Article looking at how supporters of Zionism, in their attempt to fluster their critics, present ‘left-wing’ arguments in support of the Israeli state, while also attacking the anti-Zionist socialist movement inside Israel. Also contains excellent information on anti-semitism within Zionism.
Zionism and its scarecrows1 By Moshé Machover and Mario Offenberg
More than ten years have passed since the beginning of the occupation of the areas conquered by Israel in the June War of 1967. The Palestinian liberation movement has become a factor that can no longer be disregarded in any discussion on the perspectives of the Palestinian question and the Middle East conflict. The relative victories of the Arab armies over Israel in the October War of 1973, the economic and ideological fragility of the Israeli state and finally the new attitude of the US and the West European states towards the Arab states – along with the resulting inevitable readjustment of the nuances regarding the question of Israel-Arab confrontation – these things reveal all too clearly the political weakening of Israel’s position both at home and abroad. Viewed internationally, the isolation of Israel occurred not only in the countries of the Third World and Eastern Europe but to a certain extent also in the West.
While the bourgeois mass media in the West express ‘solidarity’ and ‘anxiety’ for ‘threatened’ Israel but also for the first time report – cautiously and distortedly – on the Palestinians’ struggle for national self-determination, the Western left assesses the Middle East conflict in terms of its anti-imperialist policy. The left attributes the causes of the Middle East conflict to the fact that Zionism – a reactionary, colonizing movement associated with imperialism – realized its intention of creating the Zionist state of Israel at the expense of another people. After its establishment, Israel assumed the role of ‘watch-dog’ for imperialist interests in the Arab East.
However, it is clear that Zionism and its propagandists abroad, using both ‘historically based’ accounts and appeals to the emotions, do their utmost to prevent and reverse the discrediting of Zionist policy and positions. These propagandists no longer project the traditional image of the ‘brave little pioneer who is 150 per cent right’, nor do they come out openly with crude, arrogant nationalism in support of Greater Israel and the expulsion of the Arabs. It’s all handled more subtly and modestly today – and for a good reason: whenever the Zionist nature of the Israeli state is seriously challenged – whether by actual political and military developments, or by ideas calling for a multinational Palestine or a supra-national socialist union of the whole region, the pro-Zionist side tries to present the Palestine conflict in terms of a ‘tragic confrontation between two equally justified national aspirations’ which can be settled on the basis of freezing the Zionist acquisitions of 1949 (with ‘corrections’).
This article aims to show how the objective and subjective henchmen of Zionism in the West, in their attempt to fluster the critics of Zionism, present ‘leftist’-tinged arguments in support of the Israeli state, but especially directed against its Jewish opponents of the anti-Zionist socialist movement inside Israel.
Some time ago the West German magazine links published in serialized form the paper The Class Nature of Israeli Society, which was written in 1970 by Haim Hanegbi, Moshé Machover and Akiva Orr, members of the Israeli Socialist Organization Matzpen.2 A reader of links, Alfred Moos, in a critique, objected both to the Matzpen article and the anti-Zionist position in general.3
We consider Alfred Moos’s article typical of the arguments of the so-called ‘left-wing’ Zionists. Therefore, besides dealing with the central points of the argument in his article, we also want to try to use this example to explain the position of ‘left-wing’ Zionists generally, to criticize it and to show how this position is very similar to that of the official Zionist propaganda, despite all the nuances.
Firstly, however, a preliminary remark: The attack on the Matzpen article takes advantage of the fact that it does not contain a historical analysis of Zionism: neither as to the relation of Zionism to the Jewish question in Europe, nor as to the relation of the Zionist enterprise to the majority of the indigenous population of Palestine (the Palestinian Arab people) and to the various imperialist powers which have dominated the region since the beginning of the Zionist colonization to this day.
The reason why there is no such historical analysis in that article is simple: the article did not intend to present a comprehensive historical reckoning with Zionism but more particularly to point out the basic structure of Israeli class society today.4
Zionism and Anti-Semitism
It is indicative that ‘left-wing Zionists’ always start their attacks on Israeli anti-Zionists with the remark that the Jewish immigrants to Palestine – who provided the human raw material for the Zionist enterprise – ‘fled all too frequently from physical extermination and from anti-Semitic humiliation and the loss of their means of livelihood at the very least’. The threat the propagandists of Zionism like so much to use is concealed behind this introduction: whoever denounces Zionism, whoever rejects the Israeli state, whoever puts up a fight against the Zionist nature of Israel and Zionist policy – is an ally of anti-Semitism.
The threat is expressed even more bluntly: for example, that the present struggle against Zionism ‘is decorated with crumbs from the national-socialist kitchen.’ Still more: ‘Sometimes one almost has the impression that Zionists are the newly costumed “Elders of Zion” for many leftists.’ Words of warning and threats are also aimed directly at anti-Zionist Israelis: ‘Young Israelis, who are calling upon people to participate in the struggle against Zionism, shouldn’t forget that their parents or grandparents in most cases were persecuted people for whom Palestine/Israel was the only refuge and that they would hardly have the right today to close Israel’s borders if sometime in the future Jews should be forced to flee to Israel in the face of anti-Semitic persecution. The old Jewish self-hatred sometimes gives rise to queer practices.’
Such libellous statements are nothing new. They were already directed against the Jewish communists in Russia who denounced Zionism at the second World Congress of the Communist International:
‘We are concerned with the Zionists in Palestine, who, under the pretext of founding an independent Jewish state, oppress the working population and force the Arabs living in Palestine under the yoke of the English, whereas the Jews are only a minority there. This matchless lie must be stamped out and indeed most vigorously, as the Zionists are working in every country, approaching all the backward Jewish working masses and trying to create groups of workers with Zionist tendencies (Poalei Zion), who have recently been endeavouring to adopt a communist phraseology. [...] The Communist International must oppose this movement most vehemently’.5
One of the most well-known representatives of Zionism made no secret of his opinion of the anti-Zionist communists: ‘These psychopaths and sadists, full of hatred for everything Jewish, shall rot in their own depravity and hideousness and suffocate in their own filth.’6 The way the Zionists treat their (Jewish) critics, who oppose them on the basis of the principles of internationalism, has not changed. The co-founder of the pre-communist group in Palestine was labelled a ‘traitor’ and ‘enemy of the Jewish people’ in 1920,7 because he dared to say abroad that the expulsion of the Arab fellahin by the Zionist movement was a challenge for the entire Arab world to make a stand against the Jews of Palestine.8 Yaakow Meiersohn, Nach der 5. Poalei-Zion-Konferenz – Brief an die Genossen der Sozialistischen Arbeiterpartei in Palästina (in Yiddish), Vienna 1920; reprinted in Mario Offenberg, Kommunismus in Palästina – Nation und Klasse in der antikolonialen Revolution, Meisenheim/Glan (BRD) 1975. Even the ‘doves’ of Zionism show no mercy; for them, the anti-Zionists from the ‘Holy Land’ are suffering from a ‘pathological feeling of enmity towards the Jewish national creation’, as they are propagating the ‘belief in inciting a war of genocide against the Jewish community of the country’.9
Israeli revolutionary socialists have been accustomed to the reproach of ‘self-hatred’ all along and have been well armed against it. However, from their own experience they know that the defamatory scarecrow of equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism still succeeds in intimidating a considerable part of the left (not to mention the democratic non-leftists) outside Israel. It is therefore essential that the left in Western Europe also learn to see through this false and defamatory equation and to recognise it as a propagandist scarecrow on the part of Zionist policy.
There is no doubt that the modern Zionist movement arose as a reaction to anti-Semitism and the plight of the Jews in Eastern and Central Europe at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of this century. But it is not enough merely to point out that Zionism constitutes a reaction to anti-Semitism; we must determine what kind of reaction it is. In principle there can be two opposing attitudes towards anti-Semitism as towards other similar phenomena of discrimination and oppression for racial, ethnic, religious and similar reasons.
The first attitude is common not only to socialists but also to all those who have a progressive outlook (radical liberals, radical democrats etc). The way they see things, discrimination and oppression of minorities do not originate in human nature but are rather the result of certain conditions – namely, social, economic and political conditions, which are historical and consequently changeable.
