Saturday, December 27, 2014

Zionism: The Devil in the Detail

"Under pressure to restart negotiations with the Palestinians, the Israeli government continues to expand settlements deeper into occupied territory, today announcing 380 new settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem." (Israel approves 380 new settlement homes in East Jerusalem, Jason Ditz,, 24/12/14)

 "It was dark when we drove out to Shari Zwi, a communal settlement for orthodox Jews, fifteen minutes out in the wilds, right down by the Jordan. The road was a track, and after some miles we bumped and stuck in the mud... We were rescued by a police truck, which bumped us for three-quarters of an hour and then dumped us outside a stockade. Suddenly strange men with beards crowded round us. It was the orthodox Jews greeting us in Hebrew, and I soon realized this was to be the sole language. Through thick mud and past simple shacks we were taken to the dining-room where a delicious meal stood ready. But immediately we had to listen to a two-hour explanation in Hebrew of the graphs and charts all round the wall, showing ten years' progress of Shari Zwi. The fields are interlaced with Arab fields, and land acquisition is the great aim. I was assured that the Arabs were delighted to sell their land, and that the only way to stop Arab nationalism was to abolish restriction on the sale of land.

"These were very good religious people, mostly from Germany, but also from Poland, Rumania, and eleven other countries; a community of some 300 living by the Talmud, and very critical of the secular Zionists who run the Agency. But as far as I could see this made absolutely no difference to their politics.

"After supper I proposed a discussion on Arab-Jewish relations, and the whole community crowded into the dining-hall and stood round while the executive and I debated, sitting at the table. They stood motionless and tense for three hours' discussion. I described to them the Arab village I had seen that morning a hundred yards from a superb Jewish settlement, and said that I thought that illustrated the central problem. Then they were off. And what they gave me was the simple propaganda line about the Jewish right to every foot of Palestine, and how the Arabs had benefited. They seemed to assume that the Jews had the right to the country and that the Arabs were inferior people whom the Jews, when they got their state, would tolerate and permit to exist as a minority. I think they enjoyed the discussion a lot, and when it ended the bearded mukhtar shook my hand and said: 'We deeply appreciate it that a member of the Committee* thought us important enough to come and teach us about Arabs and Jews'!" (Palestine Mission, Richard Crossman, 1946, pp 159-60)

"[T]he success of Zionism did not derive exclusively from its bold outlining of a future state, or from its ability to see the natives for the negligible quantities they were or might become. Rather, I think, Zionism's effectiveness in making its way against Arab Palestinian resistance lay in its being a policy of detail, not simply a general colonial vision. Thus Palestine was not only the Promised Land, a concept as elusive and as abstract as any that one could encounter. It was a specific territory with specific characteristics, that was surveyed down to the last millimeter, settled on, planned for, built on, and so forth, in detail. From the beginning of the Zionist colonization this was something the Arabs had no answer to, no equally detailed counterproposal. They assumed, perhaps rightly, that since they lived on the land and legally owned it, it was therefore theirs. They did not understand that what they were encountering was a discipline of detail - indeed a very culture of disciple by detail - by which a hitherto imaginary realm could be constructed on Palestine, inch by inch and step by step, 'another acre, another goat,' so Weizmann once said. The Palestinian Arabs always opposed a general policy on general principles: Zionism, they said, was foreign colonialism (which strictly speaking it was, as the early Zionists admitted), it was unfair to the natives (as some early Zionists, like Ahad Ha'am, also admitted), and it was doomed to die of its various theoretical weaknesses. Even to this day the Palestinian political position generally clusters around these negatives, and still does not sufficiently try to meet the detail of Zionist enterprise; today [1978] there are, for example, 77 'illegal' Zionist colonies on the West Bank and Israel has confiscated about 27% of the West Bank's Arab-owned land, yet the Palestinians seem virtually powerless physically to stop the growth or 'thickening' of this new Israeli colonization. The Palestinians have not understood that Zionism has been much more than an unfair colonialist master against whom one could appeal to all sorts of higher courts, without any avail. They have not understood the Zionist challenge as a policy of detail, of institutions, of organization, by which people (to this day) enter territory illegally, build houses on it, settle there, and call the land their own - with the whole world condemning them." (The Question of Palestine, Edward Said, 1978 pp 94-5)

[*See my 8/12/14 post Children of a Lesser God 1.]


Anonymous said...

Hadn't Richard Crossman noticed, less than a year after World War Two, that "these very good religious people" echoed a familar and discordant contemporary note?

Dressed up as 'religion' this grotesque crime gang were, according to Crossman, "living by the Talmud...seemed to assume that the Jews had the right to the country and that the Arabs were INFERIOR PEOPLE."

Of course the Talmud is all about racial superiority which, no doubt, Crossman was well aware.

Richard Crossman would be equally at home in Hitler's bunker, the Labour rooms in the British parliament or todays Knesset.

Was World War Two all about making Europe safe for Crossman's "very good religious people" and the multiple subsequent wars in the Middle East all about making these same criminals comfortable in their illgotten gains?

Anonymous said...


MERC said...

Cat got your tongue?