A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **

News in all languages
Last 30 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Castellano_ Català_ Deutsch_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Türkçe_ All_other_languages
{Info on A-Infos}

(en) Tim Wise on Zionism and Duban

From ralf@anarch.free.de (Ralf Landmesser)
Date Thu, 6 Sep 2001 00:19:40 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E


During September we are mailing to ZNet's 50,000 Free Update Recipients
our Daily Sustainer Commentary which usually goes only to our Sustainer
Program members. If you don't want these mailings you can turn them off
for the month at the ZNet Top Page (www.zmag.org/weluser.htm) to.

We hope you will enjoy and benefit from these commentaries. We also hope
you will consider joining our Sustainer Donor Program to help us enlarge
ZNet's offerings. Joining will entitle you to receive the ZNet Daily
Commentaries after September, give you access to our Online Zine of over
1000 accumulated commentaries, and give you access to our Sustainer
Forum system including forums hosted by Chomsky, Zinn, Ehrenreich,
Albert, and other ZNet writers.

To learn more about the Sustainer Program and for links to join, please

We thank you,
Michael Albert, for ZNet


Reflections on Zionism From a Dissident Jew
Tim Wise
September 3, 2001

So it's official. The U.S. has withdrawn from the World Conference on
Racism, being held in Durban, South Africa. And though the cynical and
historically observant might suspect that this decision was merely in
keeping with our longstanding unwillingness to deal with the legacy of
racism on a global scale, the official reason is more circumscribed.
Namely, the mid-conference pullout was intended to register displeasure
at various delegates who are pushing resolutions condemning Israeli
treatment of Palestinians, and Zionism itself: the ideology of Jewish
nationalism that led to the founding of Israel in 1948. As the
conference speeds towards a no doubt controversial conclusion, perhaps
it would be worthwhile to ask just what all the fuss is about?
Although one can argue with the claim made by some that Zionism and
racism are synonymous--especially given the amorphous definition of
"race" which makes such a position forever and always a matter of
semantics--it is difficult to deny that Zionism, in practice if not
theory, amounts to ethnic chauvinism, colonial ethnocentrism, and
national oppression.

For saying this, I can expect to be called everything but a child of God
by many in the Jewish community. "Self-hating" will be the term of
choice for most, I suspect: the typical Pavlovian response to one who is
Jewish, as I am, and yet dares to criticize Israel or the ideology
underlying its national existence.
"Anti-Semite" will be the other label offered me, despite the fact that
Zionism has led to the oppression of Semitic peoples--namely the mostly
Semitic Palestinians--and is also rooted in a deep antipathy even for
Jews. Though Zionism proclaims itself a movement of a strong and proud
people, in fact it is an ideology that has been brimming with
self-hatred from the beginning. Indeed, early Zionists believed, as a
key premise of the movement, that Jews were responsible for the
oppression we had faced over the years, and that such oppression was
inevitable and impossible to overcome, thus, the need for our own

Having never read the words of Theodore Herzl--the founder of modern
Zionism--or other Zionist leaders, most will find this claim hard to
believe. But before attacking me, perhaps they should ask who it was
that said anti-Semitism, "is an understandable reaction to Jewish
defects," or that, "each country can only absorb a limited number of
Jews, if she doesn't want disorders in her stomach. Germany has already
too many Jews."
While one might be inclined to attribute either or both statements to
Adolph Hitler, as they are surely worthy of his venomous pen, they are
actually comments made by Herzl and Chaim Weizmann, eventual president
of Israel, and--at the time he made the second statement--head of the
World Zionist Organization. So in the pantheon of self-hating Jews, it
appears criticism, for Zionists, should perhaps begin at home.

