Current Chicagoan Ben Lorber is a community organizer and Campus Coordinator with the anti-Zionist Jewish Voice for Peace. He is “progressive”, having worked with immigrant justice and workers’ rights organizations. He has published in the virulently anti-Zionist Mondoweiss blog (home to a comments section that is a warren of anti-Semitic semantics), in Electronic Intifada, a leading Arab anti-Zionist site, appeared at or perhaps infiltrated a Baltimore Limmud event, interviewed for Tikkun – in short, he possesses all the relevant credentials, even that as an environmentalist.
Ben supports and promotes BDS. He has blogged. And Haaretz has now published his thoughts in an article which is a reworking of this one in which he declares himself “anti-Zionist”. His creed, as expressed there, is that he is one of the
proud Jews who believe that Jewish liberation, safety, identity and continuity cannot be guaranteed through ethno-nationalism, through the separation of our destiny and our struggle from that of other peoples, through the colonization of others’ land.
And his concept of a Jewish community is one that is
porous, open, multi-racial, multi-ethnic and in close relationships of accountability with other peoples.
His theme in Haaretz is that
The old consensus is crumbling, and a new Jewish world is emerging
And he, triumphantly asserts
a phenomenon that has repeated itself throughout Jewish history – a movement of Jewish dissidents, who started agitating at the margins, have begun to transform the center of Jewish life.
Of course, the fact that Jewish dissidents have overwhelmingly been wrong, damaged themselves, the Jewish people and Jewish ideals, provided anti-Semites with full justification and basically disappeared from history seems to be a no concern to this young man. From the facilitators of the Inquisition to the Frankists, the reinterpretators of Judaism are a known quality of damage and failure. That his attack is directed against Peter Beinart, the BDSer of products of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is all the more hilarious. Lorber seeks to target the state of Israel — in the name of justice:
Those of us Jews who support the tactics of BDS are not simply choosing to prioritize our ethical values over Jewish unity. Rather, we are working to transform our Jewish communities into ones that reflect our values. Pro-BDS Jews like me are not here to free Palestinians, or tell them how to free themselves. As we see it, our work is to align our community with a call for justice from Palestinians, and to contribute to the growing, diverse movement for equality and freedom.
The appeal to “justice” recalls for me Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s argument, which still holds true nine decades after its composition. Addressing the claim that the demands of Jewry that Palestine become the Jewish homeland “is immoral because it does not suit the native population”, he wrote
Such morality may be accepted among cannibals, but not in a civilised world. The soil does not belong to those who possess land in excess but to those who do not possess any. It is an act of simple justice to alienate part of their land from those nations who are numbered among the great landowners of the world, in order to provide a place of refuge for a homeless, wandering people. And if such a big landowning nation resists which is perfectly natural – it must be made to comply by compulsion. Justice that is enforced does not cease to be justice. This is the only Arab policy that we shall find possible. As for an agreement, we shall have time to discuss that later.
All sorts of catchwords are used against Zionism; people invoke Democracy, majority rule national self-determination. Which means, that the Arabs being at present the majority in Palestine, have the right of self-determination, and may therefore insist that Palestine must remain an Arab country. Democracy and self-determination are sacred principles, but sacred principles like the Name of the Lord must not be used in vain – to bolster up a swindle, to conceal injustice. The principle of self-determination does not mean that if someone has seized a stretch of land it must remain in his possession for all time, and that he who was forcibly ejected from his land must always remain homeless.
There is indeed an “occupation” in Israel, that of Arabs occupying the Jewish homeland. Lorber and company can’t see that and won’t. It doesn’t fit into their worldview of what a Jew is. It could have been a problem that would have been solved if Arabs, like the Jews, realized that some form of compromise was required. That never happened with the Mufti, with Arafat and his PLO, with Abbas and his Palestinian Authority and most certainly not with the Hamas.
It doesn’t register in their minds that the historical record is different from what he thinks he knows and in fact, I would presume even if he did know, that it would be irrelevant to him because he is first a progressive, a liberal.
If the American Jewish establishment and non-establishment Jewry wish to be willing victims to his corruptions of truth and identity politics redefined, they need not place him in a cherem. But they must fight back and argue for authentic Jewish values.