Copyright (c) 2018, Christopher John Brickill. All rights are reserved, and the moral rights of Christopher John Brickhill as the Author have been asserted by him.
In the 19th century, a small number of Eastern European and Russian Jews began to think about whether a Jewish homeland or state would be viable. They were the first Zionists, and the forces that drove European nationalism also drove Zionism. At this time, 80% of all Jews were European. Most of the rest lived in the US and Canada. The Jewish population in Palestine was tiny; indeed, some Zionists thought that Palestine was completely unoccupied and Zionist propaganda of the day included slogans like “A land without people for a people without land”, in spite of the 600,000 Palestinian Arabs.
Theodor Herzl, a proponent, gave the movement its name, Zionism. It was one of several European nationalist movements. It was born of discrimination, persecution, anti-Semitism, pogroms, the exclusionary nationalism of some European states, and Jewish secularism. The latter is the belief that Jews were not only united by religion, but by birth. There were non-religious Jews, and religious and non-religious Jews together constituted a Jewish identity. Earlier in the 19th century, Jewish enlightenment, fertilized by events like the French Revolution had led to an expression of Jewish identity, encouraged by the exclusion of Jews from emergent of European nations. Jewish racial rhetoric was as valid as religious rhetoric and supported a Zionist expression of identity with two parts. The study of science and literature pushed the boundaries of traditional Jewish religious education. Some Zionist thinkers romanticized and created a lost homeland imbued with animistic mysticism. Moreover, a Jewish homeland would isolate Jews from anti-Semitism, persecution and discrimination.
As Zionism developed, anti-Semitism became central. Herzl:
We naturally move to those places where we are not persecuted, and [from]where our presence produces persecution. This is the case in every country, and will remain so, even in those highly civilized, for instance, France until the Jewish question finds a solution on a political basis. The unfortunate Jews are now carrying Anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America.
There is no doubt that many Jewish communities suffered unwarranted discrimination and persecution and that there were anti-Semites. Societies sometimes refused to integrate Jews resorting to legislation and sometimes by state instigated mob violence. In many cases mob violence was used to distract angry populations from their economic woes. However, to claim that Jews were the victims of discrimination and persecution, to any greater extent than other minorities was unjustified and self-absorbed. Religious minorities of all shapes and sizes have suffered, and continue to suffer discrimination, as have dark skinned persons, gypsies, homosexuals, physically and intellectually disadvantaged persons, etc. What needs to be addressed is not anti-Semitism per se, but all forms of discrimination and the persecution of all minorities. To propose that a separate state for Jews would eliminate the problem is speculative to say the least, and does not progress what needs to be done. It is irresponsible as it side steps the fundamental issues. When Israel reminds us of the Holocaust, and the murder of six million Jews, it rarely mentions that two million Poles, four million Russians, and millions of others were also murdered, and more recently between 2 to 3 million Cambodians.
When Israel became a state, it began to abuse the notion of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust as justifications for its own purposes and existence. For example, in a short period beginning in 1648, the Khmelnitsky pogroms took place and thousands of Jews were slaughtered. These events are presented in Israel’s schools as an example of anti-Semitism, and that Jews were the helpless victims of Christian aggression simply because they were Jews. This has no merit. The reason for the pogroms was that Jews were often agents for the real targets of the aggression, and their targeting had nothing to do with their being Jews.
Nationalism was a 19th century preoccupation in Europe, and Herzl was not the first to write about Jews and nationalism in the same breath. His was a quest to transform religion into a political. To be able to do so meant letting ethnicity into the equation. In 1882, the Bilu Group in Constantinople had published a manifesto which spoke of oppression, the false hope of assimilation and an ancient Jewish civilization. No connection was established between the Judaism of ancient Palestine and Bilu Judaism, however, Bilu proposed re-establishing a Jewish home in Palestine, initially given to the Jews of ancient Palestine by a god. The aspiration was a Jewish home in Palestine as a part of the Ottoman Empire. The Bilu Group was not good on facts, it was delusional, and it aspirations unrealistic.
Zionism had roots in Christian Zionism. The Christian world, in its own interests required that the Jews return to the Holy Land, Palestine. The religious prophesies connected the end of the world, the conversion of all Jews to Christianity, and a voyage to Palestine, and Christian Zionism embraced Christian colonialism. Lord Shaftesbury, a British politician in the early 19th century championed Christian Zionism, and convinced his Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston to support it, and the British stationed officials in Jerusalem. Shaftsbury charitably thought the Jews were “sunk in moral degradation, obduracy, and ignorance of the Gospel”, but were worthy of salvation and furthermore, Christian Zionism was necessary for Christianity’s own salvation.
Moreover, a Jewish community in Palestine would serve a useful political end as it might buttress the waning Ottoman empire. It would serve Britain’s foreign policy, and Palmerston tried to convince the Ottomans, without success, to accept a Jewish community in Palestine, as part of the Ottoman Empire.
A Jewish community in Palestine would also rid Europe of the Jews. This was not necessarily an anti-Semitic consideration. For whatever reason, the Jews had been s source of problems, and one way to solve this was to remove them.
