[Buddha-l] One Buddhist's perspective on Zionism

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Fri May 20 14:42:42 MDT 2005

On Fri, 2005-05-20 at 13:13 -0700, Franz Metcalf wrote:

> Using "Zionism," however charitably, is like using "Hiinayaana." It's
> simply unacceptable now (if it ever was, before).

There is an important difference, which is that I know Jewish people in
both Israel and in North America who readily describe themselves as
Zionists. I have never met any Buddhist who described herself as a
Hiinayaaninii. (Heenayawneenee? Sounds like the braying of a jenny ass.)
Many of the Jewish web sites I have looked at use the term Zionism in
what seems to be a positive way. No Buddhist site that I have ever seen
uses the designation Hinayana in a positive way.

I think Zionist is like Fundamentalist. It is a term that people have
used and still used to describe themselves in a positive way. If the
term has negative associations, it is only in the minds of people who
dislike what the word stands for. There is no doubt that the word
"Zionist" automatically invokes wrath in some Arabs, just as the term
"Fundamentalist" will automatically engender contempt in the minds of
some liberal Christians. But this means that one has to make it clear
that one is not using the term hatefully. This makes those terms
completely unlike the term "hinayana," which was initially coined for no
purpose than to be insulting but is now (we are told) used quite
innocently by some people who are unaware of its literal meaning and its
history of being an abusive term.

> For anyone now wanting to start up a thread on "Hiinayaana" vs 
> "Theravada," I refer you to the buddha-l archives. We've done that one, 
> already (September 2004).

Yessir, we have done that one just about every year since 1991.

Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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