Last week, I was interviewed on Zionism by Joseph Cotto of the Washington Times – but the third segment of the series (here are Part I and Part II) was formatted so egregiously that I decided to publish the actual questions that the Times’ Joseph Cotto asked me, and the answers I gave him.
The reason for this is that Cotto features the remarks of Allan C. Brownfeld, publications editor at the American Council for Judaism, front and center. And although I never saw Brownfeld’s answers before Cotto’s pieces were published, the articles are structured as if I am responding with lame answers to things that Brownfeld. That makes this “interview” a classic case of media manipulation.
Cotto presented this to me as an interview with me on Zionism. But instead, he has chopped it up and made it to look as if my Zionism is the minority view among Jews in the U.S., and Brownfeld, an anti-Zionist fringe character, is given the gravitas of Ben Gurion.
In reality – and I know this is anecdotal, but I also know this is true – anti-Zionism is the position of only a small minority of the Jewish community. I must say that the anti-Zionist views expressed by Brownfeld in these articles best reflect the repugnant and essentially anti-Jewish views held by the “Reform” movement. And his point of view on Zionism certainly explains the vicious attacks on me by certain Reform “rabbis.”
Perhaps Joseph Cotto feared being targeted by anti-Semites and Israel haters as being a puppet of the “Jewish lobby.” Whatever the case, here is the interview he actually conducted with me:
Cotto: Zionism is a notoriously controversial issue, even among Jews. What do you think about the matter?
Geller: Zionism is only a controversial issue because its opponents have made it so. The Jews have a historical claim to the land of Israel. Contrary to myth, they began returning long before the Holocaust, bought the land fair and square, and were determined to live in peace with their neighbors. The Arab leaders called on the Arabs to leave the area in 1948, thinking they would return in peace when Israel was annihilated. They were wrong.
After centuries of persecution, subjugation and oppression, the international mandate of the White Paper and San Remo a Jewish homeland is an absolute right, a human right. The San Remo Resolution “agreement between post-World War I allied powers (Britain, France, Italy, Japan) was adopted on April 25, 1920 during the San Remo Conference. The Mandate for Palestine was based on this resolution; it incorporated the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the Covenant of the League of Nation’s Article 22. Britain was charged with establishing a ‘national home for the Jewish people.’”
Nonetheless, anti-Semites and their useful idiots viciously fight this still, almost a hundred years later. There are scores of Muslim countries – scores. Why is that sanctioned, but not one tiny Jewish state?
Cotto: In American politics, the line between Jewish religious ethics and an Israeli national identity has become blurred. What is your perspective on this?
Geller: Are you saying that support for Israel has become part and parcel of Jewish religious ethics? I disagree. Look at the overwhelming percentage of Jews who voted for Obama, despite his career-long identification with foes of Israel. And on the other side, isn’t the overwhelming evangelical support for Israel a refutation of the idea that Zionism is merely a Jewish issue?
Cotto: Many Jews are concerned about sociocultural assimilation; specifically as this relates to anti-Zionism. Do you have an opinionn [sic] about this?
Geller: Israel was founded by non-religious Jews. Sociocultural assimilation is a problem but has never been absolutely correlated to anti-Zionism.
Many Jews are concerned about sociocultural assimilation; are sociocultural assimilation and a love of freedom mutually exclusive? The orthodox betrayers of Jews and Israel, the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta, are hardly assimilated, but they still work with Israel’s enemies who want a new genocide of the Jews. Neturei Karta stand with “Palestinians” calling for annihilation of Israel. They have gone to Iran and met with the former President of the Islamic Republic, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for “the cancer” of Israel to be “wiped off the map.”
There is nothing Jewish or righteous about these imposters in Jewish garb.
Cotto: Over the last several years, free birthright trips to Israel for American Jews have become quite popular. These trips build sympathy for Zionism, needless to say. What do you think about them?
Geller: I love them. Why shouldn’t American Jews come to know and love their ancestral homeland?
Cotto: Some say that by replacing Jewish religious philosophy with a nationalistic focus on Israel, diaspora Jews will not be able to partake fully in the societies where they were born. What is your view on this?
Geller: Why “replace”? Why are they mutually exclusive? This would only be true if the values of Jewish religious philosophy were incompatible with those of the larger society. This has never been true in the U.S., where Jews have participated in the life of the nation from the beginning.
Cotto: How would you say that Americans should define Jewishness; is it a matter of religious practice, personal ancestry, or both?
Geller: Both, and more. It involves a whole complex of attitudes, assumptions, and one’s outlook on life.
Cotto: For generations, opposition to Zionism among American Jews was rooted in the Classical Reform tradition. Modern Reform, on the other hand, encourages making aliyah. In your opinion, why has there been a national shift from Classical Reform to modern Reform?
Geller: I am not a supporter of the Reform movement, but I expect this is because, as I said before, Israel was largely founded by non-religious Jews.
Cotto: Many diaspora Jews, both secular and theistic alike, claim that the ethics of their religion forbid them from supporting Zionism. What do you think about this perspective?
Geller: This is nonsense. It is a cowardly approach to their abandonment of Israel. I don’t understand how anyone can think that Jewish ethics forbid a Jew from returning to his homeland.
Cotto: Jews who do not place a great emphasis on Zionism are often portrayed as left-wing radicals. Do you think that this is an accurate depiction?
Geller: Many of the anti-Zionist Jews ARE left-wing radicals who hate their ethnic identity, their homeland, and their people. Cf. Max Blumenthal.
Cotto: During the years ahead, what future for Zionism do you see insofar as America’s Jewish community is concerned?
Geller: I see Jews in the U.S. increasingly having to choose between Zionism and the Democratic Party. I hope they will choose Zionism.
Cotto: How did you first become attracted to the cause of Zionism?
Geller: As long as I can remember, I have been a Zionist. It is as natural as breathing because it is consistent with a love of liberty and individual rights. I didn’t suddenly become “attracted to the cause of Zionism” because of some cataclysmic political or personal event. Support for the Jewish state is right, righteous and rational. Advocating for its annihilation is savage. This has always been obvious to me.