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Sunday, 9 September 2012

Zionism - Always A Reactionary Movement

Zionism Was ALWAYS Allied to Imperialism

 Zionism   is portrayed today as a progressive movement in its origins, even if it went off the rails somewhere along the line.  I’ve just finished reviewing a book by Yehouda Shenhov ‘Beyond the Two State Solution’ which makes exactly this argument.

It is of course a nonsense.  The Zionists, from the 1st Congress in 1897 onwards, always referred to colonisation.  They formed a Jewish Colonial Bank and Trust.  Colonisation was seen as a good thing in the West and the Zionists sought to portray themselves as loyal colonialists, eager to team up with whichever imperial power would have them.
Indian men tied to British cannons which then blew them to smithereens.
The British High Commissioner's Garden Party in Jerusalem The advantages to the British Empire are obvious. The Suez Canal and air stations, the oil-pipe outlet in Haifa and its harbor, have become vital to our naval strategy in the Mediterranean. The security of the imperial complex of interests can be better assured by a large European population (Zionists) than by the few battalions that can be spared.
- British Lord Melchett


David Ben-Gurion, the first Labour Prime Minister of Israel, referred to the ‘colonies’ and 'colonisation' in for example Rebirth & Destiny.

It is therefore very interesting to read from the 'Editorial Notes', of the United Empire, 'The Royal Colonial Institute Journal', Volume 8, no 12, December 1917, concerning the newly established alliance between British imperialism and Zionism – as per the Balfour Declaration of November 1st 1917: 

Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:

'His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object...'
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Yours sincerely,
Arthur James Balfour

The RCIJ’s editorial notes state:
Without determining the actual status of Palestine, Great Britain's promise to facilitate the establishment there of a national home for the Jewish people, implies that the future of the country no longer ranks as one of the world's unsettled problems; and we may perhaps go farther and see in a Jewish commonwealth under British protection the most satisfactory safeguard for Egypt as a vital artery of the British Empire.
Egypt was important of course because of the Suez Canal, the route to India.  39 years later Britain and France, together with Israel, would stage an invasion of Egypt after its President Nasser had nationalised the Suez Canal.

So much for the ‘progressive’ origins of Zionism.

Tony Greenstein

Hat tip to Paul Flewers


Erez said...

saying That Zionism progressivism is complete nonsense because the British Imperialists think so is lame, weak, and a piece of crap.

It's like saying Hamas is a non-violent movement that supports Israel because Israel supported it, in its early stages, or the Muslim brothers are progressive Because the west endorses their rule in Egypt.

I you did is repeat the very well proved reactionary history of your state, during the Imperialist era. All this documentation is only about intentions - and very selective. There are hundreds of contradictory evidents about intentions.

In fact, Zionists had their own agenda, and their own inner debates, some extremely progressive, some even fascist. GB did not lick honey in the middle east, but its basic imperialist positions remain to this day - borders drawn in rulers, deliberately to create instability - the basis for a variety of dictatorships - foreign supported or domestic militants, except in Israel. until recent times, Israel was the only country in the area where general elections actually matters. (Turkey and Iran may be included, but their elections have much less influence)
Israel's ugly despicable Capitalism is more subtle and committed to human rights, than all the other economies in the area - only because the progressive streams, though not in power, are stronger in Israel than any other state in the area - and yes, They are majorly Zionists.

There is no point in claiming Zionism is the redemption of the world, but that is also true about the opposite.

Your analysis always neglects Arab imperialists and terror sponsors, and their place in the equation - which explains, at least partially, the power of reactionary streams in Israel.

but still, Zionists, (which are not European only settlers) together with Palestinians, were probably the only groups the succeeded in motivating GB for some portion of progressive development policies, much more than other Arab nations - the basis of relative prosperity and stability in Palestine today.

Israeli Agri-tech is used to feed ten of millions in Africa and India, far more than Israel's weapons industry harms.
Or are you only interested in intentions, and facts don't matter ?