The first Jewish immigrants to Palestine, from 1882 to 1904, is what the Zionists call the First Aliyah. The second wave, from 1904 to 1914 was the Second Aliyah. The immigration attracted so much attention that by 1910, at the insistence of the Palestinian Arabs, the Ottomans halted the sale of land to Jews. In Europe, Jews usually could not own land nor property, and in Palestine they quickly became preoccupied with acquiring it. For both theological and political reasons, Zionism in the 19th century had won the support of Britain. The support coupled with the immigration created concerns among the Palestinian Arabs, who boycotted Zionist Jewish settler goods.
Herzl thought that the reason that a large number of European Jews lived in ghettos was because there had been centuries of hostility to Jews resulting in oppression and persecution. Some Jewish communities had certainly been blamed for disasters like the Black Death, and Jews had often been forced to live in restricted areas. In some communities, Jews were banned from the professions, and sometimes denied the right to vote. However, to make a connection between living in ghettos and oppression was farfetched. Herzl did recognize that other groups were oppressed, but believed that Jews had suffered more than others, which was simply false, and furthermore, self-serving.
In 1881, when Alexander III became Czar of Russia, times became difficult for Russian Jews, and anti-Jewish mob violence and pogroms were not uncommon. Herzl had experienced anti-Semitism in Hungary where he was born, in Vienna where he lived, and in Paris where he was a journalist for a short time. The Dreyfus Affair in 1894 was an example of the spread of anti-Semitism westward, from Russia, and Germany.
As far as Herzl was concerned, anti-Semitism was not restricted to Europe, persecution was not a temporary phenomenon, and Jewish assimilation was never going to be possible, so Jews would always remain targets. He did not recognize that this was the fate of many European minorities, and of the poor, and did not balance his thinking with the fact that there were very many successful European Jews, financially and otherwise. Nor did he take into account that a large number of Jews had been assimilated into the US. In short, he did not look for a reason for the persecution. It was simply there and for Herzl would always be. The only way to deal with it was to run from it.
Herzl wanted a home for Jews with legal safeguards, so he proposed the creation of a Jewish state: “The idea that I have developed in the pamphlet is a very old one: it is the restoration of the Jewish State”. The state to which he referred was annihilated more than two thousand years beforehand, and of course, states then were very different kinds of things than they were in 19th century Europe. They were not states.
It is important to recognize that Herzl’s ideological foundation was derived from European nationalism, not traditional Jewish religious beliefs. Zionism, as a coherent political idea was anything but a movement with sound foundations, and it changed what it was, and where it went, to suit the times, and when it needed. Its pronouncements wrung of the appalling notions of racial purity and eugenic reproductive prejudice, it was simplistic, made exaggerated claims. Herzl was comfortable with this. He was both a racist, and an anti-Semite, as we will see.
Herzl convened and chaired the inaugural World Zionist Congress in August 1897, in Basel, which established the World Zionist Organization (Zionist Organization until 1960), the WZO, as a permanent umbrella movement for the embryonic Zionist movement. The WZO was to provide a political and juridical solution for the ineradicable anti-Semitism which took it to the need for a Jewish state.
The Congress was the governing body of the WZO and would determine Zionist policy. Neither non-Jews, nor women could vote. The latter had to wait until the second congress. At the time of the Congress, and for many years thereafter, very few Jews were members of this small fractious, racist minority.
The Congress declared Zionism’s goal, to “create for the Jewish people a home in Palestine secured by public law”. Later Herzl wrote, “were I to sum up the Basle Congress … at Basle I founded the Jewish State.” So we see in 1897, the resolve of the WZO was to remove Palestine from the clutches of Turkey and make it a Jewish state. The relevant motion was:
Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a legally assured home in Palestine. For the attainment of this purpose, the Congress considers the following means serviceable:
- The promotion of the settlement of Jewish agriculturalists, artisans, and tradesmen in Palestine;
- The federation of all Jews into local or general groups, according to the laws of the various countries [to attract the Jewish diaspora];
- The strengthening of the Jewish feeling and consciousness;
- Preparatory steps for the attainment of those governmental grants that are necessary to the achievement of the Zionist purpose.
The WZO’s program, it became known as the Basle Program, included the immigration of Jews to Palestine, and legitimizing the Zionist state by obtaining the assent of a government. Furthermore, the Congress noted the “colonization of Palestine”.
The rights of the 600,000 Palestinian Arabs occupants of Palestine were never considered. It did not even occur to the Zionists at the Congress that they should not only matter, but they were the only ones that did matter, the only population, or ethnic group with a right to occupy Palestine. Some did, however, recognize the consequences. After a visit to Palestine in 1891, Ahad Ha’am, a Zionist and humanist was prescient. He had written years before: “If a time comes when our people in Palestine develop so that, in small or great measure, they push out the native inhabitants, these will not give up their place easily,” In 1891 he wrote that the Palestinian Arabs “understood very well what we were doing and what we were aiming at”. Herzl’s reaction in 1897 was, “ We shall try to spirit the penniless [Palestinian Arab] population across the border by procuring employment for it in transit countries, while denying it employment in our own country … Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly”.
The Zionist strategy to obtain legitimacy was to leverage the connection between Jewish religious beliefs and Palestine. This was the reason that, ultimately, Palestine was chosen. Many, perhaps most, who attended the Congress, were not religious, but Palestine gave rise to a good story and was shrouded in history and the mystical, and suggested a right of some sort. The invention of a Jewish nation had begun with the identification of religious Jews.
