By Gilad Atzmon • March 30, 2009
The following is an attempt to present my own personal dictionary of what seems to be the most charged terminology and concepts attached to the Palestinian solidarity and anti-war discourse.
Palestine- a piece of land on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. For many years Palestine was the home of the Palestinian people: Muslims, Christians and Jews who lived in peace and harmony for hundred of years. In the late 19th century, in the light of emerging European nationalism, a few Jews had decided that Jews should not be left out. They then invented the notions of: ”Jewish people”, ”Jewish history” and ”Jewish nationalism”. They decided to settle the majority of world Jewry in Palestine. Throughout the years the Jewish national project, i.e., Zionism, had become more and more sinister and ruthless. In 1949 70% of the indigenous Palestinian population had already been ethnically cleansed. Nowadays the majority of Palestinians are living behind barbed wire in a state of terror guarded by Israeli soldiers.
Jews- the people who happen to identify themselves as Jews. Jews are not a race, they do not follow a single belief system either. I made myself a rule. I categorically refrain from dealing with ”the Jews” as a collective or an ethnic group. Instead I restrict myself to criticism of Jewish politics, Jewish ideology and Jewish identity.
Judaism- one of the many religions practiced by the Jewish people (Jews for Jesus, Jews For Buddha, Jews For Allah and so on). Though Judaism contains some non-ethical aspects and teachings, the one and only peace-seeking collective amongst the Jewish people is actually a religious orthodox sect, namely Torah Jews. This fact is enough to make me very careful when criticising Judaism as a religion. When dealing with Judaism, I would restrict myself to criticism of interpretations of Talmudic racism and the biblically orientated Zionist genocidal plunder of Palestine.
Jewishness- Jewish ideology, the interpretations of the meaning of being a Jew by those who regard themselves as Jews. Jewishness is the core of Jewish identity, it is a dynamic notion. It is hard to pin down. While refraining from criticising Jews (the people) and Judaism (the religion), elaborating on Jewishness is a must, especially considering the crimes committed by the Jewish state in the name of Jewish people. As long as the Jewish state is shelling civilians with white phosphorous, it is our ethical duty to question: Who are the Jews? What does Judaism stand for? What is Jewishness all about?
Palestine vs Israel- Palestine is a country, Israel is a state.
Palestinians- currently the longest lasting sufferers of racist colonial abuse and state terrorism. Palestinians are the only true indigenous inhabitants of Palestine. 4,300,000 Palestinian refugees are scattered in the Middle East. There are Palestinians who managed to hold onto their land yet are denied equal civil rights, others live under military occupation. The Palestinian cause is largely the ethically grounded demand of the Palestinian people to return to their own land. The land that belongs to them and to them alone. The Palestinian cause is the demand to dismantle the Jewish state and to form a State of its Citizens instead.
Zionism- the national colonial practical interpretation of Jewish ideology. It asserts that Jews are entitled to a national home in Zion (Palestine) at the expense of the Palestinian people. Zionism is a colonial racist philosophy that practices genocidal tactics. It is a biblically orientated precept. Although Zionism portrayed itself initially as a secular movement, from the very beginning it transformed the Bible from a religious text into a land registry.
Israel- the Jewish state is a racist political concept. It is a place where Jewish supremacy is celebrated in an institutional manner. Israel is a place where 94% of the population supports dropping white phosphorus on innocent civilians. Israel is the place where Jews can pour their vengeance on the Goyim.
Palestinian resistance- the exercise of the ethical right to resist an invader, an ethnic cleanser and a racist.
Demographic bomb- Israel possesses many bombs, cluster bombs, petrol bombs, atomic bombs, WMD bombs, etc. The Palestinians have only one bomb, the demographic bomb. The Palestinians are the majority of the people between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. This fact itself defines the temporal quality of the Idea of Jewish state in Palestine.
Zionism vs Jewishness- it is difficult or maybe even impossible to determine where Zionism stops and Jewishness begins. Zionism and Jewishness establish a continuum. As it seems, Zionism has become the symbolic identifier of the contemporary Jew. Every Jew is identified by himself and others in reference to the Zionist compass (Zionist, anti-Zionist, oblivious to Zionism, love Zionism but hate Israel, love Israel but hate falafel and so on).
Secular Judaism and Jewish Secular Fundamentalism- secularity has been a very popular precept amongst Jews in the last two centuries. The Jewish form of secularity is very similar to rabbinical Judaism. It is fundamentally monotheistic, it believes in one truth (God is dead until further notice). It is supremacist, it is extremely intolerant of others in general and Muslims in particular, it even promotes wars in the name of enlightenment, liberalism, democracy and even in the name of the victims to come.
Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder- the kind of mental state that leads 94% of the Israeli population to support air raids against civilians. Within the condition of the Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Pre-TSD), the stress is the outcome of a phantasmic event, an imaginary episode set in the future; an event that has never taken place. Within Pre-TSD, an illusion pre-empts reality and the condition in which the fantasy of terror is itself becoming grave reality. If it is taken to extremes, even an agenda of total war against the rest of the world is not an unthinkable reaction. Unlike the case of paranoia, wherein the sufferer is subject to his own symptoms, in the case of Pre-TSD the sufferer actually celebrates his symptoms while others are left with the role of the audience or even victim. The sufferers of Pre-TSD within the press and media lobby for global conflict. Once they are in power they just spread death around. They manage to see a threat in almost anything. The Pre-TSD sufferer would call to flatten Iran, he would defend the IDF military campaign in Gaza for his own existential fears. The Pre-TSD sufferer is rather predictable and for one reason or other always to be found in the non-ethical cause.
Jihad- the struggle to improve one’s self and society. Jihad is the attempt to reach a harmony between the self and the world. It is there to bridge the gap between self loving, loving self and the love towards others. Jihad is the answer to chosenness.
Holocaust- an overwhelmingly devastating chapter in recent Jewish past. It would be difficult to imagine the formation of the Jewish state without the effect of the holocaust. Yet, it is impossible to deny the fact that Palestinians ended up paying the ultimate price for crimes that were committed against the Jews by other people (Europeans). Hence, it would make sense to argue that if Europeans feel guilty about the Holocaust, they better take extra care of its last victims, i.e., the Palestinians.
It must be mentioned that due to some legislation that restricts the scrutiny of the holocaust in an open academic manner, the holocaust is no longer treated as an historical chapter. Instead it is regarded by many scholars as a religious narrative (namely, Holocaust Religion). Those who do not obey the religion or follow its restrictions are chased, excluded and jailed. The failure to maintain the holocaust as a vivid historic chapter turned Jewish history into a Pandora’s box sealed by prohibitions, legal restrictions and different forms of threats. In an ideal ”free world”, we would be able to look into the holocaust, to regard it as an historical chapter and to draw some lessons out of it. That would mean also questioning its meaning. In an ideal (free) world, we may as well be allowed to wonder how come, time after time, Jews ended up despised and detested by their neighbours. In an ideal (free) world Jews may have a chance to learn from their mistakes in the past. For the time being, as long as we want to keep free, we better avoid questioning the past.
The Meaning of the Holocaust- the Holocaust provides the Jews and others with two obvious lessons. One is universal and almost simplistic, it says: ”NO to racism”. As some Jewish intellectuals predicted after the war, Jews were supposed to lead the fight against racism. Seemingly, it didn’t happen. Not only did it fail to happen, but the Jewish state had become the ultimate form of racist practice. Three years after the liberation of Auschwitz the newly formed Jewish state brutally ethnically cleansed the vast majority of indigenous Palestinians. As time goes by, the Jewish state doesn’t try to disguise its racist agenda, i.e., Jews only state.
The second lesson that can be drawn out of the holocaust is far less abstract, it is actually very pragmatic. It suggests to Jews ”to be aware of their deed”. It suggests to Jews ”to act ethically, or at least to pretend to do so”. Seemingly, this lesson is totally ignored. In the Jewish state young IDF soldiers wear T-shirts depicting pregnant Palestinian women caught in the crosshairs of a rifle, with the disturbing caption “1 shot 2 kills”. In the Jewish state, civilians had been caught picnicking watching their army dropping unconventional weapons on their Palestinian neighbours. The Israeli reality and the forceful Jewish lobbying around the world portray a complete dismissal of any ethical judgment or moral conduct. Whether it is the genocidal practice against the Palestinian people or the lobbying for more and more global conflicts. If the meaning of the holocaust would have been internalised, different appearances of such inhuman behaviour would have been addressed and tackled.
However, within the prohibition to re-visit our history we may still be entitled to reflect over Nazi brutality towards Jews in the light of the Jewish state’s crimes in Palestine. Seemingly, there is no legislation that prohibits us from doing that as yet.
Hamas- political party that was elected in 2006 by the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank. Since then Israel has withheld payments owed to Gaza, causing the Palestinian economy to collapse. It has blockaded Gaza for months, starving the civilian population. And yet, Hamas proved once again that the Palestinian people are resilient. In spite of Israel’s genocidal tactics, in spite of the IDF targeting children, women and the elderly, Hamas’ popularity increases by the day and more so especially after the last Gaza conflict. It has now become clear that Israel does not possess the means of combating Islamic resistance. In other words. Israel’s days are numbered.
Gatekeepers- for many years the Palestinian solidarity discourse had been shattered by those who claimed to know what is right and what is wrong. They also claimed to know what should be discussed and what subject must be dropped. Initially, gatekeepers tried to recruit the Palestinian movement to fight antisemitism. Another bizarre agenda was to use the Palestinian people as another Guinea pig in a dogmatic socialist exercise.
Due to the growing success of Palestinian and Islamic resistance, the power of Gatekeepers is now reduced to none. Though gatekeeping operators still insist upon exercising their powers, their influence is totally restricted to primarily Jewish cells.
Antisemites- in the old days, antisemites were those who didn’t like Jews, nowadays, antisemites are those the Jews don’t like. Considering the growing chasm between the Jewish state and its lobbies and the rest of humanity, we have good reason to believe that before not too long, the entirety of humanity will be denounced as antisemitic by one Jewish lobby or another.
Antisemitism- a misleading signifier. Though it refers largely to anti-Jewish feelings, it gives the impression that these feelings are racially motivated or orientated. It must be clear that Jews are not a race and do not establish a racial continuum. Thus, no one hates the Jews for their race or their racial identity.
