Australia says:

    Levi (a refugee from the ussr) asked:

    I always thought that a zionist is someone who would make aliyah. How can u be a zionist and live in caulfield?

    A socialist isn’t someone who has given away their money; it’s someone who believes in the social ownership of the means of production. Similarly, a Zionist isn’t someone who lives in Israel; it’s someone who believes that the establishment and continued existence of a national Jewish home in the region of the Biblical Land of Israel is the correct response to persecution and exclusion from non-Jewish societies.

  • Levi (a Refugee from the USSR) says:

    For once “Reality,” has lived up to his/her name…

    I can name a few – Sheik Palazzi, Qanta Ahmed, Wafa Sultan, Walid shoebat.

    I highly recommend googling Wafa sultan’s interview on Al Jazeera or reading Qanta Ahmed’s article on the Times of Israel. They are very passionate defenders of israel who bravely confront the muslim world for their blatant hypocrisy and appalling human rights record. Yes, they are a minority, but they do exist. And unlike so called jewish “dissidents” (aka clowns like Loewenstein or the AJDS) they really are brave and literally put their lives on the line for their dissent.

    Here is a wikipedia article on the topic – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_Zionism

  • Michael Burd says:

    AJDS have the JCCV clowns to give them legitimacy .

  • Levi (a Refugee from the USSR) says:

    Here are some links to wafa sultan’s interview, with one of my favourite higlights (useful jewish idiots please take note…this what real courageous dissent means) –


    “The Jews have come from the tragedy and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling.”

    She went on, “We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people.”

    She concluded, “Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them.”

    Then there is this brilliant debate – http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zs9uVmigE5E&feature=plpp

    & this –


    & another one –


  • Levi (a Refugee from the USSR) says:

    Imagine if the ABC actually inivted her on one of their programs? After all they went out of their way to invite Illan Pappe on Qanda on Yom kippur and also have extensively featured Loewenstein? Imagine if fairfax gave her a platform for her views? They gave loewenstein one and the likes of harold zwier etc. Or would that only disturb the narrative that they are tyring to push? Never get the facts in the way of a good narrative…

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Re ABC and their clever pickings.
    ABC are fully informed/aware of the credentials on any issue behind each invitee, not to mention the composition of the audience, although the “lefties” seem to trick the system systematically.
    They also know, because have been told, that the legitimate Jewish communal leadership would not set foot on their set.
    As no one can be forced to show up, and those who relish having a go at anything Jewish, including Israel, from that moronic Miriam Margolies to the other moron, Eva Cox and then Ilan Pappe, Lowenstein and a coterie of writers from Israel who came to Melb. to that wanking fest and could not wait to rubish their own country, in one word a whole gang of morons are more than eager to have their 2 mins. of Aussie TV fame , guess who is left holding the baby, yes, the subservient subserved Jewish lot.

    At least we can kvetch to no avail on sites like this…………

  • Reality Check says:

    Thank you Levi.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Good discussion guys… Is Joe’s earlier definition the best articulation of the “pure” term Zionism?.

  • Otto Waldmann says:


    Joe’s “definitions” of both Zionism and “socialists” are wrong.

    Joe states that a Zionist ” isn’t someone who lives in Israel”.
    Need I say more………….???!!!
    Also wrong is the notion that a “socialist” is someone who belives in “the social ownership of the means of production. “.
    Our Joe mixes up certain marxist notions of the ownership of the means of production and I shall not take it any further. Enough saying that such analogies don’t make sense anyway.

  • Jonny Schauder says:


  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Ill reflect on that Otto…

  • Sol Salbe says:

    A sensible and logical dealing with the subject at hand by someone from whose views I usually stay a long way:


  • Reallity Check says:

    I don’t get the image thing on my lap top, what shall I do?

    Eds: Hi Reality Check, Can you please email us at editorial AT galusaustralis.com and we will try to figure out what the problem is?

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