"UK Minister of Justice Michael Gove opposes a welcome to refugees fleeing war and seeking sanctuary here and he fights against Palestinian refugees who do not want to come to Europe but desire to return to Palestine from which they were ethnically cleansed."

2banners in oneThe Zionist programme of occupation, colonisation, Apartheid and dispossession of the Palestinian people continues. Periodic massacres of scores, hundreds and sometimes thousands of Palestinians has been Israeli policy towards Palestinians in the territories conquered and occupied by Israel in 1967 and earlier in 1948.

The commitment of political Zionism to removing Jews from Europe creates common ground between Zionists and the worst anti-Semites. Zionism’s founder, Herzl, believed “The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies." Zionism incorporated many of the anti-Semites’ racist views of European Jews. This working alliance with anti-Semites included Balfour, Churchill, extreme xenophobes in Europe today.

The self-proclaimed Jewish State of Israel is based on past successes, ongoing campaigns, and plans for future ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.  This state is based on Jewish privilege over Palestinians from birth to death in legal, political, economic, residential, and employment fields. Opposition to a racist state is a duty, as is solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people for their freedom against that racist state.

Most people are horrified by the cruelty and violence of Israel’s programme to eliminate as many Palestinians as possible and replace them with Jewish immigrants from around the world. Scottish Minister Humza Yousaf joined the Scottish Government’s voice to many around the world in condemning “the depth of inhumanity” of Israel’s massacre of Palestinians in 2014.

We reject the idea of collective guilt and distinguish on principle between the crimes of the Apartheid State of Israel, and the citizens of that State (as we hope others make the same distinction for UK citizens). Jewish communities in Scotland or elsewhere are not responsible for Israel’s crimes against humanity.

Under bombs, bulldozers, mass imprisonment for resistance, Palestinian civil society issued a call in 2005 for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) to force Israel to concede Palestinian human rights. Worldwide support for that call is seriously worrying the regime in Israel and its supporters around the world, whose considered strategy is to attack BDS as anti-semitic. This idea is being pushed ever more shrilly by pro-Israel elements around the world, usually the same groups who support every Israeli crime against the Palestinian people. Tony Blair for example, Chair of the so-called European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), is one of those who agrees with Cameron on the need to criminalise those who answer the Palestinian call for practical solidarity, i.e. BDS.

At a conference in Berlin this week, Michael Gove, UK Minister of Justice has attacked those who answer the Palestinian call for BDS as anti-Jewish and called for “solidarity with the Jewish people - and in solidarity with their right to national self-determination."

Addressing the same conference Bundestag President Norbert Lammert smeared arriving refugees as anti-semitic and declared that their integration will involve “accepting Israel’s right to exist.” It is Gove and Lammert who are being racist and anti-semitic in claiming that Jews form a separate nation from the people they live amongst, that all the Jews of the world have a right to “national self-determination”.

Gove and Lammert demand that refugees – and all of us – accept the right of Israel to continue to dispossess and massacre Palestinians. They both oppose the rights of Palestinians to freedom from occupation, for an end to siege and massacre, second class citizenship inside Israel. They demand we accept a state based on Jewish supremacy and the denial of the rights of Palestinian refugees to return.

UK Minister of Justice Michael Gove opposes a welcome to refugees fleeing war and seeking sanctuary here and he fights against Palestinian refugees who do not want to come to Europe but desire to return to Palestine from which they were ethnically cleansed.

The racists are those who support and arm a sectarian state based on the denial of the human rights of Palestinians, and who talk of Jewish citizens of Scotland being a separate nation, not those who argue for universal human rights and political equality in a state where religion is no business of the government.
Racism – including anti-Semitism – is a crime. Anti-Zionism is a duty.

Mick Napier
18 March 2016
West Calder

Abdul-Wahab Kayyali
Journal of Palestine Studies,

Zionism  as  a  modern  political  creed  arose  as a  reaction  to three  interacting  challenges  or  problems  facing Europe  in  the nineteenth  century,  the heyday  of  Western  imperialism.
napoleonEgyptThe first  of  these  was  the growth  and  expansion  of European  imperialism,  which  necessitated  the search  for new  sources  of raw materials  and  markets  for  the  finished  products,  in addition  to securing  the  lines of commercial  and  military  communication.  The  importance  of the Arab lands as  the gateway  to  Africa and the bridge  to Asia was made evident  by Napoleon's  campaign  (1797-1799).  Yet the  "dangers"  of  an  independent  state comprising  Egypt  and other parts of the  Arab  world set up by  Muhammad  Ali (Al-Kabir)  became  clear soon afterwards.  Thus  the need  for stifling  any nascent  independent  state, doubly  threatening  to imperialism  later on, in the wake  of  the  spread  of Arab nationalist  sentiment,  became  increasingly  persistent  as  the  "Ottoman  Empire,"  the  "sick  man  of  Europe,"  drifted  further  towards  disintegration.  