While extremism is getting stronger all around the Muslim world, Iran is almost at the brink of nuclear weapon, North Korea tortures thousands in concentration camps, Sudan is performing on-going Genocide, world bankers starves millions with manipulation of food prices, Greece is subdued and sold for cheap, fascists get stronger in several European countries,

You, supposed "anti-racist, socialist" have nothing to do except focus on the supposed original nature of the Zionist movement ?
Have You fallen for the Antisemitic myth about The Jewish conspiracy to rule the world ?

To summarize,
A. Zionist originally had strong progressive streams, they are weak today, but still relevant.
B. All Zionist streams were influenced, but not dependant on GB reactionary Imperialism.
C. The progressive streams had strong influence in Israel in the past, and they were linked with global progressive ideas - Marshal plan, Point 4, Keynesian economy and others.
D. to conclude about the nature of a political element only from the nature of its supporter ignores the basic mechanism of politics - to shape the behaviour of your opponent

Tony Greenstein said...

What a mixed muddle Erez.

i. I distinguish between Zionists and Zionism. The former can indeed be progressive, although there aren't many around to day, but in previous years, especially in the diaspora, Zionists could indeed be on the side of socialism but that often meant they dispensed with Zionism altogether. A good example was Left-Poale Zion in Poland which was the Bund's closest partner in the Jewish resistance.

ii. It isn't a question of judging a movement by its supporters - though that is a useful way of understanding the measure of a movement. The fact that it is the European far-Right who are your most avid supporters should tell you something. But Zionism began its journey looking for an imperial partner. Read Herzl's otherwise boring diaries. He journed around Europe meeting one anti-Semitic ruler after another. Seeking to gain support for his project - the German Kaiser, the Ottoman Sultan, the Grand Duke of Baden, Hungary's King Victor, the Pope and the Czar's Interior and Finance Ministers among others. He wanted an alliance with an imperialist power.

iii. That strategy never changed. What changed was that Zionism switched partners after 1945 and sought US sponsorship.

iv. This idea that Israeli technology makes Israel progressive is akin to all the stuff and nonsense about Monsanto and GM engineering. Indeed that was the same theme tune of the Nazis - they represented modernism and we know where that led. The fact that to be Jewish is to be privileged in Israel - in terms of jobs, opportunities, benefits, housing etc. is all that needs to be said.

v. No I think it is the Zionist movement which tries its best to ape the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. After all Zionists and anti-Semites share the same assumptions that Jews don't belong in their home countries.

vi. If 'extremism' I think you mean Political Islam is getting stronger around the Arab world then Israel has played a significant part in this. It is the symbol of the imperialist penetration of the Arab East. You shall reap as you should sow. Islamic Fundamentalism is a pale reflection of Jewish fundamentalism and you complain about your mirror image

Erez said...

i. True, but irrelevant.
ii. Proves nothing. All small peoples seek big allies. Zionists choices differed along the years, but also the orientation of global powers between progress and reaction. These issues are far more subtle that your ideologically intentional blindness. Israel's row of supporters is much more wide and diverse than marginal Extreme-right groups, though I agree their support is more hazard than help.
iii. When you get the facts right, You do that as an essentialist, so You get the wrong conclusions after all. At 1945, GB is a withdrawing reactionary force, losing most of its strongholds, while the US sponsored progressive politics, as building the welfare states in Europe. It is widely argued exactly how the Pro-Israel faction overcame the pro-Arab faction in the US, but it known to be a crucially short achievement. Afterwards, Israel changed sides over to France and GB, and then again.
iv. It's more complex than your superficial Analogy. China supports production side economics, and global economical stability, while at the same time violates human rights and supports horrid regimes. Is it progress or reaction ? It depends from what aspect, and relative to whom. You twisted the point from the use of technology to the fact that it exists. Hence, opposites examples - I said the involvement in reducing hunger is progressive, and more influential than selling arms.
vi. I'm still trying figure it out: are You making jokes, or is it actually possible to lose every last bit of proportion? The first and main victims of Political Islam are Muslims, the next would be Jews, Christians, every non-Muslim. It is not 'We' who sow, and there are so many different 'we' who reap. Israel could have affected this process, but only slightly. Us support for whahabies in Saudi Arabia, GB and France's imperial agreements from the1920's, the international support of overthrowing Arab dictators (that oppressed political Islam together with their peoples) are crucial points (out of many) that Israel had nothing to do with. Israel, as a occupying force, could have strengthened Palestinian authentic national leadership, non-terrorist, anti PLO, and anti Hamas. Some Israeli officials laid the first bricks in that path regional municipal democratic associations; the Jordanian-Palestinian representatives to the Madrid talks; Rabin's Washington multilateral negotiations). Majority of Israelis and Palestinians rejected that progressive path, with a variety of reasons. But all of this, is a muskito's bite compared to Muslim fundamentalism. Political Islam is far more wide than the Arab world, and it grows even in places that no Jews ever lived, extreme or not. You call "self-hate" a silencing myth, but here you a write quite plainly: " Islamic Fundamentalism is a pale reflection of Jewish fundamentalism". Have you lost your mind ? Next would be "9/11 was inspired by settlers throwing stones on Arabs" ? How do You expect anyone to take You seriously ? When your Arguments become similar to Iranian ayatollahs' an apology is expected.