Going back to my days in Hebrew school, I never understood the
dialysis-machine-like bond that most of my peers felt for Israel. On the
one hand, we were told God had given that land to our people, as part of
His covenant with Abraham. This we knew because Scripture told us so.
But this never carried much weight with me. After all, many
Christians--with whom I had more than a passing acquaintance growing up
in the South--were all-too-willing to point out that the Scriptures also
said (in their opinions) that I was going to hell, Abraham

As such, accepting Zionism because of what God did or didn't say seemed
dicey from the get-go. What's more, this was the same God who ostensibly
told the ancient Hebrews never to wear clothes woven with two different
fabrics, and who insisted we burn the entrails of animals we consume on
an alter to create a pleasing smell. Having been known to sport a
wrinkle-free poly-cotton blend, and having not the fortitude to
disembowel my supper and incinerate its lower intestines, I had long
since resolved to withhold judgment on what God did and didn't want,
until such time as the Almighty decided to whisper said desires in my
ear personally. The Rabbi's word wasn't going to cut it.

On the other hand, we were told we needed a homeland so as to prevent
another Holocaust. Only a strong, independent Jewish state could provide
the kind of unity and protection required of a people who had suffered
so much, and had lost six million souls to the Nazi terror.

Yet this too seemed suspect to me. After all, one could argue that
getting all the Jews together in one place--especially a piece of real
estate as small as Palestine--would be a Jew-hater's dream come true. It
would make finishing the job Hitler started that much easier. Better, it
seemed then and still does, to have vibrant Jewish communities
throughout the world, than to put all our dreidels in one basket, by
pulling up stakes and heading to a place where others already lived,
hoping they wouldn't mind too terribly if we kicked them out of their

In the final analysis, accepting Israel as a Jewish state for Biblical
reasons made no more sense to me than to accept a self-identified
Christian or Islamic nation: two configurations that understandably
raise fears of theocracy in the heart of any Jew. And to in-gather the
Jews to Israel for the sake of safety made no sense whatsoever. The only
logic to Zionism then, seemed to be the "logic" of raw power: that of
the settler, or colonizer. We wanted the land, and getting it would
provide an ally for European and American foreign and economic policy.
So with pressure applied and force unleashed, it became ours.

Nearly 800,000 Palestinians would be displaced so as to allow for the
creation of Israel: around 600,000 of whom, according to internal
documents of the Israeli Defense Force, were expelled forcibly from
their homes. At the time, these Palestinians, most of whose families had
been living on the land for centuries, constituted two-thirds of the
population and owned 90% of the land. Though some Zionists claim
Palestine was a largely uninhabited wilderness prior to Jewish arrival,
early settlers were far more honest. As Ahad Ha'am acknowledged in 1891:

"We...are used to believing that Israel is almost totally desolate.
But...this is not the case. Throughout the country it is difficult to
find fields that are not sowed."

Indeed, the large presence of Palestinians led many Zionists to openly
advocate their removal. The head of the Jewish Agency's colonization
department stated: "there is no room for both peoples together in this
country. There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to
neighboring countries, to transfer all of them: not one village, not one
tribe, should be left."
Herzl himself conceded that Zionism was "something colonial," indicating
again that we were not discovering or founding anything. We were taking
it, and for reasons we would never accept from others. As Shimon
Peres--seen as one of the most peace-loving Israeli leaders in
memory--said in 1985: "The Bible is the decisive document in determining
the fate of our land." Such is the stuff of fanaticism, and we would say
as much were a fundamentalist Christian to make the same statement about
the fate of the U.S., or anywhere else for that matter.

That most Jews have never examined the founding principles of this
ideology to which they cleave is unfortunate. For if they were to do so,
they might be shocked at how anti-Jewish Zionism really is. Time and
again, Zionists have even collaborated with open Jew-haters for the sake
of political power.
Consider Herzl: a man who believed Jews were to blame for anti-Semitism,
and thus, only by fleeing for Palestine could we be safe. In The Jewish
State, he wrote:

"Every nation in whose midst Jews live is, either covertly or openly,
anti-Semitic...its immediate cause is our excessive production of
mediocre intellects, who cannot find an outlet downwards or upwards.
When we sink, we become a revolutionary proletariat. When we rise, there
also rises our terrible power of the purse."

