Via: Socialist Workers Party.
Phil Gasper recounts the history of how Israel was founded on the basis of the expulsion of the Arab population of Palestine.
ZIONISM IS a political movement that originally emerged in the late 19th century as a response to anti-Semitism, particularly in Eastern Europe.
Capitalist development had undermined the traditional commercial roles that many Jews had played in the old feudal economy. As the economy moved into periodic crises, ruling groups in many countries deflected mass anger by scapegoating Jews.
Zionists drew the pessimistic conclusion that anti-Semitism couldn’t be eliminated–and that to escape persecution, Jews had to emigrate to a region where they could set up an exclusively Jewish state.
Theodore Herzl, known as the father of Zionism, wrote of “the emptiness and futility of trying to ‘combat’ anti-Semitism,” and called for a Jewish state to be set up in an undeveloped country outside Europe.
Herzl was explicit that the program could be carried out only with the backing of one of the major imperialist powers. Once such support had been won, the Zionist movement would conduct itself like other colonizing ventures.
Herzl wrote that, if a Jewish state were created in Palestine, it would form “a portion of the rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.” In other words, the new state would be part of the system of colonial domination of the rest of the world.
The founders of Zionism were prepared to ally themselves with the most vicious anti-Semites. Herzl approached Count Von Plehve, the sponsor of the worst anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia, with the message: “Help me to reach the land sooner, and the revolt [against Tsarist rule] will end.”
Zionist leaders offered to help guarantee Tsarist interests in Palestine, and rid Eastern Europe and Russia of those “noxious and subversive Anarcho-Bolshevik Jews”–in other words, the people who wanted to fight anti-Semitism, rather than capitulate to it. Von Plehve agreed to finance the Zionist movement as a way of countering socialist opposition to the Tsar. Continue reading