The question of the enemy in Palestine as it is emerging in discourse today is getting confusing.
Historically, Palestine was colonized with the help of the British and support of the United States in service of an ideology created by White European Jews who were atheists.
It all began a hundred years ago with the Balfour Declaration, a Zionist document given the stamp of approval by the British government — “every idea born in London was tested by the Zionist Organization in America, and every suggestion in America received the most careful attention in London.”
However, that these Zionist colonist Jews seeking a “homeland” in Palestine were Jews implementing an ideology called Zionism, not imperialism or White supremacy, is far from incidental. The ongoing and pressing problem of the Zionist state in Palestine is its so-called “right” to exist as a Jewish state, and that is about Jewish nationalism — not White supremacy.
Zionism is not just a matter of power politics, it is also a question of ideology. And the ideology of Zionism is Jewish supremacy in Palestine.
Defining the enemy that must be defeated in Palestine as Jewish supremacy does not discount the validity of the analogies people make between Zionism and White supremacy or Zionism as settler-colonialism. It simply focuses the issue on what must be done to resolve this 70-year-old Nakba of the Palestinian people — the end of Israel as a Jewish state; the end of Israel’s Apartheid. The major force behind that Apartheid is Jewish supremacy ideology — i.e. Zionism.
Further confusing the issue are the articles we currently encounter demonstrating, accurately, that Zionism is not only racist against Palestinian Arabs, it is anti-Semitic in nature as well — the Zionist-White supremacist alliance.
The anti-Semitism of Zionism arises from its anti-assimilationist nature, not from an animus against Jews, which is the anti-Semitism of White supremacy. At the time of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, Edwin Montagu, an assimilated British Jew and a member of the British Cabinet opposed Zionism by making this remarkable statement: “The [British] Government are asked to be the instrument … of a Zionist organization largely run … by men of enemy descent or birth.”
Montagu once remarked that
he had been trying all his life to escape the ghetto. Now he understood the Zionists to be trying to push him and every other assimilated British Jew, back inside. If the government endorsed the Zionist memorandum … it would mean that the country for which I have worked ever since I left the University — England — the country for which my family have fought, tells me that my national home … is Palestine.
But today, the core of the danger of the Jewish state does not lie in its anti-Semitism as defined above (except in harming Jews spiritually); it lies in its justification of the higher status of Jews in Palestine; it lies in its anti-Arab racism.
This fact is obscured when we are concerned with Netanyahu’s selectivity in railing against anti-Semitism (i.e., in his being embedded with White Supremacists) and ignore his total embrace of anti-Palestinian Arab racism.
Nada Elia argues persuasively that “White supremacy and Zionism are two of a kind, with both modelled on ethnic exclusion. Therefore, if one opposes exclusion, and the desire for a racially or religiously ‘pure’ nation, one must oppose Zionism.”
It’s important to understand, though, that whereas White supremacy’s racism is directed generally against all who are “other”, Zionist animus is directed specifically against Palestinian Arabs.
In 1937 Winston Churchill famously explained White supremacy against indigenous peoples that set the trend for Zionism in Palestine:
I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger, even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit, for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.
It’s the trend that allowed Menachem Begin to describe Palestinian Arabs as “two-legged beasts” and Ayelet Shaked to call for killing Palestinian mothers because they give birth to “little snakes”.
Arthur Balfour said:
In Palestine, we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country … Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.
The “present needs and future hopes” of Jews in Palestine were the driving force behind the Palestinian Nakba.
Today, the overriding concern of the Jewish state continues to be the replacement of Palestinians with Jewish families.
There are still many Jews, including “rabbis, hailing from different strains of American Judaism”, who can recognize anti-Semitism and racism against all other people except their own racist Zionism against Palestinian Arabs.
That is why Palestinians need Jews worldwide, as well as all other people of conscience, to stand up against the Zionist Jewish state and deny its “right” to exist as such.
Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.