Bearing in mind Israeli crimes and Jewish lobbying around the world, anti-Jewish feeling should be realised as a political, ideological and ethical reaction. It is a response to a criminal state and its institutional support amongst world Jewry. Though resentment to Zionism, Israel and Jewish lobbying is rather rational, the failure to distinguish between the ”Jew”, and Zionism is indeed very problematic and dangerous especially considering the fact that many Jews have nothing to do with the Zionist crime. However, due to the extensive Jewish institutional support of Israel, it is far from easy to determine where the ”Jew” ends and the Zionist starts. In fact, there is no such demarcation line or spot of transition. The outcome is clear, Jews are implicated collectively by the crimes of their national project. One obvious solution for the Jew is to oppose Zionism as an individual, another option is to oppose Zionism in the name of the Torah, it is also possible for the Jew to shun the tribal ideologist in himself.
Self loving- the belief that something about oneself is categorically and fundamentally right, moral and unique. This is the secular interpretation of being chosen.
Self Hatred- the belief that something about oneself is categorically and fundamentally wrong, immoral and ordinary. This state of being may also be a point of departure of a spiritual ethical quest.
Chicken Soup- is what is left once you strip Jewish identity of Judaism, racism, chauvinism, White Phosphorous, supremacy, cluster bombs, secularity, Zionism, Israel, intolerance, Nuclear reactor in Dimona, cosmopolitanism, genocidal tendency, etc. The Jew can always revert to chicken soup, the iconic symbolic identifier of Jewish cultural affiliation. The Jew is always more than welcome to say: ”I am not religious nor am I a Zionist, I am not a banker, nor is my name Madoff. I am not a ”Labour friend of Israel” nor I am a Lord or look like a cash machine. I am just a little innocent Jew because my mama’le used to feed me with chicken soup when I was slightly unwell.” Let’s face it once and for all, chicken soup is not that dangerous (unless you are a chicken). My grandmother taught me that it was very healthy. In fact I tried it once in winter 1978, I had the flu then. It helped, I feel better now.
Interview with Mauro Manno
By Giovanna Canzano – 06/01/2009
CANZANO – Jews “Über alles”. Since 1948, with the birth of the state of Israel, we can see, from reading various papers, the Jewish presence in every sector of cultural and economic life: guides and wise men and “righteous men”?
MANNO – I wouldn’t say “Jews Über alles” but rather “Zionists über Alles”. Today this distinction is fundamental. I’ve been studying the politics of Zionism for years now and can say with certainty that the confusion over this point is not only erroneous, historically and politically, but it is also unfair towards those many Jews who had been the victims of Zionism. Even today there are Jews who are victims of Zionism. A few of these new victims I know personally and it doesn’t seem to me that they are “über Alles”, but instead they are certainly under Zionist scrutiny. They are ostracised, they lose their university positions such as happened to Norman Finkelstein, the author of “The Holocaust Industry” or they get isolated and put in conditions where they leave not only their university post, but also their loved ones and friends in Israel and emigrate in the West, as happened to Ilan Pappe, the author of “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”. These Jews suffer because they have the courage of proclaiming that they are anti-Zionists. This act of revolt against Zionism doesn’t constitute only the repudiation of that political ideology, but also the rejection of the historical consequences that its victory has had, that is, the Jewish State, Israel as a Jewish State. The anti-Zionists wish for the end of the state of Israel as it has been built by the Zionists and they fight for its substitution with a single, democratic state for all the Jews and all the Palestinians who are within the whole of Palestine, that is, within Israel and the Occupied Territories, Gaza included.
But that is not all; they also support the Right of Return of the refugees forced to leave in 1948, just as is sanctioned by UN Resolution 194, which was voted upon exactly 60 years ago (11 December 1948) but never applied.
However, there is an important point to make! Whoever knows the fate of these new victims of Zionism, the anti-Zionist Jews, must not forget the much more tragic fate reserved for the assimilationist Jews during the Second World War. They too were against Zionism, and they too were the victims of Zionism. This is the part of their story that the Zionists want to keep absolutely hidden. The Zionist battle against assimilationist Jews, conducted in collaboration with the Nazis and the anti-Semites.
Anything but “righteous men”, the Zionists are the political men who are the least righteous at all, towards other Jews and non-Jews alike.
CANZANO – Who are the Jewish assimilationists?
MANNO – Jewish assimilationists were those Jews who wanted to assimilate, become part of the population in the country they were born in. According to Rabbinic law, Halacha is the Jew who is son or daughter of a Jewish woman or someone who converts to Judaism. Jewishness is therefore transmitted by way of blood, from mother to son or daughter. For other religions, this is not the case: the Christianity of a Catholic or the Islam of a Muslim is not transmitted by way of blood. To conserve this Jewish peculiarity, it is fundamental towards the conservation of Judaism in general that the family does not have any mixed marriages, with non-Jews. If a Jew (not born in Israel) believes that the fact of being the child of a Jewish mother does not make him Jewish, if he rejects the Jewish religion, if he considers himself a free human being that can chose another religion or no religion at all, if he wants to live without the weight of the Jewish past of his family, then he is an assimilationist. He wants to leave the closed Jewish world and enter into the world that is more open and free that he finds outside the Jewish one. So, this person would have totally adopted the culture, language, lifestyle, cuisine, tradition, etc., of the country in which he lives. He would adopt its destiny as well. He wouldn’t feel obligated to marry a Jewish woman and in that way according to Halacha, his children would no longer be Jews. If he educates his children in the spirit in which he himself has lived, and his children also have mixed marriages, and their children and so on, after a few generations, his descendants will no longer be Jews, but they will be Italians, Germans, French, etc., in every way, shape and form. The Zionist Jabotinsky, who obviously abhorred assimilation said, “to read true assimilation… [the Jew] would have to produce, through a long series of mixed marriages, in a period of various decades, a grandson of a grandson of a grandson within whose veins runs only a slight trace of Jewish blood, because that grandson of a grandson of a grandson will have the spiritual conformation of a true Frenchman or a true German.” Mixed marriage is at the base of assimilation. Before the Second World War, mixed marriages were in strong progression, for example, in 1929 in Germany, they constituted 59% of the marriages, and pure marriages,with both of the spouses being Jewish was a 41% minority. That frightened the Zionists, who considered assimilationists something like traitors. When the Nazis came to power, the International Zionist organisations broke their necks to collaborate with them and they even made pacts with them to allow only the emigration of Zionists outside of Germany (recovering their belongings) and sending them to the Palestinian colonies. The assimilationist Jews did not interest them and they were left to their own fate. The Zionists did nothing so that the assimilationist Jews could emigrate to America or to other Western states, as a matter of fact, they blocked any efforts in this direction. Later, during the war, they extended this policy to the rest of Europe. There were killings and massacres of Jews and they were dealing only in order to save those who were Zionists and who would emigrate to Palestine, all the rest could simply be left to die. The example of Rezso Kasztner is illuminating. This Hungarian Zionist in 1944 bartered the salvation of his family and those belonging to various Hungarian Zionist organisations, 1,600 persons in all, in exchange for his collaboration and that of his followers in order to facilitate the deportation to Auschwitz of hundreds of thousands of assimilationist Jews.
This policy has facilitated the near extinction of non-Zionist Jews, those on the road towards assimilation. The Zionists share responsibility, together with the Nazis, of this crime. This is the reason for which most of the Jews of the Diaspora declare themselves to be Zionists and they generally marry only other Jews.
CANZANO – Are you saying there was an ethnic cleansing of Jews conducted by other Jews?
MANNO – I would hold that term, “ethnic cleansing” to describe what the Zionists did to the Palestinians in 1948. They had cleared Palestine of its antique inhabitants, as Ilan Pappe has carefully demonstrated in his recent book, the title of which refers to the ethnic cleansing. I would instead say that there was a will of the Zionists to rid themselves of non-Zionist Jews. I had spoken of the shared responsibility of the Zionists with the Nazis. It was [left to] the Nazis to bring them to their deaths, while the Zionists collaborated at various levels with the killers. During the Second World War, the Zionists, in some cases, had even killed directly, most of the time they had denounced other Jews, they often helped run the concentration camps, they had convinced the assimilationists to stay in their place, to not rebel, all of that in exchange for the salvation of their Zionist followers, their friends and their families. Regarding their followers, it is essential to note that the Zionist leaders didn’t even work on saving them all, but only the young ones, that is, those who could engage in armed combat (in prevision of a war against the English and the Palestinians), in other words, those who could work towards the development of the colonies, those who could bear children. The old people and small children only would have been an encumbrance. In 1937 Chaim Weizmann, future President of Israel, before the Peel Commission in London coldly declared: “I want to save… the young [for Palestine]. The old ones will pass. They will bear their fate or they will not. They were dust, economic and moral dust in a cruel world…Only the branch of the young shall survive…They have to accept it.” And, remember, this is a Zionist speaking. Ben Gurion, speaking in ’38 of children (children of Zionists and non-Zionists) said, “If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England and only half of them by transporting them to Palestine I would choose the second.” Ben Gurion knew that if the assimilationists and persons of good will would have wanted to choose between “saving Jews from Concentration Camps” and Zionism, “mercy” would have “had the upper hand and the whole energy of the people would be channelled into saving Jews from various countries;” then Zionism “will be struck off the agenda not only in world public opinion, in Britain and in the United States, but elsewhere in Jewish public opinion.” For the Zionists this absolutely could not be allowed to happen and they did everything possible so that it did not happen. Just think that when someone said to Yitzhak Gruenbaum, leader of the Rescue Committee (!) of the Jewish Agency in Palestine, in 1943 when the killings started said, “Don’t build new colonies (…) send money save Jews in the Diaspora,” he responded: “Zionism is above everything.” On another occasion, still in 1943, he stated, “one cow in Palestine is worth more than all the Jews in Europe.” So, it was in this way that the Zionists, allying themselves with the Nazis, saved themselves, while the non-Zionists were eliminated as a direct result of that alliance. And today the Zionists dominate over all the Jews and they greatly influence the Western governments. They determine American foreign policy (see the book by Mearsheimer and Walt). And for this, reason, Israel is untouchable and can do anything it wants to and not only to the Palestinians… but here we are touching upon the problem of the Zionist lobby.
CANZANO – Zionist lobby?
