IS CHRISLAM A THREAT TO JEWS AND ISRAEL?

downloadFor several years a number of conservative Christian evangelicals have warned of a new (and heretical) doctrine dubbed Chrislam which, as the name suggests, is a hybrid of Christianity and Islam. At first glance, the idea seems preposterous and alarmist. But there is growing evidence that some kind of pernicious cooperation between some Christians and Muslims is really happening. And it’s not good news for the Jews.

Strictly speaking, Chrislam is a syncretistic religion of Nigerian origin that combines Islam and Christianity. Established in the 1970s, the followers of Chrislam recognise both the Bible and the Quran as holy texts. In its strictest sense, the religion is very local and only commands around 1,500 members. But in recent years, the merger of Christianity and Islam is happening on a wide scale in the West, particularly in the United States where several bridge-building exercises between the two religions have been implemented.

Christians and Muslims for Peace (CAMP) is an organisation that devotes itself to discovering common ground between the two religions through an exploration of the Quran and the Bible. Based in California, CAMP is led by Dr William Baker, the former chairman of the neo-Nazi Populist Party. In 2002, Baker was fired from Crystal Cathedral Ministries when his anti-Semitic inclinations and ties to the Far Right were exposed by the media. Obviously, CAMP is not committed to peaceful cooperation with the Jewish people.

In 2007, an open letter entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You” was published by a group of Muslim leaders. It opens with the lines, “Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world.” A large number of Christians responded positively to the statement. The most highly publicised response, called “Loving God and Neighbor Together,” was written by four academics from the University of Yale. The response included the lines: “Before we ‘shake your hand’ in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.”

In 2009, Rick Warren, the well-known evangelical author and pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, addressed 8,000 Muslims at a national convention in Washington D.C. The convention was organised by Islamic Society of North America, which champions terrorist organisations and disseminates extremist literature. Since then, Warren has been involved in an initiative called the King’s Way, a partnership with a number of California mosques, which involves the establishment of a set of principles outlining the shared principles of Islam and Christianity, including the declaration that both faiths worship the same God.

The year 2009 also saw the publication of the notorious Kairos Palestine Document, which was subtitled “A moment of truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering.” The Kairos document, which can be found on the World Council of Churches website, speaks on behalf of Christian and Muslim Arabs, who apparently share a “deeply rooted” history and a “natural right” to the land. In contrast, Israel is deemed an alien entity that only exists because of Western guilt over the Holocaust. The document praises the first intifada, referring to it as a “peaceful struggle.” Terrorism, while not exactly sanctioned, is excused on the grounds that Israel is ultimately responsible for Palestinian acts of violence against Jewish civilians.

Meanwhile, a number of Christians including the anti-Semitic Anglican vicar Stephen Sizer, Presbyterian writer Gary Burge (who has criticised Judaism’s “territorial world view”) and Professor Donald Wagner, have participated in events sponsored by the Bridges of Faith (an evangelical Christian-Muslim dialogue group) and the Muslim World Islamic Call Society, which until recently was funded by the now-defunct Gaddafi regime in Libya. On the Bridges of Faith website, the dialogue group states that it “looks forward to a day when we can make our deliberations public through the publication of papers, open meetings and media outreach in order to spread the message of tolerance and commonality of values to a wider community of grass-roots groups, as well as a wider community of inter-religious dialogue.” It is highly unlikely that “the message of tolerance” will extend to the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

Of course, the background to Chrislam is the removal of the Bible from its Judaic matrix. By stripping the Bible of its Jewishness, Chrislamists neutralise the prophetic significance of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. The theological underpinning of Chrislamism is a rebranded version of replacement theology in which the Jews have no prophetic relevance.

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When Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat made his first Christmas appearance in Bethlehem in 1995, he invoked the Christian nativity by crying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.” To which the crowd responded, “In spirit and blood we will redeem thee, O Palestine!”

Bethlehem obviously held a special place in Arafat’s heart. Not because he had any special love for Jesus and Christianity but because it was a political rallying point. Bethlehem, according to Arafat, was the “birthplace of the first Palestinian Christian, Jesus Christ.”

Arafat’s reference to the nativity is obviously a ploy to unite Muslims and Christian Arabs against Israel. In and of itself, this is unspectacular, but when placed in the wider context of Islamic replacement theology, the (mis)use of Jesus is sinister. Arafat not only proclaimed that Jesus was a Palestinian but is “our Lord the Messiah,” which is an astonishing statement for a Muslim to make. Referring to Jesus as Lord is to detract from the strict monotheism of the faith, a grave sin known as shirk.

