Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Massad

 What are the Legacy of “Arab” Liberals?

How destructive was the legacy of Arab liberals in modern times?

Are liberals new trend is to support massive destruction of societies’, dubbed constructive demolition of  the fabrics of societies in order to establish a new order of political structure?

What are the “Arab” liberals views of what’s happening in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Somalia…?

Is this a repeat of the cultural cold war doctrine that has not ended yet?

Joseph Massad in The Electronic Intifada on March 30, 2015

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Arab liberals have allied with Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia to wreak an unparalleled record of destruction. (Ahmed Asad / APA images)

It has become commonplace to present Arab Islamists of all political stripes (liberals, conservatives, radicals, neoliberals, moderates, extremists, nonviolent, violent, etc.) as a most, if not the most, dangerous political force in the Arab world since the 1967 War.

In fact, and as the following will show, it has been a new brand of Arab liberals — secularists and Islamists (though the former have been far more dangerous) — who have been and continue to be a most dangerous and destructive political force in the post-1967 Arab world.

The Western States, Israeli and Saudi Arabia wars against Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and anti-imperialist Arab nationalism required the birth of a new liberal intelligentsia.

Their emergence on the scene in the late 1950s and in the 1960s, before the war, was part of the American-sponsored “cultural Cold War,” which financed intellectuals across the world for the anti-communist and anti-socialist liberal imperial crusade that also targeted anti-imperialist Third World nationalisms.

This was part and parcel of the Eisenhower Doctrine, which the Americans inaugurated in 1957 to intervene militarily and in every other way in the Middle East to fend off Soviet influence.

It was in this context that the US intervened in Lebanon in 1958 against Arab nationalism with Saudi- and US-funded Lebanese liberals cheering on in the liberal press.

Many of these liberal Arab intellectuals were lackeys of US intelligence and they and their newspapers were financed by the US and Gulf regimes, especially the Saudis.

They would exalt the virtues of the liberal West against Soviet and non-Soviet forms of communism and socialism and would attack Nasserist Arab nationalism.

While some would argue that Arab liberals are not true to the liberal tradition, I am less concerned with how well they approximate an imaginary Western liberalism, or whether they are “true” or “false” liberals, than with the fact that they present themselves and are presented by others as adhering to “liberal” principles.

These include free parliamentary and executive elections, freedom of expression and of the press, freedom of association, civilian control of government and the military, a capitalist economy and varying degrees of separation between government and religious authorities.

Out of Egypt

In the post-1967 War period, the emergence of this new brand of Arab liberals was seen as confined to the Egyptian Sadatist intelligentsia whose main aim was to combat Nasserism in both its socialist and nationalist aspects and promote pro-Americanism.

As the new century dawned, the Egyptian example became widely generalized across the entire Arab world.

The 1970s Egyptian liberals sang the praises of American power and imperialist capitalist penetration of their country and pushed for full surrender to the Israeli Jewish settler-colony under the banner of the “peace” negotiated by Nasser’s successor, President Anwar Sadat.

They insisted that Israel should be forgiven all its sins and that rendering Egypt its lackey and the lackey of the US would bring about many economic and political benefits to Egyptians.

The Muslim Brotherhood, whose liberal transformation in the 1970s allowed them a seat at the Sadatist table, would join the political contest on the side of the liberal secularists against the Nasserist legacy.

Aside from state intellectuals, prominent litterateurs and artists pushed for this campaign.

These extended from writers Yusuf Sibai to Naguib Mahfouz, and lesser figures like playwright Ali Salem, not to mention famous composer and singer Mohammed Abdel Wahab, intellectuals and academics of the ilk of Anis Mansour and Saad Eddin Ibrahim and many others.

While Mahfouz and Abdel Wahab belong to an earlier generation of Egyptian liberals that have little in common with the post-1960s liberals, including mediocre state functionaries like Mansour, who edited the state-owned magazine October, they all joined the Sadatist ideological project in one way or another.

In this context, it should be mentioned that while the earlier generation of Arab liberals that emerged in the early part of the twentieth century and prospered in the 1920s and 1930s were mostly pro-European in their “civilizational” outlooks, they were not always pro-colonial, though a good number of them were.

Indeed some, like Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed, the “father of Egyptian liberalism” and anti-Arab Egyptian nationalism, were even friendly to Zionism. Al-Sayed would go as far as attending the celebrations of the opening of Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1925.

While the Sadatist liberals were condemned and excommunicated across the Arab world (indeed Sibai, who served as minister of culture under Sadat, was assassinated by the Abu Nidal group on account of his visit to Israel and his support for the Sadatist surrender), their alliance with the US and Israel and their promotion of the selling out of Egypt to a new business class would not bring prosperity.

Rather, it brought enormous poverty to most Egyptians and destroyed whatever achievements in education and healthcare the pre-liberal Nasserist order had achieved.

The only thing that increased and became more advanced in this liberal-supported Egypt was the level of political and economic repression for decades to come and the alienation of millions of Egyptians who lost even the possibility of an economic future, except for the hundreds of thousands (later upwards of four million Egyptians) whose employment was subcontracted to neighboring countries — Libya, Jordan, Iraq and the Gulf states.

Meanwhile, tens of millions of Egyptians languished at home in dire poverty.

Liberalism spreads to Palestine

Soon, and by the late 1980s, the political and economic line the Egyptian liberals pushed for, let alone the international alliances they favored, would be adopted wholesale by a new class of Palestinian, Iraqi and, to a much more limited extent, Algerian intellectuals, who had until then been solid anti-imperial leftists and socialists.

In this vein, West Bank and Gaza-based Palestinian intellectuals pushed for a two-state solution that would grant those territories an independent state at the expense of diaspora Palestinians and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

It was the rights of the latter two groups of Palestinians that these intellectuals, under the sponsorship of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), wanted to barter for an independent state granted exclusively to the one-third of the Palestinian people that lives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Indeed, many began to predict that the US-sponsored “peace process,” which they supported, would turn the West Bank and Gaza into a new “Singapore,” an economic miracle that would transform the lives of these Palestinians at the expense of the rest. (This is exactly the political line of the Rafic Hariri policies in Lebanon: Turning Lebanon a Gulf State on the Mediterranean Sea)

Once the PLO adopted fully this line of thinking, Palestinian liberal intellectuals became advisors, consultants, negotiators and ministers in the Palestinian Authority and brought about more massive poverty across the West Bank and Gaza, the erosion of international support for Palestinian rights and multiplied the forces of repression of the Palestinians by adding the PA security forces to the Israeli occupation army.

This has led to the squandering of Palestinian political and economic achievements during the first intifada.

Imperial invasions

Simultaneous with the rise of this liberal intellectual class among Palestinians, the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait unleashed a new class of Iraqi liberals who were allied with American imperial geostrategic interests and who immediately called, in the name of democracy  the end of dictatorship, for an imperial invasion of Iraq.

The US-led invasion in 1991 expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait, but left Saddam Hussein’s government in place, albeit under sanctions that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives — a price US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright notoriously deemed “worth it” to pursue American aims.

The 2003 US-led invasion, under the pretext of locating “weapons of mass destruction,” finally granted the liberals’ wish, and as a consequence cost the lives and livelihoods of untold millions and destroyed the entire country while enriching this class of comprador intellectuals and the new and old business classes they serve.

Indeed, many of them went into service for the US occupation of the country and the ensuing regime it established.

While the Iraqi liberals were the first Arab liberals to call openly for an imperial invasion of their country, one could point to the precedent of Gibran Khalil Gibran and pro-French Lebanese liberal expatriates based in New York who had called in 1918 for a French invasion or “protection” of Syria to liberate it from the Turks.

Concomitant with these developments was the Algerian military coup against the elected Islamists in early 1992, which unleashed a massive civil war and military violence that led to upwards of 200,000 dead Algerians. Some of the extremist liberal secularists, like the Rally for Culture and Democracy party, supported the army’s “eradication” of the Islamists.

Sectarian incitement

Ironies abound. Terrified by the popular Arab schadenfreude expressed in massive demonstrations across the Arab world in solidarity with Iraq, demonstrations that did not sympathize with Kuwait and other oil-producing Gulf countries, the illiberal Saudis launched pan-Arab newspapers and satellite channels that bombarded the Arab world with pro-Saudi and pro-US liberal propaganda to reverse this Arab anti-imperial nationalist tide that also opposed the Arab regimes allied with US imperialism.

Intellectuals from across the Arab world joined the effort, abandoning old leftist, communist, Nasserist and Islamist positions and adopted the much, much more profitable pro-US and pro-Israel liberal line politically, and the neoliberal economic order being globalized.

By the dawn of the new century, the Saudis and the Americans issued new orders to their media and agents to spread an unprecedented sectarian campaign against Shiites inside and outside the Arab world.

The campaign would be first articulated in 2004 by the new and neoliberal King Abdullah of Jordan, a self-styled “liberal” monarch who possesses absolute and unchecked power. The king expressed his and others’ fear of the rise of a “Shiite crescent” in the region.

It is in this regional context that Syrian liberals joined the fray.

Upon the long-awaited death of President Hafez al-Assad in 2000, they launched what they called a “Damascus Spring” from intellectual salons and from the halls of the US embassy in Damascus, whose cultural attaché was a main sponsor of their “Spring.”

While they would soon be suppressed by the authoritarian regime of Bashar al-Assad, Syrian liberals would re-emerge in 2011 claiming to speak for “revolutionary” forces that have, with the full participation of the repressive Assad regime, caused the death of hundreds of thousands and destroyed the country.

The US ambassador would also aid in their efforts by making appointments and assigning roles within the Syrian exile opposition.

Not unlike their Iraqi counterparts, the Syrian liberals — secularists and Islamists alike — called for imperial intervention in the name of democracy and to end the Syrian dictatorship.

They got what they wished for in the form of the draconian Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS — also known as ISIL or just “Islamic State”).

Not to be outdone, Lebanese liberals and former Lebanese leftists, communists and Arab nationalists would also have their own “Spring” following the assassination of the corrupt and corrupting neoliberal billionaire, Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005.

