The Origins of Zionism


by Dr. Abraham Weizfeld Ph.D.


Few other states claim to be “Nation-States” nowadays as the Zionist State claims to be. Instead of prizing homogeneous populations, it is considered better today for a State to boast of its multicultural diversity and its commitment to equality of rights for its citizens. However, the “Nation-State” concept was admired for a long time as a political ideal. Indeed, when it was invented during the European Reformation, it was a progressive solution to a serious set of conflicts. Wars of religion had raged for decades, as Protestants sought national independence for particular territories from the Holy Roman Empire. Civil wars raged on by each religious faction seeking dominion over the other. Finally, in 1648 the “Treaties of Westphalia” were conceived, creating a basis for national self-determination. Henceforth each territory would be sovereign and its ruler would decide its official religion. Political interference in the affairs of a different sovereign territory was prohibited. These treaties established the rule that states were to be entities within clear geographical borders, each with a population that should preferably be religiously homogeneous—a principle that grew into the “Nation-State” notion that each People should have its own state.

The Nation-State notion would become idealized by the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, even though he denied that the German provinces, when unified, should be considered the German Nation-State, since only Prussia was “racially pure” enough to be considered a Nation. In this manner the Nation-State reflects a racialist concept in which each Nation or People should exclusively inhabit its own distinct State. This exclusivist doctrine was accepted by many liberals in the belief that it was somehow conducive to democratization by giving “self-determination” to each Nation. But the doctrine also has xenophobic and racist implications. Its exclusivism has resulted in many wars for control of territory, and has had grievous consequences for national minorities. In Europe they were either ghettoized or initially, forced to assimilate and then subsequently expelled or annihilated, as in the Holocaust of the Jewish and Roma Peoples.

Under such conditions of life and death, national minorities diverged into two different responses. One was the struggle for integration by acquiring civil rights—both individual and collective rights. Two such tendencies existed for either assimilation or collective defence.

Alternatively, there was a second political tendency for a given national minority—to attempt to replicate the prevailing Nation-State model by acquiring its own separatist entity. In the case of the Jewish People, this approach became codified as the theory of Zionism with the ‘Separation Principle’ of the Russian Zionist Jabotinsky. And that is how the Apartheid Separation Wall was built.

While all the various Jewish political tendencies sought to achieve ‘self-determination’, the Zionist movement were intent on building a ‘Nation-State’ on the European model as an outpost of the Occident. This was the notion of civilization, as if human history originated in the ‘West’. The Zionist concept of self-determination was particular because it was building a ‘Nation-State’ in the Land where an indigenous Nation lived already. Nonetheless the Zionist movement took the slogan from the Territorialists – ‘A Land without a People for a People without a Land’ to order to justify the capture of Palestine.

The problem with Zionist self-determination is that it denies the self-determination of the Palestinian People-Nation and so Zionism contradicts the right of self-determination even while it is claiming to uphold it for one Nation, but not for the other Nation in this case. This contradiction nullifies the ideology of Zionism as rational thought and contradicts the legal norms for self-determination which cannot deny the very same right to another People. This is why the Zionist State has been condemned so often by the United Nations General Assembly and not because it is being singled out.

The problem with Zionism itself is not that it is Jewish but that it is seeking to impose a State that is only Jewish. This is much the same as the right-wing populist currents such as the Christian fundamentalists of Trump who want a Nation-State that is only Christian Europeans. The same Nation-State concept is used by the Front National rightists in France as well to oppose the Arab presence in France. Each national political-culture has a similar current that represents about a third of the general public today. In the Zionist State however the far Right-wing populist current is still strong enough to form the coalition government presently in power.

It may also be observed that while the Zionist military campaign of Occupation began in 1947, other wars have followed. Another Occidental Crusade to remodel the Arab countries into the various spheres of influence outlined by the Sykes-Picot secret treaty has created the various Arab Nation-States today. This importation of the European model into the Western Orient Arab countries has met with continual disasters and opposition. This Christian and Zionist Crusade is being countered by the Arab Spring revolutions which are feed by the historic victory of the Algerian revolution in 1962 and the continuation of Palestinian resistance since 1947.

In this manner the Palestinian struggle for national liberation is at the core of the world geo-political impasse, which is plagued by both political and economic crises. The attempts to overcome such crises by subordinating others to better their condition are historic failures. The failure of the Nation-States is evident even to Europe which has attempted to build a Confederation on an equal footing. Meanwhile the Zionist State still imposes its Nation-State on the Palestinian, Druze, Bedouin and Mizrahi Arab Peoples as if this were still the 17th Century.

Dr. abraham Weizfeld
PhD UQÀM, MA York U., BSc UdeW
514 284 66 42

Nation, Society and the State :
the reconciliation of Palestinian and Jewish Nationhood–SOCIETY–AND–THE-STATE.aspx

51 Documents – Zionist Collaboration With The Nazis By Lenni Brenner

Couverture du livre Zionist collaboration with the Nazis

Even after 9/11, the ultimate attention getter, US public knowledge about the Arab world, Islam, the oil industry, Zionism, and Washington’s involvement with them, is minimal. But the present anti-Iraq war movement has no choice but to systematically educate itself and the public. The issues are too complex for anything less. Ignorance or illusions about any of the players, here or there, means certain death for X number of Arabs, Israelis, Kurds, Muslims and Americans. 



In 1983, Croom Helm Ltd. published my 1st book, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators. American writers don’t expect favorable reviews from the London Times, but editorialist Edward Mortimer declared that « Brenner is able to cite numerous cases where Zionists collaborated with anti-Semitic regimes, including Hitler’s. » Still less could a Trotskyist dream of a review from Izvestia, the Soviet government gazette, but they hailed it.


« During the world war, Brenner points out, Zionism showed its real meaning: for the sake of its ambitions, it sacrificed the blood of millions of Jews. » Louis Rapoport, a failed Berkeley radical, denounced the book in the Jerusalem Post as « leftist babble. » Nevertheless, he conceded, there were « very real charges that will continue to haunt » Zionism « until they are dealt with honestly. » In 1987, Jim Allen, the celebrated British movie/TV writer, based Perdition, a stage play, on the book. When intense pressure on the Royal Court Theatre canceled production, we debated Sir Martin Gilbert, the Churchill family’s private historian, and Stephen Roth, head of the British Zionist Federation, nationwide, prime-time on ITV.


The London Review of Books said the Zionist scheme « made it one of the most famous plays of the decade. » Indeed, unless the Queen was sick on the crapper, every politically or theatrically interested person in Britain watched us win, thanks to director Ken Loach’s strategic instructions. Extraordinary world interest wasn’t matched in America’s media. Alex Cockburn championed the book in the Village Voice and in the Nation. But the Voice refused to review it.