MANNO – To make it understandable, let us take the example of the Zionist lobby in America, which is the strongest Zionist lobby in the West. In the race for the American presidency, everyone had to see both Obama and his vice, Biden and the two losers McCain and Palin, run to genuflect before the organisation of the strongest of the lobbies, AIPAC. This had been foreseen by Mearsheimer and Walt and it happened without delay. The two candidates have been forced to undergo an accurate examination before the judges of the lobby concerning their proposals regarding Israel and to the command posts that would be willing to pass to Zionists (Jews or non-Jews) in their future administration. Everyone will remember how Obama was able to catch his rival off balance proclaiming that he supported the line of “a sole and indivisible Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish State.” McCain didn’t go quite so far. This line is officially condemned by the international community on the basis of a series of UN resolutions. Israel continues in its expulsion of the Palestinians (many of them Christians) of the Holy City and the West pretends nothing is happening while at the same time maintaining the official position of the UN. Now Obama, the “man of peace” has gone closer to the side of Israel than any other president has yet done. It seemed in the beginning that the determinant support of the lobby was going to go towards McCain, but then something changed. It is necessary to recall that Obama’s vice, Joe Biden, as soon as he was nominated declared himself to be “an ardent Zionist! And I would not be surprised if it was the Lobby itself that had imposed Biden on Obama. Then Obama was able to give secure guarantees, favours (and money) of the lobby all flowed his way. It was a formidable coup for the Zionists. Now the lobby will have a pro-Israel policy and a pro-Israel lobby pushed forward by a popular president and not by a shadow of Bush. The Western politicians can also make their own policies more pro-Israel and pro-USA (which is the same) without clashing as much with public opinion. The pacifist movement is completely shattered. Certainly, quite soon Obama will destroy his image of the new man, becoming like Rice or Powell, the black man that is used to serve the interests of the lobby, but this means nothing to the lobby, and why should it if they are able to get just what they want? In reality the image of Obama is already sullied. The choice of Clinton for Secretary of State, the choice of Rahm Emanuel (whose father declared that he detests Arabs and he is sure that his son will work in favour of Israel) are just the first signs. The lobby was able to obtain something else as well. After the domination that Bush had given to another wing of the lobby, to the discredited neo-cons (almost all of them Jewish), the Zionists strategists figured out how to have the same policies be carried out by non-Jews, but ones who are of proven Zionist faith. Thus, after Biden, we see the re-emergence of Clinton (with whom Obama once had clashes regarding foreign policy, and now we see him entrust that ministry to her). Hillary is another Zionist that will bring to the Secretary of State office the Jewish team her husband had: Madeleine Albright, Holbrooke, Dennis Ross, etc. The same politics of the Jewish neo-cons but officially carried out by non-Jews. The non-Jewish Zionists are fortunately very few but they are the worst traitors of their country and they send young Americans to war so that Israel can be strengthened, which is what happened in Iraq. Even we Europeans have our Zionist lobby. Let’s not harbour any illusions there.
CANZANO – There is a Zionist lobby in Europe?
MANNO – The Zionist lobby can be found anywhere in the world where there are Zionists. If they were all in Israel it would all be so simple, but there is the Diaspora and among the Jews of the Diaspora there are many Zionists. This was already in the program of the First Zionist Congress (1897) that the Zionists of the Diaspora would have to take the preparatory steps “towards obtaining the consent of governments, where necessary in order to reach the goals of Zionism.” And that is what they have been able to do. Today, after the birth of Israel, the American Zionist lobby and the various national lobbies always serve the “goals of Zionism”, that however are not the same as those when the task at hand was founding the Jewish State. 60 years since its foundation, Israel does not yet have a solid base. Its existence as a “Jewish State” is taken to task and it is maintained only with the use of force. Being an ethnic state that occupied other people’s land and oppresses the Palestinians, without any respect for international law, it is well aware that it is an illegitimate state. The lobby has the task of “making it legitimate” at least in the eyes of the West. Europe, at least on a formal level, has been involved in the Middle East in a position of equilibrium between Arabs and Israelis. We have major interests in the Arab world. In 2004 there have been the first changes. The EU Council approved the “EU-Israel Action Plan” and in spite of the horrifying record of Israel in the area of human rights, the Plan declared that “The EU and Israel share the same values of democracy, respect for human rights and sovereignty of law and the fundamental freedoms.” This is absolutely false and I am prepared to demonstrate it. However the Plan gets worse: it gives Israel the possibility of “participating in key aspects of EU policies and programmes.” We will become a Zionist colony.
Since 2006 the position of Europe has further changed. First there was a softening of criticism of Israel. That took place by pressure from a special “Jewish American Committee for Europe”. Within that group we find AIPAC, the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), the American Jewish Congress, which has distinguished itself from the others. Responding in a positive way on behalf of Europe as first Prodi, then Ferrero-Waldner and now Barroso. Before 2000 the EU expected Israel to pay for the damage caused within the Occupied Territories with European money and now, after Ferrero-Waldner and Barroso, the territories don’t get anything. Today in the European Parliament there is a group of approximately 200 parliament members called “European Friends of Israel” who work for Tel Aviv. This effort is sustained by Jewish businessmen everywhere in the continent as well as Jews who have been elected in the various parliaments such as, in Italy, Fiamma Nierenstein and the lawyer Alessandro Ruben. Lastly, with the French EU presidency of the Jewish Zionist (he himself declared this) Nicolas Sarkozy and the constitution of the Mediterranean Union, Zionism is now very close to obtaining the acceptance and the legitimisation of Israel in the Arab world, through Europe. Be very careful, this is not a peace policy, as the European governors keep saying. If there is the realisation of Arab legitimisation, Israel will have their hands free for a military policy, against Iran, against Hezbollah and the Palestinians, with the blessings of the Arab countries. In this framework, the Palestinian State will be a series of tiny Bantustans that are completely surrounded, just like Gaza. Only the economic crisis of the West can stop the conflict.
CANZANO – So, Israel is not a democratic State?
MANNO – No. No, it is not. It is an ethnocratic state. A Jews-only state. Democracy in the Jewish State is only valid for Jews. For non-Jews it is a farce. Let’s try to imagine for a moment that in a multi-ethnic country in which there is a colonial administration, a party that represents a particular ethnic group has in mind, once colonialism has ended, to constitute a democratic state over the entire country, but to kick out all the other ethnic groups. How can we say that the programme that this party has is a democratic one? For me it’s a racist programme based on ethnic cleansing.
Now, let’s try to imagine that once the phase of colonialism has ended, this party is allowed to make it’s own state by only on part of the territory in the country and on the condition that even on that territory there are no expulsions made on an ethnic basis. It instead happened that the state was founded immediately after the expulsion of the majority of its inhabitants on behalf of the minority, according to its initial racist programme. It’s a democratic state but democracy is supposed to involve the entire population, not just the minority that has undertaken an ethnic cleansing. Now we see that institutions that represent international law (the UN for example) are asking this ethnic state to reintegrate those who had been expelled and to give them equal democratic rights. In response, this “democratic” state (only for the ethnic group it represents) refuses to do it, instead it perseveres with its initial programme of wanting to conquer the entire territory of the country and to colonise it with people of its same ethnic group that are brought in from other countries. This new expansion and this new ethnic cleansing do not happen in a haphazard way, but rather is sanctioned within the founding documents of the “democratic” state. For example, within them we see that the entire territory of the country belongs to all of those who are members of the right ethnic group wherever they are to be found and do not on the other hand belong to those who had been expelled just prior to the foundation of the ethnic state. Is this still a democratic state?
And that is not all. Let’s imagine that in this ethnic state there has been a small minority of the wrong ethnic group that has survived. It’s a minority with a demographic growth that constitutes nearly a quarter of the entire population. These persons are treated like second-class citizens, in economic activities, before the law, in daily life, and so on, where they have to undergo a thousand kinds of discrimination. The worst discrimination concerns the possession of land. The state has secured for itself, with another founding law by the ethnic “democracy”, that 93% of the country’s land has to stay in the hands of the right ethnic group. The sale of terrain (and that includes any property that is built upon it) is allowed only between people of this ethnic group. It is however possible to purchase new land in that 7% that was left to the minority ethnic group, in such as way so as to expand the property of the right ethnic group. Is it still a democratic state?
When confronted with these discriminations, the ethnic state concedes a limited voting right and a limited right to criticise for the discriminated minority group. Are these political rights enough when put next to the thousand discriminations to make this a democratic state?
I can already hear the defenders of Israel, because that is what we are talking about, object and protest against my last affirmation on the limited political rights of the Palestinian majority. Instead, that is only the way it is. Think about the fact that in Israel it is prohibited to challenge the Jewish character of the state. It is prohibited to found parties that have as a programme proposing a different kind of state, not an ethnic one, but one for all its citizens. It is prohibited to fight for the application of UN Resolution 194 that imposes the right of return of the Palestinians who had been expelled. It is prohibited to fight for the abolition of the founding law of the state that says that Palestine belongs to all the Jews of the world and in any moment any one of them may come to Palestine to occupy property that the army of the Jewish state has seen to taking away from some Palestinian of the Occupied Territories. Is this still a democratic state? Then it is established that Catholic citizens (whatever that term comes to mean now) cannot sell property to Jews, Protestants, et al., so that the land of Italy will be concentrated more and more in Catholic hands. Non-Catholics will have the right to vote, but in such a way so as to not endanger the “Catholic” character of the state. Could Italy still call itself democratic under those conditions? And I have to remind those who defend Israel that the Jews in Italy are not a quarter of the population as the Palestinians in Israel are. I remind them as well that if things continue in this direction, there is the risk not only of an ethnocratic state of Israel, but that it actually becomes a theocratic state, taking into consideration the growing importance of religious parties in Israeli politics.
CANZANO – In relation to what has already been said in this interview, what would your explanation be for the furious Israeli attack against Gaza?
MANNO – If we look at what’s happening in Gaza now within the historical framework that in some way we have traced in this interview, we must conclude that this is nothing less than a further step ahead in the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. If Israel wanted to come to a compromise with the Palestinians regarding a Palestinian state, well, there were no shortage of opportunities. The supporters of Israel insist that it was the Palestinian side that would not accept the division of Palestine in 1948. But, who would have accepted such a thing? What nation would have accepted the division of its own territory imposed from on high, even from the UN (which at the time, bear in mind, was constituted of only a quarter of the current states and it was under control of the US and USSR). If then the UN would have imposed also the application of UN Resolution 194, which asked Israel to allow the Palestinians cast off forcefully to be able to return, then things would have gone quite differently. But Israel rejected the Resolution, as it was sure of the support of the USA, which was already under the heavy influence of the American Zionist lobby. It did much more, actually. It assassinated the UN mediator Folke Bernadotte who was elaborating a new policy at the time.