They would help launch a local sectarian anti-Shiite campaign in the country and would call for more imperial intervention to save them from their powerful Syrian, but not their more dangerous Israeli, neighbor.

They would also relaunch anti-Palestinian campaigns by cheering the Lebanese army’s destruction of the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in 2007.

While their country was under heavy Israeli bombardment in 2006, many of these liberals cheered on the Israelis privately and publicly and prayed for the destruction of Hizballah fighters to restore a “liberal” Lebanese order that they longed for.

Liberal extremism

The proliferation of Arab liberals through the good offices of their US and Saudi patrons would lead to more liberal extremism.

Saudi-financed newspapers (both print and electronic, like Asharq Al-Awsat and Elaph) began to espouse openly Zionist and pro-Israeli positions without apology.

Arab liberals would also abet an anti-democratic Palestinian Authority coup in 2007 against the democratically elected Hamas, a coup that was successful in the West Bank but failed in Gaza.

This Palestinian liberal and comprador class of intellectuals also sought to fully submit to US and Israeli political, military and economic diktat (then neoliberal Prime Minister Salam Fayyad best exemplified this submissiveness) and hoped that the 2008-2009, 2012 and the 2014 Israeli invasions of Gaza would finish off Hamas, a hope that would be dashed by the steadfastness of Hamas and other groups committed to military resistance.

It is with this as background that Arab liberals — secularists and Islamists among them — would emerge during the so-called Arab “Spring” of 2011 as leaders of the revolts of Egypt and Tunisia (and Syria and Libya, Bahrain and Yemen). In the telling case of Tunisia, the liberal Islamists’ (mainly the al-Nahda party) and secularists’ infighting brought about a modus operandi that led to the partial restoration of the ancien régime.

In Egypt, the secularist liberals were transformed into outright fascists overnight and allied themselves openly with the Mubarakist forces, both in government, the military and the business sector against the liberal and neoliberal Muslim Brotherhood, which was only able, during its brief stint in power, to ally itself with the Mubarakist army, which ended up toppling its government.

The communists and the Nasserists joined the liberal ranks by transforming themselves, like the liberals, into fascists who fancy their fascism as a form of “liberalism.”

They argued tirelessly and still argue that supporting a military coup against the elected and liberal Muslim Brotherhood, and the massive massacres that the coup authorities committed, were the epitome of liberalism and the restoration of a liberal order.

Arab liberals have gone as far as launching a war against European Muslims and Arabs, demanding that they ought to assimilate into their “host” Christian and secular societies.

The liberal Sheikh of al-Azhar, the chief cleric of this central Muslim institution, demanded that French Muslim women abide by French laws and not wear the hijab.

Yet it is the same Arab and Muslim liberals who demand that Arab Christians must not be made to submit to the majority Muslim culture of their societies and that respect by Muslims and Muslim states must be accorded to their differing Christian religious traditions.

One is dumbfounded by what Saudi and US money and political power (and the crucial Israeli role) can do in a short period of time.

The proliferation of US- and European-funded nongovernmental organizations across the Arab world since the early 1990s (as is the case elsewhere around the globe) has successfully conscripted whole armies of Arab intellectuals and technicians into US-, Israeli- and Saudi-style liberalism.

It is these Arab liberals — especially and mostly the secularists among them — who helped bring about and justify such massive levels of destruction across the Arab world.

The Islamist liberals in turn called for and cheered NATO intervention in Libya, which took place directly, and in Syria, which took place indirectly through massive infusions of cash and weapons.

These levels of destruction are unprecedented in scope even in colonial times.

Tallying these Arab liberal achievements, we find that the horror they visited or helped visit on the Arab world is enormous.

The death and injury of millions from Iraq to Syria, to Algeria, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt, to Yemen and Libya, the complete destruction of Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Libya and now Yemen, the massive poverty in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Syria, let alone in Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Sudan, among others, have all been abetted by a majority of Arab liberals.

In fact, many of these events came about as a direct result of policies that liberals in government service or in the opposition and among intellectuals called for and helped bring about.

These liberals continue to work assiduously to justify the destruction and shift the blame for these crimes onto others and to justify all sorts of crimes committed by their patrons.

Neither the radical and extremist ISIS nor its precursor al-Qaida can lay claim to such a stellar record of destruction and misery.

The destruction wrought by and with the backing of liberals has been so immense that even the horrors that the Baath party, in its Iraqi and Syrian versions, has visited on Syria and Iraq and on their neighbors, is smaller in comparison.

Yet it is these same liberals who continue to speak of freedom, peace and prosperity while they bring about more repression, war and poverty.

Arab liberals and Arab liberalism have been a principal enemy of social, political and economic justice across the Arab world during the last half-century.

To claim otherwise would be to ignore their criminal record and to remain oblivious to the horrific reality they helped engender.

Joseph Massad is professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University in New York. He is the author most recently of Islam in Liberalism (University of Chicago Press, 2015).

Asad Ghsoub shared this link on FB this Aril 3, 2015

“Arab liberals and Arab liberalism have been a principal enemy of social, political and economic justice across the Arab world during the last half-century. To claim otherwise would be to ignore their criminal record and to remain oblivious to the horrific reality they helped engender.”

Arab liberalism allied itself with US and Israel to impoverish and destroy whole countries.
electronicintifada.net

 

 

Recognizing Palestine, BDS and the survival of Israel

Joseph Massad, in The Electronic Intifada, posted this 16 December 2014

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The horrors the Netanyahu government is visiting on the Palestinian people are unmasking the ugly reality Israeli liberals have tried for decades to conceal. (Anne Paq / ActiveStills)

What is happening in European parliaments?

In the last month and a half, the UK House of Commons, the Spanish, French, Portuguese and Irish parliaments have all recognized Israel’s eternal “right” to be a racist state via a much-touted recognition of an alleged Palestinian state within the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the areas of Palestine Israel occupied in 1967.

These moves followed the lead of Sweden’s new center-left government which decided shortly after taking office to “recognize the State of Palestine” as part of the “two-state solution.”

As there is no Palestinian state to recognize within the 1967, or any other, borders, these political moves are engineered to undo the death of the two-state solution, the illusion of which had guaranteed Israel’s survival as a Jewish racist state for decades.

These parliamentary resolutions in fact aim to impose a de facto arrangement that prevents Israel’s collapse and replacement with a state that grants equal rights to all its citizens and is not based on colonial and racial privileges.

Unlike Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who believes he can force the world to recognize a greater racist Israel that annexes the territories Israel occupied in 1967 de jure, the European parliaments are insisting that they will only guarantee Israel’s survival as a racist state within Israel’s 1948 borders and on whatever extra lands within the 1967 territories the Palestinian Authority (PA) — collaborating with Israel — agrees to concede in the form of “land swaps.”

Denmark’s parliament and the European Parliament itself are the latest bodies set to consider votes guaranteeing Israel’s survival in its present form within the 1948 boundaries only.

Even neutral Switzerland agreed, upon a request from the PA, to host a meeting of signatories of the Fourth Geneva Convention to discuss the 1967 Israeli occupation only. Expectedly, in addition to the Jewish settler-colony, the world’s major settler colonies — the United States, Canada, and Australia — are opposed to the meeting and will not attend.

These moves are unfolding as international support for the Palestinian-initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has begun an accelerated move to the mainstream in the US and Western Europe.

Academic associations calling for support for BDS include the Association for Asian American Studies, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the American Studies Association and the American Anthropological Association (which voted to defeat an anti-BDS resolution).

An exception is MESA, the Middle East Studies Association, whose members most recently voted to grant themselves the right to debate BDS, and in the process unwittingly granted the Zionists one full year to lobby and prepare to defeat a BDS resolution on which members may be asked to vote next year.

Even the Columbia University Center for Palestine Studies — which had insistently refused in April 2011 to host and sponsor a talk and book-signing by Omar Barghouti, and instead hosted a speaker on 4 April 2013 (in a closed, invitation-only event) who attacked Barghouti in an attempt to delegitimize PACBI — reversed course recently and invited Barghouti himself to deliver a lecture this month. Barghouti is a co-founder of PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

What do all these moves mean?

Israel’s liberal racists exposed

The context of these steps has to do with the recent conduct of the Netanyahu government whose impatience is exposing Israel’s liberal racist politicians — those who prefer a more patient approach to achieving the very same racist political goals — to embarrassment.

The situation has become so untenable that ardent American liberal Zionists led by none other than Michael Walzer, emeritus professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, have felt compelled to act.

Walzer, notorious for justifying all of Israel’s conquests as “just wars,” and a group of like-minded figures calling themselves “Scholars for Israel and Palestine,” recently called on the US government to impose a travel ban on right-wing Israeli politicians who support annexation of what remains of the West Bank.

Whereas successive Israeli governments have shown an unyielding determination to strengthen Israel’s right to be a racist state over all of historic Palestine, they have done so through the ruse of the “peace process,” which they were committed to maintaining for decades to come without any resolution.

This strategy has worked very well for the last two decades with hardly a peep from the Palestinian Authority, which owes its very existence to this unending “process.”

More recently, Hamas’ political leadership, especially the branch in Qatar, where the group’s leader Khaled Meshal is based, has also been looking for the best way to join this project.

But as the ongoing Netanyahu policies of visiting horrors on the Palestinian people across all of the territories Israel controls — policies that have exposed the “peace process” for the sham it always was as well as Israel’s claim to being “democratic” as a most fraudulent one — the international consensus that Israeli liberals have built over the decades to shield Israel’s ugly reality from the world has been weakened, if not threatened with collapse altogether.

Israeli liberals realize that what Netanyahu is doing is threatening their entire project and the very survival of Israel as a racist Jewish state. It is in this context that European parliaments are rushing to rescue Israel’s liberals by guaranteeing for them Israel’s survival in its racist form through recognizing a nonexistent Palestinian state “within the 1967 borders.”

It is also in this context that European governments in the last year or so have begun to speak of BDS as a possible weapon they could use to threaten the Netanyahu government if it continues in its refusal to “negotiate” with the Palestinians (the Europeans use of the threat of BDS is limited to a threat of boycotting only the products of Israeli colonial settlements in the occupied territories), that is, to maintain the illusion of an ongoing “peace process.” Herein lies the dilemma for those who support BDS.

