Religion Dispatches has a review of Judith Butler’s Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism
From its inception Zionism had been always one of a variety of Jewish narratives of identity. Anti- or non-Zionist narratives always existed, both in Europe and the U.S., from Bundists, Yiddishists, German nationalists, universalist and internationalists of various stripes, Marxists, American assimilationists (i.e. classical Reform Judaism), ultra-Traditionalists from Aguddat Yisrael, to Habad, to various communities of Hungarian Orthodoxy now largely coalesced around Satmar Hasidism.
These movements all contested the narrative of Jewish identity encapsulated in a Jewish nation-state. Even within Zionism, statist Zionism was hardly accepted uncritically. From Ahad Ha-Am’s cultural Zionism to Simon Rawidowicz’s vision of two spiritual centers in Israel and the Diaspora, Zionists were almost always at odds about what Zionism was supposed to accomplish.
Perhaps the health of Zionism was precisely that it always had Jewish resistance; it never had the hegemony on Jewish identity, it always had to watch its back. Butler argues that this is no longer true and that the fusion, or confusion, of Jewishness (not Judaism) with Zionism has its consequences.
Zionism in the Diaspora is arguably no longer the rich, complex, and multifaceted ideology it once was but has been flattened to mean support of the State of Israel against all detractors (think of those critics who contest Beinart’s Zionism or call J-Street anti-Israel).
Butler writes,“If Zionism continues to control the meaning of Jewishness, then there can be no Jewish critique of Israel and no acknowledgement of those of Jewish descent or formation who call into question the right of the State of Israel to speak for Jewish values or, indeed, the Jewish people.”
Definitely a book for the reading list.