Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Israel: Mythologizing a 20th Century Accident - by Gabriel Kolko

Israel: Mythologizing a 20th Century Accident - by Gabriel Kolko: "A state based on religion rather than the will of all of its inhabitants was at the end of the 19th century not only a medieval notion but also a very eccentric idea"

You can say that again. It would be hard to imagine anything more bizarre or sillier than this Zionist idea.

It was also full of countless contradictions, based not merely on the conflicts between theological dogmas and democracy but also vast cultural differences among Jews, all of which were to appear later. Europe's Jews have precious little in common, and their mores and languages are very distinct. But the gap between Jews from Europe and those from the Arab world was far, far greater. Moreover, there were many radically different kinds of Zionism within a small movement, ranging from the religiously motivated to Marxists who wanted to cease being Jews altogether and, as Ber Borochov would have it, become "normal." In the end, all that was to unite Israel was a military ethic premised on a hatred of those "others" around them – and it was to become a warrior-state, a virtual Sparta dominated by its army....

In 1913 British Intelligence estimated that perhaps one percent of the Jews had Zionist affiliations, a figure that rose in the Russian Pale – which contained about six million Jews – as the war became longer.

It was scarcely an accident that in November 1917 Lord Arthur Balfour was to make Britain's historic endorsement of a Jewish homeland in their newly mandated territory of Palestine in a letter to Rothschild. Some of these Englishmen also shared the Biblical view that it was the destiny of Jews to return to their ancient soil. Others thought that this gesture would help keep Russia in the war, and that nefarious Jews had the influence to do so. Most saw a Jewish state as a means of consolidating British power in the vast Islamic region....

It is a Zionist myth that there were many Jews who wished to go to a primitive, hot, dusty place and did so. They did not – and all of the available numbers prove this conclusively.... For every Jew who went to Palestine from 1890 to 1924, at least 27 went to the Western Hemisphere alone....

Hitler's importance must always be set in a larger context. Without him there never would have been a flow of Jews out of Germany, and very probably no state of Israel, but also crucial was the U.S. 1924 Immigration Act. Migrants went to Palestine out of necessity, in the vast majority of cases, not choice. Both of these factors were crucial, and to determine their relative importance is an abstract, futile enterprise. But without either the Zionist project of creating a Jewish state in Palestine would have remained another exotic Viennese concoction, never to be realized, because while the Jews in the Diaspora were in favor of a Jewish state, virtually none living in safe nations were ever to uproot themselves and embark on Aliyah – the return to the ancient homeland. They had no reason to do so.

No comments: