By Shabbir Rizvi
One of the most profound awakenings for Westerners since the launch of the Palestinian resistance operation Al-Aqsa Storm has been their understanding of how influential the Zionist lobby is.
This lobby, which works in line with the US State Department when it can and independently and subversively when it cannot, tends to influence major arenas of societal interest.
On the surface level, one can simply follow the money and understand the phenomenon: the Israeli lobby pouring millions of dollars into buying US politicians, Zionist hate groups unleashed to stifle Pro-Palestinian students on college campuses, celebrities and artists flown out to Israel to pose with Israeli Occupation soldiers in order to paint them in a positive light.
However, more devious and subversive groups exist within American society, specifically designed to “normalize” the concept of not only an Israeli regime, but the imperialist-settler ideology of Zionism.
These organizations are designed with the American “left” in mind: Using left-wing, pro-worker sloganism, Zionist groups specifically target left-wing movements, students, and youths in order to indoctrinate them into aligning with the Zionist cause.
One of these groups is known as “Habonim Dror.” Habonim Dror is believed to have promoted the ideas of “social justice” and “peace” while running six Zionist student camps across North America.
The group actively recruits young Jewish students from across the US and Canada (though they have more minor concentrations in New Zealand, Brazil, the UK, and other countries) indoctrinating them in their camps, and even including a year-long program to send them to Occupied Palestine.
At first glance at their website and mission, it is clear that they are intent on separating themselves from the ruling Benjamin Netanyahu regime in Tel Aviv.
Habonim Dror emphasizes the need for “Labor Zionism” and even goes as far as suggesting “ending the occupation,” but ultimately succumbs to the same-old “Two-State Solution” rhetoric that forces Palestinians to deal with an aggressive, genocidal and brutal “neighbor.”
“Labor Zionism,” which can save you a few syllables if you just call it what it is - Zionism - was a mutated appeal to the labor movement in North America.
Habonin Dror was established in the 1930s as an appendage faction of the mainstream Zionist movement, and it has until now taken a backseat role in picking up Jewish youth who at first were resistant to the idea of Zionism.
For decades, the Israeli occupation has enjoyed total control of its image, and so its initiatives were less aggressive.
Now, Habonim Dror represents a wave of Zionism meant to capture what would be dissenting Jewish voices and reprogram them to be tools for colonialism and imperialism.
Its mission is designed to “meet the moment” of a resurgent left-wing movement in the United States, particularly after the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011, the Bernie Sanders presidential run in 2016, and the George Floud Uprising of 2020 - all three of which propelled left-wing movements and revived an interest in socialism in an otherwise deeply reactionary society.
Habonim Dror may use veils like “socialism” and “progressivism” to define itself. However, its “principles” mention nothing of anti-imperialism or anti-colonialism.
The group’s “socialism” is a “national socialism” for its own fascist occupation - it is not rooted in internationalism or global worker solidarity. It is a corrupted “socialism” that uses sloganeering and symbolism that are aesthetic to socialism while driving a deeply reactionary and imperialist political line.
Habonim Dror encourages its members, who can join as early as high school, to participate in local social justice issues, including police brutality, immigration reform, climate change, and other popular left-wing issues that have gained much attention in American society.
It further trains participants to be (according to their website) “leaders, change-makers and activists in their communities.”
Offering attractive scholarships, opportunities to travel to Occupied Palestine, a rich network of connections that could offer promising careers and formal leadership training programs, Habonim Dror seems similar to a fraternity or an innocent summer camp.
However, it is adamantly dedicated to the Zionist cause - which demands the existence of “Israel.”
It is a simple equation. Habonim Dror targets what would otherwise be neutral, uninterested, or otherwise hostile Jewish youth and codifies a “left wing” Zionism in them, then encourages them to embed themselves into their communities and local movements as leaders and changemakers.
They represent the face of Zionism where Zionism would otherwise be unwelcome, and thus rebrand Zionism through a false definition.
These initiatives are crafted to normalize collaboration with more “hardline” Zionists. By infiltrating otherwise progressive movements, ‘Labor Zionism’ agents can influence those around them to embrace Zionism and the Israeli occupation.
Zionists know that principled left-wing movements outright reject their racist ideology. In order to adapt, groups like Habonim Dror have been crafted to mutate Zionism in order to appeal to a left-wing wave that does not have strong principles of anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism.
The Palestinian issue is purposely framed as complicated and “sensitive” in American society. “Left Wing” Zionists can then be deployed to command the conversation in progressive circles, rejecting any idea of a true liberation for Palestinians.
As long as Zionism itself is not seen as the main issue, the Israeli occupation is framed in a positive light.
A prime example of the type of influencer Habonim Dror seeks to create is the aggressively Zionist and Islamophobic actor Sacha Baron Cohen.
Cohen joined the group in his late teens in the 1980s, attending summer camps and ultimately moving to the occupied Palestinian territories for a year, working alongside other Zionist youth.
Later, he would play the roles of deeply racist caricatures that fueled the fire of Islamophobia at the height of post-9/11 hysteria in the United States.
Cohen now spends his time as a critic of the US right-wing lobby while simultaneously spreading Zionist propaganda and continuing his racism against Muslims. He came out in fierce defense of the Israeli response to the Palestinian resistance operation Al Aqsa Flood.
Clearly, even “Labor Zionism” falls short of condemning the occupation, despite its insistence that it does.
Some Habonim Dror activists have established networks with influential politicians such as staunch Zionist senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania.
The very existence of Habonin Dror activists threatens to normalize “Israeli” existence within progressive movements in the US, which at a critical movement like now are condemning the Tel Aviv regime.
The group further prides itself on the collaboration of groups that are not Zionist in nature, citing various statistics of group participation in outside movements and leadership positions held, all while demonstrating their loyalty to the Israeli occupation, despite their alleged denunciation of “occupation.”
This is a key goal for Habonin Dror: Zionists understand that isolation will only bring about their disaster. Therefore, groups like Habonim Dror must branch out in order to normalize the Israeli regime.
This is their main factor of success.
If local movements aren’t careful, they could be collaborating with Zionist infiltrators that could subvert Palestinian solidarity when it counts the most.
Picture this scenario: a climate activist group is concerned about the Israeli genocide of Palestinians, as US weapons used themselves are a climate issue. Moving to condemn the genocide, grassroots organizers are then blocked by leadership that is Habonim Dror “activists.”
A key voice within the US political realm is then silenced because of meticulously devised Zionist infiltration within an otherwise left-wing group.
Habonim Dror isn’t the only Zionist youth group seeking to build a generation of Zionist influencers and “activists.” There are many different Zionist youth groups - some that are more “left-wing” in nature, and others that are “hardline.”
Careful attention must be paid in order to understand how Zionists can subvert movements, organizations, and ideas - especially by weaponizing “progressivism” when a progressive movement is beginning to take shape and action.
Let it be clear: there is nothing “progressive” or “left-wing” about the Israeli occupation or Zionism. At its core, it will always be a racist, colonial ideology that threatens war, expansionism, and exploitation.
No rebrand can ever take away these core features of Zionism.
Shabbir Rizvi is a Chicago-based political analyst with a focus on US internal security and foreign policy.
(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV)
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