More than traditional
colonialism and apartheid
Israel - not even a democracy for
In Israel/Palestine today, there are three apartheid classes of people.
1. Jews are fully qualified citizens of
Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and the whole world.
* Antisemitism cannot be remedied by the
assimilation of Jews.
The term Zionism was, however, conceived by Nathan Birnbaum in 1885. Together with Herzl he made up the leadership of the Zionist World Organisation. Later on he became a spokesman for Judaism in the Diaspora - outside Israel/Palestine.
Moses Hess - the Communist Rabbi
The fundamental ideology of Zionism however evolved much earlier with Moses Hess. He was one of Germany's earliest renowned Socialists. He was a Utopian, a Hegelian and a good friend of Karl Marx. Hess also wrote a contribution to The Communist Manifesto (1848) on the question of Religion as opium to the masses. He is considered by Zionists as the first Zionist. As he grew older he dissociated himself from Marx and "returned" to his People, that is to say Judaism. Marx shunned Hess' chauvinistic ideas. "Communist Rabbi Moses" as he was also called, wrote Zionism's Magnum Opus which Herzl later referred to as the book which says everything there is worth saying about Zionism.
This book, "Rome and Jerusalem" was published by Hess in 1862. He was inspired, amongst others, by Spinoza. He defines the Jewish Nation by the following components:
* The Jewish race - superior and chosen
* Palestine - the homeland of the Jewish people
* The Jewish religion - the best guarantee for Jewish nationality.
The importance of Blood in defining racial purity was common at that time and was also part of Hess' conception. He saw the German race as antagonistic to the Jewish race. He worried about the antisemitism apparent in Germany at that time and this was his main reason for "returning" to Judaism. For him, Socialism, apart from developing equality of the classes must also develop a moral dimension. The Jewish State should have the makings of a Socialist State.
Hess predicted both the foundation of the State of Israel and the Holocaust 80 -85 years in advance of these occurrences. Hess considered France to be the foremost ally of the Jews. This was before the Dreyfus trail in France which came to be the one event that convinced Theodor Herzl that Zionism was the only solution to antisemitism.
Marxist Zionism and Zionist Revisionism
After the first Zionist Congress, the renowned Marxist Ber Borochov developed the rigorous policies of the Zionist Project. He argued territorial concentration as a solution to, among other things, the Jewish question. He founded Poalei Zion, the Marxist Zionist Party which supported the Russian Revolution in 1917. David Ben Gurion, one of the Party members and Israel's founder, came to Palestine at the beginning of the twentieth century. He considered himself a Bolshevik and was in favour of the dictatorship of the proletariat in all countries, except Palestine where he favoured the dictatorship of Zionism. Ben Gurion considered Jewish national interests superior to class interests in Palestine: a clear case of unmitigated National Socialist leanings.
When the Poalei Zion split up, Ben Gurion became the leader of the Social Democrat wing and was influential in Zionism for years to come. The colonisation took place in the name of Socialism and the enlightened culture of the Western World. Under the forceful leadership of Ben Gurion the colonisation proceeded in stages while upholding negotiations with the Palestinians. The foundation of the Jewish state could wait. The first issue was the building of a strong army (Hagana), which could drive the Palestinians out and create and defend a substantial Jewish majority on as large a part of Palestine as possible. The strategy was very successful.
Israel was proclaimed in 1948 on land which geographically comprised almost 80% of the whole of Palestine: a considerable increase to the UN Partition plan which offered Jews 55%. Today Israel has seized all of the original Palestine, while the Palestinian villages are now surrounded by The Wall, cut through by motorways - only for Jews - and interspersed with hundreds of check points and fortified Jewish settlements.
A minority within Zionism, represented by Zeév Jabotinsky wanted immediate action. In 1925 he founded a Zionist revisionist movement. In the article "The Iron Wall" (1937), he stated, among other things, that all native people are against colonisation, even the Palestinians. Colonisers must therefore use the utmost determination to show that opposition does not pay off.
"We hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done, no matter whether Joseph or Simon or Ivan or Achmet agree with it or not. There is no other morality." (ibid.)
The above mentioned are the two main standpoints within Zionism which have also, during different periods of time, served as the official ideology in Israel. Interwoven in these and of varying importance, are other movements such as practical Zionism, radical messianic Zionism, religious Zionism, spiritual/cultural Zionism and more.
Zionism, National Socialism and Fascism
While Ben Gurion sympathised with Marxism and later on with Social Democracy, Jabotinsky sympathised with Fascism. He admired Mussolini who supported him. Jabotinsky died in 1940 before the proclamation of The State Of Israel. He founded the Jewish terror organisation Irgun which committed its most horrible deeds during the expulsion of the Palestinians. The Lehi, a splinter group headed by Stern, murdered Folke Bernadotte who was the UN representative and mediator. The man who pulled the trigger became Ben Gurion's good friend and security guard when he retired to the kibbutz Sde Bocker. The leaders of both organisations -- Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir -- later became Prime Ministers of Israel.
