By Leon Rosselson
January 19th, 2021
hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then thou
shalt see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
Zionists have no right to accuse others of antisemitism when they
themselves support the most racist state on the planet.
Racism is deeply embedded in Israel’s DNA. Israel was founded
on an ideology of racism — specifically racism towards the Diaspora
Jew. It is no secret that Herzl, the founding father of political
Zionism, was an antisemite. His writings are full of anti-semitic
stereotypes. He despised the Diaspora Jew, the stetl-dwelling Jew, the
ghetto Jew. He referred to Jews as ‘money-worshipping people’ and wrote
about ‘the frightful financial power of the Jews’. His antipathy towards
Jews for being Jews is the very essence of antisemitism. In 1885, after
attending a soiree in Berlin, he wrote in his diary that there had been
present ‘some thirty or forty ugly little Jews and Jewesses. No consoling sight’. Little? Ugly? All of them?
In 1897, a year after the publication of Der Judenstaat, he wrote an article for the Zionist journal Die Welt. He called it Mauschel,
a derogatory German slang expression, equivalent to ‘kike’, for the
Diaspora Jew, the Jew who spoke Yiddish or who spoke German with a
Yiddish accent; the Jew who had no interest in Herzl’s Jewish state. The
Mauschel, he wrote, is ‘crooked, sleazy’, ‘a
hideous distortion of the human character, something unspeakably low and
repugnant’. Merely to look at him is ‘enough to make us feel sick’. He
contrasted the Mauschel with the ‘new Jew’ , the
Zionist Jew, ‘a human being like any other’, the Jew who, transformed by
living in a Jewish state, would be modern, healthy, honourable, manly,
courageous in the image of the heroic ancient Hebrews like the Maccabees
and Bar Kochba.
Herzl believed that the Jews who did not choose to live in his Judenstaat would eventually assimilate and disappear which, for him, would be a good outcome. In his view, Jews were a contaminated race. ‘At some dark moment in our history,’ he wrote, ‘some inferior human material got into our unfortunate people and blended with it.’ It is no surprise then that antisemites were fans of Herzl’s project. After the 1st Zionist Congress in 1897 the Kaiser wrote “I am all in favour of the ‘’kikes’ going to Palestine. The sooner they take off the better.”
Herzl’s first bright idea for solving ‘the Jewish problem’ was a mass conversion of Austrian Jews to Catholicism. ‘It should be done on a Sunday, in St. Stephen’s Cathedral,’ he wrote, ‘in the middle of the day, with music and pride, publicly.’ The
logic is impeccable. No more Jews, no more antisemitism. Then,
realising that conversion wasn’t going to work, he conceived of the
project that would obsess him for the rest of his life: a Jewish State.
As I have pointed out in a previous blog, and as anyone who reads Der Judenstaat
will discover, the most striking thing about Herzl’s Jewish state is
that there is virtually nothing Jewish about it. The Jewish religion —
which he had no interest in — will play no part in the administration of
the state. We shall keep our priests within the confines of their temples…
There is no mention of keeping the Sabbath or celebrating Jewish
festivals. The flag — seven golden stars on a white background — has no
Jewish symbolism. As for the language that the ‘new Jews’ will speak,
Yiddish is absolutely verboten. ‘We
shall give up using those miserable stunted jargons, those Ghetto
languages which we still employ, for those are the stealthy tongues of
prisoners.’ He didn’t believe Hebrew was practical. Instead there
will be a ‘federation of tongues’ until the most useful language wins
out. It’s not difficult to guess that Herzl’s favoured language would
have been German since, for him, German civilisation and culture were
the most advanced in the world.
In short — and I don’t think this is an exaggeration — the aim of Herzl’s Zionist project was to disappear Jews from the world.