The appropriation of the crucifixion by Muslim Palestinians in their war on Israel is puzzling. The image of the crucified Palestinian/Jesus is a common propaganda motif. And yet the Quran says that Jesus wasn’t put on the cross but was raised up to heaven. So not only are Muslims committing an act of apostasy by referring to Jesus as “our Lord” they are even refuting their own sacred scripture by claiming Jesus was a crucified Palestinian.

Other times, Jesus is referred to as a Shahid, a holy martyr of Islam. Arafat often referred to Jesus as the first Palestinian martyr, which is historically incorrect and is at odds with Islamic tradition. There are no references to Jesus as a Shahid in Islamic works, and it is impossible for Jesus to be a martyr if he did not die on the cross, which is the view of the Quran.

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As well as being a heretical version of both Christianity and Islam, Chrislam presents a danger to the Jewish people.

Of all the anti-Israel discourses that exist today, Chrislam is perhaps one of the most disturbing. Disturbing because it wants to de-Judaize both Jesus and the Bible, and because it wants to neutralise Jewish identity and history. Moreover, the remarkable post-Holocaust reconciliation of Jews and Christians is being undermined by the emerging cooperation between left-wing evangelicals and jihadi Muslims, both of whom hold unsavoury attitudes towards Jews and Israel.

Ironically, Chrislam is entirely self-defeating. If God no longer honours his covenant with the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, then the foundations of both Christianity and Islam collapse. A God who changes his mind about the people of the covenant, i.e. the Jews, is no longer the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus or even Mohammed.

ANTI-ZIONISM IS INCITEMENT TO RACIAL HATRED

images_news_2012_04_26_freedom-center-poster_300_01There is to be a debate in Manchester town hall about flying the Palestinian flag following a 2,500-strong petition. The idea was put forward at the height of 2014 conflict in Israel/Gaza but critics say it would harm community relations. The move is bound to anger Communities Secretary Eric Pickles who recently claimed that councils which invent their own “municipal foreign policy” by flying the Palestinian flag are behaving “irresponsibly.”

Meanwhile, anti-Semitic incidents have soared by 80 per cent in Manchester over the past year. Incidents have included verbal abuse, physical attacks, vandalism, desecration of cemeteries and the boycotting of Kedem, a Jewish cosmetics shop. In 2014, 269 anti-Semitic hate crimes were recorded in Manchester – up from 131 in 2013 and 127 in 2012. Together Manchester and London represent three-quarters of all anti-Semitic hate crime in Britain.

According to Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, anti-Semitic reactions to tensions in the Middle East are the single biggest contributing factor. “We know from our figures that international events – such as the escalation of hostilities in Gaza – have had a significant impact within our communities and has motivated a large number of these hate crimes,” he stated.

Manchester has a good record when it comes to tackling hate crime. According to police, a hate crime is a crime committed against someone because of their disability, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation and transgender identity. For the first time in the UK, police in Greater Manchester will officially record if a person who belongs to an alternative sub-culture has been a victim of hate crime.

This begs the question, should Greater Manchester Police lead the way once again by categorising anti-Zionist rhetoric and imagery as a hate crime? After all, the fifty-day protest outside Kedem in Manchester last year was clearly designed to incite racial hatred. When an individual or group threatened to harass a person or a group of people because of their pro-Israel attitudes, that is incitement to hatred. In the case of the Kedem protests, incitement took the form of words, pictures and videos. It also included information posted on YouTube and other social media.

In other words, much of the violence committed against Jews in Manchester during 2014 can probably be attributed to anti-Zionism. Of course, anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism, but it also something more. It is a hatred of the State of Israel and her supporters – both Jew and gentile. Because many anti-Zionists like to claim they’re not anti-Semitic, we also have to make a distinction. Without defining what it is we are trying to combat, how can we ever hope to defeat it? Anti-Zionism must be exposed as a particular kind of hatred if it is to contested.

Moreover, because a tiny minority of Jews are anti-Zionist, the term ‘anti-Semitism’ can be problematic. Anti-Zionism and anti-Zionist, then, are useful epithets that can be directed at both gentiles and Jews who incite hatred against the Jewish State and her supporters. In my view, anti-Zionism should be treated with the same public disgust as homophobia and misogyny. In other words, anti-Zionists should be publicly and legally ostracised.

Under UK law, “incitement to racial hatred” was established as an offence by the provisions of of the Public Order Act 1986, although it was first established as a criminal offence in the Race Relations Act 1976. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 made publication of material that incited racial hatred an arrestable offence. Laws against incitement to hatred against religions were later established under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. The offense of “incitement to racial hatred” refers to deliberately provoking hatred of a racial group, distributing racist material to the public, inciting inflammatory rumours about an ethnic group, for the purpose of spreading racial discontent, making inflammatory public speeches and creating racist websites. All of this can be applied to the proliferation of anti-Zionist rhetoric and imagery in Manchester and elsewhere.

