The Zionist dream of establishing a homeland for the Jews in Palestine, the alleged “promised land”, has turned into a nightmare.
More than two thirds of world Jewry today remains posted far away from Palestine and an increasing number of Jews see Israel, the embodiment of the Zionist dream, more as a liability than an asset.
Even the financial assistance provided by “diaspora” Jews is offered in many instances not without reluctance and perhaps more out of atoning for the sin of not migrating than out of a “religious” or “national” duty toward the Zionist entity in Palestine.
An increasing number of Jewish intellectuals within as well as outside Palestine are today embarrassed by Israel. The policies and strategies of successive Israeli governments, but most notably the current Sharon-led one, have constituted a heavy moral and psychological burden on the conscience of Jewish individuals and communities. Some, though few still, have even come out with daring unequivocal expressions of disgust and dissociation.
Jewish dissociation from Zionism was highest during the ideologically formative years of the last decade of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century. Then, due to the rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe, with the eventual catastrophe of the Holocaust, Jewish opposition to this fundamentally secular and nationalistic project reached a record low.
Few voices of dissent could be heard for many years apart from those of the adamant and resilient Neturei Karta, the anti-Zionism ultra-Orthodox Jewish movement that believes Israel is illegitimate and Zionism to be a heresy.
Today, not only have the numbers of Neturei Karta’s affiliates been on the rise but many other Jewish organisations and renowned figures from all walks of life have either joined the anti-Zionist camp or have dared to condemn the racist apartheid nature of Israel.
While no more willing-to-migrate Jews are to be found anywhere in the world today, the original lawful inhabitants of the land, the Palestinians, are coming back. The “promised land” without a people has proven, after all, to have been densely populated.
Despite a century of betrayals, dispossessions and massacres, the Palestinians are as determined as ever to stay put, reproduce and bequeath the struggle for regaining their land and freedom to their sons and daughters.
Zionism started as a romantic vision whereby the Jews were to be provided with a third alternative; they needed no longer be either forced to assimilate or barricade themselves within the ghetto. Its founding fathers, who could not hide their contempt for religion and religious people, promised Jews delivery from persecution at the hands of a thankless Christian world. Their means was to bring the “Jewish people” together to Palestine to form a state of their own.
In reality, the Jews turned out to be numerous peoples rather than one people and many of their mosaic communities did not appreciate being uprooted from their own cultural milieus and natural habitats.
After the second world war, and in the aftermath of the establishment of the Zionist state in Palestine, the Zionists had difficulty persuading more Jews to leave their home countries and migrate. Without a further influx of Jews, and despite the banishment of about a million Palestinians, the newly founded state was likely to suffer a demographic crisis.
Deceit was the means by which the most secured Jewish communities in the world were uprooted and forced to migrate. In Europe and America, the Holocaust industry guaranteed an outpouring of sympathy and support while conspiracies, were hatched elsewhere to bring about a massive transfer of entire communities. The early 50s saw the removal of the Iraqi Jewish community, the most ancient Jews in the world, after Zionist terrorists conducted a bombing campaign against Iraqi synagogues pretending that Arab nationalists were responsible.
In the 80s, the Falashas, whom many people do not believe were Jewish, were smuggled out of Ethiopia to compensate for the demographic imbalance. In the early 90s, as Israel was actively embroiled in suppressing the Palestinian first intifada, around a million Soviet Jews were denied access to the United States but allowed to leave the Soviet Union only for Israel. Since then, there has hardly been any tangible new intake and Zionists are looking around the world in case they find another “lost tribe” to bring it “back home”.
With more affluent Ashkenazi Jews leaving Israel for prolonged periods to live elsewhere in the world, where it is safer and less worrisome, the demographic problem is becoming ever more severe.
Theodor Herzl’s vision of a Jewish state that “stretches from the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates” is nowhere to be found but in his own diaries. Territorial expansion in the aftermath of the June 1967 Six Day war is being gradually undone. Sinai was returned to Egypt in exchange for signing the Camp David treaty and the remaining occupied territories, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, continue to be a liability.
The 1982 invasion, and subsequent occupation, of Lebanon turned out to be a nightmare despite initial jubilant proclamations that a further piece of the “promised land” was being purified and redeemed. During the invasion campaign of 1982, the military rabbinate in Israel exhorted all Israeli soldiers to follow the footsteps of Joshua quoting the alleged Biblical promise in Deuteronomy 11:24: “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; our border shall be from the wilderness, from the river Euphrates, to the Western sea.”
The Palestinians are determined
to regain their land and freedom
to their sons and daughters.
Seventeen years later, the Lebanese redeemed their southern strip and liberated their land thanks to the inability of the Israelis to sustain losses among their troops. Zionism was once again on the retreat and the lesson was learned by the Palestinians under occupation.
Today, not only is Israel not expanding, it is actually retreating behind a wall. Constructed for security considerations, the wall separating the Palestinians from the Israelis is undoubtedly augmenting the suffering and loss of the Palestinians. However, a sizable segment of the Israeli intellectual community identify the wall-building with “suicide”; Israel is voluntarily entering its own ghetto.
Setting up a Jewish empire at the centre of Muslim heartlands was not the only failed vision of Zionism. Herzl promised the world during his time that “supposing his Majesty the (Ottoman) Sultan were to give us Palestine; we could, in return, undertake to regulate the finances of Turkey. We should there form an outpost of civilisation as opposed to barbarism.”
Today, the Zionist state is the only remaining political regime in the world to be based on apartheid; a racist state that divides human beings into more classes than did the defunct white-minority regime in South Africa. Israel today is the only country in the world that issues official licences to its military personnel and security agents to kill with impunity non-Jews, to torture them, to dispossess them of their land, to demolish their houses and make them homeless, to deny them the support and sympathy of the world and to employ state-of-the-art warfare technology to kill their dream and strip them of their humanity. If that is not barbarism, what is?
Over the past three years, Zionism has not only shown its real face to the world but has also proven its utter vulnerability and even mortality. On the one hand, it is becoming ever more evident that a Zionist state simply cannot live in peace with itself let alone with its surroundings. The inherent racism and anti-other nature of the state-community simply limit its viability.
On the other hand, the ever increasing brutality with which the Zionist regime is dealing with the Palestinians is a clear sign of desperation and panic. This, historians say, has been the experience in every single colonial endeavour that did not succeed in obliterating the indigenous population. This was the case in Vietnam, in South Africa and in many Latin American countries where the imperialist colonial project eventually collapsed.
In other words, the pain and distress the Palestinians are enduring are all but the prelude to the imminent collapse of the Zionist colonial project in Palestine. Sharon’s scorched land policy in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip may go down in history as the very final chapter in the Zionist episode.
Dr. Azzam Tamimi
Institute of Islamic Political Thought (IIPT)
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.