A few days ago, one of the white supremacist leaders of the Charlottesville, Virginia “Unite the Right” rally, Richard Spencer, was invited onto Israeli TV. He compared his own nationalist platform to Israel. “As an Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identity, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood and history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me,” Spencer said. “I care about my people. I want us to have a secure homeland for us and ourselves, just like you want a secure homeland in Israel.” He told the Israeli host that he sees himself as “a white Zionist.”
An article in the Forward agreed. “Richard Spencer, whose racist views are rightfully abhorred by the majority of the Jewish community, is holding a mirror up to Zionism and the reflection isn’t pretty,” argued Naomi Dann.
Here are five reasons Dann is wrong.
True nationalism is concerned with the self-determination of nations. Zionism is concerned with the self-determination of the Jewish nation. “White people” is not a nation, so Richard Spencer doesn’t know what he’s talking about. America is also not a Nation State, so none of his arguments make any sense within the context of America (or any other context for that matter).
Moreover, an actual nation does have the right to privilege its citizens over another nation’s, hence why French citizens of France have certain privileges that English people from London do not have. Moroccan citizens have privileges in Morocco that Yemenites do not have. This is not rocket science; it is basic civics 101. It is a normal thing that Palestinian non-citizens of Israel would have less privileges than Israeli citizens of Israel. The dilemma lies in the fact that Palestinians don’t have a state and their current kleptocratic government does not afford them privileges of belonging to said state — which does not exist. This has literally nothing to do with Zionism but with certain actions of Arafat, Abbas, and if you really want to go into it, Jordan, Egypt and the larger Arab world.
If Dann were intellectually honest, she would admit why Israel’s War of Independence led to some homes being taken. She would admit that Israeli forces literally begged many Arabs to stay who in the fog of war decided not to. It’s a tragedy that some lost their homes due to the war, but try to remember that others who stayed did not. If Zionism was what Dann claims it is, it would not accommodate such people and its proponents would not beg its Arab neighbors to stay.
Just because there are corrupt members of the ANC in South Africa’s parliament today, doesn’t mean that the anti-apartheid movement was corrupt. Just because people who were part of Gandhi’s revolution did bad things, does not mean the revolution itself was bad or immoral. It means that all men are capable of doing bad things and often do them. Likewise, just because there are certain individuals in Israeli society who talk negatively or pejoratively about Arabs, does not mean that Zionism is bad. One of things Dann failed to mention because it undermines her position is that Ehud Barak considers himself to be a Zionist. Please, for the love of hummus, Gal Gadot, and Cafe Shachor Chazak — stop.
Israel is the only country on the face of the Earth to start campaigns to rescue black people out of bondage and bring them into its land for the purpose of freeing them.
Dann has joined the ranks of neo-Nazis who also accuse Zionists of being engaged in a worldwide conspiracy to denigrate and to destroy other peoples. They claim it’s the whole world; Dann claims it’s Palestinians. She has also created a world in which Palestinians have to take no responsibility for their actions. A little tip: if someone is exempt from taking responsibility for their actions, they are not actually free and their society will not progress.
Congratulations. In the name of standing with Palestinians, Dann has undermined them.
Chloé Simone Valdary is brand ambassador for Jerusalem U.
Chloé Simone Valdary is Director of Partnerships and Outreach at Jerusalem U, a digital media company based in Jerusalem.
5 Reasons Richard Spencer Is Wrong About Israel