by Tim Wise
So it's official. The U.S. has withdrawn from the World Conference on
Racism, being held in Durban, South Africa. And though the cynical and
historically observant might suspect that this decision was merely in keeping
with our long standing unwillingness to deal with the legacy of racism on a
global scale, the official reason is more circumscribed. Namely, the
mid-conference pullout was intended to register displeasure at various delegates
who are pushing resolutions condemning Israeli treatment of Palestinians, and
Zionism itself: the ideology of Jewish nationalism that led to the founding of
Israel in 1948. As the conference speeds towards a no doubt controversial
conclusion, perhaps it would be worthwhile to ask just what all the fuss is
Although one can argue with the claim made by some that Zionism and racism
are synonymous -- especially given the amorphous definition of "race" which
makes such a position forever and always a matter of semantics -- it is
difficult to deny that Zionism, in practice if not theory, amounts to ethnic
chauvinism, colonial ethnocentrism, and national oppression.
For saying this, I can expect to be called everything but a child of God by
many in the Jewish community. "Self-hating" will be the term of choice for most,
I suspect: the typical Pavlovian response to one who is Jewish, as I am, and yet
dares to criticize Israel or the ideology underlying its national existence.
"Anti-Semite" will be the other label offered me, despite the fact that
Zionism has led to the oppression of Semitic peoples -- namely the mostly
Semitic Palestinians -- and is also rooted in a deep antipathy even for Jews.
Though Zionism proclaims itself a movement of a strong and proud people, in fact
it is an ideology that has been brimming with self-hatred from the beginning.
Indeed, early Zionists believed, as a key premise of the movement, that Jews
were responsible for the oppression we had faced over the years, and that such
oppression was inevitable and impossible to overcome, thus, the need for our own
Having never read the words of Theodore Herzl -- the founder of modern
Zionism -- or other Zionist leaders, most will find this claim hard to believe.
But before attacking me, perhaps they should ask who it was that said
anti-Semitism, "is an understandable reaction to Jewish defects," or that, "each
country can only absorb a limited number of Jews, if she doesn't want disorders
in her stomach. Germany has already too many Jews."
While one might be inclined to attribute either or both statements to Adolph
Hitler, as they are surely worthy of his venomous pen, they are actually
comments made by Herzl and Chaim Weizmann, eventual president of Israel, and --
at the time he made the second statement -- head of the World Zionist
Organization. So in the pantheon of self-hating Jews, it appears criticism, for
Zionists, should perhaps begin at home.
Going back to my days in Hebrew school, I never understood the
dialysis-machine-like bond that most of my peers felt for Israel. On the one
hand, we were told God had given that land to our people, as part of His
covenant with Abraham. This we knew because Scripture told us so. But this never
carried much weight with me. After all, many Christians -- with whom I had more
than a passing acquaintance growing up in the South -- were all-too-willing to
point out that the Scriptures also said (in their opinions) that I was going to
hell, Abraham notwithstanding.
As such, accepting Zionism because of what God did or didn't say seemed
dicey from the get-go. What's more, this was the same God who ostensibly told
the ancient Hebrews never to wear clothes woven with two different fabrics, and
who insisted we burn the entrails of animals we consume on an alter to create a
pleasing smell. Having been known to sport a wrinkle-free poly-cotton blend, and
having not the fortitude to disembowel my supper and incinerate its lower
intestines, I had long since resolved to withhold judgment on what God did and
didn't want, until such time as the Almighty decided to whisper said desires in
my ear personally. The Rabbi's word wasn't going to cut it.
On the other hand, we were told we needed a homeland so as to prevent
another Holocaust. Only a strong, independent Jewish state could provide the
kind of unity and protection required of a people who had suffered so much, and
had lost six million souls to the Nazi terror.
