The consequences of apartheid in Israel and of US government support for such apartheid- Part 2 of 4. Hearing the varied voices of Zionism

JudaismRejectsZionism

The Israeli government’s systematic, unkind, unjust, and brutal discrimination against Palestinians routinely violates Palestinians’ human and legal rights and denies them the fulfillment of their human needs, not only for life, safety, health, power, freedom, wealth, land, and possessions, but for values, identity, respect, friendship, kindness, caring, and self-potential.

Palestinians have faced this discrimination and brutal treatment for more than 100 years. How, then, can it possibly be said that Palestinian violence today is “unprovoked”? If Israeli and US governments deny the very roots of Palestinian violence, they cut themselves off from the avenues to peace, for only by remedying these roots of violence and fulfilling legitimate human needs do we have hope for peace and justice.

In Part 2, below, we will continue examining the 16 consequences of apartheid in Israel as described in my memo of June 28, 2023.

June 28, 2023

Part 2. Hearing the varied voices of ZionismConsequences 7–12

7. Trampling the Variety of Voices within Zionism and Catering to a Revisionist Strain of Zionists Who Admired Hitler. Zionism is the movement to create and support a national homeland for Jews in Palestine. Other areas of the world had also been considered as a potential homeland, but the preference amongst some for Palestine to be that homeland is called Zionism.

In the early 1900s, Zionism was primarily a European movement centered in Berlin, and the vast majority of American Jews were anti-Zionist, viewing the idea as anachronistic and dangerous. Reform Jews opposed Zionism and feared that the creation of a Jewish state would increase anti-Semitism. Ultra-Orthodox Jews opposed Zionism because it was such a secular idea, focusing on nationalism rather than religious devotion. Socialist Jews opposed Zionism because they identified with the international working class rather than a certain ethnic group. Jews in the US government also depicted Zionism and its Eastern European origins in unfavorable terms, perhaps with prejudice against Eastern Europe and Russia.[1]  

Significantly, Jews already living in the Mid-East in the 1940s were anti-Zionist. They opposed creating a Jewish state in Israel because they did not want to risk ruining current peaceful relations between Jews and Muslims! Anti-Zionist Jews objected that “pushing Christians and Moslems out of Palestine would be grounds for increased anti-Semitism around the world.” Even within the United States, some Jewish leaders argued that it would be “undemocratic to impose the will of Jewish outsiders on Palestinian Arabs.”[2]

These democratic sentiments deserved attention, but instead they seemed to be overrun by foreign powers’ strategic goals and certain Christians’ passions, including the Restorationist fervor of certain American Protestant Christians who believed in a type of magic formula that had been in circulation at least since the 1600s: Once Jews resettle the Holy Land, Christ will descend upon Earth a second time and evidently everything will be just great then for Christians.[3]  They’ll be able to quit their jobs, live in peace, and float around as happy spirits, never bored, tired, angry, or depressed. The fate of Jews in this story seemed to be muffled up.

But in addition to the differences that existed between pro- and anti-Zionists, even amongst Zionists, major differences of opinion existed in the period between the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the 1948 establishment of Israel regarding their anticipated political and social relations with the Palestinian people. Some, such as Judah Leib Magnes, head of the American Zionist Federation and a follower of Gandhi, were binational Zionists, who believed in the necessity of creating a binational state, in which Arabs and Jews would have equal status and opportunity.

Henrietta Szold, as well, was an enthusiastic Zionist who believed that Arabs in Palestine had a legitimate demand for independence. She worked for reconciliation between Zionists and Arab nationalists and even campaigned for compulsory Arabic education in Jewish schools. “‘I have always held that Arab-Jewish relationships should have been the central point of our Zionist thinking.’”[4] Where have these voices gone? Why have they been forgotten?

Of great relevance to today, a severe conflict existed amongst non-Revisionist and Revisionist Zionists. David Ben Gurion was a socialist who eventually became Israel’s first prime minister in 1948. He and Vladimir-Zeev Jabotinsky worked together in the Zionist movement following WWI. Jabotinsky, however, grew apart from Ben Gurion’s Zionism and founded a splinter movement: a Revisionist opposition to the mainstream Zionist movement.”[5] 

Jabotinsky, ignoring the inhumane, unjust crowding and displacement effects of Israeli immigration on the Arab population in Palestine, called for massive Jewish immigration to Palestine—50,000 immigrants per year. Revisionists also had expansive territorial goals, with Jabotinsky claiming that the Jordan River should run through the center of Palestine, not merely along its eastern border.[6]  

Jabotinsky is sometimes referred to as “the father of Jewish terrorism,”[7] but he and his fellow uncompromising Revisionists considered themselves to be the true Zionists.