Israel wanted an ethnically pure state and nothing else would suffice. This is Zionism. After the 1967 war, Israel would not accept Resolution 242 either, which imposed the withdrawal of Israel from the Occupied Territories. Instead, against all international law, it started to colonise these territories. Israel would accept no compromise during the Oslo Agreements and it still today forges ahead with colonisation. In 2002 the Arab states offered the recognition of Israel in exchange for the withdrawal of Israel to the confines of 1967, but Israel refused, started the construction of the wall that has claimed vast parts of the Occupied Territories from which the Palestinian population is slowly but surely being expelled from, and it still carries on with the construction of settlements and the suffocation of the Palestinians of East Jerusalem.
Translated by Tlaxcala
In this video I expose the obvious contradictions intrinsic to Jewish progressive thoughts as explored by Paul Jay and Max Blumenthal. We are dealing here with nothing short of controlled opposition.
This is my first attempt to produce such a video. I am obviously technically limited on that front. But I promise to improve quickly.
A Loyalist from Northern Ireland becomes Jewish, he plans to move to Israel and settle and start a new life. He exclaims that Palestine was a “political invention” and tells Palestinians who have lived there their whole life “you have had a nice holiday, time to go home”. This is an extremely valid argument as this man has never set foot on the Land of Israel or Palestine. This Snippet was taken from the BBC documentary called Shalom Belfast.
Gilad Atzmon comments:
We are not dealing here with Jewish race or gene. Taking on the Jewish religion in this case introduces a set of supremacist non ethical beliefs. This is what Jewishness is all about.
The campaign against me and my work fell apart a while ago. I assume that my Jewish detractors came to realise that I enjoy their attention and use it to affirm my criticism of their tribal and exclusivist identity politics.
But yesterday I had a nostalgic moment reading Max Blumenthal dissing me publicly. When Blumenthal was asked about Israeli critics he ended up talking about the vile ‘anti Semites’, ‘neo Fascists’ and the ‘racists’ in the movements. Interestingly enough, he failed to remember any name but one – Gilad Atzmon.
Atzmon is a “pure anti Semite who believes that all of the problems of Israel flow not from colonialism but from Judaism.” said Blumenthal.
Apparently, not buying into the clumsy ‘colonial paradigm’ makes me into a ‘neo Fascist’, ‘anti Semite’ and a ‘racist’.
It is obviously clear that Blumenthal didn’t read a single word by me. I naively believe that if someone insists to criticise my work, he or she better spend some time to read me first. It is an established fact that Palestinian activist Ali Abunimah also called for my disavowal while admitting to Prof. Norton Mezvinsky that he has never read a single word by me. Tragically enough, the fear of intellectual exchange and open discourse is endemic within the Jewish progressive ghetto but also within some quarters of the solidarity movement.
However, those who are even mildly familiar with my thoughts know that Blumenthal reacts out of hysteria rather than knowledge. My scholarship is not concerned with Judaism (the religion) nor am I referring to Jews (the people). I am critical of Jewish Identity politics and Jewish ideology. I elaborate on Jewish-ness and Jewish culture as opposed to Judaism. Race, genetics or biology have never been part of my study. If anything, I am critical largely of Jewish secular politics and culture rather than the Jewish religion.
I am indeed critical of the ‘colonial paradigm’ which Blumenthal adheres to. Colonialism is defined traditionally as a material exchange between a settler state and a mother state. Israel is clearly a settler state, however, it is far from being clear what is its ‘mother state’. Is it the USA, Britain or actually the Jewish people? In fact I argue adamantly that the colonial paradigm is there to divert the attention from the embarrassing fact that the Jewish State being racially driven, nationalist and expansionist is actually closer in its political nature to Nazi Germany rather than to South Africa. I guess that Max Blumenthal, who operates within Jews-only political cells doesn’t like this equation. Yet, such an argument doesn’t make me into a neo Fascist or an anti-Semite. If anything, it secures my status as an out-spoken observant mind.
Unlike Blumenthal and his comrades, I also believe that if Israel defines itself as the Jewish State, we are more than entitled to verify what its Jewishness stands for. Does this make me into a racist? I guess that the huge lists of scholars and humanists who decided to endorse my work didn’t think so.
But I also believe that since Max Blumenthal identifies politically as a secular Jew who operates within Jews-only political cells (and even signs on ‘Jewish letters’, as he himself admits), is actually a legitimate case study of Jewish tribal political operation.
Sooner or later Blumenthal and his comrades will have to make an effort and tell us what their ‘Jewishness’ stands for. Is it a love of chicken soup they share, or is it something more profound?
Being an expert on the matter and an avid reader of Jewish history, I know pretty well why Blumenthal is tormented by my work. Jewish hegemony within radical movements always backfired. My work indeed exposes an intrinsic dishonest element within the Jewish Left in general and Jewish anti Zionism in particular. I guess that the vastly growing popularity of the descriptive abbreviation AZZ (Anti Zionist Zionists), only suggests that Blumenthal & Co have a good reason to panic. In The Wandering Who I give this very panic a name – Pre Traumatic Stress Disorder (Pre – TSD).
I would like to take this opportunity and advise Blumenthal that killing the messenger is not going to rescue his cause: it would only attribute him the characteristics of just another Judas and he has himself to blame for it.
Israeli apologists would like us to believe that Zionism, the political ideology guiding Israeli policies and practices since its establishment of Israel in Palestine in 1948, is God’s chosen national movement for the re-establishment and maintenance of a “Jewish homeland” in “biblical lands”. Moreover, they want us to accept that Zionism is Judaism and that present-day Israel is the Jewish “promised land”. As a religion, Judaism considers the return of Jews to Palestine before the coming of the Messiah a sacrilege.
God has never been involved in real estate transactions; neither has the Bible ever been considered a source of International Law governing relations between modern states nor a reliable source of human history or archeology. If the world were to be reestablished according to the Bible, the United States, Europe and most modern states would not exist. Furthermore, there are no eyewitness accounts or scientific evidence linking current Israeli Jews to the ancient Hebrews. Some historians and archeologists even dispute that Jews ever had a significant presence in the area.
A Brief Analysis
Israel was established by a European racist and settler colonial ideology through the use of carefully and deliberately fabricated myths. Unlike classical settler colonialism, Zionism and Zionists do not maintain an umbilical cord to a mother European country nor plans to exploit local natives and resources. Zionism and Zionists argue for close cooperation with disposable surrogate superpower(s), complete control of resources, and the expulsion of the indigenous population, the Palestinians. Zionism and Zionists claim that Palestine was desolate and the Palestinians never existed. The clear motive behind the myths is to justify the establishment of Israel in Palestine as a Jewish state and the gathering of Jews therein. Myths that are often repeated give way to delusional mindsets. Zionism and Zionists concluded that Palestine will become a home for the Jewish state regardless of the wishes of the Palestinians and in order to achieve this objective, the inhabitants will be ethnically cleansed. There are two main lies that the Zionists regurgitate: Palestine was desolate and there is no such a thing as Palestinians.
Was Palestine desolate? Did the Palestinians exist in history?
Zionism, as practiced by Israel since 1948, is a racist ideology manifested in several ways. It is an archaic political ideology that holds and promotes Jewish racial purity and divine entitlement to Palestine. It is a military occupation enabling and supporting colonialist settlers. It practices ethnic cleansing through the confiscation of land and the expulsion of indigenous Palestinians. It exercises political domination and exploitation through the denial of basic human rights under the guise of divine entitlement and the spread of Western values. In short, Zionism in Israel today practices political, economic, cultural domination and persecution through control, systematic destruction, ethnic cleansing and genocide against the indigenous presence and heritage.
In Israel, the historical record shows that:
1. Zionism is a segregationist movement founded on the premise that all Jews, regardless of cultural differences and religious observance, are one nation, and cannot be secure except in a state of their own, because the non-Jewish world is inherently hostile to Jews. Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, argued that the key to establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine was to harness European anti-Semitism for the realization of the Jewish State by encouraging European governments to rid their countries of Jews. “Herzl regarded Zionism’s triumph as inevitable, not only because life in Europe was ever more untenable for Jews, but also because it was in Europe’s interests to [get] rid [of] the Jews and [be] relieved of anti-Semitism: The European political establishment would eventually be persuaded to promote Zionism. Herzl recognized that anti-Semitism would be HARNESSED to his own–Zionist-purposes.”(1) Many years later in Rome, Ariel Sharon as prime minister of Israel, stated: “If Israel is weakened … the Jews worldwide will not be able to live the lives they live today … We are witness to a great wave of anti-Semitism, and apart from the usual anti-Semitism against Jews, there is today the added hate of the collective Jew, which is Israel… The best solution to anti-Semitism is immigration to Israel. It is the only place on Earth where Jews can live as Jews.”(2)
2. Zionism practices a racist colonial-settler ideology which claims that historical Palestine was desolate and uninhabited and that the Palestinian people never existed. Before Palestine had been selected by the Zionists to be the site of their new state, Theodor Herzl himself acknowledged in his 1896 book, “The Jewish State”, that both Palestine and Argentina were populated, saying that “[i]f the Powers show themselves willing to grant the Jewish people sovereignty over a neutral territory, the Society [of Jews] will negotiate for the land to be taken. Two regions are possibilities: Palestine and Argentina. Noteworthy experiments in colonization have been made in both places, although they have been based on the mistaken principle of a gradual infiltration of Jews. Infiltration is always bound to end badly. For there invariably comes a moment when the government, under pressure of the native population–which feels itself threatened–bars any further influx of Jews. Consequently, emigration will be pointless unless it is based upon our guaranteed sovereignty.”
Leo Motzkin, another Zionist leader, wrote of his disappointment upon visiting Palestine and, finding the country densely inhabited and its fertile land utilized by its Arab natives, wrote: “One has to admit that the density of population does not exactly put the visitor to Palestine in a joyful mood. In large stretches of land, one constantly comes across big Arab villages, and it is a well-established fact that the most fertile regions of our land are occupied by Arabs.”
The fact that Palestine was inhabited and fertile did not deter the Zionists from perpetuating the big lie that it was desolate and uninhabited. At the end of the nineteenth century, the Zionists, as an integral part of their scheme to colonize Palestine, began using the slogan ‘A land without a people for a people without a land’ referring to Palestine.
The British Zionist Israel Zangwill, who visited Palestine in 1897, became so obsessed with this slogan that he consequently authored several versions of it to the point where it is often attributed to him. In using this slogan, the Zionists were deliberately trying to convince themselves and the world that Palestine was desolate and uninhabited and thus it was permissible to colonize it. This myth continued to be repeated to deceive the world, such that in 1969 Prime Minister Golda Meir stated in public that “There was no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”
In the few instances where Zionists conceded the existence of the indigenous population, they were labeled as “savages”, “barbarians” or “terrorists”. Zangwill wrote: “…the people living in Palestine were not a people with a history, culture, and legitimate claim to national self-determination of their own; to the extent than any of this existed, it was regarded as inferior in value to the history, culture, and claim of the Jewish people. Put differently, Palestine contained ‘people’, but not a people’. There were people who (possibly) had their homeland there, but they lacked a national identity and thus had no claim to national self-determination, let alone a state.”
