What is Zionism?
Zionism - Definition and History
Note - The Zionist movement developed against the background of events in Palestine/Israel and influenced those events. This account of Zionism is meant to be read together with the brief history of Israel and Palestine. Likewise, the Labor Zionist movement was a major force in the early implementation of Zionism, and therefore the history of Zionism cannot be intelligible without understanding the history of Labor Zionism.
The word "Zionism" has several different meanings:
1. An ideology - Zionist ideology holds that the Jews are a people or nation like any other, and should gather together in a single homeland. Zionism was self-consciously the Jewish analogue of Italian and German national liberation movements of the nineteenth century. The term "Zionism" was apparently coined in 1891 by the Austrian publicist Nathan Birnbaum, to describe the new ideology, but it was used retroactively to describe earlier efforts and ideas to return the Jews to their homeland for whatever reasons, and it is applied to Evangelical Christians who want people of the Jewish religion to return to Israel in order to hasten the second coming. "Christian Zionism" is also used to describe any Christian support for Israel.
2. A descriptive term - The term "Zionism" was apparently coined in 1891 by the Austrian publicist Nathan Birnbaum, to describe the new ideology. It is also used to describe anyone who believes Jews should return to their ancient homeland.
3. A political movement - The Zionist movement was founded by Theodor Herzl in 1897, incorporating the ideas of early thinkers as well as the organization built by Hovevei Tziyon ("lovers of Zion").
"Zionism" derives its name from "Zion," (pronounced "Tzyion" in Hebrew) a hill in Jerusalem. The word means "marker" or commemoration. "Shivath Tzion" is one of the traditional terms for the return of Jewish exiles. "Zionism" is not a monolithic ideological movement. It includes, for example, socialist Zionists such as Ber Borochov, religious Zionists such as rabbi Kook, revisionist nationalists such as Jabotinsky and cultural Zionists exemplified by Asher Ginsberg (Achad Haam). Zionist ideas evolved over time and were influenced by circumstances as well as by social and cultural movements popular in Europe at different times, including socialism, nationalism and colonialism, and assumed different "flavors" depending on the country of origin of the thinkers and prevalent contemporary intellectual currents. Accordingly, no single person, publication, quote or pronouncement should be taken as embodying "official" Zionist ideology.
Zionism did not spring full blown from a void with the creation of the Zionist movement in 1897. Jews had maintained a connection with Palestine, both actual and spiritual, even after the Bar Kochba revolt in 135, when large numbers of Jews were exiled from Roman Palestine, the remains of their ancient national home. The Jewish community in Palestine revived and, under Muslim rule, is estimated to have numbered as many as 300,000 about 1000 AD, prior to the Crusades. The Crusaders killed most of the Jewish population of Palestine or forced them into exile, so that only about 1,000 families remained after the reconquest of Palestine by Saladin. The Jewish community in Palestine waxed and waned with the vicissitudes of conquest and economic hardship, and invitations by different Turkish rulers to displaced European Jews to settle in Tiberias and Hebron. At different times there were sizeable Jewish communities in Tiberias, Safed, Hebron and Jerusalem, and numbers of Jews living in Nablus and Gaza. A few original Jews remained in the town of Peki'in, families that had lived there continuously since ancient times.
In the Diaspora, religion became the medium for preserving Jewish culture and Jewish ties to their ancient land. Jews prayed several times a day for the rebuilding of the temple, celebrated agricultural feasts and called for rain according to the seasons of ancient Israel, even in the farthest reaches of Russia. The ritual plants of Sukkoth were imported from the Holy Land at great expense.
From time to time, small numbers of Jews came to settle in Palestine in answer to rabbinical or messianic calls, or fleeing persecution in Europe. Beginning about 1700, groups of followers led by rabbis reached Palestine from Europe and the Ottoman empire with various programs. For example, Rabbi Yehuda Hehasid and his followers settled in Jerusalem about 1700, but the rabbi died suddenly, and eventually, an Arab mob, angered over unpaid debts, destroyed the synagogue the group had built and banned all European (Ashkenazy) Jews from Jerusalem. Rabbis Luzatto and Ben-Attar led a relatively large immigration about 1740. Other groups and individuals came from Lithuania and Turkey and different countries in Eastern Europe.
