ISRAEL AND ZIONISM
"Israel's claim to the Holy Land rests on the existence of God.
If it was not God's will that they possessed Canaan, the nations
can reproach them as mere conquering brigands."
-- Herman Wouk, Jewish novelist, p. 186
"Is Zionism racism? I would say yes. It's a policy that to me looks
like it has very many parallels with racism. The effect is the same.
Whether you call it that or not is in a sense irrelevant."
-- Desmund Tutu, South African Archbishop and activist
against apartheid, [in HOFFMAN, p. 15]
"Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.
Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives to try
to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy
cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance."
-- Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, 1963, p. 102
"Zionism ... must after Auschwitz be a Christian commitment as well
[as a Jewish one] ... The post-Holocaust Christian must repent of the
Christian sin of suppressionism ... Without Zionism, Christian as well
as Jewish, the Holy Spirit cannot dwell between Jews and Christians in
dialogue ... Christians after the Holocaust, we have seen, must be
Zionists on behalf not only of Jews but also of Christianity itself."
Emil Fackenheim, Jewish author, p. 285, 305
"If power corrupts, the reverse is also true; persecution corrupts
the victims though perhaps in subtler and more tragic ways."
-- Arthur Koestler, [in GILMAN, p. 33]
"Is there anything more common than the transformation of
persecuted into persecutor ... ?
-- Maxime Rodinson, p. 9
"In the twentieth century, men -- all of us -- find themselves compelled to commit or condone
evil for the sake of preventing an evil believed to be greater. And the tragedy is that we do not
know whether the evil we condone will not in the end be greater than the evil we seek to avert-- or be identified with."
-- Emil Fackenheim, [in BELL, p. 317]
"If Israelis know about oppression, it is mostly from the oppressor’s end of the gun sight."
-- Benjamin Beit Hallahmi, Israeli professor at Haifa University
"One of the major problems with Israeli democracy is that it has no constitutional guarantees of
human rights. To my knowledge it's the only functioning democracy without such provision."
Asa Kasher, Israeli philosopher, [in BRANDT, J., 2000, p. 10]
"Israel is working on a biological weapon that would harm Arabs but not Jews,
according to Israeli military and western intelligence sources ... In developing their
"ethno-bomb," Israeli scientists are trying to exploit medical advances by identifying
genes carried by some Arabs, then create a genetically modified bacterium or virus.
The intention is to use the ability of viruses and certain bacteria to alter the DNA
inside their host's living cells. The scientists are trying to engineer deadly
micro-organisms that attack only those bearing the distinctive genes. The
programme is based at the biological institute in Nes Tziyona, the main research
facility for Israel's clandestine arsenal of chemical and biological weapons.
A scientist there said the task was hugely complicated because both Arabs and
Jews are of semitic origin. But he added: "They have, however, succeeded in
pinpointing a particular characteristic in the genetic profile of certain Arab
communities, particularly the Iraqi people." The disease could be spread
by spraying the organisms into the air or putting them in water supplies.
The research mirrors biological studies conducted by South African scientists
during the apartheid era and revealed in testimony before the truth commission.
The idea of a Jewish state conducting such research has provoked outrage in
some quarters because of parallels with the genetic experiments of Dr Josef
Mengele, the Nazi scientist at Auschwitz."
-- Uzi Mahnaimi and Marie Colvin, The Sunday Times [London, 11-15-1998]
"A good many Israelis see that if conflict with the Arabs
continues, they are in danger of becoming like the Germans
from 1933 to 1945 -- accomplices if not perpetrators of
-- Norman Birnbaum, Why, p. M5
"The 'Israeli criterion' as the key indicator in assessing anti-
Semitism has increasingly been widened. The label of anti-Semite
is no longer limited to those who reject the legitimacy of the
Jewish state. Criticism of Israeli governmental policies and
actions has also entered into the calculus ... As the 'Israeli
criterion' for evaluating anti-Semitism has become broader,
has more and more impaled individuals and groups on the
to-left of the political spectrum on the charge of
-- Arthur Liebman, 1986, p. 352
"Nor is there solid evidence that marginality increases humaneness.
Freud felt that, on the contrary, Jewish history had produced some
negative psychological results. In his essay, 'Some Character Types
Met with in Psychoanalytic Work,' he discusses the 'exception':
the person who justifies his rebelliousness and claims special
favor to himself by some injury he has suffered and of which he
considers himself blameless. Such people, Freud notes, often feel
quite justified in injuring others. He refers to Shakespeare's Richard
III as a prime example of the type. In the midst of this discussion
Freud notes:'For reasons which will easily be understood I cannot
communicate very much about these and other case histories.
Nor do I propose to go into the obvious analogy between
deformities of character resulting from protracted sickness
in childhood, and the behavior of whole nations, whose
past has been full of suffering.'As [Jewish psychoanalyst]
Theodore Reik points out, thereference is obviously to Jews."
-- Stanley Rothman and S. Robert Lichter, 1982, p. 113
"The Holocaust came to be regularly invoked -- indeed,
brandished as a weapon -- in American Jewry's struggles
on behalf of an embattled Israel."
-- Peter Novick, 1999, p. 145
"A guy gets interviewed by a top Israeli general to be an Israeli
spy. As a test, the general asks, 'If you had a chance to kill an
Arab or a cat,which one would you kill first?' ''Why the cat?'
'You're hired!' the general says."
-- Joke told by an ulta-Orthodox Jew to Stephen Bloom,
2001, p. 224
"The elements of the Jewish heritage that are hostile to non-Jews
have long been known to the world, and anti-Semitic writings
quote them at length. Until recently few would have seriously
asserted that these passages reflect the opinions of Jews in our
own generation. But, when religious extremists inject a
contemporary relevance into these passages ... they acquire a
new and dangerous significance. They provide ammunition for
anti-Semites, who can assert that the true Jewish character is
revealed not when Jews are subjugated in Christian or Muslim
societies, but precisely when they are free. It is in their natural
environment, not in subjugation, that they dare disclose their
true face, and the nations of the world must redefine their
attitudes in view of the strong Jews rather than the impotent Jews."
-- Yehoshafat Harkabi, former head of Israeli military intelligence, p. 179-180
"Only in fantasies about an all-embracing Jewish conspiracy
did a Jewish banker and a Jewish anarchist report to the same
-- Stanislaw Krajewski, Jewish-Polish
author, The Jewish, p. 64
"It may be the case that [post-Holocaust] the authentic Jewish
agnostic and the authentic Jewish believer are closer than at
any previous time."
-- Emil Fackenheim, Jewish theologian, in Sack, J., p. 135
The central symbol of Jewish identity today is the nation of Israel, the magnet of international Jewish loyalty and allegiance, an obsessive attraction that is difficult for most non-Jews to fathom. Ironically, even relatively few Jews living out of Israel know many details about the Jewish state; large numbers of diaspora Jews know only the religious or Zionist legends about the place, both views grounded in the myths of Jewish martyrology and redemption. "The vast majority of Jews have no familiarity with the currents of Israeli cultural and even political life," notes Charles Liebman, ".... Those that are devoted to Israel generally focus on the external threat [by non-Jewish nations against Israel] rather than the internal features of Israeli society." [LIEBMAN, Rel Trends, p. 306] "American Jews ... are not interested or knowledgeable [about Israel] as is frequently assumed," says Chaim Waxman, "... In a number of surveys of American Jewish attitudes toward Israel, most of them are quite ignorant not only of Hebrew but of the basic aspects of Israeli society and culture. In a 1986 national sample, only one-third of American Jews were aware of such elementary facts as that Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres are not from the same political party, that Conservative and Reform rabbis cannot officiate weddings in Israel, and that Arab Israeli and Jewish Israeli children do not generally go to the same schools." [WAXMAN, p. 136] Ze'ev Chafets, an American Jew who moved to live permanently in Israel in 1967, notes that"During the first few months in Jerusalem, I found I knew very littleabout Arabs -- and not much more about Jews ... In the states I hadbeen considered pretty Jewish by my friends ... but in Israel I suddenlyfound myself little more than a tourist in what I increasingly wanted tosee as my own country." [CHAFETS, p. 15-16]An "age-old ritual" for American Jews who visit Israel is to pay the Jewish National Fund $10 and plant a tree in honor or memory of a friend or relative. Preying on diaspora sentiment, it is a $50 million-per year business. In 2000 it was discovered by the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv that workers at the popular Jerusalem planting site "cynically uproot the saplings planted by tourists to make way for the new day's busloads." [SONTAG, D., 7-3-2000, p. A4]"Many American Jews," says Charles Liebman, a professor in Israel, "... have created their own conception of Israel. This is the chunk of Israel that they see and/or imagine they see or they are shown when they visit Israel. Even when they stay for an extended period of time. I am impressed by how vivid this partial image remains. It is not an Israel of self-serving and inept leaders, of a rude populace, and ... an xenophobic culture. Rather, it is a society that excludes universalist sentiment wrapped in symbols of Jewish particularism." [LIEBMAN, p. 309] For most Jews, notes Adam Garfinkle, "Israel is more of an icon than a real place [GARFINKEL, p. 144] ... The Jewish sensibility and the Israeli sensibility is suffused with metaphors of chosenness, slavery, exile (galut), wandering in the wilderness, liberation, a covenant over the land of Israel, and the redemption of it, that resound from Biblical narratives." [GARFINKEL, p. 22]Many prominent Zionists have restrained, or hidden, fundamental Jewish ethnocentric sentiments to declare pan-human messianic statements about the Jewish state that are, in historical context, as we shall soon see, ludicrous. "Zionism," insisted Solomon Goldman, president of the Zionist Organization of America, "... became a demonstration without parallel of the creative power of justice and democracy." [GAL, A., 1986, p. 381]Over time, notes Jonathan Sarna, "the Zion [Israel] of the American Jewish imagination, in short, became something of a fantasy land: a seductive heaven-on-earth, where enemies were vanquished, guilt assuaged, hopes realized, and deeply felt longings satisfied." [SARNA, A Proj, p. 41-42] Marc Ellis, in discussing the work of Israeli author Avishai Margalit, notes that"In the Jewish context a glimpse of Masada, or the Wall, or theTemple Mount is enough to move the 'Jewish heart,' and themarketing of Israel takes full advantages of these images. Kitschcan also be politicized and become, in Margalit's terms, part ofstate ideology whose 'emblem is total innocence.'" [ELLIS, M., 1990,p. 34]Colin Shindler notes the widespread Jewish American efforts to mythify the Jewish homeland and control its depiction in the world mass media:"The 'Israel' that was promoted [after 1967] tended to be one of unreal,utopian dimensions, where public relations had replaced reality ...Obsession with the media spawned new organizations, expensiveconsultants and vigilante journalists to cope with real and imaginaryanti-Israel bias in the press." [SHINDLER, p. 96-97]
In 2001, during an extended Palestinian uprising against Israel occupation, when Israeli brutality against Palestinians was becoming difficult to veil, the Jewish state hired a New York public relations company -- Rubenstein Associates -- to control popular perceptions about the place. To improve israel's image, Rubenstein suggested less security guards around prime minister Ariel Sharon and painting Israeli weapons used on Palestinian rioters orange "to make it clear to television viewers that solders are firing nonlethal rounds." Cleaning up after Arab riots was also thought to make for a better image on TV. "But Palestinian officials and young boys interviewed at the Ayosh junction in the West Bank town of Ramallah," noted the Baltimore Sun, "one place singled out by Rubenstein as a problem area, say the proposals prove Israel would rather save face than save lives." [HERMANN, P., 6-29-01]
An Israeli scholar, Boaz Evron, notes that many American Jews "feel ... an obligation toward Israel ... Israel, for them, is not ... a political space devoted to the continuation of a normal national life, but a historical revenge ... [EVRON, p. 110-112] ... Perhaps a main factor in Israel's psychological hold on the Jewish Diaspora is that part of the Diaspora that has lost its religious framework but has remained locked within the Jewish caste and uses Israel as a means of venting its complexes by proxy. These Jews imagine themselves to be part of the Israeli people, while maintaining their own comfortable existence in the Diaspora ... thus Israel deliberately helps Diaspora Jews maintain an illusory existent identity. It is in the obvious interests of the Israeli leadership to prevent such an honest self-appraisal which might lead to a different, genuine Jewish identity." [EVRON, p. 112]Jewish American commentator Joyce Starr notes that"American Jews may talk about Israel extensively, petition on the nation'sbehalf, and give generously from their bank accounts, but this doesnot mean they 'know' Israel. American Jews read voraciously aboutthe country and are familiar with the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, and the GreenLine [that separates Israel from the West Bank]. Yet the humanperspective is all but out of reach." [STARR, 1990, p. 147]In paraphrasing the comments of the chairman of the North American Jewish Forum, Starr also asserts that the American Jewish-Israel relationship"was built with the consent of the leadership in both places for theirown convenience. Israel needed emigration, as well as political andfinancial support, whereas American Jewry was engrossed in establishingthe infrastructure of a burgeoning Jewish community in the United States.The way to accomplish both objectives was to build a black-and-whitestereotype of Israel as either an idealized society or as a society withsecurity problems. These stereotypes, in turn, stimulated philanthropyand political action." [STARR, J., 1990, p. 151]In 1998, Rabbi Marvin Hier (of Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance fame) censored an in-house movie at his Moriah Films center. Entitled "A Dream No More," the film was scheduled to be shown at various sites on the occasion of Israel's fiftieth anniversary celebration. Hier scrapped the project because it wasn't flattering enough to the Jewish state. To the film's directors (Mark Harris and Stuart Schoffman), noted the Jerusalem Post, "the demise of Dream reflects, at bottom, the unwillingness of American Jews to face the realities of Israeli life and history as a mixture of light and shadow." [TUGEND, T., 11-16-98, p. 7]"Zionism conjured up a grand vision of ardent young men and women earnestly engaged in the selfless task of creating and new and better humanity," says Jonathan Sarna, "This utopian view of Zionism, linked as it was both to the self-image of American Jews and to their highest religious aspirations, had less and less to do with the realities of the Middle East ... All of the historic American Jewish images of Israel -- from the early image of agrarian pioneers, to the twentieth-century image of the 'model state' -- spoke to the needs of American Jews and reflected their ideals and fantasies, rather than the contemporary realities of Jewish life in the land of Israel." [SARNA, J., p. 58]"Israel became a wellspring for a variety of enriching experiences and myths," says Sylvia Barack-Fishman, "-- paradoxically, making American Jews feel both more Jewish and more physically empowered in the western world." [BARACK-FISHMAN, p. 277] "If American Jews were denied ... opportunities to act out vigilance for Israel," wonders Israeli Bernard Avishai, "what would be left of their Judaism? ... Is it possible that American Jews now need to invent anti-Semites to feel like Jews?" [AVISHAI, B., p. 353]As Israeli Boas Evron observes:"When you try to explain to American Jews that we [Israelis] are not,in fact, in danger of annihilation [from Arabs], that for many years tocome we will be stronger than any possible combination, that Israelhas not, in fact, been in danger of physical annihilation since the firstcease-fire of the War of Independence in 1948, and that the averagehuman and cultural level of Israeli society, even in its currentdeteriorated state, is still much higher than that of the surroundingArab society, and that this level rather than the quantity andsophistication of our arms constitutes our military advantage --you face resistance and outrage. And then you realize anotherfact: this image is needed by many American Jews in order forthem to free themselves of their guilt regarding the Holocaust.Moreover, supporting Israel is necessary because of the loss ofanother focal point to their Jewish identity ... They need tofeel needed. They also need the 'Israeli hero' as a social andemotional compensation in a society in which the Jew isnot usually perceived as embodying the characteristics ofthe tough, manly fighter. Thus, the Israeli provides theAmerican Jew with a double, contradictory image -- thevirile superman, and the potential Holocaust victim -- both ofwhose components are far from reality." [ELLIS, M., 1990,p. 37]"American Jews aren't usually aware of their ignorance about us," an Israeli "intellectual" told (new Jewish American immigrant to Israel) Wendy Orange on her sixth night in the Jewish state, "Why do you people always superimpose your fantasies on our reality?" [original author's emphases: ORANGE, W., 2000, p. 25] Jewish American Joyce Starr recalls addressing an audience of "major donors of one of the largest American Jewish organizations" and making the mistake of mentioning some problems in Israel. "The hostess of the event," notes Starr, "became visibly furious ... So glacial was the reception [to me] ... An elderly grandmother-type finally took pity on my shock and confusion. 'Darling, you must understand,' she comforted. 'Everything you said is true, but you never should have said it here.'" [STARR, J., 1990, p. 140]"I used to conduct a program involving UJA-Federation young leadership types, called 'Images of Israel,'" says Jonathan Woocher, "It was kind of a Thematic Apperception Test, using photographs to elicit responses regarding attitudes towards Israel. What has always astounded me was the enormous range of values, attitudes, and emotions that American Jews were projecting onto Israel -- Israel the heroic, Israel the threatened, Israel the bearer of ancient traditions, and so on. To be sure, those are pieces of the reality, but the responses were more interesting for what they revealed of the respondents: indeed, Israel was being used to help American Jews make sense of their own identity. To me that is clearly something which is not a basis for a healthy relationship." [WOOCHER, 1990, p. 33]The large numbers of Jews from Israel living in the United States are even a source of aggravation for some American Jews, whose myths prefer that the emigrants remain happy in the Jewish homeland as role-model Zionists. "American Jews," says Israeli Moshe Shokeid, "... are bewildered by the presence of Israelis in their midst ... American Jews who want to restore the categories and definitions which constitute the order and values of the respective Israeli, Jewish, and Zionist identities, employ a subtle strategy: they ignore the yordim [Israelis in America], they avoid associating with them, and express that disdain and resentment as much as their code of civility allows." Some American Jews refer to Israelis in America as "Fish," "the abbreviations stand for 'fucking Israeli shithead.'" [SHOKEID, 1998, p. 507]
By 1981, the World Jewish Congress estimated the number of yordim in the U.S. to be between 300,000 and 500,000 -- "perhaps one for every six Israelis living in Israel. They create a difficult situation for Diaspora Jews, partly because of the yordim's own sense of embarrassment, and partly because Israel denigrates them and is embarrassed by the undiagnosed phenomenon they represent." [WALINSKY, L., 1981, p. 67]Among the most important nationalist legends in the modern state of Israel (and for many in the international Jewish community) has been the story of Masada. In Israeli/Jewish lore, 900 Jewish zealots nobly defended themselves for months against attack and then committed mass suicide at a remote desert fortress near the Dead Sea in 73 AD rather than surrender to besieging Roman legions. The Masada tale of desperate Jewish warriors has popularly been regarded as historical fact and has served as heroic symbol -- a "last stand" in Jewish collective consciousness, a story where Jews who were revolting against Roman domination chose to die for their Jewish heritage rather than suffer oppression at the hands of Gentiles. Masada has embodied a range of traditional Jewish beliefs: Jewry as a "nation apart" against all others, the few against the many, Jewish heroism against Gentile hordes, and dedication to each other to the point of death as itself a noble endeavor. Masada story has long been a source of Jewish and Israeli pride, especially since the founding of modern Israel in 1948. "Masada is not just a story," notes Israeli historian Nachum Ben-Yehuda, "Masada provides, certainly for my generation of Israelis, an important ingredient in the very definition of our Jewishness and Israeli 'identity.'" [BEN-YEHUDA, p. 5] "Masada," writes Yitzhak Landau in his famous patriotic poem to Israel and Jewish solidarity, "shall not fall again." [BENVENISTI, p. 35]Astoundingly, however, the Masada legend of courageous Jewish defenders is false. Its historical basis was distorted and embellished to serve the propagandistic needs of early Israeli nation-building. Nachum Ben-Yehuda wrote an entire volume in 1995 that catalogues, not only that the heroic version of the Masada story is not true, but that it was consciously fabricated to serve Israeli propaganda about Jewish identity, especially in the early post-Holocaust period when the Jews of Europe were perceived to have so passively met their fate at the hands of Hitler.Virtually everything modern scholarship knows about Masada comes from the writings of Flavius Josephus, a man -- who born a Jew -- joined the Romans and is generally considered in Jewish circles to be a traitor to his people (an odd source for heroizing ancient Jewry). A close reading of him, notes Ben-Yehuda, reveals that the "zealots" of Masada were actually Sicarri -- "assassins," of both Romans and Jews. The reason they fled to Masada was, not because they were fighting Roman domination, but that they were driven out of Jerusalem by fellow Jews. The Sicarri then "raided nearby Jewish villages, killed the inhabitants, and took their food." [BEN-YEHUDA, p. 9] They killed about 700 Jews in Ein Gedi alone, "mostly women and children." [BEN-YEHUDA, p. 36]From this core of information about Masada's dubious "defenders" provided by Josephus, Israeli propagandists "socially constructed a shrine for Jewish martyrdom and heroism" [BEN-YEHUDA, p. 190] whereby the entire nation of modern Israel was itself conceived as a Masada, isolated defenders against gentile hostility towards Jews everywhere, "a symbol of the heroism of Israel for all generations ... [BEN-YEHUDA, p. 87] ... Masada was not destroyed. It became a symbol of the Jewish will to live as a nation, of refusal to surrender to the forces threatening its extinction." [ BEN-YEHUDA, p. 123] "In the late fifties and early sixties," says Meron Benvenisti, "Masada became a national shrine." [BENVENISIT, p. 38]Yet, "the Masada mythical narratives," adds Ben-Yehuda, "was consciously invented, fabricated, and supported by key moral entrepreneurs and organizations in the Yishuv [Israeli community] ... [BEN-YEHUDA, p. 307] ... [While Masada's defenders were really] "thieves and assassins who robbed and killed other Jews." [BEN-YEHUDA, p. 300] For years, Israeli army recruits were taken to the ruins of the Masada fortress to swear allegiance to the Jewish state, ritually stating "endless devotion" to Israel at this "place of splendor, glory and majesty." [BEN-YEHUDA, p. 147] And Israeli newspaper in 1964 called Masada Israel's "most cherished national asset" and the "mausoleum of the saints of the nation." [BEN-YEHUDA, p. 185] A popular patriotic slogan became "Masada shall not fall again." The Mossad's assassination division was even called "Masada."Home of a band of fleeing Jewish murderers or not, the Masada story has not been without its Jewish critics on other terms. The idea of Israel itself as a veritable Masada country, a garrison state with a desperate back-to-the-wall "we against them" worldview (sometimes described as the "Masada complex") has worried some Israeli commentators. Is collective suicide an appropriate role model for any people? How would this affect Israeli self-conception and behavior in the nuclear bomb world? Is an alienated "last stand" psychology a healthy premise to interact with the rest of the world? Seymour Hersh quotes the comments of an 'expert who has been involved in government studies on the nuclear issue in the Middle East for two decades: "Israel has a well thought-out nuclear strategy and, if sufficiently threatened, they will use it." [HERSH, S., p. 92] "Many senior nonproliferation officials in the American government," adds Hersh, "were convinced by the early 1990s that the Middle East remained the one place where nuclear weapons might be used [i.e., no other Middle Eastern country has nuclear weapons except Israel]." [HERSH, p. 92]"Our nationalists are leading us to Masada," once complained famed tank commander Yitzhak Ben-Ari, "in the sense that 'all the world is against us. We shall fight, and if we have a nuclear bomb, we shall use it.' And what will remain for us? Nothing." [BEN-YEHUDA, p. 157] "It is unavoidable," worried Israeli historian Benyamin Kedar, "that [nationalist] behavior influenced by identification with Masada will indeed resuscitate it. If the entire world is against us, then one begins to behave as if we are against the entire world and such behavior is bound to lead to ever-increasing isolation." [BEN-YEHUDA, p. 246]It is clear that this Masada model is, of course, merely a secular, militant expression of the traditional religious "nation apart" syndrome itself, Jewish enclaves throughout history self-ghettoized against the non-Jewish Other. And as for the Masada myth itself, "time after time," notes Ben-Yehuda, Jews who are told that the Masada story of heroism is fake "elicit expressions ranging from mild discomfort to (much more frequently) anger and open hostility. My worse encounters have typically been with [Israeli] history teachers ... Obviously, the realization that a major element of one's personal and national identity was based on a biased and falsified myth is not an easy thing to deal with." [BEN-YEHUDA, p. 311]Among the many forms of Masada mythologizing, in this case for American popular consumption, was a 1970 "historical novel," Masada, subtitled A Novel of Love, Courage, and the Triumph of the Human Spirit, by Ernest Ganz, described by a Kirkus Reviews reviewer as "a return to the days of heroes larger than life." It was also the subject of an "8-hour TV epic from ABC-TV and Universal." [GANN, back cover and opening page] The Masada myth also saw American expression in 1987 when Jewish American Marvin David Levy, recently released after a two year prison term for his role in a drug smuggling ring, watched the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform his "dramatic oratorio, Masada, in its newly expanded version." The work, noted the Chicago Tribune, "emphasizes the triumph and tragedy of a heroic band that chose individual liberty at great personal cost." [VON RHEIM, J., p. 26]In 1971 Michael Rosenberg summarized American Jewry's irrational views of Israel succinctly:"Israel is the ultimate reality in the life of every living Jew today. I believethat Israel surpasses in importance Jewish ritual. It is more than theJewish tradition; and, in fact, it is more than the Mosaic law itself. Theanti-religious Jew who supports Israel is welcomed as a Jew and asan integral part of the community. The observant Jew who does notaccept the centrality of Israel is not accepted and is rarely eventolerated. In dealing with those who oppose Israel, we are notreasonable and we are not rational. Nor should we be." [ROSENBERG,M., p. 82]****************************While Jews have a deeply internalized millennium-old mythology about the place, a crucial instrument in formulating a more broadly favorable opinion about Israel in America among non-Jews is the mass media. In the 1950s the New York public relations company of Edward Gottleib commissioned a Jewish author, Leon Uris, to write a novel "to create a more sympathetic attitude towards Israel." [FINDLEY, p. xxv] This novel, Exodus, published in 1958, "did more to popularize Israel with the American public," says public relations expert Art Stevens, "than any other single presentation in the media." [FINDLEY, p. xxvi] Until Exodus, most Americans knew nothing about Zionism or the new nation of Israel. Most still have the same essential ignorance, but Uris's novel became number one on the New York Times best seller list for nineteen weeks and became, notes Edward Tivnan, "the primary source of knowledge about Jews and Americans that most Americans had." [TIVNAN, P. 51] The New York Times described the book when it first came out as "a passionate summary of the inhuman treatment of the Jewish people in Europe, the exodus in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to Palestine, and the triumphant founding of the new Israel." [TIVNAN, p. 51] This "new Israel" was founded out of a victorious war against Arab armies in 1948. "In books, movies, and TV shows in the 1950s and 1960s," says Stephen Green, "the Jewish state was depicted as having defeated the Arabs against overwhelming odds, contrary to virtually every professional strength estimate of the opposing forces that were made at the time of the war itself." [GREEN, S, p. 75]
"Shortly before the outbreak of [the 1967] war in June, President Lyndon Johnson's intelligence experts debated whether it would take a week or ten days for Israel to demolish its enemies." [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 148]The hardcover Exodus edition was still in print in the 1990s; a paperback edition was still going strong at its sixty-third printing. Uris, a high school drop-out who flunked three English classes and joined the marines at the age of seventeen, is boldly self-referential in a later novel, Mitla Pass (1988). Here an Israeli official says to the novel's main character, a Jewish author, that "this would be the first American novel about Israel. It could be valuable in gaining favorable world opinion." [URIS, L., Mitla, p. 304] In real life, even David Ben Gurion, one of Israel's most revered prime ministers, said that "as a piece of propaganda [Exodus] is still the greatest thing ever written about Israel." [WHITFIELD, p. 77] "Although propaganda novels have occasionally punctuated the history of United States mass taste," writes Stephen Whitfield, "Exodus was unprecedented." [WHITFIELD, p. 77] The prominent Jewish novelist, Saul Bellow, observed that "admittedly, some people say Exodus was not much of a novel, but it was extraordinarily effective as a document and we need such documents now. We do not need stories like those of [fellow Jewish novelist] Philip Roth which expose unpleasant Jewish traits." [WHITFIELD, p. 79]Then came the Hollywood film based on the novel. "Uris had the blessings of Hollywood before he wrote the book," notes Stephen Whitfield, "MGM had commissioned a novel about the birth of the Third Jewish Commonwealth [modern Israel] because it expected that a best seller would lengthen the lines at the box office." [WHITFIELD, p. 164] Pat Boone sang, "This land is mine, God gave it to me" in the Exodus sound track and there was such media-enflamed interest in the subject that Israel's El Al airlines created a 16-day tourist package that led visitors on a pilgrimage to the sites where Otto Preminger made his movie. [WHITFIELD, p. 79] "People are the same no matter what they're called," says Eva Marie Saint in the movie. "Don't believe it," replies Paul Newman, "People have the right to be different." [WHITFIELD, p. 164] "In Exodus," notes Whitfield, "[the Jewish hero] battles not for the cause of democracy, nor for some cosmopolitan ideal of brotherhood, but as an unabashed [Jewish] nationalist." [WHITFIELD, p. 164]The book has sold, to date, over 20 million copies. [BREINES, p. 56] "All my life I've heard I'm supposed to be a coward because I'm a Jew," the American Jewish captain of the ship, the Exodus, tells a Gentile nurse in the novel, "Let me tell you, kid. Every time the Palmach [a Jewish military branch in Palestine] blows up a British depot or knocks the hell out of some Arabs he's winning respect for me. He's making a liar out of everyone who tells me Jews are yellow. The guys over there are fighting my battle for respect ... understand that?" [CHAFETS, p. 218] The real-life Israeli captain, Yeheil Aranowicz, of the blockade-running ship, the Exodus, upon which the novel is based, was subsequently quoted as saying that "the type [of characters in the novel] never existed in Israel. The novel is neither history or literature." Informed of Captain Aranowicz's authoritative judgements, Uris responded, "Captain who? And that's all I have to say. I'm not going to pick on a light weight. Just look at my sales figures." [BREINES, p. 55] Whatever the case, says Edward Tivnan, "the Israel of most Americans, including Jews, is still the Exodus version." [BREINES, p. 56]
As Israeli writers Herbert Russcol and Margalit Banai noted in 1970 about the (overwhelmingly Jewish) illusory depictions of Israel:
It may be better to rely upon the views of foreign [non-Israeli] observers, but
most of them are too sympathetic [to Israel]. Their hearts are in the right
places and they love us too much to see us plain. They are blinded by their
gallant cause. In all the books written about Israel by outsiders there are
never whores or alcoholics or greedy bankers or black marketeers. There
are only hero-farmers with a plow in one hand and a rifle in the other. We
emerge from their pages rather like the cloth-dolls-of-Israel types which
are sold in the souvenir shops of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv -- here is the happy
kibbutznik, the attractive girl soldier, the earlocked Jerusalemite, the quaint new
immigrant from Yemen." [RUSSCOL/BANAI, 1970, p. x]
Such views still persist, dominantly, with the widespread help of an institutionalized suppression of counter views to the alleged Israeli reality. Results of a 1987 Roper Poll during the Intifada [Palestinian uprising] era, noted a Jewish scholar, "reveal positive attitudes towards Israel and American Jews on the part of the American public." These findings "are consistent with previous Roper results, [and] suggest that recent events, including the Iran-Contra affair, the Ivan Boesky insider trading scandal, and the Jonathan Pollard spy case have had little negative fall-out as far as attitudes towards Israel and American Jews are concerned." [TOBIN, p. 50] Jewish pollster Lewis Harris noted in an interview in 1986 that "support for Israel is high despite all the controversies, just as it's always been. At present, 78% of Americans feel very warm to Israel." [TOBIN, p. 51] In the Jewish community itself, during the Intifada, "at the largest annual meeting of American Jews, the General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Organizations ... the Intifada was scarcely more than a side issue on the agenda." [STARR, J., 1990, p. 199]In 1979, Edward Said, a prominent Palestinian-American professor at Columbia University, was troubled by the growing use of Jewish Holocaust mythologies in the media towards latent political ends:"Anyone who watched the spring 1978 NBC presentation ofHolocaust [by Graham Greene] was aware that at least part ofthe program was intended as a justification for Zionism -- evenwhile at about the same time Israeli troops in Lebanon produceddevastation, thousands of civilian casualties, and untold suffering."[SAID, Palestine, p. 55]More generally, Jewish anti-Zionist Alfred Lilienthal condemned the dominant pro-Israel slant in the American mass media:"Zionism did not waste time or energy on proving its extremeprogram to be morally and historically sound. All it had to dowas to equate it with man's compassion for the victims ofhistory's most cruel pogrom ... The capture of the Americanpress by Jewish nationalism was, in fact, incredibly complete.Magazines as well as newspapers, news stories, as well aseditorial columns, gave primarily the Zionist view of events,before, during, and after Partition [of Palestine, creating aJewish state]." [LILIENTHAL, p. 122]Rabbi Jonathan and Judith Pearl note popular televisions steady diet of pro-Israel emphasis:"In a bit of serendipitous timing, the rebirth of the state of Israel and theestablishment of a nationwide network television in America took placein the same year, 1948. Since then, these two phenomena have beeninextricably linked, as scores of television dramas, comedies, andmini-series have turned to Israel and its stunning and turbulent historyfor subject matter. Many of these images have continued to be in thetradition of popular television, which has generally portrayed Jewishthemes in a positive light ... [PEARL/PEARL p. 173] ... A sense ofadmiration for the Jewish state informs nearly all portrayals ofIsrael on American popular television over the past fifty years ...Confidence in Israel's ability to survive and thrive, and praise forits doing so, permeates television's portrayal of Israel in a waythat has seen little, if any, wavering or hesitation from the earliestyears of network television until the present time. Almost invariably,these depictions include the expressing of much admiration bynon-Jews for Israel's heroism, achievements, and pioneer spirit."[PEARL/PEARL p. 193]After Israel's Six Day War with Arab states in 1967, notes Amnon Rubenstein, "the reaction of the world press was so overtly pro-Israel ... that it worried western diplomats in Arab capitals and forced Arab propagandists to radically alter their stand vis-a-vis the Jewish state." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 158] Leon Hadar notes in overview that"Many of the same American Jews who led the fight against USintervention in Vietnam, and supported an unconditional withdrawalof US forces, ignore or defend the long and bloody Israelioccupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the mistreatment ofPalestinian population there.How have most supporters of Israel in the United States avoideddealing with their own political inconsistencies? The answer liesin their personal image-maintenance methods designed to avoidthe cognitive dissonance between their perceptions of Israel andits reality. That, and an American media that for many yearssympathized with the Israeli point of view, has helped them topreserve the Israeli fantasy." [HADER, p. 27]In Stephen Green's research of documents at the United States National Center for a book about the founding of the state of Israel, he noted that "the reality was so different from the myth as to be unrecognizable ... Selective historical knowledge has led to fundamental false impressions in America about Israel and about the Middle East dispute generally." [GREEN, p. 10-11]Another of the endless mythologies surrounding Israeli society is the enforced illusion that women fare better against male sexist-mores in the Jewish state. Israel has long propagated the symbols of young, noble women working the farm fields and female soldiers in the Israeli army. Lesley Hazelton, in her book Israeli Women: The Reality Behind the Myths, is among those who have severely deflated such propaganda. "Myths compel respect, not necessarily by their truth, but because they are needed by those who believe in them," she says."It is not a rational need, certainly not a conscious need: but it is oftenvital, since myths lay the basis for society's perceptions of itself, for itscollective identity and the identity of every member in it ... The liberationof Israeli women is such a myth. For nearly three decades Israeli womenhave been the paradigm of women's liberation ... They have made anessential contribution to Israel's self-image as good and progressive,the antithesis of its notoriously and cruelly sexist Arab neighbors ...But the destructive aspects of this myth far outweigh its creativepotential for Israeli women ... Their reality has been subordinated tothe accepted image, and they have been relegated to the status ofshadows, while the gap continues to widen between their public imageand their real selves." [HAZELTON, p. 22]
Herbert Russcol and Margalit Banai noted in 1970 the status of women in Israeli society:
"In Israel, today, a wife is still called by the lowly, pejorative term that the Old
Testament calls hers: isha, woman. Her husband is still addressed by his
splendid biblical title, ba'al, master. In the glorious days of the Kings of Israel,
upon marriage an isha became the physical possession, the chattel, of her ba'al
along with his handmaidens and slaves, his ox and his ass. For this reason,
'to marry a wife' and 'to become master' have the same root meanings in Hebrew.