One might wonder why the Zionists did not consider North America. It was easy to understand why a European location was out. It was occupied and the home of the persecution from which the Zionists wanted to escape. Most Jews that had left Europe had immigrated to North America, along with other immigrant groups. The Jewish migrants saw success, and there were few complaints. In fact, by 1900, almost a million Jews had settled in the US, a country with 76 million inhabitants, and whose population was rapidly expanding. There was persecution and anti-Semitism in some parts of the US, but these could be avoided. Immigration to the US was clearly an option and the option that most Jews who wanted to emigrate took. For Zionists, however, the US was out. It could never be a Jewish state.
Herzl realized that the immigration of Jews, as a colonial exercise, needed patronage and substantial financial resources, so he tried to recruit powerful nations as sponsors. He tapped the financial resources of wealthy European Jews. In Der Judenstaat the options for a Jewish state, included Palestine and Argentina, and in 1903, the British offered Uganda. This proposal was put before the Sixth Zionist Congress in August 1903, but went nowhere. He negotiated with the German Kaiser, the Ottoman Sultan, and the Russians. He asked the Italian King to give the Zionists land in what was to become Libya. The response was that the territory belonged to others.
The advantage of Palestine was that it was easy to sell to Jews for the reasons that we have set out already, but Herzl considered other options because he was concerned that any efforts to settle in Ottoman Palestine might fail. The Ottomans had rejected his overtures, and he reasoned that the existing Palestinian population could, in time, become hostile, and without Ottoman support, could result in immigration being restricted. His views were alarmingly prescient. Another advantage of Palestine was that the seeds had be sown by the Christian Zionists.
In itself, this tells us a number of things about Herzl’s views. He was aware that Palestine was populated. He expected Jewish immigration to be significant. He understood that the existing Palestinian Arabs might come to understand that they could be displaced by a Zionist state. The question he must have asked was whether the Zionist program could go forward successfully without its Palestinian story, its propaganda.
The Zionists did not simply want a home. For a start, there was one in North America. They wanted a home that was entirely Jewish and one in which Zionists would be the masters, so North America was not an option. For Zionist sovereignty, they were prepared to forgo the benefits of an established safe community. They were prepared to be colonizers, and to take what was not theirs.
Herzl’s program was in every respect a settler colonialist program. A place would be chosen, and immigrants would build houses, roads, bridges, railways, etc. and be the colonial masters. It was with two exceptions the same as European colonialism in Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US, South America, the Indian sub-continent, and parts of East and South-East Asia. It was not dissimilar to the Japanese colonization of Korea. As a consequence, the colonized, the Palestinian Arabs would have no rights. The first exception was that the Zionists were not a Great Power (like Britain, France, Germany, the US and Japan), and had nothing to offer in return for their domination. The second was that they wanted to remove the indigenous population.
Herzl’s proposal was not for a Jewish state, but a Zionist Jewish state, and a state for Jews only. It had to be a sovereign state, large enough to be self-sustainable, and enjoy the recognition of other states.
The 1897 Congress delegates were well aware that their vision trespassed human rights. They avoided the word state and used homeland instead. They could not risk being upfront. For a start, it would have informed the Ottomans of the Zionist agenda. Then, of course, it was obvious to all that Palestine was populated. Herzl wrote, “No need to worry [about the phraseology]. The people will read it as Jewish State anyhow.
When Herzl died, Palestine, the first choice, became the only choice, and Zionism became the movement for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. It was championed by a tiny minority of religious and non-religious Jews. There were many hurdles. There were very few Jews in Palestine, Jews had no right to immigrate and inhabit Palestine, and Palestine was already populated by the indigenous Palestinian Arabs. The Zionist immigrant Jews would have to remove them, by force if necessary. The Zionist vision was racist in the true sense.
Herzl’s Zionists were parochial, xenophobic, myopic, outmoded and self-absorbed. They denied the new liberalism that opposed oppression and colonialist adventurism, and which promoted democracy and human rights. They reveled in emotional and spiritual fantasy. They said the Jews had survived for centuries because of solidarity with the Holy Land. It was delusional rubbish.
Herzl was not a man who deserved respect. He lived in awe of German culture, and embraced a philosophy that took him from the beauty of literature and art to moral good. He believed that uncultured Hungarian Jews, like himself, could rid themselves of their “shameful Jewish characteristics” and become civilized. Herzl thought that orthodox Jews were inferior. “Merely to look at him … let alone approach or, heaven forbid, touch him was enough to make us feel sick”. He thought they needed to be removed from society, “a hideous distortion of the human character, something unspeakably low and repulsive”. The orthodox did not accept Zionism, and he thought that a self-respecting Jew must be a Zionist. He described the Jewish homeland as a “European rampart against barbarism”, and he saw no problem with using Jews as a tool. There is no wonder that he ignored the indigenous occupants of Palestine. Herzl was an appalling creature.
The story of the history of the Jews is somewhat different to what the Zionists have portrayed, and reduces the claim that there is a Jewish ethnicity to speculation if not pedestrian nonsense.
A study of the history of Jews and Jewish culture does not reveal, as is the case in other cultures, a single entity that has endured in space and time, that may disappear and reappear later under a new name, but at least four distinct Jewish cultural episodes, in contrast to the Arabs, the Chinese or Western Christendom. The episodes were discontinuous in space and time, and there has never been an independent Jewish sociological, political, nor territorial entity since the time of the Roman expulsions in 70 CE. What has persisted are a core of religious practices.