BDS: A means or an end in itself?

The Ramallah-based PACBI has always been clear that BDS is an instrument, a means to be used to achieve strategic goals — namely an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands during and since 1967, an end to Israeli institutionalized racism inside the 1948 boundaries of Israel and the return of the Palestinian refugees to their lands and homes.

In recent years, however, BDS has been transformed from a means to an end unto itself. Many of those in solidarity with the Palestinians have begun to articulate their positions as ones that support BDS as a goal rather than a means.

The recent votes by academic organizations are a case in point. While three academic organizations that voted for BDS have declared their support for the end of the 1967 occupation, only two, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) and the Association for Asian American Studies, explicitly opposed the racist policies of the state of Israel against its own Palestinian citizens.

Only NAISA’s resolution questioned Israeli racist laws and structures. The American Studies Association, by contrast, only cited the occupation of the 1967 territories, while the Modern Language Association merely censured Israel for denying Palestinian academics and students their academic freedom without condemning the occupation or Israeli state racism. MESA’s resolution did not even mention any of the goals of BDS at all.

While these resolutions are a step in the right direction, and in many cases are the result of long and fierce battles waged by members deeply committed to all Palestinian rights, they mostly fail to articulate positions that accord with all the explicit goals of BDS.

Indeed, not one of these organizations mentioned the third goal of BDS, namely the right of the Palestinian refugees to return, which Israel continues to deny in defiance of UN resolutions and international law in order to safeguard a Jewish majority in the country.

As European politicians have recognized, BDS can now be used as a means to achieve ends that those who adopt it can decide on. Palestinians’ monopoly on decision-making through PACBI and the Boycott National Committee and on determining the goals of BDS is not guaranteed.

Different parties, declaring solidarity with the Palestinians, can and do dismiss PACBI altogether as only one of many international organizations that support BDS, arguing that each supporter of BDS can determine on their own whatever goals they deem fit.

In short, the expanded support of BDS in the US and Europe is not necessarily an expanded support for the goals of ending Israeli racism, Israel’s occupation and the Palestinian refugees’ exile, but rather simply support for the use of BDS as a means to achieve whatever the party using it determines as the sought-after goal.

As I have written and explained since the signing of the 1993 Oslo accords, all the “solutions” offered by Western and Arab governments and Israeli and PA liberals to end the so-called “Palestinian-Israeli conflict” are premised on guaranteeing Israel’s survival as a racist Jewish state unscathed. All “solutions” that do not offer such a guarantee are dismissed a priori as impractical, unpragmatic and even anti-Semitic. The recent attempts to co-opt BDS for that very same goal are in line with this commitment.

This explains the sudden downgrading of the threat of BDS from something that is untouchable by European and American officials and liberal academics and activists — who understood its ultimate goal as one that not only refuses to guarantee the survival of Israel as a racist state, but also aims specifically to dismantle all its racist structures — to something increasingly safe to adopt by most of them, as it now can be used to secure Israel’s survival.

Palestinians and their supporters must be vigilant about this co-optation of BDS, and must recognize that with the achievement of mainstreaming also come serious risks. Unless they reaffirm that support for BDS is support for the explicit goals that PACBI had initially set, then this recent and apparent “transformation” in attitudes, which in fact is no transformation at all, will usher in a slippery slope — the end goal of which is, alas, too familiar for Palestinians to revisit yet again.

Due to the continued absence of an independent, representative and unified Palestinian liberation movement capable of articulating a coherent strategy and leading the struggle for liberation, BDS will continue, contrary to PACBI’s stated goals, to be utilized at best as a “threat” to Israel to end its 1967 occupation.

This is nothing short of a smokescreen to perpetuate Israel’s other forms of colonial control over historic Palestine and the Palestinians and to preserve its institutionalized and legal racism.

Rather than call on the international community to adopt BDS without an explicit commitment to its goals, Palestinians must insist that those in solidarity with them adopt BDS as a strategy and not as a goal, in order to bring about an end to Israel’s racism and colonialism in all its forms inside and outside the 1948 boundaries.

Otherwise, BDS can and will be used to strengthen the Jewish settler-colony and the Israeli liberal project that backs it.

Joseph Massad is professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. His latest book is Islam in Liberalism (University of Chicago Press).

The last of the Semites

Jewish opponents of Zionism understood the movement since its early age as one that shared the precepts of anti-Semitism in its diagnosis of what gentile Europeans called the “Jewish Question“.

What galled anti-Zionist Jews the most was that Zionism also shared the “solution” to the Jewish Question.  The solution that anti-Semites had always advocated, namely the expulsion of Jews from Europe.

It was the Protestant Reformation with its revival of the Hebrew Bible that would link the modern Jews of Europe to the ancient Hebrews of Palestine, a link that the philologists of the 18th century would solidify through their discovery of the family of “Semitic” languages, including Hebrew and Arabic.

Joseph Massad posted this May 14, 2013 in Aljazeera: “It is Israel’s claims that it represents and speaks for all Jews that are the most anti-Semitic claims of all

Whereas Millenarian Protestants insisted that contemporary Jews, as descendants of the ancient Hebrews, must leave Europe to Palestine to expedite the second coming of Christ, philological discoveries led to the labelling of contemporary Jews as “Semites”.

The leap that the biological sciences of race and heredity would make in the 19th century of considering contemporary European Jews racial descendants of the ancient Hebrews would, as a result, not be a giant one.

Basing themselves on the connections made by anti-Jewish Protestant Millenarians, secular European figures saw the political potential of “restoring” Jews to Palestine abounded in the 19th century.

Less interested in expediting the second coming of Christ, as were the Millenarians, these secular politicians, from Napoleon Bonaparte to British foreign secretary Lord Palmerstone (1785-1865) to Ernest Laharanne, the private secretary of Napoleon III in the 1860s, sought to expel the Jews of Europe to Palestine in order to set them up as agents of European imperialism in Asia.

Their call would be espoused by many “anti-Semites”, a new label chosen by European anti-Jewish racists after its invention in 1879 by a minor Viennese journalist by the name of Wilhelm Marr, who issued a political programme titled The Victory of Judaism over Germanism.

Marr was careful to decouple anti-Semitism from the history of Christian hatred of Jews on the basis of religion, emphasizing, in line with Semitic philology and racial theories of the 19th century, that the distinction to be made between Jews and Aryans was strictly racial.

Israeli kids kicking, harassing and mocking a Palestinian elder woman: Zionism inbred racism and colonial culture?

Assimilating Jews into European culture

Scientific anti-Semitism insisted that the Jews were different from Christian Europeans.

Indeed that the Jews were not European at all and that their very presence in Europe is what causes anti-Semitism. The reason why Jews caused so many problems for European Christians had to do with their alleged rootlessness, that they lacked a country, and hence country-based loyalty.

In the Romantic age of European nationalisms, anti-Semites argued that Jews did not fit in the new national configurations, and disrupted national and racial purity, essential to most European nationalisms. This is why if the Jews remained in Europe, the anti-Semites argued, they could only cause hostility among Christian Europeans.

The only solution was for the Jews to exit from Europe and have their own country.

Religious and secular Jews opposed this horrific anti-Semitic line of thinking. Orthodox and Reform Jews, Socialist and Communist Jews, cosmopolitan and Yiddishkeit cultural Jews, all agreed that this was a dangerous ideology of hostility that sought the expulsion of Jews from their European homelands.

Spotlight  Gaza Crisis

The Jewish Haskalah, or Enlightenment, which emerged also in the 19th century, sought to assimilate Jews into European secular gentile culture and have them shed their Jewish culture.

It was the Haskalah that sought to break the hegemony of Orthodox Jewish rabbis on the “Ostjuden” of the East European shtetl, and to shed what it perceived as a “medieval” Jewish culture in favor of the modern secular culture of European Christians.

Reform Judaism, as a Christian- and Protestant-like variant of Judaism, would emerge from the bosom of the Haskalah. This assimilationist programme sought to integrate Jews in European modernity, not to expel them outside Europe’s geography.

When Zionism started a decade and a half after Marr’s anti-Semitic programme was published, it would espouse all these anti-Jewish ideas, including scientific anti-Semitism as valid.

For Zionism, Jews were “Semites”, who were descendants of the ancient Hebrews.

In his foundation pamphlet Der Judenstaat, Herzl explained that:

1.  it was Jews, not their Christian enemies, who “cause” anti-Semitism and that “where it does not exist, [anti-Semitism] is carried by Jews in the course of their migrations… the unfortunate Jews are now carrying the seeds of anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America…”

2. That Jews were a “nation” that should leave Europe to restore their “nationhood” in Palestine or Argentina;

3. That Jews must emulate European Christians culturally and abandon their living languages and traditions in favor of modern European languages or a restored ancient national language.

Herzl preferred that all Jews adopt German language, while the East European Zionists wanted Hebrew.

Zionists after Herzl even agreed and affirmed that Jews were separate racially from Aryans. As for Yiddish, the living language of most European Jews, all Zionists agreed that it should be abandoned.

Israeli soldier aiming at Palestinian children. Jehad Namoora‘s photo.
من بطولات جيش الاحتلال الصهيوني الذي لا يقهر</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>شارك ,لا تجعل الصورة تقف انشرها ليعرف العالم بطولة الصهاينة بحق أطفال فلسطين

An Israeli soldier pointing gun on Palestinian children

The majority of Jews continued to resist Zionism and understood its precepts as those of anti-Semitism and as a continuation of the Haskalah quest to shed Jewish culture and assimilate Jews into European secular gentile culture, except that Zionism sought the latter not inside Europe but at a geographical remove following the expulsion of Jews from Europe.

