A visit to a grave is often part of the political rituals that presidents and other political representatives include in their schedules during their State visits. In spite of the apparent mechanicity and automatism behind these gestures, they still constitute valid spaces from which we can expose the crucial political intentions they embody.
What is the meaning of Obama paying tribute to the founder of modern political Zionism in his last visit to Israel/Palestine? Which questions does this gesture raise on the latest US “broker of deceit”, to borrow the title of Rashid Khalidi’s recent book on the history of the relationship between the US administrations and the Palestinian question?
Well, a visit to Thedor Herzl’s tomb in one of the most unbalanced trips of a US president to Israel/Palestine can hardly be interpreted as an act of routine diplomacy. While expressing his unilateral support for Israel’s “dispossession in security”, perhaps Obama showed his will to support the foundational constitution of Israel in its most problematic guise.
As we know, Herzl is author of “The Jewish State” (1896), in which the author develops the organizational and ideological manifesto of modern political Zionism. The pamphlet contains the coordinates for transferring the discriminated Jewish population of Europe to Palestine or to another “empty land”. And this is also one of the first texts in which for the first time the solution to the “Jewish question” is articulated as a project of colonization and a civilizing mission:
“Should the Powers declare themselves willing to admit our sovereignty over a neutral piece of land, then the Society will enter into negotiations for the possession of this land. Here two territories come under consideration, Palestine and Argentine. In both countries important experiments in colonization have been made, though on the mistaken principle of a gradual infiltration of Jews. An infiltration is bound to end badly. It continues till the inevitable moment when the native population feels itself threatened, and forces the Government to stop a further influx of Jews. Immigration is consequently futile unless we have the sovereign right to continue such immigration”.
Manifesting his preference for a “Palestinian solution”, Herzl continues:
”Palestine is our ever-memorable historic home. The very name of Palestine would attract our people with a force of marvelous potency. If His Majesty the Sultan were to give us Palestine, we could in return undertake to regulate the whole finances of Turkey. We should there form a portion of a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism”.
Like an Orientalist of his time, Herzl theorizes the necessity of a Jewish state in a non-empty land using a military vocabulary of aggression: a rampart against Asia and anoutpost of civilization. Those who inhabit the land of the Jewish state to come are described as a barbarous population, the uncivilized to be redeemed.
Herzl’s settler-colonial vision –a military-like immigration protected by European powers that would have and has unavoidably resulted in depopulation, expulsion and ethnic cleansing– was inspired by a kind of Orientalism that is even more manifest and explicit in his 1902 novel “Altneuland” (“The Old New Land”): a novel in which the pioneer of political Zionism is even more explicitly Orientalist than in “The Jewish State”. In what is misleadingly considered his “utopian” novel –misleadingly because those were the years in which Zionism was precisely looking for a non-utopian solution– Herzl describes Palestine after the first Jewish immigrations as a “new society”, by that meaning more civilized than the indigenous population. Palestinians are depicted as the recalcitrant remnants of a despicable rural backwardness, and their children as “grown up like dumb beasts”. The novel contains the classical array of Orientalist stereotypes about Arabs.
Thus, we may ponder the meaning of visiting Herzl’s tomb while stating the un-discussable right of Israel to remain the kind of Jewish state that it is. Is the kind of idea of Jewish state that Obama has in mind founded on Herzl’s premises? Does Obama recognize himself in an outpost-rampart-state to be protected as a colonial frontier against barbarism? If Israel has been created and has developed and reproduced itself in a colonial framework like the one imagined by Herzl –the continuation of an experiment in colonization– is this the kind of Israel that Obama wants to support with millions of dollars? The political ritual on Herzl’s grave seems to suggest that the answer to all these questions is yes.
Nicola Perugini is an anthropologist who teaches at the Al Quds Bard Honors College in Jerusalem. He is currently a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
 Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State, 1896
 Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State, 1896
- The Right-Wing Accepts Obama’s Tribalism When It Supports Israel (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- President Obama’s Horribly Offensive Passover Message (jeremiahslaments.wordpress.com)
If there is one message that unifies critics of Israel and advocates for Palestinian rights, it is “End the Occupation.” As with many unifying messages, however, it is successful partly because of its ambiguity. What land and which people are occupied? And what are the terms under which the “occupation” will be ended.The ambiguity allows groups as disparate as Hamas and J Street to chant the phrase with very different images in mind. Hamas and other anti-Zionists argue that all of the land defined by the British Mandate of Palestine is occupied territory, while J Streeters and other “soft” Zionists commonly refer only to Israel’s 1967 territorial conquests as “occupied.”
The dividing line between these two views has been articulated By Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi of JBIG (Jews Boycotting Israeli Goods):
…there are many people within the movement who share the opinion – which is general throughout the West – that Israel needs to exist as a Jewish state, should exist as a Jewish state. And there are many Jews and others in the movement who don’t want to criticize that fundamental fact.[i]
Wimborne-Idrissi is undoubtedly correct in her assessment: public opinion in the West generally supports what is called “Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.”[ii] However, most Palestinians fail to understand why this “right” should trump their rights and why Palestinians should be made to pay for its exercise with expulsion from their homes.
Indeed, they may be forgiven for doubting the sincerity of people that claim to advocate for justice on their behalf but fail to defend their right to return to their homes. On the one hand, these “defenders” of Palestinian human rights claim to oppose Israel’s expulsion of Palestinians, both inside the internationally recognized borders of Israel and in other areas under Israeli control. On the other hand, these same champions of Palestinians will not lift a finger to correct and defend against the more massive ethnic cleansing that occurred in 1948. It is as if 1967 is the dividing line between which criminal activity must be accepted and which must be resisted.
Do such persons really oppose ethnic cleansing as a matter of principle or merely as it suits their whim? The passage of time does not appear to be an issue. If 1948 seems like a long time ago, let us remember that there is no statute of limitations on such matters, as the prosecution of Nazi war criminals from an even earlier era illustrates.
J Streeters and other “soft” Zionists may appear to be allies of Palestinians, but they are not. Their overwhelming consideration is to create and maintain a Jewish state, and to mould it into their image of a liberal democracy that they can feel proud of. Palestinian rights and welfare are entirely subsidiary to that objective.
This explains why J Streeters defend Israel’s “right to exist,” i.e. the ethnic cleansing of 1948. They may not like ethnic cleansing, but it was necessary for the creation of a Jewish state, which has a higher order of priority. On the other hand, they see the current ethnic cleansing policies of the state of Israel as corrosive to the kind of state they would like to have. This is why they want to “end the occupation.” Look what it is doing to Israeli youth! Look at how it is driving Israel into the hands of “extremists.”
Let us therefore be clear. We are dealing with people whose opposition to ethnic cleansing is not very firm and whose primary interest in “ending the occupation” is to do what is good for Israel, not for humanity and least of all for Palestinians.[iii]
Indeed, one wonders why these advocates for Israel oppose a massive expulsion of the remaining Palestinians in all of the land held by Israel. Expulsion is clearly not a “red line” for them, and it is an expedient method of “ending the occupation.” I suspect that they harbor a nagging guilt for the theft and massacres of 1948, but not enough to want to give up the stolen property. Rather, they hope to expiate their guilt by returning a portion of the territories seized in 1967 for the purpose of creating Palestinian Bantustans. (The South African Bantustans served a similar purpose of assuaging the guilt of white supremacists.)
Regardless of the hypocritical games that Jewish supremacists in the movement play amongst themselves, Palestinians and human rights advocates must not be lured into false partnerships with them just because we share some of the same immediate tactics and objectives, such as stopping the growth of Jewish settlements, boycott of (some) Israeli products and institutions, an end to land confiscations, etc. Rather, we must expose the racist foundations and objectives of these ethically inconsistent elements within “the movement,” and avoid alliances with them.
Currently, I fear that we may be doing the opposite, i.e. allowing the “end the occupation” movement to be driven by the interests of people whose agenda requires Palestinians to give up inalienable rights and which rewards those who take those rights away from them.[iv] It is not in the interest of Palestinians and principled human rights advocates to make common cause with such morally compromised persons.
Dr. Paul Larudee is a human rights advocate and one of the co-founders of the movement to break the siege of Gaza by sea. He was deported from India on 31st December, 2012.
[i] Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gVT6abeaGas
[ii] International law does not provide for the right of states to exist. Rather, states come and go as a matter of historical and social forces. International law describes the rights and obligations of states, but does not require that any given state must exist.