The infinitive liv'ol, commonly used in the sacred texts, means bluntly,
and most vulgarly, to possess a woman sexually.
What our fiercely free sabra girl thinks
of referring to her husband a dozen times
a day as 'my master,' with all the humiliating connotations described above, may
well be imagined by the reader." [RUSSCOL, BANAI, 1970, p. 178]
New York Jewish feminist Congresswoman Bella Abzug was caught off guard when she visited Israel in the same era. Despite the fact that Israel once had a female prime minister,
"When I was sitting in the Knesset [Israeli Parliament] I noticed, to my surprise,
that only 8 of the 120 members were women. One evening I met with some
some of the most outstanding women in the country and challenged them on
this. The reply I got was that since women in Israel have equality they don't
need to prove it so much." [ABZUG, B., 1972, p. 228]
In Israel itself, central propagandizing myths and blatant historical distortions are only recently being addressed (and this remains controversial) in that country's school system. In 1999, noted the New York Times wire services, "new, officially approved textbooks make plain that many of the most common Israeli beliefs are as much myth as fact. The new books say, for example, that it was the Israelis who had the military edge in the War of Independence. The books say that many Palestinians left their land not -- as has traditionally been taught -- because they smugly expected the Arab states to sweep back in victory, but because they were afraid and, in some cases, expelled by Israeli soldiers." [BRONNER, E., Rewriting, p. 1]"Only 10 years ago much of this was taboo," explained Eyal Naveh, a professor of history at Tel Aviv University, "We were not mature enough to look at these controversial problems. Now we can deal with this the way Americans deal with Indians and black enslavement. We are getting rid of certain myths." [BRONNER, E., p. 1]A 1984 Israeli history text, for example, from the Israeli Education Ministry stated that (concerning Arab-Israel fighting from 1939-49), "The numerical standoff between the two sides in the conflict was horrifyingly unbalanced. The Jewish community numbered 650,000. The Arab states together came to 400 million. The chances were doubtful, and the Jewish community had to draft every possible fighter for the defense of the community." [BRONNER, p. 1]This traditional Jewish/Israeli view is only propaganda, a blatant misrepresentation of facts in mythologizing Jewish heroism and justifying mass expulsions of the Palestinians from their homeland. One of the new Israeli textbooks today concedes this: "On nearly every front and in nearly every battle, the Jewish side had the advantage over the Arabs in terms of planning, organization, operation of equipment, and also in the number of trained fighters who participated in the battle." [BRONNER, p. 1]"Instead of portraying the early Zionists as pure, peace-loving pioneers who fell victim to Arab hatred," noted the Times, "the new historians focus on the early leaders' machinations to build an iron-walled Jewish state regardless of the consequences to non-Jews living there." [BRONNER, p. 1]Among long neglected issues only recently being publicly (albeit guardedly) addressed in America are those of Israeli-instigated atrocities against Arabs. As Israeli author Meron Benevisti noted in 2000,"Atrocities and acts of [Jewish] brutality characterized this period [thefighting with Arabs to formally create a Jewish state in 1948]: summaryexecutions, rape, blowing up houses along with their occupants, lootingand plundering, and leaving hundreds of villagers to their own devicesin the fields, without food or water. The most serious atrocities werecommitted in the village of al-Dawayima, on the western slopes of theHebron Highlands ... The occupying [Israeli] forces indiscriminatelykilled between 80 and 100 male villagers, blew up houses togetherwith their occupants, murdered women and children, and committedrape. According to eyewitness testimony, these acts were committed'not in the heat of battle and inflamed passions, but out of a systemof expulsion and destruction" .... These atrocities -- which fifty yearslater are regarded as libel, invented by the enemies of Israel, and whoseretelling is perceived as an example of rewriting history by revisionisthistorians -- were, at the time they took place, known to ministers inthe Israeli government, military commanders, and even the generalpublic. The government set up commissions of inquiry and the armyset up commissions of its own, but the work of these bodies cameto naught because soldiers and officers refused to testify againsttheir comrades in arms." [BENVENISTI, M., 2000, p. 153]As Aharon Cizling, the Israeli Minister of Agriculture at the time, wrote:"Now Jews too have behaved like Nazis and my entire beinghas been shaken ... Obviously we have to conceal these actionsfrom the public, and I agree that we should not even reveal thatwe're investigating them. But they must be investigated."[ELLIS, M., 1990, p. 92]Amos Kenan, a writer for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, once wrote about his experiences on guard duty in an Arab town in the same era:"At night, those of us who couldn't restrain ourselves would gointo the prison compounds to fuck Arab women. I want very muchto assume, and perhaps even can, that those who couldn't restrainthemselves did what they thought the Arabs would have done tothem had they won the war.Once, only once, did an Arab woman -- perhaps a distant relativeof [head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine George]Habash -- dare to complain. There was a court martial. Thecomplainant didn't even get to testify. The accused, who wassitting behind the judges, ran the back of his hand across histhroat, as a signal to the woman. She understood. The rapist wasnot acquitted, he simply was not accused, because there was noone who would are accuse him. Two years later he was killedwhile plowing the fields of an Arab village, one no longer onthe map because its inhabitants scattered and left it empty."[ELLIS, 1990, p. 106]In 1988 Israeli author David Grossman recounts with shame his meeting with Wadha Isma'il, a Palestinian woman in an Occupied Territory refugee camp. As a small girl, upon working in the family fields, Wadha watched Israeli soldiers blindfold her father, and then heard him shot behind some bushes. "I began to cry," she told Grossman,"The soldiers who had stayed with me asked me: Who is that man toyou? I said: 'He is my father.' They said: 'Go to the garden down there,and you'll see that he is harvesting lettuce and eggplant.' When I wassome distance from them, I glanced back and I saw one of the soldiersaiming his rifle at me. I was frightened and bent over. His bullet hitmy neck and came out the other side.""I don't know what to say her," writes Grossman, "and she interprets my silence, apparently, as disbelief. 'Look,' she says, and her work-hardened fingers undo her kerchief, and she smiles a sort of apology about having to bother me with her wound. I see an ugly scar in back, and another ugly scar in front. Young Hana cries. It seems that Wadha is her mother. 'Every time I hear that story, it is as if it were the first time,' Hanan says." [GROSSMAN, D., 1988, p. 70-71]Israeli professor and Holocaust survivor Israel Shahak wrote about another set of atrocities by Jews against the Palestinians during the late 1980s uprising (the "Intifada.") Shahak translated eyewitness accounts from the Israeli Hebrew press into English. In his introduction to a compilation of such testimonies, Shahak noted that:"The systematic use of atrocities, which in their intensity and thespecial intention to humiliate are Nazi-like and should be comparedto the analogous German Nazi methods, is intentional and in factconstitutes the Israeli method for ruling Palestinians ... There shouldbe also no doubt that those Nazi-like horrors can and probablywill become worse, if not stopped from the outside, and their usecan lead to actual genocide, whether by 'transfer' or extermination.Indeed, this is one of my reasons for assembling this collection:to show that the actual genocide of the Palestinians in the territoriesis now possible, since those Israeli soldiers and officers who havecommitted the outrages recorded here are capable of anything andeverything." [ELLIS, M., 1990, p. 85]Such cold realities, so very unwelcome in mainstream Jewish circles, drastically contrasts with widespread Jewish mythology about the Israeli army, the beloved Jewish "child-soldiers" as typically articulated by Elie Wiesel about the 1967 war: "I have seen many armies; none more humble, more humane in its victories ... My pride is that Israel has remained human because it has remained so deeply Jewish." [And what of Wiesel's subtext here, that if one is less "deeply Jewish," one is less "human?"] [ELLIS, M., 1990, p. 10] American Jewish Zionist historian Melvin Urofsky articulated the common Jewish view of the noble Israeli army and government in 1978: "When the War came, Israeli leaders did their best to convince their Arab neighbors not to run away." [UROFSKY, M., 1978, p. 206] And, in the aftermath of Israel's 1967 victory over the Arabs, "There is little to be found in history to compare with the behavior of the Israelis after the war, their humility, almost sadness, in victory." [UROFSKY, M., 1978, p. 360] "Few armies, especially in the Arab Middle East," declared Samuel Katz in 1990, "can boast the high morale and humane standards displayed by the Israeli soldier." [KATZ, S., 1990, p. 2]Among the prominent Israeli revisionist authors in recent years are Benny Morris and Avi Shlaim. "The rise of revisionist historiography," notes Steven Heydemann, "... reflects a serious ambivalence about once-deeply held notions of the moral purposes of Zionism, its position in the Middle East, and the future." [HEYDEMANN, p. 6] Such Zionist myths have for decades been unquestioned canon in Jewish circles, widely parroted in America, only in recent years been subject to increasing scholarly attack in (but rarely outside) the Jewish state. Such myths include the innately incorrigible morality of the Zionist enterprise and the conviction that a large Palestinian populace chose exodus -- and were not driven -- out of their homeland. More and more Israeli scholars are arriving at the fact that war with Arabs was not thrust upon the young Jewish nation, but was part of Zionist objective. Seminal Zionist leader Ben Gurion, says Avi Shlaim, "grasped that the essential structure of the conflict left no room for compromise and this would entail the settlement of Zionist claims by violent means." [HEYDEMANN, p. 23] As Heydemann notes,"Revisionist writings reveal a style of [Zionist] leadership [over pastdecades] in which the exercise of will was perceived primarily in termsof power and the application of force. Revisionism places an emphasison the fierce, single-minded way in which Zionist leaders pursued threedominant strategic concerns: to expand the territory under Jewishcontrol, to reduce the Arab population within this territory, and toencourage divisiveness among Arab states to prevent them fromhindering the attainment of the first two." [HEYDEMANN, p. 12]These goals also included "compromise [with Arabs] as unnecessary in light of Israel's evident military superiority," and "indiscriminate whole expulsion of Arab communities, even those which had lived in peace with their Jewish neighbors." [HEYDEMANN, p. 14]"The 'exhilarating' possibilities of a land without Arabs," observes Heydemann, "and the transfer of Arab farms, houses, and wealth into Jewish hands, set, as Morris reminds us, in the context of war and massive immigration, quickly overwhelmed the reservations expressed by minority factions about the morality of expelling Palestinian Arabs and destroying their villages." [HEYDEMANN, p. 14] "We not only eradicated Arab place names [in Israel]," notes former Jerusalem deputy mayor Meron Benvenisti, "we actually destroyed the places as well." [BENVENISTI, p. 196] The Israeli erasure of Palestinian history was consciously as complete as possible. As Benvenisti notes"I was aware for quite some time that the Palestinian ResearchInstitute in Beirut was compiling files on each Palestinian villagein Israel. Since the beginning of the [Lebanon] war I wonderedabout the fate of those files. I was fairly sure that General [Ariel]Sharon and General Eitan would search them out, seize them, anddestroy them in order to complete the eradication of Arab Palestine.That is what eventually happened when the Israeli army entered WestBeirut." [BENVENISTI, p. 198]Benvenisti also notes the Israeli creation of a place called "Peace Forest" on the sites of eradicated Arab villages near Jerusalem, utterly destroyed to guarantee that the inhabitants never returned. "To call it Peace Forest," he laments, "to take well-meaning [Jewish] donors and with their money turn all these orchards into a picnic area for Israelis and tourists is something else entirely. This betrays not only a lack of sensitivity but is something that must eventually corrupt our youth ... Dehumanization is a contagious disease." [BENVENISTI, p. 200-201]Traditional Israeli reluctance to address the facts of history even stretches far into the distant past. As Elliot Horowitz notes about Jewish massacres of Christians in ancient Israel:"After 1967 the reluctance of Israeli historians, especially those linkedinstitutionally to universities and research institutes, to acknowledgeJewish violence in the distant past has become even greater than inthe decades immediately following the Holocaust. This is true especiallywith regard to acts allegedly committed against non-Jews in the land ofIsrael and its environs. One suspects that the resistance to acknowledgingsuch phenomena in the past has been related to a desire on the part ofmany Israelis to see themselves as enlightened and humane occupiersat present." [HOROWITZ, 1998 p. 8]
Israel is a very small nation -- in one area its width is only about ten miles; more than half of its land mass is desert. Only one-fifth of the country is arable. The Jewish nation has few natural resources; potash is one of them. Even limited water supplies loom as long-term threats to political stability with neighboring water-poor countries. Most water is pumped from the "Sea" of Galilee and its headwaters; water crucial to the Jewish state originates in the heavily Arab West Bank and in southern Lebanon. "Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza," notes Amnon Rubenstein, "are routinely forbidden to dig new wells, deepen existing wells, or put in water systems that might reduce the water available for Israel." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 173] Although Israel is rich in religious lore and tradition, for all practical economic intents and purposes it is physically resource-less. It must rely of course upon the massive beneficence of wealthy and influential Jews throughout the world for help -- economic contributions, but -- more importantly -- world-wide lobbying efforts of governments and peoples throughout the world to sustain the Jewish state which can never sustain itself, in drastic contradiction of seminal Zionist plans for the Jewish state. Hence, the resources of the rest of the world maintain an economic, social, and military level for Israel which it could never remotely maintain by its own means.Nonetheless, Jewish and Zionist mythology about the sacredness of the land of Israel has fostered an extremely strange, and disturbing, paradox. Israeli Amos Oz notes Jewish myth about the actual land of Israel in Zionist tradition: "This is ... what some of my teachers taught me when I was a child: after our Temple was destroyed and we were banished from our Land, the gentiles came into our heritage and defiled it. Wild Arabs laid the land waste ... When our first pioneers came to the land to rebuild and be rebuilt by it and redeem it from its desolation, they found an abandoned wasteland." [OZ, p. 88]This is an especially curious myth, given the fact that the deeds of defiling Gentiles and "wild Arabs" over all centuries combined can not remotely compare to the atrocious Jewish care taking of the Holy Land in recent history, in which the modern Israeli military-industrial state rampantly pollutes the place so important to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The most visible physical landmark in the Tel Aviv area, for example, on the outskirts of the city along the highway to Israel's international airport, is a giant mountain of trash -- the Hiriya dump. It had been absorbing 3,000 tons of garbage every day until it was recently closed, but not before the mountain of garbage "collapsed into the Ayalon River, threatening one of Tel Aviv's sources of drinking water." [COHN, M., 10-18-98] "As a Zionist," bemoaned professor Harvey Lithwick, "you can't believe that you came to reclaim the country ... and yet you let the land go to garbage. For me, that's horrible." [COHN, M., 10-18-98]In July 1999 one hundred scientists, under sponsorship of Israel's Economic Forum and the Technion Institute in Haifa, released a report announcing that Israel's environment was "on the verge of collapse." The report noted that "underground aquifers suffer from almost irreversible salination, the quality of air is declining, causing one in ten children to have asthma, garbage is piling up [and] uncontrolled construction is eating away at open areas." [AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 7-14-99] That same year London's Financial Times noted that "the statistics make grim reading. More than half of all untreated industrial waste, including poisonous chemicals and salts, flows directly into the [Israeli] environment, damaging underground aquifers, rivers and streams." [FINANCIAL TIMES, 1-29-99, p. 12] Israel produces 170,000 tons of toxic waste a year -- two-thirds of it is believed to be dumped illegally throughout the country and into the Mediterranean Sea. [COHN, M., 10-18-98]"Zionists -- who passionately reclaimed these biblical lands after 2,000 years in exile, "noted the Toronto Star in 1998, "have ... a blind spot about their birthright." "During the past 50 years," said Israeli environmental activist Bilha Givon, "all the coasts along Israel have become wasteland, polluted by factories." In 1997, during Israel's international Jewish sporting event, the Maccabiah Games, a bridge collapsed over the Yarkon River. Two Jewish athletes from Australia survived the fall, notes the Star, "only to die of infection from the polluted river. The scandal over lethal toxins swirling in the water rocked the Jewish Maccabiah games." [COHN, M., 10-18-98]Of particular note, and increasing controversy, is Israel's official toxic waste dumping ground, Ramat Hovav, located twelve miles south of Be'er Sheva in the Negev desert. With 43,000 tons of toxic material a year delivered its way, Ramat Hovav is notorious for mismanagement and haphazard storage of a variety of dangers. "Within the past twelve months," noted the Jerusalem Post in August 1998, "the chairman of the company that manages the toxic waste site, the site manager, and the site safety officer have all been fired over safety deficiencies." [COLLINS, L., 8-7-98, p. 3]A large community of (Muslim Arab) Bedouin of the Al-Azameh tribe lives in tents across the street. (Many were forced to move there after being evicted from their ancestral lands by the Jewish government). Putrid smells drift through the tents day and night. Environmental Ministry tests in 1994-95, noted Haim Chertok, noted "dangerous levels of pollution, issuing from organic waste stewing in Ramat Hovav, more than 40 percent of the time." [CHERTOK, H., 5-30-97]Arab workers are also employed in the most dangerous jobs at the hazardous waste area and in the cluster of pesticide and chemical factories within Ramat Hovav grounds. Explosions at the Chemgas chemical plant in 1999 injured six workers. "There are at least six factories, out of 15 at the site," noted the Jerusalem Post, "where emissions could result in an accident causing irreversible harm to residents, or even death." [COLLINS, L., 8-7-97] Mishandling disasters at, and around, the site are common -- from overturned trucks hauling toxic cargo to leaking storage barrels to explosions of dangerous chemicals. From 1988 to 1998 there were "ten major incidents" including "two leaks of poisonous gases within a 12 hour period." [COLLINS, L., 8-4-98, p. 3] In 1997 a lithium battery storage area exploded, a wall of flames 300 feet tall burned for hours, sending thick, black smoke over the area. "No one thought," notes the Toronto Star, "to alert the Bedouin to the possible peril until three hours later." [COHN, M., 10-18-98](In the same vein, in 1998 Palestinian investigators discovered a secret toxic waste dumping ground that Israeli companies had been using in Arab areas in the Occupied Territories, including "32 hazardous materials, including pesticides and medical waste." [COHN, M., 10-18-98] )Meanwhile, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Meron Benvenisti, notes the ideological undercurrent of the Israeli "ecological" military order in the Occupied Territories that prohibits local Arabs from picking a herb called Za'atar, a wild plant they had freely gathered for centuries:"[The order] is only a strong political and ideological statement: YouPalestinians despoil the land indiscriminately because you do not feelfor it, ergo it is not your homeland. We [Jews] look after it. Thereforeit is ours." [BENVENISTI, p. 24]
The ideological foundation for the modern state of Israel is the political philosophy of Zionism; its fundamental assertions were practical, secular, and activist in nature. Unlike traditional Judaism which passively awaited God's intervention via an expected Messiah to lead world Jewry into a messianic age of Jewish redemption, empowerment, and leadership, Zionism declared it important that Jews take their destiny into their own hands. "Zionism," notes Charles Silberman, "... transformed the meaning of Jewishness messianism. Instead of waiting for God to bring about the Messianic Age in His own way and time, as the Orthodox believed ... the Zionists insisted that the Jews had to go to work to bring about their own redemption." [SILBERMAN, p. 39] And the most pressing Zionist issue at hand was the desire for an explicitly Jewish national homeland. Although in early Zionist years a temporary Jewish homeland in parts of Argentina or Kenya or Uganda was considered, few of the rank and file members of the movement took such suggestions seriously. The emotional attachment, after all, unlike other European-based nationalist movements, was based on traditional religious beliefs: the ancient homeland that God had reputedly given to the Israelites. The homeland was not really negotiable. It had to be a return to Zion: Israel.
Although Zionism was largely a secular movement, the first president of modern Israel (and an immigrant from Russia), Chaim Weizman, notes the attraction of what was then "Palestine," quite clearly:
"[Arthur James Balfour] asked me why some Jews, Zionists, were so bitterly opposed to the Uganda offer. The British Government was really anxious to do do something to relieve the misery of the Jews; and the problem was a practical one, calling for a practical approach. In reply I plunged into what I recall as a long harangue on the meaning of the Zionist movement. I dwelt on the spiritual side of Zionism, I pointed out that nothing but a deep religious conviction expressed in modern political terms could keep the movement alive, and that this conviction had to be based on Palestine and on Palestine alone. Any deflection from Palestine was -- well, a form of idolatry. I added that if Moses had come into the sixth Zionist Congress when it was adopting the resolution in favour of the Commisssion for Uganda, he would surely have broken the tablets once again. We knew that the Uganda offer was well-meant, and on the surface of it might appear the more practical road. But I was sure that -- quite apart from the availability and suitability of the territory -- the Jewish people would never produce either the money or the energy required in order to build up a wasteland and make it habitable, unless that land was Palestine. Palestine had this magic and romantic appeal for the Jews; our history has been what it is because of our tenacious hold on Palestine. We have never accepted defeat and have never forsaken the memory of Palestine. Such a tradition could be converted into real political power." [WEIZMAN, C., 1949, p. 143]
"Even those who rebelled against religion," notes Ehud Luz, "could not ignore the need to deal with it, for the simple reason that Jewish nationalism drew its legitimacy from the Jewish religion: Zionism was rooted in the Jewish past, and no one denied that this past had a religious character." [LUZ, p. x] "The mythos-driven craving for the ancestral land," suggests Israeli Jay Gonen, "is tied to deep unconscious layers in the Jewish psyche." [GONEN, J., p. 200]Sometimes these "cravings" are not so unconscious. The underlying links between the religion of Judaism and secular Zionism is so great that Henrietta Szold, the founder of Hadassah (the international Zionist women's organization), was the first woman to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary. [HESCHEL, 1983, p. xiv]Part of the Zionist revival included reclaiming the nearly dead language of Hebrew (which had been reduced over the centuries to use only for religious purposes). Intended to be applied to a new, secularized Zionist society, as early as 1926 scholar Gershom Scholem noted the latent undercurrents in attempting to secularly appropriate a religiously-charged language: "The Land [of Israel] is a volcano. It provides lodging for the language [of Hebrew] ... What will be the result of the updating of Hebrew? Will the abyss of the holy tongue which we have implanted in our children not yawn wide? People here do not realize what they are doing. They think they have made Hebrew into a secular language, that they removed its apocalyptic sting. But that is not so ... Every word which is not simply made up but rather taken from the treasure house of well-worn terms is laden with explosives." [RAVITZKY, A., p. 3]"Although in rabbinic times an Aramaic translation of the Torah was declaimed alongside the biblical text in public readings ...," notes Barry Holtz, "it was the Hebrew original that was venerated and preserved. This sense of the sacred quality of the language begins with the Bible itself. God speaks, and through language the world comes into being. Jews, at least since rabbinic times, have taken the holiness of the language with great seriousness." [HOLTZ, B., 1984, p. 21]"There is no Sabbath Judaism without Zionism," notes Dagobert Runes, "Every daily prayer of the observing Jew carries the undertone of return to Zion. The four great holidays of the Jewish faith are imbedded in Zionist land and Zionist homecoming. Judaism is a little possible without Zionism as Christianity without Christ." [MARX, K., 1959, p. x] "Herein lies the ambiguity of Zionism," says Jacob Neusner,"It was supposedly a secular movement, yet in reinterpreting theclassic mythic structures of Judaism, it compromised its secularityand exposed its fundamental unity with the classic mythic being ofJudaism ... What has happened in Zionism is that the old has beenin one instant destroyed and resurrected. The 'holy people' are nomore, the nation-people take their place. How much has changedin the religious tradition, when the allegedly secular successor-continuator has preserved not only the essential perspective of thetradition, but done so pretty much in the tradition's own symbolsand language?" [NEUSNER, J., 1972, p. 100]"The fact," notes Alan Dowty, "that many early Zionists sought to 'divorce' themselves from Jewish history does not, however, mean that they always succeeded in disentangling themselves from its grip. In fact, the illusion that Zionism could escape the legacies -- negative and positive -- of the Jewish past, through an exercise of sheer ideological will, may have been the greatest conceit among the necessary self-deceptions of the founding fathers ... Holidays and national symbols were also inevitably drawn from the past, even if attempts were made to alter their content and significance. The very legitimacy of the entire [Zionist] enterprise also rested, in the end, on Jewish history and religion, a factor that grew in importance as conflict with the Arab population developed." [DOWTY, 1998]
Monford Harris sees a strong Judaism-Zionism link in the old religious covenant notion:
"The dynamic of Zionism ... is only possible on the basis of covenental solidarity.
