by Roger Tucker
There are many people, “progressive” Zionists included, who loudly object to the Occupation in the Palestinian territories, but see no problem with the continued existence of an Israel that privileges Jews over all others who happen to live there, particularly the Muslim, Christian and other non-Jewish” citizens.” These people are referred to by Zionists as the “Arab-Israelis,” but they are, of course, Palestinians. This population also includes a small number of Jews, people whose residence in Palestine pre-dated the Zionist immigration that started in the late 19th century. Those among them – and they may constitute the majority – who never bought into the Zionist ideology and are opposed to the State of Israel are treated pretty much the same as the other Palestinians, as less than human, untermenschen. This may come as a surprise to many, but it is perfectly understandable when one realizes that the Zionist project, although initially proposed and marketed by Western Europeans, became in due course an entirely Ashkenazi endeavor dominated by Eastern Europeans, the kind of people despised by the highly educated, cosmopolitan Viennese Jews like Theodor Herzl. These Ashkenazim (my ancestors) spoke Yiddish as their first language, no matter which country they happened to have been born in. The form of Zionism they promulgated has become known as “political Zionism,” dominated by the followers of Vladimir Jabotinski, the father of 20th century Zionism, and the progenitor of the Likud Party. The opposition Labor Party stems from Ben Gurion, but the two parties are like the Republicrats in the U.S., two sides of the same coin.
Political Zionism is a far cry from the idealistic form that refined, cosmopolitan Jews like Herzl and his Western European (and North American) admirers thought that they had bought into. That is why the vast majority of them became disillusioned with the whole project long before Kristallnacht and then WWII. People like Einstein
, Hannah Arendt
, Judah Magnes
and Martin Buber
smelled a rat, and they made it clear that they had no interest in supporting the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. This was, in fact, the prevailing sentiment among the vast majority of Western European and North American Jews. All of that began to change in the late 30’s and by the time of the liberation of the camps in 1945 this vociferous opposition faded away among Jewish liberals, progressives, socialists and humanists. European fascism of the Italian and German varieties ensured the success of political Zionism, the mirror image of Nazism, but with “the Jewish People” now cast as being simultaneously “the victims” and the “Master Race,” just like their role models, the Nazis, before them. History not only repeats itself – it plays practical jokes.
Being against the Occupation is easy. After all, it violates numerous international conventions, entails daily crimes against humanity and just plain stinks to heaven. With a modicum of imagination, one can see that the Israelis, with their Matrix of Control
, have erected a number of open air prisons, virtual concentration camps, but with the guards outside. So convenient – prisons in which the prisoners have to fend for themselves for the necessities of life – food, water, electricity – all of it supplied or witheld at the whim of the wardens who watch from a distance, utilizing collaborators and the latest in high-tech surveillance gear. Occasionaly, usually prompted by some act of desperation by a powerless people (a suicide bombing or a stray Qassam rocket, the modern equivalent of sling-shots), or merely a rumor that something’s going on, they make periodic forays inside to “send a message,” arrest “troublemakers,” usually using Palestinian children as human shields and to touch off whatever booby traps might have been placed along the way. Occasionally, “sending a message” takes the form of a full-fledged massacre, as happened recently in Gaza
. It’s utterly despicable, reeking of the most egregious racism imaginable without even the slightest regard for human rights. But from the Israeli point of view the Palestinians aren’t really human – they are “them,” “the other,” “the enemy.”
However, there are those perfectly aware of the facts who still cling to the doomed fantasy of a Jewish State. They are people like Benny Morris
, the Israeli historian who scrupulously chronicled the Nakba, but continues to support the existence of the Jewish State, even if that entails the total ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Likewise the old warhorse Uri Avnery
, one of the most decent and courageous human beings I know of, who has heroically spoken out for decades against the obscenities perpetrated by Israel, yet clings to the notion that Israel could and should somehow survive as a Jewish nation, no matter how truncated. And then there is the army of so-called “progressives,” who think likewise, and avidly support an imagined, reformed Israel while protesting against the Occupation. These people have co-opted any possibility that the world could easily come together to put an end to apartheid Israel as it did white supremacist South Africa.