According to this view, only the struggle to change the prevailing social, economic and political conditions is the politically correct reaction to anti-Semitism and other similar phenomena, this change being an organic component part of the general struggle for ‘a better world’. Of course the various progressive tendencies (revolutionary socialists, social reformists, radicals) considerably differ from one another both in their conceptions of the new world they are striving for and also in the means necessary to wage the struggle. All, however, share one common assumption: the struggle against the roots of anti-Semitism and similar phenomena is not futile and (as a part of the general struggle for a better society) is the only correct political answer.
On the other hand, in the case of those who hold reactionary and racist views, we generally find an opposing attitude: the antagonism and conflict between the majority of a population and racial, ethnic and religious minorities are rooted in ‘human nature’ itself; a struggle against anti-Semitism (or against similar phenomena) is pointless because anti-Semitism is a necessary, normal, indeed even healthy phenomenon. The only way to solve the problem once and for all is to destroy its alleged roots: it is imperative to change the situation where Jews live as a minority among non-Jews. It will not be difficult for the reader to see that this second attitude is the one characteristic of anti-Semites. However, the truth is that this attitude constitutes the fundamental premise and the point of departure for both anti-Semitism and Zionism. The only difference is that Zionism appeals to the Jews to leave the ‘non-Jewish’ peoples of their own free will, whereas anti-Semitism simply demands that they be thrown out.
One can show that many anti-Semites are aware of the elements that anti-Semitism and Zionism have in common. For example, the British colonel, R. Meinertzhagen (who was political officer on the staff of the conqueror of Palestine in the first world war, General Allenby) confides to us: ‘My inclination towards Jews in general is governed by an anti-Semitic instinct which is invariably modified by personal contact. My views on Zionism are those of an ardent Zionist’.10 To the anti-Semite’s friendly wave the Zionist responds with an elegant bow. In his diary, the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, tells how he was influenced by the Dreyfuss trial, on which he, Herzl, reported for an anti-Semitic Vienna newspaper:
‘In Paris [...] I achieved a freer attitude towards anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognised the emptiness and futility of trying to “combat” anti-Semitism.’11
The ideology of Zionism, as conceived by its founder, Theodor Herzl, is based on earlier studies done by other ‘race theoreticians’. For one of them, anti-Semitism is subject to a biological law:
‘Jewbaiting is a kind of demonopathy with a difference: it is not a quality of a particular race but common to all mankind ... Like a psychic affliction, it is hereditary, and as a disease has been incurable for two thousand years.’
Another ‘theoretician in things Jewish’ says:
‘Jewish noses can’t be re-shaped and black, curly Jewish hair can’t be changed into blond hair or combed straight by christening. The Jewish race is a basic one and reproduces itself in its integrity despite climatic influences. The Jewish type has itself always remained the same throughout the course of the centuries. [...] It’s no use Jews and Jewesses denying their origin by being christened and disappearing into the great sea of Indo-Germanic and Mongol tribes. The Jewish type cannot be exterminated.’
Although these statements could well have come from the Alfred Rosenberg Nazi school, we must name the actual authors: the first is the Zionist thinker Leo Pinsker, the second is Moses Hess.12
It is not difficult to cite many further quotations from Zionist sources, from the beginnings of Zionism to the present day, which show the common theoretical point of departure of Zionism and anti-Semitism. We shall spare the reader these quotes and make do with the analysis of a young contemporary Israeli historian, Yigal Elam:
‘Zionism assumed anti-Semitism to be a natural state of affairs as far as the attitude of the world towards the Jews was concerned. [...] Zionism did not consider anti-Semitism an abnormal, absurd, perverse or marginal phenomenon. Zionism considered anti-Semitism a fact of nature, a standard constant, the norm in the relationship of the non-Jews to the presence of Jews in their midst [...], Zionism considered anti-Semitism a normal, almost rational reaction of the gentiles to the abnormal, absurd and perverse situation of the Jewish people in the Diaspora.’13
Revealing and illuminating is the almost apologetic understanding a prominent Zionist leader shows for Nazism in 1934:
‘(The Jews) have been drawn out of the last secret recesses of christening and mixed marriages. We are not unhappy about it. In their being forced to declare themselves, to show real determined courage, to stand by their community, we see at the same time the fulfilment of our desires. [...] The theory of assimilation has collapsed. We are no longer hidden in secret recesses. We want to replace assimilation by something new: the declaration of belonging to the Jewish nation and the Jewish race. A state, built according to the principle of purity of the nation and race [ie the Third Reich – editor’s note], can only be honoured and respected by a Jew who declares his belonging to his own kind.’14
The far-reaching harmony between Zionism and anti-Semitism, caused by the common ideological point of departure, goes even further than could be assumed.
The introduction to the infamous racist Nuremberg Laws of 15 September 1935 says among other things:
‘If the Jews had a state of their own in which the bulk of their people were at home, the Jewish question could already be considered solved today, even for the Jews themselves. The ardent Zionists of all people have objected least of all to the basic ideas of the Nuremberg Laws, because they know that these laws are the only correct solution for the Jewish people too […].’15
Such implicit harmony between Zionism and anti-Semitism must have been a dreadful blow for those Jews and non-Jews who saw the solution of the issue in waging a political struggle to ‘democratise’ their societies. Isaac Deutscher reports that in Eastern Europe, and especially in Poland, the Yiddish-speaking workers who considered themselves Jews without reservation were the most resolute enemies of Zionism. They were determined opponents of emigration to Palestine. These anti-Zionists thought the idea of an evacuation, an exodus from the countries they called home, where their ancestors had lived for centuries, amounted to abdicating their rights, yielding to hostile pressure, betraying their struggle and surrendering to anti-Semitism. For them, Zionism seemed to be the triumph of anti-Semitism, legitimising and validating the old cry ‘Jews out’. The Zionists accepted it, they wanted ‘out’.16
Zionism was indeed a reaction to anti-Semitism; the basic assumption, however, on which Zionist ideology is based agrees with that of anti-Semitism.
Zionism and the rights of the Jews
From what has been explained above, it becomes clear why Zionism was so often indifferent to the struggle against anti-Semitism and for equality for the Jews; as it disputes from the very outset the possibility and usefulness of a struggle against anti-Semitism. The situation of Jews living outside Palestine interest Zionism only in so far as they are moved by their situation to emigrate to Palestine or at least to support Zionism. This is expressed by the Israeli historian Y. Elam, whom we have already quoted above, as follows: ‘From the very first moment it (Zionism) gave up all considerations connected with the situation of the Jewish people in the Diaspora, except in so far as they contributed to the Zionist enterprise.’ And so it came about that in the years after the Nazi takeover in Germany, ‘when the demonstrations and protest actions against the Nazi regime of terror reached their climax, the voice of Zionism was not to be heard.’17
The Zionists in their entirety rejected the continued existence of the ‘Diaspora’. According to this view, the life of Jews outside Palestine/Israel is reprehensible, whereas only emigration to Palestine, the active participation in the Zionist enterprise, is considered desirable. Regarding the attitude of Zionists towards the Jews living in the Diaspora, the Israeli professor of history and Zionist functionary of many years standing, Arieh Tartakower, says: ‘They (the majority within Zionism) considered every attempt to protect Jewish rights in the Diaspora to be a complete waste of energy.’18 Even if Zionism’s contempt for the Diaspora was an apparent contradiction – for selfish reasons Zionism could not be indifferent to what became of the reservoir of immigrants – it seems that the Zionists (like Herzl originally) considered anti-Semitic intrigues, which might drive the Jews to Palestine, to be more important, up to a certain point, than the struggle against anti-Semitism. Without doubt, this way of reasoning implies to a degree an element of discipline, but also self-justification and most certainly a deep contempt for humanity, and infinite hypocrisy.