Yet this too seemed suspect to me. After all, one could argue that getting
all the Jews together in one place -- especially a piece of real estate as small
as Palestine -- would be a Jew-hater's dream come true. It would make finishing
the job Hitler started that much easier. Better, it seemed then and still does,
to have vibrant Jewish communities throughout the world, than to put all our
dreidels in one basket, by pulling up stakes and heading to a place where others
already lived, hoping they wouldn't mind too terribly if we kicked them out of
In the final analysis, accepting Israel as a Jewish state for Biblical
reasons made no more sense to me than to accept a self-identified Christian or
Islamic nation: two configurations that understandably raise fears of theocracy
in the heart of any Jew. And to in-gather the Jews to Israel for the sake of
safety made no sense whatsoever. The only logic to Zionism then, seemed to be
the "logic" of raw power: that of the settler, or colonizer. We wanted the land,
and getting it would provide an ally for European and American foreign and
economic policy. So with pressure applied and force unleashed, it became ours.
Nearly 800,000 Palestinians would be displaced so as to allow for the
creation of Israel: around 600,000 of whom, according to internal documents of
the Israeli Defense Force, were expelled forcibly from their homes. At the time,
these Palestinians, most of whose families had been living on the land for
centuries, constituted two-thirds of the population and owned 90% of the land.
Though some Zionists claim Palestine was a largely uninhabited wilderness prior
to Jewish arrival, early settlers were far more honest. As Ahad Ha'am
acknowledged in 1891:
"We...are used to believing that Israel is almost totally desolate.
But...this is not the case. Throughout the country it is difficult to find
fields that are not sowed."
Indeed, the large presence of Palestinians led many Zionists to openly
advocate their removal. The head of the Jewish Agency's colonization department
stated: "there is no room for both peoples together in this country. There is no
other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighboring countries, to
transfer all of them: not one village, not one tribe, should be left."
Herzl himself conceded that Zionism was "something colonial," indicating
again that we were not discovering or founding anything. We were taking it, and
for reasons we would never accept from others. As Shimon Peres -- seen as one of
the most peace-loving Israeli leaders in memory -- said in 1985: "The Bible is
the decisive document in determining the fate of our land." Such is the stuff of
fanaticism, and we would say as much were a fundamentalist Christian to make the
same statement about the fate of the U.S., or anywhere else for that matter.
That most Jews have never examined the founding principles of this ideology
to which they cleave is unfortunate. For if they were to do so, they might be
shocked at how anti-Jewish Zionism really is. Time and again, Zionists have even
collaborated with open Jew-haters for the sake of political power.
Consider Herzl: a man who believed Jews were to blame for anti-Semitism, and
thus, only by fleeing for Palestine could we be safe. In The Jewish State, he
"Every nation in whose midst Jews live is, either covertly or openly,
anti-Semitic...its immediate cause is our excessive production of mediocre
intellects, who cannot find an outlet downwards or upwards. When we sink, we
become a revolutionary proletariat. When we rise, there also rises our terrible
power of the purse."
He went on to say, "The Jews are carrying the seeds of anti-Semitism into
England; they have already introduced it into America." Were a non-Jew to
suggest that Jews were to blame for anti-Semitism, our community would be
rightly outraged. But the same words from the father of Zionism pass without
Worse still, early in Hitler's reign the Zionist Federation of Germany wrote
the new Chancellor, noting their willingness to "adapt our community to these
new structures" (namely, the Nuremberg Laws that limited Jewish freedom), as
they "give the Jewish minority...its own cultural life, its own national life."
Far from resisting Nazi genocide, some Zionists collaborated with it. When
the British devised a plan to allow thousands of German Jewish children to enter
the U.K. and be saved from the Holocaust, David Ben-Gurion, who would become
Israel's first Prime Minister balked, explaining:
"If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by
bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to
(Israel) then I would opt for the second alternative."
Later, Israeli Zionists would again make alliances with anti-Jewish
extremists. In the 1970's, Israel hosted South African Prime Minister John
Vorster, and cultivated economic and military ties with the apartheid state,
even though Vorster had been locked up as a Nazi collaborator during World War
II. And Israel supplied military aid to the Galtieri regime in Argentina, even
while the Generals were known to harbor ex-Nazis in the country, and had
targeted Argentine Jews for torture and death.