The Bund, or the General Jewish Labor Union in Lithuania, Poland, and Russia, which was founded in Vilna in early October 1897, a few weeks after the convening of the first Zionist Congress in Basel in late August 1897, would become Zionism’s fiercest enemy. The Bund joined the existing anti-Zionist Jewish coalition of Orthodox and Reform rabbis who had combined forces a few months earlier to prevent Herzl from convening the first Zionist Congress in Munich, which forced him to move it to Basel. Jewish anti-Zionism across Europe and in the United States had the support of the majority of Jews who continued to view Zionism as an anti-Jewish movement well into the 1940s.

Anti-Semitic chain of pro-Zionist enthusiasts

Realising that its plan for the future of European Jews was in line with those of anti-Semites, Herzl strategised early on was an alliance with the latter. He declared in Der Judenstaat that:

“The Governments of all countries scourged by anti-Semitism will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain [the] sovereignty we want.”

He added that “not only poor Jews” would contribute to an immigration fund for European Jews, “but also Christians who wanted to get rid of them“. Herzl unapologetically confided in his Diaries that:

The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.”

When Herzl began to meet in 1903 with infamous anti-Semites like the Russian minister of the interior Vyacheslav von Plehve, who oversaw anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia, it was an alliance that he sought by design. That it would be the anti-Semitic Lord Balfour, who as Prime Minister of Britain in 1905 oversaw his government’s Aliens Act, which prevented East European Jews fleeing Russian pogroms from entering Britain in order to save the country from the “undoubted evils” of “an immigration which was largely Jewish”, was hardy coincidental.

Balfour’s infamous Declaration of 1917 to create in Palestine a “national home” for the “Jewish people”, was designed, among other things, to curb Jewish support for the Russian Revolution and to stem the tide of further unwanted Jewish immigrants into Britain.

The Nazis would not be an exception in this anti-Semitic chain of pro-Zionist enthusiasts.

Indeed, the Zionists would strike a deal with the Nazis very early in their history. It was in 1933 that the infamous Transfer (Ha’avara) Agreement was signed between the Zionists and the Nazi government to facilitate the transfer of German Jews and their property to Palestine, and which broke the international Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany started by American Jews.

It was in this spirit that Zionist envoys were dispatched to Palestine to report on the successes of Jewish colonization of the country. Adolf Eichmann returned from his 1937 trip to Palestine full of fantastic stories about the achievements of the racially-separatist Ashkenazi Kibbutz, one of which he visited on Mount Carmel as a guest of the Zionists.

Despite the overwhelming opposition of most German Jews, it was the Zionist Federation of Germany that was the only Jewish group that supported the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, as they agreed with the Nazis that Jews and Aryans were separate and separable races.

This agreement was not a tactical support but one based on ideological similitude. The Nazis’ Final Solution initially meant the expulsion of Germany’s Jews to Madagascar. It is this shared goal of expelling Jews from Europe as a separate inassimilable race that created the affinity between Nazis and Zionists all along.

While the majority of Jews continued to resist the anti-Semitic basis of Zionism and its alliances with anti-Semites, the Nazi genocide not only killed 90 percent of European Jews, but in the process also killed the majority of Jewish enemies of Zionism who died precisely because they refused to heed the Zionist call of abandoning their countries and homes.

The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.Theodor Herzl , Diaries

After the War, the horror at the Jewish holocaust did not stop European countries from supporting the anti-Semitic programme of Zionism. On the contrary, these countries shared with the Nazis a predilection for Zionism. They only opposed Nazism’s genocidal programme.

European countries, along with the United States, refused to take in hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors of the holocaust.

In fact, these countries voted against a UN resolution introduced by the Arab states in 1947 calling on them to take in the Jewish survivors.

Yet, these same countries would be the ones who would support the United Nations Partition Plan of November 1947 to create a Jewish State in Palestine to which these unwanted Jewish refugees could be expelled.

The pro-Zionist policies of the Nazis

The United States and European countries, including Germany, would continue the pro-Zionist policies of the Nazis. Post-War West German governments that presented themselves as opening a new page in their relationship with Jews in reality did no such thing. Since the establishment of the country after WWII, every West German government (and every German government since unification in1990) has continued the pro-Zionist Nazi policies unabated.

There was never a break with Nazi pro-Zionism.

The only break was with the genocidal and racial hatred of Jews that Nazism consecrated, but not with the desire to see Jews set up in a country in Asia, away from Europe. Indeed, the Germans would explain that much of the money they were sending to Israel was to help offset the costs of resettling European Jewish refugees in the country.

After World War II, a new consensus emerged in the United States and Europe that Jews had to be integrated posthumously into white Europeanness, and that the horror of the Jewish holocaust was essentially a horror at the murder of white Europeans.

Since the 1960s, Hollywood films about the holocaust began to depict Jewish victims of Nazism as white Christian-looking, middle class, educated and talented people not unlike contemporary European and American Christians who should and would identify with them.

Presumably, if the films were to depict the poor religious Jews of Eastern Europe (and most East European Jews who were killed by the Nazis were poor and many were religious), contemporary white Christians would not find commonality with them.

Hence, the post-holocaust European Christian horror at the genocide of European Jews was not based on the horror of slaughtering people in the millions who were different from European Christians, but rather a horror at the murder of millions of people who were the same as European Christians.

This should explain why in a country like the United States, which had nothing to do with the slaughter of European Jews, there exists upwards of 40 holocaust memorials and a major museum for the murdered Jews of Europe, but not one for the holocaust of Native Americans or African Americans for which the US is responsible.

Aimé Césaire understood this process very well. In his famous speech on colonialism, he affirmed that the retrospective view of European Christians about Nazism is that

it is barbarism, but the supreme barbarism, the crowning barbarism that sums up all the daily barbarisms; that it is Nazism, yes, but that before [Europeans] were its victims, they were its accomplices; and they tolerated that Nazism before it was inflicted on them, that they absolved it, shut their eyes to it, legitimized it, because, until then, it had been applied only to non-European peoples; that they have cultivated that Nazism, that they are responsible for it, and that before engulfing the whole of Western, Christian civilization in its reddened waters, it oozes, seeps, and trickles from every crack.

For Césaire the Nazi wars and holocaust were European colonialism turned inwards is true enough.

Since the rehabilitation of Nazism’s victims as white people, Europe and its American accomplice would continue their Nazi policy of visiting horrors on non-white people around the world, on Korea, on Vietnam and Indochina, on Algeria, on Indonesia, on Central and South America, on Central and Southern Africa, on Palestine, on Iran, and on Iraq and Afghanistan.

The rehabilitation of European Jews after WWII was a crucial part of US Cold War propaganda. As American social scientists and ideologues developed the theory of “totalitarianism”, which posited Soviet Communism and Nazism as essentially the same type of regime, European Jews, as victims of one totalitarian regime, became part of the atrocity exhibition that American and West European propaganda claimed was like the atrocities that the Soviet regime was allegedly committing in the pre- and post-War periods.

Israel would jump on the bandwagon by accusing the Soviets of anti-Semitism for their refusal to allow Soviet Jewish citizens to self-expel and leave to Israel was part of the propaganda.

Commitment to white supremacy

It was thus that the European and US commitment to white supremacy was preserved, except that it now included Jews as part of “white” people, and what came to be called “Judeo-Christian” civilization. European and American policies after World War II, which continued to be inspired and dictated by racism against Native Americans, Africans, Asians, Arabs and Muslims, and continued to support Zionism’s anti-Semitic programme of assimilating Jews into whiteness in a colonial settler state away from Europe, were a direct continuation of anti-Semitic policies prevalent before the War.

It was just that much of the anti-Semitic racialist venom would now be directed at Arabs and Muslims (both, those who are immigrants and citizens in Europe and the United States and those who live in Asia and Africa) while the erstwhile anti-Semitic support for Zionism would continue unhindered.

West Germany’s alliance with Zionism and Israel after WWII, of supplying Israel with huge economic aid in the 1950s and of economic and military aid since the early 1960s, including tanks, which it used to kill Palestinians and other Arabs, is a continuation of the alliance that the Nazi government concluded with the Zionists in the 1930s.

In the 1960s, West Germany even provided military training to Israeli soldiers, and since the 1970s has provided Israel with nuclear-ready German-made submarines with which Israel hopes to kill more Arabs and Muslims. Israel has in recent years armed the most recent German-supplied submarines with nuclear tipped cruise missiles, a fact that is well known to the current German government.

Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Der SPIEGELin 2012 that Germans should be “proud” that they have secured the existence of the state of Israel “for many years”. Berlin financed one-third of the cost of the submarines, around 135 million euros ($168 million) per submarine, and has allowed Israel to defer its payment until 2015.

Doesn’t these supports makes Germany an accomplice in the dispossession of the Palestinians? This is of no more concern to current German governments than it was in the 1960s to West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer who affirmed that “the Federal Republic has neither the right nor the responsibility to take a position on the Palestinian refugees“.

This is to be added to the massive billions that Germany has paid to the Israeli government as compensation for the holocaust, as if Israel and Zionism were the victims of Nazism, when in reality it was anti-Zionist Jews who were killed by the Nazis.

The current German government does not care about the fact that even those German Jews who fled the Nazis and ended up in Palestine hated Zionism and its project and were hated in turn by Zionist colonists in Palestine. As German refugees in 1930s and 1940s Palestine refused to learn Hebrew and published half a dozen German newspapers in the country, they were attacked by the Hebrew press, including by Haartez, which called for the closure of their newspapers in 1939 and again in 1941.

Zionist colonists attacked a German-owned café in Tel Aviv because its Jewish owners refused to speak Hebrew, and the Tel Aviv municipality threatened in June 1944 some of its German Jewish residents for holding in their home on 21 Allenby street “parties and balls entirely in the German language, including programmes that are foreign to the spirit of our city” and that this would “not be tolerated in Tel Aviv”.

German Jews, or Yekkes as they were known in the Yishuv, would even organize a celebration of the Kaiser’s birthday in 1941 (for these and more details about German Jewish refugees in Palestine, read Tom Segev’s book The Seventh Million).

Add to that Germany’s support for Israeli policies against Palestinians at the United Nations, and the picture becomes complete. Even the new holocaust memorial built in Berlin that opened in 2005 maintains Nazi racial apartheid, as this “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” is only for Jewish victims of the Nazis who must still today be set apart, as Hitler mandated, from the other millions of non-Jews who also fell victim to Nazism.

