(Unfalsifiable) Anti-Zionism

kandinsky circles

Just as bad as the “Zionism” it rejects, a lot of genuinely radical anti-Zionist writing will often seem not to allow anything in that might disturb its own tight narrative coherence. The logics are unfalsifiable, i.e. without criteria or evidence that could possibly count as evidence against the author’s point of view, evidence that might require one to change or to alter his or her point of view, or at least to concede a point. It’s on this unfalsifiable basis that “radical anti-Zionism” wants to force, to make necessary and urgent a determinate moral-political decision. The models of right and wrong, justice and injustice are unyielding and binary. There’s no way to argue with agitprop writing.

There’s no way to force a decision between Zionism and anti-Zionism. The historical circumstances and varying perspectives that would determine such a decision evolve on the basis of their own internal logics, oscillating between static standstill and sudden rupture. As for myself, I would like to believe that my intellectual, personal, and political commitments to a (disappearing?) democratic Israel are corrigible. Wanting to resist the friend/enemy distinction that bogs down discourse about Israel and Zionism from either end of the political spectrum, I can point to evidence that falsifies those commitments everyday.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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9 Responses to (Unfalsifiable) Anti-Zionism

  1. efmooney says:

    Zak, I’m with you. You want positions that are corrigible, where each side might yield to good reason to change provided by the other. Reason isn’t presumed to give incorrigible verdicts, on your view, the liberal view. It’s presumed to give a good enough case against alternatives, a case open to correction. When positions harden, it’s ideological warfare — the desertion or jettisoning of reason. And for the life of the mind, as deadly as warfare.

  2. nitzan4747 says:

    Very pertinent observation. Let me just add the following; Looking at current historiography (see Benvenisti’s “Chalom Hatzabar HaLavan” or the Hillel Cohen’s TARP”AT) and politics (Netanyahu and Livni fighting “the demographic threat” by negotiating with the Palestinians) there is no more “Zionism,” in its classic form, and therefore no more “anti-Zionism” in its 1990s form. The fact that the public discourse hasn’t caught up with it is a slightly different question than the urgency to choose between then, an urgency that has no grounds in reality.

    • zjb says:

      No more Zionism in its classical form. The discourse and it phenomena are now simulacral, bounded by the bio-power of bodies (demographics).

      • nitzan4747 says:

        ZJB, is that you? ’cause I’d have guessed it was Agamben himself who wrote this comment, hiding under your cozy robe. 🙂

      • zjb says:

        But, Nitzan, I have never not thought that the conflict over I/P was always all about numbers. The difference is that none of that troubles me like it does our political theologians. So it’s still me. No state of exception here! 🙂

  3. Michael says:

    Scratch any anti-Zionist and you’ll find an anti-semite. I disagree with your definition of liberal as “the conceit that all things are open, not closed to debate”. To me, not being able to distinguish between good and evil is due to lack of courage, lack of judgement or both. Plus, delaying a “bad” decision is a flight behaviour.

    And where did you get the idea of “disappearing democratic Israel”? Just because your ideas are not supported in Israel doesn’t mean its not democratic.

    • zjb says:

      Dear Michael: This is not a bubble I think I can pop, except to try to say that the judgments and concepts are too blanket. It’s my own view that the distinctions you want to draw are not always so easy to divide. Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not, especially in cases involving intractable conflct. It’s not that we don’t draw judgments and conclusions. I’ve drawn my own against anti-Zionism or BDS, but i also understand that like most things in life, particularly in regard to ongoing conflct situations, that these judgments and conclusions are corrigible, namely falsifiable. Otherwise, they are simply irratioanal, if you can’t imagine a set of circumstances or principles that might count against them. All the best, –ZJB

      • Michael says:

        You draw a parrallel between Zionists – Jews aspiring to have a national home – and anti-Zionists, those who oppose the Jewish aspirations. I find your attemt to present the two as equal, their actions as equally rational (or irrational) at the very least misleading.

        The historical record shows beyound any reasonable doubt that the Zionist movement has time and again agreed to far-reaching compromises in order to solve the conflict. And the anti-Zionists (anti-Jews) have time and again rejected compromise, opting for ongoing black and white vision of Jew-free Israel or nothing. Well, at some point nothing is what they’ll get.

  4. Gregory Kaplan says:

    Tilting at windmills, again, Zak. Gotta love you!

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