Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday morning musings...

Some Sunday morning musings, starting with my wacky prediction:

1. If the Republican convention does not produce a first ballot winner, then look for Republicans to nominate Newt Gingrich. If you saw him at the Conservative PAC convention weekend on C-Span, then you understand what I mean. Also, I think enough Republicans would rather lose with Gingrich than win with McCain. If the Democratic convention does not produce a first ballot winner, Gore will be drafted and he will be the nominee.

For both men, who have been out of the Washington, DC fishbowl, it will be a 90 day sprint, not a "run" for the White House. Also, if either of these scenarios happen, perhaps the Democratic Party candidate who gets elected can push through public financing ("clean elections") and people may finally realize that electioneering for candidates two years before an election is silly.

2. I am picking up my copy of the first time ever English translation of Victor Serge's last novel, "The Unforgiving Years," later this morning. Serge is one of the key 20th Century novelists and writers, as I have stated in this previous post. ADDENDUM: Urgh! It has not come in yet! Gotta wait till next weekend...

3. Ralph Nader running again for president? How pathetic. Ralph's previous accomplishments in the 20th Century will remain great, but that greatness ended after 2000 for me and I'm sure most other progressive-minded Americans. Nader had the right and, for me, an obligation to run back then, but when people refused to step outside the two party system and vote for him, that was enough. In 2004, he received 0.38 % of the vote. He will get less this time, and deservedly so.

4. In today's London Times Literary Supplemenent, Geoffrey Wheatcroft, a prominent British writer, has written an excellent essay about Zionist history and the charismatic Vladimir Jabotinsky, who is still best (or really least worst?) described as personifying the fascist element in Zionist history. In retrospect, an antiquarian such as myself enjoys Jabotinsky's tweaking of the Chaim Weizman and David Ben-Gurion sets, the way any antiquaian should also adore Ahad Ha'am's tweaking of political Zionism--and be amazed at his insightful critique of early Zionist phrasings about giving a land without people to people without land.

The word "Zionist" has unfortunately become a negative sounding word in US political discourse, where even those who intently support Israel shy away from using the word. It's like hearing younger women say they are not feminists, when of course, if they have any self-dignity (which they do), then they are feminists. The same with Zionism. If you support Israel's existence in fact and in a nationalist frame of reference, then you are a Zionist. We should not allow the enemies of Zion steal the word anymore than we should allow Pat Robertson's defintion of feminism steal the word "feminism."



At February 25, 2008 at 7:52:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: your musing about "early Zionist phrasings about giving a land without people to people without land"

you might be interested to know that it's pretty bogus; no zionist ever wrote "land without people"

There is a fairly good article at Wikipedia

At February 25, 2008 at 3:30:00 PM PST, Blogger Mitchell J. Freedman said...

Thank you, Anonymous. I checked out Wikipedia's entry on the phrase "land without people" for a "people without land" and noted first it was challenged as not sufficiently neutral, meaning it was too much skewed to the point of view Anonymous holds.

I then found an article by a historian named Muir that is in the Middle East Quarterly for 2008 that says the usage of the phrase by early Zionists was very limited at best. However, Muir does admit there was a belief among certain early Zionists that the land of Palestine was "abandoned."

Notwithstanding the above, I attended Hebrew school from 1964 to 1970 and I can say with certainty that I was taught that phrase as a fact. It was very sobering for me to learn in my teen years and then in college that the land of what we know as Israel (inside the Green line) was not essentially barren of Arabs at the dawn of the 20th Century. I also heard this among members of the Jewish National Fund when I was briefly invovled, during the 1980s, with a local Orange County Chapter of the Fund. However, by then I was very much against the use of that phrase.

Still, I am fairly chastened from Ms. Muir's article and Anon.'s comments as to the limited usage of that phrase after the first decade of the 20th Century. Perhaps Ahad Ha'am's points in this regard quieted down those very early Zionists who were initially inclined to take Lord Shaftesbury at his usage of that phrase.


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