[Marxism] Myths of liberal Zionism

Philip Ferguson philipferguson8 at gmail.com
Thu Aug 26 21:07:52 MDT 2010

Apologists for ‘war on terror’Tony Greenstein reviews Yitzhak Laor’s ‘The
myths of liberal Zionism’ Verso, 2009, pp192, £14.99

Yitzhak Laor is Israel’s greatest living poet. Largely unknown in the west,
he is a literary critic for Israel’s only liberal daily, *Ha’aretz*, and a
prominent dissident in his own right. In 1972 he and a friend became the
first two refuseniks, when they refused to do national service in the
occupied territories. For that he was jailed. When Laor won the Prime
Minister’s Prize for poetry in 1990, the then premier, Yitzhak Shamir,
refused to sign the official declaration.

*The myths of liberal Zionism *is a breathless surge of anger, a tirade
directed not only at what Zionism has created, but at the duplicity and
two-facedness of the west’s favourite Israeli literary ‘peaceniks’ - Amos
Oz, David Grossman and AB Yehoshua - who use their undeserved liberal
reputation in order to strengthen the racist Zionist project.

This book is the only one Laor has had published in English and his only
work of non-fiction. It begins with the only poem in the book, ‘A citizen of
the world’:

*We didn’t grow up where our fathers grew.
They didn’t grow up where their fathers grew.
We learned not to feel nostalgic
(we can feel nostalgic for any tombstone decided upon),
we don’t belong anywhere
(we shall belong with ease to anything when demanded),
we move across countries,
we sleep in fancy hotels,
we sleep in cold barns,
we love only to be loved,
we rape only to be remembered,
we enjoy only to register ownership,
destroying mainly villages,
declaring ownership then leaving,
hating peasants, mainly peasants
(if necessary, we’ll also cultivate the land).*

Unlike the literary peaceniks, Laor begins from an anti-racist and
implicitly anti-Zionist stance. Whereas for Oz, pre-1967 Israel, with its
expulsion of the native Palestinians and theft of their land is sacrosanct,
and the return of the refugees a forbidden topic, Laor accepts that the
origins of the occupation lie in 1948, not 1967.

Full article at:


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