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Zionism - Issues and Answers

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Zionism and Israel -  Issues and Answers

Are Ashkenazi Jews descended from Khazars and does it matter?

An article by Arthur Koestler many years ago speculated that Ashkenazy Jews are descended from the Khazars, a Central Asian kingdom that converted to Judaism and eventually vanished. This claim has been used by anti-Zionists to argue that the Jews are not a nation, and that Ashkenazy Jews have no rights to Israel. The best evidence indicates that Jews dispersed throughout Europe from Rome. There were Jewish communities in France in the dark ages evidently. Other Ashkenazy Jews are descended from Spanish (Sephardic) Jews who were forced to leave Spain in 1492. Genetic evidence indicates that European Jews are probably closer to Palestinian and Syrian Arabs than to central Asians who are partly descended from the Khazars; see articles here and here for example. In any case, the claims of a people to nationhood are almost never based on genetics or "race." Nobody claims that all the French are descended from ancient Gauls, or that all the British are descended from the Celts and Picts. When Americans talk about "'our' forefathers," the 'our' doesn't usually exclude the generations of immigrants who came after the Mayflower settlers. Today's Palestinians are not all descended from ancient Canaanites and Philistines. Some are converted Jews. Some are descended from Arab families who arrived with various conquerors. Whatever the merits of the genetic arguments, claims that anyone has no right to a country because they are not racially "pure" are racist claims, and identify the people making those claims as racists.

Is Zionism a different and illegitimate form of nationalism?

Zionism and Anti-Zionism
The argument that Zionism is some false notion of nationalism is based on the assumption that other nationalisms are somehow natural and have some basis in objectivity. Nationalism, by its nature, is based on the notion of exclusion through reference to ethnic, linguistic, historical, locational and cultural criteria. The exclusion is then presented in highly romantic terms often served with a religious or racial sauce, which is used to justify the superiority of the nation over others. Any study of nationalism encounters mythic narratives. These are necessary in order to explain how the people being referred to got to the bit of land on which they now live, developed their language, maybe religion and their ‘way of life.’ Whether these accounts are secular or religious, the narratives dodge inconvenient histories, in particular what happened to the previous inhabitants. Zionism suffers from all these features. It is no worse than British nationalism, invented in the 19th century which tells its people that they invented human rights and the rule of law as early as 1215! The British avoid any real history of their murderous Empire; when do we hear of the genocide against the Carribs, the mass murder of the Irish, the concentration camps in the Boer War, the gulags in Kenya? Zionist history especially since the advent of its revisionist form has been perhaps more challenging than what is common in Britain. Zionism has been frilled with many contradictions from the start. Reading Herzl, it is amazing that anything happened at all! (In rejecting Hebrew as the language for a Jewish State he says ‘who amongst us can even order a train ticket in Hebrew?’) He envisaged a state on the Swiss model, where only a minority of Jews would live and it could be located anywhere. The idea that Zionism is essentially racist is only consistent with the view that all nationalism is a form of racism. In that case all states that claimed to be based on nationalism would need to be removed as well. Anti-Zionism, however tends to argue one or some of the following ideas (a) Jews are not a nation (b) Jews are only identifiable by attachment to Judaism as religion (c)  there is only tenuous evidence linking Jews to Torah historical accounts (d) the Jews come from Eastern Europe, not the Middle East (e) Jews are not a homogeneous group (f) Jews have collaborated with oppressors (Imperialism, the Nazis) (h) Zionism inevitably means oppressing the Palestinians. There are of course other views. These arguments all lead to an uncomfortable position that whereas all other self-declared nationalisms have validity, the Jews have no such claims. Yet in different ways the arguments about Zionism can be easily adopted to almost all other national situations. Yet no one asks ‘So exactly how is it that you are Australian?’ This question is posed to Jews a great deal. While there are honorable Anti-Zionist positions they are few. On the whole Anti-Zionism is close to, or a mask for, Anti-Semitism.
From - Why I am against the AUT Israel Boycott of Israeli Universities, by Palestinian supporter John Strawson

Does the Flight and Expulsion of Palestinian Refugees prove that Zionism is Racist?