‘The negation of the Diaspora’ — shlilat ha’galut —
runs through Zionism from left to right. Jabotinsky, the founder of
Revisionist Zionism, the party of Menachem Begin and Netanyahu, followed
Herzl in contrasting the Diaspora Jew, ‘the Yid’, with the ’new Jew’,
yet to be created. ‘Because the Yid is ugly, sickly and lacks decorum,’ he wrote,
‘we shall endow the ideal image of the Hebrew with masculine beauty.
The Yid is trodden upon and easily frightened and, therefore, the Hebrew
ought to be proud and independent…The Yid has accepted submission and,
therefore, the Hebrew ought to learn how to command…’
Gurion, leader in the ruthless war against the Palestinians which led
to the founding of the state of Israel, shared this prejudice against
Eastern European Diaspora Jews and their ‘jarring foreign language’, as
he put it, though he himself came from a Yiddish-speaking family.
Diaspora life, he asserted in a letter to Simon Rawidowicz, is ‘a sad, wounded, limping and impoverished existence’. In a conversation with Isaac Deutscher he called Jews living in the Diaspora ‘rootless cosmopolitans. There can be nothing worse than that.’ It was their duty, therefore, to settle in the state of Israel because ‘only in a state of the Jews is a full and complete Jewish life possible’. Since
he was totally secular, it’s not clear what he meant by ‘a complete
Jewish life’. Like Herzl, whom he revered, he believed that Jews living
outside the Jewish state would assimilate and disappear.
For Ben Gurion, as for Herzl and Jabotinsky, the ideal Jew was ‘the new Jew’ (who is, it seems, always a man) preferably a ‘tzabar’, born and bred in the Jewish state, the ‘chalutz’, the
pioneer, Hebrew-speaking, strong, healthy, outdoor, self-confident,
scorning the ‘sin of weakness’, everything that the Diaspora Jew was
not. He didn’t think much of the ‘Hitler Zionists’, the German Jews who
had been allowed to emigrate to Palestine in the 1930s, because they
came as refugees, not pioneers. He referred to Holocaust survivors and
Mizrahi Jews as ‘human debris’.
When I think back to my teenage
years in the Socialist-Zionist youth movement Hashomer Hatzair, I have a
picture in my mind of our ‘shaliach’, Gaby, who had
been sent to persuade all the Jewish boys and girls to ‘make aliyah’.
He was a big strong man, the very image of a chalutz, a perfect model for the ‘new Jew’, exemplifying all those splendid Zionist virtues. Chazak ve’ematz, he commanded. Be strong and courageous.The only thing he wasn’t, in my eyes, was Jewish.
you delve into Hebrew literature of the 1940s to 1970s, you meet more
blue-eyed blonds than you could meet anywhere in Israel….In Yizhar’s
works, the ‘others’ are ugly Jews of Middle Eastern origin or Diaspora
Jews from Europe. In Shamir’s novel, the Other is a Diaspora Jew, a
Holocaust survivor, described as ‘a podgy bald man’ and also as a
(Yitzhak Laor The Myths of Liberal Zionism)
racism of Zionism — an ideology of Ashkenazi Jews only — was even more
virulent against the wrong sort of Diaspora Jew — Mizrahi Jews, Jews
from N. Africa and the Arab countries. They were needed to do the hard
work in building the new state but they were treated with utter
contempt. Come build a new homeland, they were told but when they came
in the early 1950s, they were forced to live in appalling, unsanitary
conditions in Ma’abarot, tent camps for refugees.
“People can live for years in tents. Anyone who doesn’t want to live in them needn’t bother coming here.” (Ben Gurion)
They were seen as primitive, ignorant, unclean; they ’do not know how to make use of a toilet at home’, according to Ben Gurion. He referred to ‘the simple, natural worker of Yemen’ as, like the Arabs, ‘able to work at anything, with no shame, no philosophy and no poetry’.