... None of the universal categories -- race, nation, nationality, or religion -- can
account for this involvement. It is accountable only on the basis of covenental
solidarity throughout Jewish history. While twentieth century Jewry no longer uses
convenental terms and has lost its conscious awareness of its self-understanding,
it does, nevertheless, opeate with the ideas of the Covenant." [HARRIS, M., 1965,
Early Zionism in Israel also stressed a "back to the land" ethic, emphatically distancing the new Jewish people from their traditional "Shylock" economic middleman roles in Europe for honest labor in the farm fields of Palestine. Community-owned socialist agricultural enterprises called kibbutzim sprouted up everywhere and were heralded as the foundation for a new, proud, hard-working Jewish identity. By 1986, however, Etan Levine noted that "today's kibbutz member is profoundly disturbed by the failure to transmit its values to the young ... To many an Israeli, today's kibbutz is seen as sort of a country club, using hired labor for the Arab and Sephardic towns, and exploiting the kibbutz's favorable tax status and its undue influence in the Israeli Knesset." [LEVINE, E., p. 46]Rudiments of the Zionist world view began to take hold among a few Jewish thinkers in the mid-1800s. Moses Hess wrote Rome and Jerusalem in 1862, a work generally credited to be the origin of Zionist theory, although the term would not be invented, nor the ideas distilled, till decades later. "Hess," wrote later Zionist philosopher Martin Buber, "was no 'precursor' of the Zionist movement. He was its initiation." "Everything we have attempted," said preeminent Zionist activist Theodore Herzl, "can be found in this [Rome and Jerusalem] work." [HESS, opening page]"The pious Jew is before all else a Jewish patriot," wrote Hess in this seminal work of Jewish secular nationalism, "the 'new-fangled' Jew who denies Jewish nationalism is not only an apostate, a renegade in the religious sense, but a traitor to his people and to his family. Should it prove true that the emancipation of the Jews is incompatible with Jewish nationalism, then the Jew must sacrifice emancipation ... The Jewish religion is primarily Jewish patriotism. This the Jewish 'Reformers' who 'emancipated' themselves from the Jewish nation knew quite well. They are wary of expressing their true sentiments frankly." [HESS, p. 27-28] In an earlier work, entitled Money (1845), Hess had located the worldwide Jewish community in a socio-economic Darwinian sense far from their collective self-perception as humankind's consummate victims: "The Jews, who in the natural history of the social animal would have had the world-historical mission to elicit the predator in humanity, have now accomplished the task." [REINHARZ, p. 85] (The turn of the century socialist/Zionist Ber Borochov echoed this perspective of non-Jews, noting that non-Jews tended to gain "their livelihood from nature," and that "it is obvious that Jews, in contradistinction to all other nations, derive their livelihood exclusively from man." [BOROCHOV, p. 62] Hess also, like so many in the Jewish political world in our own day, abandoned "universalist" political activism for Jewish "particularism." Hess was for years a communist theorist, even writing in 1847 "a draft for a communist manifesto." [GIDAL, p. 223]A second Zionist theorist of considerable import was Leon Pinsker whose treatise Auto-Emancipation appeared in 1882. "We have not ceased even in the lands of our exile to be spiritually a distinct nation," he wrote, "but this spiritual nationality, so far from giving us the status of nation in the eyes of other nations, is the very cause of their hatred for us as a people." [SACHAR, p. 300] Traditional religious belief that Gentile hostility to Jews was a punishment from God was secularly adjusted in Pinsker's argument; he proclaimed what in our day has become Jewish canon: Jewish irresponsibility for their roles in history and the declared irrational essence of a corresponding "Jew-hatred." Pinsker, says Walter Laqueur, "regarded Judaeophobia as a psychic aberration, but in his view it was hereditary. Transmitted as a disease for two thousand years, it was incurable ... Prejudice, subconscious notions, could not be removed by reasoning, however forceful and clear." [LAQUEUR, p. 71] "One of the fundamentals of Zionism," confirmed Zionist heroine Hannah Senesh in later years, "is the realization that anti-Semitism is an illness which can neither be fought against with words, nor cured with superficial treatment." [UMANSKY/ASHTON, p. 175]The most famous Zionist, however, was Theodore Herzl, a journalist (he was a correspondent for Vienna's Neue Freie Presse, the most influential newspaper in the Hapsburg Empire), and playwright, who struggled as a dreamer and activist towards resolvement of "the Jewish problem" in Europe. Herzl's novel Altneuland has been described as "the foundation document of the modern state of Israel." [SELZER, p. 42] "Herzl," says Michael Selzer, "endorses as valid the negative image of the Jew with which he had earlier condemned and then catered most extravagantly to [for funds], [the book was the] creation of a fantasy state in which the self-hating Jewish readers of the book could find and identify themselves with their complete antithesis." [SELZER, p. 42] Herzl's idea of Israel, says Amnon Rubenstein, was "a mini-Switzerland in the heart of the Middle East." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 11]As late as 1893, he seriously entertained the idea that the problem to anti-Semitism could be resolved by a mass conversion of all Jewish children to Christianity. [AVISHAI, p. 37] The publication of Herzl's ideas about the creation of a Jewish homeland, The Jewish State, and mass Jewish exodus to it, became the most influential work in Zionist history.Jacques Kornberg notes Herzl's essential world view, so deeply rooted in the Jewish martyrological and persecution tradition: "Herzl's litany of Jewish suffering was wildly exaggerated, for he claimed that Jews were 'always the carefully looked after and cultivated leeches or the ... chamber serfs ... of the powerful.' In Herzl's view of Jewish history there were no periods of security or normality. Later this view was to become part of his Zionist conception of the Jewish dispersion as a 2,000 year period of captivity and unfreedom." [KORNBERG, p. 84]And as World Zionist Organization president Nahum Goldmann once wrote:"[Theodore Herzl] put [the Zionist issue] in a famous and totallymisleading saying: 'The problem of Zionism is one of means of transport:there is a people without a land, and a land without a people' ... Heutter[ed] a double falsehood: first, Palestine was not a country withoutpeople, since there were hundreds of thousands of Arabs living there;and second, the Jews were not a landless people, for the assimilatedJews were good Frenchmen, Germans, Englishmen and so on."[GOLDMANN, N., 1978, p. 88]Eventually Herzl and his cohorts were visiting powerful people throughout the world, lobbying the Zionist ideas intensely, seeking both funds from the wealthy and political favors. Among those from whom he sought help -- particularly in concessions for Jewish immigration to Palestine -- in his single-minded focus on Jews was the Sultan of Turkey. "When Herzl," notes Hannah Arendt, "during these negotiations received cables from students of various oppressed nationalities protesting against agreements with a government which had just slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Armenians, he only observed: 'This will be useful for me with the Sultan.'" [ARENDT, in SELZER, p. 236]Alfred Lilienthal notes the curious similarity of traditional Zionism and anti-Semitic ideology regarding the Jewish inability-- or resistance -- to assimilate into non-Jewish societies. Seminal Zionist writings, like those of Hess, Herzl and Pinsker, says Lilienthal, argued that "Jews formed in the midst of the nations, among which they reside, a distinctive element which cannot be readily digested in any country. (Strangely, these were practically the same words for which the [anti-Semitic] Dearborn Independent and Henry Ford, Sr. were to be sued more than sixty years later by American Jews of Zionist leanings)." [LILIENTHAL, p. 13]This classical anti-Semitic accusation -- that Jews live within a host society, but are not truly a fully dedicated part of it -- is actually a fundamental belief too of the Zionist credo. An essential principle of Zionism is the secular revamping of the old religious notion of Jewish identity throughout the world: galut -- exile. As noted earlier, the idea of galut asserts that Jews -- dispersed from ancient Israel throughout the world -- are everywhere in places they do not belong. Their own true home can only be Israel. Zionism holds that, because Jews are scattered throughout the world in other peoples' lands, Jews are ethically, spiritually, morally, and physically impaired from their true natures. In Hebrew, one of the meanings of galut is "sighing under the yoke of oppression." [GOLDSTEIN, p. 178] In the Zionist view, Jews are not --and cannot be -- connected to the lands, culture, and peoples of their Diaspora (dispersion). "The Zionist critique of assimilation," notes Donald Niewyk, "... rested on a certain conviction that all efforts to blend with non-Jews must lead unswervingly to deformed Jewish lives. The new discipline of psychoanalysis was mustered to demonstrate the neurotic side effects of divided consciousness. Rootlessness and inferiority complexes were shown to generate everything from revolutionary activity to Jewish anti-Semitism, extreme German nationalism, and suicide." [NIEWYK, p. 126]Only gathered together in their own nation can Jews of the world attain "normalization." Once the Jewish people had "normalized," hoped Theodore Herzl, the Zionist "father" of modern Israel, "it is the anti-Semite who will be our staunchest friends, and the anti-Semitic countries which will be our allies." [FEUERLICHT, p. 222] In modern Israel the term galut is a slur. "Galut has become a general term of contempt," says Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen, "bearing no relation to where one lives." [LIEBMAN/COHEN]"In classical Zionist thinking," says Liebman and Cohen, "the non-Jews are not to be blamed for their hostility to the Jews. The fault lies in the unnatural condition of Jews living as strangers in a host society that understandably harbors suspicions of them and their intentions." [LIEBMAN/SILBERMAN, p. 58] Even David Ben-Gurion, revered by many Jews as a pioneer Zionist and the first prime minister of the modern state of Israel (to 1963), said that"The cause of our troubles and the anti-Semitism of which we complainresult from our peculiar status that does not accord with the establishedframework of the nations of the world. It is not the result of thewickedness or folly of the Gentiles which we call anti-Semitism."[LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 58]From a Zionist racial perspective, notes Donald Niewyk, "even a moderate Zionist such as Gustav Krojanker could describe anti-Semitism as the ideological superstructure of 'instinctive animal peculiarities' that were natural among groups 'divided by blood and history.'" [NIEWYK, p. 127-128]For decades, the Zionist movement basically agreed with the standard anti-Semitic criticisms of the Jews of Europe, that Jews were exploitive, often unethical, elitist separatists in their self-perceived "host nations," and they were entrenched in the centers of commerce, overly fixated upon the accumulation of money. "The Zionist position," says Aleksander Hertz, "was ... similar to that of the anti-Semite. Both spoke of the organic separateness of the Jews and their alienness. Although they differed fundamentally in their evaluations of the role of the Jews and their historic significance, their intellectual premises were the same, and they did not differ greatly in their conclusions." [HERTZ] "Intriguingly," notes Bernard Avishai, "political Zionists often accepted as true some of the anti-Semite's most outrageous stereotypes of the Jew ... Accordingly, political Zionists were often unable to articulate precisely what Jewish principles were to be defended -- apart from the assertion that the Jewish people should survive." [AVISHAI, p. 25]In pre-World War II Nazi Germany, Zionist assertions that Jews were an inassimilable people mirrored, and reinforced, the Nazis' own arguments. Both groups asserted that there should be no Jews in Germany. "The anti-Semitic barrage continued weekly with Zionist aspersions sounding painfully similar to the Nazi line discrediting the German citizenship of the Jews," notes Edwin Black, "It became that much harder for German Jews to defend against Nazi accusations of illegitimate citizenship when a land and visible group of their own [Zionists] continually published identical indictments ... Zionism had become a tool for anti-Semites." [BLACK, E., p. 173]On June 21, 1933, the German Zionist Federation sent their evaluation of the Jewish presence in Germany to Hitler, saying:"Zionism believes that a rebirth ... such as that in German traditionresulting from a combination of Christian and national values, mustalso come about within the Jewish communities. Racial background,religion, a common fate and tribal consciousness must be of decisiveimportance in developing a lifestyle for Jews too." [BLACK, E., p. 175]The Israeli scholar Yehezkel Kaufman, who represents the revisionist history so popular among Jews today that deems anti-Semitism to be completely irrational in origin, noted that in Zionism's early decades of development"Zionist ideology itself was by no means free from the influence ofanti-Semitism, and Zionism actually based the national movementon a rationale of charges that it took over from the anti-Semites, andattempted to find a core of justice in the hatred of the Jews. Jews ofthe Galut, the countries of dispersion, really deserve to be hated: theircustoms, tendencies, businesses, attitude to the their environment, etc.are the same source of the hatred, the justifiable hatred. Therefore,they must leave Galut." [KAUFMAN, p. 2451]"Our function now [as Jews]," wrote Joseph Brenner, an important early twentieth century Zionist, "is to recognize and admit our meanness since the beginning of history to the present day, all the faults in our character, and then to rise and start over again." [SILBERMAN, p. 39] "With a burning and passionate pleasure," he wrote elsewhere, "I would blot out from the prayer book of the Jews of our day 'Thou hast chosen us' in every shape and form." [DOWTY, 1998, p. 1] "The old Jew in Zionist iconography," notes Haim Breseeth, "was not dissimilar to the standard anti-Semitic portrait -- the 'inversion of what is productive,' 'the rootless, cosmopolitan, unproductive, and passive entity, inevitably attracting the hatred of its social environment, as it were. Zionism was to eradicate this type of Jewishness and replace it with the new Jew." [BRESEETH, p. 194]"The vocabulary of abuse [from Zionists about the Jewish people of Europe] in Hebrew literature," notes Yehezkel Kaufman, "--where Jews speak to one another without fear of exaggeration -- is of a sort you would find only in anti-Semitic literature of the worst type .... Frishman: 'Jewish life is a 'dog's' life that 'evokes disgust.' Berdichevski: 'Not a nation, not a people, not human.' Brenner: 'Gypsies, filthy dogs, inhuman, wounded dogs.' A. D. Gordon: 'Parasitism, people fundamentally useless.' From the articles of Shwardron: 'Slaves, helots, the basest uncleanliness, worms, filth, parasitic rootlessness.' (See his writings in Moznaim, 1933, nos. 33-38). In honor of the anniversary of Histadrut [the national Israeli labor federation], Davar, the Palestinian [i.e., now Israel] newspaper, printed a vowel-pointed headline: 'National resistance, the regeneration of a parasitic nation.' " [KAUFMAN, p. 241]As Joachim Doron notes, "the Jewish self-criticism so widespread among the German Zionist intelligentsia often seemed dangerously similar to the plaints of the German anti-Semites." [FINKELSTEIN, N., 1998, p. 24]Shaul Avigur, the head of the organization which aided illegal immigration to Israel against British Mandate curtailment, had great disdain for the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust who made it to Israel. Avigur remarked that"They are different ... completely different [from other Jews in Israel].The propensity to inform is widespread among them ... in commercethey engage in everything possible; the children buy and sell dollars;corruption is horrible; ... prostitution is terrible." [PORAT, p. 162]"The [European] ghetto Jew was doomed from the Zionist perspective," says Haim Breseeth, "-- human dust, as [former Israeli president] Weitzmann named him, a historical figure with a despicable past and no future. Thus, the ghetto Jew became the antithesis of the Israeli Jew, even before the creation of the Israeli state. This is very different from how every other Jewish community, notably the buoyant American Jewish community, has perceived the European Jews." [BRESEETH, p. 194]"It is a sad opinion one hears many people expressing," complained Yehezkel Kaufman in 1949, "-- that anti-Semitism is in a certain sense an anteroom to Zionism. Many Zionists, and not only Western European Zionists, believe with complete naivety that to be 'good Zionists,' we must first become 'good' anti-Semites, we must first hate ourselves... [KAUFMAN, p. 244] ...If you were to open the notebook of a Hebrew school student [in Israel] you might read such phrases as these: 'The Jews in the Diaspora are living unhealthy lives, as unsavory tradesmen, and sometimes have unsavory private lives too ... They are corrupt ... The Gentiles around them are living healthy lives,' or: 'The Jews in the Galut prefer storekeeping, banking, and peddling' and that is why the Gentiles hate them; 'the lack of Jewish farmers and Jewish workers has been the reason for their unnatural lives, and has aroused hatred." [KAUFMAN, p. 244]"[Theodore Herzl, the official founder of the modern state of Israel] did not claim that the charges of the anti-Semite were altogether unjust," observed Walter Laqueur, "The ghetto, which had not been of their making, had bred [in Jews] certain asocial qualities: the Jews had come to embody the characteristics of men who had served long prison terms." [LAQUEUR, p. 88] Likewise, Zionist writer Theodore Lessing, says Daniel Niewyk, believed that European Jewry's "preoccupation with security and material wealth had brought them a half-deserved reputation as exploiters." [NIEWYK, p. 137]"Reading today -- in the post-Holocaust era -- the writings of the founders of Zionism," says Amnon Rubenstein, "one is slightly embarrassed by the abuse against the very nature of the Jewish communities in exile, in galut ... [But] Zionism did not usher in this mood. Nineteenth century Hebrew and Yiddish literature ... vilify the Jewish existence within the traditional Pale of Settlement, the 'parasitical' occupations which mar it and the sickening submission to brute force and oppression." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 5]
Of course, modern Israeli propaganda needs, and Jewish identity needs, have changed in recent years. Today the official Zionist view, malleable to the times, has reabsorbed traditional Jewish thinking about a mystical, omnipresent anti-Semitism, useful in hardening trans-world Jewish solidarity with Israel -- the Protector. As Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen note:"The role of anti-Semitism in formulations of Zionism and in theimportance attributed to the existence of the Jewish state has notdiminished. What has changed is the benign image held by Israelileaders of the Gentile. It is no longer the Jew who is indirectlyto blame for being hated. Anti-Semitism is no longer the expectedhostility of the hosts toward their uninvited guests. As in thetraditional Jewish past, anti-Semitism is now attributed to theGentile's irrational hatred of the Jew ... The origins of anti-Semitismare no longer explained in terms of Jewish estrangement from theirhost societies, but as endemic to the non-Jew." [LIEBMAN/COHEN,p. 59]Increasingly in recent years, the modern state of Israel, and many Jewish apologists throughout the world, publicly espouse views about themselves and Israel that are implicitly irreconcilable. The widespread Jewish illusion of harmonizing completely contradictory worldviews (universalism and particularism) is likewise echoed in the ideology of Zionism (although some important Zionist strands have been disbanding not only allegiance to universality, but to democracy as a social principle). As the first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, (in this realm yet again a claim of Jewish "uniqueness") put it:"Two basic aspirations underlie all our work in this country: to be like allnations, and to be different from all nations." [ARONOFF, Myths, p.178]Another example of Israel's implicitly contradictory nature, notes Rachelle Saidel, is that the eventual "linking [of] the creation of the Jewish state to the murder of six million Jews causes this state to be born with a built-in paranoia. This 'birth defect' has led Israel to beg for normalcy -- to be treated as all other nations, while at the same time pointing out how -- because of the Holocaust, it should be treated differently." [SAIDEL, p. 17]The clumsily veiled chauvinism at root here is, as always, the classical religiously-based Jewish notion of the necessity for Jews to be "a people apart," "unique," distinct from all others. ["Lo, the people shall dwell alone and shall not be reckoned among the nations." --NUMBERS 23:9] For some Israelis, notes Myron Aronoff, the biblical admonition that Israel "is a people that shall dwell alone and shall never be reckoned among the nations, [is] a curse. However, others consider it an affirmation of Israel's chosenness." [ARONOFF, p. 178]Alan Dowty notes that eventually Jewish "uniqueness" in Israel,"rather than normalization, was becoming the watchword ... Israeliswere again seeing themselves, in the words of Balaam's blessing,as 'a people who shall dwell alone' ... Israel was moving from auniversalistic, secular, rational, civic orientation to one that wasparticularist, religious, mystical, and primordial. It was revertingfrom an 'Israeli' outlook, embodied in the concept of the State ofIsrael, back to a more 'Jewish' self-identity." [DOWTY, 1998]Israeli Meron Benvenisti sees the transformation -- the absorption of traditional Jewish exclusionist identity into Zionism -- this way:"Jewish elitist perceptions of the 'chosen people' were crystallizedagainst a background of humiliation, scorn, hate, and alienation inthe diaspora. Only a belief in his unique identity could sustain theJew ... The selfsame precepts, transferred to a situation where theJews are the majority, ruling another nation [Arabs], interacting on anequal basis with the [other] goyim, assume a sinister, domineeringsignificance. Ahavat Israel, the love of Israel, the deep sense ofaffinity and of common destiny, the belief in col Israel haverim (allIsrael are comrades) which sustained the diaspora Jews and gavethem a measure of security, resulted in xenophobia -- being increasinglyperceived as synonymous with sin'at hagoy (hate for the goyim)."[Benvenisti, p. 76]
In 1882 there were only 24,000 Jews in what was then called Palestine, an area under control of the Muslim Ottoman Empire of Turkey since 1516 (Great Britain took over control of Palestine in 1918). The first Zionist Congress was held in Switzerland in 1887 and by the late 1890s Theodore Herzl had seized prominent stage in the new Zionist movement, visiting wealthy Jewish philanthropists and even the Sultan of Turkey in the hopes of creating a Jewish state in the Holy Land. To acquire Palestine, said Herzl, "we require diplomatic negotiations ... and propaganda on a large scale." [LAQUEUR, p. 95] In the case of the Turkish ruler, Walter Laqueur observes that Herzl "was ready to use his influence [at the most important newspaper in central Europe, the Neue Freie Presse] to play down the anti-Armenian persecutions." [LAQUEUR, p. 118]Most early Jews in Palestine were religiously-oriented. With increased interest (mainly by Jews in Eastern Europe) in Jewish nationalism, and the growing Horevei Zion (Lovers of Zion) movement, activist Jews of a more secular nature began to make their way to Palestine in the later 1880s. Between 1881 and 1904 (in what is called the First Aliya -- ascension -- in Zionist circles) 30,000 Jews emigrated to Palestine. Still, by 1918 and World War I, the (now) 56,000 Jews in Palestine were still tiny compared to the 640,000 Arabs around them. [SHAPIRA, p. 22-23]Although Zionism was conceived as a Jewish "back to the land" movement, "by 1910," notes Walter Laqueur, "the [Zionist] settlers were owners of plantations employing mainly Arab workers. Their own children were sent to education in France." [LAQUEUR, p. 79] "The major reason that Zionism survived its struggling early period before 1917," says Norman Cantor, "was that it received the endorsement and patronage of many [Jewish] billionaire patriarchs and their charitable organizations right from the start of the modern Zionist ventures in the 1880s." [CANTOR, p. 298] Of particular importance in this regard in the early Zionist years was Baron Edmond de Rothschild, one of the heirs to the fabulous Rothschild European banking dynasty.
[WEIZMAN, C., 1949, p. 41]
Chaim Weizman, the first president of modern Israel, and an immigrant from Russia, describes how the future Jewish state was colonized by European Jews in its early years:
"Jews settled in Palestine, and they were not expelled. They bought land, sometimes through straw men, sometimes by bribes, for Turkish officialdom was even more corrupt than the Russian. Houses were built in evasion of the law. Between baksheesh [bribes] and an infinite variety of subterfuges, the first little colonies were created."
Jews continued to make their way to Palestine, in repeated waves. There were second (1904-1914), third (1919-1923), fourth (1924-1928), and fifth aliyahs (1929-1939). After the founding of the Israeli state in 1948, the next ten years witnessed another 900,000 Jews moving to live in the Holy Land. In 1950 over 100,000 Jews emigrated to Israel from Iraq. "They were driven out of Iraq to Israel," notes Amnon Rubenstein, "motivated by numerous anti-Jewish attacks. At the time, however, it was widely assumed these attacks were perpetrated by hostile Iraqis, but recent scholarship indicates the actions were undertaken by overly zealous Zionists who wanted to create an atmosphere of fear that would convince the Iraqis to move to Israel." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 60]The Jewish National Fund was created in 1901, in large part to purchase land. Another international Jewish organization, the Jewish Agency, was founded in 1929 to encourage Jewish immigration, raise funds for settlement, and address administration of the new Jewish communities. By 1980, the Jewish National Fund alone had spent $15 billion on the Jews of Israel; per its charters, none of it went to the Arab sector of Israeli society. [AVISHAI, p. 320] By the 1920s, Palestinian Arabs began sometimes violent resistance to what they saw as Jewish encroachment, fearing what their new neighbors' ultimate intentions might be. Major acts of violence continued to increase between Arabs and Zionists. In 1929, in rioting over control of the Jerusalem Wailing Wall, (the area with high religious significance to both to Jews and Muslims), 38 Arabs and 29 Jews were killed; riots spread into the distant towns of Hebron and Safed. A total of 120 Jews and 87 Arabs were reported killed in the fighting. By 1939 20,000 British troops had largely subdued Arab revolt against Zionist incursion."Hundreds of Arab villages" were destroyed by Jews by the end of 1949. "Traditional Israeli history," says Amnon Rubenstein, "has presented the Palestinian exodus as the responsibility of Arab leaders who ordered the Palestinians to flee, promising that they could soon return to their homes as conquering heroes. Israeli leaders encouraged them to stay in their homes and villages. Recent research by a number of historians and political scientists, including Israeli scholar and journalist Benny Morris, reveals that this is a myth on several grounds." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 52] Rubenstein notes that the "vast majority of Palestinians" were expelled or driven out by terrorist campaigns against them, including those by varied Israeli forces: the Haganah, the Israel Defense Force, Irgun and LEHI. There was even a military plan -- Plan Dalet -- to empty Arab villages for later Jewish settlement. [RUBENSTEIN, A. p. 53] "Those expelled," says Rubenstein, "were allowed to take with them only what they could carry; many had their valuables stolen by Israeli soldiers as they passed military checkpoints." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 53]With heavy fighting between Jews and Arabs in 1948, most of the 175,000 Arabs who remained in the area that officially became part of the new nation of Israel that year were peasants in interior regions that the warring little reached. These people and their descendants are today resident/citizens of the Jewish state of Israel, an underclass to be sure, but distinct from the Arabs in what is generally known as the Occupied Territories: Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. Bernard Avishai notes the modern day status of the Israeli Arabs: "About half of Israel's Arabs still live in nearly isolated towns and serve as a work force for Israeli Jewish industries. A quarter work on Jewish farms and construction sites. These figures convincingly show that the Israeli Arabs are dependent upon and dominated by the Jewish economy, that Arabs have become a segregated industrial proletariat in Israel." [AVISHAI, B., p. 315]Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees flooded into the Gaza area, an area 4-8 miles wide and 28 miles long, bordered by Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean sea. In 1967 the 350,000 Palestinians crammed into this small space marked it as the highest population density on earth. (AVISHAI, B., p. 274] With complete Israeli control of the area in all facets of economic, social, and political life, by 1973 a third of Gaza's laborers were forced to work in low-paying, benefit-less jobs for Jewish employers. With few rights and no hope in an entire area that resembled a prison, Israeli Army Chief of Staff Raphael Eitan once called the Palestinians trapped within Israeli rule in the Occupied Territories "drugged cockroaches in a bottle." [JANSEN, M., p. 15]By 1991 55% of the land mass of the West Bank and 30% of Gaza Strip was even controlled by the Jewish National Fund. This means, notes Amnon Rubenstein, "that increasing numbers of Palestinians are forced into ever-smaller amounts of territory and in many cases are denied their means of livelihood." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 91] Israeli-legislated human rights violations in the Occupied Territories has included, for decades, the "shooting and beating of unarmed individuals," "expulsion from regions without cause," "suppression of Palestinian culture" (the word Palestine, the displaying of the Palestinian flag, wearing its colors, etc. have all been punishable crimes during Israeli rule), "collective punishment of entire neighborhoods," "military censorship of all publications," "confiscation of land and water resources," and "restriction of economic activities." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 95]In 1981 an Israeli-created administration system in the West Bank removed elected mayors it disliked and replaced them with Jewish overseers in the Arab towns of Nablus, Ramallah, and El-Bireh. [AVISHAI, p. 292] "The West Bank is ruled under British emergency regulations from 1946," notes Bernard Avishai, "which one former Israeli Justice Minister, Yaacov Shimon Shapiro, has called Fascist; Amnesty International reported that, from January to June 1979 alone, some 1500 youths were taken into custody. Tens of thousands more were interrogated, or intimidated during the period of the general strike in the spring of 1982." [AVISHAI, B., p. 307]The opportunity to nakedly exploit the subjugated Arab population has not been overlooked by Jewish rulers. "Israeli investors and contractors, meanwhile," says Avishai, "have not failed to profit from the situation [in the Occupied Territories], [Israeli scholar] Benvenisti points out that hundreds of private speculators and builders have made fortunes here." [AVISHAI, B., p. 308]For a small minority of Israelis, such conditions forced upon another people has elicited serious soul-searching. "A prolonged squabble [in this case, with Arabs] does not ennoble," noted prominent Israeli novelist Amos Oz, "it degrades. In our case it is pushing us back into our 'hereditary' depression, into the neuroses, the atavistic tribal madness from which we were trying to escape, back into megalomania, the paranoia, the traditional nightmare." [OZ, A., p. 194] "The social tensions entailed by occupation," says another Israeli, Bernard Avishai, "would have taken their toll on any democracy, but they have had a peculiar and unfortunate impact on Israel -- inasmuch as Israeli democracy was improvised in 1948 and has subsequently been made to coexist with a number of residual, genuinely Zionist institutions which had always excluded non-Jews [AVISHAI, p. 299] ... Since the occupation is run entirely according to military law, Israeli soldiers, many of whom are civilian reservists, have not been subject to normal civilian penalties for the crimes they commit in uniform ... In two notorious cases, [Chief of Staff General Eitan] pardoned murderers. Nor are civil prosecutors able to appeal such decisions, and there are no civil rights by means of which an Arab victim's family might seek redress." [AVISHAI, B., p. 310]There was also the 1990 case of Rabbi Moshe Levinger, which epitomized an entire genre of Israeli legal lenience for Jewish violence against Arabs. "Levinger," noted the Toronto Star,"a strident founder of Israel's settler movement [in the West Bankand Gaza] who calls Arabs 'dogs,' yesterday drew five months injail for shooting an unarmed Arab shopkeeper to death in Hebronin the occupied West Bank. Israeli human rights activists decriedthe sentence as a 'frightening' travesty of justice ... After his carwindow was smashed by Palestinian stone-throwers, Levinger reachedan army roadblock and safety, and then opened fire on Arab merchantsnearby, witnesses said ... In 29 cases where Israelis allegedly killedPalestinians since the start of the Palestinian uprising, only four caseswent to court, said Naam Yashuvi, information director for B'Tselem,a prominent Israeli human rights group. Two resulted in jail terms: theLevinger case, and that of Israel Zeev, who in December, 1988, gotthree years in jail and two more suspended for killing a shepherd."[BARTHOS, G., 1990, p. A2]In overview, observed Glenn Frankel, "A country that enforced a permanent military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza that denied its Palestinian subjects even the most rudimentary rights of free speech and the vote, and that locked up, abused and expelled Palestinians without formal charges or trial could not claim to wholeheartedly share liberal American values." [FRANKEL, G., p. 224]In response to Jewish dominance in the Holy Land, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964 to violently resist the Jewish state of Israel; it also eventually warred with Arab splinter groups like Fateh and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.With the expulsion of large numbers of Arabs in Israel's "War of Independence" from self-declared Jewish lands, and with the impossibility of these refugees returning, the new Israeli government declared, in 1950, the Law for the Acquisition of Absent Property. Anyone absent from their property between November 1, 1947 and September 1 1948, and not residing in Jewish-controlled areas, was declared to have abandoned ownership and the property was confiscated by the Jewish state. This process also had the effect of robbing many Arab citizens within Jewish boundaries (who didn't even know about the new law, or were unable to challenge it) from their lands. As Amnon Rubenstein explains, "once property was declared absentee property, this status would remain in force, even if it could later be proved that the property had been incorrectly classified." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 62] Another device to rob Arabs of their land was through the Emergency Article for the Exploitation of Uncultivated Areas. Land that had not been cultivated in the past three years was also confiscated by the state, often by declaring "an area farmed by Palestinians a closed military zone so that no Palestinian was allowed to enter it. After the three-year period had elapsed, the land could then be declared uncultivated" and seized. [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 63] Some Palestinian land officially under Ottoman Empire or British Mandate registration was also confiscated by the new Jewish state.Despite condemnation by the international community, Israel formally annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 and the Golan Heights (bordering Syria) in 1981.
In its formative years, Zionism was actually overwhelmingly rejected by most of the world's Jews. In Europe, in the nineteenth century, one of the most influential leaders of the Reform Judaism movement, Abraham Geiger, attacked Moses Hess as someone who "after bankruptcy as a socialist and all kinds of swindles wants to make a hit with [Jewish] nationalism." [LAQUEUR, p. 53] In 1919 "French leader" Sylvain Levi "spoke violently against the restoration of a Jewish home in Palestine." [LITVINOFF, B., p. 114] Subscription to Zionism was feared to open Jews everywhere to charges of national disloyalty in the countries they lived. "Except for a few scattered voices," says Aharon Feldman, "Jewish leadership as a whole saw Herzl's Zionism as a threat to Jewish survival. The spiritual giants of the times [the turn of the twentieth century] -- Reb Yitzhak Elhanem, the Hafetz Haim, and Reb Haim Brisker -- refused to enter a partnership with it." [FELDMAN, p. 23] The first Zionist World Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland. Plans had been to hold it in Munich, Germany, but the Jewish community there didn't want it. [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 42]As Jewish philosopher, Morris Raphael Cohen, wrote in The New Republic in 1919:"A national Jewish Palestine must necessarily mean a state foundedon a peculiar race, a tribal religion and a mystic belief in a peculiarsoil, when liberal America stands for separation of Church and state,the free mixing of races, and the fact that men can change theirhabitation and language and still advance the process of civilization."[ROSENFELD, A., 1997, p. 111]Some in the ultra-Orthodox world even blamed Zionists for the Holocaust. "As early as the second World War," notes Israeli scholar Aviezer Ravitzky, "harsh accusations were made by some ultra-Orthodox radicals concerning direct Zionist responsibility for what was happening [to Jews in Europe]: it was the Zionists' declarations that provoked the anger of the oppressor to the point of bloodshed; it was they who hindered the rescue effort [of European Jewry]; it was they who disturbed the tranquility of the Jews in the lands of their dispersion." [RAVITZKY, p. 65] While Jewish Orthodoxy rejected Zionism as "a false messianic movement," so too did "most Jewish liberals and socialists, [who] having accepted the faith of the Enlightenment, rejected Zionism as a reactionary philosophy." [KOLSKY, p. 15-17]In Britain, by the 1930s the Anglo-Jewish Association of the Board of Deputies (which included prominent Jews like Edward Montagu, the British Secretary of State for India) believed that Zionism was for a Jews a "traitorous disloyalty to their native lands." [LILIENTHAL, p. 23] Some Jews worried that the Zionist movement would fuel anti-Semitic hostility, invariably reaffirming perceptions that Jews were, wherever they were in the world, essentially elitist separatists, concerned only with their own people. "Prominent Jewish communal leaders," notes Thomas Kolsky, "like Lucien Wolf, Claude Montefiore, and Laurie Magnus denounced Zionism as an ally of anti-Semitism." [KOLSKY, p. 17]In Germany, prominent Jewish writer Joseph Roth compared the parallel racial structures of Zionism and German fascism, writing a letter to a Jewish friend in 1935: "A Zionist is a National Socialist [i.e., German Nazi]; a Nazi is a Zionist ... I cannot fathom how it is you wish to start the fight against Hitler, who is merely the imbecilic brother of the Zionist, using a brother of the National Socialist, i.e., a Zionist, even the most ingenious of them. Perhaps you can protect Jewry in that way. But I wish to protect both Europe and mankind from the Nazis and also from Hitler Zionists." [SHAKED, p. 186] "In these remarks, addressed to another assimilated Jew, Stephan Zweig," says Gershon Shaked, reflecting a common, modern, pro-Zionist Jewish sentiment, "pathological universalism reached its apogee." [SHAKED, p. 186]In America, prominent rabbi Issac Wise publicly "denounced the whole question of a Jewish state as foreign to the spirit of the modern Jew of this land who looks upon America as his Palestine and whose interests are centered here." [LAQUEUR, p. 384] Prominent American financier and Jewish activist Jacob Schiff stated that, "I cannot for one moment concede that one can be at the same time a true American and an honest adherent to the Zionist movement." [WHEATCROFT, 1996, p. 129] The founder and first president of Hebrew University, and an influential American rabbi, Judah Leon Magnes, in the 1930s also rejected the idea of a Jewish national homeland. [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 41] In the ongoing Zionist propaganda war, however incongruously, prominent American Zionist activist Louis Brandeis "regularly linked the 'Zionist cause' with the American ideal of democracy, of social justice and of liberty." [SARNA, J., p. 57] This universalist view is commonly articulated to defend "particularist" Zionism to this day.In 1942 a Jewish organization was founded by a group of Reform rabbis to oppose Zionism, the American Council for Judaism (ACJ). "The ACJ," noted Kolsky, "condemned all forms of Jewish separatism ... [and] denounced Zionist talk about homelessness, and opposed granting Jews special privileges ... It rejected the creation of an exclusively Jewish state as undemocratic and as a retreat from the universal vision of Judaism." [KOLSKY, p. 4] As ACJ head, and life-long anti-Zionist, Elmer Berger in later years noted one of the reasons Jews had joined ACJ: "The racial peoplehood character of Zionism was, on an ethical and moral basis, something to be particularly repudiated." [UROFSKY, M., 1978, p. 69] As the mass murder of the Jews under Hitler became better known, however, the ACJ's position lost support in the Jewish community; it was soon disbanded. By 1946, one poll showed that 80% of American Jews supported the idea of a Jewish state in what was then Palestine. [SPIEGEL, S., p. 18]
Zionism in its development has been varied in ideological expression, manifest over the years in at least four principle branches. The weakest version was "spiritual Zionism, " or "cultural Zionism," which held that "the Jewish people's fate was to be dispersed and their mission was to transmit their unique spiritual genius to the societies in which they lived." [JANSEN, p. 5] Asher HaAm (Asher Ginsberg), who moved to Palestine in 1921, was an influential exponent of this Zionist view. Earlier, upon former visits to the Holy Land, he wrote with concern that Jewish colonists there "treat Arabs with hostility and cruelty, deprive them of their rights, offend them without cause and even boast of their deeds, and nobody among us opposes this despicable and dangerous inclination." [JANSEN, p. 6]The most historically important version of Zionism -- rooted in the socialist and communist origins of Eastern European Ashkenazi Jewish pioneers in Palestine -- has been Labor Zionism. For decades Labor was dominant in founding the socio-political principles of the modern Jewish nation; it created the powerful Histradut trade union, the Haganah (forerunner of today's Israeli army), Israel's largest bank, an insurance and other companies, and it emphasized and disproportionately supported its showpiece "back to the land" movement through communally owned socialist enterprises known as kibbutzim. The effects of Labor Zionism's state-dominated economy remain today. "Recently published research," noted Norman Cantor in the mid-1990s, "sponsored by Canada's Fraser Institute and the U.S.-based Liberty Fund, show that in a survey of hundreds of economics professors around the world, Israel ranked nearly last in degree of economic freedom, ahead of only several communist countries and India." [CANTOR, p. 385] Nonetheless, with huge infusions of American charity, the "Israeli economy in the 1991-96 period grew faster than any other industrial economy -- averaging over 5.2% per year -- with the lowest levels of unemployment in the country's history." [GARFINKEL, A., p. 117]Labor Zionism disdained the "economic middleman" character of traditional European Jewry and celebrated physical work and toil, particularly agricultural, and most particularly in Israel, reconnecting with a lost identity. "The Jewish people has been completely cut off from nature and imprisoned with city walls for 2,000 years," said early Zionist A. D. Gordon, "We have become accustomed to every form of life, except to a life of labor -- of labor done at its own behest and for its own sake ... A parasitical people is not a living people." [CHAFETS, Z., p. 30]At its earliest, idealistic stages some supporters of this brand of Zionism proclaimed a familiar theme: yet another Jewish expression -- post-Enlightenment -- to attempt to explain Jewish "uniqueness" in terms less problematical and offensive to others, now framed as a Jewish nation that would -- at the very least -- set emulative examples for others. It was, in secular terms, messianic in scope. Amnon Rubenstein notes that "the Labor [Zionist] movement endeavored to translate the Jewish terms of uniqueness into a contemporary universal language ... It sought to go further and place the new Israel at the helm of international society. It spoke with messianic passion about a new millennium; a classless society, the religion of work, the redemption of man, the communal settlement experience, the kibbutz and the moshav [another form of communal agricultural settlement], the Histradut as a workers' society." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 45]Labor Zionism had been completely dominant in Israeli political society until 1977, when the rightist Zionist strands of Menachem Begin was voted to power. Begin's coalition party was the Likud; his own roots were in one of the right-wing organizations called Herut, which in turn was historically linked to the "radical right" version of Zionism known as Revisionism, founded by Vladimir Zabotinsky. Although overshadowed by Labor Zionism, Revisionists were not tiny. By 1931 the Revisionists claimed 21% of the delegates at the World Zionist Congress. [BELL, Terror, p. 24] "Vladmir Zabotinksy," noted David Biale, charged that Jews in the Diaspora "despised manhood, the principle of male power as understood by all free people in history, physical courage and physical force ..., [and] prowess of the body ... [which was] an object of ridicule." [BIALE, p. 137] "Because the Yid [Jew] is ugly, sickly, and lacks decorum," once said Jabotinsky, "we shall endow the ideal image of the Hebrew with masculine beauty." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 4] Elsewhere, Jabotinsky asserted that "Every race possessing a definite uniqueness seeks to become a nation, that is, to create for itself an economic, political, and intellectual environment in which every detail will derive from its specific thought and consequence that will also relate to its specific taste. A specific race can establish such an environment only in its own country, where it is master. For this reason every race seeks to become a state." [AVISHAI, B., p.125]"In the 1930s," says Haim Breseeth, "the Revisionists, a typical European rightist force, were greatly influenced by Mussolini, adapting some of the trappings of fascism: motorcades of blackshirts, a party publication was renamed Diary of a Fascist; and some training camps were held in fascist Italy. Immediately after the coming to power of the Nazis, fascism became a central icon in Palestine, dividing left and right, or more accurately, Labor Zionism, led by Ben-Gurion, from the Revisionist camp, led by Jabotinsky." [BRESEETH, p. 194-195] "Breaking away [from the other Zionist groups] in the 1920s," says Peter Grose, "Jabotinsky's Revisionist Zionism organized its own fighting force in Palestine. The Irgun Zvai Leumi came to remind unsympathetic outsiders of Mussolini fascists; Ben-Gurion called the Revisionist leader 'Vladimir Hitler.'" [GROSE, p. 161] "Revisionists," notes Edwin Black, "... were heavily fascists and profoundly influenced by Mussolini ... True to fascist ideology, the fist and shout were the preferred methods of achieving Revisionist goals." [BLACK, E., p. 143] Labor and Revisionist Zionism came close to civil war when the latter group brought a shipload of weapons into Israel. The ship was sunk by rival Zionists' artillery fire and 16 members of the IRGUN were killed. And, "ever since the mysterious murder of the Zionist 'foreign minister' Chaim Arlosoroff in 1933," says Jay Gonen, "allegedly by right-wing Revisionists, there had been fears of Jewish fascism." [GONEN, p. 58]"Jabotinsky's most cherished creation was Betar," noted Livneh Eliezer, "[This] youth movement ... was ... a semi-militaristic entity that stressed hierarchy, discipline, obedience to superiors, rituals, and ceremonies. Military values [were] ... a virtue," as was "romantic heroism." [ELIEZER, p. 26] Another small group (founded in 1931) linked to Revisionist theory was Brit Habironim (the Covenant of Thugs) which "was a mythological rediscovery of the glorious tales of the [Israeli] nation, a romantic glorification of the old days of blood, soil, heroism, and conquest." [ELIEZER, p. 25] Among the "Covenant of Thugs" was Uri Zvi Greenberg, a popular poet well-respected in today's Israel. Greenberg saw socialism as a "most dangerous enemy, and became more and more convinced that a dictator was needed to lead the masses." [LAQUEUR, p. 362]Some in the Revisionist camp in the 1930s, notes Jewish scholar Walter Laqueur, "expressed the view that but for Hitler's anti-Semitism German National Socialism would have been acceptable [to Jews] and that, anyway, Hitler had saved Germany [LAQUEUR, W., p. 33] ... Within the [Revisionist] movement there were ... sections, some of them influential [where] ... fascist ideas had made considerable headway and, but for the rise of Hitler and Nazism, would no doubt have become even more prominent." [LAQUEUR, p. 382] Among Revisionist plans for Palestine (and a larger Transjordan area) was the expelling of Arabs to Iraq. [SELZER, p. 218, 219] Revisionist policy foresaw Jewish lands stretching from the Nile River into what is today Jordan. (In 1983, Eryk Spekter, CEO of Fame Fabrics in the U.S. and a former chairman of Herut USA, began awarding a $100,000 "Defender of Jerusalem" prize from his Jabotinsky Foundation at presentation dinners to people "who had stood up for Jewish rights." Over the years, winner's of the Jabotinsky Foundation's award included Menachem Begin, New York Times editor A. M. Rosenthal, American Republican cabinet members Jeanne Kirkpatrick and George Schultz, Hawaiian Senator Daniel Inouye, and former French cabinet minister, Simone Weil among others). [NY TIMES, 12-16-98, B13]
Simha Flapan notes that
"The Yishuv and the Jewish masses in the Diaspora rejected most of his concepts,
but [Jabotinsky] left an indelible mark on the Zionist attitude towards the Arab question.
