The Israeli and US ruling elites are exchanging bitter recriminations
over the failure of Israel’s
four-week mass bombing campaign to destroy Lebanon’s
Hezbollah-led resistance movement. The August 16 Tel Aviv Haaretz carried an article entitled “Israel
should pack up and go”, which argued: “If Israel
can exist only by destroying the neighborhood, then it's time to declare it a failed state. The Zionist dream has turned into
a nightmare and is not viable. If the future holds more of the same, then the time has come to reconsider the whole project.”
The Zionist project began in late 19th century Europe.
Theodore Herzl, the Austrian founder of the modern Zionist movement in the late 1890s, proclaimed that Palestine
was the ancestral home of the Jews and therefore would be the perfect place to construct a “Jewish homeland”.
He espoused the myth of “a land without a people for a people without a land”.
Denying the existence of a Palestinian nation is one of the
founding myths of the Zionist movement. The other is that Jews everywhere throughout the world constituted a nation with permanent
and exclusive rights to Palestine.
While Zionists claim their political movement is based upon
a religious tradition linking the Jews to the ancient kingdoms of Israel
and Judah, modern Zionism is a nationalistic colonial movement
aimed at expropriating Arab land for Jewish settlers.
was not an empty land. A Zionist state for the Jews in Palestine could only be
established at the expense of the already existing Arabic-speaking population. The very concept of the Zionist state was based
upon a profoundly undemocratic principle — the denial of the rights of non-Jews already living there.
Herzl's book The Jewish State, published in 1896,
launched the Zionist political movement and he established and led the World Zionist Organisation, founded in 1897, as the
instrument to achieve a Jewish state. He initially discussed the possibility of setting up such a state in Uganda,
then ruled by Britain. It was only later that Herzl sought
to establish a Zionist state in Palestine.
The question of Jewish-Arab relations arose very early on.
When the Zionist movement realised that there was a large Arabic speaking, Muslim-Christian population living in Palestine,
two responses emerged.
One group, the “practical” Zionists, saw its
mission as essentially a gradual colonising one until a Jewish majority was achieved. They largely ignored the presence of
the Arab majority or downplayed its significance, much as the colonial settlers had done in South
The other group, a small minority of “political”
Zionists led by the Ukrainian journalist and writer Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880-1940) took a more immediately aggressive stance.
Jabotinsky, who was later to form the Revisionist Party, the forerunner of Likud, argued that it was crucial for a European
power “to take political possession of Palestine” if the Jews were to become the majority, since neither the Turks
who then ruled Palestine, nor the Arabs who lived there, would willingly accommodate a Jewish homeland.
During World War I, the British imperialists decided to support
the creation in Palestine of a “loyal Jewish Ulster”, a description
made by Sir Ronald Storrs, the British-appointed military governor of Jerusalem
Intending to steal the spoils of a collapsing Ottoman Turkish
empire and gain an advantage over its wartime allies France and Russia,
Britain issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917. This declared
London’s sympathy with the establishment of a “Jewish homeland”
Winston Churchill, the former war minister in the British
government, supported Zionism as an “antidote” to the rise of revolutionary Marxism in Europe
in the wake of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Churchill worried that revolutionary Marxism's appeal would spread among the Jewish
workers of Europe.
“The struggle which is now beginning between the Zionist
and Bolshevik Jews is little less than a struggle for the soul of the Jewish people”, Churchill declared in February
1920. He called for full backing by British imperialism for Zionism and declared that a British-protected Zionist state in
Palestine “would from every point of view be beneficial, and would be especially
in harmony with the truest interests of the British Empire”.
The key question for the Zionists was to prepare the conditions,
under the protection of the British colonial administration, for a viable “Jewish” state. This meant securing
Jewish immigration from Europe and creating the economic conditions that would ensure the immigrants
The Labour Zionists were to play a crucial role in this.
In 1920, the main Labour Zionist groups formed the Histadrut,
the General Federation of Labour, under the leadership of David Ben Gurion, a Polish immigrant to Palestine,
who was to become Israel's first prime minister.