[iii] Gilad Atzmon (The Wandering Who, Winchester: Zero Books, 2011, p. 102) makes a similar argument with respect to Jewish anti-Zionists, i.e. that they are motivated by what is good for Jews and that they believe that a Jewish state is bad for the Jews. Atzmon contends that this is just another instance of Jewish exceptionalism, which will be the cause of injustice even if the form of the injustice is not Zionism per se. Even if this is the case, social justice groups are notorious for pursuing justice while failing to practice it, and this may be an instance of such. I do not discount the possibility that cliquishness, tribalism and exceptionalism are causes of injustice in many cases, but ridding human nature of this tendency is beyond the scope of most advocacy efforts, even if it deserves a place in all of them.
[iv] An instance of this is the Palestinian BNC (BDS National Committee). Although nominally Palestinian, its main website is in English, with the Arabic translation largely unfinished. An unauthorized amendment to its original mission statement, inserted at an unknown time, appears to remove the property seizures of 1948 from consideration as occupied Palestinian Arab land. This appears to be a concession to “soft” Zionist elements within the BNC-led BDS movement. The amended statement does not appear in any authorized Arabic version of the mission statement.
- Jewish Voice for Weizmann (alethonews.wordpress.com)
For some time, Swedish Palestinian female TV presenter Gina Dirawi has been chased by Sweden’s Zionist protagonists within the media. Dirawi has been outspoken about Israeli crimes and Palestinian rights. But recently when she referred to Lasse wilhelmson’s book ‘Is The World Upside down?’, all hell broke loose. Wilhelmson is critical of the Jewish state, Zionism and Jewish power. Wilhelmson was one of the first thinkers who pointed at clear ideological and spiritual affiliation between Zionism and the Left, a theme I myself developed in my work. The Swedish media would prefer to keep Wilhelmson in the fringe. The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet now seems to want him in jail. What we see here is an outrageous and unacceptable assault on freedom of expression. The following are two of Lasse’s answers to his detractors.
Lasse Wilhelmson’s Reply to Åsa Linderborg - Cultural Editor of the tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet
In your capacity as Chief Cultural Editor for Aftonbladet, in your article Let’s take a look at this shit (28th November 2012), and in front of the entire Swedish nation you have ‘named and shamed’ me (including a photo) as an evil pershon who deserves condemnation and also probably to be locked up. And why? Simply for holding some opinions. (1)
Reading through the article, which incidentally does not include one single quote from my book Is the World Upside Down?, I ask myself, why would you do that? After all, you’re an educated person, an intellectual, a significant representative of the Swedish cultural elite. You have written a prizewinning book about your childhood, you’re an influential voice of the Swedish left and you have presented yourself as a “free speech fundamentalist”.
You write: “Wilhelmson hates Jews and denies the Holocaust – he always puts inverted commas round it, and he thinks Israel as a nation should be wiped off the map”. I have already accounted for my view on “Holocaust deniers” in my reply to Expo, so here I will do it in the form of some questions for you:
1. Do you consider that what happened to the Jews during the Second World War as a historic event that can be legitimately researched, discussed and revised as we do with other historic events?
If the answer is no then my next question is: Why?
If the answer is yes, the question is: In that case, why is it that, in so many western countries, so many who have done so, have been sentenced to prison?
2. Do you know of any other historic events in our time where people have been imprisoned for having an opinion that differs from the norm?
And lastly to you as a “free speech fundamentalist”:
3. Do you think opinions should be punishable?
Accusations of hating a whole population carries with them, I think, a considerable burden of proof. You have produced none. Asa, I do not hate people, only deeds and ideas, and above all, hypocrisy. But perhaps it is you who hates people who do not share your views – for example, me.
You say that I believe that Israel should be obliterated, though I have never expressed myself in that way. I could say that you are lying, but I prefer to think you are simply deluded..
In my lifetime, I have appeared many times in the media and I have always been given the chance to defend myself when attacked – except that is, when the questions concern Zionism and its short-term goal of a Jewish state in Palestine. Why is this? Could it be that what I have to say is dangerous – perhaps just a little too close to the truth?
Why do you behave in the manner of witch hunts and book burnings when I am simply trying to understand how the world works and which forces lie behind war and misery? My book includes much about this, complete with notes and references.
Over time, I have indeed come to embrace views other than your comfy “leftist” ones. Nowadays, I think ideologies and religions have both light and dark sides – sometimes they are used to liberate people, sometimes to persecute. But, above all, I believe that in order to set ourselves and others free, our thinking must be liberated from the prohibition of forbidden thoughts and from limited thought systems.
In my book you have probably read the introductory ‘chicken’ article, which shows that, even at a basic level, the world can be not exactly as we think it is. And the epilogue too which is an attempt to indicate a direction for our lives which incorporates love and solidarity, without resorting to violence. (2)
You’ve probably also read about my personal background and how my thinking has changed and why. You will know that, in my very full life, I have achieved quite a lot as an activist in the left movement, for the people of Vietnam, as a trade unionist, as a member of one of the contemporary Communist parties and also in many other non-profit organisations. Why, it could be that I am even more versed in Marxism and its classical texts than even you are.
In my home municipality of Täby, I have taken part in local politics for 24 years, working on very real issues there and in the surrounding region. I was a member of the district council and, at one point, I was on the board. I am currently the chairperson of a road committee in the countryside and have just written its Jubilee brochure, with many stories about how an old Swedish farming community has changed over a century.
I have always been a public person and have never hidden behind anonymity. Many know me, or have heard of me, in various contexts. I have five children and many grandchildren and I am married. Have you thought about how your, and the rest of the media’s attempts to make me an object of hate will affect them all? Perhaps that might give you pause for thought?
You know Asa, I think the real reason for your hatred (?) of me lies in the fact that I have pointed out the connection between Zionism and Marxism, between your left and the Jewish Zionist ‘left’, and, of course, the glaring similarity between rightwing-Zionism and Nazism. Zionism is, in fact, both left- and right-wing, its goal is a Jewish state in Palestine. (3)
This is why the Sweden Democrats, the most Israel-friendly party in our parliament, have the same fundamental attitude as most of the “left” that claim to support the Palestinians: that the Jewish state is permanent and that the exiled Palestinians can never, as UN resolutions say they must, return home in any way other than symbolically. They must content themselves with a pseudo-state of 10-20 percent of the original Palestine (the two-state solution) – a situation which can lead to neither justice nor peace between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, nor in the whole of the Middle East and beyond.
Because Zionism (or rather now, post-Zionism), has the whole world as its goal. It is the most significant expression of Anglo-American imperialism and its criminal wars and, to achieve its new world order, its power elite controls the making of ideologies (media) and central banking (the dollar).
Åsa, you don’t have to freak out just because someone suggests that your lifelong right/left map does not actually reflect reality. Such behavior gives the impression that the left that you so personify, is really completely and utterly anti-intellectual.
PS. Do you remember that we once met? It was at a meeting about ten years ago when the social democrats manoeuvred you and other communists off the board of Ordfront (publisher & culture magazine). I gave you a copy of Folket i Bild (leftwing magazine) in which I had published a long article on Zionism. The article included the revelation that Karl Marx had, the somewhat older, Moses Hess as his personal socialist mentor – my “communist rabbi” Marx was wont to call him. Hess wrote three fundamental articles that leave clear tracks in The Communist Manifesto and, soon after, Hess wrote the book “From Rome to Jerusalem”, Zionism’s magnus opus. According to the official founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, this book says everything you need to know about Zionism. I’ve often wondered if you ever read that article. (4)
1 December 2012
1. Let’s take a look at this shit
2. Epilogue (Quo vadis)
3. What is Zionism?
4. Zionism, more than traditional- colonialism and apartheid
The above-mentioned article (1), published on November 23rd, 2012, and which has been widely distributed throughout the media, is an assault on Gina Dirawi, a young TV presenter of Palestinian origin.
It is no secret that Expo (Swedish Searchlight) dislikes Gina Dirawi, and any other Palestinians, who occasionally express dismay that their homeland has been stolen and many of its citizens exiled. Expo never criticizes the racist nature of the Jewish state and its genocidal policies (see UN Convention) vis a vis the Palestinians, but rather launches witch-hunts against those that do.
The book referred to as ‘anti-Semitic’ is mine. It is “Is the World Upside Down?” (2009), a selection of articles I wrote and interviews I gave from 2003 to 2009. Several articles are co-written with others. The book is about Palestine, the neocolonial wars and Zionism (2), and also contains a re-evaluation of certain “truths” about twentieth century history as imposed by the victors of both the Russian Revolution and the two World Wars. The book can also be understood as a personal journey – an attempt to assume a humanitarian approach, independent of ideologies and religions.
