How nice of Joan Lear Sher, Westchester director of the American Jewish Committee, to talk in generalities as she did in her November 10 letter. She is advocating the repeal of UN Resolution 3379, which determined that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination." I agree that there is a problem with this resolution. The problem, however, is that it is not specific enough. It does not distinguish between cultural and political Zionisms.
The best representatives of cultural Zionism are Ahad Ha'am and Martin Buber. Ahad Ha'am died with the conviction that the ideals of cultural Zionism were betrayed by political Zionists. And he wondered: "Is this the dream of a return to Zion which our people have dreamt for centuries: that we now come to Zion to stain its soil with innocent blood?" Martin Buber wrote to Gandhi saying: "What is decisive for us is not the promise of the land, but the demand, whose fulfillment is bound up with the land, with the existence of a Jewish community in this country." When Ghandi reminded him that Palestine belongs to the Arabs, Buber replied: "We have no desire to dispossess them: we want to live with them."
ý[Contrast the above with what the best representative of political Zionism, Ben-Gurion, wrote in the introduction to the History of the Haganah: "In our country there is room only for Jews...if they (Christians and Muslims of Palestine) resist, we will push them by force." Elsewhere, he wrote: "When we say...'Jewish State' we mean Jewish country, Jewish soil, Jewish labor, we mean Jewish economy, Jewish agriculture, Jewish industry, Jewish sea." It is this kind of Zionism that is a "form of racism and racial discrimination." How is it possible to reconcile the idea of equality with such and exclusionary definition, bearing in mind that 18.5 percent of Israelis are Christians or Muslims, the equivalent of 46 million of the American population.]
Members of the American Jewish community have been in the forefront of the struggle for civil rights, separation of church and state, and for free immigration to the United States. They would have been the first to protest any attempt to impose Christianity as a state religion in American, to pass a "Law of Return" limiting immigration to Christians, or to force citizens to carry identity cards indicating their religion or ethnic origin. But those American Jews do not question their support for a state that applies these and other discriminatory policies in its treatment of its Christian and Muslim citizens.
November 27, 1991