Yossi Melman remarks:

“Jabotinsky adored Italian Fascism and its leader Benito Mussolini. Revisionism established a brand of harsh, merciless Zionism, without sentiment or compromise. It is this ruthless form of Zionism that was expressed by the words and deeds of Menachem Begin and, later, by Yitzhak [Shamir]. Members of Jabotinsky’s Revisionist movement attempted in the 1930s to emulate the political style and culture of the European right. As liberalism and democracy, in their eyes, were weak, they opted for being Jewish Fascists. Like their role models, the people in Jabotinsky’s movement wore brown shirts, organized parades and demonstrations, and worshiped their leader. Some even argued that, had Hitler not been anti-Semitic, they would have supported national-socialism.”[8] 

So here we can see how Jabotinsky’s Revisionism—which was upheld by Shamir, Begin, and Netanyahu, turned Judaism on its head and slanted Zionism to its most negative extreme. What began as a humane desire to help Jews—particularly after Hitler’s Holocaust—by creating Israel, turned into the creation of a state deeply influenced and at times led by Jewish Revisionists themselves—adherents of the ideology of Jabotinsky who admired Hitler!

(Incidentally, this points even further to the ludicrousness of the US propaganda machine that continually scoffs that neo-Nazism cannot possibly be a problem in Ukraine because President Zelensky is Jewish. Without suggesting that Zelensky is a Jewish Fascist, the point is: Nazism is an ideology that encompasses ideas and patterns of human relations and society that go far beyond antisemitism.)

Revisionists believe in militancy, narrow-mindedness, and ethnic superiority, and they hold cooperation and democracy in disdain. Perhaps this disdain for what is “weak” developed from years of terror and despair as a persecuted people. It’s certainly understandable if it did. But to my knowledge, these are not fundamental values or principles of Judaism. Nor are they fundamental values or principles of the United States. And they’re certainly not principles to encourage or upon which to build a state, especially a state that is being created by victims of a Nazi regime whose enshrinement of these principles led to millions of deaths and the mass emigration of these victims and their descendants.

Unfortunately, these principles took power. In the 1930s and 1940s, Britain tried to contain this virulent strain within Zionism. Various British commissions, having studied the severe violence in Palestine between Jews and Arabs, had made several suggestions for changes in British policy to reduce the despair and frustration of Palestinian Arabs. All of the commissions had insisted that Arab land must be protected and Jewish immigration must be limited in order to avoid worsening the problem. [Note: In the accompanying video I note that Al Jazeera’s Oct. 9, 2023 article on the background of the conflict, while very good and informative, strangely omits Britain’s efforts to protect Arab land for Arabs.[9]]

However, because of succumbing to intense Zionist pressure upon the British government, it was not until the White Paper of 1939 that Britain declared unequivocally that it did not support Palestine’s becoming a Zionist state. Yes, it had supported a homeland in the Balfour Declaration, but not necessarily a political state. Furthermore, with the White Paper, Britain set limits—15,000 per year—of Jewish immigrants to Palestine for the next five years, after which immigration should cease altogether unless the Arab community approved further immigration. Britain also restricted land transfers to Jews to certain areas.

The White Paper was a shock to Zionists, or at least, to those Zionists who weren’t binational  Zionists, and Britain became enemy number one to the Revisionists, who preferred Hitler. While the mainstream Zionist plan was to wait until after WWII to fight the British and sabotage the White Paper policy, two dissident Jewish military units began attacking Britain even during WWII. The first was the Irgun, a terrorist organization that was the military arm of the Revisionists. The second was the Stern Gang.[10]

In other words, while Britain was engaged in battling Hitler, the mass murderer of Jews, Britain was being attacked by Jewish extremists. Why? Because Britain was trying to support both parts of the Balfour Declaration, the part that created a homeland for Jews and the part that emphasized that this homeland creation must not harm anybody already living there:

“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”[11]

Because of this fair-mindedness, the British were being attacked by Jewish extremists who have likely been over-represented in Israel’s government for decades and who are currently in command. [Update: the Oct. 9, 2023 Al-Jazeera article, like so many articles, also fails to mention both parts of the Balfour Declaration.]