He implanted in Jewish psychology the image of the Arab as the mortal enemy,
the idea of the inevitability of the conflict and of the impossibility of a solution
except by sheer force. He propagated the 'either-or' notion by which all and
every means was justified including terror and ruthless retaliation in the
struggle for survival." [FLAPAN, S., 1979, p. 117]
A fourth, increasingly important -- and disturbing -- strand of Zionism has been what is often referred to as "Messianic Zionism," or "Religious Zionism." In recent years its umbrella political group is the National Religious Party. Its influence escalated dramatically after 1967. With the "decline of socialist belief" in Zionism," notes Amnon Rubenstein, "a resurgence of religious feeling gradually emerged ... Many Israelis began to harbor a disbelief in the power of a new Jewish nationalism to replace traditional Jewish values." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 94] Aviezer Ravitzky notes that Zionism's move towards the religious may be inevitable: "Zionism ... seemed to [seek] to overthrow the traditional way of life and rebelled against the imperatives of the past. Yet at the same time it looked backwards: it employs the sacred symbols of the past and aspired to fulfill ancient Jewish hopes." [RAVITZKY, A., p. 10]Among Religious Zionism's most prominent proponents was Rabbi Yitzhak Hacohen Kook, who believed that secular Zionist success in bringing Jews to power in the Holy Land was part of the establishment conditions that would lead to the triumphant return of the Messiah. Kook's son, Zvi Yehudah Kook, also a rabbi who headed a religious school, notes Amos Elon, "raised a generation of zealots, a new Jewish man ... Wrapped in a prayer shawl and armed with a Kalashnikov; nationalistic, callously trampling the watermelon bed of the Arabs." [JANSEN, p. 4-5] This Kook asserted that the modern state of Israel was "fulfillment of the biblical tradition of redemption." [RAVITZKY, A., p. 80] Elsewhere, fulfilling the worst concerns of any anti-Semite, he proclaimed that "The state of Israel is divine ... Not only can/must there be no retreat from a single kilometer of the Land of Israel, God forbid, we shall conquer and liberate more and more ... We are stronger than America, stronger than Russia ... Our position in the world, in the world of history, in the cosmic world, is stronger and more secure in its timelessness than theirs. There are nations that know this, and there are nations of uncircumcised hearts that do not know it, but they shall gradually come to know it! ... In our divine, world-encompassing undertaking, there is no room for retreat." [RAVITZKY, A., p. 132]Religious Zionism took especially strong hold in Israel after the 1967 War. Jewish seizure of wider territory harkened for some Jewish thinkers the likeliness that conditions were being created for the return of the Messiah. Religious Zionists are particularly noticeable in the many garrisoned Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Arab areas. Zealous doctrine declares that the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza must never be surrendered to Arab jurisdiction. Philip Bentley of Floral Park, New Jersey, president of the Jewish Peace Fellowship says that"I first time I noticed it was in 1981. I was on a post-convention tourof Israel for rabbis and their spouses. Our tour guide spoke of thesettlements through the Occupied Territories on the West Bank ... Hetold us that the Land will not produce for the Arabs like it willproduce for the Jews, because this is our Land and the Land knowsits true people ... I immediately recognized this theory for what it was --old-fashioned blood-and-soil fascism ... Add this to their ... elevationof Jewish possession of the land over all other values; their demonizationof Arabs as 'Amalek' and of Jews who support the Peace processas traitors or worse; and their belief that God demands of Israel thatit expel non-Jews from the land or subjugate them even if it means warbecause Redemption depends upon it ... It is time to promote Jewishunity, but not at the expense once again of ignoring the deadly cancerthat exists in Israel and among some Jews the world over -- fascism."[BENTLEY, P.]Among the most influential of the Religious Zionists is the group known as Gush Emunim (Block of the Faithful). Founded in 1974, its physical expression is symbolized men in knitted skullcaps carrying automatic weapons. Many are activists in Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. And many of these Jews are from America. "It is important to realize," notes Amnon Rubenstein, "that [Gush Emunim's] significance is not confined to the political area and does not lie merely in their ability to force their will upon the country. Gush Emunim ... provides a vociferous and occasionally theatrical voice to a wider tendency within Israeli society ... The influence of the Gush -- always numerically a small fractional minority -- upon Labor [Zionism] cannot be overestimated. They imposed their will upon successive Labor cabinets and forced the government's hand on critical issues." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 104, 106]By the late 1990s, noted the Jewish Monthly, "an estimated one-third of the recruits in IDF officer-training programs are religious Zionists." [KEINON, H., p. 31] Concerns have been growing in some Jewish circles that such people will listen to Orthodox rabbinical instruction over military superiors. "In fact," says Herb Keinon, "the army faced the beginnings of such a crisis in July 1995 when a dozen leading rabbis in the national religious camp signed a decree stating that the Torah forbids soldiers to evacuate army bases and then turn them over to non-Jews." [KEINON, H., p. 31]Ironically, with secular Labor Zionism being increasingly threatened by traditional religious-political currents, Israeli society today roils today in a furious imploding of the traditional Jewish Victimhood identity; confronted with a society that is predominantly other Jews, Jewish complainers must sooner or later face an inevitable Jewish Enemy in a Jewish-constructed society: the Victimhood Society itself as Oppressor. In a country where there are principally only other Jews to accuse as neighbor-monsters, what must be inevitably expressed is the curious spectacle of an intra-Jewish civil war over pre-eminent Victimhood status, i.e., opposing Jewish ideological groups asserting -- and demanding -- their respective version of the Jewish Persecution Tradition as pre-eminent over the other. "Each community," says Emmett Ayala, "the secular and the religious, feels that it is on the margins of Israeli society, expressing anxieties of powerlessness in a public culture defined by the other." [AYALA, E., p. 129]To the degree that the Israeli government does not act entirely by Jewish religious law, notes Boas Evron, "to a certain extent the Orthodox communities in Israel regard the state in which it lives as an alien 'gentile' state (and in Israel this is accompanied by a particular hostility, for the very reason that the state claims to be Jewish)." [EVRON, B., 1995, p. 110]Forms of Jewish Orthodoxy and ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel continues, often militantly, to grow. In 1988, Knesset elections marked "a dramatic rise in the political power of the Haredi (or ultra-Orthodox) parties." Noteworthy beneficiaries were Agudat Israel and Shas, the Sephardic Haredi party. [FRIEDMAN, M., p. 177] "As fundamentalist-religious movements began to acquire power elsewhere in the world," notes Menachem Friedman, "many observers -- in Israel and abroad -- tended to view the rise in Haredi strength as a genuine threat to liberal-secular culture." [FRIEDMAN, M., p. 178] This growing influence in Israel is rooted in the belief that "the Jewish people are above history, and their political and spiritual destiny is determined directly by God, according to their fulfillment of Halacha." [FRIEDMAN, M., p. 179] "Orthodoxy in Israel is no longer a creed," complained Uri Huppert in 1988, "it is a well-established clerical rabbinical hierarchy and lay political and administrative infrastructure affecting very strongly the most sensitive political issues ... Now, a generation after the Six Day War, nationalistic-Zionist Orthodoxy has emerged as a 'nationalized' Talmudic-halachic ideology of the Israeli 'Moral Majority.' This trend represents almost 50 percent of the Israeli electorate." [HUPPERT, U., 1988, p. 21]In 1998, Ran Kislev, citing a range of Orthodox rabbinical controls over burial practices, marriage, and other momentous personal milestones in Israeli society, wrote that:"Not only are the laws of [medical] pathology adapted according torabbinical rulings, but also an entire branch of surgery on transplantsis limited by them ... There are those among us warning against thedangers of Israel's transformation into a halachic state. They instill inus a fear of an ayatollah state, like Iran. They may have missed theboat. We are not merely en route to an ayatollah state, we are alreadywell in the midst of one." [KISLEV, 7-24-98]In 2000, confronting secular Israeli society, a news report noted that "Israel's leading orthodox rabbis [the Council of Torah Sages] have issued a ruling banning the Internet from Jewish homes," declaring that it is "1,000 times more dangerous than television" (which they banned thirty years ago) and it "threatened the survival of the country." [PHILIPS, A., 2000, p. 18]Increased Orthodox influence in Israeli life also has serious ramifications for Jewish women. Israel already was problematic for the equality of women: in 1997 Jewish Israeli women earned half as much in their jobs as did their male counterparts. [LIPSCHITZ, M., p. 37] Since Israel's founding, only 6.8% of the member of the Israeli parliament (Knesset) have been women. Most women who go into the Israeli army serve in a special unit called chen (Hebrew for "charm.") The first female mayor elected to a town in Israel was not Jewish; she was Violet Khoury, an Arab woman in the Arab village of Kfar Yassif. [POPE, V., p. 202-211] Of especially momentous consequence to women, there is no civil marriage or divorce permitted in Israel; such matters -- as well as rulings on child custody, deaths, and so on, in a standing compromise with the secular government -- are controlled by the Orthodox rabbinate. "Among Jews," says Juliet Pope,"these matters are ruled by rabbinical courts which not only prohibitwomen from serving as judges but even ban the appearance of womenas witnesses. According to Jewish law, a woman cannot get a divorcewithout the consent of her husband. Even in extremely difficult caseswhere a wife is physically abused or where her husband is missing orinsane, the civil courts cannot grant her a divorce ... A recent studysuggested that in Israel there are currently as many as 7,000 women,termed agunot, who have been refused divorce, many of them subjectto blackmail and extortion." [POPE, p. 216, 217]The oppression of women under Orthodox Jewish law even includes bigamy. "In several cases," notes Israeli lawyer Uri Huppert,"and they are not rare, the rabbinical tribunal [in Israel] permits ahusband to take an additional wife. Thus criminal law in Israelallows Jews to practice bigamy when it has been permitted, withcertain limitations, by the Chief Rabbinical Council ... In only theyear 1984-85, seventy-six requests were approved in Israel tomarry an additional wife. For the same period, in Jerusalem alone,eighteen such requests were granted." [HUPPERT, U., 1988, p. 167]In 2000, due to Orthodox political influence, "women who worship in prayer shawls or chant from Torah scrolls at the Western Wall, the holiest shrine in Judaism, could go to prison for seven years under new legislation proposed by Israel's parliament, the Knesset." [VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 6-3-2000, p. A10]Ironically, increasing Orthodox domination of Israeli society profoundly threatens many Jewish Americans' myths about Israel. For many, it is even threatens their very identity as Jews. Whatever people who have only a Jewish father think of themselves (as well as converts to Reform and Conservative versions of Judaism, and a number of other categories), many are shocked to discover in visits to Israel that they are, by the Orthodox standards that govern such matters in Israel, not Jewish.
Not only that. Because marriages, burials, and governance for Jewish identity itself are Orthodox-controlled and so-sanctioned by the Israeli government, Jews who align themselves with more liberal Reform or Conservative Judaism are prevented from fully expressing their religious beliefs in Israel. As Reform rabbi Uri Regev, head of the Israel Religious Action Center, frames it: "Israel is the only country in the free democratic world which ... denies Jews religious freedom." [HYMAN, M., 1998, p. 107]
Whatever else the modern Jewish nation is, it is a military state: a heavily armed Jewish collective. Jewish youth (with a few exceptions, for example, chassids) after age 18 must join the military, men for three years and women for two. Men must also serve time every year (generally 30-60 days) in the ranks until they are age 55. "Compulsory military service," observes Hanna Herzog, "reserve duty, and Israel's recurring wars have made the Israel Defense Force (IDF) a staple of the Israeli experience and a key to Israeli identity ... A significant portion of the socialization of Israeli youngsters is related to preparations for military service." [HERZOG, H., 1998]"Israel has been an armed camp and its entire population a citizen army," says Laurence Silberstein, "The social and cultural consequences of a virtually total conscription policy have been far-reaching and significant. The army has been the meeting place for all Israelis ... For the [Jewish] immigrant, the army has served, by conscious plan, as a primary school of Israel's socialization." [SILBERSTEIN, p. 34] "Military status is the single most important measure of social status for young men," adds Zev Chafets, "To volunteer for an elite combat unit is the equivalent of attending an Ivy League university." [CHAFETS, p. 212] "Being a professional soldier in Israel," says Adam Garfinkel, "is a very high status profession. Being a member of an elite battalion, such as the Golani Brigade, is the dream of thousands of boys ... The Ministry of Defense is usually thought of as the key civilian cabinet post [in the government] ... In Israel, children generally stay in the same group all the way through school and go into the army together ... They ... know by second nature how to function and think as a unit ... Army service for immigrants or their children has traditionally been the critical means of integrating into the society, of learning the language, and of apprehending the zeitgeist of the country." [GARFINKEL, p. 108-109, 113]25-45% of the Israeli Gross National Product is devoted to defense-related programs. [GARFINKEL, p. 115] (Despite its tiny size of only six million people, by some estimates Israel is the fourth largest military power on earth). Glenn Frankel noted in 1987 that Israel "still operated one of the most centralized state-run economies this side of North Korea. Bitahon, the Hebrew word for 'military security,' dominated people's lives and dreams ... [Israelis] paid more than half their income in taxes ... There was one television station and it was state-owned ... Every Memorial Day Israel dispatched to its elementary schools the parents of slain soldiers to tell the story of their children’s' sacrifice and plant the seed of fear, pride, and determination in the new generation." [FRANKEL, p. 24] "Memorialization of the dead," says Myron Aronoff, "is a Leitmotiv in Israeli culture ... In fact, it has become so extensive and central to the political culture that I suggest it has evolved into a national cult of memorializing the dead ... Regularized rites institutionalized by the IDF are held at 39 military cemeteries throughout the country and two major monuments the day before the celebration of Israel's Independence Day." [ARONOFF, p. 54] Among those early Zionist heroes in Europe who have been reburied in Israel include Moses Hess, Vladimir Jabotinsky, and Theodore Herzl. [ARONOFF, p. 54]Israel's self-image, says Glenn Frankel, has been "a garrison-nation waving its defiant flag before implacable enemies in a treacherous part of the world. Its unifying myths were the twin traumas of Masada and the Holocaust. Its heroes were military men." [FRANKEL, p. 23] "Israeli political history," says Adam Garfinkel, "is full of generals moving into politics. Yitzhak Rabin, Ezer Weizman, Moshe Dayan, Yigal Allon, Ariel Sharon, Rafel Eytan, Avigdor Kahalani, and Ehud Barak." [GARFINKEL, p. 188] Israel's first prime minister, Ben Gurion, says Jacob Agus, believed that "the golden age of Israel was not the rise of literary prophecy in the eighth century before the Christian era, but the heroic generations of Joshua and the Judges that captured the Holy Land and slaughtered its inhabitants [AGUS, p. 214] ... Men like Alexander Yannai, who could eat and drink while he watched with delight the torment and crucifixion of his enemies, were the real heroes of Jewish history. So were all the Maccabean rulers, including in particular that moral monster, Herod the Great." [AGUS, p. 215] For the likes of modern demagogue Meir Kahane, "force, violence, and domination seem the very content of Jewish experience, its peak, as it were." [BLIDSTEIN]"There exists," says Victor Azarya, "a strong similarity between army culture and civilian popular culture. Military slang and linguistic expressions are widely used in the civilian society. Army overcoats and other clothing items set the pace for young people's fashion [AZARYA, p. 102] ... The IDF [Israeli Defense Force] operates its own radio station [broadcasting, by 1981, Israel's most popular radio channel, Galei Zahal], publishes various books, magazines and newspapers, and until a few years ago maintained a number of musical and theatrical ensembles. The civic education objective is never lost in these activities." [AZARYA, p. 111]Like any nation , the modern state of Israel has a discernible collective psychological attitude: a communal "personality." It is formed at core by the conviction that Israelis as a Jewish island are a people under constant siege by hostile goyim, immediately at hand manifest by neighboring Arabs. A key ingredient of the Israeli public persona, much championed, is that they are tough, macho, and emotionally hardened. And ruthless. Israeli popular culture celebrates a rugged self-image through the symbol of the "sabra" (literally meaning a cactus fruit, but colloquially meaning a Jew born in Israel). In popular Israeli folklore, the Jews of Israel are "thorny and tough on the outside, but soft inside."This macho, mean Israeli self-image that has developed is the result of a consciously promoted Zionist self-identity towards a secular, redemptive inversion of the old Shylock Ghetto Jew image, of which all were so ashamed. "These Jews, described as 'sheep who went to the slaughter,'" says Carmon Arye, "have been perceived as the antithesis of the self-image that has been inculcated into Israeli collective consciousness." [ARYE, p. 76] "Puny, ugly, enslaved, degraded and egoistic," said Nachum Syrkin, one of the foremost Zionist theorists, "is the Jew when he forgets his great self; great, beautiful, moral and social is the Jew when he returns to himself and recognizes his own soul." [in RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 6] The necessity in Zionist leadership to replace a perceived shameful communal past is noted by Jacques Kornberg:"The traits [Theodore] Herzl derided in the bourgeoisie -- greed,opportunism, lack of idealism, vulgar ostentation -- were characteristicsimputed to Jews above all. Capitalism was a new phenomenon inAustria, Vienna, viewed especially after 1873, as morally shady and asa Jewish creation, arising out of Jews' proclivity for commerce ...[KORNBERG, p. 66] ... Herzl saw cowardice as a Jewish trait and ...this fed his Jewish self-contempt ... [KORNBERG, p. 70] ... Describingan evening at a wealthy business friend's home, Herzl wrote: 'Yesterdaya grand soiree at Treitel's. Around 30 to 40 ugly little Jews and Jewesses.No consoling sight.'" [KORNBERG, p. 72]Hence, Arab threat or not, the emphatic inversion in modern Israel. "The predominant attitude in all walks of life in Israel," noted Georges Tamarin in 1973, "both in the written and spoken languages, tends to raise the sabra [image] to an idol-like stature and a superman. This begins in the kindergarten, with tales in which the sabras are depicted as free and proud, in contrast to their inferior parents from the Diaspora." [TAMARIN, p. 115]The sabra image also has deep psychological sources in the nationalist "lessons" learned from the Holocaust, a situation where a perceived lack of Jewish physical force and power in the diaspora (galut) throughout the world inevitably must -- sooner or later -- lead to disaster at the hands of Gentiles.Ze'ev Chafets notes that"It is impossible to underestimate the centrality of the Holocaust inthe Israeli psyche ... This sense of fear and rage is omnipresent. Everyanti-Israeli or anti-Jewish statement or action feeds it, and people takea perverse pleasure in collecting examples. Not a day goes by withoutpress reports [in Israel] of persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union, inSyria, Iran, Argentina, Romania ... The sense of persecution remainsthe national glue ... A great many Israelis have come to see the [Arab-Israeli] conflict in an emotional way, as a continuation of the Jewishcondition. And, since anti-Semitism is a mysterious and irrationaldisease, the tendency is to view the conflict in irrational, almost fatalisticterms." [CHAFETS, p. 100-101]Zionism, in whatever form, has invariably dovetailed with some of the central tenets of classical religious Judaism, including the old "people apart" syndrome: Jewish alienation from all other peoples. "The civil religion [of Israel]," notes Charles Liebman and Eliezer Dov-Yehiya, "has been most forceful in asserting that Israel is an isolated nation confronting a hostile world ... The growing importance of traditional Judaism and Jewishness is associated with the centrality of the Holocaust as the primary political myth of Israeli society, the symbol of Israel's present condition and the one which provides Israel with legitimacy ... The Holocaust to a great extent fashions 'our national consciousness' and the memory is omnipresent in Israeli society." [SAIDEL, p. 18]"Israeli political culture," says Israeli professor Myron Aronoff, "reflects not only the general theme of the few against the many, but a growing emphasis of 'them against us' ... The traditional concept of Esau hates Jacob [Gentiles hate Jews] and a nation that dwells alone became explanations of reality and legitimization of Israeli policy." [ARONOFF, p. 57] As former lobbyist for Israel Doug Bloomfield once noted, some Israelis tend to have a "You owe us" and "Screw the world" attitudes. [STARR, J., 1990, p. 34] Zev Chafets remembers an Israeli concert he attended in 1969, two years after he moved to Israel from America:"As the show drew to a close, the group swung into an up-temp number. 'Ha''olam Ku'lo heg'denu,' they sang. 'The whole world is against us.' The audience knew the song and joined in on the chorus ... [:] 'The whole world is against us; never mind, we'll get by; we don't give a damn about them anyway.'" [CHAFETS, p. 98]
(Peter Novick notes that this song was "at the top of the charts" in Israel in 1973). [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 152]Jewish scholar Daniel Niewyk notes the racist dimension of the Zionist ideology of alienation from others, especially as it developed in Germany:"At the heart of the Zionist critique of liberal assimilation lay theconviction that Jews constitute a unique race. It was the belief ininsurmountable racial differences that made the inevitability of anti-Semitism credible, just as it rationalizes the view that every effortto assimilate must go aground on the barrier reef of biologicaldeterminism ... [NIEWYK, p. 129] ... The maintenance of that [racial]purity was essential to German Zionism, for it acknowledgedthe essential prerequisite for nationhood to be [in the 1922 wordsof Zionist Fritz Kahn] 'consanguinity of the flesh and solidarity ofthe soul' together with the 'will to establish a closer [Jewish]brotherhood over [and] against all other communities on earth."[ NIEWYK, p. 130]Amnon Rubenstein notes the disturbing irony expressed in this world view of the Israeli people: "The establishment of Israel was an attempt to make Jews like everybody else. They would now have a state. It has not worked out that way. Israel has made Jews more, not less, exceptional. The pariah people, it seems, have simply succeeded in creating a pariah state." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 88] Perhaps, however, this situation is inevitable. Unmentioned by Rubenstein is the religiously-based "nation apart" self-concept always so deeply embedded in Jewish mass psychology, a self-understanding and communal choice that apparently cannot be shaken, even in a secular nation-state context.Non-Jewish scholar Virginia Dominguez, who spent long periods of time in Israel in later years doing research, noted the traditional Jewish narcissism and interest in pedigrees of identity expressed by the Israelis she met:"'What do you mean you say you are not Jewish?' I was asked onseveral occasions. 'That you're not religious? That your motherwasn't Jewish? That "we the Jews" wouldn't count you as a Jewbecause you had some Jewish ancestry but not the right ones,according to Halacha?' I was incredulous at first. I had no waythen to anticipate this reaction. Everything else seemed to pointto the importance of Jewishness, and to controlling both the contentand limits of Jewishness." [DOMINGUEZ, V., p. 179]The omnipresent stresses of a predominantly military state, the emphatic "we versus them" paradigm of traditional Jewish identity, the glorification of power and aggression, millennia-old disdain for non-Jews, and the emotional powder keg of Holocaust death camps as a motivational tool has invariably led to the noxious Israeli persona that is so much remarked upon by non-Israelis (often even Israelis themselves) who spend much time in Israel. This "national character" is commonly cited for its arrogance, insolence (chutzpah), coldness, roughness, and rudeness, to begin a long list of unpleasant "uncivil" attributes.Many American Jews, in noting this Israeli character, tend to romanticize it. "There is a coldness," notes Jewish scholar Norman Cantor, "a mystery, a distance from humanity about [Israelis] that anyone from another country who lives and works in Israel for a half a year will be impressed by." [CANTOR, p. 417] "Israelis have a reputation for bad manners," notes Jewish American immigrant to Israel Charles Liebman, "to the extent this reputation is deserved it stems from the sense of familiarity that Israelis feel towards one another." [LIEBMAN, p. 21] In noting their "curt nature," Adam Garfinkle adds that "Israelis are sometimes rude to an extent that it even bothers other Israelis. In 1995, Bezek, the communication company, instituted a program to get people to be more pleasant on the phone." [GARFINKLE, p. 113] "The behavior of young Israelis," notes Israeli Jay Gonen, " .... is characterized by a high degree of chutzpah or gall; it is direct, blatant, unruly, clever, humorous, and indicates a certain lack of sensitivity to social requirements ... [It has a] disregard for rules, regulations, social norms, and good manners." [GONEN, p. 111] Melford Spiro, in his study of the kibbutzim, discusses "insolence" as an "outstanding characteristic of the sabras" (native-born Israelis). [SPIRO, p. 427]
Herbert Russcol -- a Jewish American emigrant to Israel -- and his sabra wife Margarit Banai noted the Israeli national character this way:
"'Horror stories' about the chutzpah -- of the sabra-men, women, and children
alike -- are notorious. What appears to be (and often is) their cheek, their
insolence, has shocked and enraged everyone who has met them. Sabras freely
admit their chutzpah as a people, but are rarely aware of being chutzpadik
themselves. They will tell you, 'Oh, we're terrible. It's a national vice. I am
not so bad, but I have some very rude friends' ... Chutzpah is alarmingly close
to chauvinism, and it must be admitted that the sabra is usually passionately
chaunvinistic in an era when no gospel has been more discredited in the West
than blind, excessive patriotism ... Our young [in the West] wish to be as
universal as blades of grass. But the young Israelis cannot afford this, and
will tell you defensively, 'After all, you can't build a nation without nationalism."