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Let us not forget that Zionism was born out of Europe’s inability to accept Jews into their societies. After crusades, inquisitions, forced conversions, countless pogroms and the industrialised murder of six million Jews, the only option left to the Jewish people was/is to have a homeland. Now after having achieved the goal of Jewish self-determination in the Middle East, along comes anti-Zionism, which essentially denies Jews to a homeland. So where are Jews expected to go? Europe has made it clear that Jews are not welcome. Therefore, with nowhere else to go, the only logical alternative is the disappearance of the Jewish people. That is anti-Zionism and it is a form of racial hatred.

In other words, the core of the anti-Zionist worldview is the irrational and hateful belief that the Jews are not entitled to exist as a people, especially in their historic homeland in the Middle East.

Of course, criticism of Israeli policies – like criticism of any other country – is part and parcel of rational public discourse. Indeed, Israel’s media and Knesset members are not afraid of critiquing their own society. But drawing comparisons of Israel to that of the Nazis is a form of hate speech. Terms of abuse such as “Zio-Nazi” and “Zionists are the Nazis of the Middle East” should be classed as hate speech. Defacing the Israeli flag with a swastika is incitement to hatred and must be seen as such.

Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation is incitement to hatred. Denying Israel’s right to exist and/or calling for the State of Israel to be dismantled or destroyed is a form of hate speech. Calling for a war against an entire country and attempting to abolish the Jewish State is incitement to genocide.

Until the police and the authorities understand that anti-Zionism is a particular problem, then no progress will be made. Perhaps one solution is to tackle anti-Zionist on campuses. When he was Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks spoke about the intimidation of Jewish students in Britain as “part of a long, slow, insidious process intended to undermine academic freedom and it must not be tolerated.”

For example, the University and College Union (UCU) has repeatedly called for a boycott of Israeli academics. In May 2011, UCU members voted to disassociate itself from the EU working definition of anti-Semitism. In disgust, four leading Jewish academics in Scotland quit the UCU and the British government called on the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate the union. At the same time, the UCU was given notice of the intent of a Jewish UCU member to sue for breach of the UK Equality Act (2010).

According to Lesley Klaff, senior lecturer in law at Sheffield Hallam University, by allowing anti-Zionist expression on campuses, university authorities are in breach of their own equality, diversity and anti-harassment policies in relation to Jewish staff and students. Such policies, she says, “are required by law to promote equality of opportunity for minorities and to protect them from harassment and ethnic hostility.”

Another solution to the problem of anti-Zionism is to demonstrate to students that supporting Israel is liberally progressive. Israel is a world leader in innovating green technology and the advancement of animal welfare. It has a free press, a trade union movement and several co-operatives. Women are guaranteed gender equality, Israeli Arabs have the right to vote and homosexuals enjoy full civil rights. These values, which are in short supply in the Middle East, are exactly the kind of values which progressives and students should champion.

At the same time, Israel advocates must continue to protest against the presence of anti-Zionist guest speakers at university events, and challenge the charities, organisations, NGOS and churches that set up their Israelophobic stalls during Freshers’ week. We also need to educate people. We must explain to students that it was Islam, not Zionism, that colonised Palestine in the seventh century and built a mosque on the Temple Mount. We must explain to people that the Palestinians and the Arab states collaborated with the Nazis and then rejected the UN partition plan because they didn’t want to share the land with Jews. We must point out that on at least six occasions since 1948, the Palestinian Arabs have refused the offer of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

In short, a sustained campaign is needed – a campaign which highlights the progressive nature of Zionism and exposes the reactionary intolerance of those who wish to dismantle the only democracy in the Middle East. Meanwhile, we need a debate in the UK and the wider European Union over whether legislation is needed to to outlaw racist hate speech, which is used to incite violence.

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY

ktma_-_yellowThis year marks the tenth anniversary of the UN resolution which set January 27 as an international day of commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust, and the seventieth anniversary of the Soviet liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1945.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorates the genocide that resulted in the death of six million Jews, a million Gypsies, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people and 9,000 homosexuals by the Nazis and their collaborators.

For Jews in particular, the commemoration is especially poignant. Following a delegitimisation campaign during the  1930s when Jews were slandered and persecuted, the Nazis went on to murder two-thirds of European Jewry between 1941 and 1945. By the end of the Second World War, six million Jews had died, with many perishing in the camps set up by the Nazis to systematically annihilate Jewish men, women and children.

Auschwitz-Birkenau has become the defining symbol of the Holocaust. This year’s observance coincides with two other milestone events: the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the founding of the United Nations.

Ten years ago, the UN passed a resolution to mark January 27 as an international day of commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust. An initiative of the State of Israel, Resolution 60/7 came after a special session was held in 2005 when the UN General Assembly marked the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Holocaust.