Before and during the Second World War, individual Zionists like Nahum Goldmann and Yitzhak Grienbaum, demanded participation in the struggle for the rights of the Jews. However, all trends and all important leaders of Zionism refused this demand. In 1935 the board of the Jewish Agency, the institution which ran Zionist activities in Palestine, appointed a special commission to look into the problems of the Jews in Germany. So it came about that during the board meeting of the Jewish Agency on 31 December 1935, David Ben-Gurion, in answer to the demand of Y. Grienbaum that the Zionist movement should take part in the struggle for the rights of the Jews in Germany, stated that ‘Even according to Grienbaum, the job of the commission appointed by the board was not to deal with the rights of the Jews in Germany. This commission’s job was to discuss the question of the Jews in Germany only from the aspect of their immigration to Palestine, and its report is not at all inconsistent with any measures which might be taken in support of the rights of the Jews in Germany. The commission’s job was to discuss the Zionist aspect of the question and not to deliberate on measures to be taken in support of the rights of the Jews in the Diaspora.’19
Even if we accept the idea that the report of this commission was ‘not inconsistent’ with the struggle for the rights of the German Jews (and this is by no means sure!), the fact still remains that the commission was by no means willing to pay any attention to this struggle. Indeed, it was the main job of this commission to organise the famous ‘transfer’ deal, the trade contract between the Zionist movement and the Hitler government, according to which the money and property of German Jews were transferred to Palestine in the form of German goods, thus breaking an anti-Nazi economic boycott organised by anti-fascist forces. Here too (as Y. Elam rightly points out) it was ‘not the attempt to save Jewish property in the Diaspora which was behind the deal, but the attempt to increase the economic strength of the Jewish “Yishuv” in Palestine.’20
This indifference on the part of Zionism towards the struggle for the rights of the Jews has existed all along. It continues even today, for example, in the case of the Soviet Jews. It must be pointed out that the vociferous campaign of the Zionist movement in this matter does not aim to help the Jews in the Soviet Union as such but is only directed at securing one single privilege – namely, the right to emigrate to Israel. The struggle for the rights of the Jews which, like any other struggle to secure equal rights for a national or ethnic minority, deserves the support of every progressive person, is hardly of interest to Zionism. Moreover, as we shall see later, it is certain that if, for whatever reason, there is a decline in the propensity of Soviet Jews to emigrate, this will cause many Zionist leaders disappointment and regret. This has become especially evident since 1967.
Every attempt to present the ‘Jewish problem’ in the Soviet Union in an ahistorical ‘eternal dimension’ – which is typical of idealism generally and Zionism in particular – is from the outset manipulatory and misleading, and mainly based on exploiting the emotions and the ignorance of the observer. The ‘Jewish problem’ in the Soviet Union is one of the national problems there – not the only one, not even the most important one; it does not exist ‘autonomously’ (according to the false slogan: ‘even socialism can’t solve the problem of the Jews....’), separately or independently of the other inner social processes of the Soviet Union.
It would definitely be very presumptuous to attribute the Soviet Jews’ willingness to emigrate only to their desire to gratify Jewish religious and cultural needs to a greater extent than is possible in the Soviet Union, or to their wish to strengthen Zionism politically, economically and militarily in Israel. For some of them that may be true. For many, however, the simple wish to live outside the Soviet Union is the main drive. Over half of the Jews allowed out of the Soviet Union, ostensibly as going to Israel, never arrive there. They ‘drop out’ during the stopover in Vienna or Rome and that’s the end of their ‘journey to Jerusalem’.21 The Russian Zionist activist, Dr Viktor Polski, who left Moscow in 1974 and emigrated to Israel, laments: ‘Should exit conditions be relaxed and fewer refusals be issued by the Soviet government, I have no doubt that the emigration flow will increase considerably. However, I greatly fear that the flow of those arriving in Israel will not increase proportionately. If the Soviet Jews’ image of Israel and the actual conditions behind it don’t change, the proportion of those who drop out in transit will be greater than those arriving in Israel.’22
Many of the Soviet Jewish emigrants have fallen victim to Israeli propaganda, which by radio and much more subtle and seemingly ‘unofficial’ means, penetrates into the interior of the Soviet Union. Recently the situation has begun to change: relations and friends already emigrated report in detail on the rude awakening they have undergone in the Zionist state. Instead of a completely harmonious, affluent society without any friction, they found a class society in which they are exposed to the same exploitation, unemployment, inflation, bureaucracy, alienation which make up the day-to-day life of the rest of the working population of Israel – in spite of the great financial benefits they enjoy as privileged immigrants. In addition, there is the constant deadly peril of confrontation with the Palestinians and neighbouring Arab states. In 1974 half as many Jews emigrated from the Soviet Union to Israel as in the previous years 1973 and 1972 respectively.23
With the worsening of the economic crisis in Israel and increasing inflation and unemployment rates, the resentment of the Israeli population at the Soviet Jews, with their special prerogatives as regards housing and jobs and their special tax reductions, is becoming more marked. Any member of the working population can easily realise that the national income cake, in any case inadequate, and the capital collected abroad by the Zionist organisation are being distributed most unfairly.
In the past grievances were voiced quietly and confidentially about the preferential treatment of the immigrants; but they were ‘needed’. Today, however, many in Israel express their annoyance openly. The Jews and more specifically the Jewish underprivileged social strata, like the Orientals, sections of the youth and the working class, are venting their protests more blatantly and explicitly against immigration at their own expense. For the most part they are reacting quite spontaneously, generally without realising that thereby they are already assailing one of the basic principles of Zionism. ‘Ingathering’ of the Jews in Palestine/Israel, demographically outnumbering the Arabs, feeding the insatiable – and in the long run, inadequate – Israeli military machine with human raw material for its fight to the bitter end: this is Zionism, among other things. All immigration to Israel is – today as in the past – motivated, controlled and run by Zionism. The objective contradiction between Zionist immigration and the interests of the working population of Israel cannot be solved. It is an additional source of internal Israeli class conflicts.24
But what becomes of the Soviet Jewish ‘drop-outs’? The Israeli journalist, Abraham Tirosh, reports on Jewish emigrants from the Soviet Union, who either arrived in Israel and then left the country, or who managed to ‘beat it’ in Vienna, in transit from Moscow to Tel Aviv, despite constant Israeli surveillance.25 These Jews, who are in a terrible predicament and urgently need help, are as a rule turned away by the Zionist ‘Jewish Agency’ which has offices in all important cities in Western Europe. The European office of the only allegedly independent Jewish refugee organisation, the HIAS, is in Rome. Tirosh continues: Penniless and disoriented, these Jewish refugees trudge to Vienna and Rome. ‘The HIAS organisation refuses to take care of the Soviet emigrants who arrive at their offices in Vienna, Rome or in Israel, unless they have received the confirmation and permission of the Jewish Agency, which looks into each case thoroughly. The acting director of the immigration department of the Jewish Agency, Yehuda Dominitz, and leading circles of the HIAS have strongly denied recent news, according to which, contravening the agreement, HIAS has begun to handle Soviet emigrants from Israel to Europe and the USA.’
The issue of the Soviet Jews can be summed up as follows: The Zionist movement is not struggling for the recognition of the right of every person to be able to emigrate from one country to another – in itself a progressive demand which every socialist should support – but it demands this right as a special privilege only for Jews, and then only on condition that they immigrate to Israel and to no other country.
The basis of the Zionist campaign on Soviet Jews is not the general idea of universal human rights but the Zionist thesis according to which every Jew everywhere in the world has a special right to Palestine. And in the same breath, Zionism denies the political and national rights of the Arabs of Palestine to their homeland.
Indeed, this same Zionist government and this same Zionist view demand the automatic right of a Jew born in Moscow to emigrate from the Soviet Union to Israel and automatically grant him Israeli citizenship. At the same time, the same view and the same government deny the right of an Arab born in Haifa, who today for example is living in the Gaza Strip or in a camp on the outskirts of Beirut, to return to his home town and to receive his civil rights there. Human rights in general and even the rights of the Jews as a whole interest Zionism only in as far as they help to promote Jewish immigration to Israel.
We have already mentioned the transfer, that morally dubious business deal between the Zionist movement and the Hitler government. When this deal was criticised – at the time progressive forces were calling for an economic boycott of the Third Reich – Moshe Shertok (later known as M. Sharett, a well-known Zionist leader and Israel’s first foreign minister) answered as follows: ‘Here there is a conflict between the Diaspora and Eretz-Israel [i.e. the Zionist enterprise in Palestine – editor’s note] ... It is Zionism’s lot to have to be cruel to the Diaspora at times, when the development of the country demands it.'26
This cruelty of Zionism towards the Jews of the world is sometimes especially cynical. It often happens that people who belong to an oppressed group, but who nevertheless do not want to or cannot participate in the struggle against the cause of their oppression, prefer an individual solution – emigration to another country. Socialists do not propose to rob them of this possibility; on the contrary, they insist on the right of every individual to emigrate freely. They object most strongly however to emigration being presented as a collective political solution, as a substitute for the struggle against oppression. It must be mentioned at this point that in the 1920s, 1930s and also later, many of the East European Jews did in fact choose this individual solution of emigration. Many millions emigrated from countries where they had suffered great hardship to the US and other countries, and thus found a satisfactory solution to their problem themselves. Zionist emigration to Palestine was negligible in comparison with the flow of Jewish non-Zionist emigration to other countries. The difference however lay in the fact that Zionist propaganda was directed at the more active and also more conscious elements, who were looking for a political and not simply an individual solution; and it offered them the wrong political solution. Moreover, it tried stubbornly to prevent these Jews from joining in the revolutionary struggle in their own countries – this was to a certain extent both the requirement and aim of the Zionist campaign.
There are also exceptional situations in which there is no possibility of a struggle on the part of the oppressed minority at all, and this minority is particularly exposed to great danger. In such cases the only humane solution is the prompt organisation of emigration for those in immediate danger to any countries ready to grant them asylum. (A fairly recent example is that of people of Indian origin in Uganda in 1972.) Such was the situation of the Jews in Germany and other European countries at the end of the 1930s. It was clear that to save the Jews from the danger of extermination, it was necessary to enable them to emigrate to any safe place.
At this historical moment truly cruel Zionism (without inverted commas) showed its absolutely cynical attitude towards the problem of saving the Jews. The leaders of Zionism reacted with indifference and even hostility towards the emigration of Jews from the endangered countries to places other than Palestine. Zionism clearly showed that in principle it is not interested in saving the Jews themselves, but only in saving them by emigration to Palestine. The leader of the Zionist movement, Chaim Weizman, said: ‘Zionism is eternal life and, compared with that, saving thousands of Jews is merely extending their lives on borrowed time.’27
David Ben-Gurion’s letter of 17 December 1938 to his colleagues of the Zionist Executives is particularly shocking. In reaction to attempts, by the Western powers – under pressure of public opinion – to find various expedients for the problem of the Jews in Germany, Ben-Gurion writes:
‘The Jewish problem now is not what it used to be. What is now happening to the Jews in Germany is not the end but the beginning. Other anti-Semitic states will learn from Hitler’s deed. ... Millions of Jews are now faced with physical extermination. The refugee problem has now become an urgent worldwide issue and England, assisted by anti-Zionist Jews, is trying to separate the refugee problem from the Palestine problem. The frightful extent of the refugee problem requires a speedy territorial solution and if Palestine won’t absorb any Jews, one would have to look for another territory. Zionism is endangered. All other territorial experiments, which are doomed to failure, will require huge amounts of capital, and if the Jews are faced with a choice between the refugee problem and rescuing Jews from concentration camps on the one hand, and aid for the national museum in Palestine on the other, the Jewish sense of pity will prevail and our people’s entire strength will be directed at aid for the refugees in the various countries. Zionism will vanish from the agenda and indeed not only from world public opinion in England and America but also from Jewish public opinion. We are risking Zionism’s very existence if we allow the refugee problem to be separated from the Palestine problem.’28
It is not just that Zionism and saving Jews in danger of extermination are not one and the same thing; at a critical historical moment, Zionism took a stand against saving the Jews. Here we must add something: it is true that those Jews who before the second world war had participated in the Zionist emigration from Central and Eastern Europe thereby escaped annihilation by fascism. The attempt, however, to use this as a ‘socialist’ justification of Zionism is nothing but demagogy and moral blackmail.
Firstly, many more Jews managed to save themselves without Zionism, indeed contrary to Zionism, either by emigrating to America or by fleeing to the interior of the Soviet Union. Secondly, the deliverance of the Jews in Palestine was due to the fact that the German army in Africa under Rommel only got as far as El-Alamein, and did not conquer Palestine. Palestine was also on the planned route of the fascist conquerors. If Rommel’s army had conquered Palestine and had got as far as Syria, the fate of the Jews in Palestine would undoubtedly have been the same as their brothers’ in Poland. No ‘magical mystical’ power of Zionism’s would have protected the Jews of the Zionist community from the Nazis then.
Only few Zionists were ready to recognise the untenability of the Zionist axiom, according to which Jews could ‘get out of’ world history through Zionism so that they would then be outside the fascism-anti-fascism process. This is what the Zionist leader Yaakov Zrubavel said in January 1945 in the Congress of the ‘World Organisation of Poalei Zion’ and thereby gave rise to violent disagreement: ‘Is it admissible to build everything on this catastrophe? [the annihilation of the European Jews – editor’s note] And isn’t it pure chance that we have survived in Palestine? Wasn’t Hitler at the gates of the country? What would have been our situation and fate here then? Large sections of the population here and certainly those present here could have defended themselves, just as the Jews in Warsaw defended themselves. Hitler didn’t only plan to annihilate the Diaspora but Jewry, all Jews everywhere. We have saved ourselves by pure chance.’29
Those who consider the extermination of the Jews by German fascism to be a ‘refutation’ of the Marxist view of the Jewish problem and its solution by social struggle and social change, and who invoke this as proof of the ‘necessity’ of Zionism, should be answered in the words of Isaac Deutscher:
‘To my mind the tragic events of the Nazi era neither invalidate the classical Marxist analysis of the Jewish question nor call for its revision. ... Classical Marxism reckoned with a healthier and more normal development of our civilisation in general, with a timely transformation of the capitalist into a socialist society. It did not reckon with the persistent survival of capitalism and its degenerative effects on our civilisation at large. Nevertheless Marx, Engels, Rosa Luxemburg and Trotsky repeatedly said that mankind was confronted with the alternative of either international socialism or barbarism – tertium non datur. ... European Jewry has paid the price for the survival of capitalism, for the success of capitalism in defending itself against a socialist revolution. This fact surely does not call for a revision of the classical Marxist analysis – it rather confirms it.’30
Indeed there was no essential connection between the deliverance of the Jews in the Second World War and Zionism. What brought about the deliverance of the Jews in Palestine was the fact that Hitler’s war machine had been brought to a halt. The Jews were saved wherever Nazism could not reach. The historical conclusion to be drawn from this is that only the worldwide struggle against fascism and reaction is an effective answer to anti-Semitism. This conclusion is exactly opposed to the one drawn by the so-called ‘left-wing’ Zionists.
Zionist propagandists often point out that the emigrants to Palestine/Israel from Eastern and Western Europe’ and recently from the Arab countries’ came because of anti-Semitism and lack of a means of livelihood:
‘Zionist ideology played in most cases no role at all or at the most a secondary one. ... These people did not need any pressure or Zionist propaganda to decide to emigrate to Palestine.’31
The answer to that is: first, no one is trying to deny that Zionism used countless thousands of people as human raw material for its own enterprise, people looking for an escape from destitution and oppression – many of them were not particularly enthusiastic Zionists to begin with. On the other hand, however, the assertion that Zionism did not have to exert any particular pressure on these people to get them to emigrate to Palestine/Israel is very far from the truth. Let us recall as an example the emigration of the Jews from Iraq at the beginning of the 1950s. A brief outline of the affair: in 1950 the Zionist movement concluded a secret deal with the reactionary government of Iraq, according to which the emigration of the Jews of that country to Israel was to be encouraged. The Iraqi government concluded this deal among other things because it had a financial interest in it: the property of emigrant Jews was to be confiscated and handed over to the government. Both the Zionists and the Iraqi government were completely satisfied with this arrangement. The only problem was that the Iraqi Jews themselves did not want to play along. The way they saw things, they had absolutely no reason to emigrate from Iraq to Israel. Their relations with the Islamic and Christian sections of the Iraqi population were in general quite good.