What’s equally interesting about these two Jewish terrorist organizations that were attacking Britain during WWII is the direct involvement in them of two future Israeli prime ministers. Menachem Begin (prime minister 1977-83) led the Irgun beginning in 1943, and Yitzhak Shamir (1983-84, 1986-92), who had emigrated from Poland to Palestine in 1935, joined Jabotinsky’s Irgun in 1936, “where he personally participated in attacks resulting in the deaths of dozens of Arabs.” 

Later Shamir came under the influence of Avraham Stern, whose gang split from Jabotinsky because the Stern Gang wanted to be more militant and harsh; for Stern, Jabotinsky was too soft on the British. The Stern Gang felt Britain was more of a threat than Nazi Germany. “Indeed, they dreamed of forging an alliance with Mussolini and Hitler.”  Melman refers to Stern’s “blind stupidity”: “…it was the understanding of Stern that Hitler did not intend to destroy the Jews but simply wanted to get rid of them.” 

The British shot and killed Stern in 1942 and detained Shamir. Shamir and a comrade escaped, but the comrade’s passions were even more extreme: he wanted to kill Ben Gurion himself. Such a desire crossed even Shamir’s line into insanity, and so, under Shamir’s orders, the comrade was killed and Shamir became the new leader of the Gang. The Stern Gang harbored fears of traitors and reacted cruelly.

“Under Shamir, the Stern Gang was small and highly secretive. . . . Their unmitigated cruelty, however, terrified the British. They robbed banks, executed Jewish “traitors,” and assassinated a British cabinet minister and other British officials and diplomats. They also murdered hundreds of Arabs in indiscriminate terror attacks by planting car bombs and booby traps in Arab markets and public places.”[12] 

The British arrested Shamir in 1946 and deported him to a remote detainee camp in Africa, but, once again, he escaped. Once Israel became a nation in 1948, Shamir returned and was evidently found to possess a suitable personality for the secret service, the Mossad, where he worked until 1965.

Of interest, it was during the time of Shamir’s work in the Mossad in 1963 that US President John F. Kennedy grew furious with Israel’s Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion for secretly developing nuclear weapons. Kennedy was convinced that Israel wasn’t developing nuclear power simply for peaceful purposes, and he was enraged with Israel’s President Ben-Gurion for refusing to allow US inspections of the Israeli reactor in Dimona.

Ben-Gurion explained that if Israel didn’t have nukes, Egypt’s Nasser would do to Israel what Hitler had done. To try to alleviate his fears, Kennedy offered to provide him with Hawk ground-to-air missiles, but Ben-Gurion responded by deploying the Hawks around Dimona where the Israeli nukes were located and by continuing to block US inspections.

In the summer of 1963, just months before his November assassination, Kennedy warned Ben-Gurion that his stubbornness would seriously jeopardize relations with the United States.[13]

With this history of Israel’s leaders, and with Netanyahu’s similar embrace of Revisionism, the US government has got to recognize that Israel’s government is not representative of Israel’s people, nor is it representative of Judaism or of any principles for which the US government supposedly stands. In fact, it supports principles of brutality, inhumanity, and ethnocentrism that were central to the Holocaust and that were central reasons why some felt Jews needed a homeland to be “safe.” With the nation of Israel based now for decades upon the very principles under which Jews have suffered for centuries, the very principles against which the nation of Israel supposedly stood, it is a mistake to support the Israeli government as it currently behaves.

To be clear, it would also be a mistake to seek to harm it or destroy it. But in its current incarnation, it must not be financially or politically supported.

8. Failing to Give Netanyahu the Pressure He Needs to Say “No” to Jewish Extremists. In order to maintain support from his extremist coalition government, Netanyahu apparently feels pressured to please the Jewish extremists who are extremely harsh towards Palestinians and who favor annexation of Palestinian land.[14] Netanyahu’s “traditional inclination toward military caution runs in stark contrast to his extremist coalition partner Itamar Ben Gvir, who espouses a heavy hand against the Palestinians.”[15]

If the US government were to support these harsh Israeli policies, such support would not only be condoning crimes against humanity and potential war crimes, but it may even be contrary to the will of the majority of Israelis. Such support would amount to supporting Jewish extremists who are not representative of the majority of Israelis.

However, if the US government were to condemn such harsh treatment, evictions, and annexation plans, if the US government were to put some teeth behind its words by cutting off funds to Israel’s government upon which Israel depends until the Israeli government’s behavior changed dramatically in accord with international law, then such pressure would actually help Netanyahu not feel pressured to support the Jewish extremists. Whether he wants such help or not is not apparent, but it would make it easier for him to say to Jewish extremists that he cannot do what they wish because Israel’s major source of funding will be cut off if he obliges them in their apartheid schemes and dreams.

Netanyahu himself pledged in November 2020 that he would lead a government that would “‘avoid unnecessary adventures and expand the circle of peace.’”[16] The US government can help him do that by applying financial and other forms of pressure, as well as positive instruction and requests, so that he can stand up to Jewish extremists without taking the blame for disappointing them himself.

9. Failing to Use Pressure from Other Muslim Nations to Enable Netanyahu to Stand up to Jewish Extremists of His Coalition. The same argument as in point #8 holds true for pressure applied to Netanyahu from surrounding Muslim nations, many of whom are alarmed by Israel’s behavior.

Netanyahu wants to be able to give as much freedom to his extremist coalition partners as he can without offending Muslim allies. His Jewish extremist coalition partners “will be looking for opportunities to tell Netanyahu that his concerns about meaningful backlash to their agenda are overblown.”[17] So, if the Muslim allies were to put more pressure on Netanyahu and publicly threaten Israel with this or that if they continue to behave harshly and inhumanely towards Palestinians, he would be able to better stand up to his extremist coalition partners and convince them that his fears about backlash from Muslim nations are not overblown. Of course, the backlash that is threatened should not be violent. Backlash could be financial, economic, and political.

On the other hand, if the US government continues to support Israel, then it’s possible that Muslim nations’ backlash could lead to war instead of Israel’s backing down. After all, some Jewish extremists will welcome war since they believe Holy War is necessary to bring about the coming of the Messiah.

10. Supporting Jewish Extremists in Order to Give Netanyahu the Deal He Wants in His Corruption Trial. Beware that Netanyahu may “need” the support of Jewish extremists in order to help him get through unscathed his corruption trial which began in 2018.[18] “Netanyahu feels beholden to these forces for his political and legal survival, hoping his coalition partners will agree to legislation that will effectively vacate his ongoing corruption trial.”[19]

Therefore, if the US government were to support these extremist, harsh Israeli policies, policies that amount to war crimes, the US government would be promoting not only crimes against humanity and potential war crimes, it would be promoting the impunity of Netanyahu in his corruption trial, a situation that is described in a manner that implies such an outcome would not be just but rather the result of a deal with Jewish extremists.

11. Promoting the Forces Who Want Holy War or Land for Spiritual Completeness. Beware that some of the Jewish extremists within Netanyahu’s coalition government who advocate for Israel’s expansion may adhere to beliefs that such expansion is a prerequisite to the coming of the Messiah or to some sort of spiritual fulfillment. As Tom Friedman writes, Rabbi Waldman stated in an interview:  “. . . as long as we don’t have all the land, we are not going to be complete spiritually and total redemption will not be possible.’”[20]

The precise nature of this spiritual completion and redemption, why such completion and redemption are so desired—even at the cost of harming others, and how it’s known that completion and redemption will result from having all this land from one thousand years ago is not clear. I’m sure the Native Americans would have felt more spiritually complete if they had their land back, but I don’t see any moves on the part of the US government in that direction. In fact, the very idea is considered ludicrous since they lost their land more than a century ago. The sacred Black Hills were brazenly seized and mined. Sacred sites in Hawaii are violated by the US military today. Are some religions less important than others? Who’s the judge of that?

Some Jews or Christians may also believe a Holy War is a prerequisite to the Second Coming, as if anyone divine would want to come here on the heels of a war, especially a radioactive one. While religions deserve respect, there is a limit to this respect, and magical religious beliefs regarding the supposedly divine need to engage in destructive or aggressive activities—whether killing people, conquering land, starting fires, or bringing Christian “light” to Iraqis—should in no way be supported by military aid or political and social support.

Exactly what kind of Messiah would want people to wage Holy War or seize a certain piece of land as a condition of arrival? Isn’t that cruel and materialistic? Doesn’t that encourage selfishness and unkindness in people? How can that be considered holy? Is that an image of a Messiah worth welcoming? Doesn’t it thwart the fundamentals of the religion itself?

And how does anyone know a Messiah actually has these pre-conditions of arrival and that these pre-conditions weren’t made up by human beings? The problem with divine beings is that since no one actually hears them talking with witnesses to confirm what’s been said, people can put words in their mouths. Just look at how Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and the Christian cross have been distorted throughout history to support war! I doubt any of these gods appreciate people taking advantage of their silence to use them as a divine pretext for war.