Secondly:  the  failure of  European  liberalism  and  the  ideas of  equality  and  democracy  to  incorporate  and  assimilate  the  Jew  were combined  with the  capitalist  crisis in Eastern  Europe  that followed  in  the  wake of the  adoption  of  industrialization  with the  consequent  loss of vocation  for  a  great  number  of  Jews  who could not  easily adjust  to the transformation  of the feudal economic  system.  It  is  important  to  note that  this  separation  of the  Jews  from  their  environments  encouraged  a  Jewish  "apartness"  which  was,  in  the  past,  a  contributory  factor  to the  phenomenon  of  anti-Jewishness.  

Thirdly:  The  spread  of  aggressive  and  chauvinist  nationalism  in  Europe  stressed  racial  qualities  and the  racial basis of the nation  and  the nation-  state  as  well as racial superiority  and  the need  for expansion,  Lebensraum,  which  was diverted  to  overseas  colonies  and possessions.  Superiority,  exploitation  and domination  were  upheld  as a  civilizational  mission  under the  notion of the "white  man's  burden.  "  These ideas and notions  played  a  crucial  role  in  the ideological  formulation  of Zionism  as well as a guiding  light for its  founders.  

These challenges  were  known  as  the "Eastern  Question"  or  the "Syrian  Question,"  and the  "Jewish  Question."  We  shall  see that it  was  the  first  question  which prompted  the  major imperialist  figures  to  propose  the idea of  creating  a  client  Jewish  settler  state  in  Palestine,  primarily  designed  to block  the fulfilment  of  unity  and  independence  in  that  important  area  of  the  world,  and to serve the interests  of the  imperialist  sponsors  and protectors  of  that  state. The  events  of the  latter  part  of  the  century  were conducive  to  the  creation  of what amounted  to  a  consensus  of  opinion  among  the  imperialist  and Western  politicians,  with  the cooperation  of  Western  Jewish  capital  and  anti-Semites  everywhere  in favour  of Zionism  and the establishment  of  a  Jewish  state  in  Palestine.  

Towards  the end  of  the  eighteenth  century  the  Western  powers'  interest  in  the Arab  area  intensified  as  the  aging  Ottoman  Empire  became  increasingly  dependent  on the  European  powers,  which obtained  privileges,  footholds  and  spheres  of  influence  within  the  Empire  itself.  These  powers  sought  to  establish  direct  links  with the  various  populations  and  religious  sects  in  the  area.  Thus, eventually  France  was  to become  the  protector  of  the Catholic  communities  in  Syria,  Lebanon  and  Palestine  while  the  Orthodox  Christians  came under Russian  protection.  

It  was  during  his  Palestinian  campaign  (1799)  that  Napoleon,  motivated  by  his war  needs and later  on  by  his  ambition  to attract the  loyalty  of the  Jews  as  agents throughout  the  world,  issued his call for the  rebuilding  of  the  Temple  in  Jerusalem  and  the "return"  of the  Jews  to Palestine  for  political  purposes.  The  campaign  itself aroused  British  interest  in  Palestine  as it  posed  a  threat to  the British  overland  route  to India.  When  Muhammad  Ali of  Egypt  embarked  on his ambitious  plan  to modernize  Egypt  and  build a  strong  independent  state  comprising  Egypt,  Greater  Syria  and the  Arab  Peninsula  during  the first decades  of the nineteenth  century,  the British  government  adopted  a  course  of direct  military  intervention  and was  instrumental  in  driving  the  armies of  Ibrahim  Pasha  (son  of Muhammad  Ali)  back to  Egypt...

Read full article here

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Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
15 March 2017

Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid -  an evaluation of Israel’s practices against the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and other key human rights laws

Richard Falk, co-author of this UN report starts a speaking tour of Scotland - details below.
Confirm your attendance on our Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/scottish-palestine-solidarity-campaign-8444581160

Published by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the report concludes that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.” The UN report avoids comparisons between Israel and South African apartheid but examines how Israeli practices measure up against the legal definitions of apartheid as a crime against humanity and finds “beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crimes of apartheid” as defined in international law.

