Parsing “I am not a Zionist”

Jonathan Chait at TNR asks more or less the same question Jonathan Zasloff asked here: If I support the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, in what sense am I not a Zionist? Chait suggests that I must mean that I no longer support Israel; that gets my point precisely backwards.

Zionism is a loyalty, not a mere opinion.

I support lots of things, including the existence of Israel. I’m loyal to a few. Israel is no longer one of them.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

5 thoughts on “Parsing “I am not a Zionist””

  1. “Zionism is a loyalty, not a mere opinion.”

    I’m curious as to whether Zionists generally agree with that statement.

    I think I understand what you’re saying wrt this issue, and as I happen to also not be a Zionist (coming from a different background, this has far less meaning of course) I welcome your change of heart (not because I want Israel to lose/be destroyed, but rather because I think it’s on a very, very dangerous and self-destructive path, with the USA riding shotgun). But if you are correct that Zionism is a loyalty, doesn’t that lead to a rather troublesome conclusion?

  2. Troubling to some; not to me. Grown-ups have the capacity to be loyal to more than one cause at once, recognizing that sometimes loyalties will conflict.

    I’m loyal to the United States of America, to the English language, to the Jewish people, to the Enlightenment, to the scientific enterprise, to liberalism, and to equality. I also feel a kind of loyalty both to the United Kingdom and the European Union; the UK is, culturally, my ancestral homeland (though none of my biological ancestors ever lived there), and the EU is the best thing to come out of the Twentieth Century.

    By contrast, while I hate what Russia just did to Georgia and is trying to do to the Ukraine, and would dearly like to see those countries prosperous, secure, and free, I’m not a Georgian or Ukrainian nationalist. That’s the sense in which I’m not a Zionist.

  3. I believe in the state of Israel; I also believe in Benin, Poland, Indonesia, etc. I think it’s a state that, like other states, deserves credit when it does good and deserves censure when it behaves poorly. I do not, however, believe that Israel is Zion, a sacred territory given by God. I also do not believe that Jews are destined to be persecuted and hated everywhere except in a state of their own. How ought Zionism be defined? Am I missing any propositions that might be important parts of that concept?

  4. It sounds like what happened to Mark must have been pretty awful. I’m very sorry for that. But it seems a little harsh to blame a whole country. I still believe Israel will live up to its promise. Isn’t it filled with the people whose values informed Koch? I mean, not to get into Easterbrook territory or anything (where non-Jews are not allowed to say nice things about Jewish culture, by implication …)

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