The campaign against Gina Dirawi is a clear case of guilt by association – a common, but extremely distasteful and unethical, tactic. This campaign uses distorted interpretations and a false taboo-image of the book and its author.
A few things to ponder ….
- Are we to no longer read books that do not comply with our preconceived ideas? Are we to no longer read books to improve our knowledge and even, perhaps, to understand our lives and the world we live ii? Are we no longer to read books other than for pure entertainment?
- Do we need moral gate-keepers to tell us which books we may read? Rather than being openly and freely discussed, are readers and writers to be simply branded? Have we really gone back to book burning? Is it only the elderly among us that remember Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible (1953).
- Why is it that the media always and routinely publishes Expo’s articles but seldom checks for accuracy, out-of-context facts and quotes, interpretations, value judgments and sources?
I can see no humanitarian and righteous solution to the situation in Israel/Palestine except that all exiled Palestinians be permitted to return home and regain their possessions. This is in full accordance with UN resolution 194. Jewish settlers who do not wish to live in equality and harmony with other Palestinians between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, should return to the countries from which they came. This may seem utopian, but all else leads only to catastrophe – even for the Jews themselves in Israel/Palestine and the surrounding world.
I always try to be careful not to blame whole groups when certain members of those groups behave badly or illegally and, as far as I know, I have never done so. Yet it is often precisely this of which I am accused – but only when it comes to Jews. I still await some substantial, contextual proof of my transgressions so I can correct or explain myself.
I do not hate people, but I do hate double standards – especially hypocrisy – a hypocrisy most blatant when it is about anything to do with Israel/Palestine, Jews and Zionism. Hypocrisy disgusts me as totally incompatible with ethics and morals. It is this which underpins the harsh words I often use in my political articles.
For the most part, I criticize the Jewish “Mafia” who are among the richest and most influential people in the western world, and also all those who serve their cause. I also criticize Jewish lobbies and Jewish settlers. If I speak of ‘Jews’ I do so in the same way I might speak of ‘Palestinians’, ‘Swedes’ or any other group. Obviously, ideologies, religions, mentalities and cultures can be criticized in more general terms.
In my opinion, it is no myth but a fact that there is a Jewish Mafia (just as there are Chinese and Italian Mafias) which has a disproportionate influence on the world economy, ideology (media and Hollywood etc… ) in the western world and on American foreign policy. And this situation is repeated in most European countries. This influence is used, for the most part, quite openly and by many very famous people.
It is also true that Jews often put loyalty to the Jewish state before loyalty to the country in which they live.
It must be legitimate to discuss all these things openly and freely without witch hunting and book-burnings.
Most of what I write, I base on articles found in Israeli newspapers and documents in Jewish libraries, together with books from Jewish professors of history and political scientists. So far, most of the information can still be found on the internet.
I believe that Zionists misuse Judaism, similar to the way in which Crusaders misused Christianity, let alone the Wahhabites’ misuse of Islam. I have warned that the international crimes of the Jewish state and the Jewish Mafia could well have a boomerang effect on all Jews if they are not able to distance themselves from it. After all, the Jewish state is proclaimed in the name of all Jews, and all Israel’s wars are waged by weapons bearing Jewish religious symbols.
In the Expo article I am quoted: “There has been animosity against Jews all through history. But it is often induced by the Jews themselves through their behaviour.” What is wrong with that? The same applies to all groups especially any group of people who see themselves as better than other people and particularly, “God’s chosen people.” But my strongest reaction is reserved for the way Jews have taken upon themselves a monopoly of suffering that overrides the suffering of others and is used to legitimize Israel’s policies and treatment of the Palestinians.
Furthermore, rather than history, always subject to discussion and revision, the Holocaust with its capital H, has, I believe, been transformed into a religious taboo dogma, Most outrageous is when it is used for political reasons to start new wars and legitimize genocide against the Palestinians who, we must always remember, had nothing whatsoever to do with any persecution of Jews.
As far as I know, there are no Holocaust deniers who deny that brutal crimes and atrocities were committed against the Jews, as well as other groups, during the Second World War. All the so-called Holocaust deniers, including those who have been convicted and imprisoned, have merely observed and reconsidered various parts of the official dogma. (3)
The term “anti-Semitism” (4) is no longer viable because of its political use to discredit various critics of Israel, or to vilify people. As Shulamit Aloni, former Israeli MP, said in an interview to the famous American radio/TV reporter Amy Goodman: “It’s a trick, we always use it”. (5)
As far as the term “conspiracy theorist” goes, that too is misused for political reasons. There have, and always will be, conspiracies in the corridors of power, and the powerful and their geeks will always call those who try to understand their conspiracies, conspiracy theorists – meaning some kind of sick fantasists. This is Orwellian doublespeak. There are, indeed, so-called crackpots all over the place - many planted by those in power to create confusion.
And finally: I talk and discuss with everyone. My articles are published anywhere. I am always a public person and I wish to debate facts – something I have rarely been offered to do in the ten years I have been writing about these issues. Free speech, what free speech?
If what I have written here and elsewhere means that I am a “conspiracy theorist”, “anti-Semite” and “Holocaust denier”, then so be it. I hope and expect that soon there will be many more of us.
30 november 2012
1. Expo´s article
2. What is Zionism?
3. Why is the Truth Dangerous?
4. Anti-Semitism as a political weapon
5. It’s a trick. we always use it.
- Former Member of Israel Idf – Gilad Atzmon – Exposes Zionist Anti-zionism! (2012indyinfo.com)
- An Open Letter to Ali Abunimah & Co (thetruthseeker.co.uk)
Last week, an interesting article by Daniel Gordis appeared on Tablemag.com. Gordis, a committed Zionist intellectual, is concerned about the inevitable collapse of the Jewish state and its impact on world Jewry in general and American Jews in particular.
Although it’s reassuring that Zionist scholars are now realising that that the Jewish State is on its way out, even more importantly, Gordis’ article gives us a glimpse into contemporary Jewish identity politics, Jewish culture and Zionist collective psychosis. And interestingly, Gordis reaffirms each and every critical argument I myself raise in my latest book The Wandering Who.
Gordis is tormented by polls that suggest that the centrality of Israel within Jewish American life is declining. Apparently, a recent survey suggests that 50 percent of young Jewish Americans (35 years old and younger) would not see the destruction of Israel as a ‘personal tragedy’.
In his attempt to explain such a dramatic change in Jewish Diaspora Jewish attitude, Gordis refers to Peter Beinart’s take on the subject: that young American Jews feel safe, and unlike their parents, do not fear anti-Semitism. Beinart is correct. Western Jews are no longer anxious. On the contrary, contemporary Jewish political arrogance knows no limits. AIPAC and similar Western Jewish lobbies have been openly pushing for interventionist wars for more than a decade and some influential Jews have been open in exploring different forms and aspects of Judeocentric domination of the media, banking, culture and politics. In fact it seems that many Jews are not troubled at all by a possible rise of anti Semitism and are unconcerned with any possible consequences of their own actions.
To a certain extent this sense of Jewish omnipotence may be seen as a direct continuum of Israeli strength; when young American Jews witness their American elected politicians dancing shamelessly to AIPAC’s Klezmatic noise, naturally they are filled with a sense of invincible might and it is this that is the essence of contemporary Jewish collective power – a power that can only be realised in connection with Israeli strength.
Pre Traumatic Stress Again
Gordis is there to shake Jewish Diaspora confidence by reintroducing the old tribal collective fear. He writes: “Theodor Herzl did what he did and wrote what he wrote because Jewish life in the Diaspora had become, to use Hobbes’ phrase, ‘poor, nasty, brutish, and short.’” According to Gordis, contemporary Jews are too self-possessed and feel far too safe. “What happened back then, they assert, could not happen today.” But Gordis believes they are deluded. “American Jews’ confidence resembles that of the Jews of Cordoba—who were forcibly converted, burned alive at the stake, and summarily expelled in the Spanish Inquisition.” Similarly, he asserts that, “the Jews of Berlin in 1930 also believed they had found the ultimate enlightened home, that the dark days of Europe would never return. And in the space of but a few years, German Jewry was erased.” Here, Gordis conveys a clear message – in the light of a new potential Shoa “American Jewish life as it now exists would not survive the loss of Israel.”
