View Full Version : The Zionist Question

lord patch
10-23-2007, 05:09 PM
we must now start to think in new ways

"watch the watchers; assasinate the assasins" -- bruh martyr george l jackson

The Zionist Question
By: M. Shahid Alam

In recent times, no nationalist project has been so
completely mythologized by its partisans as Zionism.
In the construction of nearly all aspects of its
history, the official Zionist narrative is often at
variance even complete variance with the facts as
they are known to the rest of the world: and, more
recently, even as they have been documented by some
Zionist historians.

Yet few Zionists would deny one central fact of their
history: and that is the history of violence that has
attended the insertion of Jewish colons into the
Middle East. The history of the Zionist movement in
Palestine it can scarcely be disputed has been
attended by violence between the Jewish settlers and
the Palestinians; it has led to unending conflicts
between Arab societies and Israel; and these conflicts
continue to draw Western powers, especially the United
States since 1945, into ever widening clashes with the
Islamic world.

The history of this violence was contained in the
Zionist idea itself. Violence is integral to Zionism:
not incidental to it.

This violent history of Zionism had been foreseen by
the early Zionists in their private musings; and
certainly, the risks inherent in Zionism could
scarcely remain hidden once its victims began to
resist the colonization of their lands. However, the
Zionists chose to shelve these concerns, convinced
that the `natives' lacked the will, organization and
resources to derail their plans.

Thus it is that the Zionists, who engaged in
voluminous and intense discussions about the nature of
their movement, never developed a coherent "Arab
doctrine" that would examine and appraise the
unfolding Arab response to Zionism.

In part, they may have felt that this was unnecessary.
After all, many of the early Zionists according to
Ahad Ha'am writing in 1891 believed that "the Arabs
are all savages who live like animals and do not
understand what is happening around them." Why worry
about these "savages," when they were sure to be swept
away by the inexorable advance of civilization the
Jewish settlers were introducing into the region?

Other Zionists who took note of the incipient Arab
resistance nevertheless chose to dismiss their
concerns with wishful thinking. Once the Palestinians
would begin to reap the benefits of Jewish
colonization in rising land prices and new
employment opportunities they would welcome the
settlers with open arms.

In the Zionist world-view, the Palestinians were not a
people; they had no national identity, no national

In any case, it would have been impolitic for the
early Zionists to air their concerns in public. In the
face of open discussions about the violent
consequences of Jewish colonization, and the
resistance this was certain to evoke among
Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, the meager support
that Zionism enjoyed among Jews would quickly have
dried up. At this stage, Zionism could not have
survived sober consideration of its long-term, violent

Despite the absence of a public debate, these concerns
could not have been limited to the Zionist leadership.
How else can we explain despite the putative Jewish
yearning for Zion that only a trickle of Jews had
heeded the call to colonize Palestine in the years
before the rise of Nazi Germany? Weren`t they afraid
that they might be walking into a trap?

The Zionists also made an effort to overcome
Palestinian resistance by invoking pan-Arab
nationalism. In return for help from Jews, who would
advocate their cause in the councils of great powers,
the Arab nationalists could be persuaded to sacrifice
Palestine for a higher objective, the creation of an
Arab kingdom stretching from Morocco to Iraq.

The historic centers of Arab civilization so the
Zionists argued lay in Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo,
not in Jerusalem. Why would the Arabs grudge the loss
of Jerusalem if this would help them to realize their
dream of restoring the ancient Arab empire?

The Zionists met with some initial success in these
efforts. In 1919, at the Conference of Versailles
Chaim Weizmann persuaded Emir Faisal, a leader of what
is known as the Arab revolt against the Ottomans, to
cede Palestine to the Zionists. When he confronted
Arab anger at this surrender of Islamic lands, the
Emir inserted a clause making his contract with the
Zionists conditional on the creation of the Arab
kingdom that he and his family sought. This
conditional agreement too was short-lived. Under Arab
nationalist pressure, the Emir was forced to repudiate
his deal with the Zionists.

The Zionists could not long maintain their fiction
about somehow creating a Jewish state in Palestine
without violence; the challenge came from the right
wing of the Zionist movement. In an essay that laid
the foundations of Revisionist Zionism in 1923, Ze'ev
Jabotinsky punctured the fiction that the Palestinians
would voluntarily surrender their historical rights to
their country. He wrote that the Arabs would "resist
alien settlers as long as they possess a gleam of
hope that they can prevent `Palestine' from becoming
the Land of Israel."

Jabotinsky argued that a change in the stated Zionist
strategy was imperative: in order to succeed, the
Zionists would have to extinguish the Arab's "gleam of
hope." If the Arabs were not going to sell their lands
and move out, they would have to be defeated and
driven out. Settlement would proceed, in the words of
Jabotinsky, "under the protection of force that is not
dependant on the local population, behind an iron wall
which they will be powerless to break down."