Welcoming the UN Report, Khaled Khalil, a Palestinian resident in Edinburgh, said

My grandfather lost our 30-acre property on the shores of Haifa in 1948 by the military invasion. It is impossible for me, as a grandson, to claim my right of this property. However, any Jew, or someone claiming to be a Jew, will be immediately welcomed by the occupying state and given citizenship, home and social support. There are millions of Palestinians around the world who are in the same situation as I and don't have those rights, nor right of return.

The UN Report urges national governments to “support boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives.”

See report and analysis today in Electronic Intifada: Landmark UN report backs Israel boycott

United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine 2008-2014
Co-author of UN report on Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid

Richard Falk
'Palestine - the Search for a Just Peace'

ABERDEEN - 16 March, 6pm  New Kings, LT10, University of Aberdeen
EDINBURGH - 17 March, 6pm  Grassmarket Centre, 86 Candlemaker Row
GLASGOW - 18 March, 2pm  STUC, 333 Woodlands Road
(Richard Falk will also be a speaker at the Stand Up to Racism demonstration in Glasgow on Saturday)


When he arrived in Tel Aviv airport leading an official UN delegation, Richard Falk was detained and expelled by Israel, who refused him entry to Palestine to gather data first hand. He nonetheless reported back to the United Nations in 2008 that "Israel maintains its Gaza siege in its full fury, allowing only barely enough food and fuel to enter to stave off mass famine and disease." He asked the UN to evaluate whether "Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law". On December 27 that year Falk condemned Israel strikes on Gaza as "war crimes", collective punishment, and targetting of civilians. Falk was bitterly attacked by the US, Israel and the UK Governments for his findings. The murderous siege of Gaza continues in "in its full fury". Falk supports the Palestinian call for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel until it concedes Palestinian rights.

Today we are witnessing a concerted attack on free speech for Palestine as supposedly "anti-semitic", an evidence-free claim.

The attack is launched by a UK Government that supports every Israeli massacre of Palestinians, and is supported by pro-Israel groups who also endorse every Israeli massacre of Palestinians. A letter from Minister for Universities Jo Johnson to all UK universities attacks Israeli Apartheid Week events and proposes a definition of antisemitism that would criminalise opposition to the crimes of the State of Israel. Universities in England have cancelled academic conferences on Israel-Palestine, and some have put pro-Palestine campus meetings under special measures - police in attendance, audiences restricted, requests for officials to check the content of talks beforehand. In Edinburgh, the City Chambers booking for Richard Falk to speak was cancelled because the topic was "controversial".  

Falk sees himself as "an American Jew", which for him signifies above all, "to be preoccupied with overcoming injustice and thirsting for justice in the world, and that means being respectful toward other peoples regardless of their nationality or religion, and empathetic in the face of human suffering..."

Support these meetings with Richard Falk to:

  • demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian people under a murderous regime "in its full fury"
  • assert our right to free speech on Israel-Palestine in defiance of all attempts to stigmatise support for Palestinian freedom

Please publicise these meetings on social media:


  • Share the posting on the SPSC National Facebook page on your own and any other Facebook pages you manage
  • Use the graphic above as your Facebook cover image until this Saturday, you can also copy the image here
  • Send a private message to your Facebook friends asking them to attend one of the meetings. Example:

    "Richard Falk public meetings across Scotland - have a look here http://bit.do/richardfalk - Falk was a UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine. Leading an official UN Human Rights delegation, he was detained and expelled by the Israelis, denied access to Palestine. Now free speech on Palestine and Israel is also under attack. Meetings not to be missed."


Retweet or quote and share the Tweets on the Richard Falk meetings from the SPSC national Twitter account https://twitter.com/scottishpsc e.g.

