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May 2, 2016 6:00 pm

Famed Writer Howard Jacobson: European Opposition to Zionism Amounts to ‘Chutzpah With Blood In It’ (VIDEO)

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British award-winning journalist and novelist Howard Jacobson. Photo: Video Screenshot.

British award-winning journalist and novelist Howard Jacobson. Photo: Video Screenshot.

European opposition to the right of Jewish people to live in Israel amounts to “chutzpah with blood in it,” an award-winning British journalist and novelist declared in a recent BBC interview.

In conversation with correspondent Chris Cook for a “Newsnight” film on anti-Zionism, antisemitism and Israel — which aired April 29 — Jacobson condemned the continued audacity of certain Europeans in telling Jews they have no claims or rights to Israel.

Jacobson said:

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When I hear people in European cultures attacking Zionism, I think, ‘What a nerve.’ We [Europe] kick you out, we say, ‘Go to hell and we don’t care where you go.’ And you’re lucky if you’re kicked out. You’re lucky if you get out. And then we [Jews] go somewhere. We go to what for a long time was considered home and what in the Jewish imagination has been home for a few thousands years. And this begs many questions I accept about the indigenous population [in Israel]. I accept all that. But the idea that we [Europe] would then say to the Jews, ‘Get the hell out of here,’ and now we’re going to tell you where you can go? I mean there’s a Jewish word for that. That’s chutzpah. That’s chutzpah with blood in it.

During the interview, Jacobson explained his understanding of Zionism and said that the Left in Britain must reeducate itself on core Zionist ideology. “Zionism was a liberation movement. It wasn’t a movement of oppression. It wasn’t a movement of colonialism,” he said. “It was the beginning of a Europe-wide movement of liberation of the Jews from themselves…and some of the [European] countries.” This movement of liberation among Jews began “long before the Holocaust” and “the Holocaust just then confirmed the need for that,” Jacobson said.

Commenting on the antisemitism scandal currently plaguing Britain’s Labour party — specifically comments made by Labour MP Naz Shah calling for Israel to be relocated to America — Jacobson said he would like to hear more officials renounce antisemitic views and reeducate themselves. Remarks like those of Shah, Jacobson said, remind Jews of the importance of Zionism.

“The reason why Jews get so upset when they hear Zionism denounced is because for a Jew, for most Jews, it still is a liberation movement and not only in the mind,” he stated. Reflecting on 1930s Europe, Jacobson said, “Where were Jews going to go? They were being kicked out everywhere… ‘Go to your own country,’ they were told. Okay. And now they’re in their own country and now get out of that. And now Naz Shah says, ‘Get out of your own country and go to America.’ Not only do we remember Zionism for the liberation movement it was, it’s a liberation movement still.”

While Jacobson readily admitted he wasn’t brought up a Zionist, he said, “I was just brought up to believe whatever you think about Israel, don’t forget you might need it one day. There isn’t a Jew living — no, there are very few Jews living — that won’t feel in some way or another that they might need it one day.”

Watch highlights of Jacobson’s interview below:

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  • Gitta Zarum

    And this begs many questions I accept about the indigenous population [in Israel].

    The indigenous population was mainly Jewish – and certainly not the people who today call themselves Palestinians. And why does everyone forget that in 1947 the country was partitioned then into two separate states? – which became Jordan and Israel.

  • Yehudah

    It’s interesting that there is an increase of antisemitism and anti-Zionism now. In the ’80’s, for example, the political spectrum in Israel was way right of where it is now (the PLO was still regarded as a terrorist organization, it was forbidden to meet with any of its members, there was no autonomy given to the Arab cities in the West Bank and Gaza, and almost no talk of a Palestinian state).
    It seems that Israel acceding to just some of the Palestinian demands for statehood has somehow made people question why can’t Israel accede to all the Palestinian demands, and go back to the ’67 borders, take in all 5 million Palestinian refugees, etc., and has called Israel’s right to exist into question.

  • Patrick Amon

    I agree with everything Jacobson says here. So I think would almost all leftists, including, for instance, Norman Finkelstien and Noam Chomsky. Jacobson grants that,

    ‘ this begs many questions I accept about the indigenous population [in Israel]. I accept all that.’

    The ‘all that’ that Jacobson accepts is precisely what is in contention.

    • shai

      The indigenous population was miniscule. Most of those classed as indigenous were Egyptian or Saudi migrants. The palestinians are a fruad on a historical scale.

  • Barry

    W#ith all due respect for Mr. Jacobson but he should have mentioned how Britain locked the gates of Europe thus preventing Jews from leaving and an easy roundup for the Nazis.

  • Johnny Doogle

    “and what in the Jewish imagination has been home for a few thousands years.” That’s the key word here- “Imagination”.

    • Vittorio

      Well, if you imagine the Jews will be leaving Israel, keep dreaming.

    • Barry

      The imagination while maybe applicable to the author does not apply to those Jews living in “Palestine” with places like Hebron and Safed having centuries old communities.
      Also the so called Palestinian Arabs migrated from the part of the Ottoman Empire which is known as Syria today, and from Egypt to the area when the Jews started cultivating the desert and draining the malaria invested swamps in the north.
      In the 19th century Jews constituted a majority in Jerusalem.

    • Ruth

      Another key word is “indigenous” peoples –which whoever they were, are definitely not those who today identify as Palestinians.

    • Nora

      One have to use imagination when one is denied one’s heart desires by the foreign colonizers of one’s homeland.

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