The Nation sent it out to someone, but, sorry, « he never sent in the review. » Walter Laqueur had to bark in the Zionist New Republic after their Perdition debacle: « Some of Brenner’s book is invented, some is exaggerated or drawn out of context. » Yet even he admits that « German Zionists did not fully understand the meaning of Hitler when he came to power in 1933. Some of their comments and declarations make embarrassing reading 50 years later. » Despite Zionism’s best efforts, over 5,000 copies sold in 18 years before being put on the web: Then Lyle Stuart of Barricade Books discovered that a friend, a Zionist propagandist, had never read the complete proposal of the « Stern Gang, » 1940s Zionist terrorists, to go to war on Hitler’s side. 51 Documents was born. Now Americans and others can read the evidence and judge for themselves. There are six selections re Zionism’s relationship to anti-Semitism and racism prior to Hitler.


The 51 documents, including 35 letters, memos, articles, and reports by Zionists, are from the Hitler era and after. Seven are by Nazis, most notably Eichmann’s memoir, written in Argentina, on Hungarian collaborator Rezso Kasztner. Five of the six and 43 of the 51 are complete. The rest are extensive excerpts from important reports. There are four first-time full translations of articles from German, Hebrew, Italian and Russian. Zionism convicts itself. On June 21, 1933, the German Zionist Federation sent a secret memorandum to the Nazis: « Zionism has no illusions about the difficulty of the Jewish condition, which consists above all in an abnormal occupational pattern and in the fault of an intellectual and moral posture not rooted in one’s own tradition.


Zionism recognized decades ago that as a result of the assimilationist trend, symptoms of deterioration were bound to appear, which it seeks to overcome by carrying out its challenge to transform Jewish life completely. « It is our opinion that an answer to the Jewish question truly satisfying to the national state can be brought about only with the collaboration of the Jewish movement that aims at a social, cultural and moral renewal of Jewry–indeed, that such a national renewal must first create the decisive social and spiritual premises for all solutions. « Zionism believes that a rebirth of national life, such as is occurring in German life through adhesion to Christian and national values, must also take place in the Jewish national group. For the Jew, too, origin, religion, community of fate and group consciousness must be of decisive significance in the shaping of his life.

This means that the egotistic individualism which arose in the liberal era must be overcome by public spiritedness and by willingness to accept responsibility. » By 1936, the Post ran a news flash, « German Zionists Seek Recognition »: « A bold demand that the German Zionist Federation be given recognition by the Government as the only instrument for the exclusive control of German Jewish life was made by the Executive of that body in a proclamation today.

All German Jewish organizations, it was declared, should be dominated by the Zionist spirit. » Zionist factions competed for the honor of allying to Hitler. By 1940-41, the « Stern Gang, » among them Yitzhak Shamir, later Prime Minister of Israel, presented the Nazis with the « Fundamental Features of the Proposal of the National Military Organization in Palestine (Irgun Zvai Leumi) Concerning the Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe and the Participation of the NMO in the War on the Side of Germany. »


Avraham Stern and his followers announced that « The NMO, which is well-acquainted with the goodwill of the German Reich government and its authorities towards Zionist activity inside Germany and towards Zionist emigration plans, is of the opinion that: 1. Common interests could exist between the establishment of a new order in Europe in conformity with the German concept, and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as they are embodied by the NMO. 2. Cooperation between the new Germany and a renewed folkish-national Hebraium would be possible and, 3. The establishment of the historic Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East.


Proceeding from these considerations, the NMO in Palestine, under the condition the above-mentioned national aspirations of the Israeli freedom movement are recognized on the side of the German Reich, offers to actively take part in the war on Germany’s side. » They hanged people all over Europe after WW II for notes to the Nazis like these. But these treasons against the Jews were virtually unknown in the run up to the creation of the Zionist state in May 1948. Ninety percent of America’s Jews suddenly became emotional pro-Zionists.


With Democrats, Republicans and even the Communist-organized Progressive Party competing for Jewish votes in the November Presidential election, Harry Truman’s monetary aid bought arms from pro-Soviet Czechoslovakia, and an Israel was born, run by the German Zionists’ cothinkers in Jerusalem. Jews and other Americans still know little of Zionism’s sordid past. But today only programed fanatics can come away pro-Zionist after reading plain facts.


Indeed, according to a 1995 American Jewish Committee survey, less than 22% of all Jews declare themselves Zionist. Opposition to Zionism also grows among liberal educated gentiles, every time their declared enemy, Pat Robertson, howls in favor of Orthodox Israel. For complex historical reasons, the Vietnam anti-war movement and anti-apartheid campaign emphasized demonstrations over sustained education. Even in victory, little was left behind in the way of attention to foreign affairs among the broad masses.


Even after 9/11, the ultimate attention getter, US public knowledge about the Arab world, Islam, the oil industry, Zionism, and Washington’s involvement with them, is minimal. But the present anti-Iraq war movement has no choice but to systematically educate itself and the public. The issues are too complex for anything less. Ignorance or illusions about any of the players, here or there, means certain death for X number of Arabs, Israelis, Kurds, Muslims and Americans.


51 Documents can play a major role in making serious study a priority concern for an anti-war movement that will stay solidly in place until the present bipartisan power structure is destroyed and replaced. A check to me, for $22.00 + $1.84 media mail postage, gets a signed book back, anywhere in the US.


Folks in other countries, and people wanting rates for bulk orders, should also write Lenni Brenner Park West Finance Station POB 20598 NY, NY 10025 Lenni Brenner can be reached at:



The Iron Wall by Lenni Brenner

Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir


Couverture sur The Iron Wall by Lenni Brenner

Extract from : «The WZO leaders said as little as they could about Germany in as much as they knew that negotiations were proceeding to work out a trade agreement with Hitler. Jabotinsky brought forth a motion to support the embryonic anti-Nazi boycott, but it had no chance of success. The delegates were totally put off by the fascist character of Revisionism. During the Congress, Jewish Telegraphic Agency dispatches told of the police discovering Jabotinsky’s letter to Achimeir denouncing him for his pro-Nazi articles. [24] The vast majority of the delegates believed that the Biryonim had murdered the Political Secretary of their movement and the letter could only serve to reinforce their opinion. They could only think that their own Hitler was denouncing the WZO leaders for being pro-Nazi. The resolution calling for action against the Hitlerites was soundly defeated, 240 to 43. [25] (In fact the Nazis announced, during the Congress, that a trade agreement had been reached with the WZO’s Anglo-Palestine Bank.)

