What is Zionism or at least the original Zionism of Theodore Herzl? The Jewish People were a persecuted minority for many hundreds of years in countries of Europe. Zionism is the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish People where they could seek freedom from oppression and live their lives without fear of intimidation. Theodore Herzl embodied this desire and he strove tirelessly to achieve this goal in his short life time. He died at the age of forty five years.

There was nothing in Zionist ideology about occupying another people or ruling them. It symbolized the liberation struggle of the Jewish People from their oppressors. Zionism was also a democratic ideology that respected human rights and dignity of all peoples. There is nothing racist about it.

Today, Zionism has lost its relevance. Unfortunately what remains of Zionism today has become the monopoly of the right wing in Israel and this includes the Zionist religious right wing with its support of the occupation and the establishment of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They call the occupied West Bank, Judea and Samaria.

There were various viewpoints within the Zionist movements. Zionism was divided into both left wing and right wing ideology. Today the left wing ideology of Zionist socialism has been weakened and all that remains is the right wing ideology that is right to extreme right - even bordering on fascism and its racist overtones.

What remains of Zionism today is in the minds of wealthy armchair Zionists in the Diaspora who donate to Israel because of partisan political interests including interests which are on the border of corruption and bribery in high places. Even Israel's political leaders are involved.

The Holyland Project, the biggest ecological eyesore in Jerusalem, is an extreme example of greedy capitalism in action involving all kinds of middlemen in high places in various government departments who were bribed to pass these hideous plans for ugly high rises. Even the previous Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is under heavy suspicions of bribery and corruption in order to make some money by dubious means. I hate to think what would happen to East Jerusalem if there were no building freeze - more bribery and corruption involving more building of eyesores similar to the Holyland Project. Is this the new Zionism of settling Israel by confiscating Palestinian lands and distributing the spoils amongst the wealthy elite cartels?

Another aspect of the new right wing Zionism is the erosion of democracy. People who do not conform to the right wing establishment or whose political views do not conform to the Netanyahu - Lieberman - Barak - Shas axis or equivalent are seen as potential traitors or fifth column activists.

Are we beginning to deteriorate into a fascist state - a state with a kosher stamp of the late Meir Kahane, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and sidekick Danny Ayalon, MK Zevulun Orlev and the Shas racist Foreign Minister, Eli Yishai? Perhaps this coalition would cause Herzl, Jabotinsky, Begin and Ben Gurion to turn in their graves!

Nearly 43 years have passed since the Six Day War of June 1967 resulting in the occupation of Palestinian lands. This occupation has resulted in a new generation of Palestinians that have a deep hatred for Israel, the conquering power. The occupation has corrupted Israel which is rapidly losing its sensitivity for the foreign worker and its Arab citizens.

Israel is becoming racist, theocratic and fundamentalist. Openness, transparency and tolerance are no longer a virtue. At this rate every act of resistance that is legal and legitimate today may be declared illegal tomorrow.

Recently 3000 Jewish intellectuals in Europe who have a history of being very pro Israel are now calling for a halt in automatically supporting Israel's policies. The participation of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Bernard-Henri Levy and Alan Finkielkraut in the call is very significant. They realize that the poor right wing leadership is liable to cause great harm to Israel.

These intellectuals have called for a building moratorium in East Jerusalem.
Some racist bills have been introduced such as the Naqba Law which has passed its first reading. Petitions to declare "Haaretz Newspaper" a terrorist or treacherous publication should be a warning of a threat to democracy which includes freedom of the press.

There seems to be a fascist wind blowing over the State of Israel. It is an evil wind containing a mix of religious Jewish extremism with a right wing occupation ideology. It also incites people by scaring them into believing that Israel is in great danger of survival. The magic words "security considerations" are bandied about by right wing self righteous rabble rousers to justify intimidation of people whose views are too left of what is acceptable by the Israeli establishment.

The status of foreign workers is also dehumanizing. On the one hand, the Israeli Government hands out thousands of permits to employ foreign workers in agriculture while on the other hand they blame illegal foreign workers for unemployment. Most foreign workers work in jobs that Israelis are not prepared to do. Israelis are not prepared to be caregivers for their aged and rely largely on Filipinos, nor are they prepared to be dishwashers. How these people are a threat to employment of Israelis remains unclear.

Foreign workers are victims of a “revolving door" policy invented by the Israeli Government. Arab women are also victims of this policy as well as those who have not had sufficient education and are condemned to doing the most menial jobs on the market. Many of these people are forced into contractual labour and have no work security and the bare minimum of basic human rights if at all. This is a form of contractual slavery where conditions of employment by various sub contractors are shocking.

