In the past, the most dangerous antisemites were those who wanted to make the world Judenrein, “free of Jews”. Today, the most dangerous antisemites might be those who want to make the world Judenstaatrein, “free of a Jewish state”.
Per Ahlmark, April, 2002
The first part of this series ended with the question: “Did Zionists invade Palestine and dispossess the Palestinian people and nation of their state and land through a program of colonisation and genocide? If so, then is it not reasonable to be anti-zionist but not anti-semitic?
The short answer is: No.
The reason: No Palestinian state has ever existed. It still doesn’t.
The excuse: being anti-zionist is not the same as being anti-semitic.
The political solution: two-state solution
The realistic solution: Israeli annexation of Judea and Samaria where Israel deals continues to maintain a vibrant democratic state in the Middle east for all its citizens.
Part 2 will deal with the first three points outlined above and show that:
- there was never any invasion or colonisation of a Muslim Arab entity called “Palestine”;
- the polity (state) of “Palestine”, the “Palestinian people” and the “Palestinian nation” never existed (though Arab nationalism made a very late appearance)
- anti-zionism is the very essence of antisemitism.
Just for fun, let’s start with the third trope in the shortlist above: antizionism is not antisemitism.
While modern society has developed antibodies against anti-semitism, it has not been as successful against anti-Zionism. Yet.
Today, anti-semitic stereotypes evoke revulsion in most people of conscience, while to be anti-zionist is currently the mark of “academic sophistication” and “social acceptance” in certain extreme circles.
Anti-zionism disguises itself in the cloak of political debate, exempt from sensitivities and rules of civility that govern inter-religious discourse, to attack the most cherished symbol of Jewish identity.
It does this by targeting the most vulnerable part of the Jewish people, namely, the Jewish civilian population of Israel, whose physical safety, economic survival and personal dignity depend crucially on maintaining Israel’s sovereignty. Put bluntly, the anti-Zionist plan to do away with Israel condemns 6 million Jews to lawfare-driven defenselessness and politically driven economic hardship in a region where Syria, Iraq, Iran and Yemen notwithstanding, genocidal designs of governments and militias are not uncommon.
Disguising itself in the cloak of political debate and empty post-colonial rhetoric, anti-zionism rejects the very notion that Jews are a nation — a collective bonded by a common history. It denies Jews the right to self-determination in their historical birthplace while seeking the dismantling of the Jewish nation-state: Israel.
Thus, anti-zionism is synonymous with racial discrimination because it denies the Jewish people what it grants to other historically bonded collectives (e.g. French, Spanish, British, Portuguese and Moroccans), namely, the right to nationhood based on a common historical ethos, self-determination and legitimate coexistence with other indigenous claimants.
And just as anti-semitism rejects Jews as equal members of the human race, anti-zionism rejects Israel as an equal member in the family of nations.
In fact, according to the UN’s own definitions before it was taken over by the automatic Muslim voting bloc, anti-zionism contradicts most of the 30 articles of the UNDHR….
At this stage, the most ardent anti-zionists would argue that Jews are not a nation.
Philosophers and historians whose opinions I respect, would argue that Jews are a nation first and a religion second. Indeed, the narrative of Exodus and the vision of the impending journey to the land of Canaan were etched in the minds of the Jewish people before they received the Torah at Mt. Sinai. But, philosophy aside, the unshaken conviction in their eventual repatriation to the birthplace of their history, Israel, has been the engine behind Jewish endurance and hopes throughout their turbulent journey that started with the Roman expulsion in AD 70.
Israel today is a largely secular, multiethnic society where the primary uniting force is shared history, not religion though this dynamic is changing.
It is the identification with the common historical ethos I mentioned above, culminating in the re-establishment of the state of Israel, that is the central bond of Jewish identity in the Jewish state. And which the anti-zionist would deny.
But what of the (‘I’m only anti-zionist’) second claim that Israel invaded Palestine and dispossessed the Palestinian people and nation of their state? After all, on the street today, Zionism stands accused of thwarting the national aspirations of Palestine’s indigenous inhabitants, of oppressing and dispossessing them.
For those who may not have read Part 1 of this series, I explain in a little more detail that the term “Palestinian Arabs” was a Soviet inspired ploy designed and drafted in Moscow and unveiled in Cairo in 1964 to delegitimise the connection of Jews to the state of Israel. Much the same as the Romans did in 70AD……
Never mind that the Jews were natives of the land—its Arabic place names reveal Hebrew palimpsests—millennia before the first mention of the concept of Arab Muslim Palestinians or even the rise of Arab nationalism. Never mind that in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008, the Palestinians received offers to divide the land and rejected them, usually with violence. And never mind that many of Zionism’s adherents today still stand ready to share their patrimony in return for recognition of Jewish statehood and peace.