The denial of the very existence of the Palestinian people and the process employed to demonize them enables Israel to this day to justify its brutal practices against them. Even when one finds some ‘humane’ Zionists who advocate some rights for the Palestinians, their advocacy never amounts to granting Palestinians the same rights enjoyed by Jews. This fact was not missed by David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, who ridiculed ‘humane’ Zionists when he said; “You cannot have humane Zionism, it is a contradiction in terms.”
According to Israel’s Basic Law, Jews, regardless of their country of origin or ethnicity, can settle in Israel on land that was confiscated by force after the expulsion of the majority of the indigenous Palestinians. In an essay titled “Judea and Galilee,” Ben Gurion describes the Zionist settlers in Palestine as “conquering, conquering a land. We were a company of conquistadors.”
Such ideological discourse prompted the late professor Israel Shahak to conclude: “It is my considered opinion that the State of Israel is a racist state in the full meaning of this term: In this state people are discriminated against, in the most permanent and legal way and in the most important areas of life, only because of their origin. This racist discrimination began in Zionism and is carried out today mainly in co-operation with the institutions of the Zionist movement.”(11)
3. Zionism distinguishes between Jews and Palestinians on various levels and its laws and practices are designed to keep them apart. All Jews in the world are considered ‘nationals’ of Israel, whereas a mere portion of Palestinians are considered citizens. Through the enactment of several laws, including but not limited to the Absentee Property Law 1950, the Land Acquisition Law 1953, and the Basic Law: Israel Lands 1960, Israel has confiscated lands belonging to those Palestinians who were uprooted and expelled from their properties and later declared as absentees and prevented by Israel from returning to it and from Palestinians who remained under its control. Israel established various schemes to keep, manage, and utilize Palestinian confiscated land for the benefit of Jews only.
According to the Israel Land Administration Authority (ILA), the Israeli government agency responsible for managing this land, Israel owns approximately 93% of the total land “… that is, either property of the state, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) or the development Authority.”(12) The land is comprised of 4,820,500 acres. Ownership of land according to ILA means leasing rights for 49-98 years. Palestinians, therefore, are treated merely as tillers and tenants on Jewish land and it is only a matter of time before they are completely expelled as were their predecessors. After expelling the majority of the Palestinians from Palestine in 1948-49, Israel concentrated on cleansing the Galilee of its indigenous people.(13)
4. Zionism is, in its campaign to segregate the Jews and to establish an exclusive Jewish state, derived from the narrow tribal understanding of Judaism that the cosmos is divided into five parts: plants, vegetables, animals, human beings and Jews – Jews being the noblest and the closest to God. This fanatic religious view is clearly reflected by Rabbi Yosef Ovadia, former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, who advocates the annihilation of the Palestinians on the basis that they are not Jews. “It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.”(14) Unfortunately, the views of the Chief Rabbi on non-Jews are not only shared by some Jews, but it is becoming a central belief of American Christian-Zionists. “Gentiles were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel.”(15)
5. In addition to annihilating the Palestinians, the Zionist advocacy regarding the indigenous population is centered on four options:
a. A systematic attempt at purchasing the land of Palestine from the Palestinians and colonizing it through Jewish immigration for the benefit of Jews only. The Israeli historian Benny Morris described this thinking when he said: “The early Zionists had been aware of the Arab presence in the country–there were just under half a million around 1882, the year the first Zionists came ashore in Jaffa. And there were, at the time, some twenty-five thousand Jews in the country.”(16) Writing in 1882 Eliezer Ben-Yehuda wrote: “The thing we must do now is to become as strong as we can, to conquer the country, covertly, bit by bit . . . buy, buy, buy [the land from the Arabs].”(17) Writing decades before the holocaust in Europe, Ben-Yehuda and many other Zionist leaders believed that the country’s demographics would be changed through Jewish immigration which would ultimately alter its future to favor the Zionist scheme to colonize Palestine. Early Zionist leaders were not fully convinced that the Palestinians would sell their land and cooperate in their own colonization. Accurately predicting the swift and predictable reaction of the Palestinian Arabs to the Zionist colonial scheme through immigration, Herzl warned in 1896 that their objection and resistance could bring Jewish immigration to an end. Vladimir Jabotinsky, writing in 1923, argued that the consent of and agreements with Palestinian Arabs to hand over their country to the Zionists was not necessary: “There can be no voluntary agreement between ourselves and the Palestine Arabs. Not now, nor in the prospective future. I say this with such conviction, not because I want to hurt the moderate Zionists. I do not believe that they will be hurt. Except for those who were born blind, they realised long ago that it is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs for converting ‘Palestine’ from an Arab country into a country with a Jewish majority.” (18) He continued: “We cannot offer any adequate compensation to the Palestinian Arabs in return for Palestine. And therefore, there is no likelihood of any voluntary agreement being reached. So that all those who regard such an agreement as a condition sine qua non for Zionism may as well say ‘non’ and withdraw from Zionism. Zionist colonisation must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population.”(19)
b. “[B]eing crushed like grasshoppers,” as Israel’s former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir wrote in Hehazit: “We have before us the command of the Torah, whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: ‘Ye shall blot them out to the last man’.”(20) This genocidal view has been shared by many in Israel including several Prime Ministers such as Begin, Sharon, and Netanyahu.
c. There is no room for non-Jews in the Jewish state. Rehavam Zeevi, then Israel‘s Minister of Tourism, described Palestinians as living “illegally” in Israel. He is quoted as saying: “We should get rid of the ones who are not Israeli citizens the same way you get rid of lice. We have to stop this cancer from spreading within us.” In 1983, Raphael Eitan, then Israel’s military chief of staff, speaking of plans to increase Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, said: “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be scurry around like drugged roaches in a bottle.” This racist ideological view in Israeli governing Zionist circles is widespread and determines Israel’s policies and practices toward the Palestinians.
Israel’s bases for apartness and discrimination
Israel is a state of Jews, by Jews, and for Jews. Its practices against non-Jews are racially motivated and designed to keep citizens apart, the meaning of ‘apartheid’ in Afrikaans.
Israel has laws but it does not have a constitution. Specifically, it has a Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel and a Law of Return. Said Declaration was signed on May 14, 1948, by thirty-seven colonists, none born in Palestine and only some who were recent colonial settlers. It consists of two pages which clearly define Israel as a ‘Jewish state’, although to this day Israel has failed to define who is a Jew. The document stresses that sovereign authority in Israel belongs to the Jewish people only: “This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign state.” It repeatedly uses phrases to emphasize this point such as: “Jewish people…in its own country,” “Jewish people to rebuild its national home,” “Jewish state,” “right of the Jewish people to establish their state,” “Jewish people in the up building of its state,” and “sovereign Jewish people”
In contrast, the American Declaration of Independence does not establish the United States as a Christian state, nor as a republic for whites only; neither does it appoint Christians or whites as the builders of the state and sovereign in the republic, nor does it expropriate property for the exclusive use of and benefit to Christians or whites. Furthermore, even though the United States adopted and enforced racist laws for many decades, it eventually and democratically dismantled such practices and institutions, giving life to the words of its own Declaration:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.
Before, during and after the establishment of Israel as a ‘Jewish state by European Jewish colonial settlers, a substantial majority of the indigenous people of Palestine were not Jews. The Israeli Declaration makes a clear distinction between Jews, who are to be the sovereign authority in Israel, and non-Jewish citizens of the state. Although Palestinians who remained in their homeland in 1948 are not necessarily denied certain privileges such as citizenship or the right to vote and hold office, the laws upholding said privileges are such that they do not dilute the character of the Jewish state and the bias toward Jews. Whatever is accorded to the non-Jewish citizens of Israel is done so with the explicit recognition and understanding that Israel is a country for the “Jewish people to rebuild its national home.” No democratic processes or alternatives are possible under Israel’s existing basic laws.
Israel’s Law of Return was adopted in 1950 and states that: “Every Jew has the right to immigrate to the country.” The indigenous Palestinians who were and continue to be deliberately uprooted and expelled are denied their right to return to their homes and properties and declared as ‘present absentees’ or ‘absentees’, their properties seized by Israel and in the possession of Israel’s Custodian of Absentee Property, who puts the property at the disposal of and for the benefit of Jews only.
Prior to and after the establishment of Israel, certain Israeli private organizations (non-governmental or non-profit) with quasi-governmental authority were created and empowered to formulate policies and oversee the affairs of non-Jews. The Jewish Agency is one of the major organizations in this category. The Jewish Agency shares many jurisdictions and overlapping functions with the Israeli government. It describes itself as “the agency for Jewish interests in Eretz ['the land of’] Israel … [it’s] role is defined…as a voluntary, philanthropic organization with responsibility for immigration, settlement and development, and coordination of the unity of the Jewish people.”(21)
The Israeli Citizenship Law aims to separate Jews and Arabs on a personal level. For example, a Jew and an Arab cannot legally marry in Israel and such marriages, if performed outside the country, are not recognized under Israeli law. The Citizenship Law even restricts the ‘family reunification’ of Israeli citizens with certain foreign partners. It denies entry or residential permits to Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, and citizens of enemy countries or from areas involved in long-term conflict with Israel. The law affects mainly Israeli Arab citizens and their families from the West Bank and Gaza. In January 2012 Israel’s Supreme Court upheld this law banning Palestinians who marry Israel Arabs from gaining Israeli citizenship. (22)
Section 7A (I) of the Basic Law of Israel explicitly prevents Israeli citizens – both Arab and Jewish – from using the ‘democratic’ system of Israeli elections to challenge the inferior status of Arabs under the law or the exclusive Jewish character of Israel and restricts who can run for political office. This law states that: “A candidate’s list shall not participate in elections to the Knesset if among its goals or deeds, either expressed or implied, are one of the following: (1) the negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the State of the Jewish People…”. In 1989 Justice Levine of the Israeli Supreme Court, speaking for the majority, ruled that this law meant that a political party could not run candidates if it intended to achieve the cancellation of one of the fundamental tenets of the State — namely “the existence of a Jewish majority, the granting of preference to Jews in matters of immigration, and the existence of close and reciprocal relations between the State and the Jews of the Diaspora.” (23)
According to ADALLAH, Israel has more than 30 laws that discriminate against its non-Jewish citizens. (24) It is easy to lose track of the exact number of laws and regulations pertaining to the Palestinians who remain under Israel’s military occupation, siege, and control. For the purpose of this paper, I deal with seven basic Israeli laws that discriminate against non-Israeli-Jews who are supposedly citizens of Israel:
(1) Law of Return 5710-1950- Right of aliyah – a term that means to ‘go up’ as opposed to ‘go down’ implying that immigration to Israel is the right thing to do. This law states in part:
1. Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh (M) olah (F) — terms in the Hebrew language that mean someone who immigrates to Israel. This law states:
2. (a) Aliyah shall be by oleh’s visa.