[RUSSCOL/BANAI, 1970, p. 170, 172]
"The deliberate and unadorned frankness [of Israelis]," notes Zionist historian Melvin Urofsky,"so highly prized by Israelis, scornful of Westernized and 'assimilated'manners, struck [Jewish] Americans [who sought to live in Israel],accustomed to some courtesies in life, as downright rude. (As lateas 1965, a study of bureaucratic behavior in one large Israeli enterprisedisclosed that 60 per cent of officials in contact with the public didnot believe in greeting a visitor, nor would they reply to his greeting;an even higher percentage would not offer him a chair, simply lettinghim stand during the interview)." [UROFSKY, M., 1978, p. 274]Such attributes, it may be recalled, are among those that Jews have been noted for across the centuries of their diaspora. Leon Poliakov rhetorically noted the inevitable echo here in the European Jewish past: "Are the Jews congenitally unsociable and rude, or are they this way as a result of having been segregated in ghettos? Such was the form of the question in which arguments raged [among non-Jewish intellectuals] in the 18th century on the eve of Emancipation." [CUDDIHY, Antisem, p. ix]As Joyce Starr notes:"Among Americans who have had extensive dealings with Israelis,whether in government, business, or Jewish circles, the first adjectivesthat comes to their lips are arrogant, willful, and sometimes infuriating."[STARR, J., 1990, p.. 31]Ms. Starr, who is also Jewish, notes the interchange she had with a man called J.R., "a high-ranking Israeli intelligence officer":"'Most Americans I interviewed in the government sphere -- the StateDepartment, Defense Department -- use certain words when they describeIsraelis.''Arrogant,' J. R. replied.'Yes, arrogant is a word that comes up frequently.''By the way, I think it's true. It applies to most Israelis. Americanfairness and Israeli fairness are different.''What is Israeli fairness.''Israeli fairness is 'You give me 75 percent and leave 25 percent.''Do they know they do it?''Most of them do not. I think most of them believe that by some divinedecree, they deserve to get everything.''What is divine decree?''It comes from God.' He saw me laughing. 'It's not funny, Joyce."[STARR, J., 1990, p. 34]"To the brief tourist," wrote Leonard Wolf, a Jewish resident of Israel in 1970,"[Israelis] are a rude, unsympathetic people, intent on themselves,irresponsive to nuances of feeling. Americans, who are instantly,if not profoundly, genial, are apt to find the slow pace of Israelifriendliness cold, comparing the Jewish hotelkeepers and touristguides they meet unfavorably with the extraordinarily warm Arabs."[WOLF, L., 1970, p. 7]
In 2001, a Jewish ethnic newspaper, the Forward, noted that the national Israeli propensity to be cheats and hustlers (always evasive of the law) probably had roots in Jewish history in other lands:
"[There is] universal awareness that something is definitely rotten in the state
of Isael. This is, after all, a country in which bending the rules is said to be a
national pasttime, cutting corners a way of life and cheating the authorities
the proof of merit ... Sticklers for the law are ridiculed and abused, where
anyone who works by the book is branded a sap, a 'freier,' the worst insult
in modern Israeli lexicon ... Many people believe Israeli laxity, which borders
on anarchy, is a national personality trait that cannot be eradicated by laws
alone. Some trace the trait all the way back to the historical Jewish Diaspora,
where Jews often found solace in bending the rules imposed by the often
anti-Semitic authorities." [SHALEV, C., 6-1-01]
In 1986, B. Z. Sobel, an Israeli sociologist at the University of Haifa, discussed his research into reasons why so many Israelis emigrate from Israel to other lands. Among the motivations for leaving, he noted that "there is indeed an edginess [in Israeli society]; tempers flare, and verbal violence is rampant ... A large proportion of those [Israelis] interviewed for my study ... have been abroad [overseas] or were born or raised abroad, and in almost all cases reference is made to the fact that 'people are nice in chutz la'aretz.' Strangers wish you a good day as they make change or pass you in the street, whereas at home [Israel] you can consider yourself fortunate to receive minimally civil treatment." [SOBEL, p. 153]Among Sobel's interviews with fellow Jews in Israel was one with an immigrant who had resided there for twelve years. At some point in his interview with her, she "broke down and wept ... repeating over and over the word 'garbage': 'People here are garbage, garbage. They're hateful. I hate this place.'" [SOBEL, p. 153] Another interviewee, this one born Israeli, when asked by Sobel why she was emigrating to the United States, "laughed almost hysterically, and shouted, 'Why? Why? Because over there [in the United States] I am a child of God, a child of God. I am treated like a human being wherever I go. I am not shouted at our abused. Washer women in the supermarket don't command me to watch my step. Why?'" [SOBEL, p. 153]"Americans are much more polite, I would say," remarked Israeli journalist Ze'ev Schiff, "while we are rude and have no patience ... You can see it when some of us are waiting in a queue in a bank or waiting for a bus ... This is the way we deal with each other, with the Egyptians, the Europeans, whoever." [STARR, J., 1990, p. 35] As Joyce Starr adds, "The tension [in Israel] spills out in sudden eruptions of rudeness. You can be standing in line in a gas station, and suddenly there will be an outbreak of shouts and terrible cursing for no apparent reason except that people explode in Israel." [STARR, J., 1990, p. 41]Moshe Shokeid notes the comments of an Israeli identified as "Eli," and his perceptions of the Israelis he met in New York City:"When I looked at the crowd, I subconsciously saw myself in themirror. When you see other Israelis screaming in Hebrew, yourealize that you possibly look the same. Unfortunately, I rediscoveredthe ugly Israeli." [SHOKEID, 1998, p. 510]In the 1980s, Virginia Dominguez, a non-Jewish American sociologist of Cuban heritage, fluent in Hebrew and a Fulbright scholar in Israel, worried that obnoxious Israeli behavior and Jewish self-obsession threatened to push her into the camp of the anti-Semites:"Has my obsessive, long-term encounter with Israeli society over thepast six years turned me into the anti-Semite I never was? I find myselfsharply intolerant of the noisy, brash behavior of most Israeli children.I coin terms of description that are even explicitly judgmental. I getexasperated with the perennial references in the [Hebrew] media to theJewishness of well-known public figures abroad." [DOMINGUEZ, p. 15]Wendy Orange, a Jewish American, a new immigrant to Israel, noted with irritation the commentary of a group of Christian visitors she overheard in Jerusalem restaurant:"I overheard one Ghanaian woman say, 'Just ghastly, these people!'She's talking to a pregnant Irish woman, who respondedwholeheartedly: 'I never imagined they'd be so crude ... so rude.'The Ghanaian, tall and dignified, her hair wrapped high in acolorful African sash, became more emphatic: 'No manners ...They drive like madmen.' She paused. 'They are far morebarbarian than I was warned. And I was warned, my dear, manytimes." [ORANGE, W., 2000, p. 52]An American Jewish scholar, Adam Garfinkle, noted his own child's experience in Israel's playgrounds:"One day I saw two boys square off in the playground, and one gavethe other a good pop to the chin. The victim ran to the teacher andcomplained that Yossi had hit him. The teacher said, quite typically,"Well, go hit him back." By the time the child gets to first grade, heknows not to embarrass himself by going to the teacher for suchmatters. When [my son] Nate entered the first grade in the states thenext year, we were not surprised to learn that he was 'a bit rough' withhis friends." [GARFINKEL, p. 110]In such an Israeli socialization of children, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, a professor in Israel, sees the classical Zionist dynamic:"A significant part of the Israeli self-image is an ideal of toughness,which is contrasted to the softness of Diaspora Jews. The creationof a separate new Israeli identity was accomplished by manyexpressions of contempt for any form of weakness or moralsensitivity." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 238]This harsh worldview, deeply aggrieved, shamed and angered by the Holocaust, and "centuries of persecution," celebrates ruthless pragmatism as its interrelational essence. Exploiting the Jewish suffering in the Holocaust as a moral shield from criticism, David Ben-Gurion once proclaimed, "It is not important what Gentiles say, what matters is what Jews do." [CHOMSKY, p. 236] Or as another Israeli prime minister (born in America), Golda Meir, put it: "The nations of Europe who did not help us during the Holocaust are not entitled to preach to us." [in RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 81]In 1973, Georges Tamarin, an Israeli psychologist, was alarmed at what he called the Israeli "cult of toughness," the "Israeli authoritarian personality," and its attendant "traits of ethnocentrism, glorification of strength and the prevailing admiration of the army." [TAMARIN p. 80] "Aggressiveness, loudness, ignorance of basic international expressions, and fascination with arms are held to be grounds for pride." [TAMARIN, p. 116] Tamarin saw in such national values an emphatic counter-construct and overcompensation against the embarrassing image of the physically weak European "ghetto Jew." He noted the"the constant preoccupation of Israeli youth with physical strength andcourage and some caricaturist demonstrations of toughness and '(he)manhood (lack of inhibitions, loud speech, the ideal of the [military]parachutist, about whom all the women are 'crazy,' overemphasis onmasculine symbols (in a style which is a curious mixture of Biblicaland Hollywood-type narratives; see the 'Exodus') are dominant traitsof the Israeli authoritarian personality." [TAMARIN, p. 87]"Our negligence," complained Israeli Meron Benvenisti in 1989, "of ... values such as the brotherhood of man, social justice, and civil equality to all ha[s] led inexorably to chauvinism and xenophobia ... It is tempting to take the easy way out and dismiss the right-wing chauvinists and religious fundamentalists [in Israel] as an aberration, as marginal, half-crazed fanatics. Yet very influential sections of Israeli public opinion accept their philosophy, albeit considering them 'good boys who slipped'." [BENVENISTI, p. 45]
In 1989 an American-born Jew, Aaron Wolf, wrote a book about his experiences in the Israeli army. On one occasion after the killing of some Arab combatants, says the author, "I cornered Alon, the Chicagoan whose specialty is falling in love and who was one of the men on that patrol. 'Hey, Alon,' I said, 'Tell me something. You've been trained as a medic. You've had a three-month course learning how to save lives. How do you feel now that you've killed somebody?' 'How do I feel?' he said. 'I feel hungry.'" [WOLF, A., p. 171]In 1989, Israeli commentators noted with concern a rash of brash "Russian Roulette"-styled behaviors in the country's youth. Groups of children were playing games of life and death daring with passing cars and trains, leaping out, or lying down, in front of them. Reuters called it a "deadly plague" happening to the Jewish state. "Adults gamble," a Jerusalem high school teacher told the wire service, "but the children have less money so they gamble with their lives. I believe Israeli behavior on the roads is macho, and I this is the way children without licenses behave in the streets." Reuters also noted that "when Education Minister Yitzak Navon asked during a school visit why pupils played the deadly game, students replied: 'To show they're brave,' 'To tempt death,' and 'Just to show off.' [GOLLER]Perhaps these children sought to emulate their parents; driving cars dangerously is an Israeli tradition. Too many people in Israel drive their automobiles like maniacs, daring death on the highways. "Twice as many Israelis," notes Lesley Hazeleton, "were killed on the roads during the Lebanon war as in the war itself. If a man was driving particularly recklessly, people would say that he'd just come back from reserve service in Lebanon. They were only half joking." [HAZELETON, L., 1987, p. 214] From the founding of the Jewish state in 1948 to 1990, over 30,000 Israelis died in car accidents, more than twice the number of all the Jews killed in Israeli wars in the same period. In the years 1985 and 1986, a total of ten Israelis were killed by terrorists. Meanwhile, 893 people died in car crashes on Israeli highways. Although Israel is a country of only about six million people, between 1948 and 1990 nearly 630,000 people had been injured in car accidents. [STARR, J., 1990, p. 42] As Joyce Starr noted in 1990,"If the present pace of accidents continues, two people in everyIsraeli family will be injured, and one person in every ten families willbe killed. The number of children killed in auto accidents since 1967is equivalent to almost a hundred grade school classes." [STARR, J.,1990, p. 42]By 1999, the New York Times wire services noted the concern in Israel that its collective aggressive psyche was beginning to run amuck: "Israel has always had a rough edge, it has always been a society where aggression and rudeness was accepted as by-products of life under siege ... [But] after several exceptionally brutal crimes -- two men killed their wives and children and set their bodies on fire -- and new studies detailing the level of brutality in the schools, there has emerged an intense focus on violence among Israelis that has temporarily pushed aside the historic focus on conflict with the Arabs." "We have to deal with it exactly as we have with terrorism," said Ze'ev Friedman, "director of health, welfare, and social services for the city of Tel Aviv, "... because this is nothing less than an integral form of terrorism." [BRONNER, p. 6] The same year a Tel Aviv Municipality study found that 12.5 percent of the homes in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa area (the largest population density in Israel) were tainted by domestic violence. [FISHBEIN, 12-22-99]
In 2001, Great Britain's online Telegraph newspaper noted
In 2000, Israel's National Council for the Welfare of the Child noted in its annual report the alarming rise in violence emanating from Israel's youth. "Complaints of violence by children in educational institutions" rose by 227% from 1995 to 1999. There were 29,000 criminal investigations of minors in 1999 alone. Also between 1994 and 1999, the number of children under 12 seeking help from call-in hotlines because of sexual abuse rose from 143 to 603. "I have no othe words to describe it than to say our society is undergoing a process of bestialization," declared Dr. Asher Ben-Arye, the deputy-general of the National Council, and the editor of the disturbing report. By 2001, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that "Israel, one of the world's smallest countries, ranks eighth in the world in youth violence." [HAARETZ, 4-18-01] That same year, Miss Israel, Ilanit Levy, wore a diamond-studded bullet-proof vest as a fashion statement at the Miss Universe competition. [WASHINGTON POST, 4-18-01]
'Israelis -- who take pride in being blunt and outspoken -- are to teach children
good manners in an attempt to cut the nation's tendency towards violence. From
the next school year, 12-year-olds will be taught how to behave politely, which
knife and fork to use at table, and how to resolve arguments without shouting or
coming to blows. Ronit Tirosh, director-general of the Education Ministry said:
'We are a brutal and impatient society, and the delicacy learned through these
lessons may reduce our society's violent tendencies.' Israelis are proud not to
say thank you and relish the informality of life ... Israeli life is a bruising contest
of one-upmanship. The deepest fear is to be thought a 'sucker' who obeys
the rules. Brusqueness has been cultivated by native-born Israelis as a reaction
against the manners of Europe's Diaspora Jews, who were seen as cringing
and subservient ... Educationalists have become worried about the level
of playground violence." [PHILIPS, A., 6-15-01]
In 1999 the mood in Israel was such that an Israeli court was expected to give a convicted Israeli murderer of a British tourist a reduced sentence because of flashbacks he had of his military work executing Arabs. Major Daniel Okev claimed he murdered Gentile hitch-hiker Max Hunter and wounded his girlfriend"during a flashback to his days in a secret Israeli hit squad whichtargeted suspected Palestinian terrorists for summary execution ...When he found himself at night in his car with two strangers,Okev said he believed he had a flashback to similar occasions onoperations in Gaza. He looked down and saw his gun, sparking themurder." [REES, M., p. 12]Traditional Jewish "chutzpah" is of course an integral part of the Israeli identity. "To a large degree," says Israeli professor Jay Gonen, "... Herzl's impact [on Jewish nationalism] was due to a quality of chutzpah, or unmitigated gall, which became an integral part of Zionism and was subsequently elevated almost to an art form by native-born Israelis, or sabras." [GONEN, p. 47] An example of how far this chutzpah can go was evidenced in an incident during the Palestinian uprising -- known as the Intifada -- that began in 1987 against Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank. Of the hundreds of Palestinians shot and killed or wounded by Israeli troops in the Intifada's first year, one young Arab teenager, Nasir Hawwash, was shot in the head and lay in a hospital, irrecoverably brain dead. One day Nasir's brother received a telephone call from a Jewish Israeli citizen, an emissary for the family of a fellow middle-aged Israeli in the hospital with a serious heart condition. The stranger on the phone asked that the Hawwash family donate Nasir's heart to save the Jewish man in the hospital who needed it.
"Nasir's older brother," notes Glenn Frankel, "was appalled that an Israeli would ask such a thing. She told him, 'This is how we'll make peace between Arabs and Jews.' He was not buying it. 'How can you make peace when you shoot someone and then you take the heart to give life to another Israeli?' he told her."As the story for the heart request made the Israeli news, one Palestinian "radical" noted that "If we give the Israelis this heart, soon they'll be shooting us for our organs." [FRANKEL, p. 110-111] The Arab boy's father was eventually offered "more money than [his] family would have seen in a lifetime" for his son's heart, but he told the Israeli pleaders no. "What did they want from me?" he asked. "This was my son. They took him away, then they wanted his body. This I could not give." [FRANKEL, p. 111]
In 1967, a landmark year in Jewish and Israeli history, the Jewish state began a self-described "pre-emptive" attack against Egypt, overcoming their Arab adversaries in six days. "The ideological and practical ramifications of the Six-Day War," says Amnon Rubenstein, "were so all-encompassing in Israeli thinking and politics that there is justification for regarding it as a turning point in Zionist and Israeli history." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 76] This included the victorious Israeli army expanding Jewish-controlled territory into what has become known as the Occupied Territories: Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. A pro-Israel euphemism is the "administered territories."Gaza is a thin strip of land on the Mediterranean Sea 4-8 miles wide and 30 miles long that is today the reservation for over 800,000 stateless Arabs. The West Bank is an area west of the Jordan River; the Golan Heights borders Syria in the north. Since 1967 Israelis have in these places "controlled every facet of Palestinian life." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 63]In 1973, Syria and Egypt launched surprise attacks upon Israel on one of its holy days, Yom Kippur. Israel barely managed to avoid defeat; the United States' supply of arms to Israel was "crucial." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 77]In 1987 a popular Arab uprising against Israeli rule began, sparked by a car accident (driven by a Jew) that killed four Arab pedestrians in Gaza. Rioting quickly spread to other parts of the Occupied Territories -- East Jerusalem and the West Bank; the grass-roots revolt dragged on for years. Largely expressed by the hurling of stones at Israelis, public defiance, and burning tires in the streets, the Palestinians called it the "Intifada." Strikes were initiated against Israeli rule, some groups refused to continue to pay taxes. As rioting escalated, then-Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin called for "might, force, and beatings." [PELEG, I., p. 170] The Jewish state also responded by establishing curfews, cutting off electricity and phone lines, and accelerating arrests. "In an effort to reduce the large numbers of shooting deaths," says Amnon Rubenstein, "the IDF implemented a policy of beating demonstrators with the intention of breaking bones. This new approach was loudly condemned by the international community, and soon soldiers reverted to the more frequent use of live ammunition, supplemented by deadly plastic and rubber bullets." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 97]In 1988 plastic bullets were provided to Israeli troops, but by January 1989 47 Arabs were yet killed with such ammunition. [GOLDSTEIN, E., p. 44] In the first 30 months of unrest, 837 Arabs were killed -- 688 by gunfire, 61 by beatings, and 88 from tear gas inhalation; over 1,000 Palestinian homes were demolished. 90,000 Arabs sought medical treatment for wounds, broken bones, tear gas inhalation and other inflictions of Jewish occupation. Colleges and universities were shut down by Israeli authorities, various Palestinian administrative organizations were banned, tens of thousands of orchard trees were destroyed by Israeli troops, and both Gaza and the West Bank were placed under military curfew. [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 99-100]Between 1987 and 1994, 2,156 Palestinians were killed, most by Israeli soldiers. Dozens were killed by Jewish settlers and vigilantes. Over 120,000 Arabs were imprisoned. [FRANKEL, p. 377] In the first thirty months of the Intifada 20% of the Arab dead were 16 years old or younger. [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 99] The human rights group Middle East Watch wrote that despite the fact that Israeli law declares that "all news reports be submitted to the military censor prior to publication [GOLDSTEIN, E., p. 176] ... hundreds of [news] correspondents have traveled extensively throughout the territories during the Intifada, their reporting on human rights conditions has provoked international sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians." [GOLDSTEIN, E., p. 64] As Jewish author Marc Ellis noted in 1990:"The resistance on the part of the Jewish community to what onemight call the Nazi analogy [to Israeli violence against Arabs duringthe Intifada] is understandable and so strong as to virtually silenceall such references. Yet during the brutal attempt to suppress thePalestinian uprising, in fact from the very beginning the Jewishstruggle for statehood in Palestine in the 1940s and continuing tothe present, the connection between the Jewish experience ofsuffering in Europe and the Palestinian experience of sufferingat the hands of the Jewish people in Palestine and Israel has been,and continues to be, repeatedly made by Jewish Israelis."[ELLIS, M., 1990, p. 108]Jewish American journalist Glenn Frankel noted the murder of Hani Elshami, "beaten to death for protecting his son from arrest," his "limp body" beaten further after it was "dumped at a prison camp"; the much-publicized story of three soldiers who buried alive (with a bulldozer) four Palestinian stone-throwers; and the case of CBS News' 45 minutes of footage depicting four soldiers beating two Arabs on the ground. "Such a beating," noted Israeli soldier Saguay Harpaz, "was the norm. That's the way it was. Every day." [FRANKEL, p. 80, 81] Israeli soldier Omer Rasner noted what he told his parents about his activities against the Intifada: "They didn't understand how their little child could become such a beast." [FRANKEL, p. 85] Most of what Israeli troops faced during Arab unrest was stone-throwing. Yet, "for the first eighteen months of the Intifada," wrote Frankel, "... [Israeli] soldiers killed a Palestinian a day. By contrast, the highly trained riot police of South Korea, faced with a steady barrage of firebombs and brutal attacks, killed a total of one person during a constant year of unrest." [FRANKEL, G., p. 83]In 1990 the Swedish branch of the Save the Children Fund estimated that between 50,000 and 60,000 Palestinian children had been treated for injuries; 6,500 of them were hurt by gunfire. The report, notes Victor Ostrovsky, "said most of the children killed had not been participating in stone-throwing when they were shot, and one-fifth of the cases examined showed that the victims were shot either at home or within thirty feet of their homes." [OSTROVSKY, p. 333] "The Intifada and resultant breakdown of moral order and humanity [in Israeli society]," suggested Ostrovsky, "are a direct result of the kind of megalomania that characterizes the operation of the Mossad [Israel's CIA] ... It is a disease that began with Mossad and has spread through the government and down through much of Israeli society." [OSTROVSKY, p. 336]During the Intifada, noted Eric Goldstein, principal author of a 1990 report by Middle East Watch, "scores of Palestinians have been killed while fleeing [Israeli troops] ... The conduct of the IDF, taken cumulatively, more closely resembles what would be appropriate to a situation of combat, with the result that many Palestinians are killed outside of life-threatening situations for [Israelis]." [GOLDSTEIN, E., p. 23] As the Intifada intensified, the Israeli army was issued guidelines that permitted soldiers "to use live ammunition to apprehend masked persons whether or not they were armed." [GOLDSTEIN, E., p. 38] Among the tens of thousands arrested was Taher Shriteh, an Arab journalist in Gaza, who was working for CBS News. Accused of illegal use of a FAX machine, illegal publication of information about Palestinians killed by Israeli troops, and the like, Shriteh spent 38 days in prison -- two and a half years later, his trial was still pending. [FRANKEL, p. 259-261]Israeli Ilan Peleg notes that of the various human rights reports that were published about the Intifada in the occupied territories, they"paint a picture in which widespread abuse of human rights andviolations of the norms of international law occur with relativefrequency in the Arab territories under Israeli control [PELEG, I.,p. 169] ... Even the annual human rights report of the [U.S.]Department of State, usually a relatively mild document, is ratherharsh in dealing with human rights violations in the territories. Thereport criticizes human rights practices, stating that Israeli troops'caused many avoidable deaths and injuries' by using gunfire insituations that did not present mortal danger to the troops. Thereport also documents cases in which Palestinian detainees 'diedunder questionable circumstances' while in detention or 'wereclearly killed by the detaining officials.'" [PELEG, I., p. 170]"I want to tell you the truth," eventual Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin once admitted, "For 27 years the Palestinians ... have risen in the morning and cultivated a burning hatred for us as Israelis and Jews. Every morning they awake to a difficult life and it is partly our fault ... It cannot be denied: the continued rule of a foreign people who does not want us has a price. This is first of all a painful price, the price of constant confrontation between us and them." [FRANKEL, G., p. 377]During the Intifada uprising in 1987 and 1989, the American Jewish Committee sponsored surveys of American Jewry. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents, notes Penkower, agreed that "aside from a few regrettable incidents, Israel has used a reasonable and appropriate level of violence in the West Bank and Gaza (only 12% disagreed)." [PENKOWER, p. 331]Matti Golan, an Israeli, notes with concern the Jewish-American moral bankruptcy in their complacent support of Israel's mistreatment of Arabs:"What the occupation is doing to us as human beings ... [is] somethingthat threatens to wreak irreparable damage to the fabric of our lives]while turning us into a brutal and insensitive society. Such a societyis not one in which I would want to belong to. And yet [American Jews]don't seem to particularly bothered by that ... [For example, the] Israelimedia revealed that the director of the GSS [General Security Service]had ordered two Palestinian terrorists killed without trial and had liedto an official committee of inquiry ... In several of my talks in theUnited States, I expressed the opinion that, even if the episode damagedIsrael's image abroad, it was crucial to bring it to light, because in ademocratic society not even the security apparatus should be allowedto be above the law. Not a single American Jewish audience enjoyedhearing that. The almost universal reaction to what I said was: Yes, butwhy wash our dirty linen in public? ... When it comes to [Israel,American Jews] practically demand that I should say to hell withdemocratic principles. It's not so terrible if Israeli officials andgovernment agencies take the law into their own hands. It's not good,but there are worse things. And one of these is a tarnished image.Indeed, I sometimes think that as long as Israel's image in Americaremains decent and humane, you wouldn't care if in actual fact wewere a society of cannibals." [GOLAN, M., p. 44]As published in a report called "Captive Corpses" by the Israeli human rights organizations B'Tselem and HaMoked, even the Arab dead may be abused by Israelis -- particularly the corpses of so-called "suicide bombers" who seek, in their last actions, to kill Jews. These Arab dead, notes Israeli professor Neve Gordon, "are not only buried in a demeaning and shameful manner, but ... Israel refuses to return bodies to the bereaved families ... Israel's treatment of enemy corpses exposes an atavistic policy informed by vindictiveness instead of justice. Privileging nationalistic sentiments over democratic practice has led Israel to punish people -- the perpetrator's bereaved family -- who are neither guilty nor even suspect. Not unlike other measures Israel takes, such as demolition of homes, holding corpses hostage constitutes collective punishment of innocent persons." [GORDON, N., 1999]
In September of 2000 the second Palestinian uprising against Jewish oppression began. Russian/Israeli Israel Shamir noted its tenor:
"Another email comes into my laptop, this time from Gaza. An American girl,
Alison Wier from San Francisco evades Israeli bullets, comforts the
scared Palestinian kids, and writes: 'The problem is when you know the
truth, it is far too cruel, far too diametrically oppostite what we used
to think and what everyone thinks to express. The lie is too big, the
repression too complete, the Palestinians' lives too horrible to write
Well, Alison is right. We face a huge lie, an anti-Moslem blood libel."
[SHAMIR, I., 2001]Despite all this, the modern state of Israel frames itself as a democracy and Jewish American supporters are quick to proudly underscore its noble mantle as the "only democracy in the Middle East." As Gabriel Sheffer notes,"Early on in the history of the Jewish state, its leaders realizedthat maintaining a democratic polity is not only of great value initself, but is also a potentially important asset in promoting Israel'srelations with Western states and especially with the United States ...Consequently, Israel's leaders promoted the notion that democracywas the cornerstone of its 'special relationship' with the U.S. andwith other western democracies ... This view has been repeated incountless speeches made by Israelis, Americans, and Europeanpoliticians and officials and has become a significant element injustifying the level of political, military, economic, and financialsupport given to Israel." [SHEFFER, p. 32]The term "democracy," when it comes to Israel, however, is a very relative term. The Israeli claim of democracy is drastically different than any other in western societies and must be stretched thinly to veil a range of extremely undemocratic, Judeo-centric principles to diffuse the hard reality: Israel is an expressly Jewish state created especially for Jewish citizens, with all the racism, injustice, oppression of non-Jews, and ethnocentrism this might be expected to entail. The crucial "truth" test of any so-called "democracy" are the formal policies towards, legal status of, and resulting condition of all a country's citizens -- a test Israel emphatically fails. Arabs and other non-Jews are systematically and institutionally marginalized, often humiliated, and exploited in all walks of life.Israeli sociologist Sammy Smooha notes that"Israel's ethnic nature is well evident today. The state claims to be thehomeland of the Jews only. The dominant language is Hebrew, whileArabic is degraded to an inferior status. The institutions, officialholidays, symbols, and heroes are exclusively Jewish. The majorlaw of immigration [to Israel] admits Jews freely but excludesPalestinian Arabs. Israel confers a special standing on the [privateinternational funding agencies] Jewish Agency and the Jewish NationalFund which, by their own constitutions, cater to Jews only. Lawsand settlement policies are geared to further the interests of Jews only ...[SMOOHA, S., p. 326] It is part of the national consensus to keepArabs a nonassimilating minority, just as it is to keep Jews anonassimilating majority ... Independent Arab organizations aredenied official recognition, and government and quasi-governmentoffices refuse to deal with them directly." [SMOOHA, p. 331]
"The Law of Return," notes Israeli author Avirama Golan, "gives every Jew [in the world] the automatic right to citizenship, and Israeli citizenship, therefore, is bound to halakhic definitions and the Orthodox monopoly and creates blatant, undemocratic discrimination." [GOLAN, A., 2001] [Note, in another chapter, a range of questionable Israeli ethical/unethical activities]"Three-and-a-half million Jewish Israelis," said a former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Meron Benvenisti, in 1987, "hold total monopoly over governmental resources, control the economy, form the upper social stratum and determine the educational and national values and objectives of the republic ... Though [Arabs] are citizens of the [Israeli] republic, their citizenship does not assure them equality under the law ... There is a perpetual conflict, not necessarily violent, between the Jewish majority group that seeks to maintain its superiority, and the Arab minority group that seeks to free itself from majority tyranny." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 89-90]"There remain unresolved issues of democracy in Zionist thought and certainly in the Zionist state," says Zvi Gitelman, "Among them is the question of whether Israel can both be an 'ethnic state' -- that is, a Jewish state -- and a 'civic state' -- one for all of its citizens, including the nearly 20 percent who are not Jews." [GITELMAN, Z., 1997]In 1980, Jewish author Ian Lustick wrote an entire academic volume about the ways that Israel's Arab citizens are "controlled" in the Jewish democracy. "What explains the existence within Israel," he asks, "of a substantial community [Arabs] with virtually no independently operated industrial, commercial or financial institutions, no independent political parties, and almost no command over the attention or interest of the mainstream [Jews] of Israeli society?" [LUSTICK, I., 1980, p. 24] His answer entails the three "components" that he identifies which "form a 'system' which does result in control" -- segmentation, dependency, and cooptation. Segmentation, Lustick says, "refers to the isolation of the Arab minority from the Jewish population and the Arab minority's internal fragmentation." Dependency "refers to the enforced reliance of Arabs on the Jewish majority for important economic and political resources." Cooptation "refers to the use of side payments to Arab elites or potential elites for purposes of surveillance and resource extraction." [LUSTICK, I., 1980, p. 77] Lustick also notes the institutionalized undercurrent of the Jewish police state:"The regime's fundamental distrust of the Arab minority has beenreflected in the fact that five of the six men who have served asAdviser to the Prime Minister on Arab Affairs -- Yehoshua Palmon,Uri Lubrani, Shmuel Divon, Rehavam Amid, and Shmuel Toledano --were recruited for that post from the secret services." [LUSTICK, I.,1980, p. 66]"Imposed legal measures," noted Micheal Roman and Alex Weingrod years later, "institutional frameworks, and allocations of economic resources are all designed to consolidate the Jewish demographic, spatial, and economic dominance [over Arabs], and are often based upon ethnic differentiation [ROMAN/WEINGROD, p. 226] ... Putting it succinctly, under the present structure of political and economic power the trend has inevitably been toward a system of 'separate but unequal.'" [p. 228]Israeli Bernard Avishai poses a troubling question to American Jews who everywhere herald and propagandize about the "democracy" of modern Israeli: "[Jewish] Israelis enjoy many civil liberties, but the state also enforces important laws and economic regulations which contradict democratic ethics. What American Jews, for example, would want to live in an America without civil marriage, or which only certified Christians were permitted to buy certain properties? ... Some of the reasons for Israel's failure as a democracy are internal to the logic of the Zionist revolution." [AVISHAI, B., p. 9]"From the very beginning of the Zionist endeavor," says Israeli Jay Gonen, "most Zionists displayed a blind spot in their view of Arabs ... The absence of Arabs from the Jewish visual field was sometimes total." [GONEN, p. 182] "Public opinion surveys in Israel," add Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen, "regularly exclude non-Jews, even though they make up roughly a sixth of the population." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 24] "There are over 14,000 Arab graduates of Israeli universities," says Keith Kyle, "but of some 5,000 academic posts only 20 are held by Arabs." [KYLE, K., p. 253]One of these few Arab academics is Majid Al-Haj, a senior lecturer in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Haifa University. He notes that "It has been repeatedly emphasized that formal policy towards the Arabs in Israel is directed by three main considerations: the democratic principle, the Jewish-Zionist principle, and security considerations. While the first drives toward equality and integration of Arabs, the other two pull in the opposite direction. When these features are juxtaposed, it is clear that Jewish-Zionist and security considerations have gained the upper hand." [Al-Haj, M., 148]"To [Israeli political scientist Ze'ev Sternhall]," note Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen, "Israeli political culture rejects the basis of democratic thought -- that 'society and state exist in order to serve the individual ... and are never ends in themselves.' Sternhall traces Israel's collectivist culture to the Jewish tradition, among other elements. He maintains that even the non-religious Zionists never really freed themselves from the traditions of their father's home, and in one form or another they deferred to 'Yisrael Saba.' In this view of Sternhall and others like him, Israel needs urgently to overcome its inherent anti-democratic and anti-liberal Jewish identity." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 119]"In recent years," notes political scientist Arend Aijphart, "Israeli democracy has been subjected to frequent and increasing criticism, both by Israelis themselves and foreign berserkers ... Many people believe that there is something seriously and fundamentally wrong with Israeli democracy." [LIJPHART, p. 107] "What matters in the Israeli-Jewish perception," says Liebman and Cohen, "is that liberalism -- support for individual rights for minorities -- offers the Jews no protection." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 118] "Israel is unique in the Western world," says Sammy Smooha, "for remaining an ethnic state (i.e., a state identified to serve one of its constituent population groups). Such a structure is bound to clash with political democracy, which is based on the principle of equal rights and equal treatment of all citizens." [SMOOHA, p. 325]Smooha cites four central foundations of the systematic slighting of non-Jewish civil rights and injustice in Israel:1) The lack of a formal Israel Constitution or Bill of Rights as final law.2) The legal technicality that Israel continues to function in a perpetualstate of emergency (per the threat of local Arab attack).3) The central premises of the Jewish-Zionist nation is intrinsicallydiscriminatory to non-Jews.4) Jewish public opinion in Israel supports restrictions upon Arabs andprivileges for Jews. [SMOOHA, p. 328]The lack of a formal Constitution serves to avoid a formal expression of what exactly Israel's intentions and goals are, thereby diffusing the issues of final Jewish state boundaries, the role of Jewish religious Orthodoxy in government, and the legal rights of non-Jews. Existing laws can be changed at any time. According to Noam Chomsky, "[Israeli prime minister] Ben Gurion wrote that 'a Jewish state ... will serve as an important and decisive stage in the realization of Zionism,' but only a stage: the borders of the state 'will not be fixed for eternity' but will expand either by agreement with Arabs 'or by some other way,' once 'we have force at our disposal' in a Jewish state. His long term vision included Jordan and beyond, sometimes even 'the land of Israel' from the Nile to the Euphrates." Another Israeli prime minister, Golda Meir, once said that "The borders are determined by where Jews live, not where there is a line on the map." [CHOMSKY, N., p. 236]Among the important discriminations against the Arabs of Israel (approximately 18% of the total population), are those veiled by laws that prohibit Arabs (with few exceptions) from serving in the army. "Army service is a major gateway to rights and privileges in Israel," notes Adam Garfinkel, "and as a result, Israeli Arabs are saddled with major disadvantages." [GARFINKEL, p. 105] Because of the focus on army service as the key to social and economic benefits, "the bulk of discrimination," says Sammy Smooha, "is ... covert." [SMOOHA, p. 328] Not so terribly invisible were the revelations of an Association for Civil Rights in Israel study in 1999. Of the 13,000 people who worked for the Israeli Electric Corporation, six (0.00046 percent) were Arabs. Only five percent of all Israeli civil service jobs were filled by Arabs; most of these jobs could only be filled by Arabs as they served, intimately and in close quarters, Israel's segregated Arab community. Of these Arab civil service workers, half did not have tenure in their positions, and one-third were doing temporary work. [DAYAN, A, 12-19-99]By 1993, 60% of Israeli Arab children lived in what was officially considered poverty (three times the percentage of Jews). "Their parents," notes Keith Kyle, "not having served in the IDF [Israeli Defense Force], get child allowances two or three times smaller than those available to most Jews with children." [KYLE, p. 253] A more blatant discriminatory device is the Israeli national identity card, required of all citizens, which states whether the bearer is Jewish or Arab."Jewish landlords have often refused to rent their premises to Arabs," notes Micheal Roman and Alex Weingrod, [p. 39] "... There can be little doubt that one of the major features of Jewish-Arab relationships is the predominant force of persistent, widespread segregation ... Residential segregation has remained practically complete. No mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhoods have developed during the more than two decades of coexistence." [p. 221] In 1999, a major Israeli legal case brewed when a prosperous Arab, Fathi Muhammed, sought to live in a home in Katzir, like most of the best living areas, a purely Jewish town. "The actions of Fathi Muhammed," notes the Boston Globe, "set off a court battle that has drawn attention to Israel's treatment of its Arab minority, who have full citizenship yet face discrimination in almost all areas." [MARCUS, A., 8-5-99, p. A1] The hard details of the such a land/home purchase, however, are elusive; most land in Israel is leased -- not purchased -- for long terms from the Zionist government, thus insuring indefinite Jewish control of Israel's physical terrain. In the Katzir case, the land is leased from the government by the gigantic Jewish Agency, an organization that has a singular Zionist interest in aiding Jews in Israel.Traditional anti-democratic Jewish religious tenets are also an integral part of Israel's "democracy." There is little pretense of a "separation of church and state," a mainstay in western democracies and a principle emphatically demanded, and enforced, by Jews in other countries. Among the examples of traditional Jewish, anti-universalist religious dogma in Israeli's "democracy" is that it is illegal for a Jew to marry a non-Jew in the Jewish state. And because religious Jews hold the Sabbath (Saturday) to be a day of rest, this period of work shutdown is enforced by public institutions with repercussions upon everyone (Muslims, Christians, and other non-Jews). One consequence of this Jewish religious dictate, for example, is the nation-wide closing of public transportation on Saturdays. "There are few democracies in the world," notes Zev Chafets, "where spiritual leaders are so blatantly involved in the action. Some of Israel's most venerable rabbis are power brokers who cut deals with the secular pols over money, legislation, and patronage with all the restraint and dignity of Tammany ward heelers." [CHAFETS, p. 153]In 1988, the Minister of Interior for the Israeli government, Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz (head of the Shas party) visited a Bedouin community in Israel's southern desert and took the occasion to remark that"It is written in the Torah that it is essential for each nation to preserveits character and breed. This is the guarantee for peace among nations.Intermixture leads to hatred, conflict, and war. Since I would like tolive in peace, I do not hold with excessively close association betweenJewish and Arab youth. At a tender age meetings of this type give riseto love; love leads to marriage. This is neither good nor healthy."[HUPPERT, U., 1988, p. 37]In recent years there has been growing support in some Israeli quarters for a government that is completely founded upon Torah and Talmudic dictates. As Rabbi David Bar-Haim noted in 1988:"We have before us a very clear proposition: All human beings are equal,Jews and Gentiles. As we shall now see, this belief stands in totalcontrast to the Torah of Moses, and is derived from a total ignoranceof and assimilation of alien Western values. It would not even meritcomment had not so many people been led astray by it." [ELIEZER, p.27]Knesset member Meir Kahane also declared in the 1980s that"[Democracy] is based on the idea that we are incapable of knowingthe truth. And since nobody holds the truth, nobody can say whatis true. Therefore the majority has to decide. It's a practical deduction.Judaism is founded on the idea that we know the truth ... You don't voteon a truth ... Democracy and Judaism are two opposite things. Oneabsolutely cannot confuse them ... These are two totally oppositeconceptions of life." [AVRUCH, p. 134]The above two speakers may be framed by some as "extremists." Yet, "all Orthodox Jews," notes Livnet Eliezer, "irrespective of their political convictions, believe in the future establishment in Israel of a Halachic state [a state directed by Jewish religious law], a Jewish theocracy. Though this state is expected to respect certain democratic principles, its system of government would not be democratic and would be founded on a totally different set of suppositions." [ELIEZER, L., p. 290] "The situation in Israel," adds Adam Garfinkle, "... is nearly the exact opposite of the situation in the United States today. Here, toleration of diverse beliefs and practices is accepted but public association with religion is not. In Israel, public association with religion is accepted but toleration of diverse belief and practice is not." [GARFINKLE, p. 135]"When asked if the Arabs of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza [the Occupied Territories] should be given the right to vote in the event of [Israeli] annexation," notes Bernard Avishai, "only 31 percent of high school students said yes. Can this be unrelated to the fact that there is no legal apparatus for an Arab to marry a Jew in Israel? ... Israeli schools have taught children more about the tribes of Israel than about the Enlightenment [AVISHAI, B., p. 304] ... One poll by [newspaper] Ha'aretz during 1984 revealed that 32 percent of Israelis felt violence towards Arabs, even terrorism, was either 'totally' justified or had 'some' justification. Over 60 percent of young Israelis believe that Arabs should not be accorded full rights in the state." [AVISHAI, B., p. 307]
As Simha Flapan notes:
"There is no intrinsic connection between Judaism and democracy. There always
was an orthodox, fundamentalist current in Judaism, characterized by racial
prejudice toward non-Jews in general and Arabs in particular. A substantial
portion -- perhaps even the overwhelming majority --of the religious movements
[in Israel], and a growing part of the population in general, came to conceive
of the West Bank not as the homeland of the Palestinian people but as Judea
and Samaria, the birthplace of the Jewish faith and homeland of the Jewish
people. Many people not only became indifferent to the national rights of the
Palestinians living there, they did not even see the necessity for granting them
civil rights." [original author's emphasis; FLAPAN, S., 1987, p. 240]
"Universalism," notes Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen, "a central component in the American Jewish understanding of Judaism that extends to many Orthodox, is deliberately rejected by mainstream Orthodoxy in Israel. The triumph of Jewish particularism is evident with regards to relations between Jews and non-Jews." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 146] "Unfortunately," says Yehoshafat Harkabi, "in recent years, the xenophobia [in Israel] has increased in intensity and extended to new areas. For some it is not merely an attitude but also the basis for deriving general principles of conduct -- including proposals for laws against non-Jews and against their residence among Jews." [HARKABI, p. 160]The growth in Israel (and America) of perspectives like Meir Kahane are not tiny, nor are they aberrations. In 1988 a nakedly racist and brutal bill that "would in effect decriminalize acts of violence by Jews against Arabs" was introduced by nine Knesset members. [SEDAN, G., 12-2-88, p. 10] It did not pass, but what kind of "democracy" would America be considered if nine United States senators felt secure enough to sponsor such a bill here, a comparable one, say, that "decriminalizes white violence against Blacks?" What would it mean to this country if such a group of American congressmen could support such opinion openly, confidently, and freely as members of elected government?Michael Jansen notes that"According to Israeli sociologist Yoram Peri, 'every Jewish generationborn in Greater Israel becomes more and more like South Africa [underapartheid]' and 1984 opinion polls in Israel 'should alarm anyone whostill has any humane feelings left.' 15% said Palestinians should bedeported, 43% said they should remain with no civil and political rights.Only one out of ten [older Israelis] favored deportation ... while three outof four in the 18-22 age group supported this resolution." [JANSEN, p.13]
According to a 2001 survey of Israelis by the University of Haifa's center for national security research,
"A majority [71%] of Jews in Israel believe that Arab citizens' complaints of
discrimination are unjustified, that Arabs excessively influence politics
in the country [62%] and that Israeli Arabs are to blame for tensions between
Jews and Arabs in the state [59%] ... More than two-thirds (68%) of the Jewish
respondents said they do not want Arabs to live in their neighborhoods."