Relations between the Revisionists and the WZO could not have been worse than they were in the period immediately after the 1933 Congress. The existential reality of Palestinian Zionism, that it had to constantly grow just to hope to keep pace with the Arab birth-rate, coupled with the fact that their finances were exhausted in the midst of the Depression, made it inevitable that the “practicals” of the WZO leadership would seek to profitably collaborate with Hitler. Jabotinsky did not know it but, at the very time the Congress was meeting, the Jewish expert of the SS, Baron Leopold von Mildenstein, was the guest of the WZO in Palestine. Nor did he know that, in December of that year, Weizmann would ask the Nazis for permission to come to Berlin to negotiate for the further development of the Ha’avara (Transfer) trade pact into the full-scale liquidation bank envisioned by Arlosoroff. [26] But Jabotinsky himself was negotiating, via the Unione Revisionisti, for a Betar school in Italy. Given his own developing relations with Mussolini, the cynical might think that Jabotinsky would have collaborated with Hitler if he had the responsibility for running the Yishuv. Such would only be speculation and, in fact, he had his principles, even concerning when it was proper to collaborate with anti-Semites. They had to play by the rules, and allow the Jews to protect themselves from pogromists. Hitler, who would never allow that, was clearly an implacable enemy of the Jews. Of course the Revisionists were not the only ones who denounced the Transfer, the Jewish Communist press always covered Zionist Congresses and reported the above-ground aspects of Zionist relations with the Fascists and the Nazis. The Socialist International denounced it and there was immense opposition within the WZO, particularly in Poland, where the Jewish masses instinctively knew that any compromise with Hitler could only weaken them vis-à-vis their own anti-Semites; and the US, where the bulk of the Zionist ranks and some of the leadership were infected with the reforming spirit generated by Roosevelt’s Triumph.»





Table of Contents


Appendix 1
Vladimir Jabotinsky: The Iron Wall

Appendix 2
Stern Gang: Grundzüge des Vorschlages der Irgun Zewai Leumi
betreffend der Lösung der jüdischen Frage Europas
und der aktiven Teilnahme der N.M.O. am Kriege
an der Seite Deutschlands

(The original German version of the infamous proposal for collaboration between the Stern Gang and the Nazis)
(Fundamental Features of the Proposal of the National Military Organization in Palestine
(Irgun Zvai Leumi) Concerning the Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe
and the Participation of the NMO in the War on the Side of Germany

Appendix 3
Drew Middleton: South Africa Needs More Arms, Israeli Says
(New York Times, 14 December 1981)


1. Jabotinsky: the Early Years



Odessa was and is beautiful: located on a high plateau, it looks across its bay into the Black Sea. Taken from the Turks only in 1792, Tsarist Russia’s southernmost port was ice-free except for five weeks each winter, and it soon became the empire’s thriving grain exporter, its character a cosmopolitan extension of the Mediterranean trade lanes.

There were no Jews in Russia until the late 18th Century. In 1471, two Jewish merchants in the retinue of a Kievan noble had “corrupted to Judaism” two prominent clergymen of Novgorod. A heresy, known as the Judaizers, began to spread among the Russian Orthodox monks, using passages from the Old Testament as the basis of a critique of the established social order. Eventually, in 1504, their leaders were burnt at the stake and the sect disappeared; but the Holy Synod always remembered the deviants and from thence forward Jewish merchants were forbidden entry to the “Russian earth”. It was only in the 18th Century, with the conquest of vast territories from the moribund Polish and Turkish empires, that the regime in St Petersburg was confronted with an internal Jewish population.

There were only five Jews in Odessa in 1792 when the Turks were finally driven completely out of the Ukraine. Despite intense distrust of the Jews and their religion, St Petersburg realized immediately that the scattered Jewish merchants were vital to the economy of their new acquisitions. Indeed, Jews were encouraged to migrate down from the former Polish lands into the sparsely populated Euxine hinterland. By the last quarter of the 19th Century, Odessa held the second largest Jewish community, after Warsaw, in the empire; the town was already 25% Jewish by 1880. Most shops were Jewish-owned, and the centrepiece of Odessa’s prosperity, the grain trade, was in Jewish hands. Although most migrants spoke only Yiddish on arrival, Russian rapidly became their home language. Odessa Jewry was by far the most modernist Jewish community in the so-called Pale of Settlement, the area to which the Autocrats of All the Russias confined the vast bulk of their over five million Jewish subjects.

Parents and Schooling

Vladimir Yevgenievich was born on 5 October 1880, the third child and the second son of Yona and Khava Jabotinsky. Yona, orYevgenni, to use the Russian version of his name, was a high bureaucrat in the semi-official Russian Company of Navigation and Commerce, in charge of wheat procurement along the Dniepr river; Khava was the daughter of a wealthy Chassidic merchant. The Jabotinskys were well-off and contented at the time of Vladimir’s birth, but in 1884 disaster hit the family. Yevgenni became seriously ill and had to go to Berlin for treatment. The family followed and Vladimir Yevgenievich was enrolled in kindergarten and soon speaking German. He remembered little of Germany in later years beyond encountering Kaiser Wilhelm I in the Bad Ems gardens, and exchanging salutes, Eventually the Jabotinskys ran out of money and could no longer afford the expensive specialists – who immediately got rid of them, telling them to consult doctors in Russia – and they returned to the Ukraine, where Yevgenni died in 1886.

The widow soon set up a small stationery store across from their local synagogue. Her brother, a wealthy businessman, helped financially and, while reduced in circumstances, Khava gave her son violin lessons – almost obligatory for Jewish boys of his day and class – and sent him off to a private preparatory school. His first encounter with anti-Semitism was when he was eight, and it took his mother a year before she could place him in a government school – Jewish students fell under a numerus clausus and several schools turned him down before his family was able to place him. But anti-Semitism was not a preoccupation of the Odessa authorities; Vladimir’s childhood was placid and to the end of his life he looked back at Odessa with the deepest feeling of fondness.




Khava was from Berdishev, a Ukrainian city so Jewish many of the goyim (gentiles) spoke Yiddish, and she had difficulty with Russian. German was her cultural language; she had only learnt Russian to speak to the servants her husband had provided for her. Later, Jabotinsky could not recall if she and Yevgenni spoke Yiddish to each other, but they spoke only Russian to their children. Although his gentile nurse knew Yiddish, common among servants, she was forbidden to speak to him in it, but Jabotinsky soon picked up the language. Later, in his teens abroad in school, he wrote to his mother in Yiddish, but he insisted he never spoke it either at home or in the street. Khava sent him to learn Hebrew from a tutor when he was six. He learned a smattering of grammar and they translated the Bible but he was not very interested and, at 13, as with millions of Jewish boys then and since, he gave it up as a dead language. Apart from some poetry, he had no interest in Jewish culture-he found it sad, musty and uninteresting.

It was at the onset of his Hebrew lessons, he later recalled, that he had his first “Zionist” thoughts, asking his mother “Will we Jews, too, some day have a state of our own?” In the way of mothers everywhere, who know everything a seven-year-old needs to know, Khava replied, tenderly: “Of course we will, you little fool!” Jabotinsky never again doubted this self-evident truth; from that day he “did not ask any more: this was enough for me”. [1]

Russian was his language: to the end of his life, in 1940, 25 years after he last saw his native land, he thought in Russian when alone. He had learnt the alphabet from his sister Tamar when the family returned from Germany. As he grew up, literature became his passion. Though not a good student, he learned to recite much of Puskin and Lermonlov by heart. He and his friends started their own newspaper; at nine he found a Spanish grammar and started teaching himself.