Tony Greenstein said...

I don't have time Erez for any substantive reply.

Just a couple of points. The US didn't decide from progressive politics to build welfare states in Europe in 1945 (in fact it was 1948 and the Marshall Plan). It was the cold war which necessitated not allowing any further encroachment by Stalin - with large communist parties in France and Italy. Coupled with this was the exercise of the Monro Doctrine in South America and the Korean War in 1950-1.

There is nothing progressive about China.

9/11 was certainly a reaction to US involvement in the Middle East. Having sponsored and helped create the Taliban (with the ISI in Pakistan) and Al Quaeda the US suffered blowback.

Why the strength of Political Islam? It didn't occur in Bosnia or Chechniya (at least until the Russian re-invasion). Ask yourself why or is it endemic to a particular religion?

Political Islam is indeed a reflection of Jewish fundamentalism, even if its first victims certainly are the Arab masses. I am vehemently opposed to Political Islam, which plays a role not unlike fascist movements which seek to undermine class struggles and capitalise on disillusion and weakness whilst seeking scapegoats (the Copts in Egypt for example). But I also ask where and how it originated. To that you have no answers.

ארז said...

well, there is some progress here. True about Marshall plan, and China's anti-global recession policy may be interesting another time.

but about Political Islam, a "blow back" is a very weird term. These people were used against the USSR, but they were the same all along. No reaction in here, only change of global status and, hence, their priorities. After the USSR was gone, hitting the US successfully weakened regimes in Muslim countries, who use to persecute political Islam - their prime target.
US (and Israel, Europe, Christianity whatever) are symbolic excuses, or utilitaristic factors, not basic reasons. If You looked inside You'd know, for example, that Iran is offered the most generous development package ever made to a country, and refuses it because acceptance would weaken its current rulers internally.
also the word "involvement"- You use it like the Islamists, as if there is a "non-involvement" possibility. It is the nature of the involvement that counts.
Political Islam is not as consequential as You imply. IT grows in the west as well: Belgium, Germany, GB, France. Many 9/11 terrorists lived many years in the west. There is a struggle inside Islam, and western involvement is just one aspect of it.

If You don't have the time, so don't use it to write superficial nonsense, like blaming Israel in everything that's bad.
Denying auto-antisemitism as a phenomenon, doesn't mix well with being a Jew and making antisemitic claims against Israel,
especially while your country's imperial policies in the Muslim world in the 20th century are much more responsible than any others' to the roots of Political Islam. so, as a GB citizen, I think You should apologize twice.

Tony Greenstein said...

Well it's your take as to what Iran has been offered. I suspect it, like most aid, is a poisoned chalice. Maybe they should offer the same package to Israel so that it gets rid of its nuclear weapons?

The growth of Political Islam is directly related to the presence of US imperialism and its activities in the Middle East. The US, having sponsored and supported the corrupt Gulf sheikhdoms and Saudi Arabia, which is frittering away its oil wealth on the high living of its princes, is indeed suffering blowback.

I don't blame Israel for 'everything' just what it does which is enough. I don't know what 'auto-antisemitism' is other than the reflex and knee-jerk charge of Zionists that their opponents are 'anti-Semitic' for lack of any other arguments.

I'm not into apologies. Change is to my liking though...