In The Wandering Who I explore the impact of Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Pre-TSD) and I refer in particular to that uniquely Jewish collective tendency to be culturally, spiritually and politically shaped by some phantasmic, imaginary, future, disastrous event. Jewish politics is always formed by future trauma. Accordingly, Gordis message to his fellow Jews is clear. It isn’t the Shoa of the past that should unite us, it is actually, the Shoa ahead that should reawaken our Zionist bond.
Gordis message to American Jews is clear. A strong Israel together with AIPAC’s control of American foreign policy is good for the Jews and any alternative is a recipe for disaster. “When some 400 mostly Orthodox rabbis marched on Washington in the October 1943, President Roosevelt simply refused to meet them and departed the White House via a rear door. There were no mass protests, no caravans of buses to Washington to demand help for their European kin.” Nowadays, the situation has changed dramatically. The presidency of the USA is a democratically elected position reserved for that candidate who has bought the trust of the Jewish Lobby.
“Jews today no longer think of themselves as a tiptoeing people,” says Gordis. And why should they? Thanks to Israel and its powerful lobby, they regard themselves as the most influential and powerful ethnic group on the planet. In America, AIPAC dominates foreign policy, in Britain 80% of leading party MPs are members of the powerful CFI (Conservative Friends of Israel) and in France CRIF runs the show. Take it from Gordis a Zionist official mouthpiece; “Israel has changed the existential condition of Jews everywhere, even in America. Without the State of Israel, the self-confidence and sense of belonging that American Jews now take for granted would quickly disappear.” In short, Jews can run the show – but only as long as Israel is unbeatable.
And he’s not wrong. Like so many Zionists, Gordis is both honest and consistent – a quality I rarely find within the Jewish anti-Zionist discourse. Gordis openly admits that we are dealing here with a clear paradox. The sense of belonging and security that leads many American Jews to believe that they do not need the state of Israel is itself a product of that very same state of Israel. That lethal arrogance that led Zionists such as Bernard Henri Levi, or Jewish Chronicle writer David Aaronovitch to advocate interventionist global wars should be seen as the outcome of a strong Jewish State – a state that quite literally gets away with murder.
In The Wandering Who I suggest that Israel operates as a key Jewish symbolic identifier so that Jews construct their identity in reference to their Jewish state. This is not only true for Zionist Jews but is also the case for those so-called ‘anti Zionist Jews’ whose identity is inherently tied to their opposition to Zionism and Israel. The disappearance of Israel would leave their political identity stark naked.
Gordis detects a similar pattern amongst American liberal Jews. “Though many American Jews, especially the younger among them, now believe the loss of Israel would not be tragic, Israel continues to energize them in ways that no other issue does.” Gordis continues “Israel is not just a homeland to Israelis. It is also a ‘state unto the Diaspora’; the state that, even from afar, secures the life and instils the passions of Jews all over the world.” This is true not only for Zionists, but also to those very few Jewish anti-Zionists who, by means of negation, ‘passionately’ cling to Israel.
Gordis seems to realise that, for Israel, the game is over, but he realises that this may also entail a collapse of Jewish power. “The loss of Israel would fundamentally alter American Jewry. It would arrest the revival of Jewish life now unfolding in parts of Europe. And Israeli Jewry would be no more. The end of Israel would, in short, end the Jewish people as we know it.”
The current ‘Jewish golden epoch’ is coming to its inevitable end. Yet, the question that remains is whether our Zionist and Israeli leaders would let our planet survive the collapse of their latest Jewish empire? Following Netanyahu, Barak and AIPAC’s relentless push for Armageddon, and bearing in mind that collective suicidal narratives such as Samson and Masada are so precious within the Zionist and Israeli discourses, we should stay on high alert. Sadly, turning our planet into dust is fully consistent with the Israeli and Zionist mission.
It is down to world leaders to dismantle Israel and its powerful Jewish lobbies wisely and carefully, accepting all the time that we are dealing with a very lethal entity. But it’s also down to each one of us to be fully attentive to Gordis’s exchange with his fellow Diaspora Jews. It’s down to us to oppose any form or symptom of Jewish power: Zionist, ‘anti’ Zionist and Sabbath Goyim alike. It is down to us to save ourselves and our universe, but also to save the Jews who are, unfortunately, once again, about to bring yet another disaster on themselves and on us all.
- Chomsky: ‘I support Israel, but…’ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
By Samah Sabwai | June 23, 2012
Leading Liberal Zionists have come out in impressive numbers calling for the boycott of settlements. But I have to warn you there is something to dread; they want you to buy Israeli products instead. They say they want to save Israel from a dangerous extremist threat. Namely: the Israeli gov’t and the BDS! Yes, they’ve lumped us together as two extreme versions calling for one state. Both? Extreme?
In other words, liberal Zionists are telling us that Palestinian resistance, boycott sanctions and divestments that calls for equality between Palestinians and Jews is as extreme as Netanyahu’s plan for erasing the green line and colonizing all of historic Palestine.
In such deranged twisted views, Palestinians demanding to be equal to Jews are perceived to be as extreme as the Jews who uproot olive trees, scorch Palestinian fields and demolish Palestinian homes forcing entire families to live in fear of being exiled.
In this absurd reality BDS’s call for equality is apparently as extreme as ethnic cleansing. In what world is this convincing?
They demand we, the Palestinians support a two state solution. Too little! Too late! Where were they for 45 years as their democratically elected governments destroyed any prospects of a Palestinian state? Where are they today as Palestinian prisoners fight for their lives as they try to end the policy of Administrative detention? Is it beyond their comprehension? They have never taken any decisive action because ending this dichotomy between oppressed and oppressor does not fall within their agenda of fulfilling their aspiration for a Jewish nation. This is their priority.
In their grand hypocrisy they want us to fortify the Green line that supposedly separates a Jewish state from a future Palestine but without ever supporting Palestinian resistance. Is it then a matter of a state of mind? If we think it, the settlements will go? What tools can we use and where are these liberal Zionists when nonviolent protestors are shot in the face with gas canisters? They want us to be as delusional as they are. They want us to be docile. They want us to exonerate Israel of all its past crime or God forbid, we would be accused of clinging to victimhood.
They want us to march alongside the spin doctors and bleeding hearts and to chant ‘The settlers are to blame for the erosion of Israel’s democracy. The settlers are to blame! The settlers are to blame for the erosion of Israel’s democracy. ‘The settlers are to blame’ for the destruction of a Zionist fantasy! As if settlers exist in a vacuum. As if settlers have come from some far away planet, landed on a hill in the West Bank and without any help from congress, the Knesset or the senate, they began to build their colonies on our land.
‘The settlers are to blame’ as if Israel was not built on the ruins of Palestinian villages long before the settlers came to the West Bank. Long before the checkpoints and the wall, long before it all, long before there was an occupation, there was a total devastation, a ruthless destruction of an entire nation.
‘The settlers are to blame’ but as far back as 1948 villages were erased, Palestinians were massacred, to make way for the establishment of this state.
‘The settlers are to blame’ but go on and ask this soil you tread, whose ancestral flesh has fed this earth for centuries? Whose blood runs in the sap of the olive trees? Whose stories are written between the cracks of these old stones?
‘The settlers are to blame’. Close your eyes and search your soul. Dig deep. Those nightmares in your sleep are the voices that once filled this Arab home you have occupied with laughter. Look beneath your bed. Did they leave their slippers when they ran barefoot down the street and into exile? Did they leave behind the tea-kettle warm on the kitchen table before they wore an eternal label ‘refugees’?
‘The settlers are to blame’ but who shoots the gas canisters and live bullets at the protestors in the West Bank? Who enables these settlers to steal Palestinian land?
‘The settlers are to blame’. Who is responsible for the death of thousands in Gaza?
Was it settlers riding on their F16 fighter jets who dropped the phosphorus bombs on schools, houses and mosques? Or was it a state army, your army, wearing a uniform that supposedly represents all of Israel that killed and maimed at will?
The best part is when Liberal Zionists like Beinart suggest calling the West Bank ‘undemocratic Israel’. ‘Undemocratic’ as opposed to what? The democratic Israel on the other side of the Green line where Palestinians who survived the Nakba and hold Israeli citizenships have dozens of laws that single them out and discriminate against them?
‘The settlers are to blame’ but how are the settlers alone responsible for the systematic racism of a state that defines all non-Jews as second-class citizens? And pray tell, who set the Eritrean migrants’ house on fire in Jerusalem and demanded the deportation of Africans seeking asylum? If we boycott settlements and buy Israeli goods will the Jews in Israel become more accepting of non-Jews in their neighborhoods?