At no time between the Roman exile and the rise of Zionism was there a movement to settle the holy land that engaged the main body of European or Eastern Jews. The condition of Jews both in Europe and Eastern countries made such a movement unimaginable. Many, however, were attracted to various false Messiahs such as Shabetai Tzvi, who promised to restore Jews to their land. For most Jews, the connection with the ancient homeland and with Jerusalem remained largely cultural and spiritual, and return to the homeland was a hypothetical event that would occur with the coming of the Messiah at an unknown date in the far future. European Jews lived, for the most part in ghettos. They did not get a general education, and did not generally engage in practical trades that might prepare them for living in Palestine. Most of the communities founded by these early settlers met with economic disaster, or were disbanded following earthquakes, anti-Jewish riots or outbreaks of disease. The Jewish communities of Safed, Tiberias, Jerusalem and Hebron were typically destroyed by natural and man-made disasters and repopulated several times, never supporting more than a few thousand persons each at their height. The Jews of Palestine, numbering about 17,000 by the mid-19th century, lived primarily on charity - Halukka donations, with only a very few engaging in crafts trade or productive work.
Following the French Revolution and the emancipation of European Jewry however, the vague spiritual bonds of the Jews to the "Holy Land" began to express themselves in more concrete, though not always practical ways. About 1808, groups of Lithuanian Jews, followers of the Vilna Gaon (a famous rabbi and opponent of Hassidism) arrived in Palestine and purchased land to begin an agricultural settlement. In 1836, Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer petitioned Anschel Rothschild to buy Palestine or at least the Temple Mount for the Jews. In 1839-1840, Sir Moses Montefiore visited Palestine and negotiated with the Khedive of Egypt to allow Jewish settlement and land purchase in Palestine. However, the negotiations led to nothing, possibly frustrated by the outbreak of an anti-Semitic blood-libel in Damascus. Thereafter, Montefiore continued with less ambitious philanthropic schemes in Palestine and in Argentina. In the 1840s,
Zionism: Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer
Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer
British Zionism - The idea of a Jewish restoration also took the fancy of British intellectuals for religious and practical reasons. It had been championed by Protestants since the seventeenth century. The restoration was championed in the 1840s by Lords Shaftesbury and Palmerston, who in addition to religious motivations, thought that a Jewish colony in Palestine would help to stabilize and revive the country, Jewish national stirrings were also voiced by novelists and writers such as Lord Byron, Benjamin Disraeli, George Eliot and Walter Scott.
Zionism: Rabbi Solomon Hai Alkalai
Role of Sephardic Jews - Through an accident of history, European (Ashkenazy) Jews took the lead in organized Zionism for many years. However, Sephardic (Spanish) Jews and Jews in Arab lands maintained a closer practical tie with the holy land and with the Hebrew language than did Ashkenazy Jews and also influenced and participated in the the Zionist movement from its inception. Sarajevo-born Judah ben Solomon Hai Alkalai (1798-1878,) is considered one of the major precursors of modern Zionism. Alkalai believed that return to the land of lsrael was a precondition for the redemption of the Jewish people. Alkalai's ideas greatly influenced his Ashkenazy contemporary, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Kalischer. Alkalai was also a friend of the grandfather of Theodore Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. Another Sephardi Jew, David Alkalai, a grand-nephew of Judah Alkalai, founded and led the Zionist movement in Serbia and Yugoslavia., and attended the first Zionist Congress in Basel (1897).
Zionism And Its Impact
By Ann M. Lesch
The Zionist movement has maintained a striking continuity in its aims and methods over the past century. From the start, the movement sought to achieve a Jewish majority in Palestine and to establish a Jewish state on as much of the LAND as possible. The methods included promoting mass Jewish immigration and acquiring tracts of land that would become the inalienable property of the Jewish people. This policy inevitably prevented the indigenous Arab residents from attaining their national goals and establishing a Palestinian state. It also necessitated displacing Palestinians from their lands and jobs when their presence conflicted with Zionist interests.
The Zionist movement—and subsequently the state of ISRAEL—failed to develop a positive approach to the Palestinian presence and aspirations. Although many Israelis recognized the moral dilemma posed by the Palestinians, the majority either tried to ignore the issue or to resolve it by force majeure. Thus, the Palestine problem festered and grew, instead of being resolved.