Prior to the resolution, there had been national days of commemoration, such as Germany’s Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism and the UK’s Holocaust Memorial Day observed every January 27 since 2001.

As well as establishing January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Resolution 60/7 urges every member nation of UN to honour the memory of the victims of the Shoah, and encourages the development of educational programs, thereby helping to prevent future acts of genocide. It also urges member nations to preserve sites that served as Nazi death camps, concentration camps, labour camps and prisons.

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So has the world learned the lessons of the Holocaust? Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, do we live in a world where the insidious threat of anti-Semitism has been vanquished or is Judeophobia still a problem to be reckoned with?

While it is unlikely that Europe’s Jews face another Holocaust, the problem of anti-Semitism remains. The murder of Jews in France and the rhetoric of Jew-hatred emanating from some mosques and Islamic websites are manifestations of a resurgent anti-Semitism. Moreover, the rise of neo-Nazi groups in Greece and Hungary, Jew-baiting on the radical Left, and the boycotts initiated by the BDS movement, are further problems facing contemporary Jews.

Even before Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 (when European anti-Semitism reached an unprecedented post-1945 high), a survey found that one in four Jews in Europe had suffered anti-Semitic harassment in 2012-13. According to the study, around half of all Jews living in France, Belgium and Hungary were considering emigrating because they no longer felt safe in their respective countries.

According to the Jewish Agency, 2,254 French Jews moved to Israel during the first five months of 2014, compared with 580 in all of 2013 – an increase of 289 per cent, with many emigrants citing Muslim anti-Semitism as the reason for making Aliyah. Aliyah, of course, is a testament to the success of Zionism, but it is also a sad indication that Europe has still not learnt to cherish its Jewish communities, even after the horrors of the Holocaust.

Until very recently, the rise in anti-Semitism in Europe has received little attention, partly because much of the abuse is carried out by Muslims who hide behind the banner  of Islamophobia. Muslims who attack Jews in Paris and elsewhere claim it is retribution on behalf of their Palestinians. And the liberal elite, which should have learned the lessons of the Holocaust, tacitly agrees.

Indeed, the liberal fashion for the one-sided criticism of Israel – in addition to the growing culture of anti-Zionist hate speech on campuses and mosques – must be addressed or more and more Jews will be targeted by jihadists. For the sake of a healthy body politic, legislators, the media, influential thinkers and Muslim community leaders must say “no” to anti-Semitism in all its forms – and this includes inflammatory anti-Israel rhetoric.

If we have learned one thing from the Holocaust, it is that the defamation of an entire people – whether it be “the Jews” or the State of Israel – usually ends in murder. The slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust, the killing of French Jews in a kosher supermarket and the recent massacre of four rabbis in Jerusalem – all these events had their origins in words –lies, hate speech, deceit and propaganda.

Europe and the wider world must remember this simple lesson – that anti-Jewish rhetoric such as “death to Israel” usually results in the murder of Jews. When influential Muslim leaders call for jihad against Jews, then bloodshed is inevitable. Iran’s genocidal call for Israel to be “wiped off the map” is a clear statement of intent: the extermination of Israeli Jews. For the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel faces an existential threat – the mass murder of of Jews in a nuclear attack.

So, seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we live in a world where anti-Semitism is still a pressing problem for the Jewish people. Another Holocaust in Europe is unlikely but this does not mean that Jews are safe and secure. Far from it. Many Jews are afraid of the violence in Europe and are making Aliyah. Meanwhile, the State of Israel is being pressured by a hostile world to radically compromise its security in order to reach a final solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem.

Will the world ever learn? Probably not.

Do British Jews have a future?

Israel_-_Boycott,_divest,_sanction

Speaking at a service in London to commemorate those killed in the terror attacks in Paris, British Home Secretary Theresa May has said the UK must redouble its efforts to “wipe out anti-Semitism.”

She added: “I never thought I would see the day when members of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom would say they were fearful of remaining here in the United Kingdom.”

So do Jews in Britain have a future? Yes, they do, but only if the British – especially politicians and the media – do something about their Israelophobic bigotry.

The driving force behind contemporary anti-Semitism is anti-Zionism. This prejudice usually involves prejudicial, stupid and vitriolic condemnation of Israel, with absurd characterisations of the Jewish state as an apartheid nation that tortures Arab children.

This is little different from accusing Jews of poisoning wells or using the blood of Christian children to make Passover bread.

Far too often, universities, political institutions, charities, churches and media outlets provide a platform for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists to disseminate their hatred of Zionism and therefore Jews.

If Theresa May is really committed to safeguarding British Jews, then she will speak out against the one-sided criticism of Israel and the culture of incitement before innocent Jews are killed in a kosher supermarket in London or Manchester.

