Sunday, June 15, 2014

Zionism: Nationalism, Colonialism, Racism

By Eric Brothers (C) 2014

"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands." Yoram Bar Porath, President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, published in Yediot Aahronoth, 14 July 1972.

Zionism is the nationalist movement of Jews and Jewish culture which resulted in the creation of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined in the Old Testament of the Bible as the Land of Israel, which is, in the words of its leadership, a Jewish state.  Therefore, non-Jews in the Jewish state of Israel, who currently number 20 percent of the population, have less rights and privileges than do Jews. Israel has been heralded in propaganda as the only "democracy" in the Middle East.  However, it could be considered a "limited democracy" at best.  The movement reached its stated goal in 1948 when the State of Israel was approved by the United Nations. But Israel is a nation that has been beset by endless wars, while Zionism is a movement that has been fraught with controversy from its inception to the present day.

Zionism: Jewish nationalism

Zionism is a nationalist movement that in its beginning did not really care where that Jewish nation would be.  They could return to Palestine, the historical home of the Jews, or settle in Argentina or Uganda, where Jewish states were seriously proposed. This was because Theodor Herzl and other early political Zionists saw the creation of a Jewish national homeland as the primary goal.  To them it did not matter where the “Jewish State” existed--as long as it did indeed exist.  Also the use of Hebrew as an official language was not originally desired.  Herzl picked his own German as the official language of the Jewish state.  His Jewish homeland was firmly based upon the Germanic culture of his upbringing.  It fact, Herzl was reluctant to employ Hebrew as the vernacular of the Jewish state.

Theodor Herzl.

In the late 19th century there were three major strains of Zionism. The political Zionists, as noted above, led by Theodor Herzl, saw the formation of a Jewish state as the main goal, no matter where it may be.  The cultural Zionists, led by Ahad Ha’am, saw the creation of a movement that emphasized the national cultural revival of the Jewish people at its core. According to Ha’am, the Jewish state would be a spiritual haven for the Jews and should be created in the Jewish homeland of Palestine.  The third faction was Orthodox Jews, who were unique among Zionists as claiming Palestine for the Jews solely on religious, rather than political or historical grounds.  These religious Zionists believe that God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants and that Zionism was a sign that deliverance was at hand.  In their eyes, Palestine belonged to the Jewish people and establishing the Jewish homeland in Palestine was the fulfillment of that right.

If Palestine was an empty land, bereft of people, then there would be no problem.  However, the Zionist propaganda line, "A land without people for a people without a land," which is still used in Israeli text books to this very day, was a bold-faced lie.

Palestinians fleeing during the Nakba.

In 1948, when the State of Israel was formed by the United Nations, there was a Palestinian exodus, known in Arabic as the Nakba ("disaster," "catastrophe," or "cataclysm").  It occurred when approximately 711,000 to 726,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine and the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.  The term Nakba also refers to the period of war itself and events affecting Palestinians from December 1947 to January 1949, and is synonymous in that sense with what is known to Israelis as the War of Independence (Milkhemet Ha'atzma'ut).

Around 80 percent of the Arab inhabitants of what became Israel (50 percent of the Arab total of Mandatory Palestine) left or were expelled from their homes during the Nakba. It was the Deir Yassin massacre that frightened Palestinians and motivated many to flee their homes. The massacre took place on April 9, 1948, when around 120 fighters from the Irgun Zevai Leumi and Lohamei Herut Israel Zionist paramilitary groups attacked Deir Yassin near Jerusalem, a Palestinian Arab village of roughly 600 people.  Around 107 villagers were killed during and after the battle for the village, including women and children—some were shot, while others died when hand grenades were thrown into their homes.

Factors involved in the Nakba include Jewish military advances, attacks against Arab villages and fears of another massacre after Deir Yassin; expulsion orders by Zionist authorities; the voluntary self-removal of the wealthier classes; the collapse in Palestinian leadership; and an unwillingness to live under Jewish control. Later, a series of laws passed by the first Israeli government prevented Palestinians from returning to their homes, or claiming their property. They and many of their descendants remain refugees.  Later in the war, Palestinians were expelled as part of Plan Dalet. The expulsion of the Palestinians has since been described by some historians as ethnic cleansing.

Jewish Nationalism means War

“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”— David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978.

It was as early as 1922 that Ben-Gurion, the leader of the Histadrut ("General Federation of Laborers in the Land of Israel") said:

[...] The possibility of conquering the land is liable to slip out of our grasp. Our central problem is immigration ... and not adapting our lives to this or that doctrine. [...] We are conquerors of the land facing an iron wall, and we have to break through it. [...] How can we run our Zionist movement in such a way that [... we] will be able to carry out the conquest of the land by the Jewish worker, and which will find the resources to organise the massive immigration and settlement of workers through their own capabilities? The creation of a new Zionist movement, a Zionist movement of workers, is the first prerequisite for the fulfillment of Zionism. [...] Without [such] a new Zionist movement that is entirely at our disposal, there is no future or hope for our activities.

