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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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Thanks for your reply. There is so much frustration in seeking peace in this part of the world. It is a great pity though that Israel has become so right wing and intolerant of those who are different and do not conform to the establishment viewpoint when it comes to peace. Despite all these obstacles, we must not give up and hope to reach out to the grass roots levels - that is the Palestinian People rather than their leadership. After all, the people have a hidden determination which their leaders do not have because of political interests on both sides.

The silent majority on both sides desire peace and they should coerce their respective leadership to move in that direction.

You are right! It is not easy holding the views I do and feeling that I am very much of a loner in what I believe.

Regards
Basil,

any discussion of social movment, if it is feminist, Hamas or Zionisim must consider the whole spectrum of elements in society and its inner conflicts. the inner conflict drive society to extreems where one side try to dominant the whole society.

Sadly what Shimon present here is reading of the Israel society and the ZIonist movement from the prespective that enhance one of the voices and accepts its claim of dominance where it is far of being real.

"Zionism is now becoming the monopoly of extremist right wing groups in Israel. " is acttully exactly what the right wing groups in Israel want us to think and Shimon with his good intention serve them.

Israel society idea of Zionism is changing all the time, most Israelis wish to have Palestinian state in 1967 side territory.
The red warning lights came in 1840s with the movements to reinterpret the bible to suit a 'nationalist' ideology, in 1897 with the Zionist congress, in 1917 with the shameful deal done to get the Balfour Declaration from Britain, in 1920-21 by formation of the Hagannah military organization, the red lights may have went into hyperdrive as 530 towns and villages were depopulated between 1947 and 1949.....and much more. But some peopel have selective color blindness and red is not visible to them. The blood that drenched the streets and homes of Gaza kept flowing for three weeks: an verage of 65 civilians murdered a day and it went invisible. What we are witnessing today and will see more of it soon are bitter fruits of bitter seeds sown decades ago and continued unabated. These seeds found fertile ground in the minds of people long ghettoized in a viscious cycle of isolation and building walls (mental and physical) to protect themselves from the rest of humanity leading to more hatred, more ghettoization, and more walls. Only now it can happen at far larger scales (seven million Palestinian refugees justified!). It could get far worse; as one Jewish intellectual stated: the mentality of the shtetl with access to nuclear weapons....
There was nothing shameful about the Balfour Declaration, nor the sale by Arab Muslims of land to Jews, nor the influx of Jewish and other labor into land brought under initial agricultural development. There may have been something shameful about Mohammad Amin al-Husayni's partnership with Adolph Hitler and Great Britain's vacillating between charter concepts in the region as it prepared to retrieve its military and provisional governments from its WWii-era mandates.

What we have witnessed in Israel's de-occupation of Gaza in 2005, Hamas's war on Fatah in 2006, remain records of extrajudicial killings in Gaza remain characteristic and indicative of the Islamic Small Wars worldwide--more Muslims have been killing or displacing Muslims over matters revolving around faith, politics, and raw power than any other known national or religious identification group on earth. Baghdad, Kabul, Islamabad, Mogadishu -- the numbers of dead rise into the tens of thousands while the numbers of internally displaced or made refugee climb into the millions (south central Somalia alone counts 1.25 million displaced souls).

Human Rights Watch today accused the Islamist movement Hamas of a campaign of killing and attacks against Palestinians in Gaza that has left at least 32 dead and dozens more seriously injured. The attacks came over the past three months, beginning during Israel's three-week war in Gaza. "Hamas authorities there took extraordinary steps to control, intimidate, punish and at times eliminate their internal political rivals as well as persons suspected of collaboration with Israel," Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/20/hamas-killings-gaza-hum...

The left of center newspaper The Guardian is not the center-to-right Jerusalem Post, and Human Rights Watch has a terrible track record with the Jewish community at large, but both must tell what their reporters and researchers directly detect or observe along their chosen themes, i.e., news for one and human rights for the other.

Anyone can make up stories in the form of "alternative narratives", conspiracy theories, and libels, but I find few who care to dig and sift through accounts and reports that find corroborative support in the evidence and threads of global observation extant.

I much agree with Neri on the complexity of societies and their perhaps broad and gyre-like evolution, circular but progressively rising, but would add to that complexity differences in attitudes and methods involving both the generation and reception of language and information. Every day there are lives on the line, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim, as well as others, for attacks and detonaztions do not discriminate in civilian quarters, and we disservice all by torturing language to court, pander to, or placate perceived powers, whether perceived in somebody's "street", government, or royal house.

What I read begs me to question the integrity of the information or literature informing too many associates and their almost reflexive and regurgitative invention in new and revisionist communications.

