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Antisemitism and Zionism: A complex (fruitful?) relationship
Thursday 13 Dec 2007
This was the title of a paper-in-process presented by Professor Idith Zertal at a JPR policy seminar in October 2007. Present at the conference were a group of scholars, intellectuals and journalists. The seminar was chaired by JPR Executive Director, Antony Lerman.
Currently based at the Institute of Jewish Studies, Basel University, Idith Zertal, an Israeli historian, the author of many books* published in many languages worldwide, and commentator in Israeli and international newspapers, spoke about the complex, disturbing affinities, and mutual, even if undesired dependence and pragmatic partnership between antisemitism and Zionism.
Professor Idith Zertal’s thesis is that most Zionist political leaders, particularly David Ben-Gurion and his followers, were not only aware of Herzl’s insightful comment that ‘the antisemites are Zionism’s staunchest allies’, but knew all too well how to mobilize antisemitism for the achievement of their vision. This state of affairs still exists, but it seems that in recent decades it has acquired a new dimension: nowadays Zionism and Zionist politics in their turn feed the new kind of antisemitism, or more exactly anti-Judaism, and thus find themselves in a fruitful, if perverted, new relationship.
The talk was followed by a sturdy exchange of questions, remarks and comments from all sides.
* Among Idith Zertal's works to be found in English:
From Catastrophe to Power: Holocaust Surviviors and the Emergence of Israel, University of Californai Press, 1998;
Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood, Cambridge University Press, 2005;
Lords of the Land: The War Over Israel's Settlements in the Occupied Territories, Nation Books, 2007 (co-authored).
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