To the above, I offer this unequivocally recorded historical fact: there has never been a polity called Palestine. Ever.
Not many anti-zionists would contest the 4,000year old history of the Jews. In 450 BCE, Greek geographer and historian Herodotus wrote, some 550 years after the Bible, of “palaistine syrine” or the Phillistines of Syria who lived in an area near the southwest coast of Israel. “Palaistine” referred to the land lived in by those Philistines, an Aegean invading sea-faring people from Minoa or Crete who disappeared soon after. The word Herodotus used was taken from the Hebrew word “Pleshet/Plishtim”: invaders.
The transformation from “Plishtim” into the term “Palestine” comes from transliterations by historians of the original Hebrew to the Greek and then to the Roman Latin “Palaestina”.
Again, no anti-zionist would argue that the Roman emperor Hadrian used the term “Palaestina” for Judea and Samaria as a punitive measure intended to disassociate the region from the rebellious, fractious Jews who lived there.
It is therefore not unreasonable to assume that the land of the Jews was never called “Palestine” but, rather Judea and Samaria, because Hadrian would never have used a name already in use by Jews!!
By that same token, the Philistines of Syria (distant remnants of whom may be found in modern day Lebanon…) had never heard of either Arabs or Islam in 450 BCE simply because the former lived a nomadic herder’s life in the far away Negev (known as Badawiyin; desert dwellers), while the latter had not yet been invented. In fact, the Badawiyin (Bedouin today) were distinct from other agrarian residents of the areas nearer the oases and wells where, the hadar, the settled A’raab inhabitants of the area settled in and around the watered trading routes of Mecca and Medina in modern day Saudi Arabia.
But most of all, antizionists would find it difficult to refute Herodotus’ own account that he had, in fact never been to the area he called “Palaistine” as he did not travel personally to either Egypt or Israel and relied upon second hand accounts of others.
Herodotus explains in his history that his map (which contains glaring errors with regard to Egypt, Arabia and the Nile) is based upon a report from others and not first-hand experience: “Thus I give credit to those from whom I received this account of Egypt” (2:12) “Concerning the nature of the river [Nile], I was not able to gain any information either from the priests or from others.” (2:19)
He was aware of the Jews, though, since he says that the inhabitants of “Palaistinê” were circumcised. In this, Herodotus could most likely only have been referring to the Jews.
Taken together with the historical fact that the first writings of Herodotus from 450 BCE were published in 900 AD, it follows that there is a span of 1350 years between when the book was written and the earliest actual hard copies that are extant. There are today 8 different manuscripts of Herodotus, the oldest being dated from 900 AD. It is therefore not inconceivable that the manuscripts of Herodotus’ history likely contain changes as do other ancient works. What this means, is that there is a good chance that later copyists inserted the post 135 AD name of “Palaistinê” into Herodotus’ work. In any case, it is clear that Herodotus used “Palaistinê” to refer to everything from Syria to Egypt, and that “Arabia” and “Palaistinê” circa 900 AD, were glosses added to reflect post third century AD geography and terminology.
It is true that Herodotus is called the “Father of History”.
But it is also true that Herodotus was additionally an ancient geographer who made a lot of major mistakes as even a cursory analysis of his maps (and writings) testify.
So, we have seen how “anti-zionism” is blatant, racist, discriminatory anti-semitism. Not least because the three inter-dependent components it espouses: contesting the legitimacy of Israel; describing the “malevolent” processes whereby the Jewish State was established and is currently maintained; “problem-solving” by demanding the destruction of Israel, is but the 21st century Arab and European echo of the violent 1819 anti-semitic Hep Hep riots in Germany.
We have further seen that that rock of the anti-zionists, the mention of Palestine by the father of history, Herodotus, was based on maps from writing about travels to places he had never personally been.
The “Palestinian” case for the Zionist invasion and dispossession of an “ancient people” who were neither Jewish nor Christian but who held out for the advent of Islam some 2000 years after the introduction of Jewish monotheism in an ancient land called “Palestine”, is looking increasingly unlikely.
And so, we come to the third of the points outlined above: the colonisation of “Palestine” by the Zionists.
That I will leave for the final part of this three part series.
Meanwhile, lest you wonder about the confluence of anti-Zionism and antisemitism, near-mindless Jew-hatred is what those who jump on the “anti-zionist” bandwagon really mean.