The Zionist movement arose in late nineteenth-century Europe, influenced by the nationalist ferment sweeping that continent. Zionism acquired its particular focus from the ancient Jewish longing for the return to Zion and received a strong impetus from the increasingly intolerable conditions facing the large Jewish community in tsarist Russia. The movement also developed at the time of major European territorial acquisitions in Asia and Africa and benefited from the European powers' competition for influence in the shrinking Ottoman Empire.
One result of this involvement with European expansionism, however, was that the leaders of the nascent nationalist movements in the Middle East viewed Zionism as an adjunct of European colonialism. Moreover, Zionist assertions of the contemporary relevance of the Jews' historical ties to Palestine, coupled with their land purchases and immigration, alarmed the indigenous population of the Ottoman districts that Palestine comprised. The Jewish community (yishuv) rose from 6 percent of Palestine's population in 1880 to 10 percent by 1914. Although the numbers were insignificant, the settlers were outspoken enough to arouse the opposition of Arab leaders and induce them to exert counter pressure on the Ottoman regime to prohibit Jewish immigration and land buying.
As early as 1891, a group of Muslim and Christian notables cabled Istanbul, urging the government to prohibit Jewish immigration and land purchase. The resulting edicts radically curtailed land purchases in the sanjak (district) of JERUSALEM for the next decade. When a Zionist Congress resolution in 1905 called for increased colonization, the Ottoman regime suspended all land transfers to Jews in both the sanjak of Jerusalem and the wilayat (province) of Beirut.
After the coup d'etat by the Young Turks in 1908, the Palestinians used their representation in the central parliament and their access to newly opened local newspapers to press their claims and express their concerns. They were particularly vociferous in opposition to discussions that took place between the financially hard-pressed Ottoman regime and Zionist leaders in 1912-13, which would have let the world Zionist Organization purchase crown land (jiftlik) in the Baysan Valley, along the Jordan River.
The Zionists did not try to quell Palestinian fears, since their concern was to encourage colonization from Europe and to minimize the obstacles in their path. The only effort to meet to discuss their aspirations occurred in the spring of 1914. Its difficulties illustrated the incompatibility in their aspirations. The Palestinians wanted the Zionists to present them with a document that would state their precise political ambitions, their willingness to open their schools to Palestinians, and their intentions of learning Arabic and integrating with the local population. The Zionists rejected this proposal.
The British Mandate
The proclamation of the BALFOUR DECLARATION on November 2, 1917, and the arrival of British troops in Palestine soon after, transformed the political situation. The declaration gave the Zionist movement its long-sought legal status. The qualification that: nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine seemed a relatively insignificant obstacle to the Zionists, especially since it referred only to those communities': civil and religious rights, not to political or national rights. The subsequent British occupation gave Britain the ability to carry out that pledge and provide the protection necessary for the Zionists to realize their aims.
In fact, the British had contracted three mutually contradictory promises for the future of Palestine. The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 with the French and Russian governments proposed that Palestine be placed under international administration. The HUSAYN-MCMAHON CORRESPONDENCE, 1915-1916, on whose basis the Arab revolt was launched, implied that Palestine would be included in the zone of Arab independence. In contrast, the Balfour Declaration encouraged the colonization of Palestine by Jews, under British protection. British officials recognized the irreconcilability of these pledges but hoped that a modus vivendi could be achieved, both between the competing imperial powers, France and Britain, and between the Palestinians and the Jews. Instead, these contradictions set the stage for the three decades of conflict-ridden British rule in Palestine.
Initially, many British politicians shared the Zionists' assumption that gradual, regulated Jewish immigration and settlement would lead to a Jewish majority in Palestine, whereupon it would become independent, with legal protection for the Arab minority. The assumption that this could be accomplished without serious resistance was shattered at the outset of British rule. Britain thereafter was caught in an increasingly untenable position, unable to persuade either Palestinians or Zionists to alter their demands and forced to station substantial military forces in Palestine to maintain security.
The Palestinians had assumed that they would gain some form of independence when Ottoman rule disintegrated, whether through a separate state or integration with neighboring Arab lands. These hopes were bolstered by the Arab revolt, the entry of Faysal Ibn Husayn into Damascus in 1918, and the proclamation of Syrian independence in 1920. Their hopes were dashed, however, when Britain imposed direct colonial rule and elevated the yishuv to a special status. Moreover, the French ousted Faysal from Damascus in July 1920, and British compensation—in the form of thrones in Transjordan and Iraq for Abdullah and Faysal, respectively—had no positive impact on the Arabs in Palestine. In fact, the action underlined the different treatment accorded Palestine and its disadvantageous political situation. These concerns were exacerbated by Jewish immigration: the yishuv comprised 28 percent of the population by 1936 and reached 32 percent by 1947 (click here for Palestine's population distribution per district in 1946).
The British umbrella was CRITICALLY important to the growth and consolidation of the yishuv, enabling it to root itself firmly despite Palestinian opposition. Although British support diminished in the late 1930s, the yishuv was strong enough by then to withstand the Palestinians on its own. After World War II, the Zionist movement also was able to turn to the emerging superpower, the UNITED STATES, for diplomatic support and legitimization.
The Palestinians' responses to Jewish immigration, land purchases, and political demands were remarkably consistent. They insisted that Palestine remain an Arab country, with the same right of self-determination and independence as Egypt, Transjordan, and Iraq. Britain granted those countries independence without a violent struggle since their claims to self-determination were not contested by European settlers. The Palestinians argued that Palestinian territory COULD NOT AND SHOULD NOT be used to solve the plight of the Jews in Europe, and that Jewish national aspirations should not override their own rights.
Palestinian opposition peaked in the late 1930s: the six-month general strike in 1936 was followed the next year by a widespread rural revolt. This rebellion welled up from the bottom of Palestinian society—unemployed urban workers, displaced peasants crowded into towns, and debt-ridden villagers. It was supported by most merchants and professionals in the towns, who feared competition from the yishuv. Members of the elite families acted as spokesmen before the British administration through the ARAB HIGHER COMMITTEE, which was formed during the 1936 strike. However, the British banned the committee in October 1937 and arrested its members, on the eve of the revolt.
Only one of the Palestinian political parties was willing to limit its aims and accept the principle of territorial partition: The NATIONAL DEFENSE PARTY, led by RAGHIB AL-NASHASHIBI (mayor of JERUSALEM from 1920 to 1934), was willing to accept partition in 1937 so long as the Palestinians obtained sufficient land and could merge with Transjordan to form a larger political entity. However, the British PEEL COMMISSION's plan, announced in July 1937, would have forced the Palestinians to leave the olive- and grain- growing areas of Galilee, the orange groves on the Mediterranean coast, and the urban port cities of HAIFA and ACRE. That was too great a loss for even the National Defense Party to accept, and so it joined in the general denunciations of partition.
During the PALESTINE MANDATE period the Palestinian community was 70 percent rural, 75 to 80 percent illiterate, and divided internally between town and countryside and between elite families and villagers. Despite broad support for the national aims, the Palestinians could not achieve the unity and strength necessary to withstand the combined pressure of the British forces and the Zionist movement. In fact, the political structure was decapitated in the late 1930s when the British banned the Arab Higher Committee and arrested hundreds of local politicians. When efforts were made in the 1940s to rebuild the political structure, the impetus came largely from outside, from Arab rulers who were disturbed by the deteriorating conditions in Palestine and feared their repercussions on their own newly acquired independence.
The Arab rulers gave priority to their own national considerations and provided limited diplomatic and military support to the Palestinians. The Palestinian Arabs continued to demand a state that would reflect the Arab majority's weight—diminished to 68 percent by 1947. They rejected the UNITED NATIONS (U.N.) partition plan of November 1947, which granted the Jews statehood in 55 percent of Palestine, an area that included as many Arab residents as Jews. However, the Palestinian Arabs lacked the political strength and military force to back up their claim. Once Britain withdrew its forces in 1948 and the Jews proclaimed the state of Israel, the Arab rulers used their armed forces to protect those zones that the partition plans had ALLOCATED to the Arab state. By the time armistice agreements were signed in 1949, the Arab areas had shrunk to only 23 percent of Palestine. The Egyptian army held the GAZA STRIP, and Transjordanian forces dominated the hills of central Palestine. At least 726,000 of the 1.3 million Palestinian Arabs fled from the area held by Israel. Emir Abdullah subsequently annexed the zone that his army occupied, renaming it the WEST BANK.
The Zionist Movement
The dispossession and expulsion of a majority of Palestinians were the result of Zionist policies planned over a thirty-year period. Fundamentally, Zionism focused on two needs:
to attain a Jewish majority in Palestine;
to acquire statehood irrespective of the wishes of the indigenous population. Non-recognition of the political and national rights of the Palestinian people was a KEY Zionist policy.
Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, placed maximalist demands before the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919. He stated that he expected 70,000 to 80,000 Jewish immigrants to arrive each year in Palestine. When they became the majority, they would form an independent government and Palestine and would become: "as Jewish as England is English". Weizmann proposed that the boundaries should be the Mediterranean Sea on the west; Sidon, the Litani River, and Mount Hermon on the north; all of Transjordan west of the Hijaz railway on the east; and a line across Sinai from Aqaba to al-Arish on the south. He argued that: "the boundaries above outlined are what we consider essential for the economic foundation of the country. Palestine must have its natural outlet to the sea and control of its rivers and their headwaters. The boundaries are sketched with the general economic needs and historic traditions of the country in mind." Weizmann offered the Arab countries a free zone in Haifa and a joint port at Aqaba.
Weizmann's policy was basically in accord with that of the leaders of the yishuv, who held a conference in December 1918 in which they formulated their own demands for the peace conference. The yishuv plan stressed that they must control appointments to the administrative services and that the British must actively assist their program to transform Palestine into a democratic Jewish state in which the Arabs would have minority rights. Although the peace conference did not explicitly allocate such extensive territories to the Jewish national home and did not support the goal of transforming all of Palestine into a Jewish state, it opened the door to such a possibility. More important, Weizmann's presentation stated clearly and forcefully the long-term aims of the movement. These aims were based on certain fundamental tenets of Zionism:
1. The movement was seen not only as inherently righteous, but also as meeting an overwhelming need among European Jews.
2. European culture was superior to indigenous Arab culture; the Zionists could help civilize the East.
3. External support was needed from a major power; relations with the Arab world were a secondary matter.
4. Arab nationalism was a legitimate political movement, but Palestinian nationalism was either illegitimate or nonexistent.
5. Finally, if the Palestinians would not reconcile themselves to Zionism, force majeure, not compromise, was the only feasible response.
Adherents of Zionism believed that the Jewish people had an inherent and inalienable right to Palestine. Religious Zionists stated this in biblical terms, referring to the divine promise of the land to the tribes of Israel. Secular Zionists relied more on the argument that Palestine alone could solve the problem of Jewish dispersion and virulent anti-Semitism. Weizmann stated in 1930 that the needs of 16 million Jews had to be balanced against those of 1 million Palestinian Arabs: "The Balfour Declaration and the Mandate have definitely lifted out of the context of the Middle East and linked it up with the world-wide Jewish problem....The rights which the Jewish people has been adjudged in Palestine do not depend on the consent, and cannot be subjected to the will, of the majority of its present inhabitants."
This perspective took its most extreme form with the Revisionist movement. Its founder, Vladimir Jabotinsky, was so self-righteous about the Zionist cause that he justified any actions taken against the Arabs in order to realize Zionist goals.
Zionists generally felt that European civilization was superior to Arab culture and values. Theodor Herzl, the founder of the World Zionist Organization, wrote in the Jewish State (1886) that the Jewish community could serve as: "part of a wall of defense for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism."
Weizmann also believed that he was engaged in a fight of civilization against the desert. The Zionists would bring enlightenment and economic development to the backward Arabs. Similarly, David Ben-Gurion, the leading labor Zionist, could not understand why Arabs rejected his offer to use Jewish finance, scientific knowledge, and technical expertise to modernize the Middle East. He attributed this rejection to backwardness rather than to the affront that Zionism posed to the Arabs' pride and to their aspirations for independence.
Zionist leaders recognized that they needed an external patron to legitimize their presence in the international arena and to provide them legal and military protection in Palestine. Great Britain played that role in the 1920s and 1930s, and the United States became the mentor in the mid-1940s. Zionist leaders realized that they needed to make tactical accommodations to that patron—such as downplaying their public statements about their political aspirations or accepting a state on a limited territory—while continuing to work toward their long-term goals. The presence and needs of the Arabs were viewed as secondary. The Zionist leadership never considered allying with the Arab world against the British and Americans. Rather, Weizmann, in particular, felt that the yishuv should bolster the British Empire and guard its strategic interests in the region. Later, the leaders of Israel perceived the Jewish state as a strategic asset to the United States in the Middle East.
Zionist politicians accepted the idea of an Arab nation but rejected the concept of a Palestinian nation. They considered the Arab residents of Palestine as comprising a minute fraction of the land and people of the Arab world, and as lacking any separate identity and aspirations (click here, to read our response to this myth). Weizmann and Ben-Gurion were willing to negotiate with Arab rulers in order to gain those rulers' recognition of Jewish statehood in Palestine in return for the Zionists' recognition of Arab independence elsewhere, but they would not negotiate with the Arab politicians in Palestine for a political settlement in their common homeland. As early as 1918, Weizmann wrote to a prominent British politician: "The real Arab movement is developing in Damascus and Mecca...the so-called Arab question in Palestine would therefore assume only a purely local character, and in fact is not considered a serious factor."
In line with that thinking, Weizmann met with Emir Faysal in the same year, in an attempt to win his agreement to Jewish statehood in Palestine in return for Jewish financial support for Faysal as ruler of Syria and Arabia.
Ben-Gurion, Weizmann, and other Zionist leaders met with prominent Arab officials during the 1939 LONDON CONFERENCE, which was convened by Britain to seek a compromise settlement in Palestine. The Arab diplomats from Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia criticized the exceptional position that the Balfour Declaration had granted the Jewish community and emphasized the estrangement between the Arab and Jewish residents that large scale Jewish immigration had caused. In response, Weizmann insisted that Palestine remain open to all Jews who wanted to immigrate, and Ben-Gurion suggested that all of Palestine should become a Jewish state, federated with the surrounding Arab states. The Arab participants criticized these demands for exacerbating the conflict, rather than contributing to the search for peace. The Zionists' premise that Arab statehood could be recognized while ignoring the Palestinians was thus rejected by the Arab rulers themselves.
Finally, Zionist leaders argued that if the Palestinians could not reconcile themselves to Zionism, then force majeure, not a compromise of goals, was the only possible response. By the early 1920s, after violent Arab protests broke out in Jaffa and Jerusalem, leaders of the yishuv recognized that it might be impossible to bridge the gap between the aims of the two peoples. Building the national home would lead to an unavoidable clash, since the Arab majority would not agree to become a minority. In fact, as early as 1919 Ben-Gurion stated bluntly: "Everybody sees a difficulty in the question of relations between Arabs and Jews. But not everybody sees that there is no solution to this question. No solution! There is a gulf, and nothing can fill this gulf....I do not know what Arab will agree that Palestine should belong to the Jews....We, as a nation, want this country to be ours; the Arabs, as a nation, want this country to be theirs."
As tensions increased in the 1920s and the 1930s Zionist leaders realized that they had to coerce the Arabs to acquiesce to a diminished status. Ben-Gurion stated in 1937, during the Arab revolt:
"This is a national war declared upon us by the Arabs....This is an active resistance by the Palestinians to what they regard as a usurpation of their homeland by the Jews....But the fighting is only one aspect of the conflict, which is in its essence a political one. And politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves."
This sober conclusion did not lead Ben-Gurion to negotiate with the Palestinian Arabs: instead he became more determined to strengthen the Jewish military forces so that they could compel the Arabs to relinquish their claims.
The History of Zionism & Judaism
This text is from an article called "An Open Letter" published in the Jewish magazine, "Hachoma". We think it provides a good historical overview of the history of Zionism and why the Zionist ideology is opposed by religious Orthodox Jews.
The Jewish people, from its inception, has been unique by its identity as a religious entity. Through the centuries its religious character had been a premise agreed upon by Jews and non-Jews alike. Our faith demands as the fundamental condition for recognition as a Jew, belief and adherence to the word of G-d, as was revealed to our forefathers on Mount Sinai. This is in itself, according to the tenets of the Jewish religion, sufficient to fulfill the definition of a Jew. Our religious and traditional history bears no aspect of racism. Hence, one of non-Jewish origin is capable of being proselytized and attaining the same status as a born Jew. Conversely, one of Jewish birth who does not recognize his being bound to the Jewish Torah, is by Jewish law a heretic, and therefore forfeits his spiritual birthrights as a Jew.
The purpose of the Jew is to bear witness to the existence of G-d, through his adherence to the Torah. The Al-mighty granted the Jews the land of Israel as the particular setting which would serve as the most conducive atmosphere to their performance of their duties to G-d.