Then something strange happened: bombs exploded in various Jewish establishments and meeting places. Some Jews were killed by the bombs. As a result, the Iraqi Jews panicked and within a short time most of them applied to emigrate to Israel. Some time later it turned out that those who had planted the bombs were without any doubt agents of the Zionist movement who were following their movement’s instructions. So the leaders of cruel Zionism had decided that wherever there is not enough anti-Semitism, it must be intentionally created or simulated in order to frighten the Jews and motivate them to implement the Zionist solution. All the details of this affair, based on the statements of Iraqi Jews and some of the’ heroes’, the names of the bomb-planters, were published only fifteen years later in Israel. Many Jews from Iraq living in Israel today, when asked who planted the bombs admit in private conversations: ‘Hatnu‘ah’ – ’the Movement’, which in Hebrew usage means the Zionist movement. This is not the only affair of this kind. In this case however many of the details became known.32
The Problem of Land and Expulsion
We have seen that Zionism is not quite the same as the deliverance of Jews from danger and anti-Semitism. Moreover, the important thing about Zionism is not that it wants to solve the problem of the Jews by emigration generally. The important thing is Zionism’s insistence that Jewish emigration be directed exclusively at a systematic colonisation of Palestine with the aim of establishing an exclusivist Jewish nation-state. The character traits of the ‘Zionist enterprise’ in Palestine are the inevitable result of this aim. ‘Left-wing’ Zionists often explain that ‘the land they immigrated into was already populated by Arabs – that is the tragedy of the Jewish immigration to Palestine, which doubtlessly is frequently unrecognised or suppressed; but then, who can expect an ethnic group – whatever it is and whenever it was – to be prepared to commit collective suicide, when there is the possibility of migrating, even if the country in question is already populated by other people.’33
There was nothing tragic about the fact that the US was already populated, for those Jews who chose to escape danger and persecution my migrating privately to the US – and there were many, many more of them than those who chose the Zionist solution. It did not even enter their minds that in order to escape ‘collective suicide’ they should expel the non-Jews from the US. The ‘tragedy’ only began when the Zionist settlers aimed not only to settle in Palestine but to change it from an Arab country into an exclusivist Jewish nation state. We put the word tragedy in inverted commas because the ‘leftwing’ apologists of Zionism use it to give the impression that it was a matter of some cruel play of blind fate, not the result of intentional and planned actions on the part of the leaders of the Zionist colonisers. Chaim Weizman, the president of the Zionist Organisation, explained the Zionists’ aim before the Paris Peace Congress in March 1919 as follows:
‘With the establishment of a Jewish national home we intend to create such conditions in Palestine as make it possible for us to transport 50,000 to 60,000 Jews yearly, to develop our language, establish our schools, universities and other national institutions and to continue to work in this direction until Palestine is finally just as Jewish as America is American and England is English.’34
And what was to become of the existing population of Palestine, which was predominantly Arab? Some prominent Zionists are much more honest here than many of their apologists; Menachem Ussischkin, member of the Zionist Executive, reports on the Zionist solution planned for what was called in the Zionist vernacular, the’ Arab question’:
‘We are condemned to remain a small island in the Arabian ocean forever; but that does not mean that we should allow ourselves to be humiliated or subjugated. We have to keep silent and go to Palestine. Hard times are ahead. But if we go to Palestine ten by ten, hundred by hundred, thousand by thousand, hundreds of thousands, the Arab question is solved.’35
The ‘Arab question’ was ‘solved’ satisfactorily for Zionism: the Arab people of Palestine were made foreigners in their own country. ‘Tragedy’?
The territorial expansion of Zionism which can be traced exactly from the already famous maps of Israel (1947, 1949, 1967, 1973) is no coincidence, no historical mishap. It arose from the global matter-of-factness of the Zionist movement which on the one hand lays exclusive Zionist claim to the whole of Palestine – naturally, only for Jews – while on the other hand it believes it can counter the objective incompatibility of the Zionist entity with its Arab environment by means of the military, strategic and demographic advantages gained by expanding its borders. The annexation of Arab territories under Zionist rule has both history and method. In 1918 the population of Palestine was made up of 599,000 Arabs and 67,000 Jews, who owned two million hectares and 65,000 hectares of land respectively. In 1970 only 86,000 hectares of Israeli land (ie approximately 4 per cent) were still in Arab hands.36 Until 1948 Zionism had to take over and colonise land ‘step by step’; but after achieving state sovereignty, it was able to take over both the lands and the villages of the Palestinian refugees (in Israeli legal terminology ‘abandoned property’) as well as substantial parts of the lands of those Arabs who stayed in Israel, by their administrative transformation into ‘closed military areas’ and their consequent confiscation. For example, this was how the ‘Judaisation’ of the Galilee was engineered and imposed from the fifties.37
The Zionist policy on land left nothing to chance. The fact that it was connected with iniquities, expulsions and great suffering for the Arabs of Palestine was not a ‘mistake’ but the logical consequence of the policy which Zionism consciously and systematically pursued. Before the terms ‘colonisation’ and ‘colonialism’ generally came to be regarded throughout the world as dirty words, the Zionist movement used them to describe its own pursuits in Palestine. It spoke of ‘Kolonizatzia’. The nasty aftertaste of the word later led them to use the Hebrew circumlocution for the same concept. At its foundation congress in Petah-Tikva in 1919, Ben-Gurion’s party Ahdut Ha‘avoda (which was to be the leading ‘left-wing’ party in the Zionist movement ever since) proclaimed the aim of the ‘Zionist Workers’ Movement in Palestine’ (sic): ‘The transfer of the land of Palestine, its rivers and its natural resources to the possession of the entire Jewish people.’38 A definite aim without doubt, but the Zionists knew very well that ‘our country (is) not only small but for the most part in the possession of others.’39
A complicated and fateful enterprise in the opinion of both its supporters and opponents who knew one thing very well: Palestine was already populated, its transformation into a ‘Jewish’ country would have to be at the expense of the indigenous population! The Zionist economist Alfred Bonne, says:
‘The problem of land is one of the questions which has become particularly acute and politically significant with the expansion of Jewish colonisation in recent years. If Palestine had been an unpopulated country or if conditions there had been the same as in the colonial territories of Australia, Africa or South America which are hardly populated, the significance of the question would not have gone beyond the bounds of pure economics. But Palestine was a populated country when the Jewish colonisation movement began and it was even more densely populated on average than the neighbouring countries.’40
Ya‘akov Meiersohn who has already been quoted says in 1920: ‘In Palestine there is no unsettled land at all; the land of Palestine is settled, but not intensively cultivated. I am stating quite frankly and clearly that up till now not one piece of land has been bought in Palestine which had not been cultivated before by Arabs.’41
The Communist Party of Palestine says in this regard:
‘The Zionist movement does not like to buy lands which have to be drained before construction can begin. It prefers land which has been worked for years by the fellahin. [...] First, it is more economical and in the public good to build kibbutzim on land that has already been cultivated than on uncultivated land; and secondly by doing this one fulfils a (Zionist) duty: the Arabs, the “goyim”, are expelled from the “Holy” Land, now “redeemed” by the hands of Jewish workers.’42
Today no one can deny that the Zionist Movement of Palestine, which was under the leadership of Ben-Gurion from 1920 until the mid 1960s, intended anything but to have a Jewish majority as great as possible in a territory as big as possible – and for the most part ‘free of Arabs’... Ben-Gurion writes: ‘First and foremost I am a Zionist and strive for the concentration of the Jewish people in its own country. Only after that do I see the Arab question arising.’ And further: ‘If the Zionist idea has any true content, it is the content of the state. Zionism is the desire for a state of the Jews, the yearning for the country of Palestine and for the establishment of a government.’ Four years later, in 1928 he wrote: ‘Palestine for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Arab people is not one and the same thing. [...] We would be deceiving ourselves if we said that it were one and the same. [...] Palestine is destined for the Jewish people and the Arabs who live there.’43 It must be noted here that Ben-Gurion means all the Jews in the world and refers to them as a people, whereas in Palestine there was not even an Arab people, just ‘the Arabs who live there’. In 1931 he says: ‘I have always only viewed the Arab problem from the Zionist point of view, ie I wanted to solve the problem of the Jewish people in Palestine, concentrate on them in this country in order to make them a free people living in their own country. There isn’t an Arab problem in Palestine, only a Jewish one – like everywhere else, by the way.’44
The fact that the very vociferous Zionist ‘workers’ movement’ practises colonialism under the cloak of socialism may be confusing, but the facts speak for themselves. For those who could not understand how socialism could be consistent with colonialism, internationalism with nationalism, workers’ solidarity with expropriation and repression, the ‘left-wing’ Zionists enacted their verdict in 1921: ‘Whenever we come across a contradiction between national and socialist principles, the contradiction should be resolved by relinquishing the socialist principle in favour of the national activity. We shall not accept the contrary attempt to solve the contradiction by dispensing with the national interests in favour of the socialist idea.’45 If one sees through the ‘socialist’ claims of Zionism, its contradictory nature and untenability, the Zionist movement loses one of its most important propagandistic hobby-horses which has helped it to rope in and take unfair advantage of socialists, who are subjectively all too sincere but nevertheless confused, in support of an objectively abominable colonial and repressive enterprise.
