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The Miasma of Unity: Jews and Israel, by Abba A. Solomon

by Steve France, reviewer
From the "Washington Report on Middle East Affairs"
It came as no surprise to author Abba A. Solomon that Israeli leaders quickly saw the Hamas attack of Oct. 7 as giving them license to “get the job done.” The job, of course, is to massively accelerate the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and break their will to resist.

In a post-Oct. 7 article in Common Dreams, Solomon wrote, “The strangulation of…Gaza is the ultimate expression of the militant Jewish nationalist assertion of control.” As for the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7, he likened them to slave revolts or colonial uprisings, both in their horrific violence and in how the violence was hyped to demonize the oppressed and justify merciless revenge.

Solomon is also not surprised that most American Jewish organizations have so far kept their see-no-evil stance toward Israel, even as a full-scale genocide is under way in plain view.

His new book, The Miasma of Unity: Jews and Israel, published earlier in 2023, puts a focus on the shameful record of the American Jewish establishment’s support for the slower paced, but relentless elimination of the Palestinians.

In 36 pithy chapters (the book is only 168 pages), Solomon shares his research showing the Zionist hijacking of Jewish identity, how it diddles American Jews and dragoons them into helping to sway U.S. politicians to support policies antithetical to humane American—and Jewish—values.

Together, the chapters argue that lust for power was and is the mainspring of Zionism, although its leaders have preferred to promote their violent nationalism as the only solution to Jewish vulnerability to pogroms and other persecutions in non-Jewish lands. It’s dismaying to read how Zionists overcame all obstacles to establish the state of Israel in 1948, including vociferous Jewish opposition that was stronger than it is today and lasted through the Holocaust.

Early Zionist arguments—steeped in anti-Arab prejudice—were just as flimsy as those rolled out today, and they were swallowed almost as meekly by many Americans. The sharpest disputes were with other Jews, including—surprisingly—members of the then non-Zionist American Jewish Committee (AJC). The AJC has long since become a ferocious defender of the Israeli state, but it was considered a safe place for anti-Zionist reasoning until Israel violently established itself in 1948. An AJC member, Maurice Hexter, warned in 1946 against succumbing to “the miasma of Jewish unity” imposed on Jews to keep silent about the grisly fate Zionists intended for the indigenous people of Palestine. He urged the AJC to publicly oppose Zionist demands for complete control of Palestine. Instead, the organization soon caved under Israel’s pressure.

As for arguments that bamboozled the Joe Bidens of yesteryear, Solomon offers some splendid examples. In March 1948, the soon-to-be Israeli foreign minister, Moshe Shertok (later Sharett), assured the U.N. Security Council that the Jewish diaspora would provide many “Jewish hostages throughout the world” to guarantee the good behavior of Jews in Palestine toward the Arabs. When Israeli good behavior failed to materialize, the AJC and other U.S. Jewish organizations simply abandoned their pleas for restraint, gave up and fell in line. Indeed, they retooled to become deniers and deflectors of any reports of Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians, Solomon says, as well as advocates for conflating anti-Semitism with criticism of the Israeli state’s actions.

For example, Jacob Blaustein, who served as AJC chairman from 1949 to 1954, insisted to U.S. policymakers that “the more the Arabs are kowtowed to, the more intransigent they get and the further removed is peace.” The flip side, he added, was that kowtowing to Israeli leaders would have the opposite effect. Therefore, he argued, freely providing tons of U.S. military aid and diplomatic support to the Israeli state would strengthen Israeli moderates and weaken hardliners.

Solomon considers Zionism to be an insidious form of anti-Semitism, as it reduces “Jewish values” to propagating unwavering support for a national project. He quotes Israeli sociologist Ran Greenstein, who notes, “What remains of ‘Jewish values’ in the Israeli context is one thing only: survival as a ‘people that dwells alone’ [a trope from the Hebrew Bible] at any cost, regardless and at the expense of anything and anyone that stands in the way of this hellish vision.” No wonder he teaches at a South African university.

It’s amazing—and frightening—to find from Solomon’s research that the AJC said as much back in January 1948, castigating a Zionist state as a “monstrous idol,” a state set to act as a “complete master not only over its own immediate subjects but also over every living Jewish body and soul the world over, beyond any consideration of good or evil.”

This lively book shows that the mass killing of Palestinians demands the elimination of Jewish conscience. Today, the consciences of most major Jewish organizations seem to scarcely have a pulse. Who will administer the desperately needed moral CPR?

Steve France is an activist and writer affiliated with Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Palestine-Israel Network.
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