Let’s put an end to this grand deviation. Settlers wouldn’t exist if not for the support of an ethnocentric nation, dedicated by any means necessary to driving out the indigenous population.
Yes, Boycott the settlements, but don’t stop at the green line because they did not. Boycott the settlements but also boycott ethnic superiority. Boycott discrimination against Palestinians who are second-class citizens in their own country. Boycott Israel’s academic institutions for their complicity. Boycott Israel’s culture for its duplicity.
Boycott Israeli industries. Boycott Israeli institutions for supporting war crimes. Boycott Israel’s apartheid policies on both sides of the green line until all of this changes and we are all free, living together Palestinians and Jews in equality.
Boycott Israel and I promise you, this day will come.
Yet again, the Annapolis meeting between Olmert and Abbas is preconditioned upon the recognition by the Palestinian side of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. Indeed the “road map” should lead to, and legitimate, once and for all, the right of such a Jewish state to exist in definitive borders and in peace with its neighbours. The vision of justice, both past and future, simply has to be that of two states, one Palestinian, one Jewish, which would coexist side by side in peace and stability. Finding a formula for a reasonably just partition and separation is still the essence of what is considered to be moderate, pragmatic and fair ethos.
Thus, the really deep issues–the “core”–are conceived as the status of Jerusalem, the fate and future of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories and the viability of the future Palestinian state beside the Jewish one. The fate of the descendants of those 750,000 Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed in 1948 from what is now, and would continue to be under a two-state solutions, the State of Israel, constitutes a “problem” but never an “issue” because, God forbid, to make it an issue on the table would be to threaten the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. The existence of Israel as a Jewish state must never become a core issue. That premise unites political opinion in the Jewish state, left and right and also persists as a pragmatic view of many Palestinians who would prefer some improvement to no improvement at all. Only “extremists” such as Hamas, anti-Semites, and Self-Hating Jews–terribly disturbed, misguided and detached lot–can make Israel’s existence into a core problem and in turn into a necessary issue to be debated and addressed.
The Jewish state, a supposedly potential haven for all the Jews in the world in the case a second Holocaust comes about, should be recognised as a fact on the ground blackmailed into the “never again” rhetoric. All considerations of pragmatism and reasonableness in envisioning a “peace process” to settle the ‘Israeli/Palestinian’ conflict must never destabilise the sacred status of that premise that a Jewish state has a right to exist.
Notice, however, that Palestinians are not asked merely to recognise the perfectly true fact and with it, the absolutely feasible moral claim, that millions of Jewish people are now living in the State of Israel and that their physical existence, liberty and equality should be protected in any future settlement. They are not asked merely to recognise the assurance that any future arrangement would recognise historic Palestine as a home for the Jewish People. What Palestinians are asked to subscribe to is recognition of the right of an ideology that informs the make-up of a state to exist as a Jewish one. They are asked to recognise that ethno-nationalistic premise of statehood.
The fallacy is clear: the recognition of the right of Jews who are there–however unjustly many of their Parents or Grandparents came to acquire what they own–to remain there under liberty and equality in a post-colonial political settlement, is perfectly compatible with the non-recognition of the state whose constitution gives those Jews a preferential stake in the polity.
It is an abuse of the notion of pragmatism to conceive its effort as putting the very notion of Jewish state beyond the possible and desirable implementation of egalitarian moral scrutiny. To so abuse pragmatism would be to put it at the service of the continuation of colonialism. A pragmatic and reasonable solution ought to centre on the problem of how to address past, present, and future injustices to non-Jew-Arabs without thereby causing other injustices to Jews. This would be a very complex pragmatic issue which would call for much imagination and generosity. But reasonableness and pragmatism should not determine whether the cause for such injustices be included or excluded from debates or negotiations. To pragmatically exclude moral claims and to pragmatically protect immoral assertions by fiat must in fact hide some form of extremism. The causes of colonial injustice and the causes that constitutionally prevent their full articulation and address should not be excluded from the debate. Pragmatism can not become the very tool that legitimates constitutional structures that hinder de-colonisation and the establishment of an egalitarian constitution.
So let us boldly ask: What exactly is entailed by the requirement to recognise Israel as a Jewish state? What do we recognise and support when we purchase a delightful avocado or a date from Israel or when we invite Israel to take part in an international football event? What does it mean to be a friend of Israel? What precisely is that Jewish state whose status as such would be once and for all legitimised by such a two-state solution?
A Jewish state is a state which exists more for the sake of whoever is considered Jewish according to various ethnic, tribal, religious, criteria, than for the sake of those who do not pass this test. What precisely are the criteria of the test for Jewishness is not important and at any rate the feeble consensus around them is constantly reinvented in Israel. Instigating violence provides them with the impetus for doing that. What is significant, though, is that a test of Jewishness is being used in order to constitutionally protect differential stakes in, that is the differential ownership of, a polity. A recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is a recognition of the Jew’s special entitlement, as eternal victims, to have a Jewish state. Such a test of supreme stake for Jews is the supreme criterion not only for racist policy making by the legislature but also for a racist constitutional interpretation by the Supreme Court. The idea of a state that is first and foremost for the sake of Jews trumps even that basic law of Human Freedom and Dignity to which the Israeli Supreme Court pays so much lip service. Such constitutional interpretation would have to make the egalitarian principle, equality of citizenship, compatible with, and thus subservient to, the need to maintain the Jewish majority and character of the state. This of course constitutes a serious compromise of equality, translated into many individual manifestations of oppression and domination of those victims of such compromise–non-Jews-Arabs citizens of Israel.
In our world, a world that resisted Apartheid South Africa so impressively, recognition of the right of the Jewish state to exist is a litmus test for moderation and pragmatism. The demand is that Palestinians recognise Israel’s entitlement to constitutionally entrench a system of racist basic laws and policies, differential immigration criteria for Jews and non-Jews, differential ownership and settlement rights, differential capital investments, differential investment in education, formal rules and informal conventions that differentiate the potential stakes of political participation, lame-duck academic freedom and debate.
In the Jewish state of Israel non-Jews-Arabs citizens are just “bad luck” and are considered a ticking demographic bomb of “enemy within”. They can be given the right to vote–indeed one member one vote–but the potential of their political power, even their birth rate, should be kept at bay by visible and invisible, instrumental and symbolic, discrimination. But now they are asked to put up with their inferior stake and recognise the right of Israel to continue to legitimate the non-egalitarian premise of its statehood.
We must not forget that the two state “solution” would open a further possibility to non-Jew-Arabs citizens of Israel: “put up and shut up or go to a viable neighbouring Palestinian state where you can have your full equality of stake”. Such an option, we must never forget, is just a part of a pragmatic and reasonable package.
The Jewish state could only come into being in May 1948 by ethnically cleansing most of the indigenous population–750,000 of them. The judaisation of the state could only be effectively implemented by constantly internally displacing the population of many villages within the Israel state.
It would be unbearable and unreasonable to demand Jews to allow for the Right of Return of those descendants of the expelled. Presumably, those descendants too could go to a viable Palestinian state rather than, for example, rebuild their ruined village in the Galilee. On the other hand, a Jewish young couple from Toronto who never set their foot in Palestine has a right to settle in the Galilee. Jews and their descendants hold this right in perpetuity. You see, that right “liberates” them as people. Jews must never be put under the pressure to live as a substantial minority in the Holy Land under egalitarian arrangement. Their past justifies their preferential stake and the preservation of their numerical majority in Palestine.
So the non-egalitarian hits us again. It is clear that part of the realisation of that right of return would not only be just the actual return, but also the assurance of equal stake and citizenship of all, Jews and non-Jews-Arabs after the return. A return would make the egalitarian claim by those who return even more difficult to conceal than currently with regard to Israel Arab second class citizens. What unites Israelis and many world Jews behind the call for the recognition of the right of a Jewish state to exist is their aversion for the possibility of living, as a minority, under conditions of equality of stake to all. But if Jews enjoys this equality in Canada why can not they support such equality in Palestine through giving full effect to the right of Return of Palestinians?
Let us look precisely at what the pragmatic challenge consists of: not pragmatism that entrenches inequality but pragmatism that responds to the challenge of equality.
The Right of Return of Palestinians means that Israel acknowledges and apologises for what it did in 1948. It does mean that Palestinian memory of the 1948 catastrophe, the Nakbah, is publicly revived in the Geography and collective memory of the polity. It does mean that Palestinians descendants would be allowed to come back to their villages. If this is not possible because there is a Jewish settlement there, they should be given the choice to found an alternative settlement nearby. This may mean some painful compulsory state purchase of agricultural lands that should be handed back to those who return. In cases when this is impossible they ought to be allowed the choice to settle in another place in the larger area or if not possible in another area in Palestine. Compensation would be the last resort and would always be offered as a choice. This kind of moral claim of return would encompass all Palestine including Tel Aviv.