A first contact with English came via his sister’s school lessons; French from a cousin; Latin and Greek he studied in school but they bored him – he never look to dead languages. Between his twelfth and fourteenth years he taught himself Esperanto, even writing poetry in the new international language. His interest in languages attracted the attention of some of his Polish schoolfriends and soon he was reading Adam Mickiewicz’s epic Pan Tadeusz.


Early Career

His literary career began when he was ten years old with some poetry; by 13 he was translating the Song of Songs and other poems from the Hebrew. He did a youthful translation of Poe’s Raven which later, in an improved version, became a standard of the anthologies. By 16 he was submitting articles to the local newspapers. In 1898 he decided to go abroad to complete his education, and he convinced the local Odessky Listok to take him on as a foreign correspondent. They stipulated that he could write only from European capitals where they did not already have one of their own men. He chose Berne and enrolled in the law school there.

One of the very first things Jabotinsky did in Berne was to declare himself a complete vegetarian; this lasted exactly two weeks – he was constantly hungry and socially isolated. He soon spoke politically for the first time; Nachman Syrkin, a pioneer Socialist-Zionist, had come to lecture and in the discussion period the Zionists and Marxists were soon engaged in lively debate. The 17-year-old Vladimir Yevgenievieh startled the squabbling Russian student colony: he confessed himself unfamiliar with socialist ideas and was not prepared to declare himself on the question, but he knew for certain that he was a Zionist as:

the Jewish people is a very bad people; its neighbours hate it, and rightly so. Its end in exile is a general “St Bartholomew’s Night”, and its only salvation lies in a general immigration to the Land of Israel. [2]

His words infuriated the Marxists, who were determined to defeat the Tsarists and other anti-Semites. But Jabotinsky was simply repeating what he had heard in his youth.

The “Odessa Committee”, the Society for the Support of Jewish Agriculturalists and Artisans in Palestine and Syria, had been authorized by the Winter Palace in 1890, and even before the First World Zionist Congress in 1897 had over 4,000 members. It was to be years before Jabotinsky joined the movement. Palestine was still only a romantic image. He had a poem, Gorod Mica (City of Peace), published in 1898 in Voskhod (Sunrise), a St Petersburg Jewish magazine. His old Bedouin sheikh told how of old, God had promised that, after centuries of exile without honour, the Jews would return to Zion.



Jabotinsky did not stay very long in Switzerland: he never was a routine student, law had no appeal and he disliked German. By the autumn of 1898 his paper let him move on to Rome. It was an unusual place for a Russian student to go, as they were notorious for being gregarious and garrulous, always clustering together. There was no colony in Italy but, unlike so many others, Jabotinsky was not then political, and felt little compulsion to convert the company. He also enjoyed learning new languages; he had already studied Latin and he started to learn Italian six months before he left for Rome.

The city was cheap and, if one knew the language, cheaper still – one did not have to pay “alla Inglese”. It is no exaggeration to say that he fell in love with Italy: within six months he was Vladimiro Giabotinsky, fluent in the language on all levels. He immersed himself in Dante but did not neglect the popular dialects he encountered and, even years later, he could precisely reproduce 12 of them. No Italian, he said, ever thought he was from his own home province, but they were always astounded to discover that he was not Italian.

Giabotinsky found the University of Rome stimulating: he attended the lectures of Antonio Labriola, Italy’s first Marxist academician, and was soon converted to socialism, although he never joined any organization. Nor was his freshly minted socialism incompatible with his Zionism – neither was a practical consideration for him. He believed in them only in the sense that he had his opinions on literature. He was still very much the literary gent and he felt no urge to involve himself in Italian affairs. His scant organizational contact with the local labour movement consisted of writing a few articles for the socialist daily Avanti, defending Russian students from an attack in a rightist sheet which had called them hooligans and troublemakers.

For millenia Jews have known, as if by instinct, never to walk under the Arcus Titi, with its triumphal has-relief of captive Judeans carrying as spoils the seven-branched sacred candelabrum or menorah, taken from the destroyed Temple of Jerusalem in AD 70. Vladimir looked alit, of course, but it made little impression on him – like the old ghetto quarter on the Tiber, it was from the dead past. Except for a handful of die-bards who identified Jewish emancipation with the overthrow of the temporal power of the Papacy, there was no anti-Semitism in Italy. On the contrary, Italians were proud that it had been the people of Rome, led in 1848 by the legendary republican Angelo Brunetti Ciceruacchio who had torn down the ancient ghetto walls. There was no discrimination, social or legal, against the 40,000 Jews of Italy. One, Luigi Luzzali, rose to be prime minister only a few years later, in 1910. The Jewish question was not central to Jabotinsky’s existence when he left Russia and it virtually disappeared from his consciousness in Italy. He wrote later that he did not recall hearing the word “ebreo” once in his three-year stay in his new “spiritual fatherland”. To the last days of his life he was a student of the Risorgimento. Italian nationalism, and particularly the great Garibaldi, became – as he understood them – the image which guided him in his later Zionist life’s work.


Return to Odessa

Jabotinsky was never poor in his youth. Khava’s people were substantial business folk and his journalism – mostly light feuilletons – permitted him to visit Khava each year until his Italianate period finally ended with a voyage via Venice and Constantinople, in the summer of 1901, to register for the draft. He returned with a favourite pen name, “Altalena”. He had thought it meant elevator, but it meant swing. When he realized his mistake he rather liked the image – he really knew himself well enough to see that he was not yet “stable or constant”. He was still tacking and weaving. Jabotinsky soon became totally devoted to his intense version of Zionism, but “Altalena”, “swing”, became his lifetime tribute to his carefree student days.

The government decided it could dispense with his services and he settled down in Odessa. He visited Italy later, several times, on Zionist concerns, and he watched from afar as Mussolini eventually look over, but he never understood, or really even wanted to understand, why the more or less liberal order there collapsed.


A Psychoanalytic Interpretation

The psychoanalytic interpretation of a politician, particularly from the meagre literature about his childhood, is tricky at best. But there was nothing ambiguous about Jabotinsky’s oral fixation. Khava surrounded her family with prayers, and his childhood story is an endless litany of “he learned this language, read this book, wrote that poem”. We are further told that he hated mathematics and was always undisciplined as a student: the infallible signs of oral fixation. Such types become preoccupied with those aspects of culture which their unconscious identifies with the mouth. Orally fixated individuals tend tube poor at mathematics and lack a strong sense of order. His brief vegetarianism was, again, an obvious symptom of orality. He had other stigmata of the fixation: he collected curses from many languages and loved swearing contests; he became hopelessly addicted to detective stories and westerns. Later, in his thirties, political requirements – he was to become Zionism’s foremost exponent of militarism – converted him into an absurd martinet, even in civilian life clicking his heels and bowing from the waist upon introduction. [3] Such exaggerated personal mannerisms, so latterly acquired, frequently occur in intellectuals when finally, ideologically – i.e. verbally – they grasp the need for severe discipline.