Zionism is now becoming the monopoly of extremist right wing groups in Israel. It is composed of groups that dissociate themselves from the political left. Zionism today also includes the bigoted racist ultra Orthodox Shas Party which lately identifies with Zionism. This was never the case in the past. It further proves that the left has no place in the Zionism of today.

Surely a red warning light must flicker on the dangers that confront Israel from outside and no less the danger from within. The danger from within is the rise of a right wing ideology akin to fascism and justifying the prolongation of the occupation.

These Jewish French intellectuals view from the outside what the Israeli establishment fails to see from the inside.

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"Some Arabs also see the focus too much on religion" -- then let them make themselves known, stand up, and fight it, for they would have company on their side worldwide. In the main, on the above statement, I agree with you, Basil (call me "Jim", please), but the chemistry through which violence and politics remain in suspension together and would seem to inhibit more rapid progress along the more sensible routes of nation building. Hamas has not changed a word of its obnoxious and frankly genocidal charter. Could it do so? Would it do so? Could it be made to do so? If there's a "yes" to be heard in response to any of the three, one would love to hear it come out of Gaza.
Jim, can I be frank with you? You are an intelligent man, that I have no doubt. However, I find that you are seeking to malign, disparage Muslims and Arabs on a peace group. I could find fault from the annals of history of various Jews who committed various sins, go into what Jabotinsky and Raffi Eitan and calling Arabs cockroaches.

Basil, you are a fine writer, but one premise may be dismissed: I have never considered for one second maligning or disparaging Muslims or Arabs, and the peace group context has nothing to do with that ethos. I am suggesting that we look on history together, noting events and their impact in ways all may witness. If the legitimization of Islam starts with military success at Badr, let's not overlook the portent of the Battle of the Trench three years later and the statement set in the slaughter of the Banu Qurayza.

From the "annals of history of various Jews wo committed various sins", let us read the records from historical times forward.

As a most assimilated fellow American, I'm aware of comparatively few names from Jewish history in the Christian Era (CE). There's Maimonides, of course, very hard to overlook, and any who look just a little into the Spanish Inquisition and Expulsion know of Donna Gracia, but for monsters, I'd have to work along the lines of singular contemporary exceptions like, oh, Bugsy Siegal or Bernard Maddoff who were common crooks, however big (Maddoff's shenanigans notably drained Elie Wiesel's most laudable foundation of its reserves, e.g.,

Who in political history have the Jews been hiding?

Start forward of Rome's destruction of the six hundred thousand Jews of Jerusalem in 70 CE (population figure cited by Tacitus, Book V of The Histories:

You bring up the protocols of Zion being dessiminated, and you speak of these things in isolation of historical circumstances. The protocols tap into conspiratorial views found amongst some Arabs, and, like-wise, I know many Jews who think in a conspiratorial fashion.

In light of that old Russian hoax, have there been any equally fictional publications by Jewish authors or organizations proferred as nonfiction?

Doubtless, there are a few less than flattering books about Islam, for example, Andrew Bostom's The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History, but that one has at least a real author who continues to assume responsibility for his work and provide reference supporting it.

You state that Hamas has a genocidal charter. I disagree. They have a charter that invites more warfare and is prejudicial against Jews. Israel doesn't delineate its borders, takes homes and is Judaizing East Jerusalem by making null and void the residency of the non-Jewish elements of the city, be they Christians or Muslims or atheist Arabs. It doesn't matter what their beliefs are. You are acting as if Israel is some angelic victim of some barbarian horde.

The "Mideastweb" continues to display the following on its Hamas page:

The principles of the Hamas are stated in their Covenant or Charter, given in full below. Following are highlights.
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).
"The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. "

"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

"After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying."


I don't know if that page is up to date, but if it is, it looks like an Hamas version of a constitution has planted itself on the fictional libel of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion". After all these years, what gives? Has the charter been ammended, refuted, refined, defanged?

East Jerusalem: I'd hate to have to preside over conflicting real estate claims in Jerusalem, the nature of which may be gleaned from any number of articles referencing war, confused rights of sale, possession of deeds, squatter's privileges, and so on. This one's recent: The common picture projected seems to be that of Jews driving others out of the city, but, case by case, evictions go through the courts, piling up documentation as they do. Even so critical an article as the one cited notes this:

In a cruel historical twist, nearly all of the Palestinians evicted from their homes in Sheik Jarrah in the last year-and-a-half were originally expelled in 1948 from their homes in the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Talbieh. In the wake of the Six-Day War, Israeli courts ruled that some of the houses these Palestinian refugees have lived in since 1948 are actually legally owned by Jewish Israelis, who have claims dating from before Israel’s founding.
The Palestinians have stubbornly refused to pay any rent to these “absentee” Israeli landlords for nearly 43 years; until recently, their presence was nevertheless tolerated. But under Mr. Netanyahu, a concerted effort has been made to evict these Palestinians and replace them with Israelis.