The Jews in ancient times were banished from the land of Israel because they had failed to fulfill their obligations to the Al-mighty. Every Jew acknowledges this in his prayers (Umipnei Chatoeinu Golinu Meiartzeinu). They accepted the penalty of exile and were at that time expressed sworn by the Al-mighty not to accelerate their redemption on their own, and especially not to rebel against the nations under whose rule they were found. To the contrary, every Jew is commanded to pray for the peace and well being of the government of which he is the subject.
Through all the years of exile, pious Jews as individuals were attracted to reside in the Holy Land because of its innate holy character and the opportunity it offered for the observance of various precepts bound in the land. Jews as a whole continue to pray that the Al-mighty return his Divine presence to the Land of Israel, by the coming of the Messiah, who will build His Temple, from whence will emanate Divine Wisdom and ultimate spiritual fulfillment of the entire human race.
Through the many years that Jews resided in the Holy Land for this purpose, they enjoyed tranquil and cordial relations with the non-Jewish population there.
The Zionist movement which was formed at the latter part of the last century, sought to endow the Jews with a nationalistic character which was heretofore strange to them. It sought to deprive them of their historically religious character and offered in substitution of faith in G-d and adherence to the Torah, and belief in their ultimate redemption by the coming of the Messiah, a nationalistic ideology and the possibility of establishing through political media, a Jewish national homeland.
During the period of the British Mandate, the Balfour Declaration, which recognized the eventual possibility of founding a Jewish national homeland, in Palestine, was affirmed to be the British government. The Jewish Agency, who then was the Chief representative of Zionist interests in the Holy Land, was entrusted with the issuance of visas to the Holy Land, thus resulting in an increased Zionist immigration from various parts of the world, which ultimately succeeded in superceding in numbers, the veteran Orthodox dwellers.
Orthodox Jewry all over the world and the Orthodox Community in the Holy Land in particular, immediately sensed in this stage of Zionist success, the threat of grave danger for the religious future of Jews. The Arab inhabitants began to exhibit open hostility to their Jewish neighbors. The British government failed to distinguish between the Orthodox community, who for generations in habited the Holy Land, and the newly arrived Zionist immigrants.
With the acquisition by the Zionist nationalists of the power to organize communities in Palestine, they formed the Vaad Haleumi Leknesset Yisroel (National Jewish Council Committee). This committee ignored the rights of the Orthodox veteran dwellers who did not recognize this validity of Jewish nationality, and whose identification as Jews was solely with their loyalty to their religious heritage. The religious inhabitants, on the other hand, shuddered at the prospects of spiritual disintegration of World Jewry, with the new rise to power of the Zionist nationalists.
The Orthodox inhabitants actively objected to being subject to the authority of the secularists. They appealed their cause to the League of Nations, who consequently granted them a "Right of exclusion" to the subjugation to the Vaad Haleumi, which rights provided that any Jew wishing not to be incorporated into the Vaad Haleumi, may remain lawfully independent if he so stated his wish in writing. Thousands of Jews did so.
Such was the case until November 1948, when the United Nations finally sanctioned the establishment of a Zionist State. We do not doubt that their success in finally realizing their goal was due in great measure to their having misled the world into viewing the Zionist cause as the Jewish cause. The formation of the Zionist state resulted in the automatic deprivation of the autonomy heretofore possessed by the Orthodox inhabitants of the Holy Land.
The Zionists grasped in the acquisition of their new powers, the opportunity to openly disassociate themselves from any identification with Jews as a religion. They systematically began to orient the minds of their generations according to the tenets of Zionist nationalism. Through the Ministry of Religions they employed part of the Rabbinate to assist them in their aims.
The religious Jews who by virtue of their faith, clearly contradicted Zionist nationalism, and who had lived peacefully with their Arab neighbors for generations, became unwillingly identified with the Zionist cause and their struggle with the Arabs. They requested the United Nations that Jerusalem be designated as a defacto international city. They appealed to the diplocatic corps assigned to Jerusalem -- but to no avail. They were hence confronted with the choice of either becoming a part of the Zionist State, which diametrically opposed the interests of Jews as a religion, or abandoning the land of which their forefathers were the first Jewish settlers.
We find it of supreme importance to emphasize that we are fearful of the consequences of the Zionist rebellion against the Creator, as stated expressly in Jeremich, "For it is bad and bitter your renunciation of G-d..." We wish not to be affected by the behavior of this government who in the name of Israel, persist in their renunciation and utter disregard of religious Judaism such as is clearly attested by their laws expressly permitting wanton autopsies (Law of Anatomy and Pathology, 1953), forcible desecration of the Sabbath (Law of Emergency Labor Draft 1967: PPS 1, 19; 27, 36), profanation of Holy Sites by retaining non-religious custodians, desecration of Holy Cemetaries by Safed, Beth Shearim and elsewhere, and countless more examples, proof of which is readily available.