The Palestinian refugee problem was created because the Arabs of Palestine refused to live in a Jewish state and Arab states refused to accept U.N. Resolution 181, which partitioned Palestine. The refugees were not created by Zionism. The Arab side instigated a war, driven by Nazi-collaborator Haj Amin El-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Husseini told the British that his solution for the "Jewish Question" in Palestine was the same as "the solution that had been adopted in Europe," namely extermination. Had there been no war, there would have been no refugees. The Jews of Palestine defended themselves, as any people would, regardless of ideology. After the war, they were reluctant to admit a large body of people who were belligerents by definition, because they had refused to live in a Jewish state. After World War II, Czechoslovakia expelled ethnic Germans who had been Czech citizens living in the Sudetensland, because they proved to be a threat to the national existence of Czechoslovakia. Nobody claimed that Czechoslovakia is racist for that reason. 

If Zionists are not racists, why do they oppose the "legitimate right" of return of the Palestinian Refugees?

Palestinian advocates claim that the refugees of 1948 have a right guaranteed in international law to return to Israel. In fact, there is no such law. The Fourth Geneva Convention, often cited in this context, does not stipulate a right of return for refugees. UN Resolution 194, also cited as the basis for this "right" is a resolution of the UN General Assembly. Such resolutions are not binding in international law. No nation has the obligation to admit enemy belligerents. Moreover, Resolution 194 does not insist on a Right of Return. It says that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so." 

The refugees were not Israeli citizens. They did not want Israeli citizenship. Beyond the dry provisions of the law, admission of several million refugees would soon create an Arab majority in Israel. The people who advocate "Right of Return" also favor abolishing the Israeli Law of Return that permits Jews to immigrate to Israel freely. Israel would cease to be the national home of the Jews, and the Jewish people would lose the right to self-determination. Clearly "Right of Return" cannot be implemented in any case if it contradicts a different fundamental right that is anchored in international law.

Is the Israeli "Law of Return" Racist?

The Law of Return stipulates that any Jew may come to Israel and become a citizen without undergoing naturalization. Other applicants must undergo a naturalization process. The Law of Return embodies  a major  purpose of the state of Israel, which is to provide a national home and safe haven for Jews from every country. This issue, foreseen as important by the founders of Zionism, assumed tragic significance during the Holocaust, when every country in the world closed its doors to Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. Abolishing the Law of Return, as anti-Zionists demand, would destroy the purpose of Israel as a national home for the Jews. However, Israel does not exclude non-Jewish immigrants systematically. It does make it difficult for Palestinian Arabs to become Israeli citizens because Israel is still at war with the Palestinians, and they are enemy belligerents.

Is all criticism of Israel anti-Semitism?

Many people, including Israeli Jews, criticize the Israeli government and other governments because they disagree with specific policies. That criticism is usually not racist. The Zionist Organization of America opposes the Israeli disengagement policy, for example. That is not anti-Semitic or racist criticism. Many Israelis and others speak out against the occupation of Palestinian territory, or Israeli religious laws, or brutality of soldiers at checkpoints. That is not anti-Semitic or racist criticism. However, "criticisms" such as charges that "the Zionists" control the United States, arguments that the Talmud is the secret Jewish blueprint for taking over the world, allegations that "the Jews" instigated the war in Iraq for the benefit of Israel,  and diabolical comparisons between the extermination of European Jewry in the Holocaust and Israeli treatment of Palestinians appear very often in anti-Zionist "criticisms" of Israel. They are often accompanied with excerpts from Hitler's Mein Kampf, articles written by Holocaust - deniers and excerpts from the forged "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." These are not legitimate criticisms of Israel, but racist propaganda.

Did Zionists Displace the Arabs of Palestine?

Beginning in 1920, anti-Zionist propaganda insisted that Zionists were going to dispossess and expel the Arabs of Palestine. In 1922, at the beginning of the British Mandate, there were about 660,000 Arabs in Palestine, while at the end of the British mandate there were about 1.3 Million Arabs. About 735,000 lived in the areas that would become Israel after the War of Independence. There were more Arabs in Palestine than had ever lived there before in all of recorded history, and their standard of living, which had been considerably below that of Arabs in neighboring countries, was well above it. The Arab claim of dispossession, repeated so often in Mandatory Palestine, was an invention. When the UN partitioned Palestine in 1947, the Palestinians, initiated attacks against the Jews, and the Jewish underground groups retaliated. The forces of both sides consisted of poorly trained underground armies and volunteers, who committed massacres against civilian targets and fought in built up areas. The Palestinian Arab community was not well organized however, and began fleeing the country, expecting to return when the war was over and victorious Arab armies liberated Palestine.  However, the Jews won the war, and enacted a law preventing the return of the refugees. Given that the refugees were hostile to the new state, the attitude of the Israeli government was understandable. After World War II, numerous Germans were expelled or fled from areas of Germany annexed by Poland and from the Czech Sudetensland. The flight and expulsion of the Palestinian refugees, while in part due to the actions of Jewish terrorist groups and the Israeli army was not, as anti-Zionists claim, the result of a fundamental tenet of Zionist ideology, but rather an unfortunate product of the war that was instigated by the misguided leadership of the Arabs of Palestine.