In other words, the anti-Zionist hate speech must be challenged at the highest level.

 

 

 

ZIONISM – RECLAIMING THE NARRATIVE

Zionism is a noble aim. It is the ultimate expression of Jewish identity and sovereignty. But because of Islamic supremacists, Palestinian nationalists and left-wing Jew-haters, the words “Zionism” and “Zionist” are dirty words. People use the word “Zionist” as an insult, in the same way the words “fascist” and “Nazi” are hurled at anyone who dares to disagree with them. In the media and in political discourse, the word “Zionism” has acquired (unfairly) implications of “oppression” and “racism.”

Zionism – both as word and as concept – needs to be reclaimed by those who support Israel. “Zionism” and “Zionist” must be relegitimised so that they can be once again used in public discourse without negative connotations. But first of all, we must understand what Zionism is and grapple with the complexity of the term. After all, it means slightly different things to different people.

So what is Zionism? Zionism derives from the word Zion, which is the Hebrew name for the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and was the seat of the first and second Holy Temple. It is the most holy place in the world for Jews, seen as the connection between God and humanity. At its simplest, Zionism is a nationalist movement of Jews that supports the creation of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the Eretz Israel.

Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism, formed the World Zionist Organization and promoted Jewish migration to “Palestine” in an effort to form a Jewish state. His vision was to secure international legitimacy for the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own and actually building the national home.

Anti-Semites, however, fail to see the positive connection between Jewish nationalism and Zion. Instead, they derive their definition of Zionism from the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which purports to describe a Jewish plan for global domination. It is still widely available today, especially in the Middle East. Indeed, many Arab and Muslim regimes and leaders have endorsed the book as authentic. The 1988 charter of Hamas infamously states that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion embodies the global plan of the Zionists.

In order to circumvent the erroneous definition of Zionism found in the The Protocols, we must understand the many different and positive types of Zionism that have inspired and galvanised Jews throughout history.

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Ancient Zionism is the name given to the biblical origins of the Jewish people’s connection to the Eretz Israel. The first “Zionist” was God who ordered Abraham to leave his father’s home and to travel to Canaan, where God said, “To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:3-7) and “I will give to you and to your offspring […] the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession (17:8). The key text of Ancient Zionism is the Tanakh. The yearning for the land of Israel can be found in the Jewish songbook, the Psalms: “If I forget you, O Jerusalem” or “when the Lord brings about our return to Zion, we will be like dreamers.” Jewish benedictions (blessings) also hope for the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

The bond between people and land is expressed through the literature of the Bible (and subsequent Jewish writings) and was strong enough to maintain a sense of national identity following the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem by the Romans in the first century. As a people, the Jews left Israel neither spiritually nor physically. Even after the Roman invasion, a remnant of Jews remained, particularly in Galilee.

Over the centuries individual Jews or Jews in their hundreds returned to the land of Israel. A Jewish community in Hebron was founded in the seventh century. In 1210, several hundred rabbis, known as the Ba’alei Tosefot, re-settled in Israel. In 1263, Rabbi Nachmanides established a Sephardic community in Jerusalem.  Spanish Jews came to Eretz Israel in the 15th and 16th centuries. In the 16th century, large numbers of Jews migrated to the northern city of Safed, which became a major centre of Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah. and Polish Hassidic Jews arrived in the 18th century. Between 1808 and 1812 disciples of Rabbi Eliyahu Kramer settled in the Galilee before settling in Jerusalem. In the 1830s, Zvi Hirsch Kalischer, an Orthodox German rabbi, was in favour of the Jewish re-settlement of the Land of Israel in order to provide a home for the homeless eastern European Jews that would support itself by agriculture. He also favoured a Jewish military guard for the security of the Jewish colonies. Kalischer spearheaded a movement called the Lovers of Zion, the inspiration for what became known as practical Zionism (see below).

Religious Zionism maintains that Jewish nationality and the establishment of the State of Israel is a religious duty derived from the Torah. As opposed to some ultra-Orthodox Jews who claim the redemption of the Land of Israel will occur after the coming of the messiah, religious Zionists maintain that human acts of redeeming Eretz Israel will bring about the messiah. Religious Zionists form the backbone of the settler movement in Judea and Samaria.

Political Zionism stressed the importance of political action and deemed the attainment of political rights in “Palestine” a prerequisite for the fulfilment of the Zionist enterprise. Political Zionism is linked to the name of Theodor Herzl, who considered the Jewish problem a political one that should be solved by overt action in the international arena. His aim was to obtain a charter, recognised by the world leadership, granting the Jews sovereignty in a territory owned by Jews. The Basle Program, drawn up in accordance with these principles, states that Zionism aims to establish “a secure haven, under public law, for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.” Organisational and economic mechanisms such as the Zionist Organization and the Jewish National Fund were established to carry out this program. Interestingly, Herzl wasn’t particularly interested in reviving Hebrew as a national language. Indeed, some Zionists professed a preference for German.

