The Zionist Question
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 aspirations.
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 consequences.
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 sites.
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 Palestinians.
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 [email protected] Visit his website at: http://aslama.org. M. Shahid Alam.
Topics: Occupation, Zionism Channel: Opinion
1)First paragraph you wrote.Before you mention anything Muslims did to anybody,we talk about Zionism and this is a particular case. Palestinians versus Zionists.What did the Palestinians do to the Jews in the past,they to deserve this?I can tell you what the Jews did to Palestinians in the past and present as well, but I guess you already know that.You cannot melt together the whole Islamic history in one uniform mission and will. As well as you know, Muslims warred Muslims,Christians warred Christians and last but not least Jews warred Jews among evrybody else.I have no space to educate you on this subject now,but if you google you'll be surprised of how much info you can get.
2)Peace? Yeah,definitely,peace would be the blessed outcome, but guess what happens?When a Zionist leader like Yitzhak Rabbin extends his hand to the Palestinians with the intention of reconcilliation,he's killed by his own party's terrorists,fanatical Zionists. When I visited Jerusalem,a hasidik Jewish Zionist was singing in front of the Damascus Gate of the old city, paraphrazing John Lenon:"Just give War a chance!"
3)Oh yeah,the world would be a far better place with a Jewish state someplace else, let's say the new world. A Jewish state in Arizona or Hawaii.Islam doesn't and never meant violence, America meant that always,Western,Rambo,just open the TV or rent a movie,you'll see violence. Who favours Israel?The little elit that have the power to kill and they would.Nobody likes Israel,it's not cool,it's like liking the executioner instead of the rebel freedom fighter.
4)Dude!!? This is an Islamic site! Of course we don't like Zionism,d
Ramesh Chander has a lot of growing up to do. Ramesh Chander is so smart that he is out of a religion. Isn't that very sad? Yes it is.
A very sad former Hindu, who should back to Hinduism for regaining his sanity, living in our times...He is my Grandpa Moonlight, aka Ramesh Chander.
Ah, muslims who number 1.2 billion should be jealous of Israel. Stop complaining. Obviously Jews are extremely smart. So, learn something from those Jews."
Muslims can NEVER be like them, they can never be deceitful and sinister. Islam teaches them to be truthful and honest human beings. Truth will prevail over falsehood in the end!
Amazing how a small state like Israel with hardly seven million people can control a giant (United States of America)that has a population of 300 million.".
Ah, muslims who number 1.2 billion should be jealous of Israel. Stop complaining. Obviously Jews are extremely smart. So, learn something from those Jews.
Now why waste time telling us the same old story over and over again. Like a broken record the tune irritates.
Better to let ALLAH plot HIS plot.
Why do you think there has never been true peace for Palestinians and just as Syria offers peace, Israel keep bombarding it. Their aggression is supported by US otherwise they can not take one further inch of Arab land. Israel is the only country which has not defined its borders since they aim for more land grab. Think about such a policy alone.
Here are a couple of links for you and others to check for more facts.
Why do you think Bush is planning another vicious attack on Iran. It does not serve American interests to have another war but it is being done for the benefit of Israel. Your government actually worships at the altar of Zionist temple whilst you think they are Christian.
Jesus is about LIFE not death. So put your own house in order before you preach to others.
Or as Christ said; You point to the speck in your brother's eye but forget about the log in your own eye.
I know your aim is for peace so go barking at Bush/Cheney's door and your local govt rep to stop further wars.
Iraq (Former Babylon) and Egypt.They let know their intention by having two blue lines on the Israeli flag which symbolize the Tigris and the Nile
To Wcgault, Oh, please, read history and learn from it well. Learn the lessons of the crusades, who or which side exhibited violence in great proportions.
When Muslims ruled Europe Spain or Greek, there was no forced conversions of Christians to Islam. Instead Christianity thrived. There were even Christian and Jewish ministers in the Muslim led government. Those were the hey days of Jewish authors and poets all living in Muslim ruled Spain.
And when Salahuddin al Ayubi ( Saladin ) recaptured Jerusalem, he gave safe passage to the defeated Christian armies home. He didn't seized the opportunity for revenge. Unlike the previous crusaders who earlier took Jerusalem, there was or were bloodbath all by the crusaders, all in the name of gentle Jesus.
( Jesus - peace be upon him ).
And what else, don't tell me that you were consciously unaware of the Inquisition ? The Jews fled to Muslim ruled countries to escape the murders and senseless killings of the crusaders army. The Christians gave a choice to the Jews, either convert to Christianity or die by the sword. And many more, events that I can provide here to prove my point.