[NIR, O., 12-12-01]
In 1985, Dr. Arik Carmon, chairman of Israel's Committee on Education for Democracy, resigned, complaining that "the demands voiced by ministers and Knesset members to release the Jewish terror defendants [a group of Jews accused of terrorist acts against Arabs], the violence by Jewish lawbreakers, which has accompanied this demand, and the silence of political, spiritual, and social leaders in the light of this violence have created the conditions for an anti-democratic climate which is beginning to prevail in Israel." [JEWISH WEEK, 7-12-85, p. 5] That same year the Jewish Week noted that the Israeli Defense Ministry "employs 58 civilian censors to scrutinize mail of persons under security clearances. The public was largely unaware of this until recent[ly]." [JEWISH WEEK, 7-26-85]In a 1988 survey in Israel, notes sociologist Smooha, "43% of Israeli Jews favored the denial of Arabs the right to vote, ... 74% were unwilling to have an Arab as a superior in a job. Informal, daily discriminations against Israeli Arabs abound." [SMOOHA, p. 329] "There is a feeling that the state of Israel is the state of the Jewish people," says Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen, "in the narrowest meaning of the term, of which non-Jews are not really a part ... Israeli non-Jews are not Israelis by natural right; they are something else, a something generally left unspecified and unclear." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 79] Reflecting the most ominous political undercurrents in the Jewish state, in 1990 surveys by the Israeli Democracy Institute found that "over 55% of the Israelis are willing to replace democracy with the rule of a 'strong man.'" [SPRINZAK/DIAMOND, p. x]"An overwhelming majority of Jews," says Sammy Smooha, "favor preferential, rather than equal, treatment of Jews by the [Israeli] state." [SMOOHA] "In a 1980 survey, two-thirds of Israeli Jews rejected equal treatment of Arabs in several areas, including university admissions, employment, social security payments, and provision of agricultural labor." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 79-80]In 1965, says Israeli Jay Gonen, Kalman Benyami, a psychology professor at Hebrew University, was so "shocked" by the results of his research "that he decided not to publish them. Benyami had discovered that the image of the Arab in the eyes of Israeli youth was very distorted and negative. After the Six Day War [in 1967] he repeated the study and found that Israeli youth viewed the Arab as even sicker, drunker, uglier. At the same time he found an overestimation of self on the part of the Israelis." [GONEN, J., p. 187] "Following the Yom Kippur War," says Zev Chafets, "army psychologists were astonished at how many [Israeli] soldiers involved in the first desperate days of fighting had imagined that the Syrian and Egyptian armies were Nazis, bent on carrying out mass murder." [CHAFETS, p. 106]In 1984, Israeli Uriel Tal wrote that "The equality of humanity and civil rights is a foreign democratic principle [in Israel] ... A denial of human rights[is] because our existence in Eretz Israel is made conditional on the emigration of the Arabs from the country ... The third issue of a non-Jewish person's human rights is based on the Biblical commandment to annihilate the memory of Amalek, i.e., real genocide ... The danger of this totality lies in the fact that it leads to a totalitarian concept of the political realm because within its framework there is no room for the existence of the human and civil rights of a non-Jew." [TAL, p. 59-65]In 1967 Zev Chafets moved from America to live in Israel. He recounts an early visit to Jerusalem: "As we lounged in the shade talking, I idly peeled an orange, tossing the skin on the ground. Suddenly, an enraged Arab shopkeeper emerged from his store and demanded that I picked up the peels. At first I was embarrassed to have littered so thoughtlessly, and I gathered up the refuse as he watched. Then, in a flash, it dawned on me: This was my country, my capital city. I tossed the peels back on the street and told the shopkeeper to pick them up himself." [CHAFETS, p. 15-16] (Chafets' self-described "Jewish guilt" led him to return to apologize to the shopkeeper the next day).In the late 1980s, Yoram Binur, a Jewish Israeli, embarked on a project to learn what it was like to be an Arab in Israel. Fluent in Arabic and with a physical appearance that could be mistaken as that of an Arab, he began an elaborate -- and dangerous -- deceit to learn about Arabs' lives in the Jewish world of his homeland. The results of his disturbing experiences were published as a book. He started out looking for work from Jewish employers, standing early in the morning at a well-known "slave corner" and secured a 16-hour a day job for kitchen work that paid a total of $10 a day, with free food and a place to sleep (on a mattress "one-third the length of a finger." [BINUR, p. 11] Despite a different self-choice for an Arabic name, he was routinely, and disparagingly, called "Ahmed" or "Mohammed."Binur's adventures led him to learn about the rape of two Arab girls by Israeli soldiers ("Until then I hadn't believed that members of the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] were capable of such things; now one more naive belief was shattered." [BINUR, p. 29] and to visit an Israeli officer training center where "I was able to witness corruption among the higher ranks at close hand." [BINUR, p. 32] At a second job his Jewish boss goaded him to change his name from an Arab to a Jewish one ("I was outraged. It wasn't enough that the man was paying me starvation wages, and this his people denied me the right to even aspire to freedom and independence. He also had the effrontery to suggest that I give up the little that remained to me, that I drop my name and assume the incongruous aspect of a Jew." [BINUR, p. 54] During this job a boss once noted that, "I see our Arab is a little idle, so let him take out the glasses and wash them over again." [BINUR, p. 68]Among the most disturbing, humiliating experiences Binur felt as an Arab was when one of his Jewish employers backed up next to him with a lover as Binur was washing dishes in a cramped kitchen. "I lowered my eyes," says Binur, "and concentrated on washing the dirty dishes in the sink, so I wouldn't embarrass them with my presence ... Then a sort of trembling came suddenly over me. I realized that they had not meant to put on a peep show for my enjoyment. Those two were not the least bit concerned with what I saw or felt even when they were practically fucking under my nose. For them I simply didn't exist. I was invisible, a nonentity. It's difficult to describe the feeling of extreme humiliation which I experienced. Looking back, I think it was the most degrading moment I had during my entire posing adventure." [BINUR, p. 69]Binur was also roughed up by Jews (merely for being perceived as an Arab) and was warned that a group of Jews were planning to attack him. [BINUR, p. 115-116] Eventually he found work on a kibbutz, the legendary socialist communal work/living experiment famed in pioneer Zionist folklore. Despite the fact that kibbutzim have a reputation for openness and liberality, Binur found serious problems for him as an Arab there too. "The kibbutzim," he wrote, "are probably the best representation of the moderate left in Israel. With its liberal ideology which stresses equal rights for all members of the human race and its high regard for the dignity of labor ... I quickly learned that fear, suspicion, and prejudice against Arabs existed no less around kibbutzniks than among other Israeli Jews." [BINUR, p. 120] Here too he was warned by a friendly Jew that others planned on beating him up one night with the intention of driving him off the kibbutz. [BINUR, p. 134] Completely innocent, he was also accused of theft. [See also David Grossman's account, in his The Yellow Wind, of similar tales of chronic exploitation and Arab degradation at the hands of Jewish employers].(The anti-Arab racism in Israeli society stretches to all corners of Jewish society. In 1989, a Bedouin man formally converted to Judaism under prominent Orthodox Sephardic rabbi Ovadia Joseph. The Arab had served in the Israeli army and moved with his Jewish wife to a moshav --a [Jewish] agricultural settlement. When his original identity became known, he was driven out by the Jewish community, a community was not, by political standards, a "conservative" group; 83% of the moshav had voted for the liberal Labor party in the last election. [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 25] )Among Binur's conclusions after his experiences posing as an Arab in Israel are that:"[The Palestinian Arab] sees and recognizes the value of freedom,but is accorded the sort of treatment that characterizes the mostbackward dictatorial regimes. How can he be anything butfrustrated?" [BINUR, p. 196]"This book has sought to emphasize how, on the level of day-to-day interactions, Israeli Jews have exploited and humiliated theirArab neighbors." [BINUR, p. 198]"The Palestinians, employed as a cheap labor force, are forced intothe role of active observers with respect to Israeli society, whereasIsraeli Jews don't even do that much and are satisfied to rule withoutexhibiting the least curiosity about how the other side lives." [BINUR, p.214]These are long-standing perceptions in the Jewish state. "As I grew up [in Haifa in the 1930s and 1940s]," says Israeli Jay Gonen, "I took Arabs for granted. They were usually called Esma, which is a distortion of the Arab Isma, meaning 'Hear! Hear!' ... In the late forties the term Arabush (plural Arabushim) became more popular. A more demeaning term, it connotes the scorn that the efficient and strong feel toward the weak and inept ... The Jewish conviction [was] that the Arabs understand only the language of force, a bias that persisted for many years and became especially pronounced after the Holocaust." [GONEN, J., p. 180]Lesley Hazeleton was raised in Great Britain, moved to Israel for over a decade, and had dual British-Israeli citizenry. "The racism [in Israel]," shewrote in 1987,"is as crude as anywhere in the world. Sometimes it is familiar: 'I wasin the bank yesterday and this filthy old Arab comes walking in witha sack full of money. Cash. So where did he get his hands on all thatmoney? What's he got to complain about? He's making plenty out ofus.'" [HAZELETON, LESLEY, 1987, p. 106]"[Israelis have] tolerance for government secrecy and selected abridgement of human rights," notes Adam Garfinkle, "Most Israelis accept it as natural that some things should not be made public ... Also, most Israelis realize, and accept as necessary, that the security services use physical and sometimes very harsh interrogative methods against Arabs in the occupied territories who have been arrested for security violations ... The general view is that the security of Israeli society, especially when it comes to matters of life and death, overrides the individual rights of Arab suspects." [GARFINKLE, p. 111]In 1996 the Carmel Center for Social Research released the results of a study conducted under sponsorship of the Israeli Education Ministry. Over 35 percent "of Israeli youths said they hate Arabs." Two-thirds of the high school students surveyed didn't believe that Arabs should have equal rights in the Israeli state. [SEGAL, N., 11-27-96, p. 12] In 1993, the Israeli Institute for Military Studies released the results of a similar survey of 5,400 Israeli high school students. To the question, "Do you hate Arabs?," 40 percent of the respondents answered yes to either the choices "all" or "most" of them. [DERFNER, L., 1-8-93, p. 8]"I've seen and heard anti-Arab racism so many times," wrote American immigrant to Israel Larry Derfner, "... that I know it exists ... The bigotry quotient is ... much higher than the nominal level I expected to find before moving here ... I've heard not only countless right-wingers, but also Laborites and even a couple members of a left-wing kibbutz utter variations on, 'The only good Arab is a dead Arab." [DERFNER, L., 1-8-93, p. 8] The secretary, Massi Raz, of Peace Now (the best known Israeli group advocating Israeli concessions for peace with Arabs) noted the problem of "natural racism of almost all Israelis." [ARNOLD, M., 1999, p. 72]While serving in the Israeli army, Derfner found himself watching the activities of a group of Israeli Border Patrolman attack a number of waiting Arab taxi drivers in Gaza City. They smashed their cars and "one policeman walked up to a driver seated in his cab, and punched him in the face. Another policeman called over a young man sitting at the bus stop, and swung open the door of his jeep into the fellow's face. Three or four of the policemen ... took off after the departing taxis, throwing their batons at them. When they came back to their jeep, they pounded each other on the back, exulting like they'd just scored a goal in a soccer match. The soldier guarding the base with me, an immigrant from Denmark, watched the scene with his mouth literally hanging open, "They're like Nazis," he said. [DERFNER, L., 1-8-93, p. 8]In the earlier years of modern Israel, the eminent British historian Arnold Toynbee (who once was supportive of the founding of a Jewish state in Palestine) wrote:"In the German Nazis, an in the English 'Black-and-Tan,' I see thedetestable dark side of the countenance of western civilization. Imyself am an involuntary participant, and in the Jewish Zionists Isee disciples of the Nazis. The Jews are, of course, not the onlypersecuted people that have reacted to persecution by doing as ithas been done by; and, of course, too, the Jews who have reactedin this tragically perverse way are only one section of Jewry. Yetthe spectacle of the Jews, however few, following in the Nazifootsteps is enough to drive a sensitive gentile or Jewish spectatoralmost to despair. That any Jews should inflict a third party someof the very wrongs that Jews have suffered at Western hands is aportent that makes one wonder whether there may not be somethingirredeemably evil, not in Jewish human nature in particular, noragain just in Western human nature, but in the human nature commonto all men." [TOYNBEE, A., in GOULD, p 455]In 1995, Hebrew University professor Moshe Zimmerman found himself in trouble when he reportedly told an Israeli newspaper that "there is a whole sector of Israeli society, that without hesitation I would call a copy of the Nazis. Look at the [Jewish] children of Hebron. They are exactly like Hitler Youth. They are brainwashed from age zero that Arabs are bad and about anti-Semitism, making them paranoid and racist -- just like the Hitler Youth." "Zimmerman," wrote the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, "said that his remarks had been misquoted and, in one case, fabricated. But he did not withdraw his opinion that some similarities exist between Nazi hate propaganda and the ways [Jewish] settlers indoctrinate their children to hate Arabs." [SEGAL, N., 5-7-95, p. 7]Zimmerman was probably referring to the likes of studies at Israeli high schools after the 1994 murder of nearly 30 Muslims at prayer by American-born doctor Baruch Goldstein. Many students supported the random slaughter (as high as 60% of one Jewish high school class in the southern Israeli city of Be'er Sheva). As Joe Kolodner, head of the Psychological Services department for Israeli public schools noted, "It worries me that young people here are growing up without being able to emphasize with the pain of others and identify with their suffering ... We must undergo a soul-searching. We've failed to develop values and create a humanistic society." [DERFNER, L., 4-1-94, p. 2]Journalist Lesley Hazelton, living in Jerusalem, noted in 1984 a conversation she had with an anonymous Israeli newspaper editor. "I've been in this country for fifty years," he told her,"and in all that fifty years, I have never, been so saddened and soconcerned about the state of the country and its future. It's like 1984from the other side. In the novel, it was Communist totalitarianism.Here, it's heading for right-wing nationalist totalitarianism, mysticaland fascist." [HAZELETON, L., 1987, p. 110]After fifty one years of Israeli statehood, only in September 1999 did the Israeli Supreme Court formally ban the use of torture by the government's security departments during interrogations of (Arab) detainees. (Somehow twisting half a century of behind-closed-doors brutality into an expression of Jewish moral superiority, Jewish American newspaper columnist Anthony Lewis wrote that the Supreme Court decision "has turned Israel toward the role that ... early Zionists saw for a Jewish state: to be a light unto other nations)." [LEWIS, A., 9-15-99, p. B3] Amnesty International was among those who appealed to the Court to forbid the violent shaking of prisoners, multi-day periods of sleep deprivation, forcing victims into difficult postures and oppressive environments for extended periods of time, extreme weather exposure, and other inhumane assaults. "Israel," declared the group, "is the only country in the world to have effectively legalized torture by authorizing interrogators to use these methods." [DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR, 1-12-99] The Israeli human rights organization Betselem noted that 85 percent of the 1,000-1,500 Arabs detained by Shin Bet [the Israeli FBI] each year have been tortured. [TORONTO STAR, 5-21-98, p. A6] In 1998, an Arab-American citizen, Hashem Mufleh, was detained and tortured while traveling in the West Bank. The U.S. State Department had even posted a warning against Arab-Americans visiting that area. [DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR, 11-9-98] Earlier, three other Arab-Americans (Anwar Mohamed, Yousif Marel, and Bashir Saidi) were detained, imprisoned and -- according to their depositions -- tortured. Saidi was imprisoned for 18 months, Mohamed for 40 days; all were eventually released to return to America. [BRISCOE, D., 8-26-99] The same year, an American born teenager, Hashem Mufleh, faced similar treatment, and a trial, after being accused of associating with the Islamic militant Hamas organization in the Occupied Territories. [KRAFT, D., 11-18-98] In 1999, human rights organizations charged that ten Arab prisoners have been killed while being interrogated over the past decade at Israeli prisons. [DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR, 1-13-99] In 1980, during a prisoner hunger strike for better conditions, two jailed Arabs were essentially tortured and killed when, in a showdown of wills, their Israeli wardens attempted to force milk into their stomachs, instead flooding their lungs. By now torturously and terminally ill, they were not taken to a hospital until the next day. [GROSSMAN, D., 1990, p. 88] In Lebanon, the Israeli-trained Khiyam prison directors of the South Lebanon Army also tortures detainees. In September 1999 Israeli Major General Dan Halutz told an Israeli court that Shin Bet teaches those who run the Khiyam facility. [DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR, 9-28-99]The insertion of the modern Jewish nation of Israel and its oppressive policies into the heart of Arab lands has created a whole new dimension, and a new population of adherents, to the long tradition of "anti-Semitism." Whereas for centuries the Jewish people in their ghettos disdained the Christian faith and its people, with the creation of a militant, garrisoned, exclusionist ghetto in what was once Palestine, they have now solicited yet another antagonist front: the outrage and hatred from Islam and its many millions of believers. "The Palestinian problem," notes Jewish professor Maxime Rodinson, "created by Zionism and compounded by its logical triumph, has spread hatred of Jews into Arab countries where anti-Semitism was virtually unknown. The Zionists have very actively aided this with their incessant propaganda to persuade people that Zionism, Judaism, and Jewishness are equivalent concepts." [RODINSON, p. 112] "No enemy of the Jewish people, throughout history," said another Jewish scholar, Leonard Fein, "has had so powerful an argument or so plausible a position as the Arabs, and ... Arab passions, at long last, are now coming to be seen as authentic, no less authentic than the Jews." [FEIN, Israel, p. 8-9] "Many of the peoples of the world who have developed antagonism or suspicion about the Jewish people have no historical legacy of antagonism towards us," argues Michael Lerner. "In the years since the second World War they have come to know us primarily through the activities of the state which calls itself the state of the Jewish people." [LERNER, M., Goyim, p. 431]Yet another group of the exploited under the racist norms of Israeli society are the so-called "foreign workers." For decades, poorly paid and defenseless Arabs from the Occupied Territories (and Israel) have served as cheap labor sources for Jewish society. While the average per capita income in Israel is $16,000 a year, thanks to over $3 billion a year in U.S. aid to the Jewish state, the official "minimum wage" for foreign workers is about $3.50 an hour, although many are paid less. With increasing violent acts from Arabs against Jewish citizens in recent years, Palestinian labor was viewed as a security risk. Hence, in the mid-1990s, Arab labor for the Occupied Territories was drastically curtailed (in Gaza, employment rose to 60% of those desiring work), and cheap laborers from distant lands (particularly from Romania, the Philippines, and Thailand, but also South and West Africa, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, and other places) were permitted to come to Israel to do the tasks for low pay that the Jewish strata is not interested in doing. And they usually have few, if any, benefits and rights in Israeli society: there is no overtime pay, for example, sick leave or paid holidays. [TROUNSON, R., 3-8-1997, p. 16] By 1998, there were such 190,000 foreign workers living in Israel; less than half had legal work permits and Jewish public opinion was increasingly hostile to them. Foreign workers were blamed for "spreading disease, drug use, alcoholism, prostitution and violence." Israeli police, however, note that "most foreign workers 'respect the law' and many, particularly those here illegally, are victimized in thefts and rapes." [AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 7-9-1998] A 1999 survey noted that only 35% of those Israelis polled said "they would agree to have workers live near them." [FISHBEIN, 12-23-1999]In 1998 the Romanian prime minister, Radu Vasile, and nine cabinet ministers journeyed to Israel. Estimates of Romanians working in Israel legally were about 30,000, illegally tens of thousands more. Among issues to be discussed with the Jewish government was "the treatment Romanian workers receive in Israel. Romania has repeatedly protested that its nationals working in Israel are harassed by police and humiliated and exploited by employers." [DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR, 6-28-1998] The month before, the Ambassadors from Romania, Ghana and Nigeria complained about mistreatment of their citizens including "street arrests and harassment, non-payment of wages, appalling living conditions and lack of social rights" and employers' refusal to return passports to workers who wished to leave the country. [DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR, 6-24-1998] In 1998, the Israeli government even ordered that, because of a shortage, gas masks and chemical protection kits (in case of chemical attack from Iraq) could not be sold to foreigners. [WALKER, C., 2-7-1998]
In 1999, Thailand's ambassador to Israel, Domedeg Bunnag, complained that "if the workers' conditions were not improved, his government would no longer permit Israel to import Thai workers." "I am almost moved to tears when I see the conditions of Thai workers in Israel," he told an Israeli newspaper, "They live in sub-human condtions, and are constantly exploited by both the moshav [agricultural center] owners and the manpower agencies." Bunnag also charged that Thai workers were faced with unhealthy working condition, were overcharged for rent, underpaid, and routinely cheated by Israeli employers. [BAR-MOHA, Y., 7-19-99]
Foreign workers coming to Israel are legally bound to their initial sponsoring employer, no matter what unjust, inhumane or exploitive conditions are thrust upon them. "This requirement of linking the [worker's] visa to one employer creates tremendous potential for abuse and exploitation," notes Hanna Zohar, founder of a worker aid organization. [FINANCIAL TIMES, 1-23-97, p. 4] "Israelis lately," noted the Los Angeles Times, "have become uncomfortably aware of the inhumane living and working conditions forced on many of the workers by their Israeli employers ... Some employers take away the workers' passports and, toward the end of one-year or six-month contracts, have them deported without paying their final wages. Confiscating passports is illegal but common, workers advocates say." [TROUNSON, R., 3-8-97, p. A16]In September 1997 an international news report noted that "Israel's foreign ministry pledged Thursday to ensure 'humane treatment' of foreign workers after a Romanian laborer died at a Tel Aviv construction site from a lack of medical attention." Such workers are often required to work 12-13 hours a day. [AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 9-2-1997] "We came here to make money and support our families so our children have a chance for a better future," one Romanian worker told a Los Angeles Times reporter, "But they treat us like animals." [TROUNSON, R., 3-8-1997, p. A16]
Jewish racism in Israel also impacts the "Black Hebrews," the African-American community of immigrants (who are rejected as Jews) in the desert town of Dimona. In 1999, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz noted that the Dimona municipality and the Ministry of Religious Affairs continued to block the Black Hebrews' attempts to get land for a cemetery. They have been forced to bury their dead in the local garbage dump. [ARBELI, 10-3-99]
Jewish racism in Israel does not screech to a stop at the wall between goyim and the Jewish people. Although anti-Gentile racism in Israel cannot be reasonably compared to the intra-Jewish dimensions of the problem, it very much exists within the Jewish community too. Israel has always had a discriminatory society. The Ashkenazim -- Jews of European heritage -- largely founded, and still run, the country. (In its early years, Zionism's strongest hold among Jews was in Russia and Poland, and these people essentially founded the modern Jewish state). Later mass immigration to Israel included the Sephardim ("Oriental" Jews from Arab countries, Iran, India, et al). By 1992, Israel's Jews consisted of about half Ashkenazi and half Sephardi, although over 90% of the rest of the Jews of the world -- including those in America -- were Ashkenazi.Tainted by Arabic cultures, the Sephardim have never measured up to traditional western Jewish self-identity. "The great Hebrew poet Chaim Nachmann Bialik," says Zev Chafets, "was supposed to have jested that he hated Arabs because they reminded him of Sephardic Jews." [CHAFETS, Z., p. 118] "Israeli identity of immigrants," says Yohan Peres, "is constructed on the perceived Ashkenazic identity." [AYALA, E., p. 155] "Israel's first prime minister (and Ashkenazi) David Ben Gurion remarked in 1960 that the Sephardim in Israel had "come from a society that was backward, corrupt, uneducated, and lacking in independence and self-respect" and they should seek to attain "the superior moral and intellectual characteristic of those who created the state." [BEN GURION, in SELZER, p. 65] A journalist in one of the major Israeli dailies, Ha'aretz, once wrote that the Sephardim were "the likes of which we have not yet known in this country. You will find among them dirty card games for money, drunkenness, and fornication. Many of these suffer from serious eye, skin, and venereal disease; not to mention immorality and stealing." [SELZER, p. 69]In his study of the Israeli kibbutz system, Melford Spiro noted that at the schools "immigrant [Sephardim] children bear the brunt of this out-group aggression. Many students, ideologically in favor of immigration, are hostile to the immigrants from the Middle East, whom they view as inferiors -- they call them schnorim, the 'black ones.' They are the constant butts of verbal aggression, taunting, and teasing." [SPIRO, p. 319]In more recent years, Zev Chafets notes the time he witnessed the stir created by an Israeli Ashkenazi journalist at an American Jewish Committee conference in New York. As Chafets recalls, the woman proclaimed that the Sephardim in Israel"are brutal, vulgar people, people who have introduced violenceand intolerance. I hate their values, their attitudes. They have destroyedour [Israeli] dream. They've stolen my homeland and I feel like astranger in my own country.""There was a shocked silence in the audience," says Chafets, "I had heard this kind of diatribe a dozen times in Israel but it was a new experience for the American Jews. More than a few of them, I guessed, were remembering similar statements expressed about themselves only a generation ago by America's bluebloods." [CHAFETS, Z., p. 129-130]In 1998 the BBC reported the controversial accusations of Knesset [Israeli Parliament] Member Ori Or: "Among other things, Or told the [Israeli] newspaper that it was impossible to hold a normal conversation with Oriental Jews, adding that they were not really Israeli. He called the Moroccan Jewish community the biggest and the most problematic group in Israel ... Or accused Oriental Jews of portraying themselves as victims of exploitation." [BBC, 7-31-98]"With inadequate living space, schools, day-care centers, kindergartens, youth clubs, and cultural programs," said Etan Levine by the 1990s, "it is small wonder that [Jewish] Moroccans account for 90% of Israel's prison population. And this is a community that in its native land was far from a criminal element. Crime was learned in Israel itself ... There is real hostility in the Sephardic community today. The Ashkenazim are identified as responsible for every injustice -- real or imagined -- that the Sephardim suffered since arriving in Israel. This resentment has been expressed in Sephardic voting patterns, in violent demonstrations, and in a host of other less bellicose ways." [LEVINE, E., p. 41, 42]By 1990, 56% of Ashkenazim Jews born in Israel had a college education; comparably, only 16.5% of the Sephardim born in Israel had such schooling. [SMOOHA, S., Jewish, p. 162] "The most crucial material gulf between the two ethnic groups," observed Israeli sociologist Sammy Smooha in 1992,"lies in the quantity and accumulation of wealth ... In the Jewishpopulation the poor and working class are predominantly Oriental,the middle stratum is ethnically mixed with some Ashkenazi over-representation and the upper-middle class and elite are predominantlyAshkenazi ... The mobility of Ashkenazim was ... to a large extentpredicated on the channeling of Oriental newcomers to the lowerrungs of society ... Ashkenazim still continue to stereotype themselvesas superior westerners and to project Orientals as inferior, arabizedMiddle Easterners." [SMOOHA, S., Jewish, p. 163, 164, 165, 168]The Sephardim also represent a Jewish tradition of ghettoization even within the Jewish state. "It is clear," wrote Shlomo Swirski, "that the majority of Orientals now live in neighborhoods, towns, and villages that are overwhelmingly Oriental." [AYALA, E., p. 154]For decades there have even been accusations that, in the early years of the new Israeli nation, Jewish Ashkenazim stole Sephardim children to sell to other Jews or raise as their own. Such wild stories had never been taken seriously by Israeli mainstream society until 1997, when it was biologically proven that a Jewish woman in California, Tzila Levine, was the daughter of an emigrant to Israel from Yemen. They were separated -- and didn't know for certain of each other -- for nearly fifty years. Mother and daughter, noted the Los Angeles Times,"asked searching questions about why the state of Israel, in itsearly days, and in the years since, had all but dismissed the claimsof hundreds, perhaps thousands, of immigrants that their babieshad disappeared ... Leaders of the Yemenite Jewish communityhere and in the United States have long suspected that the missingchildren did not die, as many parents were told, but were kidnappedand sold to childless Jewish couples of American and Europeandescent ... Most Israelis have long dismissed the stories as thefantasies of an undereducated group caught up in the chaos ofmass immigration ... The sensational case, which sparked hundredsof phone calls to radio talk shows, is expected to spur new demandsfor investigations into the decades-old claims and to intensify simmeringracial tensions between Sephardic Jews, of Middle Eastern and NorthAfrican origin, and Ashkenazim." [TROUNSON, R., p. A6]Of course the Sephardim are Jews, and despite Ashkenazi discrimination towards them, they ride securely above an entire class of people yet beneath them. "Sephardim Jews," says Amnon Rubenstein, "have also benefited since 1967 by the Palestinians to the West Bank and Gaza Strip taking the lowest manual work within Israeli society, allowing the Sephardim to move up a step on the socio-economic ladder." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 61]Yet another (very recent) level of Jewish underclass in Israel is the Ethiopians. In the 1980s and early 1990s the Israeli government began airlifting the Falasha (Blacks from Ethiopia who have a Jewish self-identity) to Israel. This was part of Israel's standard "absorption" policy -- using also large numbers of immigrant Jews from Russia, and others -- to swell Jewish ranks in a country where the minority Arab birth rate is considerably larger. The "Jewish" link legislated by the state of Israel between Ethiopians and Russians, however, is peculiar. Russian and Ethiopian Jews are in no way similar: their "race," their language, their culture, and their religion are all drastically dissimilar. (Russian Jews, for example, raised under communism, have become largely atheist and exemplify the mores of western civilization; Ethiopians practice some religious rituals that are unknown otherwise in Israel and are, upon arrival to Israel, emphatically Third World in worldview). All that binds the two groups together are the ancient legends and religious convictions about the "seed" of Abraham-Isaac-Jacob, a "lost tribe" of Jews, and its legendary addenda. As Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen note, "the myth of common ancestry implies both common biological traits and a common history (it matters not whether the myth is true, only that those who share the same culture believe it to be true)." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 13] Ironically, much of the Ethiopians' traditional Third World culture is closer akin to the indigenous Muslim Arab Bedouin (some too, who are of African origin) of the Jewish state. The influx of a Third World psychological temperament was also in marked difference from the predominant Israeli machismo; "Several Israeli newspaper commentators," says Adam Garfinkel, "have remarked that the gentility of the Ethiopians is a welcome antidote to the brashness and hard-edgedness of Israeli culture." [GARFINKEL, A., p. 102]Allowing Black Jewish Ethiopians to migrate to Israel also has some international political expediency, in particular public image-making, i.e., helping to diffuse the 1975 United Nations General Assembly resolution (repealed under heavy Jewish lobbying pressure by 1992) that "Zionism is racism." "The predominant interest in putting the spotlight on the Falashas and keeping it there," says Virginia Dominguez, a non-Jewish scholar in Israel, "seems to have come from certain sectors in the American Jewish community. [DOMINGUEZ, V., p. 73]Ethiopians as Jews has long been a controversial issue. Only in the mid-1970s did Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Josef finally proclaim them officially to be real Jews. In the late 1970s Ethiopian males who made it to Israel were forced to surrender blood from their male organs in a circumcision ritual, a little understood expression of rabbinate doubts about, and an impugning of, their own Jewish identity. Other Jewish immigrants to Israel have met similar affronts about their identity. Virginia Dominguez cites the case of Jewish immigrants from India: "Members of the Bene Israel community who moved to Israel after the establishment of the state in 1948 found that most rabbis in Israel questioned their Jewishness and that they were not allowed to marry non-Bene Israel Jews without first undergoing at least nominal rituals in conversion to Judaism." [DOMINGUEZ, p. 176]The Ethiopian Jews in Israel have, of course, discovered at first hand the nature of enduring Jewish racism. In an Ashkenazi-Sephardim-Ethiopian Jewish hierarchy, the blacks find themselves at the bottom of Jewish society (although above Arabs). Among the most publicized Ethiopian protests about racist treatment occurred when Ethiopian-donated blood (a word which has connotations to the word "soul" in their Amharic language) was dumped by the Israeli health establishment in 1996 for fear of AIDS contamination. 10,000 Ethiopians rioted in outrage near the Prime Minister's Office in Israel; scores of police and demonstrators were injured.By 1996 too, governmental policy had directed about 80 percent of Ethiopian children into vocation-directing Youth Aliyah boarding schools, [SCHOFFMAN, S., 1996] guaranteeing a future Black Jewish economic underclass (although again, as Jews, still above Arabs) in Israeli society.In Israeli society, even recent Russian immigrants are discriminated against. Their Jewishness is often held suspect (anywhere between 5-30% of them are accused of being non-Jews. In 1990 the head of the Ministry of Absorption declared that as many as 30% were not Jewish, while at the same time the Israeli Interior Ministry cited a 5% figure). [FRANKEL, p. 176] Those suspected of not-being Jewish must face traditional Jewish animosity towards them as "goyim." As the Israeli newsapper Haaretz noted about the situation, concerning two parents who lost a daughter to a Palestinian "suicide bomber":
"In addition to beign immigrants from Russia [Tatiano and Viktor Madbaneko's
Jewishness is 'in doubt' and they are forced into hopeless shadowboxing with
a society that is practiced in 'hating gentiles.' They so much want to find a way
to the heart of this society, with all its prejudices." [USHPIZ, A., 2001, 6-8-01]
Most Russian Jewish were atheists under communist rule and few followed traditional Jewish religious dictates. Over 30,000 Russian-born men have been ritually circumcised in Israel. Glenn Frankel notes the case of an Israeli rabbi who "ordered a circumcision performed on the corpse of a Russian immigrant killed in a traffic accident before the rabbi would allow it to be buried in a Jewish grave. Later it turned out that hundreds of other corpses had been similarly mutilated at cemeteries throughout the country." [FRANKEL, p. 168]The Russians are a very educated community. By 1990 more than half of all immigrants from the Soviet Union to Israel had university degrees, a fifth had at least two degrees. [KYLE, p. 236] Reflecting serious problems in assimilating into Israeli society, "the Russians," noted Yoram Peri, editor of the Israeli daily newspaper Davar, "say the Israelis treat their men as mafia and their women as prostitutes." [FRIEDLAND, E., 6-29-95, p. 10] Russian immigrants to Israel are widely perceived to be a criminal element, particularly promoting prostitution. "Russian women," notes Glenn Frankel, "with the light colored skin and blonde hair were known to locals as 'white meat.'" [FRANKEL, G., p. 174]In 1977, two Soviet Jews in Vienna, claiming to represent 700 others, held a news conference decrying "Zionist propaganda" that enticed them to move to Israel; they wanted to return to Russia. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 4-28-77] In 1991 the Netherlands denied political refugee status to 50 Russian Jews who had fled Israel, unhappy with conditions in the Jewish state. Another 230 Russian Jews in the same situation were expected to be deported soon after from Germany. [TASS, 12-17-91] "In August 1995 the Federal Court of Canada upheld an immigrant panel's denial of asylum to Russian émigrés who had left Israel were they had been citizens, claiming harassment and persecution. Israel was troubled that Canada had even considered such a claim concerning the nature of Israeli society." [SINGER/SELDIN, 1997, p. 247] By 1993, 5-10% of Russian immigrants to Israel were disillusioned enough to go back to the country of their birth. A 1993 survey of 1,200 Russians revealed that 75% considered their economic situation to be worse in Israel than Russia. [FRANKEL, p. 183]So what holds all these disparate Jews in Israel together, despite the serious strife, animosity, huge social and cultural differences, and conflict between them? The ancient theme, configured as government policy -- the bond that has held Jewry tightly together in its ghettoes throughout history. The perceived threat of non-Jews.