That a subsidiary of the German company Degussa, which collaborated with the Nazis and which produced the Zyklon B gas that was used to kill people in the gas chambers, was contracted to build the memorial was anything but surprising, as it simply confirms that those who killed Jews in Germany in the late 1930s and in the 1940s now regret what they had done because they now understand Jews to be white Europeans who must be commemorated and who should not have been killed in the first place on account of their whiteness.

The German policy of abetting the killing of Arabs by Israel, however, is hardly unrelated to this commitment to anti-Semitism, which continues through the predominant contemporary anti-Muslim German racism that targets Muslim immigrants.

Euro-American anti-Jewish tradition

The Jewish holocaust killed off the majority of Jews who fought and struggled against European anti-Semitism, including Zionism.

With their death, the only remaining “Semites” who are fighting against Zionism and its anti-Semitism today are the Palestinian people.

Whereas Israel insists that European Jews do not belong in Europe and must come to Palestine, the Palestinians have always insisted that the homelands of European Jews were their European countries and not Palestine, and that Zionist colonialism springs from its very anti-Semitism.

Whereas Zionism insists that Jews are a race separate from European Christians, the Palestinians insist that European Jews are nothing if not European and have nothing to do with Palestine, its people, or its culture. What Israel and its American and European allies have sought to do in the last six and a half decades is to convince Palestinians that they too must become anti-Semites and believe as the Nazis, Israel, and its Western anti-Semitic allies do, that Jews are a race that is different from European races, that Palestine is their country, and that Israel speaks for all Jews.

That the two largest American pro-Israel voting blocks today are Millenarian Protestants and secular imperialists continues the very same Euro-American anti-Jewish tradition that extends back to the Protestant Reformation and 19th century imperialism. 

But the Palestinians have remained unconvinced and steadfast in their resistance to anti-Semitism.

European Jews were transformed into the instruments of aggression; they became the elements of settler colonialism intimately allied to racial discrimination…Yasser Arafat, 1974 UN speech

Israel and its anti-Semitic allies affirm that Israel is “the Jewish people”, that its policies are “Jewish” policies, that its achievements are “Jewish” achievements, that its crimes are “Jewish” crimes, and that therefore anyone who dares to criticise Israel is criticising Jews and must be an anti-Semite.

The Palestinian people have mounted a major struggle against this anti-Semitic incitement. They continue to affirm instead that the Israeli government does not speak for all Jews, that it does not represent all Jews, and that its colonial crimes against the Palestinian people are its own crimes and not the crimes of “the Jewish people”, and that therefore it must be criticized, condemned and prosecuted for its ongoing war crimes against the Palestinian people.

This is not a new Palestinian position, but one that was adopted since the turn of the 20th century and continued throughout the pre-WWII Palestinian struggle against Zionism. Yasser Arafat’s speech at the United Nations in 1974 stressed all these points vehemently:

Just as colonialism heedlessly used the wretched, the poor, the exploited as mere inert matter with which to build and to carry out settler colonialism, so too were destitute, oppressed European Jews employed on behalf of world imperialism and of the Zionist leadership. European Jews were transformed into the instruments of aggression; they became the elements of settler colonialism intimately allied to racial discrimination…

Zionist theology was utilized against our Palestinian people: the purpose was not only the establishment of Western-style settler colonialism but also the severing of Jews from their various homelands and subsequently their estrangement from their nations. Zionism… is united with anti-Semitism in its retrograde tenets and is, when all is said and done, another side of the same base coin. For when what is proposed is that adherents of the Jewish faith, regardless of their national residence, should neither owe allegiance to their national residence nor live on equal footing with its other, non-Jewish citizens -when that is proposed we hear anti-Semitism being proposed.

When it is proposed that the only solution for the Jewish problem is that Jews must alienate themselves from communities or nations of which they have been a historical part, when it is proposed that Jews solve the Jewish problem by immigrating to and forcibly settling the land of another people – when this occurs, exactly the same position is being advocated as the one urged by anti-Semites against Jews.

Israel’s claim that its critics must be anti-Semites presupposes that its critics believe its claims that it represents “the Jewish people”.

But it is Israel’s claims that it represents and speaks for all Jews that are the most anti-Semitic claims of all.

Today, Israel and the Western powers want to elevate anti-Semitism to an international principle around which they seek to establish full consensus. They insist that for there to be peace in the Middle East, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims must become, like the West, anti-Semites by espousing Zionism and recognising Israel’s anti-Semitic claims.

Except for dictatorial Arab regimes and the Palestinian Authority and its cronies, on this 65th anniversary of the anti-Semitic conquest of Palestine by the Zionists, known to Palestinians as the Nakba, the Palestinian people and the few surviving anti-Zionist Jews continue to refuse to heed this international call and incitement to anti-Semitism.

The Palestinians affirm that they are, as the last of the Semites, the heirs of the pre-WWII Jewish and Palestinian struggles against anti-Semitism and its Zionist colonial manifestation. It is their resistance that stands in the way of a complete victory for European anti-Semitism in the Middle East and the world at large.

Joseph Massad teaches Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians. 

Germany and USA: The most anti-Semite and staunchest supporters of Israel… Why?

The Bund, or the General Jewish Labor Union in Lithuania, Poland, and Russia, which was founded in Vilna in early October 1897, a few weeks after the convening of the first Zionist Congress in Basel in late August 1897, would become Zionism’s fiercest enemy.

The Bund joined the existing anti-Zionist Jewish coalition of Orthodox and Reform rabbis who had combined forces a few months earlier to prevent Herzl from convening the first Zionist Congress in Munich, which forced him to move it to Basel. Jewish anti-Zionism across Europe and in the United States had the support of the majority of Jews who continued to view Zionism as an anti-Jewish movement well into the 1940s.

Anti-Semitic chain of pro-Zionist enthusiasts

Realizing that its plan for the future of European Jews was in line with those of anti-Semites, Herzl’s strategy early on was an alliance with the latter. He declared in Der Judenstaat that:

“The Governments of all countries scourged by anti-Semitism will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain [the] sovereignty we want.”

Herzl‘s added that “not only poor Jews” would contribute to an immigration fund for European Jews, “but also Christians who wanted to get rid of them“. Herzl unapologetically confided in his Diaries that:

The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.”

When Herzl began to meet in 1903 with infamous anti-Semites like the Russian minister of the interior Vyacheslav von Plehve, who oversaw anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia, it was an alliance that he sought by design. That it would be the anti-Semitic Lord Balfour, who as Prime Minister of Britain in 1905 oversaw his government’s Aliens Act, which prevented East European Jews fleeing Russian pogroms from entering Britain in order to save the country from the “undoubted evils” of “an immigration which was largely Jewish”, was hardy coincidental.

Balfour’s infamous Declaration of 1917 to create in Palestine a “national home” for the “Jewish people”, was designed, among other things, to curb Jewish support for the Russian Revolution and to stem the tide of further unwanted Jewish immigrants into Britain.

The Nazis would not be an exception in this anti-Semitic chain of pro-Zionist enthusiasts.

Indeed, the Zionists would strike a deal with the Nazis very early in their history. It was in 1933 that the infamous Transfer (Ha’avara) Agreement was signed between the Zionists and the Nazi government to facilitate the transfer of German Jews and their property to Palestine, and which broke the international Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany started by American Jews.

It was in this spirit that Zionist envoys were dispatched to Palestine to report on the successes of Jewish colonization of the country.

The Nazi officer and official, Adolf Eichmann, returned from his 1937 trip to Palestine full of fantastic stories about the achievements of the racially-separatist Ashkenazi Kibbutz, one of which he visited on Mount Carmel as a guest of the Zionists.

Despite the overwhelming opposition of most German Jews, it was the Zionist Federation of Germany that was the only Jewish group that supported the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, as they agreed with the Nazis that Jews and Aryans were separate and separable races.

This agreement was not a tactical support but one based on ideological similitude. The Nazis’ Final Solution initially meant the expulsion of Germany’s Jews to Madagascar. It is this shared goal of expelling Jews from Europe as a separate inassimilable race that created the affinity between Nazis and Zionists all along.

While the majority of Jews continued to resist the anti-Semitic basis of Zionism and its alliances with anti-Semites, the Nazi genocide not only killed 90 percent of European Jews, but in the process also killed the majority of Jewish enemies of Zionism who died precisely because they refused to heed the Zionist call of abandoning their countries and homes.

After the War, the horror at the Jewish holocaust did not stop European countries from supporting the anti-Semitic programme of Zionism. On the contrary, these countries shared with the Nazis a predilection for Zionism. They only opposed Nazism’s genocidal programme.

European countries, along with the United States, refused to take in hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors of the holocaust.

In fact, these countries voted against a UN resolution introduced by the Arab states in 1947 calling on them to take in the Jewish survivors.

Yet, these same countries would be the ones who would support the United Nations Partition Plan of November 1947 to create a Jewish State in Palestine to which these unwanted Jewish refugees could be expelled.

The pro-Zionist policies of the Nazis

The United States and European countries, including Germany, would continue the pro-Zionist policies of the Nazis. Post-War West German governments that presented themselves as opening a new page in their relationship with Jews in reality did no such thing.

Since the establishment of the country after WWII, every West German government (and every German government since unification in1990) has continued the pro-Zionist Nazi policies unabated.

There was never a break with Nazi pro-Zionism.

The only break was with the genocidal and racial hatred of Jews that Nazism consecrated, but not with the desire to see Jews set up in a country in Asia, away from Europe. Indeed, the Germans would explain that much of the money they were sending to Israel was to help offset the costs of resettling European Jewish refugees in the country.

After World War II, a new consensus emerged in the United States and Europe that Jews had to be integrated posthumously into white Europeanness, and that the horror of the Jewish holocaust was essentially a horror at the murder of white Europeans.

Since the 1960s, Hollywood films about the holocaust began to depict Jewish victims of Nazism as white Christian-looking, middle class, educated and talented people not unlike contemporary European and American Christians who should and would identify with them.