Indeed, that is what happens, whether it is a ‘bourgeois’ or ‘leftwing’ Zionism. As far as the practical implementation of the Zionist project in Palestine is concerned, the consequences for the Arabs of Palestine, the objective consequence of the Zionist enterprise for the country in general are the same, no matter how one subjectively would like ‘one’s own’ Zionist activity to be understood – as opposed to that of ‘the others’.
This is quite clearly a matter of planned politics. Even the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, writes in his diary on 12 June 1895:
‘By buying land we are immediately giving material advantages to the country which takes us in. By and by, we have to get the private land in the areas given to us out of the hands of its owners. We want to get the poor inhabitants across the borders without making a stir, by giving them work in the transit countries. But in our country we won’t give them any work at all. ... It’s good for the landowners to believe they are exploiting us and getting excessive prices for their land. But no land will be sold back to them.’46
This was and still is even today Zionism’s conscious and planned policy: the ‘poor population’ ie the majority of the Arabs in the Promised Land should be excluded from the country by all ways and means. In 1940 Joseph Weitz, head of the Colonisation Department of the Jewish National Fund in Palestine at the time, and therefore responsible for the practical implementation of Zionist colonisation, wrote in his diary:
‘Among ourselves it should be clear that in this country there isn’t room for both peoples together. With the Arabs we won’t achieve our aim of being an independent nation in this small country. The only solution is Palestine, at least a West Palestine [i.e. the entire area west of the Jordan, as distinct from “East Palestine”, which refers to Transjordan – editor’s note] without Arabs [...] and there’s no other way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries; to transfer all of them. Not a single village, not one tribe should be left behind. [...] For this purpose money, plenty of money will be found. Only after this transfer will this country be able to absorb millions of our brethren.’47
In his article in the daily newspaper Davar (officially the organ of the Histadrut but actually the mouthpiece of the Mapai/‘Avodah party) of 29 September 1967, Joseph Weitz himself tells us that this excellent plan, which he had entered into his diary 27 years previously, was not just his own idea. The most important Zionist leaders in Palestine gave this plan their support and they started to put out feelers to see how this could be realised in practice. Indeed, a large part of the programme was realised eight years later in 1947 when ‘the UN passed a resolution to partition the country into two states and to our great good fortune [our italics – editor’s note] the war of liberation broke out which brought with it a two-fold miracle: a territorial victory and the flight of the Arabs.’
There can be no doubt that the expulsion of the Palestinians from their country was not a ‘tragic blow’ of blind fate but the result of consciously planned Zionist policy. Under these circumstances the question posed naively by ‘left-wing’ Zionists sounds really amazing: ‘In the “years of the Mandate 1920–1947/48, before the Arabs offered violent resistance to the UN resolution to partition the country, how many Arab peasants actually lost their land, despite the legislation of the Mandate protecting the Arab peasants, and could no longer work in agriculture, and how many Arabs immigrated in this period from the neighbouring countries to Palestine?’48
Some indicative characteristics of this argument can be deduced from these questions. First, it follows that the expulsion of the Arab fellahin was warranted after the Arabs had ‘offered violent resistance to the UN partition resolution’. Such views should be met with silent scorn. We should remember that in all the hypocritical apologies of colonialism throughout the world it is usual to call mass expulsions of the colonial peoples a just punishment for the fact that these wicked natives dare to offer violent resistance to their mass expulsion. Secondly, it appears that the known intentions of Zionism, as expressed in the above quotations and in many other documents and the known historical facts, are supposed to be consciously ignored. Instead one should tell the story that Zionism did not expel the Arab fellahin on a large scale until 1948. The truth, however, is quite different.
Examples of mass expulsions of Arab fellahin as a result of Zionist colonisation can be cited very easily. Many expulsions took place before the establishment of the Zionist state and continued during the entire period of the British Mandate, ie till 1948.
Such questions from ‘left-wing’ Zionists are also intended to lead one to believe that British imperialism – with the Mandatory government – offered some effective protection against expulsion. This is not true either. In this context let us refer to the memoirs of a Jewish English Zionist, M. Hyamson, who in the first half of the Mandate period was a high government official in Palestine. M. Hyamson reports on the first attempt, which was made at the beginning of the 1920s, to protect Arab tenants from expulsion:
‘The need [for these regulations] became urgent, because Jewish agencies bought relatively large amounts of land from [Arab] landowners who lived in Paris, Beirut or Cairo, whereby the moral – if not the legal – rights of the tenants, who had been resident on that land all along, were ignored. According to the new legislation the transfer of lands was forbidden if the tenant’s interests were not ensured by leaving him enough land to guarantee his own and his family’s livelihood. This, however, was contrary to the interests of both sellers and buyers. The buyers were willing to pay prices higher than usual but demanded that the land be available for settlement. The sellers, who had no local interests at all, were of course keen to sell at as high a price as possible. They very quickly found a way to dodge the law by means of a small payment. They found allies in the moneylenders to whom most of the tenants were deeply in debt. In order to get the tenants to abandon the land before it was transferred, they paid them small sums of money with which they could settle some of their debts to the moneylenders. Then, when the transfer came, there were no more tenants there to take care of. So everyone was completely satisfied: the sellers, the buyers and understandably the moneylenders, but of course the tenants only for a limited time.’
The tenants were only satisfied for a short time because the ‘damages’ they received from the landowner amounted to very little. It was hardly enough to repay their debts to the moneylenders. Moreover, Hyamson says the fellahin and tenants who were forced to leave their lands ‘could not obtain employment in most of the newly developed manufacturing plants in the country’. These manufacturing plants were Zionist, and Zionism refused in principle to employ Arab workers. Hyamson continues that ‘in 1929 a new regulation was passed which gave the tenants still less protection [...]; it virtually legalised the established practice’.
Two years later the purchase of land began once more on a large scale and the expected problem of the Arabs without land was again at the top of the agenda. This problem caused unrest and forced the Mandatory government to enact new regulations. However the new regulations of 1931 did not offer the tenants any effective protection either, for ‘those landowners who wanted to sell their land at “acceptable” prices could still dodge the objectives of the law.’ This state of affairs continued until the end of the Mandate.49
We have summarised only a small part of Hyamson’s interesting chapter on this topic. It clearly follows from the extracts above and from the entire chapter that the problem of those tenants who lost the basis of their livelihood (ie the land which they and their forefathers had cultivated for generations) because of Zionist colonisation, was an extremely serious one and involved a great number of people. Similarly it is clear that the decrees of the Mandatory government could not protect the tenants effectively from the conspiracy between the Zionist institutions, landowners and moneylenders, serving their common interests. One example only:
The 8,000 fellahin from 22 villages who had lost their land at the beginning of the 1920s when the great landowner family Sursuk sold land to the Zionists, received exactly ten shillings per capita from the Zionist Organisation.50
To make Zionist colonisation seem harmless, Zionists often point out that at that time ‘a total of only 664 claims for damages’ were placed by Arab peasants. Here, besides the fact that the possibility of so-called (and relatively low) damages was publicised as little as possible, nothing is said about the number of dispossessed peasants who from the outset were excluded from the possibility of claiming ‘damages’:
- Peasants who were expelled after their land was sold to non-Jews. (There were many sales to Arab agents and profiteers who then sold the land to the Acquisition of Land Department of the Zionist Organisation).
- Peasants who were not classified as tenants; agricultural workers and peasants who only sold part of their land.
- Peasants who had no documentary proof of their tenancy rights (very many!)
- Peasants who after sale were allocated other land, even if it could not be cultivated.
- Peasants who had found other employment after being expelled.
That is how, in the interests of Zionism, they managed to limit the classification ‘landless Arab’ to a small group.51
In the period 1920–36, the time when the foundations of the Zionist enterprise in Palestine were being laid both in the towns and in the country areas, there was an increased ‘exodus’ of peasants from the country areas – an exodus which must be understood correctly: not ‘out of’ the country but a migration as a result of the peasants’ losing their land. The Arab urban population of Palestine increased from 194,000 in 1922 to 298,000 in 1936.