He went on to say, "The Jews are carrying the seeds of anti-Semitism
into England; they have already introduced it into America." Were a
non-Jew to suggest that Jews were to blame for anti-Semitism, our
community would be rightly outraged. But the same words from the father
of Zionism pass without comment.

Worse still, early in Hitler's reign the Zionist Federation of Germany
wrote the new Chancellor, noting their willingness to "adapt our
community to these new structures" (namely, the Nuremberg Laws that
limited Jewish freedom), as they "give the Jewish minority...its own
cultural life, its own national life."
Far from resisting Nazi genocide, some Zionists collaborated with it.
When the British devised a plan to allow thousands of German Jewish
children to enter the U.K. and be saved from the Holocaust, David
Ben-Gurion, who would become Israel's first Prime Minister balked,

"If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany
by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting
them to (Israel) then I would opt for the second alternative."

Later, Israeli Zionists would again make alliances with anti-Jewish
extremists. In the 1970's, Israel hosted South African Prime Minister
John Vorster, and cultivated economic and military ties with the
apartheid state, even though Vorster had been locked up as a Nazi
collaborator during World War II. And Israel supplied military aid to
the Galtieri regime in Argentina, even while the Generals were known to
harbor ex-Nazis in the country, and had targeted Argentine Jews for
torture and death.

Indeed, the argument that Zionism is racism finds some support in
statements of Zionists themselves, many of whom have long concurred with
the Hitlerian doctrine that Judaism is a racial identity as much as a
religious and cultural one. In 1934, German Zionist Joachim Prinz, who
would later head the American Jewish Congress, noted:

"We want assimilation to be replaced by a new law: the declaration of
belonging to the Jewish nation and Jewish race. A state built upon the
principle of the purity of nation and race can only be honored and
respected by a Jew who declares his belonging to his own kind."

Years later, David Ben-Gurion acknowledged that Israeli leader Menachem
Begin could be branded racist, but that doing so would require one to
"put on trial the entire Zionist movement, which is founded on the
principle of a purely Jewish entity in Palestine."

Laws granting special privileges to Jewish immigrants from anywhere in
the world, over Palestinians whose families had been on the land for
generations, and measures that set aside most land for exclusive Jewish
ownership and use, are but two examples of discriminatory legislation
underlying the Zionist experiment. As the International Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination makes clear,
racial discrimination is:

"any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race,
color, descent, or national and ethnic origin which has the purpose or
effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or
exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms
in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of
public life."

Given this internationally recognized definition, we ought not be
surprised that at a World Conference on Racism, some might suggest that
the policies of our people in the land of Palestine had earned a place
on the agenda. As such, we should take this opportunity to begin an
honest dialogue, not only with Palestinians, but also with ourselves.
Neither the chauvinism so integral to Zionism, nor the ironic
self-hatred that has gone along with it are becoming of a strong and
vital people. Just as a dialysis machine is no substitute for a healthy
and functioning kidney, neither is Zionism an adequate substitute for a
healthy and vibrant Judaism. Surely it is not for this ignoble end, that
six million died.
Tim Wise is an antiracist activist, writer and lecturer. He can be
reached at tjwise@mindspring.com

       ****** The A-Infos News Service ******
      News about and of interest to anarchists
		COMMANDS: lists@ainfos.ca
		REPLIES: a-infos-d@ainfos.ca
		HELP: a-infos-org@ainfos.ca
		WWW: http://www.ainfos.ca/
		INFO: http://www.ainfos.ca/org

-To receive a-infos in one language only mail lists@ainfos.ca the message:
                unsubscribe a-infos
                subscribe a-infos-X
 where X = en, ca, de, fr, etc. (i.e. the language code)