At no time, however, it would be on the cards to throw Israeli Jews from the land. An egalitarian and pragmatic realisation of the Right of Return constitutes an egalitarian legal revolution. As such it would be paramount to address Jews’ worries about security and equality in any future arrangement in which they, or any other group, may become a minority. Jewish national symbols and importance would be preserved. Equality of stake involves equality of symbolic ownership.
But it is important to emphasize that the Palestinian Right of Return would mean that what would cease to exist is the premise of a Jewish as well as indeed a Muslim state. A return without the removal of the constitutionally enshrined preferential stake is a return to serfdom.
The upshot is that only by individuating cases of injustice, by extending claims for injustice to all historic Palestine, by fair address of them without creating another injustice for Jews and finally by ensuring the elimination of all racist laws that stem from the Jewish nature of the state including that nature itself, would justice be, and with it peace, possible. What we need is a spirit of generosity that is pragmatic but also morally uncompromising in terms of geographic ambit of the moral claims for repatriation and equality. This vision would propel the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But for all this to happen we must start by ceasing to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. No spirit of generosity would be established without an egalitarian call for jettisoning the ethno-nationalistic notion upon which the Jewish state is based.
The path of two states is the path of separation. Its realisation would mean the entrenchment of exclusionary nationalism for many years. It would mean that the return of the dispossessed and the equality of those who return and those non-Jew-Arabs who are now there would have to be deferred indefinitely consigned to the dusty shelves of historical injustices. Such a scenario is sure to provoke more violence as it would establish the realisation and legitimisation of Zionist racism and imperialism.
Also, any bi-national arrangement ought to be subjected to a principle of equality of citizenship and not vice versa. The notion of separation and partition that can infect bi-nationalism, should be done away with and should not be tinkered with or rationalised in any way. Both spiritually and materially Jews and non-Jews can find national expression in a single egalitarian and non-sectarian state.
The non-recognition of the Jewish state is an egalitarian imperative that looks both at the past and to the future. It is the uncritical recognition of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state which is the core hindrance for this egalitarian premise to shape the ethical challenge that Palestine poses. A recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state means the silencing that would breed more and more violence and bloodshed.
The same moral intuition that brought so many people to condemn and sanction Apartheid South Africa ought also to prompt them to stop seeing a threat to existence of the Jewish state as the effect caused by the refugee ‘problem” or by the “demographic threat” from the non-Jew-Arabs within it. It is rather the other way round. It is the non-egalitarian premise of a Jewish state and the lack of empathy and corruption of all those who make us uncritically accept the right of such a state to exist that is both the cause of the refugee problem and cause for the inability to implement their return and treating them as equals thereafter.
We must see that the uncritically accepted recognition of Israel’s right to exist is, as Joseph Massad so well puts it in Al-Ahram, to accept Israel’s claim to have the right to be racist or, to develop Massad’s brilliant formulation, Israel’s claim to have the right to occupy to dispossess and to discriminate. What is it, I wonder, that prevents Israelis and so many of the world’s Jews from responding to the egalitarian challenge? What is it, I wonder, that oppresses the whole world to sing the song of a “peace process” that is destined to legitimise racism in Palestine?
To claim such a right to be racist must come from a being whose victim’s face must hide very dark primordial aggression and hatred of all others. How can we find a connective tissue to that mentality that claims the legitimate right to harm other human beings? How can this aggression that is embedded in victim mentality be perturbed?
The Annapolis meeting is a con. As an egalitarian argument we should say loud and clear that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state.
Only a single egalitarian and non sectrarian state over all the whole of historic Palestine will achieve justice and peace.
OREN BEN-DOR grew up in Israel. He teaches Legal and Political Philosophy at the School of Law, University of Southampton, UK. He can be reached at: email@example.com
- Israel’s right or not to exist – The facts and truth (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel’s ‘Right’ to Exist (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Excuse Me, But Israel Has No Right To Exist (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Still Jews only (alethonews.wordpress.com)
By Alan Hart | October 14, 2009
On Monday 12 October, Prime Minister Netanyahu opened the Knesset’s winter session by blasting the Goldstone Report that accuses Israel of committing war crimes and vowing that he would never allow Israelis be tried for them. But that was not his main message. It was an appeal, delivered I thought with a measure of desperation, to the “Palestinian leadership”, presumably the leadership of “President” Abbas and his Fatah cronies, leaders who are regarded by very many if not most Palestinians as American-and-Israeli stooges at best and traitors at worst.
Netanyahu again called on this leadership to agree to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, saying this was, and remains, the key to peace. And he went on and on and on about it.
“For 62 years the Palestinians have been saying ‘No’ to the Jewish state. I am once again calling upon our Palestinian neighbours – say ‘Yes’ to the Jewish state. Without recognition of the Israel as the state of the Jews we shall not be able to attain peace… Such recognition is a step which requires courage and the Palestinian leadership should tell its people the truth – that without this recognition there can be no peace… There is no alternative to Palestinian leaders showing courage by recognising the Jewish state. This has been and remains the true key to peace.”
As Ha’aretz noted in its report, Netanyahu’s demand for Palestinian acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state is for him “a way on ensuring recognition of Israel’s right to exist as opposed to merely recognising Israel” (my emphasis). This, as Ha’aretz added, is the recognition which Netanyahu and many other Israelis see as the real core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the name of pragmatism, willingness to “merely to recognise” Israel – meaning to accept and live in peace with an Israel inside its pre-June ’67 borders – has long been the formal Palestinian and all-Arab position. Why does it stop short of recognising Israel’s “right to exist”, and why, really, does it matter so much to Zionism that Palestinians recognise this right?
The answer is in the following.
According to history as written by the winner, Zionism, Israel was given its birth certificate and thus legitimacy by the UN Partition Resolution of 29 November 1947. This is propaganda nonsense.
- In the first place the UN without the consent of the majority of the people of Palestine did not have the right to decide to partition Palestine or assign any part of its territory to a minority of alien immigrants in order for them to establish a state of their own.
- Despite that, by the narrowest of margins, and only after a rigged vote, the UN General Assembly did pass a resolution to partition Palestine and create two states, one Arab, one Jewish, with Jerusalem not part of either. But the General Assembly resolution was only a proposal – meaning that it could have no effect, would not become policy, unless approved by the Security Council.
- The truth is that the General Assembly’s partition proposal never went to the Security Council for consideration. Why not? Because the U.S. knew that, if approved, it could only be implemented by force given the extent of Arab and other Muslim opposition to it; and President Truman was not prepared to use force to partition Palestine.
- So the partition plan was vitiated (became invalid) and the question of what the hell to do about Palestine – after Britain had made a mess of it and walked away, effectively surrendering to Zionist terrorism – was taken back to the General Assembly for more discussion. The option favoured and proposed by the U.S. was temporary UN Trusteeship. It was while the General Assembly was debating what do that Israel unilaterally declared itself to be in existence – actually in defiance of the will of the organised international community, including the Truman administration.
The truth of the time was that the Zionist state, which came into being mainly as a consequence of pre-planned ethnic cleansing, had no right to exist and, more to the point, could have no right to exist UNLESS … Unless it was recognised and legitimized by those who were dispossessed of their land and their rights during the creation of the Zionist state. In international law only the Palestinians could give Israel the legitimacy it craved.
And that legitimacy was the only thing the Zionists could not and cannot take from the Palestinians by force.
No wonder Prime Minister Netanyahu is more than a little concerned on this account.
Israel’s leaders have always known the truth summarised above. It’s time for the rest of the world to know it.
- Israel’s ‘Right’ to Exist (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Excuse Me, But Israel Has No Right To Exist (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Still Jews only (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Revisiting the Palestine question: An interview with Ilan Pappe (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Outrage in Germany, Nobel Laureate Günter Grass has, once again told the truth about Israel being the greatest threat to world peace.
Günter Grass, Germany’s most famous living author and the 1999 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, sparked outrage in Germany on Wednesday with the publication of a poem, “What must be said,” in which he sharply criticizes Israel’s offensive approach towards Iran.
Once again, it is the artist rather than the politician, who tells the truth as it is. Once again it is the Artist rather than the academic who speaks out.