How did the Zionists end up owning land in Palestine?

When the British left the mandate of Palestine land owned by the British government passed to the Government of Israel and the Government of Jordan (then Trans-Jordan) respectivly (the British annexed Trans-Jordan well before pulling out of the rest of the British Mandate of Palestine). There had been plans to set up a second state for Arabs within the Mandate, but the Arabs rejected this "two state" solution for what remained of the mandate. Other land was purchased with money raised specifically for this purpose by the Jewish community around the world. Prices were incredibly high (ten times higher than better land in what became the USA) and the more the Jews bought, the higher the prices rose. Most of the purchases were made from absentee landlords. The main organisation purchasing the land was the Jewish National Fund (JNF) which still looks after this land today.

More on purchases from absentee landlords and the JNF.

Do Israeli Arabs live under an Apartheid Regime?

Anti-Zionists charge that the Arabs of Israel live under an "Apartheid" regime similar to that practiced in South Africa. South African Apartheid was practiced against native Africans who wanted an equal say in South African affairs. Regulations prevented marriage between races, enforced unequal pay and discriminatory employment and denied Black Africans equal representation. Israeli treatment of Arab minorities is not perfect, but it is improving. It is not "Apartheid." Israeli Arab citizens vote and participate in the government along with Jewish citizens, can own and buy land (a frequent and false charge made by the those who claim Israel is an Apartheid state, is that Arabs cannot buy land in Israel.)  Israeli Arabs are legally protected against discrimination in government services and the work place. Arabs and Jews can marry. Israeli Arabs. They enjoy a far higher standard of living and better health care and educational opportunities than their neighbors in Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Arabs can serve in the Israeli army and some do, especially Bedouin and Druze.

Is Israel an Apartheid State because of the Occupation?

Anti-Zionists charge that the occupation makes Israel an Apartheid state because Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza do not have the right to vote in Israeli elections or participate in their own governance. This argument is circular. It assumes that all of "historic Palestine" from the Jordan to the Mediterranean should be one state rather than two. In other words, it does not recognize the occupation, the Green Line (1949) borders or the Jewish right to self-determination.  It further assumes that that state should have an Arab majority. Germans and Japanese under US occupation could not vote in the USA either. Israel however, has not annexed most of the occupied territories. Israel did annex the Golan Heights and  Jerusalem, and Arab residents were offered citizenship in both cases.

Is anti-Zionism anti-Semitism?

Ideologically, anti-Zionist ideas, including Jewish religious and Marxist anti-Zionism are tinged with racism. The basic tenet that anti-Zionists hold in common is that Jews are somehow different from all other peoples, and therefore do not deserve or should not have a state of their own. That is a racist idea in itself. ultraorthodox Jewish anti-Zionists believe that Jews are special. Sects like the Satmar Hassidim and Neturei Karteh believe that Jews should not engage in "vulgar occupations" or have an army, because these are occupations for contemptible gentiles. The Messiah must come and redeem the chosen people. The Messiah, according to ultraorthodox  anti-Zionists, will then smite the gentiles and punish them as they deserve, and re-establish the Kingdom of the Jews to rule over the world. Marxists maintain that Jews are an aberration of European society, who have developed objectionable social characteristics. These will be corrected when the socialist revolution makes everyone equal, and Jews will become citizens of the world. Most of these "Jewish characteristics" noted by Marxism are familiar to us from the stereotypes of anti-Semitic writing.  Here is a sample of quotes from Marx's "A World Without Jews:"

The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange.

The Jew is perpetually created by civil society from its own entrails.

The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of of the merchant, of the man of money in general.

