Repost from the old site.
I was visiting my Mother the other day (she lives 33 miles away) and she had just read some articles on my blog. She made some negative remarks about “Zionists”, at which point I informed her that she was a Zionist. She looked horrified, which is the way any decent person should look when accused of such a thing. I then patiently explained to her than anyone who supported a Jewish state in Palestine was a Zionist.
She looked disappointed. On further questioning, it turned out that she pretty much thought that the founding of Israel was a great big mistake and a crime – like the founding of the USA via the conquest of the American Indians. However, she said you can’t undo history, and people have to try to make do with reality as it is.
I then told her that her views were probably “non-Zionist” – that being someone who disapproved of the Zionist project, but that that we should live with the reality of it, as Israel is there, and it’s not going away. My brother, on questioning, also did not really know what Zionism is, and also qualified as a non-Zionist who thought we needed to deal with reality as it exists, not as it ought to be.
The views that they espouse – “That the creation of Israel was a mistake, but they are there, they’re not leaving, and we have to deal with that” – ought to rationally be considered by progressives as neither Zionism nor anti-Zionism, but non-Zionism.
In the course of my conversations with these two brilliant, highly-educated immediate family members, I realized that even the best and the brightest in the US did not really know what Zionism was.
So, with that in mind, I felt it was time for a post describing exactly what Zionism was and is, its history and its various forms. Obviously, this brief post will barely begin to nudge the edges of this subject, but still it ought to serve as a nice primer.
What is Zionism anyway? I see Zionism every day on the net. In a nutshell, most Zionists, but not all, argue that both the formation of the state of Israel and the settler-colonial project that created it were right, just and proper.
A principal Zionist argument (though not shared by all Zionists) is this:
- Jewish land, not Arab land – All of Israel is Jewish land. The Arabs have no right to any of this land.
Several arguments are used to defend this view:
- Historical– Jews had a continuing presence in the land for 3,000 years, so therefore it is their land. The Arab presence is illegitimate. When the Zionist project began, there were only a few Arabs in Palestine anyway, and they were the ancestors of Arabs who invaded Jewish land in 640 and have been occupying Jewish land ever since.Arabs never controlled Palestine anyway, and all Palestinians are Arab invading colonists who have no right to be there and need to go back to Arabia where they came from. Jews were completely in their right to reclaim their homeland after so many years in exile.This is one of the most vicious and wicked Zionist arguments, and it is extremely popular amongst the hardest of the hardline, blood-and-soil, organic nationalist types.One can argue that this is the philosophy that it is at the core of the mindset of the leaders of the Zionist movement from 1897 to the present. It is this argument, that, like most primordialist ethnic nationalist projects that rose out of Central and Eastern Europe in the 1800’s, is most similar to Nazism.On the other hand, all modern ethnic nationalisms (in particular Arab nationalism, Indian Hindu nationalism, Lebanese Phalangist nationalism and all of the ethnic nationalist projects that swept Central and Eastern Europe in the 1920’s and 1930’s) came from the same 19th Century core as Nazism, so it is somewhat unfair to single out Zionism in that regard.
- Religious – God gave the land to the Jews. It is Jewish land and will always be so. God watches over the Jews and Israel, and no one can mess with them. Anyone who messes with the Jews or Israel gets punished by God. This is obviously a favorite of conservative Zionists, though some secular liberal Zionists use it too, usually cynically in an effort to get Gentile Christians to go along with the project.
- Holocaust – Jews needed a safe haven in Israel due to the Holocaust, and it was ok to throw out the Arabs to get this haven. A favorite of liberal Zionists, many of whom are ignorant of the specifics of the project. When questioned, many of this type will insist that no Arabs were thrown out to make the Jewish state. Apparently the land was just empty or something.
- Freedom From Persecution – Related to the above. Jews have been persecuted everywhere they have been, so it is reasonable for them to have their own state where they can be safe. A favorite of more liberal Zionists. One of their favorite lines is that Zionism is “affirmative action for Jews”. Micheal Lerner of Tikkun is fond of that phrase.
- UN and League of Nations – These two organizations agreed to give away Arab land to Jews for a homeland at different times. Therefore, Israel is legitimate. Once again, a favorite of more liberal Zionists and folks who are fond of the UN and international law.
- Self-determination and National Liberation – All other ethnic groups have a right to self-determination on their homeland, and many have developed national liberation movements to obtain their nation-state. Zionism is the Jewish equivalent. This argument is a favorite of Zionist liberals and Leftists.
- British Donation – Britain gave the land – British land – to the Jews. Therefore, it is the Jews’ land. This one is also a favorite of more liberal Zionists, because it avoids the question of whether or not Israel is Jewish land.