A putative Jewish identity would be comprised, in part, of religious beliefs, cultural practices and ancestry. While religious Jews possess an identity, there is no single Jewish cultural practice, but a collection of practices found in the communities that call themselves Jewish. Some have argued that there is a common Jewish ancestry that makes all Jews descendants of the Abraham of the Old Testament. This is a myth, and there has never been any acceptable basis for this assertion. Similarly, there is no basis for a Jewish ethnic group. Ethnic markers common to populations of Jewish communities exist, but they are as significant as the ethnic markers than one finds, for example, in blue eyed or dark skinned individuals. Blue eyed dark skinned persons from Kazakhstan do not share an ethnicity with blue eyed Zulus. Sholom Sand has argued that the Ashkenazi are descendants of the Kasara, who underwent a religious conversion. His analysis is subject to further confirmation, but what is clear is that today’s Sephardi, Mizrahi and Ashkenazi are cross breads. Notably there are genetic markers shared by the Sephardi, the Mizrahi, but not the Ashkenazi, and the Palestinian Arabs. There is thus a lack of a genetic basis for Jewishness in today’s Jews who identify as such. There is no evidence whatsoever that Jewish communities share a common ancestry back to Abraham of the Old Testament, if indeed there was such an individual, or any individual who lived in Palestine in Biblical times.
We can study cultures by exploring linguistic evolution as it provides clues which trace the histories of potential ethnicities. These evolutionary clues reveal four Jewish episodes, cultural ages:
- Hellenistic Judaism, the culture expressed in the Septuagint, and by Philo in pre-Ptolemaic times, expressed, largely, but not exclusively, by the adherents of specific religious beliefs;
- East Aramaic Judaism, the culture of Babylonia and the Talmud, also expressed by adherents of religious beliefs, many but not all of which were similar to the religious beliefs of the Hellenistic Jews;
- The Jewish culture of medieval Spain, with both Arabic and Spanish expressions, and which provided the road on which Greek and Arab science and philosophy travelled to Europe, also expressed by common religious beliefs, similar to, but not the same as those of the Hellenistic and East Aramaic Jews;
- The Jewish culture of Eastern Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, centered in Poland and Lithuania, and which spread its wings into Russia and Romania. In this culture, we find both religious and non-religious Jews, and significant differences between the religious practices of those that adhered to religious Judaism.
Among these episodes, the was no common vernacular. In the Hellenistic world the languages of the Jews were Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, in Mesopotamia, Hebrew and Aramaic, in medieval Spain, Hebrew, Arabic and Spanish, and in Eastern Europe, Hebrew, German, Yiddish and Polish.
We need to disregard the language of the synagogue, sacred Hebrew, the significance of which was similar to that of Latin for the Romance languages, Sanskrit for the languages of the Indian sub- continent, and the classical Arabic of the Koran. The vernaculars, Aramaic, Greek, Arabic, Spanish, German, Yiddish and Polish were the languages of discourse, the family and the street, and the languages which defined culture. Vernaculars evolve and trace ethnic entities, sacred language does not and does not evolve in any significant sense. Consider the differences between medieval and today’s Spanish, or German, or ancient and today’s Greek.
The Jews were multilingual in all four cultures, and in the first three, their role as translators exposed them to science and philosophy. In contrast, ghettos in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, housed Jews which occupied by messianic ideals and mystical piety, and who eschewed rational and intellectual pursuits. The 19th century Enlightenment was an anathema to orthodox Jews, but it proposed a path to emancipation, the abolition of ghettos and Eastern Europe’s discriminatory laws and customs, and to the professions.
Herzl’s Jews were the Jews of Eastern Europe. We know the first two Jewish episodes were linked ethnically, and the migration that led to the second from the first has been well documented. However, no significant ethnic connection has been established between these two episodes and the latter two, nor any ethnic connection between the ancestors of the Sephardim, and the Ashkenazim.
Let’s spell this out a little. It is clear that some Jews in Roman times found themselves in Spain, but it is also clear than the connection between the first two episodes and the Jews of medieval Spain was nothing more than a religious connection. Jewish religious beliefs were transported to Spain, and found adherents, and those that did the transporting procreated, but there is no evidence that the procreation was significant. The Jews that carried the Jewish religion to Spain were absorbed into the Spanish gene pool.
Geneticist David Goldstein has established that while there is no matrimonial link between modern Jews and the historic middle eastern populations, there are minor patrilineal links. A 2013 study headed by Costa et al suggested that the Ashkenazi Jews, the most populous classification of Jews, had roots in pre-historic Europe, not in the Middle East, and converted to Judaism 2,000 years ago. The conclusion that we must draw is that there is little evidence for a distinct Jewish ethnicity.
What we have said does not rule out ethnic connections, but it is surprising that no reliable account has ever been given which links, ethnically, the Jews of the second Babylonian episode, and the Jews of medieval Spain, hundreds of years later. The latter were adherents to the Jewish religion, and indeed, some parts of Hebrew made a way into the vernacular. However, it would be an astronomical leap of faith to say that the Jews of ancient Babylonia had any significant ethnic connection to the Jews of medieval Spain, as any connection would have been diluted beyond recognition. The time from when the Jewish religion first appeared in Spain until those that had adopted Judaism were expelled was marked by periods of favour and disfavor for followers of each of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Each faith adopted and integrated followers of other faiths. Jews became Christians, Muslims became Christians, and Christians became Muslims and Jews. Ethnicities became absorbed and mixed. Jews, as did the adherents of Islam and Christianity, at one moment served kings, then were banished, and then were restored to favor and prominence.
Similar remarks can be made of the supposed link between the Jews of Spain, and the Jews of Eastern Europe. When the Jews were expelled from Spain it is likely that fewer than 40,000 made their way northwards. Descendants of these groups may have indeed made their way into the ethnic stock of the Eastern European Jews, but it is clear that the evidence points to the fact that the absorption of Spanish Jewry into the Jews of Eastern Europe was insignificant.
It is clear that the Israeli claim that the European Jewish immigrants that were the settler colonizers of Palestine were descendants from the Jews of Biblical times is myth, as is the claim that the Jews of the Bible formed a nation.
The Zionist plan was that Zionist Jews would establish a state in Palestine. This meant that land and property had to be acquired by purchasing it, or confiscating it, and Jews would have to move to Palestine.
In 1901, the Jewish National Fund was created at the fifth World Zionist Congress to facilitate Jewish land acquisition. Agricultural land was to be acquired, only by Jews or Jewish organizations, after which it could only be leased or resold to Jews. The Jewish National Fund was to “redeem [that is acquire] the land of Palestine as the inalienable possession of the Jewish people”. Most land acquired, however, was urban, and not agricultural, and the early efforts of the organization were a failure.
Later, Israel would try to justify its presence in Palestine by claiming that Palestine was unpopulated, and that there were no Palestinian Arabs. If this was indeed the case, there would be no need to buy land, and no need for the Jewish National Fund. After drawing the attention of the Jewish Zionists to the contradiction, the justification became that the purchases were for land sold by absentee landlords. Again, absurd, as landlords have tenants, and in any case, there were very few absentee landlords. The Ottoman Tanzimat reform records show clearly who owned Palestinian land, and where they lived. We will have a lot more to say about this issue later, and how the atheist David Ben-Gurion waved the Bible in the face of British Peel commission in 1937 and claimed that it was the land registry for Palestine, and proved that the Zionist Jews were entitled Palestine, contrary to what the Ottoman registry recorded. God’s Biblical promise was his justification for the colonization of Palestine.
Even though the Ottomans had restricted land and property sales to the Zionist Jews, and many immigrants during the first and second Aliyahs did not stay in Palestine, the small numbers that did stay remain were a source of problems. Arab labour was cheaper than Jewish labour, which led to prejudicial employment, when Arabs were denied work. Tensions began to arise.
Although the immigrants included adventurers, entrepreneurs and merchants, most were those from the lower end of the food chain, and the social classes of the Zionist Jew immigrants were similar to those of the US immigrants.
The land the Jewish National Fund financed had been held by Palestinian Arab families for generations. These families held possessory rights, but because of the 1858 Tanzimat land reforms, Jewish National Fund acquisitions meant Palestinian Arab displacements. The 1905 World Zionist Congress recognized this and was concerned that the displaced Arabs might seek to take back what they had been deprived of, and, if necessary, use force. “Will they not seek justice from the strangers that placed themselves over their land?”
Contrary to buying land in the areas of biblical significance, in Judea and Samaria, in accordance with the Zionist plan, the immigrant Jews bought land in the areas that had greater economic potential, in the coastal areas and valleys, and eschewed the religious sites. The amount of land actually acquired was a small fraction of the land in Palestine.
When Herzl died, support for Zionism dissolved until awakened by Balfour, and what led to it during the last days of WW I. We will take up the story in Volume II when we come to the Peace Conference at Versailles, after the cessation of hostilities.
Zionism attracted considerable opposition and criticism. It was an immediate failure. Only after the rise of the national socialists in Germany did Jewish immigration to Palestine become significant, and the Zionist plans could begin to take shape.
Many religious Jews have no time for Zionism, nor its creation, Israel. Rabbi Hirsch in the US wrote in 1978:
The 12th principle of our faith, I believe, is that the Messiah will gather the Jewish exiled who are dispersed throughout the nations of the world. Zionism is diametrically opposed to Judaism. Zionism wishes to define the Jewish people as a nationalistic entity. The Zionists say, in effect, ‘Look here, God. We do not like exile. Take us back, and if you don’t, we’ll just roll up our sleeves and take ourselves back. … This, of course, is heresy. The Jewish people are charged by Divine oath not to force themselves back to the Holy Land against the wishes of those residing there … Zionism was diametrically opposed to Judaism.
The good Rabbi Hirsch not only distinguished between Judaism and Zionism, and denied that the Jews formed a nation, he recognized that the Palestinian Arabs were rightfully entitled to Palestine. Rabbi Hirsch meant religious Jews when he spoke of Jews, and his assumption was that secular Jews had no connection with Palestine. They were not religious Jews. The implication is that Israel cannot declare itself to be a state of religious Jews, and moreover, secular Jews have no justification for establishing a putative state or living in such a state in Palestine against the wishes of its people, the Palestinian Arabs.
Rabbi Judah L. Magnes, the first president of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem:
A Jewish Home in Palestine built up on bayonets and oppression [is] not worth having, even though it succeeds, whereas the very attempt to build it up peacefully, cooperatively, with understanding, education, and good will, [is] worth a great deal even though the attempt should fail.
Both rabbis are saying that the creation of the state of Israel was unjustified from a religious perspective. Furthermore, there can be no other justification. They are not far short from classifying the injustice to the Palestinian Arabs as monumental.