Jewish colonization in West Bank city of Ramallah (2012).
Zionism: Jewish Colonization

In the Occupied Territories of  East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, which are supposed to be Palestinian lands, Jews have rights and privileges, while the indigenous (West Bank) and displaced (Gaza) Palestinians are persecuted, terrorized, displaced from homes, and killed.  In essence, the Occupied Territories are colonies of an imperialist Israel with over 500,000 "settlers," i.e., colonists, living in the West Bank.

Ze'ev Jabotinsky.

Ze'ev Jabotinsky, (1880 –1940) was a Zionist leader, author, orator, soldier, and founder of the Jewish Legion in World War I.  In his book, Instead of Excessive Apology (1911), he wrote: 

We cannot give any compensation for Palestine, neither to the Palestinians nor to other Arabs. Therefore, a voluntary agreement is inconceivable. All colonization...must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy. 

Jabotinsky also wrote of Palestine, "If you wish to colonize a land in which people are already living, you must provide a garrison for the land, or find a benefactor who will maintain the garrison on your behalf. ... Zionism is a colonizing adventure and, therefore, it stands or falls on the question of armed forces."  The State of Israel has indeed found "benefactor[s] who will maintain the garrison": firstly the British and currently the pliant and weak-willed United States, who often put Israeli political and military needs ahead of its own. 

The late Ariel Sharon, Israeli politician and general. 

"Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours... Everything we don't grab will go to them." Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
Zionism: Jewish Racism

According to historian Avi Shlaim, throughout its history up to present day, Zionism "is replete with manifestations of deep hostility and contempt towards the indigenous population."  The evidence of this behavior goes back to 1891 when Ahad Ha'am, who, after visiting Palestine in that year, published a series of articles criticizing the aggressive behavior and political ethnocentrism of Zionist settlers. Ha'am, a leading Zionist, wrote that Zionists settlers: with the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, trespass unjustly, beat them shamefully for no sufficient reason, and even boast about their actions. There is no one to stop the flood and put an end to this despicable and dangerous tendency.

Ahad Ha'am also wrote some prophetic words for the future state of Israel: "[But if things continue the way they are] ...the society that I envision, if my dream is not just a false notion, this society will have to begin to create itself in the midst of fuss, noisiness and panic, and will have to face the prospects of both internal and external war..."

Early Zionist and first Israeli PM David Ben-Gurion.

By the turn of the 20th century, Ben-Gurion advocated exclusively Jewish labor in Jewish businesses. He explained why a Jewish worker should earn a higher salary because: "[he was] more intelligent and diligent" than the Arab.

The treatment of Arabs during the boycott inspired Ahad Ha'am to write, "Apart from the political danger, I can't put up with the idea that our [Zionist] brethren are morally capable of behaving in such a way to humans of another people, and unwittingly the thought comes to my mind: if it is so now, what will be our relation to the others if in truth we shall achieve at the end of times power in Eretz Yisrael?"

Ben-Gurion wanted to segregate Arab and Jewish societies in all sectors from his earliest days in Palestine. For example, the Jews had their separate economical, social, health, educational, media, and political sectors that were opened to Jews only; Arabs were forbidden from participating at all. The segregation of Palestine's society was nurtured and pushed by the Zionists in order to make it easier to partition the country when the Zionist dream of a Jewish state became a reality.

It was in the 1920s that Ben-Gurion stated, "Without Hebrew labor there is no way to absorb the Jewish masses. Without Hebrew labor, there will be no Jewish economy; without Hebrew labor, there will be no [Jewish] homeland. And anyone who does anything counter to the principle of Hebrew labor harms the most precious asset we have for fulfilling Zionism."  Therefore no Arab should work with or for any single Jew in Palestine.  The racial segregation of early Zionism remains firmly in place in 21st century Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Arab Jews in Israel.  Second best?

The racism in Zionist society also extends to Jewish citizens of Israel.  Ben-Gurion spoke of Arab Jews when he said: "Even the immigrant of North Africa, who looks like a savage, who has never read a book in his life, not even a religious one, and doesn't even know how to say his prayers, either wittingly or unwittingly has behind him a spiritual heritage of thousands of years. . . ." A backhanded complement if ever there was one.

The picture of the "perfect" Zionist is a white Ashkenazi Jew from Europe or America.  Ben-Gurion said that European Jews were "the leading candidates for citizenship in the State of Israel. Hitler, more than he hurt the Jewish people, whom he knew and detested, hurt the Jewish State, whose coming he did not foresee. He destroyed the substance, the main and essential building force of the [Jewish] state. The state arose and did not find the nation which had waited for it." Thus Arab, African, Indian, and Asian Jews were accepted as poor replacements for "the nation" that Ben-Gurion desired.


Gouz. "Emergence and Evolution of Early Palestinian and Zionist Identity." unpublished paper. University of Florida, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  No date.

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