Forty-three years without the possession of a deed or mortgage . . . it has been suggested that writing and, eventually, paper were invented to keep track of agricultural stores and trades. The Egyptian had a good idea in the development of both technologies, for their purpose seems to have found a reminder in the East Jerusalem disputes. Appreciation of recorded real estate transactions lays atop assumptions about both the legitimacy and stability of the governments involved in preserving documents and sustaining legal authority in relation to them.

Used as a search term, the familiar phrase, "Jerusalem is ours" pulls up some interesting online documents, including this one from "Christian Action for Israel":

Israel as Golum would seem to fail in its capture of the Christian imagination across the board, an observation underscored by America's large and most enthused evangelical Christian community and its sometimes ecstatic support of Israel as the Jewish State.

The well documented reduction in the Christian population of Bethlehem, often ascribed to Israel, seems to have taken place predominantly under Palestinian administration and in relation to a) security measures taken by Israel in response to terrorism, and for that the easing of protocols for tourists has made a difference, and b) harrassment from Islamic quarters, and, suggested by this less than one year old video, by those in Christiandom who have adopted "replacement theology", which would "overwrite", as it were, Judaism and Jewish culture altogether:

The fact of the matter is that the US has and many Jews in the US and Europe against home demolitions, settlement building. In fact, 60% of American Jewry is against settlements. Is it angelic to empty lands from Arabs? The Germans had that in mind vis-a-vis the Slavs of the Urals to have their Germanic Garden of Eden from Germany up to the Urals. You could talk to me about World War II. I am familiar with World War II.

Is it angelic to empty the same lands of Christians and Jews?

What Nazi Germany had in mind and in common with at least some notable Muslims in the region was the extermination of Jewry worldwide. How marginal a stance is that today in Gaza, southern Lebanon, and Syria?

Rather than say, rhetorically, "that is an open question", I'd rather have it a question sincerely asked.

You mention Mufi Husseini, but you neglect to mention inconvenient parts of history like the fact that a high ranking Nazi visited various Zionists until Zionists fell out of favor with the German regime. Why did you neglect to mention that and then mentioned Husseini? What about the Haavara Agreement of 1933? I seriously doubt the Zionist leadership would have cared if Hitler killed gypsies, but spared them. Are you aware that Herzl met with an anti-Semite who was killing Jewish socialists in Russia? The Zionists supported the idea of preaching to Jewry that the outside world is evil, they are the problem, segregation is the answer, and the Jews preaching egalitarianism, the Miskalim were deluded and felt little sympathy for them when they died in Poland.

I've never heard of any high ranking Nazi visiting "various Zionists"--pray tell, who was the Nazi and who the Zionists and what deals, if any, were made between them.

Moreover, you may doubt "the Zionist leadership would have cared if Hitler killed gypsies, but spared them," but I never doubt that the Jews' first principle has been and remains "Do not do to others what you would not have done to yourselves." That's what drives us; that is why there is so significant a Jewish presence here. We care about ourselves, it is true, but we care a great deal about others as well, and as much has been borne out over centuries in Jewish contributions in every civilizing and practical field of human endeavor.

Husseini supported the Shoah, which was evil no doubt, after he felt his people were to be dispossessed. He, then, generalized all of Jewry and cared not for the fact that most of them were innocent people, including anti-Zionists or simply religious Jews. You are engaging in generalizing and maligning yourself and only painting Arabs as evil or horrible. You speak about racism from Arabs. It exists, but what about Herzl saying the penniless Arabs should be spirit across the border. Is that the thinking of one who follows the thinking of the Enlightenment, an Einstein.

Husseini got himself jailed by the British as far back as 1920 for instigating a pogrom against the Jews who, as a population element, were at best a complacent minority.

Of Zionism, I know little but suspect the ancient call of Jerusalem to the Jews sounds through generations. Tacitus has suggested 600,000 Jews sought to defend Jerusalem and Judaism from Roman aggression and the imposition of its polytheist religious inventions. Are there any Jews, however liberal and peace seeking today, who do not hear the cries of those ancestors in spirit if not in blood?