UN Human Rights investigator Richard Falk speaks in Scotland on "full fury" of Israel's Gaza siege #humanrights #bds http://bit.do/richardfalk

Confirm your attendance on our Eventbrite page

Ralph Schoenman:  Zionist Objectives

Ch 2 of Schoenman's Hidden History of Zionism (1988)

"We can reasonably say that should Palestine fall within the British sphere of influence, and should Britain encourage Jewish settlement there, as a British dependency, we could have in twenty to thirty years a million Jews out there, perhaps more; they would develop the country, bring back civilization to it and form a very effective guard for the Suez Canal." Chaim Weizman (future President of Israel) 1914

The objective of Zionism has never been merely to colonize Palestine – as was the goal of classical colonial and imperial movements during the 19th and 20th centuries. The design of European colonialism in Africa and Asia was, essentially, to exploit indigenous peoples as cheap labor while extracting natural resources for exorbitant profit.

jewish colonial trustWhat distinguishes Zionism from other colonial movements is the relationship between the settlers and the people to be conquered. The avowed purpose of the Zionist movement was not merely to exploit the Palestinian people but to disperse and dispossess them. The intent was to replace the indigenous population with a new settler community, to eradicate the farmers, artisans and town-dwellers of Palestine and substitute an entirely new workforce composed of the settler population.

In denying the existence of the Palestinian people, Zionism sought to create the political climate for their removal, not only from their land but from history. When acknowledged at all, the Palestinians were re-invented as a semi-savage, nomadic remnant. Historical records were falsified – a procedure begun during the last quarter of the 19th century but continuing to this day in such pseudo-historical writings as Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial.

The Zionist movement would seek alternative imperial sponsors for this bloody enterprise; among them the Ottoman Empire, Imperial Germany, the British Raj, French colonialism and Czarist Russia. Zionist plans for the Palestinian people anticipated the Ottoman solution for the Armenians, who would be slaughtered in the first sustained genocide of the 20th century.

Zionist Plans for the Palestinian People

From its inception, the Zionist movement sought the “Armenianization” of the Palestinian people. Like the Native Americans, the Palestinians were regarded as “a people too many”. The logic was elimination; the record was to be one of genocide.

This was no less true of the Labor Zionist movement, which sought to provide a “socialist” patina for the colonial enterprise. One of the principal theorists of Labor Zionism, a founder of the Zionist party Ha’Poel Ha’Tzair (The Young Worker) and a supporter of Poale Zion (Workers of Zion), was Aaron David Gordon.

Walter Laqueur acknowledges in his History of Zionism that, “A. D. Gordon and his comrades wanted every tree and every bush to be planted by Jewish ’pioneers’.” [14]

Gordon coined the slogan “conquest of labor” [Kibbush avodah]. He called upon Jewish capitalists, and the Rothschild plantation managers, who had obtained land from absentee Turkish landlords over the heads of the Palestinian people, “to hire Jews and only Jews”. He organized boycotts of any Zionist enterprise which failed to employ Jews exclusively, and prepared strikes against the Rothschild colonists, who allowed Arab peasants to sharecrop or to work, even as cheap labor.

Thus, the “Labor Zionists” employed the methods of the workers’ movement to prevent the use of Arab labor; their objective was not exploitation but usurpation.

Palestinian Society

There were over one thousand villages in Palestine at the turn of the 19th century. Jerusalem, Haifa, Gaza, Jaffa, Nablus, Acre, Jericho, Ramle, Hebron and Nazareth were flourishing towns. The hills were painstakingly terraced. Irrigation ditches crisscrossed the land. The citrus orchards, olive groves and grains of Palestine were known throughout the world. Trade, crafts, textiles, cottage industry and agricultural production abounded.

Eighteenth and 19th century travellers’ accounts are replete with the data, as were the scholarly quarterly reports published in the 19th century by the British Palestine Exploration Fund.

In fact, it was precisely the social cohesiveness and stability of Palestinian society which led Lord Palmerston, in 1840, when Britain had established a consulate in Jerusalem, to propose, presciently, the founding of a European Jewish settler colony to “preserve the larger interests of the British Empire”. [15]

Palestinian society, if suffering from the collaboration of feudal landowners [effendi] with the Ottoman Empire, was nevertheless productive and culturally diverse, with a peasantry quite conscious of its social role. The Palestinian peasants and urban dwellers had made a clear, strongly felt distinction between the Jews who lived amongst them and would-be colonists, dating from the 1820’s, when the 20,000 Jews of Jerusalem were wholly integrated and accepted in Palestinian society.

When the colonists at Petah Tikvah sought to push the peasants off the land, in 1886, they were met with organized resistance, but Jewish workers in neighboring villages and communities were wholly unaffected. When the Armenians escaping the Turkish genocide settled in Palestine they were welcomed. The genocide was ominously defended by Vladimir Jabotinsky and other Zionists in their attempts to obtain Turkish support.