Terrorism these days is generally defined as the random murder or harassment of the innocent towards a political goal; most agree that terrorist acts are cowardly deeds of violent desperation. In modern western society, the best known terrorists are those of Islamic and/or Arab origin, usually rooted in reaction to political conditions in the Middle East, particularly regarding Israel. The accusation of "terrorism" is, of course, a very relative term. It is an old adage that one person's "terrorist" is another's "freedom fighter." Israelis are routinely spared the accusation of terrorism today despite the fact Israeli history has included brutally random violent activities. Menachem Begin, for instance, became the prime minister of Israel in 1977. In his younger years the British labeled him a terrorist for his leadership role in the underground IRGUN organization and its attacks against the British and Arabs in then-British controlled Palestine.Begun took the heal of IRGUN in 1943. "Israel was," wrote William Zukerman, "in part at least, a child of an underground terrorist movement -- the Irgun Zvai Leumi (now named the Herut Party) which conducted one of the most ruthless terrorist campaigns against the British Mandate government." [ZUKERMAN, W., p. 163] Under Begin, IRGUN membership numbered 50,000 Jews; "they carried out operations resulting in the death of some 300 British personnel."In 1946 Begin's IRGUN group bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, randomly killing 82 people, including 17 Jews. The British executed three captured IRGUN terrorists accused of the crime a week later. Begin responded by hanging two randomly captured British sergeants in retaliation. [AVISHAI, B., p. 174] "We're guilty of nothing," said Clifford Martin, as his murderers wrapped a kerchief over his eyes. His swinging body was even booby-trapped and hung upside down with the other to maim or kill those who came to cut it down. [HABER, E., p. 188; HERSH, S., p. 259] Begin later made his first visit to England in 1972. "Members of the families of the two sergeants," notes Eitan Haber, "staged demonstrations against him. The communications media asked uncomfortable questions and got the by now well-known response: 'I understand too well the feelings of the two families, but what choice did we have? We were in the midst of a war for our liberation." [HABER, E., p. 190]"Individual IRGUN units," notes Jewish historian Walter Laquer, "in response to the killing of Jews, began to attack Arabs passing through Jewish quarters. There was also indiscriminate bomb throwing in Arab markets and at bus stations." [LAQUER, p. 375]In 1964 Begin responded to those who called him a terrorist:"Our enemies called us terrorists ... People who were neither our friendsnor our enemies ... also used this Latin name ... [The British] called us'terrorists' to the end ... And yet, we were not terrorists ... The historicaland linguistic origins of the political term 'terror' prove that it cannot beapplied to a revolutionary war of liberation ... Fighters for freedom mustarm; otherwise they would be crushed overnight ... What has a strugglefor the dignity of man, against oppression and subjugation, to do with'terrorism?'" [BEGIN, p. 59-60]Noble words of a Jewish freedom fighter, but this exact text could of course be equally wielded as a justification to defend the Palestinian peoples' own "war of liberation" for the "dignity of man, against oppression and subjugation" against the modern state of Israel. In the 1930s and 1940s, during Jewish efforts to throw the British out of Palestine, before Jews became much publicized as innocent victims of random Palestinian attacks, the nomer of "terrorist" was not so completely negatively charged. Later books exploring Jewish terrorism in Palestine (without complete condemnation) include the likes of The Lady was a Terrorist (1953), Woman of Violence: Memoirs of a Young Terrorist (1966), Memoirs of an Assassin (1966), and Terror Out of Zion (1977). In 1996 convicted Jewish terrorist Era Rapaport's justification of his murderous deeds (Letters From Tel Mond Prison. An Israel Settler Defends His Act of Terror) won the National Jewish Book Award. (Can we imagine such a justification of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center winning a National Muslim Book Award?) The charge of terrorism, and its meaning, in the Israeli-Palestinian context, is, it appears, entirely relative to who is talking. Menachem Begin once called Palestinian guerillas -- his liberation-oriented mirror image -- "two-legged animals." [JANSEN, M., p. 15]
We hear alot about "terrorists in Palestine" these days, but, apparently, when these terrorists were Jews -- not Arabs -- it was cool. Ben Hecht was a successful Hollywood screenwriter. And Irgun activist. Here's what he says about a newspaper ad he wrote for that terrorist group:
"The ad carried the headline: 'Letter to the Terrorists of Palestine.' It read:
'My Brave Friends. You may not believe what I write you, for there is a lot
of fertilizer in the air at the moment. But on my word as an old reporter,
what I write is true. The Jews of America are for you. You are their champions.
You are the grin they wear. You are the feather in their hats. You are the first
answer that makes sense -- to the New World. Every time you blow up a
British arsenal, or wreck a British jail, or send a British railroad sky high,
or rob a British bank, or let go with your guns and bombs at the British
betrayers and invaders of your homeland, the Jews of America make a
little holiday in their hearts ..." [HECHT, B., 1985, p. 615]
"The ad," continues Hechct, "appeared in a few days. Some fifteen newspapers printed it at their 'usual advertising rates.' Hundreds of other newspapers in the U.S., Mexico, South America and France ran the ad gratis. It appealed to them, apparently, as news." [HECHT, B., 1985, p. 617]
From the position of today's empowered Israeli state, another eventual prime minister of Israel, Benyamin Netanyahu, offered an official definition of terrorism created by an Israeli-sponsored conference in Jerusalem in 1979: "Terrorism is the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming and menacing of the innocent people to inspire fear for political ends." [NETANYAHU, p. 9] In 1986 Netanyahu edited an entire volume about containing terrorism against Israel and the West, (none of the volume's 41 authors mentions Jewish-inspired terrorism) saying, "For the terrorist ... legitimacy is derived from whatever cause he is fighting for or professes to be fighting for. There is no need to ask the people. He, the terrorist, is the self-appointed arbiter of what is just and necessary." [NETANYAHU, p. 5] Although Netanyahu didn't have Menachem Begin and the founding of Israel itself in mind, Begin even argued, in justifying his own terrorism, that any kind of resistance to oppressive political authority must ultimately result in violence: "All civil disobedience, if it has serious purpose, must inevitably, by iron laws of events, bring on an armed uprising." [BEGIN, p. 198]Another such Jewish terrorist/freedom fighter who rose to become the Israeli foreign minister and later prime minister (succeeding Begin in 1983) was Yitzhak Shamir. Among other accomplishments, Shamir headed a group of underground Jewish terrorists (LEHI) who assassinated a United Nations peace representative in 1948, Count Folke Bernadotte, a Swedish diplomat. [COCKBURN, A.; L., p. 35] As the prime minister of Israel, says Glenn Frankel, "he would cut any corner, shade any truth, anger any friend, defy any foe, to secure the land of Israel." [FRANKEL, G., p. 286] The founder of LEHI (also known as the "Stern Gang") was Abraham Stern.In 1944 the Stern gang also assassinated Walter Guinness (Lord Moyne) in Cairo, Egypt. Guinness, "was, nominally at least, the key figure in British policy in the Middle East" and "the only British minister to have been assassinated in this century." Two Jewish murderers were captured -- Eliahu Hakim and Eliahu Bet-Tzuri. "Our deed," the two declared before the were hung, "stemmed from motives and our motives stemmed from our ideals. And if we prove our ideals were right and just, then our deed was right and just." A third Stern gang member, Raphael Sadovsky, involved in the Guinness murder, was later captured and his "50-page confession ... includes names, dates and places and led to the wholesale arrests of suspected Sternists in Egypt and Palestine." [BLACK, I., 11-5-94, p. T39]In 1963, Jewish author Gerald Frank heroized the Guinness terrorist act in a volume called The Deed. "When The Deed was published," notes Ian Black, "the New York Times wrote an editorial condemning it as a glorification of terrorism." In 1975, continues Black,"the Israeli government ... negotiated with the Egyptian government,via [Jewish American Secretary of State] Henry Kissinger, to allowthe bodies of the two Eliahus to be exhumed and brought to Jerusalem,where they were reburied with full military honors." [BLACK, I., 11-5-94]... James Callaghan, then [British] Foreign Secretary, ordered a formalprotest 'to make it clear to the Israeli government that an act of terrorismshould not be honored this way' ... Under the premiership of the formerIrgun chief, Menachem Begin, postage stamps were issued honouringthe two Eliahus and guaranteeing them an honoured place in themartyrology of the 'fighting family.'" [BLACK, I., 11-5-94]In another well-documented, and larger scale, atrocity, on April 9, 1948, members of terrorist IRGUN and LEHI squads murdered two-thirds of the inhabitants of the Arab village of Deir Yassin. In 1953 Israeli general Ariel Sharon headed a group of soldiers who murdered 70 Jordanians in the border village of Kibiya. "A statement was issued," notes Seymour Hersh, "in [prime minister] Ben Gurion's name blaming the atrocity on the inhabitants of nearby Jewish border settlements." [HERSH, S., p. 78]In more recent times, in October of 1985 Israeli jets bombed targets in the sovereign nation of Tunis, killing at least 12 Tunisians and 60 Palestinians. "This too was an act of terrorism," argues Israeli Amnon Rubenstein, "for its intent was not only to assassinate Yassir Arafat and retaliate for the killing of three Israelis in Cyprus, but to promote a sense of fear and intimidation among all Palestinians. In short, none of the parties to the current [Arab-Jewish] conflict has a monopoly on the use of terror." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 156-159]
Israeli Gideon Levy also noted, in the midst of the slaying of hundreds of Palestinians in the 2000-2001 Intifada against Jewish occupation:
"Who's a terrorist? Aida Fatahia was walking down the street. Ubei Daraj was
playing in the yard. She was the mother of three; he was nine years old. Both
were killed last week by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) bullets, for no reason.
Their killing raises once again, in all its horror, the question of whether
Palestinian violence is the only violence that should be called terrorism.
Is only car bombing terrorism, while shooting at a woman and child is
not? Is only car bombing terrorism, while shooting at a woman and child
is not? Fatahia and Daraj join a long list of men, women, and children
who were innocent of wrongdoing and killed in the past five months by
the IDF. In the Israeli debate, their deaths were not a result of 'terror
actions' or 'terrorist attacks' and the killers are not 'terrorists.' Those
are terms used only for Palestinian violence ... IDF Chief of Staff
Shaul Mofaz, commander of an army that has killed almost 90
children in the last five months, calls the Palestinian Authority (PA)
a 'terrorist entity,' and totally ignores the actions of the army --
and the results of those actions. But the questions must be asked:
Aren't massive land expropriations, systematic house destructions,
the uprooting of orchards and groves, also a form of violence?
Isn't cutting off entire towns and villages from their source of
water a type of violence?" [LEVY, G., 3-11-01]In a later 1960s Israeli government-sponsored terrorist act against the United States government, Jewish critic Daniel Bell notes the case of the notorious "Lavon Affair":"The Lavon Affair is a striking instance. Some years ago, Israeliintelligence agents in Cairo set fire to a United States InformationAgency building, in order to blame the Egyptians for the act andarouse anti-Nasser [then the head of Egypt] sentiment in the UnitedStates. When the plot miscarried, members of the Israeli serviceforged papers to demonstrate that Pinchas Lavon, then Ministerof Defense, had approved the action. Lavon was then forced toresign ... The Lavon Affair poses a painful question on therelationship of morality to political expediency." [BELL, Alphabet,p. 307]
In the 1970s, American-born Israeli Joel Lerner headed a secret group that planned to blow up the Dome of the rock, the third holiest site for the world's Muslims. "Others included," noted Uri Huppert in 1988, "the present Chief Rabbi, Mordechai Eliyahu, and a leader of the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic community." [HUPPERT, U., 1988, p. 107]In 1982, another Jewish American (also with Israeli citizenship) Allen Goodman killed two Arabs near the Dome of the Rock. Resultant Arab riots resulted in another 11 Muslims slain by Israeli soldiers and police. Goodman was pardoned by Israeli authorities for his murders in 1997, on the condition that he returned to America. Still unrepentant, he declared that "what I did was politically correct." Arab Americans in Baltimore, where Goodman was returning, expressed worry and outrage that such a man would be living in the Maryland community. "If I was a member of the Baltimore Muslim community, I'd watch my children after [Goodman's] arrival," noted Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, "As Congress enacts legislation against terrorism, it is accepting a terrorist." [LOVIGLIO, J., 10-28-97]In 1984 a cache of guns and explosives were found in the same Dome of the Rock area. [HUPPERT, U., 1988, p. 109] Four more Jews were arrested. On October 8, 1990, two months after Saddam Hussein invaded Iraq, thousands of Muslims gathered to resist a planned march in the area by Jewish nationalists; Israeli soldiers killed 19 Arabs and wounded 150 people in a subsequent riot.In the 1980s a sensational plot by a group of apocalyptic messianic Zionists to blow up the Dome of the Rock (built where the ancient Jewish Temple is reputed to have existed) was uncovered by Israeli police. Some of the members of the plot were officers in the Israeli army reserves. Aviezer Ravitzky describes the plan: "It was a mystical attempt to cut off the forces of impurity, the 'husk of Ishamael [Arabs],' from the source of their vitality on the holy mountain. For some, however, it was also an apocalyptic move to bring about a historic turn, to force the hand of the Master of the Universe by bringing a catastrophe. By precipitating a great holy war against Israel, they would 'oblige' the Redeemer of Israel to wage a great and terrible campaign on their behalf. By facing the End below, they would activate the higher powers above." [RAVITZKY, A., p. 133]
The identities of the 27 people involved in the arrested terrorist Jewish underground included "war heroes, teachers, graduate students, scholars, and respected builders of pioneer towns ... they cited the Bible and the opinions of contemporary rabbis to justify their actions." [RAPAPORT, E., 1996, p. 3] "Several members of the same loosely-tied West Bank Underground Movement killed several students at random in an Islamic collge. They also planned to place bombs under civilian Arab buses." [RAPAPORT, E., 1996, p. 9]In a 1983 peace march by liberal Jews in Jerusalem, Emil Grunsweig was even killed by a grenade thrown by a fellow Jew. And in 1989 the Jewish Week reported that "two Jews were arrested [in Israel] on suspicion of throwing the bombs [into a Jewish home] in order to create an atmosphere of hostility against Arabs. Their intention, police said, was to discourage the presence of Arabs in this town where three Arabs were burned to death recently in the hut where they slept." [ROTEM, 9-2-89, p. 6]There is nothing, of course, that should shield the possibility that truckloads of men dressed in military fatigues may be terrorists too. In 1982 Israeli troops invaded Lebanon, eventually surrounding the capital city, Beirut. The announced objective was to drive the there entrenched PLO out of artillery range of Israel. Prime Minister Menachem Begin "compared Arafat to Hitler and the PLO's stand in Beirut to that of Nazi Berlin in 1945." "An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Palestinians, Lebanese, and Syrians, the majority civilians, were killed during the three months of the war." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 88]
Among the disturbing results of the invasion was the notorious Shabra-Shatila massacres, much reported in the world press. In an area under Israeli military patrol, members of the Lebanese Phalangist militia were allowed into Palestinian refugee camps. Over 1,000 men, women, and children were slaughtered over a 40 hour period. In response to worldwide outrage, Begin brushed off criticism directed his way, saying that "Goyim kill goyim, and they come to hang Jews." [PENKOWER, p. 326] Yet an International Commission of Inquiry announced that "the Commission concluded that the Israel authorities bear a heavy legal responsibility, as the occupying power, for the massacres at Sabra and Chatilla. From the evidence disclosed, Israel was involved in the planning and the preparation of the massacres and played a facilitive role in the actual killings." In Israel itself, a commission headed by Supreme Court Justice Yitzhak Kahan found Israeli General Ariel Sharon "guilty of indirect responsibility" for the carnage in the refugee camps. [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 87]In defense of Israeli policies in Lebanon, Begin said, "If Hitler were hiding in the building along with twenty innocent civilians would you not bomb the building?" In response, Israeli novelist Amos Oz, wrote that"No, sir. Your parable is invalid. Adolf Hitler died thirty-seven yearsago. He is not hiding in Nabatiyah, Sidon or Beirut. He is dead andburned to ashes. Time and time again, Mr. Begin, you betray a weirdurge to resurrect Hitler, only to kill him over and over again ... Youmust remind yourself that the people of Israel have a state whoseexistence is now under a double threat, not only from an enemy thatseeks its extraction, but also from our own well-known tendency toextreme hysteria tinged with messianic madness, a tendency that hasbrought catastrophe and destruction upon us before in our long history."[BLOOMFIELD, I., p. 31]To Israeli credit, popular condemnation of Begin and general Ariel Sharon was enormous : an estimated 400,000 people [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. xiv] rallied against the Lebanon war, about ten percent of Israel's Jewish population.So what is and is not "terrorism?" However one views the term, there is an underlying double standard always applied in the West towards Jews and their combatants in the Middle East -- especially Muslim Arabs and Iranians, each populated with "terrorists," while their mirror-image Jewish equivalents are usually honored as "freedom fighters." The famously accused Saudi-born terrorist living in Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden, is a case in point. As Fisk observes:"The use of the word 'terrorist' -- where Arabs who murder theinnocent are always called 'terrorists' whereas Israeli killers whoslaughter 29 Palestinians in a Hebron mosque or assassinate theirprime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, are called 'extremists' -- is onlypart of the problem. 'Terrorist' is a word that avoids all meaning.The who and the how are of essential importance. But the 'why'is something the West usually prefers to avoid. Not once yesterday --not in a single press statement, press conference or interview --did a US leader or diplomat explain why the enemies of Americahate America. Why is Bin Laden so angry with the United States? ...The reason almost certainly lies with US policy -- or lack of policy --towards the Middle East ... Bin Laden himself was obsessed formany months with the massacre of Lebanese civilians by the Israelisat the UN base at Qana in south Lebanon in April 1996. Why hadBill Clinton not condemned this 'terrorist' act? he asked. (In fact,Bill Clinton called it a 'tragedy,' as if it was some form of naturaldisaster -- the Israelis said it was a 'mistake' but the UN concludedit wasn't." [FISK, R., 8-22-98, p. 3]
Diaspora Jewry and friends of Israel abroad must realize that present Israeli
As Israeli scholar Simha Flapan notes about the double standards of Jewish and Arab "terrorism":
policy is doomed to reproduce over and over agan the cycle of violence that
shocks our sensibilities every time we read or hear of wanton murder and bloodshed,
whether the hand that perpetrates it detonates a bomb or fires a pistol. The collective
revenge of an army for the murder of one of its citizens is no more righteous or
admirable than the individual revenge of a desperate youth for the murder of one
his people. It is only propaganda and distorted vision tht labels one 'terrorism'
and the other 'national defense.'" [FLAPAN, S., 1987, p. 243]
Among the many things the Zionist pioneers of modern Israel have to be ashamed about was what became known in infamy as the "Transfer Agreement." In the early 1930s, while worldwide Jewry and others spearheaded an economic boycott of the growing threat of Nazi Germany, the Jewish leadership in Israel (then Palestine) made a secret deal with the Hitler regime to get both German products to help build their developing Jewish nation, and a number of immigrant German Jews -- some who were particularly committed to the philosophy of Zionism. By 1935, the Palestine economy "was saturated with German goods." [BLACK, E., p. 373] (Peter Novick notes the "paradox" in later years that "American Jews shunned Volkswagens and Grundig radios at a time when Israel, as a result of [German post-war] reparations payments, was awash in German consumer durables"). [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 109] Between 1933-1941 perhaps $100 million went to Israel from Germany and "some of Israel's major industrial enterprises were founded with those monies." Some 60,000 German Jews were able to emigrate to Palestine from Hitler's regime, most because of the "agreement," and many with much of their wealth intact. [BLACK, E., p. 379] One such immigrant to Israel (from Hungary), Rudolph Kastner, was assassinated in Israel in 1957 for his role in dealing with the Nazis. As Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann later testified: "This Dr. Kastner was a young man about my age, an ice-cold lawyer and a fanatical Zionist. He agreed to keep the Jews from resisting deportation -- and even keep order in the collection camps -- if I would close my eyes and let a few hundred or a few thousand young Jews emigrate illegally to Palestine." [BRENNER, L., p. 152] As the clandestine Zionist dealings with the Nazis became better known, there was worldwide outrage, especially in Jewish circles.In 1933, for instance, a prominent American rabbi, Abba Hillel Silver, decried the Zionist-Nazi dealings: "Why, the very idea of Palestinian Jewry negotiating with Hitler about business instead of demanding justice for the persecuted Jews of Germany is unthinkable. One might think that the whole affair was a bankruptcy sale and that the Jews of Palestine were endeavoring to salvage a few bargains for themselves." [BLACK, p. 320] Zionists had a very special interest in Jews who subscribed -- or at least could be pulled -- to their own political philosophy, and a dedication above all else to the practicalities of building a Jewish state. As David Ben Gurion once said in a closed meeting of the Jewish Agency: "If I knew that all the Jewish children of Europe could be saved [from Hitler] by settlement in Britain and only half could be saved by settlement in Palestine, I would choose the latter." [AVISHAI, B., p. 152] "Labor Zionism desired the many, but not the multitudes," explains Edwin Black, "Mapai's [Labor's] Israel would be not for every Jew -- at least not in the beginning. At first Israel would be for the approved cadre of pioneers." [BLACK, E., p. 142]
"From the beginning of Hitler's regime," notes Peter Novick, "Ben Gurion, guided by what his biographer terms 'his philosophy of ... beneficial disaster,' had insisted that 'it is in our interest to use Hitler ... for the building of our country"; "the harsher the affliction, the greater the strength of Zionism." [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 77]"When the Zionist organizations," says Hannah Arendt, "against the natural impulses of the whole Jewish people, decided to do business with Hitler, to trade German goods against the wealth of German Jewry, to flood the Palestinian market with German products and thus make a mockery of the boycott against German-made articles, they found little opposition in the Jewish National Homeland, and least of all its aristocracy, the so-called kibbutzniks." [ARENDT, in SELZER, p. 222]A Jewish author, Edwin Black, wrote an entire volume, The Transfer Agreement, about this dark side of Zionist history. "For months," he wrote, "the information confounded me. Nothing made sense. There were so many contradictions. Nazis helping Jewish nationalism. American Jewish leaders refusing even to criticize the Third Reich [BLACK, E., p. xiii] ... Zionist leaders, during April 1933, sought to cooperate with the Nazi Reich to arrange the orderly exit of Jewish people and wealth from Germany. [BLACK, p. 104] ... In the minds of Zionists, Jewish life in Germany could not be saved, only transferred. Even if Hitler and the German economy were crushed, Jewish wealth in Germany would be crushed with it. The wealth had to be saved [BLACK, p. 226] ... The Nazi Party and the Zionist organization shared a common stake in the recovery of Germany. If the Hitler economy failed, both sides would be ruined [BLACK, p. 253] ... It soon became impossible to distinguish between the unhappy burden of doing business with the Third Reich to facilitate immigration [to Israel], and the gleeful [largely Israeli] rush of entrepreneurs frantic to cash in on the captive capital of Germany's Jews." [BLACK, p. 310]"Both Nazis and Zionists had something in common," notes Lenny Brenner ... "It was shared belief [counter-Chosen people; counter nationalisms; agreement that Jews could not assimilate into German society] which made the Transfer Agreement possible ... For a propagandist who seeks to strike at the very core of Jewish sensibility, awareness of the Transfer Agreement is like a dream come true." [BRENNER, p. 164] Edwin Black wrote about the problem he had in writing his book about the limited Nazi-Zionist collusion: "My greatest worry is that the revelations of this book might be used by enemies of the Jewish people. For those who seek to besmirch the Zionist movement as racist and Nazi-like, this agreement might seem to be perfect ammunition." [BRENNER, L., p. 164]One especially radical branch of Zionism had even deeper interests in German fascism. As Anthony Heilbut notes, "There is no denying that members of the Stern Gang, like [former Israeli prime minister] Yitzhak Shamir, had in 1940 sought an alliance with Hitler, while advocating a national and totalitarian Jewish state." [HEILBUT, p. 345]Since its early dealings with Hitler's Nazi's, the Zionist cause has expanded into economic relationships with many other totalitarian regimes, for decades deeply involved in weapons dealing and military and police training, often with brutal dictatorships and repressive military juntas throughout the Third World. By the 1990s, Israeli arms dealing accounted for nearly 40% of the country's export earnings, about $1.5 billion a year. [COCKBURN, A, p. 7] By 1987 between 20-40% of Israel's "industrial labor force" was employed in arms making. [HUNTER, p. 13] Sometimes Israelis (both governmentally-sponsored and as private entrepreneurs) act as a clandestine force to expedite the morally distasteful "dirty work" of United States foreign policy; more often Israel and its functionaries are maverick international predators engaged in state and personal self-interest. It is an insidious role of profiteering upon the death, destruction, and misery of people the world over, a modern revival of one of the old Jewish entrepreneurial bases: war contracting. "Zionism," notes Israeli Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, "has clear, inescapable ideological implications, in terms of dealing with the Third World. Zionism meant the creation of a Jewish sovereignty in Palestine through settlement and political domination. Thus, by definition, it entails an attack on the indigenous populations, and a confrontation with the Third World." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 229]"In 1993," notes Alan Vorspan, "the CIA testified before a Congressional committee that Israel is involved in a major arms deal with China and providing China with advanced technology that the United States and other western powers will not supply. In the past, Israel has sold arms to unsavory 'right wing' dictatorships operating death squads in Central America at a time when Congress sought to cut off arms shipments to human rights violators. Israel was the primary provider of arms -- perhaps even nuclear technology -- to apartheid South Africa at a time when the racist regime was held in contempt by the rest of the world. Israel played a role in the tragi-comic Irangate debacle .... Among western-style democracies ... Israel's track record makes it one of the world's most promiscuous arms dealers." [VORSPAN, p. 23]The best known incident in recent years of underhanded military dealing was the so-called Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s when the state of Israel -- at the request of the Reagan administration -- circumvented existing United States laws to get weapons to American-supported "Contra" rebels fighting the Marxist government of Nicaragua. Arms were also provided to Iran by Israel in secret efforts to free American hostages in the Middle East. But this much-publicized escapade is only the tip of an ominous iceberg. Less widely known, for example, is a 1994 State Department ban on all United States trade to two Israeli companies owned by Nachum Mamber. Mamber is alleged to have sold materials to Iran that have use in the manufacture of chemical weapons." [HIRSCHENBERG, p. 13]Earlier, Israel had been a prominent exporter of weapons to Nicaragua during the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza Garcia "until the defeat of Somoza by the Sandanistas." [ELKIN, p. 245]"The extent of Israeli activities in the Third World is baffling to both friends and foes of Israel," wrote Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, a professor at Israel's University of Haifa, in 1987, ".... Mention any trouble spot in the Third World over the past ten years and, inevitably, you will find smiling Israeli officers and shining Israeli weapons on the news pages ... We have seen them in South Africa, Iran, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Namibia, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Chile, Bolivia, and many other places ... [HALLAHMI, p. xii].... Most of the details of these involvements are not known while they take place. So that reliance on open sources will inevitably lead us to underestimate the extent of the involvement. Consequently, present Israeli activities are probably much wider and deeper than what we have been told in public forums or the media." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. xiii]"The main markets for Israeli military goods and services have shifted over time," says R. T. Naylor, "from sub-Saharan Africa to Iran to Central America to South Africa and Latin America today. But the nature of the favoured customer has changed little. Where there is a particularly thuggish regime in power, especially one so ostracized from the rest of the international community, that it is willing to pay premium prices, Israel is likely to be there, energetically peddling its wares." [TAYLOR, p. 135] "Every time there's a television show dealing with the seaminess and underside of American foreign policy, a "pro-Israel" Congressional aide told the Jerusalem Report, "and you see an Israeli arms dealer sitting there, it hurts Israel." [GOLDBERG, J.J., 6-11-1991, p. 26]"New reports," says Adam Garfinkle, "noted Israeli weapons were even ending up with the Serbs in 1995." [GARFINKLE, p. 194] That year a Jewish immigrant to Israel from what was formerly Yugoslavia, Igor Primoract, a professor of philosophy at Hebrew University, also wrote an article charging that Israel's Mossad was funneling weapons to Serbia despite a world-wide arms embargo. "The Israeli government," said Primoract, "has been at odds with most of the rest of the world since Yugoslavia began disintegrating. In ... 1991, when Serbia's onslaught on Croatia was in full swing and Serbian atrocities were receiving worldwide coverage, Israel accepted Belgrade's offer to set up diplomatic relations." [CURTISS, R., 5-1-1995]"In today's Israel," noted Dan Raviv and Yossi Melaman in 1990," ... making money has become a Golden Calf before which much of the society -- including its intelligence and military circles -- kneels ... [RAVIV/MELMAN, p. 347] ... The new symbols for Israel in the international community have become the arms merchants and other 'formers' [i.e., former military men in the private arms business]." [RAVIV/MELMAN, p. 359]Reflecting the kind of society Israel has become, Hirschberg wrote that"Israeli private security firms are active 'in every country imaginable,'says one leading expert. They've trained anti-terrorist units in thejungles of South America and security officers at Mexican powerplants. For years, an Israel-run firm guarded the Presidential palacein Nigeria. Since 1993, the Israeli firm Levron ... has been setting upan army from scratch in the Congo ... The Tel Aviv Golden Pagesclassified phone book has ten full pages listing private investigationfirms, offering everything from personal protection and domesticinvestigations to debt collection, lie detector tests, electronicsurveillance and debugging, and recovery of stolen property ...The Jerusalem Report contacted about two dozen of the hundredsof firms listed. All confirmed that their top staffers were veteransof some branch of the government security services of the police.And their field workers were all recent graduates of army elitecombat units." [HIRSCHBERG, p. 14-16]Israeli involvement in fueling bloody Third World struggles is long standing. During the dictatorship of the Shah of Iran, Israel was only second to the United States in military support to him. "In some areas such as domestic intelligence [the training of Iran's dreaded secret police]," says Beit-Hallahmi, "Israel's involvement was even greater." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 9] A political scientist observed in 1965 that the Shah's Iran "supplied much of Israel's oil needs during the Arab [oil] boycott [of Israel] ... Although not generally known, Iran maintains a close military liaison with Israel's army staff ... The magnitude of the Iran-Israeli program remains generally secret." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 10]In eleven visits to Iran in the 1970s by Israeli prime ministers, a foreign minister, and a defense minister, "the man who hosted all these visits was Nematollah Nasri, deputy prime minister and head of SAVAK, the Iranian secret police." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 10] was internationally notorious for its kidnapping, torture, and murder of Iranian citizens, well documented by Amnesty International and other human rights groups. The Washington Post reported a source who claimed during that era that "innumerable Iranians, including many in a position to know, told me that the Israelis oversee the SAVAK technique." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 11] A 1976 CIA report noted that "Mossad has engaged in joint operations with SAVAK over the years since the late 1950s." [BLACK/MORRIS, p. 183] Israel also helped the Shah put down a revolt of dissident tribesmen in southern Iran in 1963 and was working with the dictator in developing a missile that could deliver nuclear war heads when the Iranian revolution toppled him. [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 11]In Turkey, the Israeli international spy organization -- Mossad -- has had a station since the 1950s and helped train the Turkish secret police. [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 16] Citing a CIA report, Ian Black and Benny Morris note that "the Mossad set up a triangular organization with the Turkish National Security Services (TNSS) and the Iranian SAVAK." [BLACK/MORRIS, p. 189] "There is one well-publicized aspect of the unpublished contacts between Israel and Turkey," says Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, "The Israeli government forbid any mention of the Turkish genocide of Armenians in 1915 in any government-controlled media or government-sponsored activities ... It has taken actions against any mention of the Armenian case." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 17] In 1998, Neil Lochery noted that "The Turkish alliance [with Israel] is ideal given the Turkish military's eagerness to undertake a programme of modernization of its large armed forces using primarily Israeli companies. In simple terms, [military] orders placed by the Turks have prevented [Israeli] job losses and helped secure projects which may have otherwise been in jeopardy." [LOCHERY, p. 58]In 1999 Israeli security guards at the Israeli Consulate in Berlin opened fire on a crowd of 100 rioting Kurds, killing two men and a woman and wounding fifteen others. The protesters had gathered in outrage of the Mossad's alleged role in capturing Kurdish rebel hero Abdullah Ocalan in Greece for Turkey. [WILLIAMS, C., p. A1] Earlier, in 1998, two Israelis were captured in Cyprus, under suspicion that they were spying for Turkey. "The Israeli media," noted Agence France Presse, "accepted that the men were Israeli agents but varied widely over what they were doing." [CHARLAMBOUS, C., 11-8-1998]In 1991 four Israeli agents were also caught attempting to bug the Iranian embassy in Cyprus, in 1998 Mossad members were caught bugging the home of Swiss citizen of Lebanese origin, and in 1996 two Israeli agents were captured in a failed attempt to murder a Hamas leader in Jordan. [CHARLAMBOUS, C., 11-8-1998]Israel has long aided the dictatorial dynasty of Sultan Qaboos ibn Said in Oman. Mossad has also helped stir Kurdish revolts in Iraq beginning in 1958 and has long supported minority Christian groups in Lebanon to secure an Israeli buffer zone against hostile Muslim areas. This included Pierre Gemayel's fascist Phalangist party, founded in 1936. [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 18] The 1976 creation of the South Lebanon Army has also long functioned as a "puppet organization" for Israeli interests." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 19]Mossad's main clandestine station in Asia is in Singapore, from which Israel has maintained military ties with South Korea and Taiwan. "Particularly sensitive," says Joel Kotkin, " ... are Israeli arms traders and elite military training teams who, for the purposes of mollifying Muslim public opinion both inside Singapore and in neighboring countries, pass themselves off as 'Mexicans' to the local citizenry." [KOTKIN, p. 39] "It has been reported," notes Beit-Hallahmi, "that Israel has transferred to Taiwan both nuclear technologies and chemical-warfare technology and a CIA report [says that Israel] has provided intelligence training to the Taiwanese secret services." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 28] Not far away, "Indonesia and Israel have a long-standing military relationship." [PARIS, p. 112]In 1999, USA Today headlined a story "U.S. is concerned, but unable to stop Israel-China deal." The Jewish state ignored American concerns despite the billions of dollars in aid it receives from America. The deal with mainland China was for high-tech AWACS radar systems to be installed on Chinese jets, elevating them to new thresholds of warfare capabilities. "The United States has banned military sales to China since that country's 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square," noted USA Today, "But Israel, though it has received billions of dollars worth of U.S. military aid, is under no such limitation, provided that the technology it sells has no U.S. content." [SLAVIN, B., p. 17A]In the Philippines, dictator Ferdinand Marcos "was protected by Israeli bodyguards who had served in elite Israeli commando units. The wealthy friends of the President also enjoyed such services." Entire "private armies" in the Philippines were trained by Israeli advisers. [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 28-29]The distinction between the Israeli government itself and Israeli private citizen entrepreneurship in supporting brutally repressive regimes against freedom and justice movements worldwide is blurred. Former Israeli military officers, and even rank and file soldiers (usually from "elite" units), invariably remain active in the army as "reserves" to age 55 and still well-connected thereafter. Private exploitation of worldwide disaster is often indivisible from the clandestine policies of the Israeli government. An example of this private enterprise-Israeli government symbiosis is the Tel Aviv-based Tamuz Control Systems, an organization owned by a retired general who "offers Third World regimes assistance in solving their security problems." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 30]Israeli governmental enterprise and private military business exploits are so entwined that when two private citizens, employed by Tamuz, passed along classified military material to the Philippines in 1984, despite some attention in the Israeli press, it was ultimately deemed to be inconsequential. The reason? The two Tamuz employees in question had worked -- and still had contacts with -- an Israeli anti-terrorist unit. As an Israeli newspaper reported: "[Tamuz] is headed by former generals and the transfer of material to Third World companies is coordinated with senior defense officials." Another reporter wrote that, "The offense is only technical because, as is known, [Tamuz] is directed by former generals who are in constant contact with SHABAK and MOSSAD [Israeli secret police organizations]." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 30] As Beit-Hallahmi sees it:"Israeli mercenaries ... arrive at their destinations through a systemthat has much to do with the Israeli state, and most of them areemissaries of the state, not soldiers of fortune. There is a connectionand a similarity of oppression in one particular situation and oppressionsin other situations, geographically and culturally remote. How does anIsraeli officer feel in Namibia or while training South Africans in counter-insurgency? The answer is 'right at home.'" [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 233]Israel also has a MOSSAD station in Jakarta, Indonesia, fronted as a commercial company; Israeli advisers also helped Sri Lanka in its ongoing efforts to quell the rebellious Tamil minority. Israeli weaponry or personnel has also found its way to Afghanistan, Thailand, and China. [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 32-36]In Africa, Israelis helped train the armies of the Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic, Dahomey (Benin), Cameroon, Senegal, Togo, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Somalia. [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 38] "In several African countries," notes Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, "we can observe a pattern in which, without formal relations, our Israeli agent manages to get very close to the head of state, becoming known as the President's personal adviser, his right hand man, or his best friend. Such patterns were in evidence in Senegal, Zaire, Liberia, the Ivory Coast, and other places. The MOSSAD agent performing his task is typically charming." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 73]
In 2001, the Democratic Republic of Congo "revoked the monopoly of the Israeli company International Diamond Industries." A United Nations report had documented that the Congo was being cheated by the company and that it was the African nation's desire for "access to Israeli military equipment and intelligence, that sealed the original deal for the monopoly." [AVNI, B., 4-27-2001]
For years, the Israeli Mossad has also had worldwide assassination teams to eliminate Palestinian leaders who violently struggled against Israeli "occupation" of their homeland. It is even believed to have assassinated Gerald Bull, a Canadian scientist who had in recent years helped Iraq in one of its weapons program. "The full truth about Israeli hit squads," note Ian Black and Benny Morris, "will probably never be known. The basis of all such operations is complete deniability, however implausible these denials may be. In [one such] case, the need for operational secrecy was twofold: to guarantee the safety of the killers and their back up teams; and to prevent the expose of any official [Israeli] connection to the assassinations." [BLACK/MORRIS, p. 272] Among the most publicized Israeli-backed assassinations was the 1973 murder of an Arab worker in a small town in Norway, a case of mistaken identity. Six Israeli Mossad agents were captured, five received prison terms, the longest sentence was only five years. [BLACK/MORRIS, p. 276] More recently, in a bungled attempt, a group of Mossad agents were captured when they tried to murder a Hamas leader in Jordan by throwing poison in his ear.Close Israeli attachment to the apartheid regime of South Africa was often questioned, even in the world media. In 1963 a United Nations Security Council resolution called upon the nations of the world to boycott South Africa militarily; in 1977 a second resolution made the boycott mandatory. Israel ignored both completely. [BEITH-HALLAHMI, p. 117] Israel is even believed to have conducted joint nuclear tests with South Africa in 1979, 1981, and 1985. [HUNTER, p. 36-38] Among Israeli activities in support of South Africa was financial investment in the apartheid regime, including, notes Jane Hunter, "a rapacious 'private enterprise' interest in the Bantustans, the barren pseudo-states that warehouses much of the black majority ... [HUNTER, p. 71] ... No government in the world recognized the benighted Bantustans as the independent countries the racist regime has declared them to be." [HUNTER, p. 74] Israelis were even employed to guard casino tables at Sun City, a gambling resort linked to the Bantustan of Bophuthatswana. By 1985 there were 200 Israeli advisers, technicians, and entrepreneurs in the Bantustan of Ciskei alone (near Capetown), an area described "as one of the most economically underdeveloped areas in the world." [HUNTER, p. 71] That year a series of scandals and scams by Israeli investors resulted in their expulsion from the area. [HUNTER, p. 72]"I cannot understand," remarked South African Black leader Bishop Desmund Tutu in 1987 to a Jewish audience, "how people with your history would have a state that would collaborate in military matters with South Africa and carry out policies that are a mirror image of some of the things from which your people suffered." [JEWISH WEEK, 3-20-87, p. 17] An American journalist could understand the link. In 1972 J. Hoagland noted that "to Afrikaners, the parallels [between them and the Israelis] are as obvious as they are embarrassing to the Israelis. They and the Israelis are essentially white, Europeanized peoples who have carved their own nations out of land inhabited by hostile, non-European majorities that would destroy the two nations if the Afrikaners and Israelis listened to the United Nations or world opinion. Their religions are similar, each being a 'chosen people.'" [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 160]During the Algerian war for independence to break from French colonialism, Israelis supported the ultra-right wing French OAS settler community. [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 44] Indigenous Jews in Algeria (a community of about 100,000 people) also provided information to the Mossad about Algerian revolutionary activities against French control of the country; this information was passed along to the French (Israel was at the time seeking French good graces for joint research in the creation of a nuclear bomb). [HERSH, p. 36]In Morocco, by 1965 Israelis had "set up [King] Hassan's internal security system, including the personal guard unit to the King himself." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 46] Israeli aided in helping the Moroccan government murder a dissident, Mehdi Ben-Barka, on French soil which caused an international incident. [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 46] "Since King Hassan's succession to the throne of Morocco in 1961," note Ian Black and Benny Morris, "Israel's intelligence had enjoyed a special relationship with his security services ... Israeli operatives helped the new king to reform his secret service and trained its agents on a regular basis." [BLACK/MORRIS, p. 203] During Tunisia's struggle against French colonialism, there was fighting between French and Tunisian troops in 1961 over a French naval base near the town of Bizerte. "Hundreds of Arabs died. The 1,200 strong Jewish community was accused of collaborating with the French. Many of the Jews worked in the base or serviced it." [BLACK/MORRIS, p. 181]In Sudan, Israelis discretely aided Anyanya rebels in its South. Also, "by the mid-1980s," notes Jacob Abadi, "Israel became increasingly concerned over the fate of the Falasha Jews in Ethiopia and in the refugee camps of Sudan. Besides, Israel had other grandiose schemes, which required Sudanese cooperation. Israel sought to establish a huge arsenal on Sudanese territory. In addition, Israel explored the possibility of using Sudan as a base of operations, aimed at helping the son of the deposed Shah of Iran to return to Iran and topple Ayatollah Khomeini's regime." [ABADI, 1999]In Ghana "military and intelligence cooperation ... [and] training was given by MOSSAD." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 49] In Ethiopia, Israel joined with the United States and Britain in trying to prevent the collapse of the Haile Selassie regime to the Eritrean Liberation Front. Israelis had earlier helped train the Ethiopian secret police. [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 51-52] "INCODA, a wholly-owned company that exported Ethiopians beef was a useful commercial front for intelligence activities ... In December 1960 the Israelis helped [Emperor] Haile Selassie crush a coup attempt." [BLACK/MORRIS, p. 186-187]"In Zaire," says Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, "the regime of Mobuto Sese Seko ... can only be described as a murderous tyranny ... When we look at the record carefully, we discover that Israel has played a continuous role for twenty-five years in keeping Zaire under western control and under Mobutu's." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 55] MOSSAD agent Meir Meyohas was even "Mobutu's personal right hand man for over twenty years." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 60] Mobutu believed "in the great power of the Jews to influence governments and the press, especially in the United States." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 57] To pander to this conviction, it was arranged for Kenneth Bialkin, chairman of the President's Conference on American-Jewish Leaders, "to represent Mobutu in the United States." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 57]In Uganda, the notoriously ruthless ruler Idi Amin was installed by Israel, the United States, and British intrigue; "the Israeli advisers in Uganda were especially close to Colonel Idi Amin." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 61] "The Israelis," observed two scholars on the area, "... were disturbed by [the former head of Uganda and his] growing anti-Zionism ... Amin they thought would be a useful puppet and come to rely on a large military presence for his survival." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 62] When Palestinians hijacked an Air France jet to Israel in 1976, in the famous Entebbe airport incident in which Israeli troops clandestinely flew to Uganda and freed Jewish hostages in a shootout, it helped in siege plans that the Entebbe airport had been built by an Israeli company, Solel Bonch, which provided Israeli rescuers with information about airport terrain. [BLACK/MORRIS, p. 340]In Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) Israel supported the colonial white minority regime in various ways, including the construction of a 500-mile long mine field along the Rhodesian border with Mozambique and Zambia. There were even Israeli mercenaries in the Rhodesian army. [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 63]In Mozambique and Angola, Israelis had militarily equipped Portuguese colonial regimes against indigenous liberation movements; in Kenya Israel supplied arms, in Chad advisers and weapons during its civil war. In 1984 five Israelis were arrested in England as they tried to smuggle a drugged former Nigerian senator, Umaru Dikko, in a box out of the country and back to Africa to a new regime. Conspirators included an Israeli doctor, Lev Shapira. At their trial, they said they worked for the Israeli secret service, the Mossad. [RAVIV, p. 357]In Latin America, formal and informal Israeli support of murderous military dictatorships has been widespread. As one commentator put it: "Many former [Israeli] officers have been traveling through Central America offering their services as anti-terror consultants, personal advisers, trainers, and even simple bodyguards." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 78] Yair Klein, for instance, helped train Colombian drug cartels in paramilitary techniques. "A videotape broadcast in August 1989," note Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman, "show Klein and other Israelis training armed Colombians who were identified as assassin squads for the cocaine barons of Medellin." [RAVIV/MELMAN, p. 355] And "ex-Mossad man Mike Harari," says Hirschberg, "a close aide to Panama's international drug-dealing President Manuel Noreiga, reportedly obtained weapons systems and bugging devices for the dictator." [HIRSCHBERG, p. 13]By 1975 Israel had become a major arms supplier to the region. "Central American generals," notes Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, "often say they admire Israel because they view the Israelis they know as practical, efficient, and tough, and because they see Israel 'unencumbered' by issues of human rights.'" [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 77-78] "The Israelis do not let this human rights thing stand in the way of business," one Guatemalan politician told Reuters, "You pay, they deliver. No questions asked. Unlike the gringos." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 78] Another reason the Israelis are appreciated by military juntas, says Beit-Hallahmi, is because of "the strong pro-Israel lobby in the United States, which is believed to be able to do wonders for a reactionary regime in the dangerous waters of United States public opinion." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 78]Latin America has been home to some Jews for centuries. In 1987, during bloody turmoil going on throughout the area, the Jewish Week noted that:"In several Latin American nations -- including Cuba, Chile, andNicaragua -- individual Jews have been identified with both left-wingand right-wing regimes. Nonetheless, most observers interviewed agreedthat Jews, when forced to chose, fared better with right-wing regimessimply because Latin American Jews tend to be upper-class and sufferfrom the economic policies of left-wing reformers ... One veteran LatinAmerican Jewish leader, Dr. Gil Sinay of Chile, said Jews do notnecessarily need to fear right-wing military dictatorships." [GOLDBERG,JJ, JEWISH WEEK, 6-31-87, p. 4]Among the various profitable areas of suffering in Central America is Guatemala. "Even in the midst of the endless misery and cruelty of Central America," observes Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, "Guatemala stands out as a country where those in power have been fighting the powerless with an unusual degree of ruthlessness and bloodiness. Over the years reports of the horrible realities of Guatemala have been numerous and the judgements harsh. What is unique is the extent to which those who carried out the deliberate policies of endless killings have proclaimed their indebtedness to Israel, as the source not only of their hardware, but of their inspiration. Israel became the main support of the Guatemalan regime." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 79] In merely one incident there was "the discovery by the Greek authorities of an Israeli arms consignment on board a ship bound for Central America. The cargo included eighty tons of ammunition, twenty tons of explosives, and a helicopter which, according to crew members, were going to Guatemala for delivery to neighboring countries." [KLICH, p. 38]The Israeli presence in Guatemala has been deep, from military advisers to corporate arms dealers. Some have, unusually, even personally engaged in killing expeditions. "Israeli soldiers are not just instructors," noted Beit-Hallahmi, "Israeli advisers -- some official, others private -- helped Guatemala internal security agents hunt underground rebel groups. They have been directly engaged in counterinsurgency campaigns against the Indian communities." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 84] "Israel not only provided the technology for the reign of terror," observes Jane Hunter, "it helped in the organization and commission of the horrors perpetrated by the Guatemalan military and police." [HUNTER, p. 111] By 1987 at least 45,000 people were killed and a million exiled within their own country.In El Salvador, even during the Carter Administration's sanctions against the country as a major human rights violator, Israel maintained its usual ruthless presence there too, involved in "anti-guerilla assistance." "During 1977-79," says Beit-Hallahmi, "when Israel was most active [in El Salvador], it was also training counterinsurgency teams less elegantly known as death squads." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 86] During the Carter sanctions, "Israel supplied the military regime of El Salvador with over 80% of its weaponry for the next several years, including napalm for use against the Salvadoran civilian population." [MARSHALL/SCOTT/HUNTER, 1987, p. 89]Israel's undercover secret police and military assistance has also been provided to the dictatorial regimes of Honduras and Nicaragua. With the collapse of the Somoza dictatorship in the latter, Israelis joined United States efforts to topple the new Marxist regime. In the resulting Civil War, the Israeli press reported that "on June 26, 1979 ... Israeli-made Arava planes were being used to bomb the poor neighborhoods of Managua [the capital of Nicaragua]." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 91] Prominent "private" Israeli arms dealers and their agents funneling weapons to the anti-government Contras included Ya'acov Nimrodi, Pesakh Ben Or, Pinhas Dagan, Amos Gil'ad, Michael Kokin, Emil Sa'ada, Yehuda Leitner, and David Marcus Katz. [MARSHALL, SCOTT, HUNTER, 1987, p. 115-116]"Pro-Israel groups in the United States," says Benjamin Ginzburg, "cooperated closely with the [Reagan] administration's efforts] to undermine support for the [leftist Nicaraguan] Sandanista regime ... Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, obliged ... They worked with White House officials ... to publicized charges that the Sandanista government was anti-Semitic." [GINZBURG, p. 210] (In 1983 the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua noted that it had "no verifiable ground" to charge the Sandanista government with anti-Semitism. The Associated Press even noted in 1986 that most Jews fled Nicaragua when its dictator was toppled, and that perhaps as few as five Jewish families remained in that country. [NOKES, R., 3-20-86]In March 1988 the Jewish Week reported that "[President] Reagan accused the [leftist] Sandanista regime of rampant anti-Semitism and of cooperating with the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Behind the scenes, the President's remarks were, in part, the result of research provided by the National Jewish Coalition (which began life as a committee of the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign) and brought to the president's attention by the White House liaison to the Jewish community, Max Green." [BESSER, p. 9]In the 1980s, Panama military strongman Manual Noreiga ran the country and its links to Colombian drug rings, assassinations, and frauds with the help of right-hand man Mike Harari, an Israeli Mossad officer. For a time, a Jew, Eric Arturo Delvalle, was the formal President of Panama; his brother-in-law was the publisher (Robert Eisenman, a convert to Judaism) of Panama's major daily newspaper, La Prensa. [GOLDBERG, JW, 6-31-87, p. 4]In Haiti, Israelis were army suppliers and advisers to dictator Jean Claude Duvallier, and in Chile "Israel became a major arms supplier ... after the Carter Administration suspended all United States aid to the Pinochet regime in 1977." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 99] Israelis were also involved in varying military degrees with regimes in Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia. "Israel continued the selling armaments to Argentina during [its] Dirty War," notes Judith Elkin, "Some Israeli weapons bought by the junta were undoubtedly used for repressing civilian populations, Jews and non-Jews alike. Critics (including Rabbi Marshall Meyer, a principal defender of human rights during the proceso) condemned Israel's readiness to sell weapons to morally indefensible regimes." [ELKIN, 1998, p. 144]Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, in his 1987 volume, The Israeli Connection, underscores what he believes to be some of the disturbing foundations to all this Israeli profiteering in blood and gore throughout the world. In this view, such deep Israeli activism in the suppression of liberation and human rights movements everywhere in the Third World has a close echo to the situation in their own backyard: the Palestinians. To accept any movement for human justice against imperialism and colonialism across the globe is to be forced to inevitably recognize and uncomfortably face the profound injustices Israel inflicts upon the Arab community in, and around, its own territory. "The idea of liberation for Third World groups," says Beit-Hallahmi, "threatens the very existence of Zionism. Concepts of human rights are too dangerous for the Israeli political system ... The injustice done to the Palestinians is so clear and so striking that it cannot be openly discussed, and any discussion of what Israel has been doing in the Third World is certain to lead to an examination of the rights of the Palestinians." [BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 236] To allow the many dictatorships of the world to collapse and be replaced by political liberation movements would be to increasingly isolate the oppressive state of Israel as an extinct breed, and grievously endanger it.Beit-Hallahmi, himself an Israeli citizen, addresses the disturbing issue at stake here succinctly:"Israeli activities in the Third World are significant reflections of thebasic nature of Zionism and the state of Israel, and the resulting Israelisociety and worldview. From Manila in the Philippines to Teguicgalain Honduras to Windhoek in Namibia, Israel's emissaries have beeninvolved in continuous war which is truly a world war. And whatenemy is Israel fighting? It is the population of the Third World,which cannot be allowed to win its revolution. The only thingthat guarantees the continuing rule of Third World oligarchies isthe suppression of any spark of independence or power amongtheir peoples. Israeli advisers have much to offer in the technologyof death and oppression and that is why they are so much in demand."[BEIT-HALLAHMI, p. 243]But the Israeli marketing of death does not stop suddenly at the doors of the Third World. For all the billions of dollars the United States government continues to pour into Israel and its military foundation in search of Jewish "security" in the Middle East, there is even a disturbing payback form the Jewish state in helping to make the streets of America as dangerously insecure as possible. Israeli arms profiteering, after all, knows no moral compulsion and must seek any selling opportunity. In September 1997 the Los Angeles Times noted that:"Thirty United States senators urged President Clinton to suspendthe importation of thousands of assault weapons that have come tosymbolize the ineffectiveness of laws designed to staunch the spreadof such rapid-fire weapons ... Specifically, the lawmakers asked Clintonto block the importation from Israel of semi-automatic Uzi and Galilfirearms that have been modified to avoid restrictions placed on themand other assault weapons in 1994 ... [Senator Robert G. Torricelli ofNew Jersey], a strong supporter of Israel, said he had never envisionedhe would be part of a campaign critical of that country's government,which owns the company exporting the contested weapons. 'If there isany country in the world that should understand the problem ofdangerous weapons and the damage they can do in a civil society,'Torricelli said, 'it is Israel.' He said he could not let 'an obvious evasionof the law' exist without adding his voice." [BRAZIL, 9-28-97,p. A28]*************************************With all the evidence of chronic racism, injustice, inhumanity, brutality, ruthlessness, exploitation, oppression and aggregations of all manners of expressive evil noted in this chapter, what may we conclude about the continued, widespread Jewish American effort to stick their collective heads in the sand and stifle much-merited criticism of their hallowed "homeland?" What planet, for instance, was Eugene Borowitz on when he declared twenty years ago that "most diaspora Jews are proud of the state of Israel for what it has done to transform the normal dictates of politics to a more humane style of using power." [BOROWITZ, p. 127] For many American Jews, of course, endlessly absorbed in identity myth-making, trying to salvage Jewish "chosenness" in a democratic context, the contradictory avenues of Jewish ethnocentric "particularism" and pan-human "universalism" are, as always, forcibly entwined like a band-aid to an oil slick in cushioning Jewish-American conscience. Israel, claims Leonard Fein, "was -- and is -- an effort to produce a society parochial in structure but universal in ideology." [FEIN, p. 6] "The primary concern ... of Zionism," insists Steven Katz, "is justice." [KATZ, in STALLSWORTH, p. 99] "I'll tell you what Zionism is," said New York politician Bella Azburg, "It's a liberation movement for a people who have been persecuted all their lives throughout human history." [POGREBIN, L., p. 48]Not surprisingly, in the widely held Jewish view, criticism of Israel is merely a disguised version of irrational anti-Semitism. "According to an unpublished survey in 1986 by the political scientist Asher Arian," notes Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen, "58% of all Israeli Jews believe that criticism of Israel heard in the world stems from anti-Semitism." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 62] "Since 1967," says Israeli Meron Benvenisti, "[Israel] has become one of the pariah states in the international system. Israelis do not try to explain their isolation in rational terms such as opposition to their holdings in the occupied territories or international power politics. For them it is a recurrence of anti-Semitism directed now towards the new Jewish state instead of towards individual Jewish communities in the Diaspora. This being the case, all criticism can be dismissed as anti-Semitic and unfavorable actions perceived as an added instance of persecution." [BENVENISTI, p. 77]In America, in one survey six out of ten American Jews agreed in 1993 that 'the criticism of Israel that we hear about derives mainly from anti-Semitism." [LIPSET/RAAB, p. 126] "It always astounds me," wrote Letty Pogrebin, a senior editor at Ms magazine, "when people say that the answer to anti-Semitism is Palestinian rights rather than the lack of Jew-hating." [POGREBIN, in KLEIN] "Anti-Semitism," says psychoanalyst Mortimer Ostrow, "has acquired a new face recently -- it presents itself as antagonism to the state of Israel." [OSTROW, p. 58] "One senses hostility towards things Jewish in a nonreflective anti-Israel stance," says Sara Horowitz (about African-Americans, Hispanics, and other American "multicultural" minority groups), "an inclination to overlook, minimize, or trivialize racism when aimed against Jews; a denigration of Jewish traditions, communities, habits, cultural markings, and learning." [HOROWITZ, S., 1998, p. 120]
"On this point," notes Arthur Liebman, the Jewish [political] Left, Center, and Right as well are in strong agreement: the Left's denial of the legitimacy of Israel is necessary and sufficient grounds to label it anti-Semitic." [LIEBMAN, A., 1986, p. 352]"Anti-Israel sentiment," asserts Justin Hertog of Vassar College, "has replaced anti-Semitism as a more sophisticated form of Jew-hatred." [HERTOG, p. 14] "Blanket condemnation of Zionism as against specific Zionist policies," declares Irving Greenberg, "is ipso facto anti-Semitism." [ELLIS, M., 1990, p. 27] "An area of major concern today," wrote Yehuda Baer, "is that very complicated issue of anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism ... Whether one deals with Israel as a people or Israel as a state, anti-Zionism is an anti-Jewish program." [PEARL/PEARL, p. 129] In the world of sociology, complained Irving Horowitz in 1993, there are "assaults on the 'fascist' state of Israel, with the claim that the high participation of Israeli sociologists in the American Sociological Association is a function of 'the huge U.S. aid to Israel.' The emergence of Israel as a nation state, far from taming the anti-Semitic conundrums, has only intensified such attacks ... Whether this anti-Zionist/anti-Jewish tendency will sprout wings and take off remains difficult to determine." [HOROWITZ, I., p. 91]
"Those who are critical of Israel," says Tobin, "are more likely to hold anti-Semitic stereotypes. Some anti-Israelis may represent new forms of anti-Semitic expression." [TOBIN, p. 50] "Almost half a century after the establishment of the Jewish state," adds Evyatar Friesel, "... many Zionists have discovered that there are historical characteristics in the Jewish community that are very resilient. None seemed more resilient than what Leon Pinsker, over a hundred years ago, called the 'Judeophobia of the Gentile.' It is quite astonishing that more than forty years of Jewish statehood has hardly changed the basic premises of the relationship between Jews and non-Jews." [FRIESEL, E., p. 232]
"To say that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism is a lie," once declared prominent Jewish Argentinian Jacobo Timerman, "It is like saying that there is difference between authoritarianism and totalitarian governments -- another adventure in semantics." [BECK, E., 1982, p. 193]The profoundly disturbing subtext to such commentary is that it is not the aberrant commentary of marginal Jewish fanatics, it is the Jewish norm. Intelligent, well-read, informed, largely secular people collectively cling in a veritable religious manner to martyrological folklore above all empirical evidence about the causes of anti-Semitism and the moral foundations of their Jewish homeland. The widespread Jewish refusal to face, and remedy, the enormous suffering the state of Israel causes non-Jewish people grossly transcends mere oversight. It is a consciously created political program of international Jewish elitism and it is sinister. Unfortunately, probably most of Jewish identity and its ceaseless passion for itself truly boils down to the most selfishly primitive of all human emotions : individual -- and in the Jewish case, collective -- self-preservation at all, and any, moral costs. As the dominant world view in the Jewish community, it is the complete unwillingness -- even paralysis -- to recognize and address human suffering unless it is Jewish. As Jewish psychotherapist Irene Bloomfield suggests,"In its desperate fight for survival and in becoming an occupying power,Israel has used harsh and inhuman methods, which would probably nothave deserved mention if used by some of the Arab states, but torture,oppression, and inhumanity cannot be justified according to our ownlaws, yet any criticism of Israel by outsiders often evokes a furious andextreme reaction on our part and is experienced like an attack on thefamily and is therefore intolerable." [BLOOMFIELD, I., p. 28]
It has been suggested by some Jewish observers (as reported elsewhere in this work) that anti-Jewish hostility ("anti-Semitism") is a necessary glue to maintain the "otherness" of Jewish identity. The World Jewish Congress noted a similar theme in 1981, that Israel's violent tensions with the Arab world are a very crucial rallying point for Jewish identity:
"For the preponderant part of Diaspora Jewry whose attachment has been
to Israel, rather than to Judaism and Jewish ways of life as such, it seems
quite clear that a comprehensive peace [with Palestinians], given present
trends [in 1981], must be expected progressively to result in a weakening
sense of Jewish identity, a lesser concern for Israel and for other Jews,
and in less identification with Jewish organiations and communal affairs."
[WALINSKY, L., 1981, p. 104]
What, one wonders, would modern Jewish identity be without the necessary antithetical echo of non-Jewish hostility to it? The World Jewish Congress seems to suggest what the answer might be for many Jews: very little. Or even nothing.
A 2001 survey of Israelis by the World Jewish Congress found that:
* 57% believed there was more anti-Semitism in the world than 10 years earlier.
* 75% "agreed that international anti-Israel sentiment is motivated by anti-Semitism.
* 67% "said anti-Israel politics at the United Nations is driven by anti-Semitism.
[AXELROD, T., 10-29-01]APPENDIXMembers of the Presidents' Conference of Major Jewish Organizations:American-Israel Friendship League, American Friends of Likud, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, American Gathering, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, American ORT Federation, American Sephardi Organization, American Zionist Movement, Americans for Peace Now, AMIT, Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, Central Conference of American Rabbis, CAMERA, Council of Jewish Federations, Development Corporation for Israel, Batunah of America, Friends of Israeli Defense Forces, Hadassah (Women's Zionist Organization of America), Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Jewish Community Centers Association, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish National Fund, Jewish Reconstruction Federation, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, Jewish Women International, Joint Distribution Committee, Labor Zionist Alliance, Mercaz USA, NA'AMAT USA, National Committee for Labor Zionism, National Conference on Soviet Jewry, National Council of Jewish Women, National Council of Young Israel, Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbinical Council of America, Religious Zionists of America, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Union of Orthodox Jews, United Congregations of America, United Israel Appeal, United Jewish Appeal, United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism, WIZO USA, Women of Reform Judaism, Women's American ORT, Women's League for Conservative Judaism, Women's League for Israel, Workman's Circle, World Zionist Executives USA, Zionist Organization of America.
When Victims Rule. A Critique of Jewish pre-eminence in America
By Jewish Tribal Review