The ultra-orthodox Jewry saw Zionism as contrary to the principles of Judaism. Many thought that Zionism was a dangerous form of secularism blended with an unwanted modernization of their religious practices. They preferred to cut themselves off in traditional Jewish religious communities. These and other orthodox Jews believe that god had expelled the Jews from the Holy Land (to Babylon) and that it was up to him to decide when the Jews should return. Ben-Gurion was one of many atheist Jewish leaders and had no right to dictate a return. The few that had returned did so to live and die in Palestine, for religious reasons, and not to form a political entity. This, for the orthodox was acceptable. For them there was no Diaspora. Judaism was a worldwide religious community, and not an ethnic community.
Many Rabbis forbade their followers from having anything to do with it, which they considered messing with god’s will to keep the Jews in exile until the messiah descended and the dead would be resurrected. Centuries of Jewish wisdom, law and customs could not be overturned by secular, politically minded Jews.
The Zionists reaction was to ridicule the ultra-orthodox.
Religious myths add little to any rational discussion of the justification for Israel. Many proposed justifications, however, are derived from documents treated by religious Jews as informing. The views of Rabbis Hirsch and Magnes show that there is no unanimity. Furthermore, discussions which invoke the ethics of religious Judaism condemn Israel as heretical.
Non-secular Jews questioned whether Zionism would result in increased anti-Semitism because it opened up issues of loyalty. They aspired to assimilation into non-Jewish communities. They were Jewish when it suited them, and their visits to synagogue were token visits, and Jewish holidays had little religious significance.
Some intellectuals thought Zionism would be a danger to the emancipation of the Jews. Some prominent European Jewish families like the Rothschilds were opposed to it on the grounds that it might endanger the Jewish communities in Europe.
A third group, the Reform movement searched for a modernized, religious life, and had no time for Jewish nationalism. The Reformists, until the creation of Israel as a state, viewed Judaism as a religious community and eschewed any semblance of a return to a Jewish state. Liberal Jews reasoned that anti-Semitism was only one form of unacceptable behavior, and full assimilation was the cure. In Russia, socialist Jews saw Zionism’s provocative side, that it contributed to anti-Semitism by asking Jews to forego their birthright, and by doing so questioned the human rights.
The indigenous Jews of Palestine reacted negatively to Zionism. They did not see the need for a Jewish state in Palestine and did not want to exacerbate relations with the Palestinian Arabs. There were few problems and tensions between Jews and Palestinian Arabs only began to develop when there were dispossessions. The tensions increased when the Jewish Zionists began to claim during the first days of the Mandate, that Palestine was the rightful possession of the Jewish people, to the exclusion of its (large majority) of Moslem and Christian inhabitants.
Zionists debated whether Zionism should be secular. Ahad Ha’am thought so, and he cautioned settlers not to arouse the wrath of the Palestinian Arabs. He was appalled at the behavior of some of them:
Yet what do our brethren do in Palestine? Just the very opposite! Serfs they were in the lands of the Diaspora and suddenly they find themselves in unrestricted freedom and this change has awakened in them an inclination to despotism. They treat the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, deprive them of their rights, offend them without cause and even boast of these deeds; and nobody among us opposes this despicable and dangerous inclination…
The parliamentary discussion of Balfour raised considerable opposition to Zionism. Edwin Montagu, a cabinet member, and a Jew wrote that Zionism was “a mischievous political creed untenable by any patriotic citizen of the United Kingdom”. It endorsed a conflict of loyalties. In a memorandum to the Cabinet, 23rd August 1917, he wrote,
… I assume that it means that Mahommedans [Muslims] and Christians are to make way for the Jews and that the Jews should be put in all positions of preference and should be peculiarly associated with Palestine in the same way that England is with the English or France with the French, that Turks and other Mahommedans in Palestine will be regarded as foreigners, just in the same way as Jews will hereafter be treated as foreigners in every country but Palestine … I deny that Palestine is today associated with the Jews or properly to be regarded as a fit place for them to live in … The Ten Commandments were delivered to the Jews on Sinai. It is quite true that Palestine plays a large part in Jewish history, but so does it in modern Mohammedan history, and, after the time of the Jews, surely it plays a larger part than any other country in Christian history … Perhaps also citizenship must be granted only as a result of a religious test.
Montagu remarked that Zionists were “animated by the restrictions upon and refusal of liberty to Jews in Russia”, but that the Russian problem no longer existed. He believed that there was no Jewish nation, “It is no more true to say that a Jewish Englishman and a Jewish Moor are of the same nation than it is to say that a Christian Englishman and a Christian Frenchman are of the same nation”. If Jews are given a home in Palestine, then “every country will immediately desire to get rid of its Jewish citizens, and you will find a population in Palestine driving out its present inhabitants”, and “a religious test of citizenship seems to me to be only admitted by those who take a bigoted and narrow view of one particular epoch of the history of Palestine”, and finally, “Palestine will become the world’s Ghetto. Why should the Russian give the Jew equal rights?” He noted that only a third of the world’s Jews could be accommodated in Palestine. Where would the rest go?
Montagu was saying that Palestine would become an ethnically driven state, absent religious freedom and freedom of intermarriage. It would be a state based on a tribe and a religion, and a ridiculous mystic belief in a peculiar soil. If Zionists were willing to ignore the rights of the vast majority of the non-Jewish population of Palestine, what else might we expect? Montagu’s prescient views were alarming and accurate.