In fact, until the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Palestinian response to Zionist settlements was unwisely tolerant. There was no organized Jew-hatred in Palestine, no massacres such as the Czar and Polish anti-Semites prepared, no racist counterpart in the Palestinian response to armed colonists (who used force wherever possible to drive Palestinians from the land). Not even spontaneous riots, expressing pent up Palestinian rage at the steady theft of their land, were directed at Jews as such.

Courting Imperial Favor

In 1896, Theodor Herzl set forth his plan for inducing the Ottoman Empire to grant Palestine to the Zionist movement:

Supposing his Majesty the Sultan were to give us Palestine; we could, in return, undertake to regulate the finances of Turkey. We should there form an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism. [16]

By 1905, the Seventh World Zionist Congress had to acknowledge that the Palestinian people were organizing a political movement for national independence from the Ottoman Empire – a threat not merely to Turkish rule but to Zionist designs.

Speaking at this Congress, Max Nordau, a prominent Zionist leader, set forth Zionist concerns:

The movement which has taken hold of a great part of the Arab people may easily take a direction which may cause harm in Palestine. ...The Turkish government may feel itself compelled to defend its reign in Palestine and Syria with armed force. ...In these circumstances, Turkey can be convinced that it will be important for her to have in Palestine and Syria a strong and well-organized group which ... will resist any attack on the authority of the Sultan and defend his authority with all its might. [17]

As the Kaiser undertook to forge an alliance with Turkey as part of his contest with Britain and France for control of the Middle East, the Zionist movement made similar overtures to Imperial Germany. The Kaiser took nearly ten years in his on-and-off dealings with the Zionist leadership to formulate a plan for a Jewish state under ottoman auspices which would have as its principal task the eradication of the Palestinian anti-colonial resistance and the securing of the interests of Imperial Germany in the region.

By 1914, however, the World Zionist Organization was already far advanced in its parallel bid to enlist the British Empire to undertake the break-up of the Ottoman Empire with Zionist assistance. Chaim Weizmann, who was to become president of the World Zionist Organization, made an important public announcement:

We can reasonably say that should Palestine fall within the British sphere of influence, and should Britain encourage Jewish settlement there, as a British dependency, we could have in twenty to thirty years a million Jews out there, perhaps more; they would develop the country, bring back civilization to it and form a very effective guard for the Suez Canal. [18]

The Balfour Declaration

Weizmann secured from the British what the Zionist leaders had sought simultaneously from the Ottoman and German Imperial governments. On November 2, 1917, the Balfour Declaration was issued.

It stated, in part:

His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object [19]

The Zionists were cynical in the delineation of their claim to Palestine. One moment they would assert that Palestine was a wasteland visited by occasional nomads; in the next breath they proposed to subjugate the very Palestinian population they had attempted to render invisible. A. D. Gordon, himself, repeatedly declared that the Palestinians whom, he insisted did not exist, should be prevented, by force from cultivating the soil.

This translated into the total expulsion of non-Jews from the Jewish “fatherland”. A like description informed pronouncements by British and Zionist leaders in their plans for the Palestinian population. By the time of the Balfour Declaration, British imperial armies had occupied most of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, having enlisted Arab leaders to fight the Turks under British direction in exchange for British assurances of “self-determination”.

While the Zionists in their propaganda insisted that Palestine was unpopulated, in their dealings with their imperial sponsors they made clear that subjugation was the order of the day and offered themselves as the instrument.

The British responded in kind. The Balfour Declaration also contained a passage intended to lull Arab feudal leaders shocked by the treachery of the British Empire in handing over to the Zionists the very land in which Arab self-determination had been promised:

it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. [20]

The British had for years used the Zionist leadership to enlist support for its war against Imperial Germany from all the major Jewish capitalists and banking concerns in the United States and Great Britain. With Weizmann they prepared to use Zionist colonization of Palestine as the instrument for political control over the Palestinian population.

The land without a people for a people without a land was in fact a country in ferment against colonial subjugation. Former Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, himself, was brutally explicit in memoranda for the eyes of officials, despite the lip service for public consumption about the “civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish [sic] communities in Palestine”.

Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad is rooted in present needs, in future hopes of far profounder import than the desires of the 700,000-plus Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land. [21]

The South African Connection

There is a particular dimension to this secret consort between Balfour and the Zionist leadership to betray the aspirations of the Palestinian people. It was Weizmann’s close friend and future Prime Minister of South Africa, General Jan Smuts, who, as South African delegate to the British War Cabinet during World War I, helped push the British government to adopt the Balfour Declaration and to make a commitment to construct a Zionist colony under British direction.

The relationship between the Zionist movement and the South African settlers had evolved earlier, as had the friendship between General Smuts and Chaim Weizmann. By the turn of the century, a large Jewish population, primarily from Lithuania, had settled in South Africa. The Zionist movement regarded this population as particularly susceptible to Zionist ideas because of their already established settler status in South Africa. Zionist leaders travelled constantly to South Africa seeking political and financial support.

N. Kirschner, former chairperson of the South African Zionist Federation, provides a vivid account of the intimate interaction between Zionist and South African leaders, the identification of Zionists like Weizmann and Herzl with the South African conception of a racially distinct colonizing populace, and the importance of a virtual pact between the two movements. [22]

In identifying Zionism with South African settler ideology, Chaim Weizmann was following the early admiration expressed by Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, for the quintessential colonial ideologue, Sir Cecil Rhodes. Herzl attempted to model his own political future on the achievements of Rhodes:

Naturally, there are big differences between Cecil Rhodes and my humble self, the personal ones very much in my disfavor; the objective ones are greatly in favor of the Zionist movement. [23]

Herzl advocated achieving Zionist dispersal of the Palestinians by using the methods pioneered by Rhodes, and he urged the formation of a Jewish counterpart to a colonial chartered company, an amalgam of colonial and entrepreneurial exploitation:

The Jewish Company is partly modelled on the lines of a great acquisition company. It might be called a Jewish Chartered Company, though it cannot exercise sovereign power, and has no other than purely colonial tasks. [24]

The poorest will go first to cultivate the soil. In accordance with a preconceived plan they will construct roads, bridges, railways and telegraph installations, regulate rivers and build their own habitations; their labor will create trade, trade will create markets, and markets will attract new settlers. [25]

By 1934, a major group of South African investors and large capitalists had established Africa-Israel Investments to purchase land in Palestine. The company still exists after 54 years with South Africans as joint stockholders, the assets held by Israel’s Bank Leumi. [26]

The Iron Wall

The tension between the claim that the land was empty and the demand that the “non-existent” inhabitants be ruthlessly subjugated was less acute when Zionists discussed strategy among themselves. The reality of what was necessary to colonize Palestine took precedence over propaganda.

One of the ideological forbears of Zionism, Vladimir Jabotinsky, is known as the founder of “Revisionist Zionism”, the Zionist current which had little patience with the liberal and socialist facade employed by the “labor” Zionists. [Revisionist Zionism is represented today by Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir.]

In 1923 Jabotinsky wrote The Iron Wall, which could be called a benchmark essay for the entire Zionist movement. He set forth bluntly the essential premises of Zionism which had, indeed, been laid out before, if not as eloquently, by Theodor Herzl, Chaim Weizmann and others. Jabotinsky’s reasoning has been cited and reflected in subsequent Zionist advocacy – from nominal “left” to so-called “right”. He wrote as follows:

There can be no discussion of voluntary reconciliation between us and the Arabs, not now, and not in the foreseeable future. All well-meaning people, with the exception of those blind from birth, understood long ago the complete impossibility of arriving at a voluntary agreement with the Arabs of Palestine for the transformation of Palestine from an Arab country to a country with a Jewish majority. Each of you has some general understanding of the history of colonization. Try to find even one example when the colonization of a country took place with the agreement of the native population. Such an event has never occurred.

The natives will always struggle obstinately against the colonists – and it is all the same whether they are cultured or uncultured. The comrades in arms of [Hernan] Cortez or [Francisco] Pizarro conducted themselves like brigands. The Redskins fought with uncompromising fervor against both evil and good-hearted colonizers. The natives struggled because any kind of colonization anywhere at anytime is inadmissible to any native people.

Any native people view their country as their national home, of which they will be complete masters. They will never voluntarily allow a new master. So it is for the Arabs. Compromisers among us try to convince us that the Arabs are some kind of fools who can be tricked with hidden formulations of our basic goals. I flatly refuse to accept this view of the Palestinian Arabs.

They have the precise psychology that we have. They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux upon his prairie. Each people will struggle against colonizers until the last spark of hope that they can avoid the dangers of conquest and colonization is extinguished. The Palestinians will struggle in this way until there is hardly a spark of hope.