Their values would have to be changed. They would have to be
Westernised, Europeanised, civilised by living in the modern state of
the immigrant from North Africa, who looks like a savage, who has never
read a book in his life, not even a religious one, and doesn’t even
know how to say his prayers, either wittingly or unwittingly has behind
him a spiritual heritage of thousands of years…” — David Ben-Gurion.
primitiveness of these people is unsurpassable. As a rule, they are
only slightly more advanced than the Arabs, Negroes and Berbers in their
countries… The North Africans bring their ways with them wherever they
settle. It is not surprising that the crime rate in the country is
rising… above all there is one equally grave fact and that is their
total inability to adjust to the life in this country, and primarily
their chronic laziness and hatred for any kind of work.” Arye Gelblum, Ha’aretz, April 22, 1949.
“The goal must be to instil in them a Western spirit and not let them drag us into an unnatural Orient.” Abba Eban 1967
racism of Zionism and its founding fathers (there are no founding
mothers) was absorbed into the psyche of the Zionist state. When I lived
in Israel in 1958/59, I found that, being English, I was privileged
since Western Jews ranked highly in the hierarchy that made up Israeli
society. Sabras, of course, were securely established at the top.
Bumping along at the bottom were Jews from N. Africa and the Arab
countries. They were called shachorim — blacks — and were given the dirtiest jobs and the worst living conditions. Everyday discourse was casually racist. Yemenites? ’Donkey riders.’ Moroccans? ‘All thieves.’ If they spoke Arabic, they were doubly despised.
“All its human values need to be changed from the ground up.” (David Ben-Gurion, on the new Yemenite immigrants to Israel.)
those early years of the state, thousands of Yemenite babies — and
babies from other Mizrahi families -were abducted from their families
and sold or given for adoption to Ashkenazi families. It usually
happened soon after the birth in hospital.The mother would be told that
her baby had died but she was not allowed to see her baby’s body or the
nurse said, ‘You have lots of children, why not let us take one of
them?’ My grandmother refused. A couple of days later, the nurse told
her her baby girl had died. She did not receive a death certificate and
was not shown a grave. (Shlomi Hatuka, who helped found Amram, an organisation campaigning on behalf of the families.)
What sort of country does that to its citizens?
“A baby disappeared from one out of every eight Yemenite families. One out of eight.”
the 1990s, it was revealed that the Israeli national blood bank had
routinely destroyed blood donated by Ethiopian Jews because of fears of
another racist scandal. In January 2013, Roni Gamzo, from the Israeli
Ministry of Health, finally admitted that Ethiopian women had been
injected with Depo-Provera without their knowledge or consent.
‘We believe it is a method of reducing the number of births in a community that is black and poor.’ (Hedva Eyal, Women’s Rights Organisation.)
One of the Ethiopian women who was interviewed is quoted as saying: “They [medical staff] told us they are inoculations. We took it every three months. We said we didn’t want to.” It
is alleged that some of the women were forced or coerced to take the
drug while in transit camps in Ethiopia. The women’s testimony could
help explain the almost 50 percent decline over the past ten years in
the birth rate of Israel’s Ethiopian community.
Well, it wouldn’t do to have too many black Jews in the modern country of Israel, would it?
Jews, who mainly immigrated in the 1980s and 1990s, have the highest
unemployment and poverty rate among Israeli Jews and are the most liable
to be stopped and searched, arrested and incarcerated.
racism towards the wrong sort of Jews is not, however, on the same
level as the racism directed at the people whose land Israel has stolen.
Mizrahi Jews suffer racist discrimination but they are accepted as full
citizens and have a voice in the political life of the country.
Palestinian Israelis, however, cannot be full citizens in a state that
is designated for all the Jews in the world. They are viewed as a
demographic threat. (Of course, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank,
living under military rule and subject to military law, have no civil
rights and are subject to systematic violence from settlers and the
in Israel live, in the main, under an apartheid system — separate and
unequal. They have no voice and no power in the political system.
Palestinian Israelis and Jewish Israelis rarely interact and almost
never intermarry since there is no civil marriage in Israel.