”Why did I wait until now at this advanced age and with the last bit of ink to say: The nuclear power Israel is endangering a world peace that is already fragile?” Wrote Grass.
In the poem, published by Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and other European dailies on Wednesday, Grass also calls for an
“unhindered and permanent monitoring of Israel’s nuclear potential and Iran’s nuclear facility through an international entity that the government of both countries would approve.”
Israel and some German Jewish prominent voices were quick to react. The Israeli Embassy in Berlin issued a statement offering its own version of ‘What must be said.’
“What must be said is that it is a European tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder,” the statements reads.
Pretty outrageous, don’t you think? In the open Israel together with its supportive Jewish lobbies (AIPAC, AJC) are pushing for a new global conflict. Yet, shamelessly the embassy defies criticism tossing in the air the old blood libel. The appropriate timely question here is why Israel and AIPAC are pushing for a world war and a potential nuclear conflict just before Passover? Can they just wait for another Yom Kippur (atonement day)?
The Israeli Embassy continues,
“in the past, it was Christian children whose blood the Jews allegedly used to make their unleavened bread, but today it is the Iranian people that the Jewish state allegedly wants to annihilate.”
Isn’t it really the case? Every military expert suggests that Israeli pre-emptive attack on Iran could escalate into a nuclear conflict. If anything Grass tries like others, including yours truly, to prevent Israel from celebrating its lethal symptoms once again.
The Israeli embassy noticed though that
“Israel is the only state in the world whose right to exist is openly doubted.”
Correct, and so it should be. Israel is a racist, expansionist state, it doesn’t have room amongst nations.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany also called the poem an “aggressive pamphlet of agitation.” I wonder, is it really aggressive to try and restrain an aggressor?
The German newspaper Die Welt, which apparently obtained an advance copy of Grass’ poem, published a response by rabid Zionist Henryk Broder, the country’s most prominent Jewish writer. “Grass always had a problem with Jews, but it has never articulated it as clearly as he has in this poem.” Broder said “Grass has always had a tendency toward megalomania, but this time he is completely nuts.” I would expect Germany’s leading Jewish writer to come with something slightly more astute.
Broder however may be correct when he notes that Grass is “haunted by guilt and shame and also driven by the desire to settle history, he is now attempting to disarm the ’cause of the recognizable threat.’”
Wednesday’s poem is not the first time Grass has come out with critical views of Israel. In a 2001 interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, he offered his own solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Israel doesn’t just need to clear out of the occupied areas,” he said at the time. “The appropriation of Palestinian territory and its Israeli settlements are also a criminal activity. That not only needs to be stopped — it also needs to be reversed. Otherwise there will be no peace.”
Broder contends that such a statement is “no less than a demand for Israel to not just cede Nablus and Hebron, but also Tel Aviv and Haifa. ” he continues, “Grass does not differentiate between the ‘occupied areas’ of 1948 and 1967.” Needless to say that from an ethical perspective Grass is correct-there is no difference between 1948 and 1967. The Jewish State located itself on historic Palestine at the expense of the Palestinian people. I guess that Grass understood already in 2001 that the Jews only State must be transformed into a ‘State of its Citizens’. Israel should embrace the true notion of peace, universalism and inclusiveness. But I guess that we shouldn’t hold our breath for it is not going to happen soon.
- Israel, threat to world peace: Nobel laureate Gunter Grass (alethonews.wordpress.com)
By ALISON WEIR | October 11, 2011
To better understand the Palestinian bid for membership in the United Nations, it is important to understand the original 1947 UN action on Israel-Palestine.
The common representation of Israel’s birth is that the UN created Israel, that the world was in favor of this move, and that the US governmental establishment supported it. All these assumptions are demonstrably incorrect.
In reality, while the UN General Assembly recommended the creation of a Jewish state in part of Palestine, that recommendation was non-binding and never implemented by the Security Council.
Second, the General Assembly passed that recommendation only after Israel proponents threatened and bribed numerous countries in order to gain a required two-thirds of votes.
Third, the US administration supported the recommendation out of domestic electoral considerations, and took this position over the strenuous objections of the State Department, the CIA, and the Pentagon.
The passage of the General Assembly recommendation sparked increased violence in the region. Over the following months the armed wing of the pro-Israel movement, which had long been preparing for war, perpetrated a series of massacres and expulsions throughout Palestine, implementing a plan to clear the way for a majority-Jewish state.
It was this armed aggression, and the ethnic cleansing of at least three-quarters of a million indigenous Palestinians, that created the Jewish state on land that had been 95 per cent non-Jewish prior to Zionist immigration and that even after years of immigration remained 70 per cent non-Jewish. And despite the shallow patina of legality its partisans extracted from the General Assembly, Israel was born over the opposition of American experts and of governments around the world, who opposed it on both pragmatic and moral grounds.
Let us look at the specifics.
Background of the UN partition recommendation
In 1947 the UN took up the question of Palestine, a territory that was then administered by the British.
Approximately 50 years before, a movement called political Zionism had begun in Europe. Its intention was to create a Jewish state in Palestine through pushing out the Christian and Muslim inhabitants who made up over 95 per cent of its population and replacing them with Jewish immigrants.
As this colonial project grew through subsequent years, the indigenous Palestinians reacted with occasional bouts of violence; Zionists had anticipated this since people usually resist being expelled from their land. In various written documents cited by numerous Palestinian and Israeli historians, they discussed their strategy: they would buy up the land until all the previous inhabitants had emigrated, or, failing this, use violence to force them out.
When the buy-out effort was able to obtain only a few per cent of the land, Zionists created a number of terrorist groups to fight against both the Palestinians and the British. Terrorist and future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin later bragged that Zionists had brought terrorism both to the Middle East and to the world at large.
Finally, in 1947 the British announced that they would be ending their control of Palestine, which had been created through the League of Nations following World War One, and turned the question of Palestine over to the United Nations.
At this time, the Zionist immigration and buyout project had increased the Jewish population of Palestine to 30 per cent and land ownership from 1 per cent to approximately 6 per cent.
Since a founding principle of the UN was “self-determination of peoples,” one would have expected to the UN to support fair, democratic elections in which inhabitants could create their own independent country.
Instead, Zionists pushed for a General Assembly resolution in which they would be given a disproportionate 55 per cent of Palestine. (While they rarely announced this publicly, their stated plan was to later take the rest of Palestine.)
U.S. Officials Oppose Partition Plan
The U.S. State Department opposed this partition plan strenuously, considering Zionism contrary to both fundamental American principles and US interests.
Author Donald Neff reports that Loy Henderson, Director of the State Department’s Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs, wrote a memo to the Secretary of State warning:
“….support by the Government of the United States of a policy favoring the setting up of a Jewish State in Palestine would be contrary to the wishes of a large majority of the local inhabitants with respect to their form of government. Furthermore, it would have a strongly adverse effect upon American interests throughout the Near and Middle East…”
Henderson went on to emphasize:
“At the present time the United States has a moral prestige in the Near and Middle East unequaled by that of any other great power. We would lose that prestige and would be likely for many years to be considered as a betrayer of the high principles which we ourselves have enunciated during the period of the war.”
When Zionists began pushing for a partition plan through the UN, Henderson recommended strongly against supporting their proposal. He warned that such a partition would have to be implemented by force and emphasized that it was “not based on any principle.” He went on to write:
“…[partition] would guarantee that the Palestine problem would be permanent and still more complicated in the future…”
Henderson went on to emphasize:
….[proposals for partition] are in definite contravention to various principles laid down in the [UN] Charter as well as to principles on which American concepts of Government are based. These proposals, for instance, ignore such principles as self-determination and majority rule. They recognize the principle of a theocratic racial state and even go so far in several instances as to discriminate on grounds of religion and race…”
Henderson was far from alone in making his recommendations. He wrote that his views were not only those of the entire Near East Division but were shared by “nearly every member of the Foreign Service or of the Department who has worked to any appreciable extent on Near Eastern problems.”
Henderson wasn’t exaggerating. Official after official and agency after agency opposed Zionism.
In 1947 the CIA reported that Zionist leadership was pursuing objectives that would endanger both Jews and “the strategic interests of the Western powers in the Near and Middle East.”
Truman Accedes to Pro-Israel Lobby
President Harry Truman, however, ignored this advice. Truman’s political advisor, Clark Clifford, believed that the Jewish vote and contributions were essential to winning the upcoming presidential election, and that supporting the partition plan would garner that support. (Truman’s opponent, Dewey, took similar stands for similar reasons.)