Practical Zionism emphasised the practical (rather than the political) means of attaining Zionist goals, such as immigration to Eretz Israel, rural and agricultural settlement and educational institutions. This approach originated in the Hibbat Zion or Lovers of Zion movement in the 1880s. This movement, which preceded Herzl’s political Zionism, was established in Eastern European countries in the early 1880s. After Herzl’s death in 1904, practical Zionism gained strength. The champions of this doctrine were the members of the Second Aliyah, who settled in Palestine at this time. They founded rural settlements, some along cooperative principles. They built modern towns and established the first industrial enterprises.

Later on a combination of these two main approaches was produced and is known as Synthetic Zionism. This is a doctrine that coalesced at the eighth Zionist Congress (1907). Chaim Weizmann (who later became the first President of Israel) was its principal champion. This merger advocated political activity coupled with practical endeavour in Eretz Israel. It also stressed Zionist activity in the Diaspora, such as modernised education, collecting money for the Jewish National Fund and active participation in national and local elections.

Cultural Zionism was an ideology espoused by Asher Zvi Hirsch Ginsberg in the late 19th and early 20th century. He believed that the Zionist movement should place its emphasis on the development of a Jewish national culture. Although national independence was important, the majority (or a significant bloc) of Jews would remain outside of the land of Israel.  Therefore, Israel should become a cultural and spiritual centre that is beacon to the world. He promulgated the view that Hebrew should be revived as a spoken language for “Palestinian” and diaspora Jews in order to create a genuine Hebrew literary culture. In this regard, Ginsberg was highly influential, especially since Herzl didn’t have much use for Hebrew.

Labor Zionism was the belief that a Jewish state would not be created simply by appealing to the international community or to Britain, but rather that a Jewish state could only be created through the efforts of the Jewish working class settling in Eretz Israel and constructing a state through the creation of a progressive Jewish society with rural kibbutzim, cooperative agricultural communities and an urban Jewish proletariat. Originally proponents of socialism and a Greater Israel, modern Labor Zionists, such as the Labor Party, tend to be favourable towards capitalism and the two-state solution.

Revisionist Zionism was initially led by Ze’ev Jabotinsky. His foremost political objective was to maintain the territorial integrity of the historical land of Israel and to establish a Jewish state with a Jewish majority on both sides of the River Jordan. The idea of partitioning the land was anathema and so Jabotinsky and his followers rejected proposals to divide “Palestine” into an Arab state and a Jewish state. Revisionist Zionism supported firm military action against the Arab gangs that attacked the Yishuv in Palestine. This hardline position led to split in the movement and some members established the Irgun, a paramilitary group. Predominantly secular in outlook, revisionist Zionists supported economic liberalism and opposed Labor Zionism. Revisionism is the precursor of the Likud Party.

Revolutionary Zionism views Zionism as a revolutionary struggle to ingather the Jewish exiles from the Diaspora, revive the Hebrew language as a spoken language and re-establish a Jewish kingdom in the Land of Israel. As members of Lehi (a militant Zionist group) during the 1940s, many adherents of Revolutionary Zionism engaged in guerrilla warfare against the British administration in an effort to end the British Mandate of Palestine and pave the way for Jewish political independence. Many revolutionary Zionists envisaged a kingdom of Israel rather than a state, with a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. Revolutionary Zionists generally espouse anti-imperialist political views, thereby defying left/right categorization.

Christian Zionism (formerly known as Restorationism) is a belief among some (especially conservative evangelical) Christians that the return of the Jews to the land of Israel is in accordance with Biblical prophecy. Some Christian Zionists believe that the “ingathering” of Jews in Israel is a prerequisite for the Second Coming of Jesus.

Muslim Zionism is very rare but growing. Pro-Israel advocacy groups such as Arabs for Israel and British Muslims for Israel have been formed within the past ten years. Individual Muslims who dare to publicly support Zionism are former radical Islamist Ed Husain and the Bangladeshi journalist Salah Choudhury. And there are a number of Muslim clerics (such as Britain’s Imam Dr Muhammad Al-Hussaini) who believe that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land is in accordance with the teachings of Islam (see Qur’an 5:21). Kurds, Berbers and Circassians (all of whom are non-Arab Muslims) have voiced support for Israel. The Arab Druze population in Israel is highly supportive of Zionism. Many Druze have attained top positions in Israeli politics and serve in the Israel Defense Forces. There is also a growing number of Arab Christians in Israel who recognize the Jewish character of Israel and want to enlist in the IDF.