(b) An oleh’s visa shall be granted to every Jew who has expressed his desire to settle in Israel, unless the Minister of Immigration is satisfied that the applicant
1) is engaged in an activity directed against the Jewish people; or
2) is likely to endanger public health or the security of the State.
3. (a) A Jew who has come to Israel and subsequent to his arrival has expressed his desire to settle in Israel may, while still in Israel, receive an oleh’s certificate.
(b) The restrictions specified in section 2(b) shall apply also to the grant of an oleh’s certificate, but a person shall not be regarded as endangering public health on account of an illness contracted after his arrival in Israel.
4. Every Jew who has immigrated into this country before the coming into force of this Law, and every Jew who was born in this country, whether before or after the coming into force of this Law, shall be deemed to be a person who has come to this country as an oleh under this Law.
(2) The 1949 Discharged Soldiers (Reinstatement in Employment) Law, amended in 1970 [Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 3, p. 10 (1949) and art. 1, Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 24, p. 126 (1970)]:
This Law makes an additional child support payment to ‘soldiers’. The amendment defines ‘soldier’ as “a person who is serving or has served in the Defense Army of Israel, the Police or the Prison Service”, or who served in one of the Zionist military formations (Haganah, Irgun, or LEHI) prior to the establishment of Israel. Since Israeli citizens who are not Jewish or Druze do not get called to serve in qualifying organizations, and since the qualifying organizations from the past were clearly selected so as to exclude non-Jews, this law gives to Jewish citizens of Israel rights that it denies to non-Jewish and non-Druze citizens of Israel.
(3) State Education Law, arts 2, 4, Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 7, p. 113 (1953),
This law states that the purpose of elementary education is to teach “the values of Jewish culture’ and “loyalty to the State and the Jewish people”. This covers even “non-Jewish educational institutions”, whose curriculum is prescribed by the Minister of Education. The state funds an Orthodox Jewish private school system but does not fund schools for other religions, according to Izhak Englard’s “Law and Religion in Israel,” in the American Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 35, p. 201 (1987). This law gives Jewish citizens of Israel the right to have their children educated in conformity with their religion, and denies this right to non-Jewish citizens of Israel.
(4) The Jewish Religious Services Budgets Law of 1949 arts. 1-2, Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 3, p. 66 (1949) and the Jewish Religious Services [consolidated version] Law of 1971 Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 25, p. 125 (1971).
These laws call for local religious councils to submit budgets to the Minister of Religious Affairs. The budgets are financed one-third by the central government and two-thirds by the local government. There are no such statutes for other religions. Although funds are allocated for Muslim and Christian religious services, they are at a level far less than their proportion in the population, and without a legislative mandate.
(5) Chief Rabbinate of Israel Law arts 2(2), Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 34, p. 97 (1980),
This law gives legal status to the chief rabbinate and empowers and obligates it to undertake “activities aimed at bringing the public closer to the values of [Jewish religious learning] and mitzvot [Jewish religious duties]”. No other religion has a body with similar legal status, empowerment, or obligations.
(6) Specified Goods Tax and Luxury Tax Law [art 26, Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 6, p. 150 (1952),
This law authorized the minister of finance to designate classes of persons for favorable treatment when they bring goods into Israel after residence abroad. Under this authorization, the minister issued the Purchase Tax Order (Exemption) 1975, [Definition 15 (returning resident), Definition 20 (returning national), Collected Regulations] which calls for a lower import duty to be collected from a returning national than from a returning resident. The order defines ‘returning national’ to include only a person who, ‘if the person were not an Israeli national the Law of Return would apply to him.’ Thus, only a Jewish person is a returning national with the right to favorable treatment when bringing goods into Israel after residence abroad.
(7) Nationality and Entry into Israel Law 5763 (Also known as the Citizenship Law) passed in 2003 and prevents non-Jews in the Occupied Territory from entering Israel to be with their Israeli citizen spouse. As noted above, this law was upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court in January 2012.
American Support for Israel
The Constitution of the United States clearly declares that “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…” The opening phrase, “We the people”, is universal and encompasses men and women, white and black, Christians and Muslims, rich and poor, etc. Although the interpretation of the phrase was not put into practice in the early stages of the Republic, the intent and hope of some of the founding fathers was that the US would evolve and keep changing in order to achieve that more “perfect union” by providing ways and means in the Constitution to encourage and achieve such transformation. The Israeli Basic Laws do not allow for such transformation to be achieved.
The Constitution further states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This prohibition is iron-clad and prohibits the US government from establishing or aiding in the establishment of a state religion. In addition, the Constitution allows for a process to change, amend, or challenge the political system. What was permissible in the past can therefore be changed, allowing for the unthinkable fifty years ago to become a reality, such as the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. The Israeli system on the other hand does not allow for such change. It would not permit a Samir Abed-Rabbo who was born in Jerusalem but who is not Jewish to become the President or the Prime Minister of Israel. In order for equality to prevail, the Israeli system must be dismantled as in the case of the institution of slavery in America or Apartheid in South Africa.
George Washington, in his Farewell Address, referred to the “passionate attachment” of one country to another, in which the national interest of the one is betrayed by a “virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption or infatuation.” Those who dare to work against such an attachment “are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.”(25) This explains why in America today the supporters of a U.S./Israel relationship hypocritically acclaim a “democratic Israel” in which Israel’s victims become the “terrorists” while Israel itself, the violator of domestic and international laws and obligations, is rewarded with billions of our tax dollars and the military tools to maintain its racist policies and practices.
American recognition of and support for Israel occurred minutes after Israel declared itself independent. Initially, this support derived from a desire to settle Jewish refugees, displaced persons and survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, but rather than settling such persons in a vast and population-starved America, the United States succumbed to the Zionist political plan of settling Jews in Palestine and to establishing Israel on its ruins. The Holocaust was one of the rationales, if not the rationale, for a shift in Jewish support for the establishment of Israel, which began to grow particularly among the American Jewish community. The motivation for the support by a significant segment of the American Christian community was based on, once again, biblical convictions: some Evangelical Christians see the establishment of a Greater Israel as a sign for the Second Coming of Christ and the harbinger of Armageddon when approximately 86,000 people will survive and the blood of those who do not consent to their version of theology (including Jews) will be condemned. This significant American support has been augmented by a general identification with Israel as being a “democratic” society as well as “shared strategic goals” in the Middle East, the latter effecting nothing but the continual aiding and maintaining of ineffectual, tyrannical, corrupt, and inept Arab regimes. Another reason for American unconditional support of Israel is the US government’s contempt for Arab national aspirations for unity, freedom, independence, accountability and transparency.
US military support for Israel has transformed its military into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world and enabled Israel to develop its own military technological base and to retain the balance of power in the Middle East. US aid has subsidized and helped Israel develop and build an advanced arms industry that is equipped with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and is ranked among the world’s top ten exporters of weapons and. Economic aid has served a similar purpose. Up to the early 1990’s, US economic aid has stimulated and subsidized the lackluster Israeli economy. Starting in the 1990’s the US and Israel entered into scientific cooperation to build Israel’s hi-tech sector. As a result, Israel is now considered a fully industrialized state with an economy on a par with Western European countries.
American aid to Israel is channeled through various means, but two are of importance to us as taxpayers. First is direct aid offered by the United States Government and, second is indirect aid emanating from American institutions, organizations, companies and individuals. Israel is an advanced, industrialized and technologically developed state. The World Bank places Israel among the top fifty richest states in terms of per capita income. It enjoys one of the world’s highest per capita incomes of $32,351 in 2011.
The U.S. Government is the largest donor to Israel. All aid provided to Israel in recent years comes in the form of grants and subsidies, that is, money that need not be paid back. The term “aid” is not accurate, however, but is used to mean the same. Since 1948 the United States has provided Israel with a largess of approximately $115 billion in direct military and economic aid. Economic aid alone from 1949-2013 totals approximately $48 billion and military aid $67,423.4 billion. (Table 1) Unlike other recipients of American aid, Israel receives its share within 30 days from the enactment of the bill. Additionally, from 2006-2008 the US provided Israel with $426 million to develop its missile systems and $420 million for the settlement of Jewish refugees. Between 2003-2010 the US made guaranteed loans for economic recovery available to Israel in the amount of $11 billion. U.S. indirect aid to Israel, for the same period, is estimated at more than $60 billion. In recent years, annual direct aid exceeds $3 billion and indirect aid totals $1.5 billion, of which $1 billion comes through tax-deductible donations and $500 million from the sale of Israeli bonds. Israel is the only government in the world that receives American tax-deductible donations. In addition, Israel obtains an estimated $1 billion annually in short- and long-term commercial loans from American banks.
Writing on March 20, 2013 in Haaretz, one of Israel’s leading newspapers, Ora Coren and Nadan Feldman estimated American aid to Israel to be $233.7 billion. Others, including this author, think that American aid to Israel is higher than the published figures taking into account many obvious factors including fluctuation in the rate of inflation and the interest paid by the US on money given to Israel. From 1949-2013 American subsidy of Israel ranged from 1.2-14.2% of Israel’s GDP. (Table 2)
In one of his last acts as president of the United States, G.W. Bush, oblivious to the looming economic crisis, proposed a military aid package for Israel in the amount of $30 billion over a 10-year period. Not to be outdone and without consideration to sequestration and record national deficits and even though Netanyahu treats the President of the United States as the head of a Banana Republic, President Obama is considering a $40 billion military aid package to Israel over ten years.