It’s not only the violent religious extremists whose militant, self-centered ideas distort the very essence of their religion. Secular ideologies are hijacked as well. Consider how the US government topples foreign leaders, interferes in foreign elections, and invades and bombs nations without any sort of democratic invitation to do so from the targeted nation—yet all in the name of its secular religion of democracy, whose very heart and soul have been gutted by these very actions.

12. Creation of a Landless Class and Preparing the Cauldron for War. Keep in mind that Israel’s escalated creation of a landless class of people is exactly what began happening after the 1917 Balfour Declaration, when Jewish immigrants began displacing indigenous Arabs, largely peasants. This crowding out of Arabs, this seizing of their land through force and financial manipulations, led to immense amounts of violence causing Britain to enlist the help of several commissions at various times to study the problem.

Britain’s Shaw commission of 1929 hit the nail on the head and concluded that the main source of tension was the creation of a landless class of discontented Arabs as well as the common Arab fear that continued Jewish immigration would result in a Jewish-dominated Palestine.

In other words, 100 years ago the British already knew and stated that protecting Arabs and their land in Palestine was the key to peace, and that violating their rights to land, life, and a livelihood was an invitation to violence and war! So why is this wisdom ignored by the Israeli government?

Apparently unaware of the full text of the Balfour Declaration, those Zionists who were most vocal condemned Britain for not supporting it—or rather, for not supporting one-half of it to the exclusion of the other half. Many Jewish Zionists viewed Britain as the enemy, worse than Hitler.[21]

Unconcerned about the effects on Palestinians, their lives, livelihoods, land, and families, and unconcerned about the effect on Jewish Israelis of living amidst so much violence and hatred, the violent Zionist Revisionist Vladimir Jabotinsky wanted more land for Zionists.

So what happened? At the time of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, 668,258 Arabs lived in Palestine and comprised more than 85 percent of the population. In 1946, that number had nearly doubled to 1,310,866 Arabs living in Palestine, comprising 67 percent of the population. By 1949, the year after Israel’s creation, nearly 90 percent of those Arabs were gone—only 160,000 Arabs remained. More than 1 million Arabs were gone—killed, expelled, or fled.[22]  

If the US government continues to support or continues to do nothing about the Israeli government’s policies of displacing Palestinians, it will be making the same mistake that was made beginning in the 1920s and 1930s of ignoring the injustice suffered by Palestinians—people who had nothing to do with the Holocaust, and it will be helping stir the cauldron for much more violence, despair, hatred, and destruction to come. Once war has slipped out of Pandora’s Box, it’s hard to get it back in.

Kristin Christman has been independently researching US foreign policy and peace since 9/11. Her channel focuses on US-Russian relations at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuNEw9-10lk-CwU-5vAElcg. Kristin graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College with a BA in Russian, and she holds Master’s degrees in Slavic languages from Brown University and public administration from SUNY Albany. She has been a guest with former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter and UNAC coordinator Joe Lombardo on Cynthia Pooler’s program, Issues that Matter, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDlaLNJih7UPeace Review: A Journal of Social Justice recently published her article on suicide, culture, and peace in their special edition on suicide, Vol. 33 No. 4.  [email protected]


[1] William Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East, 3rd ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2004), 352-64.

[2] Baylis Thomas, How Israel Was Won: A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 1999), 1, 10-11.

[3] Michael Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007).

[4] Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy, 434-38.

[5] Melman, New Israelis, 86.

[6] Cleveland, History, 253.

[7] Thomas, How Israel Was Won, 23.

[8] Melman, New Israelis, 86.

[9] Al Jazeera, “What’s the Israel-Palestine conflict about? A simple guide,” Oct. 9, 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com.

[10] Cleveland, History, 253, 257-60, 262-63.

[11] Cleveland, History, 244.

[12] Melman, New Israelis, 150-51.

[13] Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy, 521-22.

[14] Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, “What Does Israel’s New Government Mean for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?” Jan. 5, 2023, US Institute of Peace, https://www.usip.org.

[15] Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, Ambassador Hesham Youssef, “Regional Actors Seek to Douse Flames Fueled by Jerusalem Tensions,” USIP, Apr. 13, 2023, https://www.usip.org.

[16] Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, “What Does Israel’s New Government Mean.”

[17] Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, “What Does Israel’s New Government Mean.”

[18] Congressional Research Service, “Israel: Major Issues and US Relations,” R44245, Updated Jun. 21, 2023, https://crsreports.congress.gov.

[19] Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, “What Does Israel’s New Government Mean.”

[20] Thomas L. Friedman, From Beirut To Jerusalem (New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 1990), 310.

[21] Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy, 420-22.

[22] Cleveland, History, 245, 254-55, 270.

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