It matters not what kind of words we use to explain our colonization. Colonization has its own integral and inescapable meaning understood by every Jew and by every Arab. Colonization has only one goal. This is in the nature of things. To change that nature is impossible. It has been necessary to carry on colonization against the will of the Palestinian Arabs and the same condition exists now.

Even an agreement with non-Palestinians represents the same kind of fantasy. In order for Arab nationalists of Baghdad and Mecca and Damascus to agree to pay so serious a price they would have to refuse to maintain the Arab character of Palestine.

We cannot give any compensation for Palestine, neither to the Palestinians nor to other Arabs. Therefore, a voluntary agreement is inconceivable. All colonization, even the most restricted, must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall through which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy.

Whether through the Balfour Declaration or the Mandate, external force is a necessity for establishing in the country conditions of rule and defense through which the local population, regardless of what it wishes, will be deprived of the possibility of impeding our colonization, administratively or physically. Force must play its role – with strength and without indulgence. In this, there are no meaningful differences between our militarists and our vegetarians. One prefers an Iron Wall of Jewish bayonets; the other an Iron Wall of English bayonets.

To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view is unethical, I answer, ’absolutely untrue.’ This is our ethic. There is no other ethic. As long as there is the faintest spark of hope for the Arabs to impede us, they will not sell these hopes – not for any sweet words nor for any tasty morsel, because this is not a rabble but a people, a living people. And no people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions, except when there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall. [27]

The Metaphor of Iron

The theme and imagery of coercive iron and steel evoked by Vladimir Jabotinsky was to be taken up by the nascent national socialist movement in Germany, even as Jabotinsky had, in turn, been inspired by Benito Mussolini. The mystical invocation of iron will in the service of martial and chauvinist conquest united Zionist, colonial and fascist ideologues. It sought its legitimacy in legends of a conquering past.

Cecil B. de Mille’s Samson and Delilah was more than a Hollywood biblical romance about the perfidy of woman and the virtue of manly strength. It carried, as well, the authoritarian values of the novel from which it was adopted, Vladimir Jabotinsky’s Samson, which trumpeted the necessity of brute force if the Israelites were to conquer the Philistines.

“Shall I give our people a message from you?” Samson thought for a while, and then said slowly: “The first word is iron. They must get iron. They must give everything they have for iron – their silver and wheat, oil and wine and flocks, even their wives and daughters. All for iron! There is nothing in the world more valuable than iron.” [28]

Jabotinsky, the siren of “an iron wall through which the local population can not break through” and of “the iron law of every colonizing movement ... armed force”, found his call echoed in major Zionist forays against victim peoples in the decades to come.

Israel’s current Minister of Defense, Yitzhak Rabin, launched the 1967 war as Chief of Staff with “Iron Will”. As Prime Minister in 1975 and 1976 he declared the policy of Hayad Barzel, the “Iron Hand”, in the West Bank. Over 300,000 Palestinians were to pass through Israeli prisons under conditions of sustained and institutionalized torture exposed by the Sunday Times of London and denounced by Amnesty International.

His successor as Chief of Staff, Raphael Eitan, imposed the “Iron Arm” – Zro’aa Barzel – on the West Bank, and assassination was added to the repressive arsenal. On July 17, 1982, the Israeli cabinet met to prepare what the London Sunday Times would term “this carefully pre-planned military operation to purge the camps, called Moah Barzel or ‘Iron Brain’”. The camps were Sabra and Shatila and the operation “was familiar to Sharon and Begin, part of Sharon’s larger plan discussed by the Israeli cabinet”. [29]

When Yitzhak Rabin, who had supported the Revisionist Likud in Lebanon during the war, became Shimon Peres’ Minister of Defense in the current “national unity” government, he launched in Lebanon and the West Bank the policy of Egrouf Barzel, the “Iron Fist”. It is the “Iron Fist” which Rabin again cited as the basis for his policy of allout repression and collective punishment during the 1987-1988 Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza.

It’s interesting to recall, as well, that Jabotinsky located his colonial impulse in the doctrine of the purity of blood. Jabotinsky spelled this out in his Letter on Autonomy:

It is impossible for a man to become assimilated with people whose blood is different than his own. In order to become assimilated, he must change his body, he must become one of them, in blood. There can be no assimilation. We shall never allow such things as mixed marriage because the preservation of national integrity is impossible except by means of racial purity and for that purpose we shall have this territory where our people will constitute the racially pure inhabitants.