Israel’s lobby and its domestic supporters make certain that American aid to Israel keeps flowing. American domestic supporters consist of an amalgam of strange bedfellows: professional politicians who need the organizational and financial backing of Israel’s supporters; a potent Israeli lobby, AIPAC, that understands, manipulates and influences the American political system on behalf of Israel; the potent and valuable support of the established, well-organized and well-positioned American Jewish community and its unconditional commitment to maintaining an exclusive “Jewish state” in Palestine; and the ever-increasing power of the Christian evangelical right on the American political scene. The evangelical right opposes any peaceful arrangement for fear of delaying the Second Coming of Christ and ferociously believes in establishing Israel in all of Palestine and in-gathering all Jews into Israel. Each group, for its own reasons, pours in their resources to keep and increase levels of American support for Israel. Evidence exists, moreover, that the collaboration between Israel, AIPAC, the established American Jewish community and the Christian evangelical right is giving rise to anti-Islamic frenzy in the United States. Is this the beginning of a war between civilizations?
Since 1948, the US has been the main supplier of Israel’s military equipment and its main diplomatic and economic backer. Without American support, Israel would not have been able to maintain its Apartheid system, current economic advancement and military development and posture. Israel possesses approximately 500 nuclear warheads, in addition to an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. It is ranked as the 4th military power in the world. By law, the 1952 US Mutual Defense Agreement and subsequent arms agreement between the US and Israel limit the use of American supplied equipment to “legitimate self-defense”. Also, the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, section 116, states: “No assistance may be provided under this part to the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, and the security of persons, unless such assistance will directly benefit the needy people in such country.”
US money is enabling Israel to maintain its occupation of Arab lands, violating the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, killing innocent civilians, destroying their property and ignoring all United Nations Resolutions that call on Israel to abide by International Law. American financial support subsidizes and enables Israel to build colonies and settle its citizens in Arab occupied lands–activities that are considered war crimes. American support maintains an archaic racist governmental structure and funds its brutal practices. Certainly, US aid to Israel is not used for legitimate self-defense or for benefiting the needy in that country or in the service of the American national interest and its democratic values.
Three examples to illustrate the brutality of Israel practices
Between September 29, 2000 and December 26, 2008, Israel, under Prime Ministers Sharon, Olmert, and Netanyahu has been waging a relentless war against the civilian population of Palestine and the so-called peace process. During this period Israel killed 4,904 (26); between September 29, 2000 and April 29, 2003, 41,000 Palestinians were injured with 2,500 made permanently disabled (27); destroyed and damaged 12,273 homes (including twelve churches and thirty mosques); uprooted 34,606 olive and fruit trees; bulldozed, razed or burned 7,585 acres of cultivated land; and confiscated 291 acres of Palestinian land for the exclusive use by Jewish colonial settlers. In addition, Israel attacked hospitals, clinics, ambulances and medical staff; hindered and attacked journalists; imposed partial and total curfews on Palestinian towns and cities as a form of collective punishment; detained approximately 15,000 Palestinians without charge; disrupted, raided and closed Palestinian colleges and schools; and disrupted and damaged the economic infrastructure of Palestine causing the loss of approximately $3.2-10 billion.
On July 13, 2006 Israel, under the leadership of Olmert, Livni and Barak, attacked Lebanon, with the Israeli Air Force launching more than 12,000 attack missions. The Israeli Navy fired more than 2,500 shells and the Army more than 100,000. As a result, large parts of the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon was destroyed, including more than 400 miles of roads, 73 bridges, and 31 other civilian targets as well as Beirut’s International Airport, ports, water and sewage treatment plants, electrical grids and facilities, 25 fuel stations, 900 commercial structures, more than 350 schools, and two hospitals. Fifteen thousand homes were destroyed and more than 130,000 more damaged. On July 15, 2006 the Israeli Air Force bombed the Jiyeh power station, resulting in the largest-ever oil spill in the Mediterranean Sea. The plant’s damaged storage tanks leaked more than 4 million gallons of oil into the eastern Mediterranean. Israeli bombing also caused significant damage to the world heritage sites of Tyre and Byblos. In Tyre, a Roman tomb was damaged and a fresco near the center of the site collapsed. In Byblos, a medieval tower was damaged and Venetian-period remains near the harbor were dramatically stained by the oil slick. Damage was also caused to historic ruins at Bint Jbeil and Chamaa and to the Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek.
The attack resulted in a huge financial setback for Lebanon to the amount of $5 billion or approximately 22% of its GDP. The Lebanese top police office and the Lebanon Ministry of Health, citing hospitals, death certificates, local authorities, and eyewitnesses, put the death toll at 1,123 of whom 37 were soldiers and police officers; 894 were identified as civilians, 192 were unidentified. The Lebanon Higher Relief Council estimated the numbers of Lebanese injured to be 4,409 of whom 15% were permanently disabled. The death toll does not include Lebanese killed since the end of fighting by land mines or unexploded Israeli cluster bombs.
On December 27, 2008 Israel under the same leadership waged a criminal war against the civilian population of Gaza. The total areas of 360 square kilometers and with a population of 1,500,202 were subjected to sustained ground, sea, and air Israeli military attack. No safe haven or bomb shelters existed for the civilian population of Gaza. The Israeli air force carried 2,360 air sorties dropping bunker buster bombs and white phosphorus bombs in densely populated civilian areas. Before the ground invasion began, Israeli artillery bombarded the coastal strip which is considered the most densely populated area in the world. More than 400,000 Palestinians were left without running water; 1,370 Palestinians were killed and thousands more injured; and 4,000 buildings were ruined. Damage to Palestinian economic infrastructure is still being tallied.
The above three examples are just the tip of the iceberg of Israel’s brutality and criminality since its inception in 1948.
Even if the US were to move, on moral grounds, to end Israeli racial policies and curtail Israeli brutal practices, Israeli politicians have taken certain measures to resist by blackmailing the US. As early as 1956 Francis Perrin, the father of the French nuclear bomb and a major collaborator in establishing Israel’s nuclear program, wrote: “We thought the Israeli Bomb was aimed at the Americans, not to launch it at the Americans, but to say: ‘if you don’t want to help us in a critical situation we will require you to help us. Otherwise, we will use our nuclear bombs”‘. Simha Dinitz, Israel’s Ambassador to Washington during the Middle Eastern war of 1973, said, “If a massive airlift to Israel does not start immediately, then I will know that the U.S. is reneging on its promises and… we will draw very serious conclusions. . .” The ambassador’s veiled threat to use weapons of mass destruction to reverse Israel’s misfortunes on the battlefield did not fall on deaf ears. President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger ordered a massive airlift to aid Israel in the war. But who should we hold responsible for allowing America to be held hostage?
During the last three years, Israel has escalated its genocidal war against the civilian people of Palestine and Lebanon, their properties and economic infrastructure. Entire refugee camps, towns and sections of cities have been destroyed by American-supplied weapons systems. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the most gruesome and despicable ways; entire families have been buried under the rubble of their homes by Israeli army bulldozers that are manufactured by Caterpillar and paid for by American taxpayers; civilian residents have been shelled by Israeli missiles and tank fire; Palestinian leaders and prisoners have been assassinated; and 15,000 civilians have been detained without charge. In return, the US announced a military aid package for Israel totaling $30 billion for ten years to be followed by another more generous one in the amount of $40 billion. Are these actions conducive to achieving peaceful and structural changes in Israel/Palestine or a recipe for prolonged conflict?
The US government is making sure that Israel’s war machine is well financed by our tax money and equipped with the best of US military weapons while Americans are left to face the consequences of the piling national debt with devastating impact on the elderly and the prospects of American children going to bed hungry and lacking health care and insurance.
This passionate attachment is an affront, a burden and a liability on America. Israel’s structure, laws, policies, and practices are in violation of the American Constitution, laws and mores. The continuation of this relationship is a harbinger for more Israeli brutality and oppression. Working for the ending of racism and brutality will usher in justice, peace and tranquility for the region and the world. This is the choice that the US and the world should pursue.
Whatever the rationale for American aid to Israel, American support helps Israel maintain its racist character and practices, aggressive military posture and its violations of international law. The amount and intensity of American assistance signify an active American partnership with Israel against the aspirations of the people in the region for self-determination, justice, peace, and development. By alienating the Arab and Muslim peoples, America is exacerbating and fomenting conditions that are ripe for social upheaval–the intensity of which threatens to engulf the region and impact US interests worldwide.
Israel’s supporters in the US should not be permitted to achieve their goal of igniting a clash of civilizations emanating from the region. Continuous war will not provide a tranquil place for the Second Coming of Christ, nor for justice, hope, and peace for the people of the region. The region needs a vision that values human dignity, equality, and justice for all, instead of aircraft, bombs, and bullets.
America can no longer hide its involvement in the region under the guise of worn-out ideas. People in the region are watching and weighing America’s every move. If history is a guide, Americans should not underestimate the damage that disenfranchised and alienated individuals, groups, and countries could bring to bear.
Dr. Samir Abed-Rabbo is a Palestinian-American who was born in a refugee camp in Jerusalem.Completed college and university studies in the US where he obtained a Ph.D. in International Law from the University of Miami. Dr. Samir Abed-Rabbo is the author/editor of several books and articles on US Aid to Israel, Palestine, Zionism, International Law and Islam. From 1995-8 he served as the Dean of The Jerusalem School of Economics and Diplomacy.
- Take It From the Rabbi’s Mouth (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Church of Scotland Report Challenging Jews’ ‘Divine Right’ to Palestine Unchanged (alethonews.wordpress.com)
“Zionism is much more than settler colonialism; its fundamental opposition is between Jew and gentile everywhere.”
What is to be done?
Worldwide, it is Israel Apartheid Week, 2013, a worthy expression of solidarity with the Palestinians suffering under Israel’s occupation of the territories it conquered in the June, 1967 war. However, the leading lights of the anti-apartheid struggle said a decade and more ago that Israel’s regime is much worse than South African apartheid. After 46 years, “the occupation” is clearly not temporary and transient as the word implies. It is egregiously wrong to use this language, which privileges the oppressors and further oppresses the victims. This language is universal and long-standing, reflecting habits of thought and action long overdue for replacement.
The following was written as notes for a discussion, about 2000 words, divided into 5 headings: Classical Liberal Views of Zionism; Zionism; Zionism in the US; Zionism on the Left; Strategy and Tactics.
Classical Liberal Views of Zionism
The Enlightenment and emancipation ended the subjugation of west European Jews to Judaic authorities, and to gentile regulation. Jews were admitted, gradually but inevitably, to liberal citizenship. The US was created on a modern, liberal basis, with no trace of pre-modern Jewish status.
Reform Judaism modernized traditional Judaism and allowed religious worship with the social status of Christianity. Many Jews abandoned religion for secularism, after Spinoza. Jews contributed disproportionately to modern liberal culture and left and liberal politics.
Zionism was dismissed as reactionary and atavistic. American Reform Judaism in 1885 expressly disavowed it. The Marxism of the Second International period viewed nationalism as reactionary and Zionism as a tool of imperialism. The Yiddish labor movements in the Russian Empire and their immigrant offshoots also opposed Zionism.