Truman’s Secretary of State George Marshall, the renowned World War II General and author of the Marshall Plan, was furious to see electoral considerations taking precedence over policies based on national interest. He condemned what he called a “transparent dodge to win a few votes,” which would cause “[t]he great dignity of the office of President [to be] seriously diminished.”
Marshall wrote that the counsel offered by Clifford “was based on domestic political considerations, while the problem which confronted us was international. I said bluntly that if the President were to follow Mr. Clifford’s advice and if in the elections I were to vote, I would vote against the President…”
Henry F. Grady, who has been called “America’s top diplomatic soldier for a critical period of the Cold War,” headed a 1946 commission aimed at coming up with a solution for Palestine. Grady later wrote about the Zionist lobby and its damaging effect on US national interests.
Grady argued that without Zionist pressure, the U.S. would not have had “the ill-will with the Arab states, which are of such strategic importance in our ‘cold war’ with the soviets.” He also described the decisive power of the lobby:
“I have had a good deal of experience with lobbies but this group started where those of my experience had ended….. I have headed a number of government missions but in no other have I ever experienced so much disloyalty”…… “in the United States, since there is no political force to counterbalance Zionism, its campaigns are apt to be decisive.”
Former Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson also opposed Zionism. Acheson’s biographer writes that Acheson “worried that the West would pay a high price for Israel.” Another Author, John Mulhall, records Acheson’s warning:
“…to transform [Palestine] into a Jewish State capable of receiving a million or more immigrants would vastly exacerbate the political problem and imperil not only American but all Western interests in the Near East.”
Secretary of Defense James Forrestal also tried, unsuccessfully, to oppose the Zionists. He was outraged that Truman’s Mideast policy was based on what he called “squalid political purposes,” asserting that “United States policy should be based on United States national interests and not on domestic political considerations.”
Forrestal represented the general Pentagon view when he said that “no group in this country should be permitted to influence our policy to the point where it could endanger our national security.”
A report by the National Security Council warned that the Palestine turmoil was acutely endangering the security of the United States. A CIA report stressed the strategic importance of the Middle East and its oil resources.
Similarly, George F. Kennan, the State Department’s Director of Policy Planning, issued a top-secret document on January 19, 1947 that outlined the enormous damage done to the US by the partition plan (“Report by the Policy Planning Staff on Position of the United States with Respect to Palestine”).
Kennan cautioned that “important U.S. oil concessions and air base rights” could be lost through US support for partition and warned that the USSR stood to gain by the partition plan.
Kermit Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt’s nephew and a legendary intelligence agent, was another who was deeply disturbed by events, noting:
“The process by which Zionist Jews have been able to promote American support for the partition of Palestine demonstrates the vital need of a foreign policy based on national rather than partisan interests… Only when the national interests of the United States, in their highest terms, take precedence over all other considerations, can a logical, farseeing foreign policy be evolved. No American political leader has the right to compromise American interests to gain partisan votes…”
He went on:
“The present course of world crisis will increasingly force upon Americans the realization that their national interests and those of the proposed Jewish state in Palestine are going to conflict. It is to be hoped that American Zionists and non-Zionists alike will come to grips with the realities of the problem.”
The head of the State Department’s Division of Near Eastern Affairs, Gordon P. Merriam, warned against the partition plan on moral grounds:
“U.S. support for partition of Palestine as a solution to that problem can be justified only on the basis of Arab and Jewish consent. Otherwise we should violate the principle of self-determination which has been written into the Atlantic Charter, the declaration of the United Nations, and the United Nations Charter–a principle that is deeply embedded in our foreign policy. Even a United Nations determination in favor of partition would be, in the absence of such consent, a stultification and violation of UN’s own charter.”
Merriam added that without consent, “bloodshed and chaos” would follow, a tragically accurate prediction.
An internal State Department memorandum accurately predicted how Israel would be born through armed aggression masked as defense:
“…the Jews will be the actual aggressors against the Arabs. However, the Jews will claim that they are merely defending the boundaries of a state which were traced by the UN…In the event of such Arab outside aid the Jews will come running to the Security Council with the claim that their state is the object of armed aggression and will use every means to obscure the fact that it is their own armed aggression against the Arabs inside which is the cause of Arab counter-attack.”
And American Vice Consul William J. Porter foresaw another outcome of the partition plan: that no Arab State would actually ever come to be in Palestine.
Pro-Israel Pressure on General Assembly Members
When it was clear that the Partition recommendation did not have the required two-thirds of the UN General Assembly to pass, Zionists pushed through a delay in the vote. They then used this period to pressure numerous nations into voting for the recommendation. A number of people later described this campaign.
Robert Nathan, a Zionist who had worked for the US government and who was particularly active in the Jewish Agency, wrote afterward, “We used any tools at hand,” such as telling certain delegations that the Zionists would use their influence to block economic aid to any countries that did not vote the right way.
Another Zionist proudly stated:
“Every clue was meticulously checked and pursued. Not the smallest or the remotest of nations, but was contacted and wooed. Nothing was left to chance.”
Financier and longtime presidential advisor Bernard Baruch told France it would lose U.S. aid if it voted against partition. Top White House executive assistant David Niles organized pressure on Liberia; rubber magnate Harvey Firestone pressured Liberia.
Latin American delegates were told that the Pan-American highway construction project would be more likely if they voted yes. Delegates’ wives received mink coats (the wife of the Cuban delegate returned hers); Costa Rica’s President Jose Figueres reportedly received a blank checkbook. Haiti was promised economic aid if it would change its original vote opposing partition.
Longtime Zionist Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, along with ten senators and Truman domestic advisor Clark Clifford, threatened the Philippines (seven bills were pending on the Philippines in Congress).
Before the vote on the plan, the Philippine delegate had given a passionate speech against partition, defending the inviolable “primordial rights of a people to determine their political future and to preserve the territorial integrity of their native land…”
He went on to say that he could not believe that the General Assembly would sanction a move that would place the world “back on the road to the dangerous principles of racial exclusiveness and to the archaic documents of theocratic governments.”
Twenty-four hours later, after intense Zionist pressure, the delegate voted in favor of partition.
The U.S. delegation to the U.N. was so outraged when Truman insisted that they support partition that the State Department director of U.N. Affairs was sent to New York to prevent the delegates from resigning en masse.
On Nov 29, 1947 the partition resolution, 181, passed. While this resolution is frequently cited, it was of limited (if any) legal impact. General Assembly resolutions, unlike Security Council resolutions, are not binding on member states. For this reason, the resolution requested that “[t]he Security Council take the necessary measures as provided for in the plan for its implementation,” which the Security Council never did. Legally, the General Assembly Resolution was a “recommendation” and did not create any states.
What it did do, however, was increase the fighting in Palestine. Within months (and before Israel dates the beginning of its founding war) the Zionists had forced out 413,794 people. Zionist military units had stealthily been preparing for war before the UN vote and had acquired massive weaponry, some of it through a widespread network of illicit gunrunning operations in the US under a number of front groups.
The UN eventually managed to create a temporary and very partial ceasefire. A Swedish UN mediator who had previously rescued thousands of Jews from the Nazis was dispatched to negotiate an end to the violence. Israeli assassins killed him and Israel continued what it was to call its “war of independence.”
At the end of this war, through a larger military force than that of its adversaries and the ruthless implementation of plans to push out as many non-Jews as possible, Israel came into existence on 78 per cent of Palestine.
At least 33 massacres of Palestinian civilians were perpetrated, half of them before a single Arab army had entered the conflict, hundreds of villages were depopulated and razed, and a team of cartographers was sent out to give every town, village, river, and hillock a new, Hebrew name. All vestiges of Palestinian habitation, history, and culture were to be erased from history, an effort that almost succeeded.
Israel, which claims to be the “only democracy in the Middle East,’ decided not to declare official borders or to write a constitution, a situation which continues to this day. In 1967 it took still more Palestinian and Syrian land, which is now illegally occupied territory, since the annexation of land through military conquest is outlawed by modern international law. It has continued this campaign of growth through armed acquisition and illegal confiscation of land ever since.
Individual Israelis, like Palestinians and all people, are legally and morally entitled to an array of human rights.
On the other hand, the state of Israel’s vaunted “right to exist” is based on an alleged “right” derived from might, an outmoded concept that international legal conventions do not recognize, and in fact specifically prohibit.
Alison Weir is president of the Council for the National Interest and executive director of If Americans Knew. See the “History of US-Israel Relations” on both the IAK and the CNI websites for detailed citations for the above information. Additional references can be found in “How Palestine Became Israel.”