The “Separation Wall
” introduces an additional level of surrealism. Its similarity to the ghetto walls that the European Jews were so familiar with, that in a curious way provided a sense of comfort, familiarity and security to their residents – whatever the intentions of the builders may have been – has been noted by many. The transparently silly notion that it would “keep out terrorists” is far less convincing than the realization that it was a familiar reflex of the ancient paranoia – a tangible, if pathetic, defense against the goyim of whichever land the Jews were trespassing in. Always the trespassers, always the strangers in a strange land, doomed to stave off, for as long as possible, the inevitable rage their presence sooner or later engendered, the restrictions, the pogroms, and then, like clockwork, the expulsions. Behind the bellicose, militaristic, macho aggression of the Israelis – the arrogance and the gratuitous cruelty – lie the old fears, the inescapable paranoia, the unvoiced fear that “the Chosen Ones” were really chosen to suffer, and that sooner or later the ax would fall – as it surely will, because even the Zionists can’t repeal the law of cause and effect. Who was it, Einstein, who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result?
But let’s assume that, miraculus miraculorum, the Israelis decide to back off (or, much more likely, are pressured to by the Obama administration and/or other forces currently percolating just beneath the surface), and, having completed their Apartheid wall, agree to remain behind it, content in their air-conditioned ghetto. At this point in time such an action would involve an actual commitment to allowing the creation of at least some facsimile of a Palestinian State on the other side of the wall, to somehow overseeing the evacuation of some half million Israelis from the West Bank (which would entail the forcible eviction of tens of thousands of fanatical settlers), to giving up control of all of the major water sources, to allowing the Palestinians the freedom to come and go as they see fit, and so on and so forth. When looked at closely, ending the Occupation at this juncture would necessitate unimaginable difficulties, not the least of which would be giving up the Zionist fantasy of Greater Israel
, from the river to the sea. I don’t speak of the grander version, meaning from the Euphrates to the Nile, but merely from the Jordan River to the Med.
In fact, it would entail giving up on Zionism altogether, because ethnocentric tribal fascism has an internal logic to it, a compulsion to conquer and expand or die – perpetual war is a necessary precondition for maintaining the dominance of its ruling class, whose very existence is predicated on doing battle with and defeating “the enemy,” over and over again. Such a process inevitably plays itself out in defeat, as Alexander and the Macedonians discovered, as did the Romans, and most recently the Nazis. The Israeli power elite may be very smart and knowledgeable, technologically and militarily superior, but they are clearly ignoring Santayana’s maxim that those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it. No people are guiltier of that mistake than the Jews, who after centuries of getting themselves expelled from country after country, are setting themselves up for something that will make even what happened to them under Hitler look like a cakewalk.
When we talk about Zionism we are discussing an ideology, a set of ideas, narratives and myths that together constitute the political world view of a those who self-identify as belonging to the group professing that ideology, in this instance “the Jewish people.” Although ideologies may present themselves as being universally true, they are generally based on some sort of group identification: tribal, ethnic (racial), national, religious, caste, and most recently, economic status. There is always an “Us” vs. “Them.”
What after all is Zionism, stripped of its racial romanticism and mythology? It’s essentially the last gasp of the same old European colonialism that has characterized the “modern” period of history, during which various European powers came to dominate the political, technological and economic landscape of the planet. Zionism evolved as a political ideology and a strategy to solve the problem that European Jews found themselves in, stateless and dispersed following the predations of the Mongols under Genghis Khan and the subsequent collapse of the Khazarian Empire
. Their status pretty much everywhere in Europe was that of a despised minority (for perfectly understandable reasons too complex to go into here). In response, they developed a tribal mythology, based mostly on some stories in the Hebrew bible, in which they played the role of “the Chosen People,” heroes of an epic in which they were constantly set upon, persecuted and threatened with destruction, but somehow feisty enough to survive. In other words, one could say that they developed a collective case of paranoid schizophrenia, according to which they (simultaneously the Elect of God and His victims) were constantly under attack by superior forces, but could imagine a way to escape and secure for themselves the sense of security they so desperately sought, a ghetto with walls strong and durable enough to keep the wolf perpetually at bay.
