A conference: Histories and alternatives within and beyond zionism [excerpt from Ryvka's talk]
...During the period of destabilization in the late 19th century when the Jews of Europe were being “emancipated,” Zionism was added into an economy of ideas circulating in Europe; ways of thinking about people through racial categories, ways of thinking about the superiority of those who colonize, and thinking of Jews as parasitic, un-modern, passive and unproductive. Zionism was a part of this circulation, and so while Zionism in and of itself may not have been the most popular idea at first, its adoption of the language of the times inserted it into an economy where these ideas could pick up value and meaning by their compatibility with other ideas of the time. Zionism provided a new lexicon and a new framework through which those who identified as Jews could understand their realities.
This is the economy of Zionism, this circulation of ideas and the accumulation of value, growing and morphing with people’s investments. And in this economy of language and meaning, material threats, the real threats of anti-Semitic violence at the time, played a surplus role in Zionism. It is not as though Zionism produced anti-Semitism, nor did it come about only because of anti-Semitism (Zionism was not necessary because of anti-Semitism as some would have us believe). Rather anti-Semitic violence was transformed by the meaning making of Zionism as events that should be read as justifications of it. Zionism appropriated those moments of anti-Semitic violence....
Most ludicrous question of the evening: "Isn't it only because of Zionism's success that you are even able to be here speaking?"
Most ludicrous comments:
Questioner: "Do you actually believe there is such a thing as Palestinians?"
Ryvka: "Yes. Who do you think was in Palestine before the Zionists arrived?"
Questioner: "Christians and Arabs"