To all this I would add one thought: he who agrees with you may not be your friend; he who disagrees may not be your enemy.
Dear James, Your view of history reflected in this string seems to be motivated by a desire to exculpate Israel from allegations of human rights abuses and crimes against the Palestinians. Instead, what you seem to be doing is placing overwhelming responsibility for the plight of the Palestinians on the Palestinians themselves. Even without knowing the history in great detail, I have problems with the way you are using history to construct your discourse of exculpation.
First, you are relying solely on sources that ideologically congrue with your point of view. Walter Laquer, Efraim Karsh and Melanie Phillips are well known on the right side of the political ledger. I concede it's easier to work with supportive sources rather than with sources that challenge us, but there are traditions of academic integrity that compel us to examine all sources, and enter into dialogue with them, rather than to adhere to the few sources with which we ideologically concur. No doubt, there is unfair and malevolent criticism levelled against Israel, but rewriting history will not change that situation.
Secondly, you allude to a history of Islamic wars and terror that stretch unbroken from the 7th century to the present time, and claim that "more Muslims have been killing or displacing Muslims over matters revolving around faith, politics, and raw power than any other known national or religious identification group on earth." Millions have died in America's postwar quest to "keep the world safe for democracy", whether in proxy wars, support of repressive regimes or direct military involvement. Five million Congolese were kiled under the regime of King Leopold of Belgium in the 19th century. Millions are said to have died in the wake of the Russian and Chinese Revolutions and their aftermath. I am not sure on what basis you have reached your conclusion that conflagrations involving Muslims are worse than other examples of hostitilities. However, if Islam were immanently as violent as you assume, then we would have seen centuries of unceasing and catastrophic warfare. That has not been the case. The instrumentalization of religion in current conflicts should not be construed as meaning that religion is the prime motor of these conflicts.
Third, while grand historical narratives are one approach to understanding events of the past, they are not the only approach. Increasingly microhistory has become valued as an avenue to understanding the the dynamics of historical shifts on people's lives. How events affect individual responses and strategies is surely as important as master narratives. Hence, in dealing with the Holocaust, we do not look only at political, economic or military history--the 50,000+ survivors interviewed in Spielberg's Visual History Project provide a bank of microhistories and give us insight into how the survivorsexperienced and responded to catastrophe. I do not know if you have spoken to people who families were caught up in the naqba, but surely, in trying to understand a historical event which displaced, between 600,000-800,000 people, it behooves the serious researcher to talk to people who lived through the events, and to see how these events have affected subsequent generations.
Listening to such stories is part of what it means to work with what is on the ground. Mepeace is a wonderful opportunity to go out and hear the stories that have remained locked to you. It is a place to discover shared sorrows, shared hopes and shared humanity, both in its positive and negative forms. Most importantly, it is a place where we can probe avenues to break through the status quo. I hope that you are benefiting from these opportunities.
Postscript: Sadly, the revisions for this posting were gobbled up in cyberspace. Sorry for the sloppy state of the text.
Hi Omar,
One of the things that fascinates me is how the roots of Zionism have been differently interpreted in my lifetime. From a decolonialzing struggle for national liberation, it is now seen as a colonializing settler undertaking. The very extremes of these two interpretations raises the question of how such extremes are even possible. I think it has to do with the reinterpretation of the position of the Jew in Western society. Jews are now seen as insiders, whereas long into the postwar era, they were viewed as outsiders. In other words, the responsibility for colonialism has now been passed onto the Jews, and by extension, onto Zionism.

I do not believe the roots of political Zionism lie in the Bible. I think Herzl lived at a historical nexus. In Austria-Hungary, the growth of nationalist ideologies was beginning to pull the Austro-Hungarian Empire apart. The processes of self-affirmation and differentiation, which affected the Hungarians, Czechs, Romanians, Slovaks, Serbs, Montenegrans,etc. also affected the Jews, both positively and negatively. Furthermore, Herzl, as a journalist, witnessed two extreme responses to different models of Jewish identity in Europe. On the one hand, there was the non-assimilation of Eastern European Jews, which resulted in the deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands during the pogroms. On the other hand, there was the example of the trial of the assimilated Alfred Dreyfus in France, who was also ultimately persecuted for his Jewish roots. Faced with the non-viability of both assimilation and non-assimilation in the European nation-state, Herzl resorted to advocating the solution so favoured by his contemporaries:a separate state for a separate people. The contradictions and problems resulting from this fallacious trust in the monocultural nation-state are evident in military, political and cultural conflicts all over the world today.
Given that the shout "Death to Israel" plays worldwide, separating the conflict's local elements from its global presence is not possible, no more than separating the "Jewish State" from either Judaism or Jewry worldwide. As for the remark, "They were a tool of Zionist leaders and victims of Adolph Hitler and then used as a tool make Palestinians victims" -- bunk: Zionism gained ground, literally, on land sales and subsequent development that produced economic development sufficient to skew upwards Arab population figures in areas benefitting from that enrichment (because people go where there are jobs). Reference: Efraim Karsh's book, _Palestine Betrayed_.