If you are ignorant of history, please consult renowned and impartial historians.
The fact of the matter is Islam spread because the people accepted it as truth. I am not denying that there were not wars in the name of Islam. And they will be dealt with accordingly.
Also, Christians are known for multiple Crusaders (started by lies from your popes) and Inquisitions. In history of Islam, we don't have anything similar to ethnic cleansing like what christians have done (Bosnia is a current example) and what Jews are currently doing.
As for Palestine- it is mentioned in Qur'an and our mosque is there.
Good Luck with this article. As we all know, it is going to fall on
deaf years and any slightest criticism of Zionism, Israel or even
Israel supporters will label you anti-semite, Holocaust denier
and such. Zionists are taking the world down the path of
destruction and bloodshed. The "Muslims" are playing right into
the brutal Greco/British policy of "divide and conquer". Sunnis
and Shias, join together and even if they all walk together, with
all their might, they can conquer the bloody Zionist regime of
Before forgetting, we should also thank the author of this article. Another master piece from Brother M. Shahid Alam.
Infact it must be noted that he mentions all clearly that this is a Zionist plot or Zionist beliefs.
Let us also be rational and reasoned enough to distinguish between the decent Jews and Zionism.
The only way out is try o concede some things about humanity, and move on. First, neither the Jews or anybody else will relent to threats and violence. So, the peace makers on each side need to seek each other out and create a new kind of discussion.
There is now a Jewish state, would the world be a better place if it were replaced by an Arab one? Maybe, but not to the Jews that live there now. Think about that. From some perspectives, Islam now means violence. Why do you think so many people favor Isreal.
This article only helps to keep fires burning that would better be extinguished. If you don't like Zionism, stop with all the Islamist stuff.
When they tried to humilite President Ahmedinejad, they failed miserably. Instead President Ahmedinejad's dignity remained intact. This was what happened at the Columbia University and Bollinger the President of the Educational Institution had in his " unwelcoming address " condemned the Iranian President and laid out what he claimed to be human rights abuses of Iran.
You failed Bollinger and you certainly made people respect Ahmedinejad more and regard you less. I am impressed by the composure and decorum shown by the Iranian President. In replied he mentioned that Bollinger's insult is certainly not part of the healthy culture of academics and knowledge seeking and finding. A university is suppose to be a platform where knowledge in accordance with differed reasons grow.
The whole world watched it. I watched it too. And even an American friend who happened to be doing the same, watching the episode with me over in CNN was deeply embarassed by what Bollinger had uttered.
I think the western world has been too quick to condemned Ahmedinejad, just because he has the courage to question the holocaust. What His Excellency the President of Iran is questioning is the authenticity of the magnified claims made over Jewish deaths, he is not questioning it per say. Can't we see the difference ? Are we deaf and dumb ?
Look, I am putting a question to any holocaust sympathiser now, where is the evidence that 6 million Jews had died ? What about the deaths of other regions, for instance Asia in which millions died in the hands of the Nippon ( Japanese ) imperial army ? Were their lives not as worthful as the Jews ? I'm sure many more Asians and Europeans or even Africans had died than the Jews.
But does this give them the justification to oppress other people who has nothing to do with the heinous crimes, for instance what the Zionist did to the present day Palestinians ?
Consider Rumsfeld's words: "There was a war and some real estate was gained by Israel." Whats the big deal?
Such is the power of the USA behind them with UN, and the rest of Western world supporting them and becoming a hostage to their demands. The best they have done is to come up with some crazy peace plans that has so many conditions it would turn a dissenting slave into a forgotten slave. They have almost achieved that. But resistance continues despite all Zionist plans. And all their wars will eventually consume them too for "if you use the sword, you will perish by the sword."
The only road is truth and reconciliation. It needs courage but it is a safe bet that ALL will have peace, not only one party. ALL, for we are ALL ONE. There is nothing outside this ONE Creation. You would be mistaken to believe that your God created others outside of your lot. That others were created by another god. This is the truth that we must all accept and eventually we will but why wait for more bloodshed? Accept it now and apply it now.
Therefore embrace ALL and let go of politics. God is ONE and we are ALL not separate from HIM but HE is in each one of us. Thus we are ALL brothers unto each other by way of ONE Creation. Any other belief will lead to injustice, imbalance and hurt and therefore retaliation in like manner. The cycle continues. Break that cycle by seeing yourself as ONE with ALL Creation and act upon this belief. No one is your enemy or opponent.
it and try to make sense of what they are doing ..What goes around ..comes around..They should read
history and even if they last longer than other empires in the past..things will change eventually..