Monday, May 21, 2007
Zionism and the Doctrine of Election
By M. SHAHID ALAM
(professor of economics at Northeastern University, and author of Challenging the New Orientalism: Dissenting Essays on America's 'War Against Islam')
"No idea has played a more seminal role in the recent history of Jewish and Christian Zionism than the Jewish doctrine of divine election or chosenness. Since this doctrine is the cornerstone of Zionism, divine sanction for Jewish uniqueness has been inseparable from Israeli exceptionalism and Israeli history........
However, it was the theological doctrine of chosenness that would most convincingly settle the morality of Zionist claims to Palestine. The Zionists would have little difficulty convincing their Jewish and Christian audiences, the only ones that mattered at that time, that this was no 'theft.' It was widely believed by populations raised on Biblical myths that God had promised Palestine to the Jews as their eternal inheritance. Since Jewish ownership rights were divinely ordained, they could not be annulled by absence of the owners. In other words, Zionism was not a colonial movement to expropriate the natives: it was a 'messianic' movement to restore Palestine to its divinely appointed Jewish owners. The European Jews who arrived in Palestine could not be accused of stealing their lands; as the Jewish National Fund claims, they were only "redeeming" lands which had had always been theirs.......
The doctrine of election did not merely set the Jews apart from other nations; it also set them above other nations. Over time, this has encouraged racist tendencies. Since the Jews were the chosen instruments of God's intervention on earth, this was interpreted by some Jewish thinkers to mean that Jews were not subject to the laws of nature and society. In other words, as long as the Jews believed that they were acting as instruments of God's will, they did not have to follow the laws of gentile nations. As Israelis have moved to the religious right, a shift propelled by the rationale and experience of Zionism itself, Zionist advocates have shown an increasing willingness to justify their human rights abuses as a Jewish prerogative. As Zionist plans continue to be challenged by their victims, the 'chosen people' slowly but surely take on the hues of a 'master race:' they begin to imagine that they have the power to legitimize their actions by merely willing them into existence."