A number of the National-Religious types (see arguments A and B above – they are typically combined into a highly toxic form called National-Religious Zionism) claim that the land of Israel extends from the Nile to the Euphrates. It encompasses most of Lebanon and Syria, all of Jordan, part of Iraq, all of the Sinai, part of Arabia and all of Kuwait.
There are actually a fair number of Zionists who feel that all (or some) of this should be reconquered.
When an aide to President Truman visited the Holy Land around 1947 to try to understand the Zionist-Arab conflict, he said that all of the Jews he met there held the Nile to Euphrates view. He also noted that they did not like to talk about it too much, and they seemed to want to keep it a sort of secret, as if they were afraid of the reaction of outsiders if they learned of the Zionist plans.
Despite super-liar and modern-day Crusader Daniel Pipes’ articulate lie, The Nile to Euphrates Calumny, Nile to Euphrates Zionists are not mythological, and I have run across them fairly regularly on the Net, especially lately.
Does Mr. Pipes feel that I have hallucinated all of these Greater Israel types? Were they all just Arab agents out to make the Zionists look bad? Inquiring minds want to know. Mr. Pipes or his supporters are encouraged to email me here to explain how it is that I keep running into these nonexistent phantasms.
A lesser view holds that “Eretz Israel” at least covers all of Green Line Israel, all of the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. Some also include the Sinai Peninsula (or at least a small part of it up to the Wadi Arish) and southern Lebanon to the Litani River.
A map demonstrating Zionist armed settler-colonialism in action. Note the progressive loss of Arab land to Zionist colonization. This was deliberate and planned from the very start. It all stems from the Zionist principle that all of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights is Jewish land and that the local Arabs are “squatting” on Jewish land and live there only at the whim of the Zionist owners.
Presently, the project is to make the remaining Arab enclaves so miserable that the Arabs will leave and then the Zionists can colonize their land.
This is a Minimal Greater Israel view and is very common. It was the “minimal view” adopted by the “progressives” of Left Socialist Zionism under David Ben-Gurion, the founder of Israel. It could logically be called Minimal Greater Israel.
Ben-Gurion’s ideological opponents, Vladimir Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Zionists, held similar views, except that they typically claimed all of Jordan for the Jewish state also.
A poster for the Irgun Zionist armed guerrilla group. This was one of the three major armed Zionist guerrilla factions in Palestine. It focused on attacks against both the British and the local Arabs. Note that Irgun claimed that not only all of Palestine, but also all of Jordan, was Jewish land, to be cleansed of Arab “squatters”, and to be conquered by force (note the rifle).
Irgun dissolved after the founding of Israel, and since then Mainstream Revisionist Zionism has gone pretty quiet about claims to Jordan. Look carefully at the map to see that Irgun also claimed the Golan Heights for the Zionists.
I have recently met Zionist Jews on the Net who are still upset at the British and the League of Nations for “promising” all of Jordan to the Zionists in the early 1920’s, and then “going back on their word”. Actually neither party did any such thing, and such thinking is based on a misreading of the League of Nations Mandate.
In a recent interview, a leader of the Zionist Organization of America, a very powerful, very militant Jewish Zionist group in the US, noted with a twinkle in his eye that all of Jordan was actually part of Israel and implied that Israel should conquer it at some future time. The attitudes of ZOA fanatics are rampant amongst the neoconservatives who were associated with the Bush Administration.
The notion of Greater Israel, not some phony notions about buffer zones or security zones, is and was the real reason for the occupation and colonies in the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan and the Sinai, and for the occupation of Southern Lebanon.
As you can imagine, this political project, Zionism, terrifies the Arabs and sends them into conniptions. My opinion is that Zionism is poisonous and that no people should have to put up with such a dangerous project, least of all the backwards Arabs.
There is a lot of nonsense about Greater Israel on the Internet, with devious Zionist sophists like Pipes holding that it is just a deranged, paranoid Arab fantasy. On the other hand, many anti-Zionists, especially Islamists, insist that all Zionists hold the radical Nile-to-Euphrates view.
As you can see above, that is not the case. The truth is that some Zionists do hold the Nile-to-Euphrates view, but the Israeli government does not, and most major Israeli political parties and political figures do not either.
The Minimal Greater Israel project described above is much more common and relevant. Anti-Zionists should focus on the minimal project for now and forget about the Nile To Euphrates project until we get some evidence that it amounts to more than the ravings of some Zionist radicals.