All this came to a head in the 19th Century, when the idea occurred to Theodor Herzl
that the way out of this depressingly familiar pattern would be for the Jews to have a nation state of their own. This happened, not coincidentally, at the height of European Colonialism. Based on this rather simple notion an entire ideology had to be constructed in order to sell the idea, not only to the major players themselves, but to the so-called Jewish people. In order to do that, and this is just one aspect of a very complicated and not very funny joke, the “Jewish People”
had to be invented. This is the subject of the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand’s book, The Invention of the Jewish People
. The forthcoming English translation (it will be available on October 19th) is eagerly anticipated . We can leave aside the fact that the notion that a Jewish colony could and should be planted in Palestine was actually a hare-brained scheme concocted in the first decade of the 19th Century in the British Foreign Office, where the idea soon died a quiet and unlamented death. And nevermind that gathering the Jews together in a ghetto constructed in the very epicenter of a people understandably indisposed to being dispossessed might bring about precisely the fate that the Zionists were and are so terrified of.
If one roots around in the online repository called “Zionist Quotes
” one can find the intellectual building blocks that created modern Israel.They reveal that very process of inventing the necessary ideology, as well as the development of an overall strategy for going about the creation of the colonialist-settler nation state. Contained therein are numerous reflections about the nature of “the Jewish People” and Jewish identity that would have “the Inquisition” (those who maintain the Zionist orthodoxy) in a characteristic uproar about “antisemitism” and “self-hating Jews.” They largely saw themselves as outcasts, almost like lepers who have decided they themselves would build a leper colony wherein they could be quarantined and thus left alone. It becomes clear from these texts that the early Zionists almost reveled in guilt and self-hatred, something that is so characteristic of Jewish literature, and lies, shadow-like, at the root of modern, triumphalist Zionism. As Karin Friedemann points out
, “The Palestinians’ ancestors created the Hasmonean Kingdom, composed the Hebrew Bible, followed Jesus, wrote the New Testament, compiled the Mishnah, and redacted the Jerusalem Talmud. The Palestinian people constitute the living link to the earliest beginnings of the heritage from the Torah and Gospel. Zionists are almost pitiable, for they are so ashamed of their own history that they have usurped one belonging to another people.”
There is a category of political ideologies that Zionism fits perfectly into. It is called fascism. Although the dictionaries define fascism as the particular ideology espoused by Hitler and Mussolini in the 20th century, the roots of fascism go back to the very first emergence in human history of what could be termed political thought . Those familiar with the great spiritual traditions are aware that the principal obstacle to human wisdom and happiness is considered to be our habit of putting our own interests before those of others, as opposed to some variation of the Golden Rule, the point where all wisdom traditions, even theistic religions, agree. The opposite, neurotic tendency derives from the mistaken belief that we are solid, continuous individuals, self-existing and autonomous. Hence the notions of “self,” or “soul,” as well as belief systems that inculcate the notion that God (a religious metaphorical term that solidifies and embodies all that is not “me”) is at least on “our” side. All wisdom paths teach that dissolving this mistaken belief in the existence of “ego” is the only way of arriving at any sort of genuine sanity.
What is not talked about so much is the problem of “group ego,” which is essentially the same psychological phenomenon, but applied to a collection of people with whom we closely identify rather than just our individual selves. This propensity manifests itself first in our close identification with our family and then extends out to include our felt bond with friends, neighbors, town or city, and so on, until it includes such collective concepts as our co-religionists, our gender, nation, race, class and so forth. This is the Us and Them duality that mirrors the basic duality of Self and Other. It is the underlying rationale for all wars and acts of officially sanctioned aggression against the “Other.” Consequently, building a sane human society is not possible without conquering this tendency to elevate and privilege “our” group over others. Psychologically speaking, rooting for the Red Sox or the Yankees involves the same psycho-dynamics that lead to deadly riots in soccer stadiums, and on to wars of aggression. It is neither good nor bad, rather it is simply a stage to be experienced and then left behind on the path to maturity, a condition that is characterized by, among other things, the awareness that all beings are connected and interdependent.
The development of both individual and group egos are artifacts of a natural psychological process. Just as the butterfly is the final form following embryo, larva and pupa; and the lotus flower follows seed, root and stem, human beings undergo a similar metamorphosis. Conventional political views are characteristic of an adolescent stage of life that primarily concerns itself with one’s perceived individual and group interests. Such views naturally clash with how others perceive their interests, and the results are obvious when we watch the news. The conditions created by invoking the “I” as opposed to “You,” or the “We” as opposed to “Them,” creates a battleground wherein the destructive emotions of passion, aggression, ignorance, arrogance and envy are given full play. Clearly, human society as a whole has not yet evolved beyond this stage of social development. But the possibility is there, just as the seed prefigures the flower. A number of people, those who have embodied wisdom from many places and traditions, have shown the way, though few follow. The path to a genuine “adulthood” is difficult, particularly from within the lunatic asylum where we find ourselves, but it is traversible.