‘An Arab is still not on the human level that I would want for a man who marries a Jewish woman’ (Ben Gurion)
from a few ‘mixed cities’ like Haifa and Jaffa, (mixed but not shared)
Palestinian Israelis and Jewish Israelis live separately. The Israel
Land Authority manages 93% of the land on behalf of the Israeli state.
This land is off limits for Palestinian settlement.
policy on both sides of the Green Line restricts Palestinians to dense
population centers while maximizing the land available for Jewish
communities.” (Human Rights Watch)
constitute 21% of the population but the vast majority of them live in
communities/municipalities which occupy less than 3% of the land.
land policies treat towns inside its own borders in starkly unequal
terms based on whether its inhabitants are Jewish or Palestinian. After
decades of confiscating Palestinians’ land, Israel confines them to
crowded towns while enabling neighbouring Jewish towns that exclude them
of land confiscations and discriminatory planning policies have
confined many Palestinian citizens to densely populated towns and
villages that have little room to expand. Meanwhile, the Israeli
government nurtures the growth and expansion of neighbouring
predominantly Jewish communities, many built on the ruins of Palestinian
villages destroyed in 1948.” (Human Rights Watch)
Zoning laws prevent Palestinians from building in their own communities. Houses built without a permit are regularly demolished.
are more than 50,000 houses that were built without a permit in Arab
and Druze communities in Israel. Applying the law ‘blindly’ means
erasing entire neighbourhoods and leaving half a million people without a
roof over their heads.”
(Ha’aretz January 13, 2017)
Houses in Jewish communities are not demolished.
900 small Jewish towns have the right to decide who can live in them.
This means that they can — and do — bar non-Jews from living there.
Bedouin (nominally Israeli citizens) live in 46 unrecognised villages
in the Negev. This means they receive no municipal services — no
electricity, running water, waste disposal, medical care, education or
roads. Unrecognised villages are constantly targeted for demolition, the
costs for which are charged to the Bedouin.
2018, after battling for 15 years against demolition and forced
eviction, the village of Umm al-Hiran was finally demolished & the
villagers forced into homelessness to make way for a Jewish-only
settlement to be called Hiran. Only “a
Jewish Israeli citizen or permanent resident of Israel who observes the
Torah and commandments according to Orthodox Jewish values” will be permitted to live there.
October 2020 the unrecognised village of al-Araqib was demolished for
the 179th time since the year 2000. The villagers still refuse to be
uprooted from their land.
“We will rebuild our village,” asserted the Local Committee for the Defence of al-Araqib.
There are no Jewish unrecognised villages.
to Adalah, there are 65 Israeli laws that discriminate directly or
indirectly against its Palestinian citizens and limit their rights in
all areas of life. The most egregious are the recently enacted Nation-State Law which states that ‘the right to exercise national self-determination is unique to the Jewish people’, that Hebrew is the official language, downgrading Arabic, and that ‘Jewish settlement’ is ‘a national value whose establishment and development the state will labour ‘to encourage and promote’; and the Law of Return,
passed in 1950, which gives every Jew in the world the right to live as
full citizens in Israel. Palestinians driven out in 1948 and their
descendants have no such right despite UN Resolution 194 which states
that ‘refugees wishing to return to their homes and live
at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the
earliest practicable date’. An Israeli Palestinian who marries a Palestinian living in the West Bank cannot bring his or her spouse to live with him/her.
operates a segregated education system. There are Jewish schools and
‘Arab’ schools. (Israel does not accept the word ‘Palestinian’.)
Separate and unequal. According to government figures, the average
Jewish student received 78 to 88 percent more funding than the average
Arab student. Consequently Palestinian schools are overcrowded and under
resourced, lacking basic learning facilities.
national curriculum imposed on all schools is heavily biased towards a
Zionist narrative. It is aimed at suppressing and erasing Palestinian
history and memory. They are taught about the symbols of the Jewish
state — the Israeli flag, the Menorah, the Israeli national anthem
‘Hatikvah’, the lyrics of which exclude them. Geography lessons use
biblical names like Judea and Samaria (instead of the West Bank) to
assert the sole right of Jews to belong to the land.