Insofar as all human being find necessary the protection of their rights as human beings, we hereby request all those that find it within their power, to aid us in reacquiring the rights we possessed prior to the formation of the Zionist State*, to remain lawfully independent of the Zionist authority.
Zionism in the Age of the Dictators
Why another book on the Second World War, which is probably the most written about subject in human history? Why another book on the Holocaust, which has been movingly described by many survivors and scholars? As a general subject, the age of the dictators, the world war, and the Holocaust have indeed been covered – but has the interaction between Zionism and Fascism and Nazism been adequately explored? And if not, why not?
The answer is quite simple. Different aspects of the general subject have been dealt with, but there is no equivalent of the present work, one that attempts to present an overview of the movement's world activities during that epoch. Of course, that is not an accident, but rather a sign that there is much that is politically embarrassing to be found in that record.
Dealing with the issues brings difficult problems, one of the most difficult arising out of the emotions evoked by the Holocaust. Can there by any doubt that many of the United Nations delegates who voted for the creation of an Israeli state, in 1947, were motivated by a desire to somehow compensate the surviving Jews for the Holocaust? They, and many of Israel’s other well-wishers, cathected the state with the powerful human feelings they had toward the victims of Hitler’s monstrous crimes. But therein was their error: they based their support for Israel and Zionism on what Hitler had done to the Jews, rather than on what the Zionists had done for the Jews. To say that such an approach is intellectually and politically impermissable does not denigrate the deep feelings produced by the Holocaust.
Zionism, however, is an ideology, and its chronicles are to be examined with the same critical eye that readers should bring to the history of any political tendency. Zionism is not now, nor was it ever, co-extensive with either Judaism or the Jewish people. The vast majority of Hitler’s Jewish victims were not Zionists. It is equally true, as readers are invited to see for themselves, that the majority of the Jews of Poland, in particular, had repudiated Zionism on the eve of the Holocaust, that they abhored the politics of Menachem Begin, in September 1939, one of the leaders of the self-styled “Zionist-Revisionist” movement in the Polish capital. As an anti-Zionist Jew, the author is inured to the charge that anti-Zionism is equivalent to anti-Semitism and “Jewish self-hatred”.
It is scarcely necessary to add that all attempts to equate Jews and Zionists, and therefore to attack Jews as such, are criminal, and are to be sternly repelled. There cannot be even the slightest confusion between the struggle against Zionism and hostility to either Jews or Judaism. Zionism thrives on the fears that Jews have of another Holocaust. The Palestinian people are deeply appreciative of the firm support given them by progressive Jews, whether religious – as with Mrs Ruth Blau, Elmer Berger, Moshe Menuhin, or Israel Shahak – or atheist – as with Felicia Langer and Lea Tsemel and others on the left. Neither nationality nor theology nor social theory can, in any way, be allowed to become a stumbling block before the feet of those Jews, in Israel or elsewhere, who are determined to walk with the Palestinian people against injustice and racism. It can be said, with scientific certainty, that, without the unbreakable unity of Arab and Jewish progressives, victory over Zionism is not merely difficult, it is impossible.
Unless this book were to become an encyclopaedia, the material had necessarily to be selected, with all due care, so that a rounded picture might come forth. It is inevitable that the scholars of the several subjects dealt with will complain that not enough attention had been devoted to their particular specialties. And they will be correct, to be sure; whole books have been written on particular facets of the broader problems dealt with herein, and the reader is invited to delve further into the sources cited in the footnotes. An additional difficulty arises out of the fact that so much of the original material is in a host of languages that few readers are likely to know. Therefore, wherever possible, English sources and translations are cited, thus giving sceptical readers a genuine opportunity to verify the research apparatus relied upon.
As readers are committed to discovering by reading this book, the consequences of Zionist ideology deserve study and exposure. That is what is attempted here. As an unabashed anti-Zionist, I clearly conclude that Zionism is wholly incorrect; but that is my conclusion drawn from the evidence. The conclusions are, in short, my own. As for the persuasiveness of the arguments used in arriving at them, readers are invited to judge for themselves.