Jabotinsky had forced into the open what was always
implicit in the Zionist idea and, indeed, in the
thinking of the Zionist leadership. Despite
appearances, they had always known what Jabotinsky now
challenged them to acknowledge openly.

The use of violence was not the Zionist fallback plan:
privately, the Zionists knew that this was the only
plan that had a chance of succeeding. Covertly and
openly, with or without British support, they had
always prepared for a showdown against the Arabs; and
they had prepared well.

When the showdown came in 1948, the Zionists achieved
their goals almost in their entirety: they defeated
five Arab armies to create a Jewish state in 78
percent of Palestine nearly cleansed of its Arab
population. Eight years later, in alliance with
Britain and France, in a lightning strike, Israel
occupied all of Egyptian Sinai.

And less than twenty years after its creation, in the
June war of 1967, Israel went on to deal a crushing
defeat on three Arab armies, occupied the rest of
Palestine, the Sinai, and the Golan Heights and, in
the process, quadrupled its territories. Most
importantly, however, they had dealt a stinging blow
to the power of Arab nationalism, a humiliation from
which it would not recover.

Yet, despite these dramatic successes, Israel has
failed to attain normalcy or, more likely, its
interests are not served by normalcy. Many Israelis
now openly acknowledge that something has gone awry.

Despite two massive rounds of ethnic cleansings in
1948 and 1967; despite repeated military victories
over Arabs; despite a ten-fold increase in its Jewish
population; despite unlimited US support; despite its
deepening strangulation of Palestinians; despite the
largest economic and military transfer from one
country to another in history; despite one of the most
powerful armies in the world; despite the sustained
support of a Jewish Diaspora, more powerful and better
organized than ever before; and despite the readiness
of all Arab states to recognize Israel, the Zionist
project has not come to rest.

Israel has yet to break away from its dependence on
Western powers; it has not succeeded in extinguishing
the Palestinian's "gleam of hope;" and Israelis are
far from being assured of a secure future.

Why have Israel's triumphs and no one would question
the magnitude of these achievements failed even to
secure confidence in its survival?

Nearly six decades after its creation six decades of
impressive military, territorial, demographic and
economic gains Israel is still working to destroy
its neighborhood, out of insecurity and to remove the
last pockets of resistance to its hegemony.

After defeating nearly all its Arab adversaries, after
successfully urging the United States to occupy Iraq,
after devastating Lebanon in a new war in the summer
of 2006, Israel is once again urging the United States
to unleash its war machine against Iran, and to use
nuclear strikes if necessary to destroy its nuclear

Despite the "iron wall" that Israel erected against
Palestinians in 1948, despite the wall of apartheid it
has built in the past few years, the Palestinians have
not disappeared. Indeed, the Israelis continue their
policy of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians in
slow motion, all the while preparing to launch a final
round of ethnic cleansing to finish the job they had
begun in 1948.

Israel is now seen as one of the leading threats to
world peace. What is worse, Israelis are increasingly
seen in nearly every country barring the United States
as oppressors, as racists, the inheritors of South
Africa's apartheid.

Is it the case as Hugo Bergmann, a young Jewish
philosopher from Prague had feared in 1919 -- that
Palestine had became a Jewish state but only by
betraying Jewish ideals?

In short, the creation of Israel has not solved the
`Jewish question;' it has changed its locale, its form
and name. The Europeans had long wrestled with what
they called the `Jewish question.' Israel has
transformed the `Jewish question' into the `Zionist
question': and made it global.

Anxiously, the world now waits for the Zionist
creation Israel to make its next significant move.

Anxiously, the world hopes that this next significant
move will be historic and not destructive: that it
will secure the rights of Palestinians, all
Palestinians; that it will redress the wrongs done to
Palestinians, all Palestinians, in the same way that
Jews still demand redress for the wrongs done to them
by the Nazis.

Yet, there is little reason for optimism. Israel
cannot render justice to the Palestinians without
abolishing its exclusively Jewish character, without
dismantling the apartheid that grinds the

No colonialism yet has restrained itself because the
colonial masters had acquired a conscience. It was
force that stopped them: countervailing force, with or
without violence.

The challenge before the Western world, before the
Americans especially, is to develop the countervailing
force that can compel a solution without violence.

If the West if the Americans fail here, if they
fail to nurture this countervailing force: they only
leave the room wide open to violent solutions.

* M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at
Northeastern University. He is author of Challenging
the New Orientalism (2007). He may be contacted at
alqalam02760 @ yahoo.com.

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