Zionism was a marginal, declining cult until World War I, which led to the Balfour Declaration, the British conquest of Palestine, and growth of the “Jewish national home.” Even then Zionism was a minority current, until the rise of Nazism. Yet classical anti-Zionism survived all the changes of World War II.
Elmer Berger, an American Reform rabbi, led a rearguard action against Zionism in the 1940s, and remained an avowed critic of Israel until his death in 1996. Isaac Deutscher and Maxime Rodinson, raised in Marxist internationalism, remained critics of Zionism and Israel until their deaths (Deutscher in August, 1967, Rodinson in 2004)
The Israeli Socialist Organization (Matzpen) attempted to reconstruct internationalism in the 1960s. Israel Shahak cited what he called the “modern, secular Jewish tradition,” which he traced from Spinoza, against Zionism. Shahak and Matzpen put the atrocities of Israel’s occupation on the map from the Israeli side. Shahak died in 2001; some senior Matzpen alumni are still active.
Obviously, these currents have different social bases, and different politics, aside from their rejection of Zionism. Yet they constitute the basis of modernity and any critique of Zionism must derive from them. The people cited were well to the left of what the US has produced since 1967, precisely because the US left has ignored classical sources.
Zionism is the Jewish contribution to right-wing politics and ideology, nothing more or less; it opposed liberalism and embraced anti-Semitism. Zionism agreed that “the Jews comprise a distinctive element among the nations… and as such can neither assimilate nor be readily digested by any nation.” “The only solution is in the creation of a Jewish nationality, of a people living upon its own soil, the auto- emancipation of the Jews; their return to the ranks of the nations by the acquisition of a Jewish homeland.” (Pinsker, Autoemancipation) This was the view of bourgeois Jewish society in the Pale of Settlement, not the impoverished masses, who left by the million for the US.
Zionist “Jewish nationality” was not nationalism; it rejected the actually existing Yiddish nation in eastern Europe, including the Yiddish language, in anti-Semitic terms. Modern Israeli Hebrew was not “revived” but largely invented; modern Hebrew culture is inextricably Zionist, bound up with its conquest and dispossession. The alleged unitary history and historiography of the Jewish people have, unsurprisingly, been demolished by authors like Shlomo Sand, archaeologists Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman, linguist Paul Wexler, and others.
Racialism in Zionism dates to the proto-Zionism of Moses Hess; the chauvinism of Heinrich Graetz contributed to German anti-Semitism; German Zionism was Jewish Romantic nationalism, embracing Jewish Blut und Boden. Herzl was steeped in the racism of European colonialism. Zionism was a fraternal twin of anti-Semitism, and cooperated with it practically, down to the Nazi regime itself.
Elmer Berger co-authored the UN resolution on Zionism as a form of racism, and wrote on that theme. Noel Ignatiev called the Zionist “Jewish people” idea Jewish race doctrine. “Jewish genetics” tries to build a biological basis for Zionism. Zionism is much more than settler colonialism; its fundamental opposition is between Jew and gentile everywhere.
Zionism was an elite project of national renewal, concerned with “the problems of Judaism, not the problems of Jewry,” in Ahad Ha’am’s lofty phrase. It always placed its designs ahead of the fate of European Jewry. Hitler might have conquered the Near East; the Judeocide happened because of Nazi Germany, not because there was no Jewish state.
“Cultural Zionism,” “binationalism” and “socialism” were simply Zionism by other means. The culture of Zionist Jewish nationality was racialism. The binationalists wanted Jewish immigration leading to demographic parity and eventually majority, when Jews were a minority. The kibbutz was a means of Jewish settlement and was inspired by 19th c. German settlement plans to counter a Polish “demographic threat” in the eastern Reich.
Today the state of Israel is waging a race war, as fanatical as Nazi Germany, against the enemies of the Jewish people. This potential was inherent in Zionism from the start, though obviously many contingencies have enabled its fruition. Israeli Hebrew nationality is the replacement for Zionist Jewish nationality, secular and open to all, as Boas Evron argued in Jewish State or Israeli Nation.
Zionism in the US
The core of Zionism in the US is organized Jewry, gathered in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Many of these groups arose to meet the needs of the Russian Jewish migration before 1914. By the 1930s, this organized Jewish culture inspired the idea of “Judaism as a religious civilization,” and in the postwar period was called a “Jewish polity.”
The polity, and the Jewish public, supported Jewish statehood in the 1940s, but were still mainly concerned with integration and acceptance in American life. In the early 1960s, as this was achieved, liberalism was seen as threatening “Jewish continuity,” just as it was feared by the bourgeoisie in the Pale who founded Zionism. This chauvinism was fatally supercharged by Israel’s dramatic victory in June 1967.
The Jewish polity is the core of US support for Israel, which includes institutions and individuals throughout US culture; the “Israel lobby” is an inadequate term; “Zionocracy,” after the 19th c. “Slaveocracy” that wielded immense power in national politics until the Civil War, better describes it.
The Zionocracy has exercised quasi-sovereign power from the 1940s, when it overturned US diplomatic and military opposition to US support for a Jewish state in Palestine. The US did not create Israel, and does not commission its deeds, for its own purposes. Rather it has adapted to Zionist faits accompli in western Asia and in the US, and pursued its interests in their light.
Since the end of the Cold War Zionism has been the chief driver of US militarism at home and abroad. The Zionocracy influenced the Congressional vote for the Gulf War in 1990, the closest since the War of 1812. The crippling sanctions on Iraq and the “dual containment” of Iran and Iraq in the 1990s were largely by and for the Zionocracy, against substantial business opposition. The 9/11 terrorist attacks, with all their momentous consequences, were chiefly a strike against US patronage of Israel. The 2003 invasion of Iraq would not have happened without the neoconservatives. Only the Zionized left sees “oil” as necessarily and obviously requiring the US to invade Iraq, which has led to the present dissolution of Syria. The end of centuries of Sunni rule in Iraq and the Shia ascendancy there brought the Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, to oppose actively the “Shia axis” from Hizbollah to Alawite Syria to Iraq to Iran. The Gulf states are the chief patrons of the armed rebellion in Syria..
Zionism has turned western Asia into the eastern front of the US empire, like the eastern front of the Third Reich, site of its most depraved deeds and ideologies—the annihilation of Arab and Muslim societies, and the Islamophobic “clash of civilizations” and “war on terror.” Disputes over Middle East policy between the miltarists (gentile radicals, and Jewish neoconservatives) and the realists, are like the differences between Nazis and non-Nazi conservatives in Germany.
Zionism on the Left
In the early 1960s the Jewish members of the New Left were universalist, had little interest in “Jewish identity” and identity politics. After the June, 1967 war, there appeared a “Jewish left,” which combined Jewish affirmation with criticism of “the occupation” and support for “Palestinian rights.” This has produced a truncated, minimal critique: “anti-occupation” rhetoric, but no critique of Zionism; “solutions” discourse, of maps and treaties, and false Zionist precedents, rather than overcoming Zionism; ahistorical “law and rights” discourse; the “strategic asset” view of the US-Israel relationship, with little attention to US Zionism; anti-anti-Semitism, but no critique of Jewish chauvinism. With variations, this outlook is hegemonic on the white bread left, including the US Campaign to End the Occupation. It has even absorbed and neutered the “Israel lobby” critique. Phyllis Bennis, long-time “strategic asset” proponent, now dominates Code Pink’s annual anti-AIPAC program, while excluding knowledgeable people like Jeff Blankfort, Janet McMahon, Grant Smith, Stephen Sniegoski, and Alison Weir.
This Orthodox Critique is a form of Zionism. Limiting criticism to “law and rights” trivializes the crimes and diminishes the victims, like calling Nazi aggression and the Judeocide a violation of collective security and minority rights. Referring to Israel’s “occupation,” after nearly 46 years, and to “Israeli apartheid,” when Israel’s regime is much worse than apartheid, is lying. Such apologetics about Zionism, clearest in the “strategic asset” dogma, are Jewish privilege and anti-gentilism, comparable to anti-Semitic essentialism about Jews. The Orthodox Critique replaces a universalist critique from classical sources, which would reject Zionism in its entirety, in Israel, and in the US Zionocracy, and affirm the values of Spinoza, Luxemburg, Berger, et al. against it. Zionism threatens all of us.
Identity can empower the oppressed, but identitarian struggles succeed on broader terrain. The Risorgimento succeeded because national rights were seen as legitimate. The struggles of women and minorities have succeeded because the sphere of rights was broadened. Identity categories are not political, because people have different politics, beyond their universal rights. Past a certain limited point identity politics is chauvinism. Garibaldi recognized the limited progressive value of nationalism. Compare Judith Butler’s attempt to derive liberal obligations from “diasporic Jewish identity,” in the Brooklyn College BDS event, to David Landy’s critique of “diasporic identity” in Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights.
Strategy and Tactics
The Orthodox Critique has deprived us of the most basic vocabulary and analysis. We are missing decades of literature on Zionism as reaction and racialism, on Zionist radicalization of the US, and on the universalist antipodes, and political organizing on those lines. Meanwhile, Zionism has become ever stronger and more destructive. This is the greatest disaster on the left since the German Communist Party misread Nazism.
The chief concern of US citizens must be the special role of the United States, the indispensable economic, military and political support it provides Israel. To the extent BDS sanctions the state of Israel directly, by boycotting its products, or its institutions, it at least stigmatizes Israel, and raises questions about US policy. BDS directed against “companies profiting from the occupation” implies that corporate profits drive US policies and diverts attention from the real actors.
The Zionocracy is not appeased by such limited terms, which Israeli diplomats and organized Jewry oppose fiercely. We can only gain by calling for Israel to be sanctioned, and by opposing Zionism forthrightly as the chief source of Islamophobia, our Middle East wars, 9/11, and our domestic police state. We should consider “Anti-Zionism Week”.
BDS in the US can be educational, but Europe is the chief market for Israeli products, and BDS is most effective there. Zionist domination of US politics must be our highest concern. Zionism is not a tool of the US, but a quasi-sovereign power in the US, which has activated the worst potentialities of US society. The classical anti-Zionists saw Zionism obviously as an attack on liberal modernity, to be rejected categorically. Liberal traditions allow us—obligate us—to reject Zionism and all its works, and also obligate us to distinguish adherents of Jewish people ideology from Jewish liberal citizens and their rights. They also obligate the latter to join unequivocally a common struggle against Zionism, which threatens us all.