It is remarkable how similar the two Zionist standpoints are in practical politics. The Iron-Wall policy is now being completed by Israel's present Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, with greater military force than ever before. Sharon belongs to the same right-wing group as Begin and Shamir (Likud). However it was the governments lead by the Social Democrats that started and completed most of the considerable expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza.
The Eastern European Jews, who were Marxists, stamped their mark on the colonisation of Palestine during the first half of the twentieth century. Collective farms - the kibbutz - were the main instrument in bringing it about. They were democratic, socialist, experimental units, often secular. No money was in use and the collective upbringing of children was common for a long time. Only Jews were allowed to be members. The seemingly racist kibbutz played an important part in the capture and military defence of occupied territory. The settlements of today on the West Bank and in Gaza serve a similar purpose, though they are religiously orthodox.
A Zionist leftist ideology dominated in the beginning. As shown above this can also be seen as Jewish National Socialism, upheld by Ben Gurion. After the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, a Zionist right-wing ideology, like Jabotinsky`s, has dominated. The Israeli "left" of today is predominately left-wing Zionism.
Within Zionism's two main standpoints there has been interaction. Thus left-wing Zionism has targeted policies for the settlements, while the right-wing has been responsible for terrorism and ethnic cleansing. After 1967, the religious influence on Israel's politics has grown. However, religion has always been important in Zionism. Nowadays in Israel, religion and politics have merged.
Zionism and Jewish Religion
Classic Judaism (and orthodox of today) has its roots in the Jewish societies in Europe of the Middle Ages. Zionism has given it a boost. Its antagonism towards non-Jews and the opinion that Jews are God's Chosen People has great impact on Israel's policies towards the rest of the world.
According to Halachah, classic Judaism's laws and customs, for example "compassion towards others" extends to Jews only. Murder or manslaughter is judged mildly when the perpetrator is Jewish and the victim a non-Jew. Also according to Halachah, it is accepted for a Jew to kill a non-Jew if he is laying claim to "eternal Jewish land". This is what the settlers' religious organisations are alleging. There is no corresponding law in Israel's judicial system but in effect it influences the system as punishment of such crimes is very mild.
Israel's state terrorism, theft of land and occupation, demolition of houses, the building of the Wall, etc., including the so called 'extra-judicial killings' (assassinations), are seen by Zionists as legitimate defence of the Nation and therefore fall under international law - which Israel ignores.
Israel Shahak discusses the influence classic Judaism has on Israel's policies in his book "Jewish History, Jewish Religion" (1996). For a long period of time Shahak was chairman of Israel's Society for Human and Civil Rights. He is especially critical of the double moral standards kept by prominent left wing intellectual Jews, particularly Martin Buber, the well known philosopher. Buber criticized Nazism while commending the Jewish Religion (Hassidism) but keeping quiet about its dehumanising of non-Jews (goyim). These double standards act to increase Israel's chauvinism and hatred of all non-Jews. Israel's Peace Movement has been accused of harbouring similar sentiments.
Many countries which think of themselves as modern, attempt to do away with religious thinking from the Middle Ages, mainly by the separation of Church from State and laws against racism. The opposite has occurred in Israel. The revival of classic Judaism in Israel's politics can be seen as an expression of Zionist expansion, thus increasing opposition to the Palestinian Arabs.
Had the Jews, some 75 years ago, chosen a bi-national democracy for their national sovereignty, there could have been peaceful development of the English Mandate for Palestine. The Mandate was partitioned by the UN in 1947 even though this meant the further extension of land already colonised. Judah Magnes, head of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, advocated bi-nationalism, as did Folke Bernadotte, the UN mediator. A Jewish nationalism which acknowledges the Palestinians right to national sovereignty is more in keeping with Judaism's long tradition of humanity and "Jewish Enlightenment". But the Zionists under their leader Ben Gurion demanded a Jewish State in no less than the whole of Palestine.
The next opportunity Israel had to achieve a peaceful development was the Oslo Agreement. The Palestinians accepted a Jewish State on 78% of land that was the original Palestine in return for the development of their own State on the remaining 22%. But the Zionists turned down this generous offer. Israel has thus repeatedly rejected solutions which could have insured Jewish national interests and given them international recognition. Instead of this, Israel has chosen a policy which runs the risk of shattering The Jewish state. The logic of this can not be understood without taking into consideration classic Judaism's close connection with Zionism.
Zionism and Nazism
Moses Hess put together the fundamental components Race, People, Nation and "the Chosen" to make a National Socialist version of colonialism. It was later to be known as Zionism. Hitler, 60 years on, put together the same components in Mein Kampf and formed his National Socialist Party. Hess' opinions about the "purity of the Jewish race" correspond to Hitler's belief in "the pure Aryan race".