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What does Zionism mean today? Is it still relevant? In my mind, the importance of Zionism is demonstrated by the growing number of Jews leaving France for Israel.

Indeed, the persistent stain of anti-Semitism in the fabric of European society demonstrates the importance of the Zionist project. Following the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris in which four Jews were killed, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home.” He has a point.

Is Israel any safer than France? Perhaps not. After all, terror attacks in Jerusalem and rockets from Gaza are occasional hazards. But at least Israel is home. And it’s a home where Jews have the right to govern themselves, to practice their religion and maintain their identity. Isn’t this what Zionism is about?

Of course, America is always an option for those who wish to leave Europe. But America has its own problems with anti-Semitism, anti-Israel boycotters and Islamic terrorism. Put simply, Israel is the only place in the world where the Jewish people are free to live as Jews. The importance of this cannot be underestimated, especially at a time when Islamic terrorism is plaguing the West.

Some may argue that leaving Europe is an admission of defeat. I would argue that it is an opportunity to live in a society where Jewishness is the norm, not the exception. I would also add that returning to Israel would greatly help the Jewish state gain the upper hand in the demographic stakes.

Zionism has nothing do with global domination or oppression of the Palestinians. It is about one thing and one thing only: the survival of a Jewish homeland in a world where anti-Semitism refuses to go away.

THE STORY OF JMA

10846452_1602915079930448_6721934932410331278_nBy JMA editor Richard Mather

The fifty days of Operation Protective Edge in 2014 was a bad time for Jews. It was bad for Israelis for obvious reasons. But Jews in places as far apart as Britain and Australia were also under attack – from Israelophobes, anti-Semites and a hostile media as well as politicians. Jewish homes, business and places of worship were attacked. Individuals were physically assaulted. The international boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) movement was in full swing,  calling for an end to arms exports to Israel and an economic and cultural blockade on all things Israeli (including Israeli people).

But despite the attacks and the abuse, Jews in Israel, Britain, Europe and from around the world, stood firm. Facebook and other forms of social media became essential tools in the fight against anti-Semitism. Many decided to take action by staging counter-demonstrations or setting up grassroots organisations. One such grassroots organisation to be established during the summer of 2014 was the Jewish Media Agency (JMA), founded by Lara Kroll.

JMA is a social media operation, an online hub if you like, set up to tackle and provide a voice against the media’s complicity in anti-Semitism. Israel is notoriously bad at defending its best interests in the face of a powerful propaganda machine run by the Palestinians and their supporters.

One of the aims of JMA is to provide a counterweight to the negative news coverage of Israel whilst also highlighting instances of anti-Semitism and Israelophobia in rival news organisations, as well as from politicians, governments, NGOs, charities, etc.

Lara Kroll, founder of JMA, comments:

“No one was collating the fast and furious news developments against Israel, against our race, our people. By harnessing social media, we could respond quickly to breaking news, developing news stories and also write our own opinion features. The team at JMA all share a vision and passion to promote global Jewish news, to advocate for Israel and to stand up to the bias of the global media giants such as BBC and CNN.”

Our team of pro-bono volunteers gathers and distributes opinion and news relating to Israel and Jewish issues. We are distinctive in the sense that we use Facebook and Twitter as our main medium, although we do have a website http://www.jewishmediaagency.com.

Relevant news stories from around the world are collected by our team of volunteers and published as rolling news on our Facebook site and tweeted out. We also produce original content in the form of op-eds and features. The writing team is diverse, with voluntary writers and reporters in Britain, Israel, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

We live in a world where The New York Times is seven times more likely to publish pieces that are primarily critical of Israel than those primarily critical of the Palestinians. CNN and the BBC do not report that Arab terrorists are stabbing and running over Israelis, only that Israelis are victims of knife attacks and rogue drivers. During Operation Protective Edge, broadcasters were unwilling to show images of rockets being fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. JMA refuses to let the media industry get away with such shocking lapses of judgement.

We are interested in one thing and one thing only: exposing those who undermine and demonise Israel and the Jewish people. This is not to say we are uncritical of Israel. As with any other country in the world, Israel has its faults and problems. No country is perfect. Not everyone at JMA is a supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu. The problem lies in the fact that Israel is held up to an impossibly high standard by a world that apparently wants the Jewish state to fail.

We are six months old, learning and growing. We don’t purport to be perfect and perhaps we have misjudged things on occasion. But we are doing our very utmost to rebalance the perspective on Israel and to act as an alternative source of news for those who have grown sick of a diet of lies and deceit.

So if you’re already a follower of JMA, then thank you. We appreciate your support. If you’re new to JMA, please join us. We’d love to have you on board.