Whether Jabotinsky could have been anything but a Zionist, given his family and class background, is a moot question, but it can be said categorically that for him to have been anything other than a writer and linguist was simply an impossibility. The word was central to his character, not only in his childhood, but throughout his entire life. Jabotinsky at 60 was still the Vladimir of six.

Jabotinsky, years later, answered a follower’s detailed questionnaire on his private life, particularly his youthful memories. He did not recall his father with clarity, the older Jabotinsky was often out of the house on grain purchasing trips when Vladimir was a child at home, and his illness naturally distracted his attention from his young son. But obviously the death of a father when a boy is six years old is bound to have an effect psychologically. A boy will – unconsciously – wish for the death of the father so that he can “take care of mummy”. In his teens Vladimir rejected the Jewish religion, never praying or following the ritual commandments of the faith with the one great exception that, to please his mother, he always recited the kaddish, the prayer for the dead, on the anniversary of his father’s death. Perhaps his punctiliousness in this regard was a hypostatis, via reaction-formation, of his infantile Oedipal death-wish towards his father.

In general, Vladimir was markedly devoted to Khava as well, always writing, visiting her frequently, often from great distances, even celebrating her birthday in her absence. Biographer Joseph Schechtman stresses that, after the death of her older son Milla, when Vladimir was two, she transferred her favouritism to him rather than to Tamar, his older sister. This is not at all strange in Orthodox Jewish homes where sons are religiously paramount. As with all Zionists, Eretz Yisrael was “the land of our forefathers”, but for this paragon of devoted sons, his Zionism could only be personally fulfilled when he brought his mother to Palestine after World War I, while he still remained abroad, working for the movement. The ultra-right everywhere proclaims filial piety to be a cardinal virtue and on that score Jabotinsky was a caricature of the authoritarian profile.



1. Joseph Sehechtman, Rebel and Statesman, p.47.

2. Joseph Nedava, Jabotinsky and the Bund, Soviet Jewish Affairs, vol.III, no.1,(1973), p.40.

3. Pierre Van Paassen, Vladimir Jabotinsky: A Reminiscence, Midstream, Winter 1958, p.55.

Source :

Lettre ouverte de Shlomo Sand à un ex-ami



sand [2508123]


L’historien israélien Shlomo Sand répond à la tribune de Pierre-André Taguieff publiée dans Le Monde, à propos de l’antisémitisme en France.  « De mon point de vue, la principale caractéristique de la judéophobie parmi les groupes marginaux de banlieues est l’identification dangereusement erronée entre : sionisme, Israël et juifs. Or, c’est précisément ce que font, sans relâche et sans distinction, les dirigeants d’Israël, le CRIF…. et toi. »


Je viens de lire ton article publié dans Le Monde, en date du 23 septembre: Pierre-André Taguieff, « L’intelligentsia française sous-estime l’antisémitisme », et, une fois de plus, je suis stupéfait ! Lorsque nous nous sommes connus, dans les années 80 au siècle dernier, j’avais la plus grande estime pour tes travaux investiguant les fondements du racisme théorique, dans la France de la deuxième partie du 19 ème siècle.


J’avais beaucoup apprécié tes apports dans l’analyse et la déconstruction de la judéophobie qui a, effectivement, joué un rôle de tout premier ordre, dans la constitution d’une partie des identités de l’Hexagone, et ce jusque vers le milieu du 20ème siècle. Toutefois, depuis quelques années, à la lecture de tes publications, j’ai de plus en plus de mal à comprendre la logique qui t’anime : affirmer que la judéophobie demeure hégémonique en Occident, considérer l’islamophobie comme un phénomène plutôt marginal, dont les intellectuels exagèrent l’importance, et se faire, en en même temps, le défenseur inconditionnel du sionisme et d’Israël me laisse très perplexe !


En vérité, tu as notablement baissé dans mon estime lorsque tu as soutenu, avec enthousiasme, la guerre de George Bush contre l’Irak, et lorsque tu as exprimé une sympathie manifeste pour  « La rage et l’orgueil  », le livre islamophobe d’Oriana Fallaci (dans lequel, il est écrit, notamment, que les musulmans « se multiplient comme des rats »). Tes prises de positions passées me paraissent, cependant, moins préoccupantes que celles que tu développes, ces temps-ci, alors que se profile, dans la société française, un dangereux terrain miné, lourd de menaces pour « l’autre ».


Tu sais bien que la haine envers celui qui est un peu différent, et que l’imaginaire apeuré face à celui qui affiche une singularité, ne se limitent pas aux émotions stupides de gens incultes, situés au bas de l’échelle sociale. Tu sais bien que cela n’épargne pas les classes sociales bien éduquées. Durant la période tragique pour les juifs et leurs descendants (1850-1950), le langage judéophobe ne se donnait pas uniquement libre cours dans les faubourgs populaires, mais il s’exprimait aussi dans la haute littérature, dans la philosophie raffinée, et dans la grande presse. La haine et la peur des juifs faisaient partie intégrale des codes culturels, dans toutes les couches de la société européenne. Cet état de fait s’est, fort heureusement, modifié dans les années qui ont suivi la fin de la seconde guerre mondiale. Et si, bien sûr, il subsiste encore des préjugés à l’encontre des descendants imaginaires des meurtriers de Jésus Christ, il n’en demeure pas moins que, dans le monde occidental : de Los Angeles à Berlin, de Naples à Stockholm, de Buenos-Aires à Toronto, quelqu’un d’ouvertement judéophobe ne peut plus être journaliste ou présentateur à la télévision, ni occuper une place dirigeante dans la grande presse, ou encore détenir une chaire de professeur à l’université. En bref, la judéophobie a perdu toute légitimité dans l’espace public. L’antisémitisme de Barrès, de Huysmans ou de Céline n’est plus admis dans les cénacles littéraires, ni dans les maisons d’éditions respectables du Paris d’aujourd’hui. Le prix à payer pour la disparition de cette « belle haine », ( pour user d’un qualificatif de l’antisémitisme en vogue , il y a un siècle), fut, comme l’on sait, très élevé. De nos jours, la « belle haine » est effectivement tournée vers d’autres gens, et nous ne savons pas encore quel en sera le prix.


Cela ne veut pas dire qu’une hostilité à l’encontre des juifs n’existe pas aux confins de la société, parmi des marginaux issus de l’immigration venant du monde musulman. Dans des cités-ghettos, certains jeunes, qui n’ont pas ingurgité la judéophobie chrétienne multiséculaire, sont, malheureusement, à l’écoute de quelques imams délirants ou de gens comme Alain Soral ou Dieudonné. Comment combattre cet inquiétant phénomène marginal ? Faut-il, comme tu ne cesses de le faire, justifier la politique menée par Israël ? Faut-il, comme tu t’y emploies également, nier que l’islamophobie a, effectivement, remplacé la judéophobie, et jouit d’une légitimité croissante dans tous les secteurs culturels français ?


