A.B. Yehushua 298.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Criticizing Zionism has become a socially acceptable way to attack Jews, author A.B. Yehoshua told a gathering in New York City.
Instead of "attacking Jews, they are attacking Zionism, and this is the way because you cannot attack Jews anymore openly," Yehoshua told some 250 Jewish professionals at Manhattan's Jewish Community Center last week.
"Zionism is becoming a dirty word everywhere. They are identifying the policy of Israel with Zionism. There is the policy of Israel - you can criticize it and you can say whatever you want about it but this is not Zionism," Yehoshua said.
He defined a Zionist as someone who believes the State of Israel belongs not only to its citizens but also to the Jewish people.
"Zionism is not an ideology. You can be a fascist Zionist, a communist Zionist, a religious Zionist," he said. "All the great debates about the country... these are not Zionism."
He said he wanted to restrict the meaning of the term Zionism because of the attacks being made on it, particularly by Arabs. "You saw [Hizbullah leader] Sheikh Nasrallah... He doesn't speak about Israel. All of the time [it's] Zionists, Zionists, Zionists, Zionists."
Sponsored by Dor Chadash, a network of Israeli and American Jews, the lecture marked the first time Yehoshua has addressed a US audience since he raised the ire of American Jewry in May when he told the centennial celebration of the American Jewish Committee in Washington that only those who reside in Israel can live a "total" Jewish life.
Yehoshua clarified those remarks at the New York gathering, saying that Jews in Israel face moral questions that Diaspora Jewry never do, including sending Jews to war and evicting Jews from their homes.
"We are 'total' by the fact that we are living in a compulsory relationship with one another. You are 'voluntary.' You don't have any power over each other," he said. "The totality obliges us to conduct dialogue between factions of society that Jews don't do in the Diaspora."
"When I say we are total and you are partial, I am not saying we are better and you are worse. When a I say a total Jew and a partial Jew I just mean the difference in the quantity of Jewishness that is automatic in Israel and the totality of the relationship vis- -vis your partiality," he added.
"What I want to say to you is if Jewishness is important for you, come to the totality... to the real thing, and the real thing is not here but there."