Contempt for theory, art, history, and for man as an end in himself, which is contained in an abstract form in the Jewish religion

We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time, an element which through historical development -- to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed

In its perfected practice, Christian egoism of heavenly bliss is necessarily transformed into the corporal egoism of the Jew, heavenly need is turned into world need, subjectivism into self-interest

Christianity had only in semblance overcome real Judaism. It was too noble-minded, too spiritualistic to eliminate the crudity of practical need in any other way than by elevation to the skies.

Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade, and the bankrupt trader deals in the Gospel just as the Gospel preacher who has become rich goes in for business deals.

Only then could Judaism achieve universal dominance and make alienated man and alienated nature into alienable, vendible objects subjected to the slavery of egoistic need and to trading.

The social emancipation of the Jew is the emancipation of society from Judaism.

Once society has succeeded in abolishing the empirical essence of Judaism -- huckstering and its preconditions -- the Jew will have become impossible

Marx, himself of Jewish ancestry, absorbed nineteenth century German attitudes to Judaism and made them part of the worst aspects of Marxism. The fruit of these racist ideas is now packaged by some latter-day Marxists as enlightened humanism and internationalism, which supposedly rejects Zionism because it is racist. However, it is manifestly the Marxist philosophy that is racist.

Here is what others have said about anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism:

"Anti-Zionism, the denial of Jews the basic right to a home, is nothing but Anti-Semitism, pure and simple."
09/03/01 Michael Melchior

"When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism."
Dec. 1969. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

.... the fact is that critiques of Israel often do morph into more old-fashioned anti-Semitism, partly because of the equation of Israeli and Jew. Schoenfeld quotes the British writer Petronella Wyatt, who has written that conversation about the Middle East in educated British circles often abounds in such comments as, "Well, the Jews have been asking for it, and now, thank God, we can say what we think at last." A columnist for the London Observer has publicly declared that he refused to read pro-Israel letters signed with Jewish-sounding names.

There are also many instances of anti-Israel posters and cartoons employing shockingly anti-Semitic language and imagery, including the old "Christ killer" label. A cartoon in the respectable Italian newspaper La Stampa showed an infant Jesus lying in front of an Israeli tank, the caption saying, "Don’t tell me they want to kill me again."

Cathy Young, 

“There is no difference whatever between anti-Semitism and the denial of Israel's statehood. Classical anti-Semitism denies the equal right of Jews as citizens within society. Anti-Zionism denies the equal rights of the Jewish people its lawful sovereignty within the community of nations. The common principle in the two cases is discrimination”
New York Times, November 3, 1975 Abba Eban

While there are honorable Anti-Zionist positions they are few. On the whole Anti-Zionism is close to, or a mask for, Anti-Semitism.  from Why I am against the AUT Israel Boycott of Israeli Universities, by John Strawson

 The eminent linguist Georges Sarfati examined in detail how anti-Zionists and anti-Semites use language to delegitimize Israel, Zionism and Judaism, as explained in this interview on language as a tool against Jews and Israel

External Zionism Links

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Please link to our Sister Web sites - at  http://www.zionism-israel.com   Information about Israel and Zionism

and http://www.zionism.netfirms.com The Zionism Pages

Wikipedia article about Zionism - A comprehensive article including the history of Zionism  as well as links to specific topics and articles about anti-Zionism.

Zionism - Table of contents at the Jewish Virtual Library

Zionism article at Infoplease

Zionism - Definition and Brief History - A balanced article that covers the definitions and history of Zionism as well as opposition to Zionism and criticisms by Arabs,  Jewish anti-Zionists.

Labor Zionism - Early History and Critique - Contribution of Labor Zionism to the creation of the Jewish state, and problems of Labor Zionism in a changing reality.

The US Library of congress has a comprehensive and balanced set of articles about Zionism:

Zionist Precursors - US Library of Congress

Political Zionism - US Library of Congress

Cultural Zionism - US Library of Congress

Labor Zionism - US Library of Congress

Revisionist Zionism - US Library of Congress

Essential Texts of Zionism

Jewish Agency Zionism pages - Links to basic information about Zionism from the Jewish Agency

Ambassador Herzog explains Zionism in the UN


Active Zionism - A Zionist advocacy site with many useful links

Realistic Religious Zionism - moderate religious Zionist Web site

Zionism On The Web Directory

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