T’es-tu demandé quels livres ont été des « best sellers », ces derniers temps : des pamphlets ou des romans contre les juifs, comme à la fin du 19ème siècle, ou bien des écrits qui ciblent les immigrés musulmans, (et cela ne se limite pas à Houellebecq, Finkielkraut et Zemmour ) ? Quels partis politiques ont le vent en poupe : ceux qui s’en prennent aux anciens « sémites » d’hier, ou ceux qui affichent leur rejet des nouveaux « sémites » d’aujourd’hui, et au passage, ne tarissent pas d’éloges sur la façon dont Israël traite les arabes (Marine Le Pen n’est pas la seule concernée!).


Et cela m’amène au dernier point, qui m’a le plus indisposé, dans ton article. De mon point de vue, la principale caractéristique de la judéophobie parmi les groupes marginaux de banlieues est l’identification dangereusement erronée entre : sionisme, Israël et juifs. Or, c’est précisément ce que font, sans relâche et sans distinction, les dirigeants d’Israël, le CRIF…. et toi. Les voyous de quartier ne sont pas devenus judéophobes uniquement sous l’effet de prêches venimeux prononcés par des démagogues. Il y a à cela bien d’autres causes : et notamment, l’identification constante des institutions juives officielles avec la politique israélienne. Pas une seule fois, le CRIF n’a émis la moindre protestation face à l’oppression subie par la population palestinienne. Et qu’on ne vienne pas nous parler de « diabolisation d’Israël » ; Israël se diabolise lui-même chaque jour !


Comment un Etat considéré comme une démocratie occidentale peut-il, depuis bientôt cinquante ans, dominer un autre peuple, et lui dénier tout droit politique, civique, syndical , et autres ? Comment dans une ville–capitale démocratique, où des intellectuels français ont fondé un institut Emmanuel Levinas, de philosophie et d’éthique juives, un tiers de la population, qui y a été annexée de force en 1967, se trouve t’elle encore privée de tout droit politique, et exclue de toute participation à la souveraineté ?


Et par delà tout ceci : que signifie être sioniste, aujourd’hui ? Simple est la réponse : soutenir Israël comme Etat des juifs. Comment un Etat à prétention démocratique, peut-il se définir, non pas comme la République légitime de tous ses citoyens israéliens, mais comme un Etat juif, alors même qu’un quart de ses citoyens ne sont pas juifs ? Es-tu capable de comprendre que l’Etat « juif », qui t’est si cher, appartient plus, en principe à ceux qui en France se disent juifs, qu’aux étudiants palestino-israéliens à qui j’enseigne l’Histoire à l’université de Tel-Aviv ?


Est-ce la raison pour laquelle tu te considères comme sioniste et fervent sympathisant d’Israël ? Si l’on suivait ton raisonnement sur cette question, la France ne devrait-elle pas cesser de se définir comme la République de tous ses citoyens, pour devenir « l’Etat gallo-catholique » ? Non ! Bien évidemment non, après Vichy et le génocide nazi. Peut-être serait-il plus facile de définir une Etat français ressemblant à Israël, en recourant à un terme qui fait aujourd’hui florès parmi l’intelligentsia parisienne : « République judéo-chrétienne » ?


 (Traduit de l’hébreu par Michel Bilis)

Le Club est l’espace de libre expression des abonnés de Mediapart. Ses contenus n’engagent pas la rédaction.


Rabbi’s miracle cow threatens ‘apocalypse’ at al-Aqsa

Extremist group hopes hi-tech fix to engineer a perfect red heifer will be a prelude to destroying Jerusalem mosque

Third Temple activists believes a pure red heifer can be used as part of a ritual to bring about a Biblical prophecy of a new Jewish temple on the site of the al-Aqsa Mosque (Wikicommons)*


*Jonathan Cook*   Jerusalem – In his Jerusalem office, Rabbi Chaim Richman has steeped himself in an unlikely mix of 2,000-year-old Judaic tradition and the latest in American cattle-breeding technology.

His aim is to genetically engineer a perfect red heifer. If he succeeds, he believes it will open the way to destroying one of the holiest sites in Islam – the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City – and building a Jewish temple in its place.

The plan has the potential to set the Middle East on fire.

The Temple Institute, of which Richman is the international director, was established in the late 1980s with the goal of recreating a Jerusalem temple destroyed by the Romans nearly two millennia ago.

The ruins, and those of an earlier temple, are believed to lie beneath the mosque. As a result, Jews refer to the al-Aqsa compound as Temple Mount.

In a promotional video, the rabbi describes his efforts to raise a herd of red cows as an “unprecedented historical project”. He says: “For 2,000 years, we’ve been mourning the destruction of the holy temple, but the future is in our hands.

“The challenge is to raise a perfect red heifer according to the exact Biblical requirements here in the land of Israel. It’s time to stop waiting and start doing.”

The institute, which was once considered an extremist fringe group, has found an increasingly supportive audience among Jewish settlers and American Christian Zionists.   Over the past decade its ideas have also entered the Israeli mainstream: politicians, including government ministers, echo its language about a third temple, and education ministry funding exposes tens of thousands of Israeli pupils each year to its agenda.

Palestinian concerns about a growing threat to al-Aqsa have underpinned weeks of clashes with Israeli security forces and triggered a spate of so-called “lone-wolf” attacks.   Israeli experts who have studied the Temple groups agree that Palestinians are right to be worried. They warn that the ambitions of figures like Rabbi Richman could bring about an “apocalypse” in the region.   2,000-year wait

The Temple Institute’s plans for a third temple, however, will remain stuck on the drawing board unless it can find a completely red heifer – one that does not have any white or black hairs.   One of several Biblical references to the red heifer occurs in the Book of Numbers, in which God tells Moses: “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke.”

Moses is instructed to ritually sacrifice the animal and mix its ashes with cedar wood and hyssop. The high priest must then bathe in the mixture for the “purification of sin”.   Later Jewish scholars extended this cleansing ritual to the priestly caste that served in the earlier Jerusalem temples, the first built by King Solomon and the second that stood for hundreds of years before its destruction in 70AD.

In Jewish tradition, a pure red heifer has not been seen since the Second Temple period 2,000 years ago.   For decades, Temple Mount activists have scoured herds of red cattle around the globe, from Argentina to New Zealand, to find one, but without success.   Now, with cattle-breeding technology making rapid advances, Richman claims it is possible to create such a heifer through genetic selection and insemination techniques.

He has partnered with a farm in Israel’s south that has recently begun breeding Angus Red cattle prized for their meat, using frozen embryos imported from the US.   Christian Zionist help   After releasing their brief promotional campaign last summer, Richman and other Temple Institute staff are now refusing to talk to the media.