Anti-Zionism is a radical position, like Zionism. In general, not only do anti-Zionists strongly oppose the whole Zionist project, but they go usually so far as to say that, ideally, Israel has no right to exist, and should be dismantled in one way or another. The vast majority of Arabs are anti-Zionists in one way or another. If they tolerate Israel’s existence at all, it is only grudgingly.
Anti-Zionists differ on what should be done with the Zionist Jews who have settled in Israel.
Some say that all of those who themselves or whose relatives came to Palestine after 1917, when the Balfour Declaration was signed, have to go back where they came from.
This was the line espoused in the original PLO Charter of 1964 and continues to be espoused by some very radical Arab nationalist types, especially some Arab Communists.
Examples of organizations holding such views are NACAZAI (North American Congress Against Zionism and Racism), headed by Ziad Shaker AlJishi, a Palestinian refugee living in the US, and the the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) militants who run the Free Arab Voice website.
The FAV site is edited by Ibrahim Alloush and Mohammad Abu Nasr. Everyone associated with the FAV website is apparently a member of the political wing of the PFLP.
One of the editors takes the not-so-obvious nom de guerre of Nabila Harb. This pseudonym derives from Nabil Harb, an obscure PFLP cadre from the 1970’s who was part of a small PFLP cell that hijacked a Lufthansa airliner in Spain in an attempt to win the release of German urban guerrillas from the Baader-Meinhoff Gang.
The attempt failed when the plane was stormed by German Special Forces in Mogadishu, killing 3 of the 4 PFLP terrorists, but not before the cell had executed the captain of the plane in Yemen an act of gross criminality and stupidity.
The imprisoned members of the German ultra-Leftist group committed suicide right afterwards, effectively ending the existence of Baader-Meinhoff. But from its ashes would rise its successor, the much larger and more successful Red Army Faction.
However, unlike the PFLP, which is fairly heterodox and not necessarily extremely Arab nationalist anymore, the FAV is a hardline, pro-Saddam Arab nationalist site that is an excellent example of Arab Nationalist “Arab fascism” and “Arab Nazism”, as is NACAZAI. Free Arab Voice would be better characterized as a Palestinian Baathist site.
The 40 year old Dr. Alloush is a son of Palestinian refugees in Jordan. He is a Professor of Statistics and Economics at a university in Amman, Jordan. The mysterious Abu Nasr (a nom de guerre) is the author of the Iraqi Resistance Reports that can be found on the Internet.
The 59-year-old Nasr is a Palestinian who may have left Palestine after the 1967 war, may live somewhere in the West, and may have a PhD. He is fluent in Russian as well as English, which suggests he may have received education in the former Soviet Union. The PFLP was sending its higher-ranking cadres to the Soviet Union for education some years ago.
Alloush also runs an Arab nationalist list on the Net and a Yahoo group by the same name. Alloush has received some notoriety for appearing at a conference of Holocaust Deniers in Lebanon and endorsing their views. In fact, the FAV website foments Holocaust Denial itself. Both Nasr and Alloush are virulently anti-Semitic Arab Communists and excellent examples of “Arab fascism” and “Arab Nazism”, to their eternal discredit.
NACAZAI also holds Holocaust Denial views, in addition supporting the genocidal Khmer Rogue, being strongly pro-North Korea, pro-Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime and in favor of the genocidal ultra-racist Arab-Nazis in Sudan. FAV takes similar positions, except I don’t know how they feel about the Khmer Rogue.
Even worse, a virulently anti-Semitic, Nazi-like position statement by NACAZAI shows that the Zionists and neocons who rant about the anti-Semitic Left are not entirely incorrect. Such beasts do exist.
Other members of NACAZAI include John Paul Cupp, a Communist supporter of North Korea who lives in Oregon, and Kevin Walsh, a Communist white supremacist who was recently arrested in Arizona for threatening to kill President Bush and has been diagnosed as mentally ill under suspicious circumstances (I suspect he may be bipolar). Both Cupp and Walsh are virulent, Nazi-like anti-Semites.
The entire Left should distance itself from Cupp, Walsh, AlJishi, Nasr and Alloush, along with Arab Nazis and Arab fascists in general (which includes a large segment of the Arab nationalist movement) until they pull their heads out and quit preaching racism in the name of anti-racism.
I would like to point out that the ultra-radical views of Nasr and Alloush and some of their colleagues are not held by the PFLP leadership, which envisions a single state in Palestine for both Jews and Arabs (see the recent interview with top PFLP leader Leila Khaled, for example).
The view that all Jews coming after 1917 need to take off was recently reiterated by the late Sheik Yassin, spiritual leader of Hamas, who was assassinated by an IDF missile.
