Though founded just over 120 years ago, the Zionist movement sprang from a 4,000-year-long bond between the Jewish people and its historic homeland, an attachment sustained throughout 20 centuries of exile.
This well-spring of yearning has ebbed and flowed through war and dispossession and destruction and de-legitimisation and even attempted genocide in Europe.
Many in the West loathe “Zionists” and Zionism. In large part, this Western and Muslim anti-semitism could be attributed to two major factors: Zionism worked and Israel thrives.
This paper will not show how, in an era “…where indigenous languages are dying out, forests are being decimated, and the populations of industrialized nations are plummeting……Zionism revived the Hebrew language, which is now more widely spoken than Danish and Finnish and will soon surpass Swedish”(Oren 2014).
It will not dwell on the fact that Israel entered “… the 21st century with more trees than it had at the end of the 19th. Nor will it mention that “…family values that Zionism fostered have produced the fastest natural growth rate in the modernized world and history’s largest Jewish community” (Ibid.).
And this will not be the place to state that population of Israel “…is annually rated among the happiest, healthiest and most educated in the world. Life expectancy in Israel, reflecting its superb universal health-care system, significantly exceeds America’s and that of most European countries. Unemployment is low, the economy robust. A global leader in innovation, Israel is home to R&D centers of some 300 high-tech companies, including Apple, Intel and Motorola” (Ibid) as well as a plethora of multinational companies from India, China and Australia…..
No, this article will establish the humanity-driven antecedents for the establishment of a Jewish state because of persecution and hate. And so, we go back to a little history.
With the advent of the American Declaration of Independence and the French Revolution, Jews were emancipa6ted in America in 1781 and in France in 1790. The French also liberated Jews in many European countries until the European riots of 1819 and 1830 where it was suggested that Jews were responsible for economic difficulties across the continent.
Around 1860, the word ‘anti-semitism’ appeared where attacks on Jews was now based not on grounds of creed, but of race. These grew in frequency and severity and, particularly in Russia, massacres of Jews known as pogroms forced as many as 2 million Jews to flee Russia for America by 1914.
As the waves of anti-semitism of the 1880s continued Leon Pinsker’s book Auto-Emancipation argued that where Jews were a minority, anti-semitism would continue. Jews needed a homeland of their own. The Dreyfus affair in the 1890s symbolised the peak of institutionalised anti-semitism in Europe and up to 3 million Jews, over three decades, fled to Britain, Canada, Australia and South Africa and America. A few went west to that area of the Ottoman empire loosely known as Palestine. Palestine, a geographical concept in the 19th century was governed in the north and south from Beirut and Jerusalem respectively. The British used that same Ottoman nomenclature during the Mandate era to describe that geographic area.
This means that, then, as now, no Arab or Muslim state of Palestine ever existed.
In turn that means that, prior to 1964, where Arafat and the Arab League published the term in Cairo at the behest of their Russian masters, in response to successive military defeats to Israel till then, there was no prior concept of Palestine as a people, nation or state.
Particularly between 1948 and 1967, Arabs in the nascent state of Israel who were caught in the middle saw themselves as of the same nation as the Arabs in Jordan, Egypt and Syria – they were not ‘Palestinians.’ So much so, that the League of Nations, and the UN, until 1967, meant the Jews when they wrote ‘les palestiniens.’……..
These recently discovered “Palestinian People”, who allegedly demand political “self determination” were created by the Soviet disinformation masters in 1964 when they created the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the “PLO”. Despite the pogroms in Russia which saw up to 2 million Jews flee Russia, the Russians were not yet finished with the Jews.
The term “Palestinian People” as a descriptive of Arabs in Palestine appeared for the first time in the preamble of the 1964 PLO Charter, drafted in Moscow. The Charter was affirmed by the first 422 members of the Palestinian National Council, handpicked by the KGB.
Why in Moscow? In the 1960s and 1970s, much like Iran (Hezbollah, Houthis, Hamas, al-Sabireen…) is doing today, the Soviets were in the business of creating and supporting “liberation organizations”: for Palestine and Bolivia in 1964, Columbia 1965, in the 70s “The Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia” that bombed US airline offices in Europe, and “The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine that bombed Israelis.” But the PLO, was by far its most enduring success.
In the PLO Charter preamble the phrase “Palestinian Arab People” was used to exclude those Jews who had retained a presence in Palestine since Biblical times and had been a majority population in Jerusalem as early as 1845. But it was Romanian Communist dictator Nikolai Ceausescu, at Soviet urging, who persuaded Arafat to abandon his claim of wanting to annihilate the Jews in Israel in favour of “liberating the Palestinian People” in Israel.
It was the first step in reframing the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews from religious jihad to secular nationalism in a quest for political “self determination”, a posture far less offensive to the West.
By focusing on political liberation for a small group of Arabs, it ignored the fact that Israel is a small state whose existence is threatened by the surrounding Arab states. These are states that outnumber its population many fold with Muslims who are commanded by an extreme form of their religion to kill infidels to take back land formerly invaded, colonised and controlled by Muslims.
But more than that, it framed Jews, ignoring they are a small group, as oppressors of an even smaller discrete group of Arabs, described in the Charter as “Palestinian Arabs” excluding those in Jordan, Judea, Samaria and Gaza. (After the 1967 war, and the Israeli conquest of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the exclusions for Arabs in those areas were removed the Charter).
It transformed the Jews from victims to oppressors.
As far as Zionism was concerned though, in 1856, as European Jew-baiting and hatred intensified, a British Jew, Moshe Montefiore, was permitted by the Ottoman Sultan to buy land for Jewish settlement in the area.
It is from this time on that Palestine assumed a particular importance with some of the Jewish intelligentsia. And it was this period which saw the origins of Zionism.
The word Zionism was probably first used by the Austrian writer and journalist Nathan Birnbaum in an article published in 1886. It came to mean a movement for the re-establishment of a Jewish nation in Palestine, of ‘Eretz Israel’.
In 1896, Hertzl published Der Judenstaat where he stated that his idea of a state of the Jews was not a new one. In this he was correct: it had been mooted some 65 years earlier in the works of Disraeli, and, later on in the novels and writings of George Elliot, Moses Hess and Leon Pinsker.
Influenced by events in Rhodesia, Herzl posited that if the Sultan gave the Jews Palestine, they would, in return, manage Turkey’s finances. Herzl envisioned to the Sultan that the state of the Jews would be a defensive outpost for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilisation against barbarism.
Of course, 120 years ago, not even Herzl could imagine that those barbarians he wanted to protect the Turks from would indeed be on the rampage across Europe and most of the Middle East and Africa as the Sunni jihad threatened 21st century nation states the world over.
But what of the belief that Zionism invaded Palestine and dispossessed the Palestinian people and nation of their state and land through a program of genocide?
That we will look at in Part 2 of this series.