Do you have any good will vis-a-vis Arabs? If so, what is it, Jim? As far as I know from Jewish and Arab history, there is so much in both closests and there is more that both in common than what separates them. Can't you see that? Also, Hamas said it would recognize a peace agreement based on the 1967 borders. It has said that to Carter, said it publicly. I say this as someone who dislikes Hamas as much as Shimon dislikes Avigdor Lieberman. I would like to think all Arabs are not Mufti Husseini and not all Jews are Raffi Eitan. If this is a contest about who is more evil or civilized, I want no part in it. We are all just human.

My oncologist is an Egyptian, fluent in Arabic, and I have all the goodwill in the world toward him as I would any committed to learning and reason without apology. Indeed, semitic is semitic and has to do with language and language family, of which both Arabic and Hebrew are a part, and nothing to do genetics. I would well ask what has happened to Arab Jews and Christians and Muslims to have produced so many vicious ideas about one another.

That "We are all just human" forms the foundation for a more universal and altogether peaceful perception of man, the universe, and God.

God will, we may start by seeing what we may see rather than regurgitating what we may have been told and never examined.

I cannot say that throughout the Jewish world, Arabs have been demonized (and gypsies permitted to die for being gypsies), but I can say that throughout the Arab world, conflated more often than not with Islam, that Jews ("oh, Muslim, look behind that rock . . .") have been demonized, freely described as apes and dogs, killed with relish by terrorists (e.g., Munich), ejected by the hundreds of thousands from "Arab lands" (approximately 800,000 in the "Arab Expulsion" following the creation of the State of Israel), and in literature and rhetoric treated as often as not like dirt. In some enormous gyration and perversion of language and logic, Israelis have been made to endure new contemporary labels like "Nazis" and "The Master Race" while fending off, or putting up with, rockets exploding in Sderot.

I want this internationalized, intergenerational process of obfuscation and lying outright to come to its end without the world coming to war.

Let's hear what any have really got on the Jews, or let's put it away and start fresh.

That hateful book:
I am very aware that the arguments and debate sometimes take a turn for the worse because the wounds on both sides of the conflict are so deep and the stereotypes that both sides throw at each other in order to win a debating point here and there does not serve any purpose nor does it promote peace. I tend to agree with Basil in that the purpose of Mepeace is to promote cooperation, understanding and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians, despite the turbulent histories of both peoples which unfortunately has led to so much bloodshed and unnecessary wars.

It is very easy to stick to one's guns and pick out all kinds of scenarios in one another's history to carry on the hate for future generations. Both sides are not short of religious fanatics who have their own agenda of hate mongering. We have to be beyond that and reach out to each other as Palestinians and Israelis. We must never forget our turbulent history and never use it as a reason to promote hate. We must learn from the mistakes of the past and work for a better future for our children. We can only do this in a spirit of forgiveness and face the future to build a new Middle East. A Middle East that could be a positive example to the world.I do believe that it can be achieved and there are really some wonderful peacemakers on this site.
Dear Shimon, Thank you for referring to the deep wounds on both sides of the conflict. I have been watching the historical narratives being constructed by Jim and Basil in this string with increasing dismay.
Jim--when I first started reading your posts, I thought you were an agent provocateur. Your essentialization of Islam and Muslims reminded me alternately of Melanie Phillips, Bat Ye'or and Samuel Huntington, and I was alienated and wondered what you were doing on this site. When I met you at the online chats, I revised my reading of you to one you would probably not accept. I detected in you a deep anguish, born of a sense of experiencing great injustice. This injustice is rooted in two different historical episodes: the Holocaust and the treatment that you perceive Israel is receiving at the hands of its mideast enemies and Western detractors. Your great fear is that there will be a second Holocaust. This interpretation of the recent past and present has coloured your readings of Muslim histories and cultures that you seem to know second-hand only from books.
Basil--I can certainly understand your antipathy to the oversimplifications and erasures of Jim's arguments. You have sought to introduce correctives by reminding Jim of what has been "forgotten" in his narrative. Unfortunately, the result of the discussion between you and Jim has led to increasing confrontation, and the result of seeing the Palestinian narrative so distorted and defamed has resulted in your retaliating by reminding Jim of your power as a moderator.
Reading the exchange between Jim and Basil reminds me of something said to me by a former Canadian ambassador to the Middle East. In conducting diplomacy, he said, you start with what is currently on the ground. In the framework of this discussion, what is currently on the ground are the counternarratives of Jim and Basil and the many variations that exist of them. Certainly, we could spend a lot of energy trying to construct increasing refined and persuasive historical narratives. But retelling the past will contribute nothing to faciliating cohabitation in the present and future. This is the task at hand and the reason why this community has gathered on this site. This is the reason why Jim and Basil are here.
Perhaps we should leave historical discussions to historians. When the mideast problems are resolved, the histories will be written anew, anyways.



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