Israel's mentality on the conservative side has nothing to do with wanting to feel tough: it has only to do with wanting to survive. The so-called "liberal" onslaught of derogatory and delegitimizing revisionist analyses do nothing to sway that impression and the caution and foresight it rightfully generates.
The converse has been proven false time and again, and with Islam one could start with the Banu Qurayza and trace up through Hajj Amin Husseini and on to Gaza 2005 for that. We get fuzzy also with the loose notion of WWII displacing the Jews, which is different from keeping in mind the genocidal machinery of Nazi Germany, its ideology, fascist psychology and sociology, camps, gas chambers and ovens, an horrific system much overlooked when noting the continued distribution of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the Arab world and, say, Mein Kampf turning up a bestseller in Gaza around 2003.

Neither Palestinians, Israelis, Jews, or Muslims (or Christians) need be "victims of history" today, as none in their genteel and leadership circles remain as geographically isolated or cordoned in information terms as may have been the environmental intellectual condition of the 20th Century. Our libraries are open; facts and quotations may be checked to primary sources: none need swallow so-called "alternative" or "competing" narratives whole, although if we're collectively short anywhere, it may be on resources and time, and this with the Internet helping to disseminate contemporary ideas and information rapidly but falling short in its supply of both esoteric and historical materials.

Karsh, for example, got this from Laqueur, and I'd like to find out where Laqueur got it (and will), but having read my share of Walter Laqueur's works over the years, I trust the integrity of the writer:

By then the head of the very government to which they swore their allegiance, Emir Faisal ibn Hussein of Mecca, the celebrated hero of the "Great Arab Revolt" against the Ottoman Empire and the effective leader of the nascent pan-Arab movement, evinced no hostility toward the Balfour Declaration. On the contrary, in January 1919 he signed an agreement with Chaim Weizman, the Russian-born, Manchester-based rising head of the Zionist movement, which expressed support for "the fullest guarantees for carrying into effect the British Government's Declaration of the 2nd November 1917" and for the adoption of "all necessary measures . . . to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale." In a letter to a prominent American Zionist a couple of months later, Faisal amplified this pledge: "We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement . . . and we regard [the Zionist demands] as moderate and proper. We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through: we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home."

Karsh's cited source: "Walter Laqueur (ed.), The Israel-Arab Reader (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970), pp. 37-39."

(Walter Laqueur lives in the Washington, D.C. area today, one of those "victims of history" who running ahead of the horror then spreading within Germany found himself alone in Palestine at age 16 and went on to live an extraordinary life across continents).

The quotation fits a theme recurring in the Middle East Conflict, which is observation of the local, practical, tactical, and spiritual desireability of the Jewish presence on the land and with it a mutually beneficial co-existance. It doesn't fit with the latest in the broad slams of hostile colonization indictments.
"It doesn't fit with the latest in the broad slams of hostile colonization indictments."

++++ But it fits very well. Say one thing and do the other. In fact there are some official League of Nations reports which clearly show that pattern in this.

Yes, in official round table zionist leaders promised milk and honey to all, while their actions on the ground were opposite.

And to that Faisal-Weizmann agreement, did someone ask anything about palestinians how they feel about it ? Nope, and so it begin.
Hi Shimon,
I share your concerns completely, and like you, was relieved with the emergence of JCall in Europe. I do not know what impact their petition had in Brussels, but I suspect it will not have much effect on Netanyahu's thinking, which ostentatiously plays to a domestic audience and seems solely focussed on maintaining power through the support of right-wing coalition partners.
I think that the Palestinian state is on its way.

I do not like this blame game over Netanyahu, and I am not supporter of his but now he is in a very delicate position where he needs to manage the Israeli internal conflict while progressing toward palestinian national state.

Palestinian national state is a done deal, it can be 4 month, 1 year or 3 years but we are going to see it in our generation. This fact raise a lot of stress within Israel and can bring Netanyahu government to halt .... that will delay the Palestinian state.

So if any of us want to see the change early we should think how to make this government statble, how to bring in Liveny and weaken the radicals in the Israeli society.

when people claim Netanyahu is radical they actually support the radical line from the other side, they make us belive that solution is not passiable and that settlers succeeded to distroy any hope. This is where I critisize the "left voices" as this one.

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