The institute appears to have come under pressure to keep a low profile from US donors who originally introduced a programme to develop Israel’s beef industry on ranches in the Negev.   It is the farmers’ expertise Richman depends on to engineer a red heifer, but US investors have been embarrassed by the publicity.

A source close to the institute told Middle East Eye that efforts to breed a pure red cow were “quietly advancing” as its staff and Israeli farmers gained greater knowledge of cattle-breeding techniques.   “Nothing will be revealed until we announce we have a found candidate [heifer], and that may be a year or two away,” said the source. “The issue is very sensitive at the moment.”

Richman returned this week from a trip to the US, after what is believed to have been an attempt to raise additional funds, including from Christian Zionist organisations. The Christian Zionist movement in the US is estimated to have tens of millions of followers.

Israeli scholar Gershom Gorenberg notes in his book The End of Days that many Christian Zionists believe that the rebuilding of the temple is “an essential condition for the Second Coming”.   No longer on fringes

According to a survey last year by the Israel Democracy Institute, 38 per cent of Israeli Jews support praying on the Temple Mount, despite the prohibitions of the Chief Rabbinate. Another poll, conducted in 2013, showed a third of Israeli Jews backed rebuilding the temple.   Yossi Gurvitz, an Israeli journalist and researcher on Temple groups, said surveys 20 years ago showed only a handful of Israelis supported such ideas. “The days are over when these groups can be seen as an insane and irrelevant element in Israeli society.”

An investigation by the daily Haaretz last month revealed that the Temple Institute had received more then $560,000 from various government ministries over the past five years. Much of it came from the education ministry. Mandatory classes in state religious schools on “Love of the Land and Temple” instruct pupils to “pray from the bottom of my heart for the Temple to be rebuilt”.

Gurvitz noted that the Temple Institute is also included as a “national service” alternative to Israel’s compulsory military draft for young religious women.

Tours for schoolchildren   Ofer Zalzberg, an Israeli researcher for the International Crisis Group, a conflict resolution think-tank based in Washington and Brussels, said the institute had used state funding to bring as many as 60,000 Israeli pupils on Temple Mount tours each year.   “The pupils are effectively obliged to attend these tours, and there they hear very different things than they would be told by their own rabbis,” he told MEE.

Zalzberg, who recently published a report on the changing status at the Temple Mount, estimates that only one in 100 rabbis share Richman’s view that Jewish activists should seize the initiative in rebuilding the Temple Mount, rather than await God’s plan.   “The problem is that the Israeli government says it is committed to the status quo [protecting Islamic authority over al-Aqsa] but it is educating the next generation to think they can change that status quo.”

Government ministers have contributed to the growing centrality of the Temple Mount in Israeli discourse. Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, of the settler Jewish Home party, has called for the temple to be rebuilt.   Temple activism is also gaining ground rapidly in Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party.

Tzipi Hotovely, the deputy foreign minister, recently said her “dream” was to see the Israeli flag flying on the Temple Mount.   Gurvitz noted that Israel’s intelligence services regularly uncovered plots by Temple Mount activists to blow up al-Aqsa. “It’s only a matter of time until one of them succeed,” he said. “Their vision of the future is apocalyptic.”

Priestly council revived   Until recently, almost all rabbis banned visits by Jews to the al-Aqsa compound, fearing that, without ritual purification, they would defile the site. That injunction has significantly weakened over time, with many nationalist rabbis now backing access.   But the Temple Institute has bigger ambitions.

Its founder, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, heads a body called the “Nascent Sanhedrin,” a council of Jewish sages established in 2004 to revive a priestly caste from the Second Temple period.   Its members include leading religious figures, such as the revered Talmudic scholar Adin Steinsaltz and a distinguished professor, Hillel Weiss.

In addition, the Temple Institute has drawn up blueprints for the temple, trained four priests, recreated their holy garments, crafted religious implements and designed the altars.   The stumbling block has been the need for a sacrificial red heifer. No priests can enter the temple until they are purified by its ashes.

Embryos imported from US   Richman’s chance to move ahead came only when Israel’s agriculture ministry partially lifted a ban on imports of cattle from the US designed to prevent the spread of mad cow disease.   Ranches in the Negev began importing embryos of Red Angus cattle two years ago to help improve Israel’s beef industry, said Yaacov Moscovitz, director of the Ramat Negev Desert AgroResearch and Business Centre.

He would not comment on whether his centre was assisting the institute’s red heifer programme.   Richman is reported to have persuaded one rancher, Moshe Tenne, to provide a live video feed from his cattle sheds to the institute’s offices in Jerusalem to ensure the cows are being raised in the right conditions.

A promotional video shows the institute’s rabbis inspecting the cattle on his ranch with a magnifying glass for imperfections.   However, according to the Haaretz newspaper, the Temple Institute may face a Catch-22.

According to Jewish law: “The red heifer must be ritually slaughtered by a cohen [priest] who is ritually pure himself – and due to the lack of red heifer ashes, such a cohen does not exist.”


The best way for Americans to defeat the Islamic state is to end support for Jewish nationalism

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Bernie Sanders


At last night’s Democratic debate in Iowa, Bernie Sanders responded to the Paris horror saying that we have to rid the earth of ISIS, that there’s a war for the soul of Islam, and the Muslim nations have to get their hands dirty too.

These belligerent and self-righteous statements were concerning because once again American leaders, and American Jews, are pure innocence when it comes to the religious dimension of the Middle East conflict. The hypocrisy would be appalling were it not so functional: the biggest impediment to both the reform of Islam and peace in the Middle East that Americans have the ability to remove is our support for a militant Jewish ideology that few Arabs and Muslims have ever accepted.

This understanding dinned in on Americans after the last big shocker, 9/11. At that time some observers pointed out a simple truth: that Osama bin Laden and his radical little army were motivated by the occupation of Palestine as well as the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia. But that idea was suppressed. They hate us because of our freedom, became the watchword, and the Bush administration’s foreign policy turned into a neoconservative war policy guided by the same ideologues who had lately advised the Israeli Prime Minister to end the peace process and move the Arabs over, from Palestine to Jordan, from Jordan to Iraq. The 9/11 Commission concluded that US policy in Palestine was part of the reason for the attacks, but that analysis was whittled down to a few sentences– even as the head of the commission said that the Iraq war was launched to protect Israel. (And Condi Rice said the war would provide “strategic relief” to Israel and Colin Powell said it was dreamed up by the Zionist thinktank the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs).

