Thursday, February 04, 2010

Always and forever evil

Kathleen Christison reviews "Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism" by Shahid Alam:
"Until recent years, the notion that Zionism was a benign, indeed a humanitarian, political movement designed for the noble purpose of creating a homeland and refuge for the world’s stateless, persecuted Jews was a virtually universal assumption. In the last few years, particularly since the start of the al-Aqsa intifada in 2000, as Israel’s harsh oppression of the Palestinians has become more widely known, a great many Israelis and friends of Israel have begun to distance themselves from and criticize Israel’s occupation policies, but they remain strong Zionists and have been at pains to propound the view that Zionism began well and has only lately been corrupted by the occupation. Alam demonstrates clearly, through voluminous evidence and a carefully argued analysis, that Zionism was never benign, never good - that from the very beginning, it operated according to a 'cold logic' and, per Rumi, had 'no humanity.' Except perhaps for Jews, which is where Israel’s and Zionism’s exceptionalism comes in.

Alam argues convincingly that Zionism was a coldly cynical movement from its beginnings in the nineteenth century. Not only did the founders of Zionism know that the land on which they set their sights was not an empty land, but they set out specifically to establish an 'exclusionary colonialism' that had no room for the Palestinians who lived there or for any non-Jews, and they did this in ways that justified, and induced the West to accept, the displacement of the Palestinian population that stood in their way. With a simple wisdom that still escapes most analysts of Israel and Zionism, Alam writes that a 'homeless nationalism,' as Zionism was for more than half a century until the state of Israel was established in 1948, 'of necessity is a charter for conquest and - if it is exclusionary - for ethnic cleansing.'"

"The ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians that came as the result of Zionism’s need for an exclusivist homeland was no unfortunate consequence, and indeed had long been foreseen by Zionist thinkers and the Western leaders who supported them. Alam quotes early Zionists, including Theodore Herzl, who talked repeatedly of persuading the Palestinians “to trek,” or 'fold their tents,' or 'silently steal away.' In later years, the Zionists spoke of forcible 'transfer' of the Palestinians. In the 1930s, David Ben-Gurion expressed his strong support for compulsory transfer, crowing that 'Jewish power' was growing to the point that the Jewish community in Palestine would soon be strong enough to carry out ethnic cleansing on a large scale (as it ultimately did). In fact, the Zionists knew from the start that there would be no persuading the Palestinians simply to leave voluntarily and that violent conquest would be necessary to implant the Zionist state."

The Jews, who had none of the attributes that would make them a 'people', bootstrapped themselves into having a 'nation' by stealing land. In fact it is the stealing - the ethnic cleansing and dispossession - that is the only thing that made the Jews into what could pass for a 'people'. They are joined solely by their common purpose in thievery and mass murder, so it is little wonder that they don't want to give up these essential attributes of Jewishness. It is thus doubly ironic that the people they are stealing from, the Palestinians, a group said by the Jews not to be a 'people', have always had all the attributes of a people entitled to a nation state, the state that has been temporarily stolen from them by a gang of thieves.
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