In 1936, the Social Democratic Bund, with all major Jewish organizations in Poland, expressed extreme hostility to Zionism, and emigration to Palestine. It asked that Polish Jews fight anti-Semitism in Poland by remaining there.
Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of the state of Israel. His thoughts:
I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish State. Apart from practical considerations, my awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish State, with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain.
When King Edward XII ascended the throne on the 9th August 1902 he came to rule over the largest empire that the world had ever known. By WWI, the British Empire had 412 million subjects, almost one quarter of the globe’s population They occupied almost one quarter of the Earth’s land. The Age of Discovery had begun in 15th century, and in five centuries, the Europeans had colonized most of the planet. They created new, white European nations and replaced the indigenous nations, and kingdoms.
Colonial powers established colonies for many reasons. Religion, racism, xenophobia and territorial expansion were centre pins. The white man was superior, in all respects. Colonies reordered humanity into master and slave races, and masters were entitled to exploit the slaves of Asia, Africa and America. The white masters had promised equality and liberty at home and required territories abroad to deliver land, food and raw materials to mollify the disaffected in periods of rapid social and economic change. Racial supremacy was exercised by slavery, segregation, ghettoization, militarized border controls, ethnic cleansing, genocide and mass incarcerations. The local indigenous populations in both north and south America were massacred, and the remaining populations, if any, were confined to reservations.
Ho Chi Minh: “nothing but dirty negroes … good for no more than pulling rickshaws”. The dirty negroes, however were good enough for cannon fodder, and could join European armies.
Cecil Rhodes wrote in 1895, that imperialism was a “solution for the social problem, i.e. in order to save the 40 million inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we colonial statesmen must acquire new lands to settle the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced in the factories and mines”.
By the 19th century, colonialism had become informed by social Darwinism, and a nation risked extinction if it could not provide living space for citizens. Thus, it was natural for uncivilized peoples to be exterminated, terrorized, imprisoned, ostracized or radically re-engineered. Colonies were where racial exterminations took place and contempt for civilian lives were cemented. All European armies committed genocides in their colonies. Natives were animals, worse than brutes when their passions were aroused, and sexual relations between European women and black men were prohibited, although not between European men and African women.
When the Kaiser sent troops to Asia he presented their mission as racial vengeance: “Give no pardon and take no prisoners,” make sure that “no Chinese will ever again even dare to look askance at a German”.
Lieutenant General Lothar von Trotha made his reputation in Africa by slaughtering the indigenous and incinerating their villages. He named his policy terrorism. He said it would help to subdue the natives. In 1904, von Trotha ordered that the Hereros, who had been defeated militarily, were to be shot on sight or banished into the Omaheke Desert. Between 60 and 70,000 Herero from a population of 80,000 were wiped out.
King Leopold II of Belgium reduced the population in Belgium colonies by half, and killed eight million Africans. Brigadier General Jacob H Smith, a US general in the US conquest of the Philippines, “I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn. The more you kill and burn the better it will please me”.
We have said that the colonial powers made agreements during WW I that they did not keep. The bloodbath reveled the belligerent nature of colonial, imperial domination and racial superiority.
In the 20th century, wars ignited by racism continued the practice of genocide. In 1920, a year after condemning Germany for its crimes against Africans, the British devised aerial bombing as routine policy for their new Iraqi possession. “The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means,” a 1924 report by a Royal Air Force officer put it. “They now know that within 45 minutes a full-sized village … can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured.”
Mahatma Gandhi wrote in 1938:
Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French…What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct … If they [the Jews] must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs … As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. The Arabs are resisting unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.
Settler colonialism is a form of colonialism. There are some small differences between conventional European colonialism and settler colonialism. Both are abhorrent, and illegal.
- Conventional European colonialism was conducted in the service of an empire, the government remained with the empire, and profits were made in the name of the empire. Settler colonialists were refugees and seeking a homeland;
- Conventional European colonialists declared the sovereignty of the Empire over the colony. In the case of Australia, the US and New Zealand, the British claimed sovereignty over the colony, and raised the British flag; Settler colonialist did not make a declaration of sovereignty;
- Settler colonies relied initially upon an empire for survival, and the settlers were not usually citizens of the imperial power that supported them. For example, South Africa and Palestine;
- Settler colonialists sought to confiscate the land of the foreign country, but typical European colonialists wanted to exploit the natural resources;
- In the case of Palestine, settler colonialism was the product of a movement, the Zionist movement. The Zionists told the settlers that those the inhabited Palestine were not indigenous, and had no rights to Palestine.
Settler colonialists established their homeland using traditional colonialist tools: genocide, ethnic cleansing, dehumanization, oppression and developed apartheid states. In as much as it was possible, indigenous populations were eliminated. They were considered inferior, without any entitlement to the rights as the settlers.
In the case of Palestine, the homeland the settler colonialists coveted was already the homeland of existing indigenous populations. They thus had to find a reason for colonization, and this reason was a divine reason. Notwithstanding Israel’s secular claims, Israel’s justification lay in the Bible. We will have more to say about this later.
The settler colonialist goals of the Zionist Jews were adopted by Israel, and the occupations of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights are its attempts to occupy southern Lebanon are in accordance of taking as mush land as possible with as few Palestinian Arabs as possible. The creation of a Jewish state offered the US and the Europeans an easy way out of the Jew displaced situation in Europe. Thus, Palestine was colonized, stolen and not redeemed, and its people dispossessed.