The landless Arabs met with increasing unemployment in the Zionist-dominated urban economy, caused by the Zionist insistence on ‘Hebrew labour’ and boycott of Arab labour. But let us get back to the fact that the fellahin were mostly expelled by the sellers before the sale (in deliberate agreement with the buyers). This fact enabled Zionism, like Pontius Pilate, to protest its innocence and to maintain it was not responsible for the expulsion of the fellahin. However, there are also enough examples of cases in which the Zionist colonisers, in collaboration with the British police, actively participated in the expulsion of the indigenous fellahin as in Al Fuk (today Afula) at the end of 1924, or Wadi al-Hawarith (today Emek Hefer) in 1933.
Still today the propagandists of Zionism spread the claim that the Zionist institutions (at least until 1948) in most cases received ‘deserted lands’ so that Zionism is not responsible for the expulsion of the masses of fellahin. From a technical point of view and applied to the appropriate cases that is not a lie but actually a half-truth – which is worse than a lie. For the Zionist propagandists conceal the fact that, to dodge the laws enacted to protect the fellahin, the Zionist institutions demanded that the sellers expel their tenants themselves, before going through with the sale.
By the way, we can see here how far from the truth is yet another claim of the ‘left-wing’ Zionists: the claim that ‘it was not the poor fellahin but the great landowners who, for reasons of class consciousness, rejected Jewish immigration and they consequently feared “infection” of their fellahin with social ideas imported from Europe’. In the first place, the ‘social ideas’ Zionism brought from Europe were intended for exclusively Jewish use. All the institutions of organised work and community life were in no way intended for Arabs. Zionism never propagated any progressive social ideas among the fellahin. On the contrary: Zionism was, as we saw above, the objective ally of the great landowners. This was the only social class in Arab society which received any advantages through Zionist colonisation – they received for their lands prices which were higher than before colonisation. The fellahin were in fact the victims of an alliance between Zionism, the great landowners and the moneylenders. It is true that to veil their real interests and intentions, the great landowners sometimes launched vigorous verbal campaigns against Zionism. But it was all talk.
Here we must mention that the method of expulsion (which was usually concealed to evade the law) and the lack of any reliable registration of proprietary and usufructuary rights are the reasons why it is still impossible today to supply exact details as to the extent of the expulsions. There is no doubt that there must have been many thousands. The exact figure, however, would have to be determined through painstaking detailed research. The question how many fellahin lost their land because of Zionist colonisation can at present only be answered generally.
In this context, here is an extract from a speech of Moshe Dayan before the students of the Haifa Technical University (‘Technion’) as quoted by the Israeli daily Ha’aretz of 4 April 1968:
‘We came to this country, already inhabited by Arabs, and established here a Hebrew, ie a Jewish state. In large areas we bought lands from the Arabs. Jewish villages arose in place of Arab villages. You don’t even known the names of these villages and I’m not reproaching you for that, as those geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books no longer exist but the villages don’t exist any more either. Nahalal arose in place of Mahlul, Gevat in place of Jibta, Sarid in place of Haneifs and Kefar Yehoshu’a in place of Tel-Shaman. Not one place in this country was built where there hadn’t formerly been an Arab population.’
Indeed the professional generals of Zionism often speak more clearly and more frankly than many of their ‘left-wing’ apologists. The colonisation of a country and the resulting expulsion and oppression of its indigenous inhabitants, and all of this with the propagandistic aim of a so-called ‘progressive’ society in Palestine, as the Zionists, disguised as socialists, saw it, is not only pure hypocrisy but also the theoretic and practical prostitution of revolutionary theory – a theory advocated only verbally.
The first systematic research into the extent of the destruction which Zionism and Zionist colonisation caused to the original Palestinian society, compiled by the Palestinian historian ‘Aref al-‘Aref and presented on 15 February 1973 by the chairman of the Israeli League for Human Rights, Professor Israel Shahak, contains a complete list of those Arab villages in Palestine which existed until 1948 and which today would be sought in vain. They no longer exist. In figures: 385 – in words: three hundred and eight-five.
It follows from some of the quotations above that it was part of the Zionist expulsion policy to exert pressure continually on the Arabs by not employing them. ‘Left-wing’ Zionists feel slightly uncomfortable about this point ... but only for a moment. They concede that the displacement of Arab workers from their jobs is one of those things which ‘have a repulsive effect on us Europeans’. However in the same breath they call on their readers to free themselves from such merciful, weak, apparently specifically European ‘prejudices’. You must understand, the Arab workers had to go, ‘to protect these (Jewish) workers from starvation, as it was just impossible for Jewish workers to live on the same wages as Arab workers’. So, one has to excuse them: the Jewish workers had a European stomach which was bigger than that of the Arab members of the same class.
After such brilliant argument, however, they apparently get an uneasy feeling once more and admit that perhaps ‘some kind of solution more favourable to the Arabs could have been found. For example, one need only have somehow institutionalised the actual circumstances – the Arab peasants sold their products unhindered at lower prices even in Jewish towns – and a lot of dirty linen would have been avoided.’
This attempt to excuse, however, is a twofold failure: an untruth and an absurdity at one and the same time. It is untrue that the Zionist institutions did not systematically interfere with and hinder the sale of products by the Arab fellahin: this was done not only with propaganda but also with the aid of more effective means of ‘persuasion’. (The Zionist leader David Hakohen reports for example in the supplement of the newspaper Ha’aretz of 15 November 1968 how he and his colleagues poured petroleum over tomatoes being sold by Arabs and broke their eggs.) The attempt at an excuse is fundamentally absurd because the only way of solving the problem which would have avoided ‘a lot of dirty linen’ would have been for Zionism to abandon its main aim.
From the standpoint of the Zionist aim – the transformation of Palestine, which was an Arab country, into a ‘Jewish’ nation state – the presence of the Arabs was an obstacle which had to be removed. The way to achieve this goal was to refuse the Arabs work, as all Zionists since Herzl have realised.
The policy of ‘Zionising’ and at the same time ‘de-Arabising’ Palestine has not changed fundamentally. On the contrary: the Arab areas conquered in the 1967 June War gave Israel the opportunity to erect more than 80 additional civilian and military settlements there and to expel many thousands of Arabs, some for the second time in twenty years. The guiding words of Moshe Dayan say it quite clearly:
‘In the course of the last hundred years, our people have been undergoing a process of building up the country and the nation of expansion, by increasing the number of Jews and settlements and of colonisation in order to expand the borders. Let there be no Jew who says that this is the end of the process. Let there be no Jew who says that we are near the end of the road.’52
Israel is as a state a huge fait accompli. However, it is not likely that Israel, even within the borders of 4 June 1967 ‘plus corrections’, can look forward to peaceful and harmonious coexistence with its Arab neighbours in the long term. The Middle East conflict is not simply a ‘border conflict’. The cause of the historical conflict between the state of Israel in its present Zionist form on the one hand and the Arabs on the other is the existence and the effects of Zionism. Whoever is sincerely interested in the future of Israelis and Arabs in the Middle East should seriously reflect on this.
- 1Khamsin 6, 1978, pp33–59. This is a translation of an article entitled ‘Der Zionismus und sein Popanz: Eine Antwort an die „linken” Zionisten’, published in the German journal Probleme des Klassenkampfs, vol. 19/20/21, 1975, pp299–327. A Khamsin editiorial note says: ‘In the present translation we have omitted a passage dealing with the current Zionist propaganda concerning Soviet Jews, since this topic is covered in greater detail in an article by one of the two authors in Critique 9.’ This refers to Moshé Machover’s article ‘Zionism or human rights’, Critique 9, 1978, pp, 121–5.
- 2First published in English in New Left Review 65, Jan-Feb 1971.
- 3Cf. Alfred Moos, in: links no 33, 1972. A Hebrew translation of Moos’s article was immediately published in Israel by the Zionist group which had split from the CP of Israel in 1965, Maki (today: Moked) in its organ ‘Kol Ha‘am’ no 32 (1972) under the title ‘Zionism, the Scarecrow’. This group had taken it upon itself to back the Israeli state by accusing ‘from a communist point of view’ all opponents of the Zionist policy of anti-Socialism and by seizing most gratefully on any political or apologetic contribution from abroad. These people revised socialist positions not only by putting forward the classical Zionist arguments, but by such historicist constructions which use the actual events and negative trends in the international communist movement and in the Soviet Union, to come to the conclusion they desire, ie that socialist opposition to Zionism is only one more negative trend, which, like the Stalinisation of the Soviet Union and the Comintern, is to be condemned and repudiated. When in the following the position of ‘left-wing’ Zionists is quoted, we are referring to this article by A. Moos.