Richard Mather, Editor-in-Chief,

Lara Tiger Kroll, Founder of JMA,

JMA team, UK, Israel, South Africa, France, Australia, USA

Europe’s loss is Israel’s gain

_59208978_parisjewishschool_apFrance has a big problem and I am not talking about the future of the eurozone. I am talking about the ugly problem of anti-Semitism that has seen French Jews flee their native country for the safety of Israel and the UK.

Natan Sharansky, chair of the Jewish Agency, says that 2,254 French Jews moved to Israel during the first five months of 2014, compared with 580 in all of 2013 –an increase of 289 per cent increase. And in light of recent events the number of Jews leaving France is expected to rise.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is calling on French Jews to “come home to Israel” after the spate of Islamist terror attacks in France.

“To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home,” he said in a televised statement.

Many of those who make Aliyah cite Muslim anti-Semitism as the reason for leaving France.

To illustrate the point, a recent report by the Service de Protection de la Communaute Juive (SPCJ) contains the shocking observation that in the days following the Toulouse murders in March 2012, there was an average of nine anti-Semitic incidents every 24 hours. After the bombing of a kosher supermarket in Sarcelles, there were a further 28 incidents in the following week.

The report by the SPCJ makes it clear that the number of anti-Semitic attacks outweighs the number of other racist attacks. In fact, the increase in anti-Semitic acts in France in 2012 was more than eight times higher than the increase of other racist and xenophobic acts. This clearly shows that France has a problem with anti-Semitism, rather than racism in general.

Another survey, this time from the European Jewish Congress, found that France had more anti-Semitic incidents in 2013 than any other country in the world, with Jews the target of a staggering forty per cent of all racist crimes in France.

French Jews speak of a climate of fear. Most of the attacks take place on the street and on public transport. Many Jews say they are afraid to read Hebrew books on the trains or wear a Star of David in public. Paris is the worst place to live if you are Jewish. Indeed, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the capital vastly outstrips Judeophobic incidents in Marseille, Lyon and Strasbourg.

But even in places where there are fewer anti-Semitic incidents (such as Marseille), the attacks are disturbing and are strangely reminiscent of fascist Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. The following is an excerpt from the SPCJ report:

A Jewish young man and his friend is yelled at by a group of individuals: “We are for Palestine; we don’t like Jews; we’re gonna kill you. We’re gonna exterminate you all.” The two men keep walking when about 10 individuals storm onto them. The victim is hit on the head, which makes him fall. He is then kicked all over the body while on the ground. They steal his gold Star of David. He suffers from a sprained neck, an internal haemorrhage and needs stitches near the eye.

This is shocking but typical of the wave of anti-Semitic attacks sweeping Europe. But the media is eerily silent on the issue. It’s as if newspapers and TV broadcasters don’t quite believe this is happening. Or perhaps they just don’t care.

While many French Jews have got on a plane to Israel to escape the violence, some have sought sanctuary in the UK, which is surprising given the level of British hostility towards Jews and Zionists. Even so, many French Jews have decided that London is a good place to be, with St John’s Wood and South Kensington being the most favoured places of refuge.

Britain’s former chief rabbi, Lord Sacks, has spoken out against Judeophobia in Europe, saying that “the position of Jews in Europe today is very difficult.” He has expressed deep concern that the legal question marks over circumcision and shechita have left Jews wondering whether it is possible to remain in Europe.

The sad truth is that Europe has never looked after its Jewish communities. Even after the Holocaust, the political establishment prefers to demonise the Jewish people, particularly settlers in Judea and Samaria. And instead of spending money on tackling anti-Semitism, the EU donates millions of euros to the feckless Palestinians who spend the cash on anti-Semitic textbooks in order to indoctrinate Arab schoolchildren.

I sincerely hope that those Jews who have sought sanctuary in the UK find peace and quiet in the suburbs of St John’s Wood and Kensington. But anti-Semitism in Britain – often masquerading as anti-Zionism – is a real and growing problem. An unholy mix of left-wing Israelophobia, Islamic Jew-hatred and political apathy over the fate of Jews in Judea and Samaria has severely distorted political discourse in the UK. Indeed, there is not a single mainstream national newspaper that is friendly towards Israel. Nor is there a mainstream political party that has the guts to stand up to the Palestinian lobby.

So, I will not be too surprised if French Jews in England realize their mistake and decide to make Aliyah. Of course, Europe’s loss will be Israel’s gain. And here lies the paradox. Muslim anti-Semites long for the day when “Palestine” (i.e. Eretz Israel) is Judenrein. But their hatred of Jews is having the opposite effect. More and more Jews are going to Israel. The fact that Muslims and their anti-Zionist fellow travellers are responsible for Jews making Aliyah is an unsettling irony.