This is extreme chauvinism based on the theory of the connection between "Blood and Soil". Despite the similarity of ideological structure, there are differences in constitutional and organisational structures. The same goes for similarities to the former apartheid State of South Africa. Family ties (Blood ties) are however still basic to Jews all over the world and in the Jewish state of Israel. A person with a Jewish mother is defined for religious purposes as a Jew, according to the Jewish Community in Stockholm, even if he considers himself an atheist. Jewish religion and family ties today are interwoven at a personal level, like religion and politics are in Society as a whole, as shown above.
"I too, like Hitler, believe in the power of the blood idea", Chaim Nachman Bialik writes this in "The Present Hour" (1934). Bailik is Israel's most acclaimed poet. Had it been 10 years later he would probably have chosen to refer to Moses Hess, or kept quiet on the matter. Bialik's sentiments on the enigma of the Blood can also be found in the above mentioned Martin Buber's book "On Judaism" (1967).
Israel is not only a traditional colonial State with apartheid and racism, but also a Western imperialist fortress in The Orient. Zionism also means expansion and ethnic cleansing. Furthermore, it is an elitist ideology. It grows politically and religiously amongst the broad masses of people and is thereby strengthened. Religious totalitarianism is its ideological base with strong links to National Socialism and Fascism.
The brutal violence, the intransigence and the dehumanisation of the Palestinians can only be understood against this background. Against this background, the genocide of the Palestinians is possible and consistent. It is the background against which Israel is a "time bomb" in the Middle East policies of the US. It is high time Zionism and its Jewish State was replaced by a secular parliamentary democracy with equal rights for all citizens regardless of ethnic or religious beliefs. The grounds for a system of apartheid and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza would thereby disappear. This is a necessary, if not conclusive, requirement if there is to be lasting peace between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. Whether it results in one or two secular democracies is of secondary importance.
A feasible strategy for achieving democracy in Israel/Palestine would be the start of a liberation movement where Jews and Palestinians could pull together similar to the ANC movement in South Africa. Those Jews and Palestinians who are already fighting Zionism should therefore be given support first.
It is also high time Jews - both in Israel and elsewhere - started reforming the Jewish religion. The concept of Blood ties should be replaced by religious conviction, the idea of Jews as "The Chosen People" should be rejected and Jews looked upon as people like everyone else.
The current genocide must stop. First of all for the sake
of the Palestinians but also for the Jews. It fires a
growing hatred of Jews in large parts of the World. United
Nations forces are needed to protect the Palestinians and
worldwide sanctions of Israel should be maintained.
Moses Hess, The Revival of Israel - Rome and Jerusalem, The Last Nationalist Question. Bison Book, 1995
Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State, 1896. Web edition
Shabtai Teveth, BEN-GURION and the Palestinian Arabs, From Peace to War, Oxford University Press, 1985
Zeév (Vladimir) Jabotinsky, The Iron Wall. Article in The Jerusalem Herald 26th November 1937, Web edition
Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion, Pluto Publishers, 1996
Martin Buber, On Judaism, Schocken Books, New York 1967
Avi Shlaim, THE IRON WALL, Israel and the Arab World, Penguin Books, 2001
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Parts One and Two. Hägglunds 2002
Marx och Engels, Kommunistiska manifestet, Arbetarkultur, Stockholm 1947
Gilad Atzmon, Israeli People's Most Common Mistakes. Article in Counter Punch, Web edition, August 28th 2003
Lasse Wilhelmson, Demokrati eller folkmord? Article in SVD/Brännpunkt June 3rd 2003
Lasse Wilhelmson, Israel Must Choose The Path of Democracy. Article in The Palestine Chronicle, Web edition, 17th September 2003
Jabotinsky Institute in Israel, on the Web
Ber Borochov Internet Archive
Jewish Virtual Library, on the Web
The Jewish Agency for Israel, on the Web
Lasse Wilhelmson was born in 1941 in Sweden. He is currently employed as a woodworking instructor in an immigrant neighbourhood on the outskirts of Stockholm. He has long been active in the labour movement, as well as the antiwar movement during the Vietnam era. Wilhelmson has been a member of his local city council for 23 years, including four years on the Board. Wilhelmson also published the article "Israel Must Choose the Path of Democracy" in The Palestine Chronicle the 16th of September 2003. A somewhat modified version of that article was published the 3rd of June 2003 in one of the two biggest daily morning newspapers in Sweden - Svenska Dagbladet (independent conservative).
Mr. Wilhelmson may be contacted at:
Important article from the Johannesburg Mail
& Guardian, July 10, 2006
Israel' worse than apartheid SA
The "apartheid Israel state"
is worse than the apartheid that was conducted in
South Africa, Congress of South African Trade Unions
(Cosatu) president Willie Madisha said on Monday.
Zionism: more than traditional
colonialism and apartheid
A Jewish political weapon
Une arme politique Juive