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Zionism, The Post-Zionists and Myth:
A Critique

Shlomo Sharan
Policy Paper No. 134, 2001


Serious students of mythology, among them Ernst Cassirer, Henry Tudor and others agree that myths belong to the major forms of human culture along with art, language, religion, music and science. They all provide the symbols needed to give expression to Man’s interpretation of the world.

By contrast with the prevailing scholarly view of myth, a number of sociologists whose published works are collectively called “Post-Zionist” in outlook, regularly employ the term myth in its primitive and pejorative sense of fraud and deception. Each and every one of the central conceptions of Zionism is labeled by Post-Zionist writers as “myth” in its negative connotation. Post-Zionist writers even accuse Zionism of purposely and systematically “commissioning” great poets, scholars, educators, writers, etc. to disseminate Zionist ideology to justify its egregiously immoral act of occupying Arab territory in Palestine/Israel. The Zionist organization, it is asserted, made every effort to establish a “mythical” continuity between bygone eras of Jewry and contemporary Israel. By so doing, Zionism sought to brainwash Israel-born generations of Jewish youth, that they were the true descendants of earlier generations of Jews who cherished a love of Zion since Biblical antiquity. According to the Post-Zionist interpretation of history, the Jews who came to Palestine/Israel were merely a random collection of immigrants, and their sabra offspring were no more than second-generation immigrants. The notion that they belong to an ancient Jewish People that has returned to claim sovereignty over its historic homeland, is, in their eyes, merely one of the myths disseminated by Zionism.

This conception of the Zionist “mythology” reflects the influence of post-modernist deconstructionism that rejects concepts of historical continuity as mythical falsehood. History is an arbitrary concatenation of separate events whose so-called continuity is an illusion of mythical thinking stemming from the ideology of the interpreter. There is no continuity in Jewish history, and contemporary Jewish youth are not heir to any historical tradition. Those ideas merely serve the purpose of Zionist political propaganda, claim Post-Zionists.

No evidence is ever cited by any of these authors to support their allegations made about Zionist propaganda and the “commissioning” of famous writers and scholars to produce their works on behalf of some Zionist “propaganda machine.” Indeed, hundreds of documents found in archives by the sociologist Oz Almog and others who investigated the letters and other writings of Jewish youth in Palestine/Israel from 1920 to 1960, approximately, were remarkable for their outspoken devotion to, and support of, Zionist ideals. In light of the short shrift that post-modern individualism gives to any sense of collective responsibility by Jews or anyone else, the Sabras’ devotion to Zionism can be “explained” by Post-Zionists only as the product of Zionist brainwashing by its commissioned agents.

The Post-Zionists denounce Zionism for asserting the significance of Jewish historical continuity, for “brainwashing” Jewish youth into thinking that they are walking in the footsteps of their forebears from ancient times, and for calling upon Jewry to assume collective responsibility for its historical fate instead of worshiping radical individualism. These accusations bears all of the earmarks of classical anti-Semitism, to wit: Jewry and Zionism allegedly commit a crime by transmitting their “myths” to the next generation, while all the nations of the world consider that task to be their moral and historical obligation to their offspring in order to preserve and enhance the meaning of their human and national existence. The implication of Post-Zionist thinking is that the accepted norms of national behavior are to be denied to the Jewish People.

These claims place Post-Zionism unequivocally in the anti-Zionist camp. They also express a strange kind of anti-Jewish nihilism that deserves to be relegated to the category of Jewish self-hatred, regrettably rampant in Israel’s universities and colleges.

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