Power of Story
Send a Tweet        
- Advertisement -
OpEdNews Op Eds

Once, most Jews viewed Israel as the anti-semite's best friend

By       Message Jonathan Cook     Permalink
      (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H3 5/9/16

Author 51910
Become a Fan
  (19 fans)

Jewish History
Jewish History
(Image by rachel_titiriga)
  Permission   Details   DMCA
- Advertisement -

It was an assessment no one expected from the deputy head of the Israeli military. In his Holocaust Day speech last week, Yair Golan compared current trends in Israel with Germany in the early 1930s. In today's Israel, he said, could be recognized "the revolting processes that occurred in Europe ... There is nothing easier than hating the stranger, nothing easier than to stir fears and intimidate."

The furor over Gen Golan's remarks followed a similar outcry in Britain at statements by former London mayor Ken Livingstone. He observed that Hitler had been "supporting Zionism" in 1933 when the Nazis signed a transfer agreement, allowing some German Jews to emigrate to Palestine.

In their different ways both comments refer back to a heated argument among Jews about whether Zionism was a blessing or a blight. Although largely overlooked today, the dispute throws much light on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

- Advertisement -

Those differences came to a head in 1917 when the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, a document promising for the first time to realize the Zionist goal of a "national home" for the Jews in Palestine. Only one minister, Edwin Montagu, dissented. Notably, he was the only Jew in the British cabinet. The two facts were not unconnected. In a memo, he warned that his government's policy would be a "rallying ground for anti-Semites in every country."

He was far from alone in that view. Of the 4 million Jews who left Europe between 1880 and 1920, only 100,000 went to Palestine in line with Zionist expectations. As the Israeli novelist A B Yehoshua once noted: "If the Zionist party had run in an election in the early 20th century, it would have received only 6 or 7 percent of the Jewish people's vote."

What Montagu feared was that the creation of a Jewish state in a far-flung territory dovetailed a little too neatly with the aspirations of Europe's anti-Semites, then much in evidence, including in the British government.

- Advertisement -

According to the dominant assumptions of Europe's ethnic nationalisms of the time, the region should be divided into peoples or biological "races," and each should control a territory in which it could flourish. The Jews were viewed as a "problem" because -- in addition to lingering Christian anti-Semitism -- they were considered subversive of this national model.

Jews were seen as a race apart, one that could not -- or should not -- be allowed to assimilate. Better, on this view, to encourage their emigration from Europe. For British elites, the Balfour Declaration was a means to achieve that end.

Theodor Herzl, the father of political Zionism, understood this trenchant anti-Semitism very well. His idea for a Jewish state was inspired in part by the infamous Dreyfus affair, in which a Jewish French army officer was framed by his commanders for treason. Herzl was convinced that anti-Semitism would always exclude Jews from true acceptance in Europe.

It is for this reason that Mr Livingstone's comments -- however clumsily expressed -- point to an important truth. Herzl and other early Zionists implicitly accepted the ugly framework of European bigotry.

Jews, Herzl concluded, must embrace their otherness and regard themselves as a separate race. Once they found a benefactor to give them a territory -- soon Britain would oblige with Palestine -- they could emulate the other European peoples from afar.

For a while, some Nazi leaders were sympathetic. Adolf Eichmann, one of the later engineers of the Holocaust, visited Palestine in 1937 to promote the "Zionist emigration" of Jews.

- Advertisement -

Hannah Arendt, the German Jewish scholar of totalitarianism, argued even in 1944 -- long after the Nazis abandoned ideas of emigration and embraced genocide instead -- that the ideology underpinning Zionism was "nothing else than the uncritical acceptance of German-inspired nationalism."

Israel and its supporters would prefer we forget that, before the rise of the Nazis, most Jews deeply opposed a future in which they were consigned to Palestine.

Those who try to remind us of this forgotten history are likely to be denounced, like Livingstone, as anti-Semites. They are accused of making a simplistic comparison between Zionism and Nazism.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

View Ratings | Rate It

www.jonathan-cook.net

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon



Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

American liberals unleashed the Trump monster

After Sy Hersh's Bombshell Investigation, Why Won't Media Tell the Real Story of Trump's Military Strike in Syria?

Mandela: a Dissenting Opinion

Tide Turns against Israel: Pariah Status and Isolation Lie Ahead

Why Gaza must suffer again -- The four guilty parties behind Israel's attack

Mr Netanyahu is king of a world of perpetual fear