- 4The original Hebrew text of the Matzpen article mentioned appeared originally in the Tel-Aviv organ ‘Matzpen’ and the editors presumed that the reader is familiar with the organisation’s analysis of the history and nature of Zionism, as put forward in many articles since 1962. It is obvious that these analyses cannot be repeated in detail here. They partly appear in: Arie Bober (ed), The Other Israel: The Radical Case against Zionism, New York 1972; Cf. also Nathan Weinstock, Zionism: False Messiah, Inklinks, London 1978.
We shall only go into historical questions here as far as it is necessary to disprove the argument of the so-called ‘left-wing’ Zionist criticism of anti-Zionism.
- 5Speech by Esther Maria Frumkina in: Der 2. Kongreß der Kommunistischen Internationale. Prot. der Verhandlungen vom 19.7. in Petrograd und vom 23.7. bis 7.8.1920 in Moskau, published by Verlag der KI, Hamburg 1921 p198.
- 6David Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, Part 1, Tel-Aviv 1971, p245 (in Hebrew).
- 7Cf. e.g. in Kontres, organ of Ahduth Ha‘avoda, no 47, Tel-Aviv 1920 (in Hebrew).
- 8Yaakow Meiersohn, Nach der 5. Poalei-Zion-Konferenz – Brief an die Genossen der Sozialistischen Arbeiterpartei in Palästina (in Yiddish), Vienna 1920; reprinted in Mario Offenberg, Kommunismus in Palästina – Nation und Klasse in der antikolonialen Revolution, Meisenheim/Glan (BRD) 1975.
- 9Aharon Cohen: Israel and the Arab World, Tel-Aviv 1964, p259 (in Hebrew).
- 10R. Meinerzhagen, Middle East Diary, London 1958, p49.
- 11The diaries of Theodore Herzl, Gollancz, London 1958 p6.
- 12Leo Pinsker, Auto-Emancipation, New York 1948, p33 and M. Hess, Rome and Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv 1935, pp25-6.
- 13Cf. Y. Elam in an article in ‘Ot’, organ of the Israeli Labour Party (Ma‘arakh) no 2, Tel-Aviv 1967 (in Hebrew).
- 14This quotation comes from a book which appeared in Berlin in 1934. The author was at that time one of the leading Zionists in Germany and became a leading Zionist in the USA and chairman of the international leadership of the – Zionist controlled – World Jewish Congress. Cf. J. Prinz, Wir Juden, Berlin 1934 p154 (emphasis in original).
- 15Cf. Die Nürnberger Gesetze, 5. Auflage, Berlin 1939, pp.13-4 (our italics).
- 16I. Deutscher, The Non-Jewish Jew, London 1969, p67.
- 17Y. Elam, Introduction to Zionist History, Tel-Aviv 1972, pl13 and p122 (in Hebrew).
- 18A. Tartakower, The Jewish Worker’s Way to Zionism: Zionism and Socialism, New York 1954, p63.
- 19Reprinted from the minutes of the meeting in Y. Elam, loc cit, p123.
- 20Y. Elam, loc cit, p122. ‘Yishuv’ was the term for the Jewish community in Palestine, dominated by the Zionist movement, before 1948. On the ‘transfer’ deal see Shaul Esh, ‘Iunim beheqer ha-sho’ah ve-yahadut zmanenu, Institute of Contemporary Judaism, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem 1973 p108ff.
- 21Herberg Lucht from Vienna in: Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin) of 1 January 1975; and others.
- 22Viktor Polski in: Dov Goldstein, Interview of the Week, in Ma’ariv of 27 December 1974.
- 23Cf. Le Monde, 20 December 1974 and Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin), 21 December 1974.
- 24Cf A. Hoder, ‘Russian Jews, Black Jews and Non-Jewish Jews’, in Israca no 5, London 1973 pp16–25.
- 25In Ma‘ariv of 10 January 1973.
- 26Quoted from Y. Elam, loc. cit., p122.
- 27[xxvi] Quoted from Y. Elam, loc. cit., p, 111.
The Israeli historian S. B. Beit-Zvi shows in his recently published monograph – Post-Ugandan Zionism in the Crucible of the Holocaust, Tel-Aviv, 1977 (in Hebrew) – how ‘As a result of narrow-mindedness and fear of the danger of territorialism [i.e., the “danger” that the Jewish problem might be solved by migration to some territory other than Palestine – editor’s note] the Zionist movement in a number of cases acted against attempts of Jews and non-Jews to save the lives [of Europe’s Jews]. As time went on this intervention [against salvation of Jews] grew in scope and energy. ... In fact, the intervention against attempts to save Jews, to the extent that they were not connected with immigration to Palestine, continued up to the end of the [second world] war.’ (ibid., p458) Even Y. Grienbaum, who in 1935 had demanded that the Zionist movement participate in the struggle for the rights of Europe’s Jews, opposed in 1942 demands that Zionist funds (devoted to the colonisation of Palestine) be used to finance projects for saving the lives of Jews. Beit-Zvi quotes Grienbaum as saying ‘When I was asked whether the money of the Zionist Construction Fund may not be used for saving Jews, I said “No”, and I now repeat, “No”. I know that people wonder why I found it necessary to say this. Friends tell me that even if what I say is right, there are things which must not be revealed in a moment of sorrow and anxiety such as this. I cannot agree with this. In my view, the wave which relegates Zionist activities to second place must be resisted.’ (ibid, p110).
On the same subject see also Ben Hecht, Perfidy, New York 1961.
- 28Quoted from Y. Elam, loc. cit., pp125–26. The historical background was the revolt of the Arabs of Palestine against British rule, which Great Britain had a hard time putting down. The British government did not want to antagonise the indigenous Arab population too much at that time by allowing a large wave of Zionist colonisation and were supported in this by anti-Zionist Jews.
- 29In Davar, 5 February 1945, emphasis in the original.
- 30I. Deutscher, loc. cit., pp49–50.
- 31A. Moos, loc. cit.
- 3231 Cf. the reports in the weekly Ha‘olam Hazeh 20 April 1966 and 1 June 1966. This operation is of course denied by Zionists. Cf. Y. Me’ir, Children of the Desert, Underground Organisations in Iraq 1941–1951, Tel Aviv 1973, p204f. (in Hebrew).
- 33A. Moos, loc. cit.
- 34Quoted from Y. Elam, loc.cit., pp73–74.
- 35Quoted from: The XII Zionist Congress in Karlsbad, 1–14 September 1921, Berlin 1922, p70.
- 36L. Gaspar, Histoire de la Palestine, Paris 1970, p104 and pl19.
- 37See Sabri Jeries, The Arabs in Israel, Beirut 1969, pp55-90, where there is a fully verified description of this.
- 38Ben-Gurion, loc cit, p117.
- 39Cf the speech of Saskin, member of the subcommittee for colonisation in the Zionist Executive at the XII Zionist Congress, Minutes, loc cit, pl04.
- 40A. Bonne, Palestine, Country and Economy, Berlin 1935 p154–5.
- 41Y. Meiersohn, loc cit.
- 42Quoted from the statement of the Union Department of the PCP, October 1924; reprinted in: M. Offenberg, loc cit, p336–7.
- 43D. Ben-Gurion, loc cit, p299–300, p275 and p339.
- 44D. Ben-Gurion, We and Our Neighbours, Jaffa 1931, p8l–2 (in Hebrew).
- 45Y. Ben-Zvi in: Achduth No 16, Tel-Aviv 1912.
- 46 T. Herzl, Diaries, Berlin 1922 (German).
- 47J. Weitz, Diaries, quoted by the author in Davar, 29 September 1967.
- 48A. Moos, loc cit.
- 49M. Hyamson, Palestine under the Mandate, London 1950, pp87–8.
- 50Cf C. Sykes, Crossroads to Israel, London 1965, p119. Details of the complicated dodges used by the Zionists to evade government regulations enacted to protect tenants are given by J. Weitz in the preface to his Diaries, Israel 1965 (in Hebrew), vol 1, ppxxii–xxviii. Many illustrations can be found throughout these Diaries.
- 51Cf A Survey of Palestine, published by the Palestine government vol I, p296 and Palestine Royal Commission Report 1937, pp239–40.
- 52General Moshe Dayan, in Ma‘ariv, Tel-Aviv 7 July 1968.