Something from an email I wrote today that I thought I might put on here too, as its something thats been frustrating me a lot lately:
I think it’s important to remember that popular conflation of Zionism and Judaism is only a recent occurance – prior to the Shoah, Zionism was a minority movement amongst Jews, and Jewish opposition to Zionism has never ceased, on the contrary, it has been growing across the world in the last 5-10 years.
I am currently writing a book, looking at Jewish radicals from 1800 to present, and the research for it has thrown up some interesting parallels. In the late 1800′s/early 1900′s, in London’s East End, there were literally tens of thousands of Jewish anarchists, socialists and communists (in fact, for a long time, there were more Jewish radical leftists than non-Jewish in the UK). Jewish trade unions flourished, and explicitly revolutionary newspapers written solely in Yiddish had print runs of upwards of 50,000. Nobody, however, suggested that you could not be Jewish and a capitalist, nobody suggested radical leftism was a prerequisite for Judaism.
I think those that seek to conflate Zionism and Judaism could learn a lot from that lesson – just because a political theory is dominant within a cultural/ethnic group at any given moment, it does not mean that it always has been or always will be, and it most certainly does not mean one has to subscribe to the political philosophy in order to be a part of the cultural/ethnic group.