Presumably, if the films were to depict the poor religious Jews of Eastern Europe (and most East European Jews who were killed by the Nazis were poor and many were religious), contemporary white Christians would not find commonality with them.

Hence, the post-holocaust European Christian horror at the genocide of European Jews was not based on the horror of slaughtering people in the millions who were different from European Christians, but rather a horror at the murder of millions of people who were the same as European Christians.

This should explain why in a country like the United States, which had nothing to do with the slaughter of European Jews, there exists upwards of 40 holocaust memorials and a major museum for the murdered Jews of Europe, but not one for the holocaust of Native Americans or African Americans for which the US is responsible.

Aimé Césaire understood this process very well. In his famous speech on colonialism, he affirmed that the retrospective view of European Christians about Nazism is that

The supreme barbarism, the crowning barbarism that sums up all the daily barbarisms; that it is Nazism, yes, but that before [Europeans] were its victims, they were its accomplices. And they tolerated that Nazism before it was inflicted on them, that they absolved it, shut their eyes to it, legitimized it:  until then, it had been applied only to non-European peoples.

That they have cultivated that Nazism, that they are responsible for it, and that before engulfing the whole of Western, Christian civilization in its reddened waters, it oozes, seeps, and trickles from every crack.

For Césaire, the Nazi wars and holocaust were European colonialism turned inwards is true enough.

Since the rehabilitation of Nazism’s victims as white people, Europe and its American accomplice would continue their Nazi policy of visiting horrors on non-white people around the world, on Korea, on Vietnam and Indochina, on Algeria, on Indonesia, on Central and South America, on Central and Southern Africa, on Palestine, on Iran, and on Iraq and Afghanistan.

The rehabilitation of European Jews after WWII was a crucial part of US Cold War propaganda. As American social scientists and ideologues developed the theory of “totalitarianism”, which posited Soviet Communism and Nazism as essentially the same type of regime, European Jews, as victims of one totalitarian regime, became part of the atrocity exhibition that American and West European propaganda claimed was like the atrocities that the Soviet regime was allegedly committing in the pre- and post-War periods.

Israel would jump on the bandwagon by accusing the Soviets of anti-Semitism for their refusal to allow Soviet Jewish citizens to self-expel and leave to Israel was part of the propaganda.

Commitment to white supremacy

It was thus that the European and US commitment to white supremacy was preserved, except that it now included Jews as part of “white” people, and what came to be called “Judeo-Christian” civilization. European and American policies after World War II, which continued to be inspired and dictated by racism against Native Americans, Africans, Asians, Arabs and Muslims, and continued to support Zionism’s anti-Semitic programme of assimilating Jews into whiteness in a colonial settler state away from Europe, were a direct continuation of anti-Semitic policies prevalent before the War.

It was just that much of the anti-Semitic racialist venom would now be directed at Arabs and Muslims (both, those who are immigrants and citizens in Europe and the United States and those who live in Asia and Africa) while the erstwhile anti-Semitic support for Zionism would continue unhindered.

West Germany’s alliance with Zionism and Israel after WWII, of supplying Israel with huge economic aid in the 1950s and of economic and military aid since the early 1960s, including tanks, which it used to kill Palestinians and other Arabs, is a continuation of the alliance that the Nazi government concluded with the Zionists in the 1930s.

In the 1960s, West Germany even provided military training to Israeli soldiers, and since the 1970s has provided Israel with nuclear-ready German-made submarines with which Israel hopes to kill more Arabs and Muslims. Israel has in recent years armed the most recent German-supplied submarines with nuclear tipped cruise missiles, a fact that is well known to the current German government.

Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Der SPIEGELin 2012 that Germans should be “proud” that they have secured the existence of the state of Israel “for many years”. Berlin financed one-third of the cost of the submarines, around 135 million euros ($168 million) per submarine, and has allowed Israel to defer its payment until 2015.

Doesn’t these supports makes Germany an accomplice in the dispossession of the Palestinians? This is of no more concern to current German governments than it was in the 1960s to West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer who affirmed that “the Federal Republic has neither the right nor the responsibility to take a position on the Palestinian refugees“.

This is to be added to the massive billions that Germany has paid to the Israeli government as compensation for the holocaust, as if Israel and Zionism were the victims of Nazism, when in reality it was anti-Zionist Jews who were killed by the Nazis.

The current German government does not care about the fact that even those German Jews who fled the Nazis and ended up in Palestine hated Zionism and its project and were hated in turn by Zionist colonists in Palestine.

As German refugees in 1930s and 1940s Palestine refused to learn Hebrew and published half a dozen German newspapers in the country, they were attacked by the Hebrew press, including by Haartez, which called for the closure of their newspapers in 1939 and again in 1941.

Zionist colonists attacked a German-owned café in Tel Aviv because its Jewish owners refused to speak Hebrew, and the Tel Aviv municipality threatened in June 1944 some of its German Jewish residents for holding in their home on 21 Allenby street “parties and balls entirely in the German language, including programmes that are foreign to the spirit of our city” and that this would “not be tolerated in Tel Aviv”.

German Jews, or Yekkes as they were known in the Yishuv, would even organize a celebration of the Kaiser’s birthday in 1941 (for these and more details about German Jewish refugees in Palestine, read Tom Segev’s bookThe Seventh Million”.

Add to that Germany’s support for Israeli policies against Palestinians at the United Nations, and the picture becomes complete. Even the new holocaust memorial built in Berlin that opened in 2005 maintains Nazi racial apartheid, as this “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” is only for Jewish victims of the Nazis who must still today be set apart, as Hitler mandated, from the other millions of non-Jews who also fell victim to Nazism.

That a subsidiary of the German company Degussa, which collaborated with the Nazis and which produced the Zyklon B gas that was used to kill people in the gas chambers, was contracted to build the memorial was anything but surprising, as it simply confirms that those who killed Jews in Germany in the late 1930s and in the 1940s now regret what they had done because they now understand Jews to be white Europeans who must be commemorated and who should not have been killed in the first place on account of their whiteness.

The German policy of abetting the killing of Arabs by Israel, however, is hardly unrelated to this commitment to anti-Semitism, which continues through the predominant contemporary anti-Muslim German racism that targets Muslim immigrants.

Euro-American anti-Jewish tradition

The Jewish holocaust killed off the majority of Jews who fought and struggled against European anti-Semitism, including Zionism.

With their death, the only remaining “Semites” who are fighting against Zionism and its anti-Semitism today are the Palestinian people.

Whereas Israel insists that European Jews do not belong in Europe and must come to Palestine, the Palestinians have always insisted that the homelands of European Jews were their European countries and not Palestine, and that Zionist colonialism springs from its very anti-Semitism.

Whereas Zionism insists that Jews are a race separate from European Christians, the Palestinians insist that European Jews are nothing if not European and have nothing to do with Palestine, its people, or its culture. What Israel and its American and European allies have sought to do in the last six and a half decades is to convince Palestinians that they too must become anti-Semites and believe as the Nazis, Israel, and its Western anti-Semitic allies do, that Jews are a race that is different from European races, that Palestine is their country, and that Israel speaks for all Jews.

That the two largest American pro-Israel voting blocks today are Millenarian Protestants and secular imperialists continues the very same Euro-American anti-Jewish tradition that extends back to the Protestant Reformation and 19th century imperialism. 

But the Palestinians have remained unconvinced and steadfast in their resistance to anti-Semitism.

Israel and its anti-Semitic allies affirm that Israel is “the Jewish people”, that its policies are “Jewish” policies, that its achievements are “Jewish” achievements, that its crimes are “Jewish” crimes, and that therefore anyone who dares to criticize Israel is criticizing Jews and must be an anti-Semite.

The Palestinian people have mounted a major struggle against this anti-Semitic incitement. They continue to affirm instead that the Israeli government does not speak for all Jews, that it does not represent all Jews, and that its colonial crimes against the Palestinian people are its own crimes and not the crimes of “the Jewish people”, and that therefore it must be criticized, condemned and prosecuted for its ongoing war crimes against the Palestinian people.

This is not a new Palestinian position, but one that was adopted since the turn of the 20th century and continued throughout the pre-WWII Palestinian struggle against Zionism.

Israel’s claim that its critics must be anti-Semites presupposes that its critics believe its claims that it represents “the Jewish people”.

But it is Israel’s claims that it represents and speaks for all Jews that are the most anti-Semitic claims of all.

Today, Israel and the Western powers want to elevate anti-Semitism to an international principle around which they seek to establish full consensus. They insist that for there to be peace in the Middle East, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims must become, like the West, anti-Semites by espousing Zionism and recognizing Israel’s anti-Semitic claims.

Except for dictatorial Arab regimes and the Palestinian Authority and its cronies, on this 65th anniversary of the anti-Semitic conquest of Palestine by the Zionists, known to Palestinians as the Nakba, the Palestinian people and the few surviving anti-Zionist Jews continue to refuse to heed this international call and incitement to anti-Semitism.

The Palestinians affirm that they are, as the last of the Semites, the heirs of the pre-WWII Jewish and Palestinian struggles against anti-Semitism and its Zionist colonial manifestation. It is their resistance that stands in the way of a complete victory for European anti-Semitism in the Middle East and the world at large.

Note: An extract from the lengthy article by Joseph Massad.  Massad teaches Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University in New York.

He is the author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians. 

Zionist movement and mandated powers: Boycotting the Palestinians“Boycott” is a term put into circulation in 1880. An Irish peasant, Charles Boycott, started an action to prevent peasant evictions from the land by landlords and their agents. This is not to say that this was the first time such a tactic had been used.

1. In 1830, the National Negro Convention in the USA supported a boycott of slave-produced goods, a movement which had started among White Quakers at the end of the 18th century. The slave-produced goods  boycott would spread among White and Black abolitionists during the 19th century until the American Civil War. These boycotts to restore the land and freedom of peasants and slaves would inspire movements in the 20th century.