The formation of the Histadrut laid the basis for what later
became the Labour Party. Its leaders were clear that if the Zionist project was to advance, the priority had to be the establishment
of a Jewish-only “national” economy in Palestine.
Zionist labour movement
The Palestinian workers and peasants presented an obstacle
to this objective. More than 80% of Palestinians lived in villages and cultivated the land of absentee landlords. The Histadrut
had to remove these rural labourers, replacing them with a Jewish working class working for Jewish capitalist employers. The
Histadrut would buy up Arab land and set up on this land Jewish-run factories, farms, banks, welfare organisations, social
and health insurance schemes, and cooperatives — the very enterprises being privatised in Israel today.
As part of the Zionist state-building project, the Zionist
labour movement in Palestine would carry out the tasks that had been performed
by the emerging capitalists in Renaissance Europe — providing the economic and social infrastructure for a national
capitalist economy, upon which to base the Zionist state.
Two inter-related characteristics distinguished the Histadrut
and the Labour Zionists from their inception. Firstly, their economic separatism in relation to the Palestinians. Secondly,
Histadrut's corporatist role, acting as both employer and trade union to suppress the class struggle within the Jewish community
in Palestine in the interests of the Zionist capitalist elite.
After the Zionist state’s creation in 1948, the Histadrut
became Israel's largest employer, dominating large sectors
of the economy. It owned the largest industrial enterprises and banks, and established the kibbutzim, or collective farms,
on land purchased from the Palestinians. While some of the capital needed to establish these enterprises came from within
the labour movement, much of it came from the World Zionist Organisation.
Not only was membership of the Histadrut restricted to Jews,
but the Histadrut also opposed the employment of Palestinian labour in both its own and other Jewish-run enterprises. It espoused
a kind of economic apartheid. As a result, Arab workers and peasants became unemployed, paving the way for the ever-increasing
hostility between the indigenous Palestinian Arabs and Jewish immigrants.
The Zionists began their task of driving out the ordinary
Palestinian people under the twin slogans of “conquest of labour” and “conquest of the land”. The
Arab absentee landlords were only too happy to make a profit by selling their land to the Zionists.
During the British mandate period in Palestine
(1920-48), Jewish immigration was organised by the Zionist movement for the purpose of establishing colonial settlements.
While Britain at certain times restricted the numbers of Jewish
immigrants, London consistently supported the Jewish settlements to create a “Jewish
Ulster” in the Arab east.
The UN General Assembly approved a resolution in November
1947 that partitioned Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. The Arab majority,
while constituting two-thirds of the population of Palestine, was allocated only
45% of the country. This resolution, however, was never implemented. Shortly after its approval, the Zionist movement initiated
a war of ethnic cleansing to drive out the Palestinians from their allotted territory and secure even more land for the Jewish
state than was allocated in the UN resolution.
At least 700,000 Palestinians had been driven out of their
homes and off their farms by Zionist militias when the State of Israel was proclaimed in May 1948.
and its supporters have long claimed that these Palestinians fled of their own accord, or on the instructions of their leaders.
Israel’s public relations machine has worked hard to
portray Israel as a country built on empty, neglected or uninhabited
land. Censorship was used to ensure that any evidence challenging such a view was suppressed. Any criticism of Israel
was denounced as “anti-Semitism”.
However, since the mid-1980s, Israeli historians have documented
the systematic ethnic cleansing and expulsion of Palestinians perpetrated by the Zionist militias in 1947-48.
continues to deny Palestinian refugees their right of return, despite UN resolutions demanding this, one of the first pieces
of legislation passed by the Zionist state was the “Law of Return”. This enables Jews from anywhere in the world
to live in Israel.
This piece of legislation was enacted not simply as a humanitarian
measure aimed at providing a refuge for Jews facing persecution. Immigration to provide labour-power was vital if the fledgling
Zionist state was to survive and its businesses were to have access to Jewish labour. The Zionist state therefore actively
encouraged the immigration of Jews to Israel and between 1948
and 1952 the Jewish population doubled.
The Law of Return, enacted in July 1950, consolidated the
theft of Palestinian land and homes. The Palestinians made homeless by the ethnic cleansing of the Zionist militias ended
up as refugees in neighbouring Arab countries.