Indeed, the argument that Zionism is racism finds some support in statements
of Zionists themselves, many of whom have long concurred with the Hitlerian
doctrine that Judaism is a racial identity as much as a religious and cultural
one. In 1934, German Zionist Joachim Prinz, who would later head the American
Jewish Congress, noted:
"We want assimilation to be replaced by a new law: the declaration of
belonging to the Jewish nation and Jewish race. A state built upon the principle
of the purity of nation and race can only be honored and respected by a Jew who
declares his belonging to his own kind."
Years later, David Ben-Gurion acknowledged that Israeli leader Menachem
Begin could be branded racist, but that doing so would require one to "put on
trial the entire Zionist movement, which is founded on the principle of a purely
Jewish entity in Palestine."
Laws granting special privileges to Jewish immigrants from anywhere in the
world, over Palestinians whose families had been on the land for generations,
and measures that set aside most land for exclusive Jewish ownership and use,
are but two examples of discriminatory legislation underlying the Zionist
experiment. As the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination makes clear, racial discrimination is:
"any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color,
descent, or national and ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of
nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal
footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic,
social, cultural or any other field of public life."
Given this internationally recognized definition, we ought not be surprised
that at a World Conference on Racism, some might suggest that the policies of
our people in the land of Palestine had earned a place on the agenda. As such,
we should take this opportunity to begin an honest dialogue, not only with
Palestinians, but also with ourselves. Neither the chauvinism so integral to
Zionism, nor the ironic self-hatred that has gone along with it are becoming of
a strong and vital people. Just as a dialysis machine is no substitute for a
healthy and functioning kidney, neither is Zionism an adequate substitute for a
healthy and vibrant Judaism. Surely it is not for this ignoble end, that six
is an activist, writer and lecturer based in Nashville, Tennessee.
["The Torah of Israel makes a clear distinction between a Jew, who is
defined as 'man,' and a Gentile." That is to say, any notion of equality
between human beings is irrelevant to the Halacha. That is to say, any
notion of equality between human beings is irrelevant to the Halacha. R'
Bar-Chayim's work is comprehensive, written with intellectual honesty, and
deals with almost all the aspects of Halachic treatment of non-Jews. It also
refutes the statements of those rabbis who speak out of wishful thinking
and, influenced by concepts of modern society, claim that Judaism does not
discriminate against people on religious grounds. R' Bar-Chayim shows that
all these people base their constructs not on the Torah but solely on the
inclinations of their own hearts. He also shows that there are even rabbis
who intentionally distort the Halachic attitude to Gentiles, misleading both
themselves and the general public.--Daat Emet, "Gentiles in
Freedman's Speech at the Willard Hotel, 1961
Jack Bernstein, The Life of an American Jew
in Racist Marxist Israel, 1985
[In 1897, the first Zionist Congress took place in Basle. In 1904, the founder of
Zionism Theodore Herzl died at age 44 under suspicious circumstances. The movement
was taken over by the Round Table. The purpose was to use it and Communism to
advance their plan for world hegemony. During the same week in November 1917, the
Bolshevik Revolution took place and the Balfour Declaration promised Palestine to
The Round Table group planned three world wars to degrade, demoralize and destroy
mankind, rendering it defenceless. The Third World War, now beginning, pitted the
Zionists against the Muslims.
The purpose of Zionism is to help colonize the Middle East, subvert Islam, and
control the oilfields.--Henry Makow, Zionism: Compulsory Suicide for
Jews, savethemales.ca, December 9, 2002]
Ronnie Kasrils, Myths of Zionism, Mail & Guardian, January 27,
[It is about time we internalise the fact that Israel and Zionism are the ultimate
Evil with no comparison.--Gilad Atzmon, Beyond Comparison, peacepalestine.blogspot.com, August 10, 2006]
Copyright © 2001 Timothy Jacob Wise