“Israeli educational policy and curriculum are designed to support the
Jewish nation-building project. As such, they silence the Palestinian
Arab narrative while reshaping regional history for both Jewish and Arab
students to fit the Zionist narrative. Furthermore, Israeli educational
policy has played an essential role in consigning Palestinian Arabs to
the social, economic and political margins of society.”
(International Education Journal 2006)
children in Jewish schools will never play with a Palestinian child,
nor are they likely to meet a Palestinian on equal terms when they grow
up. So what do they learn about the ‘Arab Other’ in school?
June 2018, the late Israeli journalist, peace activist Uri Avnery wrote
an article about the success of state and media propaganda in
brainwashing the Israeli public. He compared it to the Nazi propaganda
machine, only now it was the ’Arabs’ who were seen as the Untermenschen.
There are few dissenting voices so the propaganda goes virtually
unchallenged. He would certainly have been expelled from the Labour
Party for writing that.
brainwashing begins early, as it must because all the Jewish boys and
girls will serve in the IDF when they grow up and that means they may
well be called upon to humiliate, shoot, bomb, torture or terrorise a
Palestinian man, woman or child.
Nurith Peled-Elhanan, a Hebrew University professor of education, quoted in the Guardian, 6 August 2011, explains how ‘Arabs’ are described in Israeli school books: “The
Arab with a camel in an Ali Baba dress. They describe them as vile and
deviant and criminal, people who don’t want to pay taxes, people who
live off the state, who don’t want to develop…You never see a
Palestinian child or doctor or teacher or engineer or modern farmer.”
of the books contain photographs of Palestinian human beings and all
represent them in racist icons or demeaning classificatory images such
as terrorists, refugees and primitive farmers.”
(Palestine in Israeli School Books:Ideology and Propaganda in Education. Nurit Peled-Elhanan)
in the Nakba may be taught but only in the context of justifying them
as necessary to establish a Jewish state. What cannot be justified must
children they killed by breaking their heads with sticks. There was not
a house without dead…One commander ordered a sapper to put two old
women in a certain house…and to blow up the house with them. The sapper
refused. The commander then ordered his men to put in the old women and
the evil deed was done… One woman, with a newborn baby in her arms, was
employed to clean the courtyard where the soldiers ate. She worked a day
or two. In the end they shot her and her baby.’
(Report on the massacre at Al Dawayima on 29 October 1948 received by the Israeli daily Al Ha-Mishmar. It was never published.)
According to Ha’aretz,
documents describing the atrocities committed by Israeli forces during
the War of Independence have been and are being removed from the
archives and deposited in vaults. Asked why the Defence Ministry was
doing this since many of the documents have already been published,
Yehiel Horev, who launched the project, argued that revealing this
history could generate unrest among the country’s Arab population and
that without back up from the original documents, allegations of
atrocities cannot be proved.
Avnery gave as an example of the brainwashing of the Israeli public the
way the media and politicians justified Israel’s murderous response to
the Great March of Return in Gaza. The lie was repeated over and over
again: thousands of terrorists are storming the border fence and
swarming into Israel so we have to fire at them. No evidence was
produced or indeed needed since 95% of the Israeli public approved of
the killing and wounding of thousands of unarmed Palestinian
demonstrators, men women, children, paramedics and journalists. The
wounds were devastating because the soldiers deliberately used
ammunition which expand and mushroom in the body.
nature of these injuries shows that Israeli soldiers are using
high-velocity military weapons designed to cause maximum harm to
Palestinian protesters who do not pose an imminent threat to them.These
apparently deliberate attempts to kill and maim are deeply disturbing,
not to mention completely illegal. Some of these cases appear to amount
to wilful killing, a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and a war
crime.’(Médecins Sans Frontières)’
an orgasm to see the Israeli Defence Forces bomb buildings in Gaza with
children and families at the same time. Boom boom.’