2. In 1919, India adopted anti-colonial tactics by boycotting the British goods to end the British occupation of India.

3. In 1935 and for 3 years, the first Palestinian Intifada (mass civil disobedience) used anti-colonial-settler tactics (including the Arab League boycott of the Jewish settler-colony in the 60’s),

4. In the 1960s, we witnessed the anti-South African Apartheid boycott

5. The anti-racist tactics, the anti-Nazi Jewish boycott of 1933 to end Nazi racial separatism

6.  The Montgomery Bus Boycott by African Americans in the mid-1950s to end American white colonial settler apartheid in Alabama and the rest of the American South….

There is however a different history of the uses of the boycott

Joseph Massad, author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question, published  in Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Boycotting the Palestinians

In contrast with its uses to force the end of race, class and colonial injustice, boycott would also be deployed as a tactic to bring about colonial and racial injustice.

Zionism would be a pioneer in this regard. Upon the formalization of Zionist settler colonialism in the 1897 First Zionist Congress, Jewish colonists were incensed that earlier Russian Jewish agricultural colonists who had settled in Palestine since the 1880s would employ Palestinian labor in their colonies, on account of its availability and cheapness.

It was in this context that Zionism would develop its racially separatist notion of “Hebrew labour”, insisting and later imposing its regulations on all Jewish colonists in Palestine, namely that Jewish labour should be used exclusively in the Jewish settler-colony.

 

Israel’s expertise in separation fences and walls was put to productive use with the massive “Apartheid Wall” it built on Palestinian Realizing the difficulty of imposing its racist project on Palestine, a country which Zionism did not control yet, the movement developed the idea of the first racially separatist planned community for the exclusive use of Ashkenazi Jews, namely the Kibbutz, which would develop in the first decade of the 20th century.

Lest one mistake the idea of the Kibbutz as a commitment to socialism, Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion, who came up with the exclusive “Hebrew labour” idea to boycott the Palestinians, set the record straight: The Kibbutz was set up to “guarantee [separatist] Jewish labour” and not as an application of socialist theory.  

As a racially separatist Jewish economy and colony established on the lands of the Palestinians continued to be the primary goal of Zionism, the principle of boycott of Palestinian labour and products would become more aggressive as time passed.

Like its parent Zionist movement before it, which used the tactic of boycott to effect racial separation and discrimination rather than end it, the Zionist labour Federation, the Histadrut, would begin in 1927 to use the time-honoured act of picketing.

Picketing is traditionally used by workers and unions to end practices involving the exploitation and unfair treatment of workers. In the case of the Jewish colonists, they used picketing to bring about discrimination against Palestinian workers and to deny them employment in their own country.

The Zionist picketing campaign sought to boycott Jewish businesses which continued to employ Palestinian labor as well as the goods the Palestinians produced. This was not only confined to the agricultural Jewish colonies in the Palestinian countryside, but also included urban settings where Jewish businesses employed Palestinians in the area of construction.

The Zionist campaign would continue until 1936 when the Great Palestinian Revolt would erupt threatening both the Zionist settler colonial project and the British occupation safeguarding it. In these 9 years of picketing, not only did the workers among the Jewish colonists join the picket lines, but so did the professionals and the middle class of Jewish colonial society, including actors, teachers, librarians, as well as Histadrut officials.

In addition to the major picketing campaign of the citrus groves of Kfar Saba in the 1920s, the Histadrut would organize “mobile-pickets” where picketers would travel from one construction site to the next in the cities, including Tel Aviv, where Palestinian workers were employed in the building of the first racially separate Jewish city.

If labour picketers around the world would harass scabs who were coopted by exploitative employers at the expense of union workers, colonial Jewish picketers in Palestine would harass Palestinian workers who were violating the racially separatist project of Zionism. Picketers would attack and beat up Palestinian workers and steal their tools and destroy their work.

The picketers would also destroy the produce of the Jewish colonies that employed Palestinian peasants and workers. This was hardly an exception, but harked back to Zionist colonial practices in the first decade of the 20th century when the racist principle of “Hebrew labour” was first put into action.

When Jewish colonists found out in 1908 that the saplings in a forest that was founded in memory of Zionism’s founder Theodor Herzl in Ben Shemen near Lydda were planted by Palestinians, they came and uprooted them and then replanted them again, thus preserving the Jewish character of the forest.

Breaking the anti-Nazi boycott

Unlike the Zionists who were pioneers in their use of boycotts to effect racial separatism, the Nazis would be latecomers to the tactic. The Nazis would begin to boycott Jewish businesses in Germany starting in April 1933 in response to the American Jewish call for a boycott of Nazi Germany, which had started a month earlier in March 1933.

In view of the racist Nazi regime’s targeting of Jews, American Jews and other European Jews started a campaign in March 1933 to boycott Nazi Germany until it ended its racist campaign and political targeting of German Jews.

Whereas American Jews, including Zionists, began to lobby US politicians and organisations to join the boycott, the Zionist leadership in Palestine and Germany saw the matter differently. It was in this context that the Zionists signed the notorious Transfer (Ha’avara) Agreement with Nazi Germany, whereby Jews leaving Germany to Palestine would be compensated for their lost property, which they were not allowed to transfer outside the country, through the transfer of German goods to the Jewish colonies in Palestine.

The official parties to the agreement included the Zionist Federation of Germany, the Nazi government, and the Anglo-Palestine Bank (which was founded in 1899 as the financial arm of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) under the name “The Jewish Colonial Trust”, and renamed in 1950 as “Bank Leumi“).

Bank Leumi is today the largest bank in Israel. The Ha’avara Agreement, which was signed in 1933, not only broke the boycott against Nazi Germany, but also entailed the selling of German goods by the Zionists to Britain. 60%of all capital invested in the Jewish colonies of Palestine between 1933 and 1939 came from German Jewish money through the Transfer Agreement. This infuriated not only American and European Jews who were promoting the boycott, which the WZO was breaking, but also the right-wing revisionists within the Zionist movement itself who assassinated the major Zionist envoy to the Nazis, Chaim Arlosoroff, in 1933 upon his return from Nazi Germany where he had been negotiating the Agreement.

Not only would Zionism break the boycott, but its local German branch would also be the only German Jewish organisation that would support the Nazi Nuremberg laws that were issued in 1935 to separate German Jews from German “Aryans” racially.

The Zionists, like the Nazis, agreed that German “Aryans” and German Jews were separate races and people. Here Zionist thinking becomes clear on the question of boycotts. Wherein Zionists were using boycotts to bring about racial and colonial separatism in Palestine to privilege colonizing Jews and separate them from Palestinian Arabs, they opposed the Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany which sought to end Nazi racial separatism in the country targeting Jews.

For Zionism, what mattered most was its commitment to racial separatism, whether in Germany or Palestine, and it supported only those boycotts that would bring it about. Indeed, as the Nazis in the 1930s sought to deport Jews and render Germany Judenrein (the Nazis proposed Madagascar as a destination for German Jews), the Zionists were proposing Palestine as the destination for German Jews, whose deportation they ultimately supported and were using the boycott and picketing campaigns to render the Jewish State-to-be in Palestine Araberrein.

 Inside Story: On the road to Israeli apartheid?

The Palestinians countered Zionist separatism with boycotts of their own, targeting the Zionist colonies and their products during the British Mandate years.

The Arab League of States would issue its own boycott of Zionist and Israeli goods that would go into effect in 1945. Like the American Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany in 1933 which sought to end Nazi racial separatism, the Palestinian boycott of the 1930s and the ongoing Arab League boycott were imposed precisely to end Jewish colonial and racial separatism and discrimination against the Palestinians.

Supporting French settler-colonialism

From 1948 until 1967, the Israelis would become the major ally of France, which was the chief colonial-settler European enforcer of racial apartheid on another Arab people, namely Algerians. Not only would France become Israel’s major arms supplier and ally during this period, the fact that the two countries shared the status of being the only two European settler-colonies on Arab lands was paramount in its calculations.

When the Algerian revolt started in November 1954, the French decided to increase their arms sales to the Israelis. French Generals explained the intensification of their military alliance with Israel as part of the fight against the Algerian revolutionaries, as well as against the anti-imperialist Arab leader Gamal Abdel Nasser who supported the Algerian Revolution. The alliance and friendship between the two colonizing states was so strong that Israel would also carry out military manoeuvers with the French on occupied Algerian territory and would enlist Algerian Jews (who were granted French citizenship in 1870 by France to separate them from their compatriot Algerian Muslims and grant them the privileges of White French colonists) to spy on the Algerian National movement that was seeking to end French colonialism and racism.

A few months after the end of his 13-month stint as Governor General of French Algeria, the French colonial politician and later terrorist, Jacques Soustelle, helped to create and presided over the pro-Israel lobbying group Alliance France-Israel in November 1956.

This followed Israel’s collusion with France to invade Egypt that year and destroy the regime of Abdel Nasser. In 1958, Soustelle would enjoin not only Israel but the world Jewish communities to support French colonial apartheid in Algeria: “We believe that given the influence which not only Israel but above all the Jewish communities throughout the world exert on international opinion, this alliance would produce happy results for us.”

Soustelle’s anti-Semitism and Nazi-like views concerning the alleged power of the world Jewish communities did not bother Israel one bit. Indeed, Soustelle would join the terrorist group Organisation de l’armee secrete (OAS) in 1960 to fight against Algerian independence, which was by then increasingly becoming the accepted vision in French government circles for the future of Algeria.

The military alliance with Israel did not only provide arms and impart military training to the Israelis, but also made it possible for the French themselves to learn a few Israeli tricks, including “convoy bombing”, which the French would use in Algeria. This was not all. French officers would be dispatched to Israel to learn new techniques in psychological warfare from the Jewish colonists.

French General Maurice Challe, Commander-in-Chief of the French forces in Algeria (1958-1960), insisted in an interview with Sylvia Crosbie that the Israelis were “consummate artists” at dealing with the Palestinian natives. Challe went further and hoped to use the Kibbutz as a model for his pacification program in Algeria, but the triumph of the Algerian Revolution would prevent his plan from being executed.