The Palestinian Arabs have a right to resist their dispossession. Israel portray this resistance as anti-Semitism. This is nonsense. Palestinian Arabs residence began only when it became clear that the Zionist settlers did not want to live alongside them but in place of them. Resistance was strengthened when it became clear that the Zionists were forcing the Palestinian Arabs out of Palestine’s labor market. We will, in later chapters, and in Volume II, discuss the efforts of the Mufti of Jerusalem al Hajj Amin al-Hussein, the Muslim-Christian Society, and the drive for Palestinian independence, whether it was to come about as part of a pan Arab state, a greater Syrian state or a Palestinian state territorially defined by the Ottoman administrative districts, the sanjaks, and then by the Palestine Mandate. Palestine was united by customs, a common history, a dialect, a way of life and leaders which led the Palestinian Arabs. From 1919 until the late 1929, the Palestinian National Conference Executive negotiated with the British, and the Zionists.
The Zionist Jews were determined for absolute control of Palestine. When the British called for equality of both Zionist and Palestinian Arab representation, the Zionist Jews accepted the proposal until the Arab Higher Committee accepted it. The Zionist Jews backtracked and rejected it because it would mean an end to their planes.
When the British handed the problem to the UN, although the Zionist Jews had built a state within a state, they had failed in two ways. They owned only 6.3% of Palestine, and they in the minority, 30%, and they wanted exclusivity. The solution was annihilation and removal of the Palestinian Arabs from their homeland.
On the 12th January 1951, 1951 the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide set forth in General Assembly resolution 260 adopted the 9th December 1948 became effective, and on the 14th December 1960. On the 14th December 1960, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, set for the in General Assembly resolution 1514 adopted on the same day, became effective. On the 4th January 1969 the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination became effective. The State of Israel has violated each of these agreements, resolutions and conventions. They are listed in section Please see the section International Law Agreements on Page 226. Israel is an illegal state and continues to pursue its colonial occupation in Palestine.
We will spend some time looking at the illegality of the Israel state and its lawless behaviour in further chapters. For now, we can say that the former European colonial powers, including Britain, claim they are aware of their colonial legacy, and condemn the centuries of enslavement and savage exploitation of Africa and Asia. Britain however has not resolved the Question of Palestine.
 Theodor Herzl, “Der Judenstaat”, (1896), reprinted in Walter Laqueur and Dan Schueftan (eds.), The Israel-Arab Reader, Penguin, 2016, Zionism from Mount Zion in Jerusalem,
 Bilu Group: Manifesto, 1882. The Bilu Group had its origins in Russia in part motivated by the Russian pogroms. The Manifesto is reprinted in Walter Laqueur and Dan Schueftan (eds.), op cit.
 Shaftsbury, London Quarterly Review, Volume 64, Pages 104-5
 Often in specific cities, and in the Pale of Settlement, or simply Pale. A limited number of Jews were exempted from the restriction like titled, affluent, members of the armed forces, or university educated individuals. The Pale was in the western region of Imperial Russia, in eastern and central Europe, and existed from 1791 to 1917.
 Theodor Herzl, Der Judenstaat, op cit.
 Theodor Herzl, Der Judenstaat, op cit.
 Herzl, Theodor, The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, volume I, New York, Herzl Press, Thomas Yosecoff, 1960, Page 343
 Tony Kushner, Wrestling with Zion, Grove Press, 2003, Ahad Ha’am, Page 14-15
 Theodor Herzl, The Complete Diaries (N.Y. Herzl Press, 1969), vol. I, p. 88.
 Esco Foundation for Palestine, Palestine: A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. I, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1947, Page 41
 These are quotes in Thomas Suarez, and I need to dig out the reference in Herzl’s notebooks.
 Christopher Dawson, Lecture at Brandeis University, 1959, published in Orbis, Winter, 1967.
 Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People
 David Goldstein, Jacob’s Legacy: A Genetic View of Jewish Legacy, Yale University Press, 2008
 M.D. Costa et al., “A substantial prehistoric European ancestry amongst Ashkenazi maternal lineages,” Nature Communications, 2013.
 The Peel Commission was one of the many commissions undertaken to find a resolve to the problems that plagued the Mandate. We discuss in in Volume II
 Yitzhak Epstein, quoted by John Quigley, Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice, Duke University, 1990, locn 506
 Rabbi Hirsch, Washington Post, 3rd October 1978
 Rabbi Judah L. Magnes, quoted in “Like All The Nations?”, in Brinner & Rischin, (eds)
 John Quigley, Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice
 Sami Hadawi, Bitter Harvest
 Hans Kohn, “Ahad Ha’am: Nationalist with a Difference” in Gary Smith, (ed.), Zionism: The Dream and the Reality, Harper and Row, 1974
 Edwin Montagu, “Memorandum of Edwin Montagu on the Anti-Semitism of the Present (British) Government” 23rd August 1917. As we have said we will discuss the Balfour at length, and during this discussion we will have more to say about Montagu.
 HM Government, British Public Record Office, Cabinet Number 24/24, August 1917
 Edwin Montagu, ibid
 John Quigley, op cit, adapted from Morris Cohen. 
 Professor William Rubinstein, The Myth of Rescue
 Mahatma Gandhi, Segaon, 26th November 1938, quoted in Mendes Flohr, A Land of Two Peoples