Another related view is held by others, including Ayatollah Khameini, spiritual leader of Iran, who has stated that ideally all of those Jews who themselves or whose relatives came to Palestine after the 1948 founding of the Israeli state have to go back where they came from. It is possible that Hezbollah may hold similar views, due to the close relationship of its leadership with that of the Iranian government.
Other Arab radicals say that Mizrachi Jews (Jews who lived in the Arab World) can stay in the region, but that Ashkenazi Jews, who trace their recent ancestry back to Europe, have to go home.
Many anti-Zionists (especially progressives and Leftists) believe that all of the Jews can stay in Israel, but that they must share the state and land with the Arabs and dismantle the Jewish state.
This view has been espoused by the leadership of the DFLP and PFLP leftwing Palestinian armed fronts, some members of the PLO, the Hamas Charter, an Islamic Jihad leader in an interview 13 years ago, and Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi, who proposed a state called Izratine.
In general, the vast majority of anti-Zionists do not advocate killing all the Jews in Israel, though I have heard some Arab hotheads say that on the Internet. No Arab or Muslim armed group (including Al Qaeda) takes that position, to my knowledge.
Yet this is a staple of Zionist propaganda – that all anti-Zionists and armed anti-Israel groups are all intent on “carrying out a second Holocaust”. If it were true, it would be an excellent reason to support Israel, but there is little evidence for this.
Furthermore, there is a question of how killing 5 million Jewish residents of an industrialized society in a rapid manner in our day and age, given recent human historical memory, is even feasible.
That said, I do not think that Al Qaeda or the groups allied with them are good for the Jews, to say the least. I can’t prove they want to kill all of the ones in Palestine, much less all the ones on Earth, but I do not think these radicals have the best interests of the Jewish people at heart, to put it mildly.
The official Al Qaeda line is that after the liberation of Palestine by Islam, all of the Jews will have to leave. According to Al Qaeda, once the Caliphate is established on Muslim lands, all non-Muslims in these lands will have to either convert to Islam if they wish to remain in Caliphate lands, or leave if they do not convert. Those who will not convert or leave will have to be killed.
For the record, some of those associated with the British Al Qaeda fronts Al-Muhajiroun, The Savior Sect and Al Ghurabaa such as Omar Bakri Mohammad and Abu Hamza have made statements that all Jews on Earth must be killed.
Variations on Qaddafi’s one-state solution, described above, are called the one-state project. That is the position of this blog. There are many variations on this view. Some hold that ideally the region should be an Islamic state and that the Jews should have to live under Islamic Law. This position is held by Islamists and is strongly opposed by this blog.
It is interesting that Qaddafi’s Izratine was considered a slap in the face to Hamas, who apparently are not wild about living in a state with 5 million Jews.
Some high-ranking Hamas members have said as much, admitting that they have had enough misery from the Jews in the region and want a “divorce” from the Jews, hence the popularity of 2 states as an interim solution by some high-ranking pragmatists in the Hamas leadership.
Others hold that the single state should be a “secular state”, which is a great idea except that most citizens of such a state would be anything but secular. Many Arabs (especially Arab nationalists) insist that the single state be an Arab state and that Jews should live as a minority in such a state. Obviously, that view is not popular with Jews at all.
Others would grant Jews and Arabs some sort of local rule akin to Switzerland’s cantons. One proposal wants to make the single state a homeland for the Jews and Palestinians, two terribly persecuted peoples. This proposal would retain aliya rights for Jews while allowing all Palestinians to have their own sort of aliya.
It’s clear there are many versions of this single state project. The primary resistance to this project at the moment comes not from Arabs or Muslims but from the very real fears of the Jews in Israel. These reality-based fears will have to be addressed in any such single state solution.
Getting back to Greater Israel, the Internet is full of statements by Zionist fanatics fantasizing about Greater Israel. They are not made-up lies but instead are well-documented statements. Here is one by David Ben-Gurion (formerly David Green):
David Ben Gurion, Report to the World Council of Poale Zion (the forerunner of the Labor Party), Tel Aviv, 1938. Cited by Israel Shahak, Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring 1981.
“We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim is to smash Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, and Syria. The weak point is Lebanon, for the Moslem regime is artificial and easy for us to undermine. We shall establish a Christian state there, and then we will smash the Arab Legion, eliminate Trans-Jordan; Syria will fall to us. We then bomb and move on and take Port Said, Alexandria, and Sinai.”
Keep in mind that this frighteningly fanatical statement was uttered by the founder of the state of Israel, a socialist, a liberal and a moderate. Note that his rightwing opponents were even more extreme. Note also that his rightwing Revisionist opponents were the forerunners of the modern-day Likud and Kadima Parties, not to mention the many smaller rightwing parties.