What we have been talking about is fascism, the ideological underpinning of the Jewish State. There is also a religious underpinning (not Judaism – the Jewish Zionists, after all, are and always have been overwhelmingly secular), and that is the Holycause (not to say that Jewish religious fundamentalism doesn’t play a part). The ideology and the religion are symbiotic, as has always been the case in human societies. Church and State reinforce and support one another. The Holycause is remarkably similar to the underlying myth of Christianity, that someone, after undergoing unimaginable agony, died for our sins. In the case of the Holycause, six million Jews died so that Israel could be born. Never mind that the six million number goes back to 1912 (a vague guess at the number of Jews in Europe at the time) and only later became attached to the Jewish victims of the Third Reich (one of many disputed or easily refutable “facts” enumerated by the “official” version of the Holocaust, but woe betide any truthseekers who dare to undertake a critical analysis of what actually happened – you will be hauled before the ever vigilant officers of the Holycause Inquisition, and betimes taken to the rack). We are talking about a religion and therefore facts are fungible, as their meaning is symbolic rather than historical. And never mind that the actual survivors of that catastrophe who now live in Israel are a despised underclass (one third of them living in dire poverty), treated with utter contempt by the native born Israelis who are so fiercely proud of their manly, heroic battle against the fearsome foe. It is not the real victims who matter (the Zionists willingly sacrificed hundreds of thousands of European Jews in pursuit of their goal), but the symbolism of their victimhood.
The Zionists remain in total denial. As Saree Makdisi points out, they are able to blithely build a “Museum of Tolerance” above the graves of a centuries old Palestinian cemetary, the people they have been assiduously trying to exterminate, without showing any signs of cognitive dissonance. He refers to it as a horizontal wall, to complement the vertical Separation Wall being constructed in Jerusalem. The whole process of creating an impregnable ghetto, bristling with overpowering firepower, only invites destruction. This is, indeed, the goal of Christian Zionism, the cult of the Rapture, which foresees the end of the world and the final elimination of the Jews. They are perhaps even more psychotic than the Jewish Zionists. One could say, in the poetic language of the Abrahamic tradition, that the State of Israel is the Devil’s masterpiece.
There is really only one way to resolve the dilemma posed by the existence of the Jewish state in humanity’s heartland, and that is to change the existing configuration, a Rube Goldberg political contraption designed to maintain a Jewish majority in a putative Western-style democracy. The obvious alternative is the gold standard of contemporary nation states, a secular, pluralistic democracy consisting of all those who have an obvious right to be there (this includes all of the Palestinians, wherever they happen to be currently residing, as is clearly enshrined in international law), but does not necessarily include recent immigrants, particularly the fanatics from Brooklyn who form the majority of the illegal settlers (well, they’re all illegal, but what is meant here is illegal even according to Israeli law), nor would it include recently arrived terrorists like the Moldavian Avigdor Lieberman. Anyone not born there would be subject to deportation. To use a well known phrase, this would entail wiping Israel off the map. That would be a great boon to the mapmakers, as the Israelis have always refused to define their borders, pending the establishment of Greater Israel.
This can be brought about through a purely political process that doesn’t require the spilling of one drop of blood. It would be like extinguishing a raging fire that has gotten totally out of control and is threatening to consume much of the world. Yes, they do have nuclear weapons, and they aren’t shy about what they call “the Sampson option.” There is no use in hoping that governments will solve this problem – the Zionists have managed to get their hands on all the levers of power in most of what is called the First World, particularly in the U.S., the heart of the Empire. Only ordinary people, and most particularly those Jews who haven’t fallen under the hypnotic spell of Zionist hasbara – by fearlessly proclaiming truth to power – have any hope of waking up slumbering humanity and avoiding the seemingly inevitable. Zionists take heed – to quote a poetic metaphor from the bible, “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I shall repay.” Or, as it is expressed in post-modernist America, “what goes around comes around.”
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