The UN estimates there are 3.5 million Palestinian refugees,
consisting of those who were expelled in 1948, as well during the June 1967 “Six Day War” when Israel
occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and their children. The Zionist government refuses to recognise
the plight of the Palestinian refugees and denies their right to return.
House demolition is one tactic that the Israeli authorities
use to perpetuate their ethnic cleansing. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) has documented the systematic
use of house demolitions against Palestinian families for the purpose of destroying Palestinian neighbourhoods and erecting
From 1948 to 1954 the Zionist authorities demolished 418
Palestinian villages inside Israel — 85% of the villages
that existed before May 1948. Since 1967, Israel has continued
to raze Palestinian villages, and more homes are being demolished to make way for Israel’s
apartheid “separation barrier”.
Zionist settlers build quasi-military fortified settlements in the West Bank, and as Israeli settlers,
Israeli settlements, and Israeli-only roads proliferate and a state infrastructure benefiting Israeli Jews takes over more
and more Palestinian territory, the racist underpinnings of the Zionist ideology that directs this enterprise is becoming
ever more clear.
With the Zionist drive to assert exclusive Jewish control,
the Palestinians are squeezed into small, economically impoverished, disconnected segments of land resembling the South African
apartheid regime’s bantustans.
It is clear to observers on the ground in Palestine-Israel
that the motivating force behind the policies of the present and all past Israeli governments — both in Israel
and in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and East
Jerusalem — has always been a determination to assure the predominance of Jews over Palestinians. Such policies
can only be described as racist.
Limor Livnat, the former Israeli education minister, elaborated
exactly what the Israeli leaders are doing. During a 2003 debate over a government proposal to legalise the right of Jewish
communities in Israel to exclude non-Jews, Livnat warned that
the numbers of Israel’s Arab citizens should not be
allowed to increase. Two areas inside Israel, the Galilee
and the Negev, are “filled with Arab communities”, she decried. She went on to say that
Israel's “special purpose is our character as a Jewish
state, our desire to preserve a Jewish community and Jewish majority here so that it does not become a state of all its citizens”.
There is a compelling reason why the racist underpinnings
of Zionism need to be understood — the PR effort by Israel's supporters to portray this state as a shining beacon of
pluralist democracy in a region of the world dominated by despotic regimes. The Zionist state promotes itself as an example
of a democratic safe haven, where Israeli Arabs can vote and have members in the Israeli parliament.
is based on the dispossession of the Palestinian nation. Palestinians of Israeli citizenship (the “Israeli Arabs”)
face an apartheid-like system of discrimination.
The US Human Rights Watch organisation has documented the
systemic discrimination against Israeli Palestinians in the area of education, noting: “Nearly one in four of Israel's
1.6 million schoolchildren are educated in a public school system wholly separate from the majority. The children in this
parallel school system are Israeli citizens of Palestinian Arab origin. Their schools are a world apart in quality from the
public schools serving Israel's majority Jewish population.
Often overcrowded and understaffed, poorly built, badly maintained, or simply unavailable, schools for Palestinian Arab children
offer fewer facilities and educational opportunities than are offered other Israeli children. This report is about Israel's
discrimination against its Palestinian Arab children in guaranteeing the right to education.
“The Israeli government operates two separate school
systems, one for Jewish children and one for Palestinian Arab children. Discrimination against Palestinian Arab children colors
every aspect of the two systems. Education Ministry authorities have acknowledged that the ministry spends less per student
in the Arab system than in the Jewish school system. The majority's schools also receive additional state and state-sponsored
private funding for school construction and special programs through other government agencies. The gap is enormous —
on every criterion measured by Israeli authorities.”
In his 1974 speech to the UN General Assembly, Palestine
Liberation Organisation chairperson Yasser Arafat argued that the way out of the bloody Arab-Israeli
conflict was the replacement of the Zionist state with “one democratic state where Christian, Jew and Muslim live in
justice, equality, fraternity and progress”, adding that “when we speak of our common hopes for the Palestine
of tomorrow we include in our perspective all Jews now living in Palestine who choose to live with us there in peace and without
This remains the only just solution to the Ara-Israeli