(Israeli teenager with over a thousand Facebook followers.)
Reducing Palestinians to the Untermenschen,
less than human, is deliberate and calculated. It is also necessary so
that Israel can commit war crimes, so that its citizens can gather on
hillsides and cheer and dance as its army, the most moral army in the
world, bombs Gaza into rubble and murders Gaza’s children, so that its
soldiers can abduct and torture Palestinian children and students, so
that its rabbis can urge ‘the Nazi choice’ and demand the elimination of
Palestinian men, women, children and decree that one million Arabs are
‘not worth a Jewish fingernail’, so that its politicians can reduce
Palestinians to scorpions and little snakes and crocodiles, so that mobs
of Israeli citizens can shout ‘Death to Arabs’ and mean it, so that 56%
of high school students believe that Arabs should be barred from
becoming members of the Knesset and 48% of Jewish Israelis want Arabs to
be expelled from Israel and 79% think Jews should be given preferential
treatment and 61% think Israel was given by God to the Jewish people.
towards the indigenous people whose land has been stolen is a natural
consequence of the colonial project that is Zionism. They will have to
be erased or rendered invisible – ‘A land without a people for a people
without a land’ — or dehumanised. Without it, the atrocities and mass
expulsions perpetrated by Zionist forces during the War of Independence
could not have taken place.
1948 and 1966, Palestinian citizens of Israel lived under military
rule. There was no pretence, no denial. They were officially the
a military governor (there were three, for the Negev, the Triangle and
the north) demanded that people frequenting a village café show their
respect by standing up when he entered and threatened anyone who
disobeyed; soldiers amused themselves when intimidating an Arab citizen
by leaning on him by placing a firearm on his shoulder; and others
prevented Muslim citizens from praying. In other cases, military
government representatives harassed farmers and destroyed their
property; people were humiliated regularly and addressed in coarse
language; violence was perpetrated on children; and military government
personnel made threats against Arab citizens if they didn’t vote in
elections for the candidates favoured by the authorities.’ (Quoted in Ha’aretz)
are Zionists in the Jewish Labour Movement such fervent supporters of a
state like that? Of course, these are armchair Zionists who wouldn’t
dream of going to live in Israel.
‘Money willingly we give there, Israel is our guiding star Not that we would ever live there, better worship from afar…’
they understand that they, too, are Herzl’s ‘Mauschel’ and Ben Gurion’s
‘human debris’? Do they even understand what the Zionist project is?
every Jew in the world would make Aliyah to Israel…, it would, perhaps,
be possible to say that the ‘Jewish question’ had been resolved.” (Ehud Olmert speaking to the 35th Zionist Congress in 2006)
goal of negating the Diaspora has not changed. In October 2020, Avraham
Duvdevani, Chairman of the World Zionist Organisation said, in an
interview with the Jerusalem Post , that it may be
difficult convincing Jews to leave their comfortable lives in the
Diaspora, uproot themselves and move to Israel.However, “Zionism means doing the impossible and we are working with all of our power and ability”.
what do JLM Zionists know about Zionism? What does Starmer know? Not a
lot, I suspect. As far as Israel, its history and its policies are
concerned, they are either ignorant, deluded or in denial. Their
identities are so bound up with the militarised ethnocracy that is ‘The
Jewish State’ that criticisms of its crimes send them into a panic and
they can only respond with cries of ‘anti-semitism’ . And these cries
are becoming more and more hysterical now because they know they have
lost the argument and that Israel has lost control of the narrative.
Herzl’s and Ben Gurion’s ardent hopes, Diaspora Jews have not
disappeared. And if they had and merged into one homogeneous
Hebrew-speaking Israeliness, wouldn’t that have been a shocking end to
thousands of years of Jewish history and a tragic loss to the countries
in which Jews have lived over the centuries and to which they made their