Last night Sanders pointed out that that war, authored by Hillary Clinton and George Bush, among others, is what destroyed Iraq and led to the rise of ISIS. No doubt this is the case; but the analysis is insufficient till it includes the fact that the war was dreamed up and fomented by neoconservatives like Bill Kristol and Jeffrey Goldberg, whose chief concern is the stability of Israel. Americans have never had that discussion; but it is more urgent than ever now that Syria is no more and Europe is reaping the harvest. Yes the political discussion took place in the shadows. But Walt and Mearsheimer were vilified as anti-semites for making the case that the Israel lobby was the crucial element in starting that war; and the left tiptoed away from the analysis. And this blog– for which the Iraq war was the core issue– began after my brother told me that he had demonstrated against the Vietnam War but his Jewish newspaper said this war might be good for Israel; and this blog got pushed out the door at the New York Observer, then the Nation Institute.

Bernie Sanders and I both opposed the Iraq war. Most American Jews opposed that war. But Sanders’s assertion that there is a war for the soul of Islam is hollow, cheap and condescending so long as he and the mainstream Jewish community continue to suppress the war for the soul of Judaism. That war is happening all around us in the margins; but the west will not be able to rid the earth of ISIS and the radical Islamism that we are told is not Islam (believe me, I can’t wait for their demise) till we conduct a similar scathing inventory of Jewish political beliefs.

Sanders is of course not religious . But the biggest political event of his young life, maybe his entire life, his older brother says, was the news of the Holocaust when he was a boy. After college, Sanders went to Israel before he went to Vermont, and worked on a kibbutz; the same hegira undertaken by many other Jewish leftists, including Noam Chomsky and Tony Judt. Smart men, but there was surely a utopian belief on all their parts; many Jews believed in the establishment of the Jewish state as a redemptive act of history. “It is difficult to assess which of the two miracles was greater– the miracle of [Israeli] independence or the miracle of [international Jewish] unity,” the socialist atheist David Ben-Gurion wrote. Countless Jews refer to Israel as a miracle, from Jeffrey Goldberg to Ari Shavit, and Chaim Weizmann, Jeremy Ben-Ami, and Leonard Nimoy, too. Not to mention Barack Obama and Marco Rubio.

The leading American political theorist Michael Walzer says that the long and continuous Jewish political tradition that produced Israel is derived from the bible, the story of Exodus. He writes:

Its point of departure is always the Hebrew bible…. [Its] big issues [are] election or ‘chosenness’, the holiness of the Land of Israel, the experience of exile, and the hope for redemption….That tradition begins with God’s authority, with divine rule and divine revelations. Exactly how much room there is for human authority and decision making is always a question.

And you’re worried about Christian evangelists? But Walzer is a leading authority on Israel in allegedly secular publications like the New York Review of Books!


Michael Walzer

Golda Meir famously said that she was an atheist because she didn’t believe in God; but she did believe in the Jewish people. Ben-Gurion said that the “Sinai covenant” with God had produced the miracle of Israel’s birth. Thus Jewish nationalism (Zionism) was infused from the start with religious ideas. And the creation of Israel always had a religious character for many Jews: a faith so core that it gave life meaning, a faith so strong that it overruled reality. The former SDS leader Todd Gitlin says that Jews are a chosen people: they have “an unshakable attachment to the wild idea of divine election, which, however dampened, however sublimated, continues to ripple beneath the surface of everyday events.”

Till it doesn’t just ripple and goes, Ka-Boom! That’s the sound of suicide bombers in Paris and Baghdad, and the sound of Jewish terrorists blowing up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem to get rid of the British.

All those terrorists are religious nationalists who have some Michael-Walzer-like belief in God’s guidance of their ethnocentric designs. But our world is too small to look on chosenness as anything but a dangerous philosophy.

Count me out of this religious tradition. An anti-Zionist in the war for the soul of Judaism, I call on all American Jews to examine how much of their support or tolerance of a Jewish state has a religious character– in the vision of Jewish agency as a redemptive historical force and answer to the Holocaust and the Jewish question in Europe. Secular Jews who prize their freedom in the United States must come to grips with the ideas of Jewish superiority and uniqueness that have propelled Zionist landgrabs and Jim Crow across Palestine to this day. Secular Jews who celebrated the Egyptian peace treaty and Oslo accords must reckon with their celebration of deals in which 80 million Arabs were put on ice in Egypt by the west and another 6 million in Palestine just so the Jewish state could continue in peace. Neoconservatives must come to terms with their promotion of a war that would stabilize Israel by destroying the great Arab cities of Baghdad, Damascus and Aleppo so far, with hundreds of thousands of Muslim victims–whose national colors are not displayed in grief on the Empire State Building, the Freedom Tower, or the Sydney Opera House. Till we undertake that inventory, there won’t be peace in the Middle East, or the west either.

Yesterday James North and I wrote here that we’re not monocausal; even if there was justice in Palestine it would not end Islamist violence. I stand by that point. But the ultimate question is the one Bernie Sanders raised last night, What can we do to end the religious element of the conflicts in the Middle East? And the answer is that Jews must end their support for Zionism, which has turned out to be religious, fascistic and militant, and is fueling rage across the Middle East and further.

How long can Jews not have this conversation? Hannah Arendt wrote in 1944 that opposition to Zionism drew on great understandings: the “realization of the fatal, utopian hyperbole of the demand for a Jewish commonwealth and a rejection of the idea of making all Jewish politics in Palestine dependent on the protection of great powers.” The realization of the fatal, utopian part is still the Jewish struggle 70 years later: Arendt is pointedly excluded from Michael Walzer’s retinue of the “Jewish political tradition.” Because of the inward self-governing structure of the Jewish community, anyone who says that apartheid is apartheid is a heretic who must be excommunicated; but even if you conclude that it has all the elements of apartheid, as Peter Beinart told Rabbi Sharon Brous in a Los Angeles synagogue last week, well you must support it, you must not boycott it, you must describe it as a democracy. These are foolish claims that you can only maintain in a religious space, or one from which Palestinian Americans and anti-Zionist Jews are segregated, which is to say, every Jewish establishment space in the United States, from J Street to the 92d Street Y to AIPAC to Terry Gross’s radio show. And God bless Jewish Voice for Peace.

The other illusion Arendt tried to blow up, and Walt and Mearsheimer too, was that Israel was finished if it depended on great powers, rather than the acceptance of its neighbors. That dependence was one that the State Department deprecated from the start. If the U.S. helps to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, that state will be dependent on the U.S. and it will lead to endless unrest, State’s realists said. Secretary of State George Marshall threatened to vote against his president if he went through with the decision to recognize Israel; but the nascent Israel lobby was already delivering in the ’48 election, and its vote counted more.

While Harry Truman’s predecessor Franklin Roosevelt surely saw Paris coming when he said of two leading rabbis who came into the White House to urge a Jewish state in 1944:

To think of it, two men, two holy men, coming here to ask me to let millions of people be killed in a jihad.

It was an American problem then and it’s an American problem now. We have set aside our own secular values when it comes to the Middle East. We should stop lecturing Muslims about their backward ideas till we reckon with our own.

Thanks to Scott Roth, Donald Johnson and James North.


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