Is Israel a democratic state?
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