Israeli study missions in Algeria were also welcomed as the Israelis were keen to learn from the French the use of helicopters to fight the Algerian guerrillas. Challe, like other generals who were friends of Israel, would participate in the failed coup of April 1961 against the French government in Algeria and would be tried by a military tribunal. Testimonies by at least one participant in the failed coup stated that the coup leaders were expecting support from a number of settler colonial powers: “Portugal, South Africa, South America, and perhaps Israel.”

“For Zionism, what mattered most was its commitment to racial separatism, whether in Germany or Palestine, and it supported only those boycotts that would bring it about.”

Israel’s alliance with colonial France would sour when the French opted to end their war against the Algerian people and acceded to their independence. Not happy with its isolation as the only remaining European settler colony in the Arab world, Israel rushed to support the right-wing French terrorists who opposed their government and began to fight against Algerian independence.

Aside from conscripting a number of Algerian Jews, who had joined the terrorist OAS, into Israel’s spy network, the Israelis provided logistical support to the French terrorists. This included support for Jacques Soustelle himself, who was supported by Ben Gurion and was financed by rich right-wing pro-Israeli American Jews who opposed de Gaulle and Algerian independence.

Algerian Jewish commandos organized themselves in Oran against Algerian Muslims and sought partition of the colony along racial lines. They were said to be inspired in their quest by Israeli government policy. Thus, just like its support of Nazi racial separatism and refusal to join the Jewish anti-Nazi boycott, Zionism and Israel opted to support French colonial racism and separatism, and indeed to fight actively against its final dissolution in Algeria, rather than join the international condemnation of French colonial policies.

Breaking the boycott against apartheid

But the story of Zionism and boycotts would not end there. Zionism would stay true to its principles of supporting boycotts that promote racial apartheid and denouncing boycotts that oppose racial apartheid to the present. When the United Nations imposed mandatory sanctions against the racist settler-colony of Rhodesia in 1966, Israel supported the sanctions at the UN but in reality never abided by them.

Israel would provide arms and helicopters to be used in counterinsurgency by the Rhodesian government against the anti-racist independence movement seeking to overthrow the regime (a tactic, as we saw, which it learned from French colonial forces in Algeria and which it was now imparting to Rhodesian white supremacist colonists). Indeed the Israelis, breaking the international boycott, would provide the racist Rhodesians in the 1970s with a 500-mile separation fence along the border with Mozambique and Zambia. The fall of the Rhodesian settler colony in 1980 and the rise of Zimbabwe did not bode well for the future of Israel.

When the African National Congress (ANC) and progressive allies, who would also be joined by the United Nations, began to call for and effect different forms of boycott against apartheid South Africa beginning in the early1960s, Israel would be a central breaker of the boycott, becoming the apartheid state’s major political and economic partner. Indeed Israel’s strategic alliance with South Africa would be built in the late 1960s as the boycott campaign against the apartheid regime became more vociferous.

Here again, Zionism was true to its principles. One of its founding fathers, Chaim Weizmann, was a close friend of none other than the Afrikaner leader Jan Smuts, one of the central founders of modern South Africa. Smuts was such a big supporter of the Jewish settler colony that Jewish colonists named a Kibbutz after him: Ramat Yohanan.  It was both ideological proximity and structural positionality that led to the alliance between the two settler colonies.

In November 1962, The UN General Assembly resolution 1761 was passed and called for a voluntary boycott, requesting member states to break off diplomatic relations with South Africa, to cease trading with South Africa (arms exports in particular), and to deny passage to South African ships and aircraft. In August 1963, the United Nations Security Council established a voluntary arms embargo against South Africa. Finally in November 1977, the Security Council adopted a mandatory arms embargo. Under increasing domestic and international pressure, the Carter administration finally voted in favour of the embargo.

As international consensus was mounting against the apartheid state, Israel would strengthen its alliance with it, not only in military, including nuclear cooperation, but also in providing it with training, arms and equipment to put down the ongoing anti-apartheid demonstrations and uprisings. Support for the apartheid state would come from Israel’s quintessential racist and separatist institution, the Ashkenazi-Jewish Kibbutz. For example, Kibbutz Beit Alfa would provide the apartheid security forces of South Africa with anti-riot weapons to put down the demonstrations. One of Beit Alfa’s main industries is indeed riot control equipment, including water cannons, which it would provide to the apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1980s in a “secret pact”. Kibbutz Beit Alfa, it should be mentioned, was established by the Jewish National Fund partly on lands purchased from absentee landlords and partly on confiscated lands belonging to Palestinian villages.

 Israeli settlers take part of Palestinian city

Israel would also provide South Africa, as in the case of Rhodesia, with hundreds of miles of mined electric fences to protect the racist state’s borders from ANC guerrilla infiltration. It would also build a thousand-mile fence on the Namibia-Angola border to protect South Africa’s occupation of Namibia. Its expertise in separation fences and walls would be put to productive use with the massive “Apartheid Wall” that Israel would build on Palestinian lands beginning in 1994 and continuing into the 21st century. Israel’s breaking the boycott against the apartheid regime would continue until the latter’s demise in 1994. With the fall of colonial Algeria, Rhodesia and South Africa, Israel remained alone as the last European settler-colony across Asia and Africa.

The Palestinian Authority and boycott

Since the beginning of the so-called “peace process”, all diplomatic solutions which Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have signed on to are engineered to preserve Israel’s racially separatist project of a “Jewish state” and of racial partition. Indeed, not only does Israel and US president Barack Obama insist on preserving Israel as a separatist and racist Jewish state as a precondition to all peace talks, but also on Israeli policies of racial separation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem which continue unabated with the construction of Jews-only settlements and Jews-only highways on stolen Palestinian lands.

In Israel itself, Israel’s state-appointed rabbis have been incensed that Israeli laws do not fully ensure racial separatism. In light of Safad’s chief Rabbi’s call urging Israeli Jews not to sell or rent houses or apartments to non-Jews, dozens of Israel’s municipal rabbis signed onto his rabbinical ruling in December 2010. The Rabbis issued a letter to announce their call to “urge neighbours of anyone renting or selling property to Arabs to caution that person. After delivering the warning, the neighbour is then encouraged to issue notices to the general public and inform the community… The neighbours and acquaintances [of a Jew who sells or rents to an Arab] must distance themselves from the Jew, refrain from doing business with him, deny him the right to read from the Torah, and similarly [ostracise] him until he goes back on this harmful deed”.

Unlike the Palestinian anti-colonial resistance which sought to boycott colonial goods in the British Mandate years, and unlike the Arab League which mandated an Arab boycott of Israel, the PA has a different view of economic relations with Israel. Like the World Zionist Organization and the German Zionists who saw the fight against anti-Semitism as self-defeating and saw collaboration with anti-Semitism as crucial to the success of Zionism, the Oslo Palestinian leadership has followed a similar strategy of collaboration with Zionism and of prohibiting resistance to it.

Calls for boycotts by Palestinians are constantly assailed by PA operatives, who only recently, in 2010, and under public pressure heeded a minimalist call to boycott the Jewish colonial settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In December 2012, unelected PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, an erstwhile opponent of a boycott of Israel, issued a call to West Bank Palestinians to boycott all Israeli goods for the first time ever in retaliation for the Israeli government decision to sequester PA tax revenues, an action that bankrupted PA coffers. His government, however, never provided any mechanisms or logistical support for such a boycott nor has there been any official follow-up. In fact, when Fayyad announced the boycott of settlement goods in May 2010 as a publicity stunt, it was accompanied with assurances from unelected PA President Mahmoud Abbas that the PA was not boycotting Israel at all and would continue trade cooperationwith it.

“Israel’s attempt to rebrand itself as a just and egalitarian society comes up against its actual and stark racist reality.”

BDS, Obama, and pinkwashing

Today, it is the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and its international solidarity network that is the champion of a boycott of the racist Israeli settler colony. Like its noble predecessors, from African American boycotts in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Indian boycott of British goods, the Jewish anti-Nazi boycott, and the international boycott of Rhodesia and South Africa, the BDS movement insists that its call for a boycott should be heeded until Israel sheds all its racist laws and policies and becomes a non-racist state.

Israel has expectedly mobilised much of its political power to defeat the BDS initiative and has solicited the help of its formidable ally, Barack Obama, who has publicly expressed hostility to the BDS movement and shamelessly threatened the Palestinian people with dire consequences were they to dare to dismantle Israel’s racist institutions. Israel’s campaigns have included what some have called “pinkwashing”, portraying itself as a democratic country that safeguards the rights of homosexuals unlike its allegedly oppressive Arab neighbours. In this regard, it is important to mention Zionism’s prehistory of “pinkwashing”.

The first European Jew that the Zionist movement assassinated in Palestine was the Dutch Jewish poet and novelist Jacob Israel de Haan. De Haan, whom the Zionists assassinated in 1924, was not only a fighter against Zionist racism and oppression of the Palestinians, but was also known in Zionist circles to engage in homosexual activities, and that he had a special fondness for young Palestinian men (he wrote a poem about the theme). His assassin, Avraham Tehoni of the official Zionist army, the Haganah, was given the orders to assassinate him by Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, who would become Israel’s second president (1952-1963). The Zionists tried to pin de Haan’s murder on the Palestinians who were allegedly motivated to kill him on account of his homosexual activity with Palestinian boys.  While Zionist propaganda failed, and de Haan’s Jewish murderer would confess decades later publicly to his assassination, some evidence suggests that de Haan’s homosexual activities might have been an important factor on the mind of Zionist decision-makers when they ordered his assassination, though his assassin denied that this was a motive.

Israel’s attempt to rebrand itself as a just and egalitarian society comes up against its actual and stark racist reality. Its opposition to the Palestinian BDS movement is often framed as an opposition to all boycotts as a form of struggle. But as the historical record shows, this is not a time-honoured Zionist position. As they have done throughout their history, Zionism and Israel will continue to support any boycott that seeks to institutionalise racism and racial separatism and will denounce any boycott that seeks to end racism and racial separatism. Their campaign and that of Obama against BDS should be understood in this context of their commitment to apartheid as a principle of organising human life.

Joseph Massad teaches Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question published by Routledge. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.


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