This theme was further elaborated by Jabotinsky:

The source of national feeling ... lies in a man’s blood ...in his racio-physico type and in that alone. ...A man’s spiritual outlook is primarily determined by his physical structure. For that reason we do not believe in spiritual assimilation. It is inconceivable, from the physical point of view, that a Jew born to a family of pure Jewish blood can become adapted to the spiritual outlook of a German or a Frenchman. He may be wholly imbued with that German fluid, but the nucleus of his spiritual structure will always remain Jewish. [30]

The adoption of chauvinist doctrines of racial purity and the logic of the blood were not confined to Jabotinsky or to the revisionists. The liberal philosopher, Martin Buber, located his Zionism equally within the framework of European racist doctrine:

The deepest layers of our being are determined by blood; our innermost thinking and our will are colored by it. [31]

How was this to be implemented?

See also



14. Walter Laqueur, History of Zionism (London, 1972).

15. Joy Bonds et. al., Our Roots Are Still Alive – The Story of the Palestinian People (New York: Institute for Independent Social Journalism, Peoples Press, 1977), p.13.

16. Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State (London: 1896).

17. Hyman Lumer, Zionism: Its Role in World Politics (New York: International Publishers, 1973).

18. Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error: The Autobiography of Chaim Weizmann (New York: Harpers, 1949), p.149.

19. John Norton Moore, ed., The Arab-Israeli Conflict (Princeton, N.J.: The American Society of International Law, Princeton University Press, 1977), p.885.

20. Ibid.

21. Cited in Harry N. Howard, The King Commission: An American Inquiry in the Middle East (Beirut: 1963).

22. N. Kirschner, Zionism and the Union of South Africa: Fifty Years of Friendship and Understanding, Jewish Affairs, South Africa, May 1960.

23. Theodor Herzl, Diaries, Vol.II, p.793.

24. Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State: An Attempt at a Modern Solution of the Jewish Question, p.33. Cited in Uri Davis, Israel: An Apartheid State (London: Zed Books, Ltd., 1987), p.4.

25. Ibid., p.28.

26. For Love and Money, in Israel: A Survey, Financial Mail, Johannesburg, South Africa, May 11, 1984, p.41.

27. The Iron Wall – “O Zheleznoi Stene” – Rassvet, November 4, 1923.

28. Lenni Brenner, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism From Jabotinsky to Shamir (London: Zed Books, Ltd., 1984), p.79.

29. London Sunday Times, September 26, 1982.

30. Jabotinsky’s Letter on Autonomy, 1904. Cited in Brenner, The Iron Wall, p.29.

31. Brenner, The Iron Wall, p.31.

Terror in Galilee: British-Jewish Collaboration and the Special Night Squads in Palestine during the Arab Revolt, 1938–39
Matthew Huges
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History

In 1938 in British Mandate Palestine, British army officer Orde Wingate organised and led a joint British-Jewish military unit, the Special Night Squads (SNSs), to defeat Palestinian rebels fighting against British rule and Jewish immigration to Palestine during the Arab revolt, 1936–39...This study argues that joint intelligence gathering operations introduced the British army to Jewish agents and the possibilities of collaboration—Wingate was an intelligence officer—before detailing combined military operations in the field with the irregular SNSs. The originality of this article comes from its dissection of how British soldiers brutalised Jewish troops by training them in well-established British counterinsurgency methods that targeted civilians and villages close to rebel attacks.

Journal of imperial and Commonwealth historyAway from the control of established British military chains of command, the SNSs were especially tough in their war with Palestinians and they fought a ‘dirty war', an operational method absorbed and normalised by Jewish soldiers serving under British command. This article is a military and imperial history that details the quotidian brutality of pacification, opens up wider debates on how imperial powers collaborated with loyalist colonial minorities, shows how regular armies used irregular forces in pacification campaigns and suggests that post-colonial regimes such as Israel carried over such methods of control.

When the British army deployed to Palestine in April 1936 at the start of the Arab revolt against British colonial rule and Jewish immigration to the country, it collaborated with the Jewish settlers there as a ‘loyalist’ force against Palestinian insurgents. The army readily turned to minority communities for colonial control, to recruit as soldiers, divide its enemies and to gather intelligence: Sikhs and Gurkhas in India, or after 1945 Turkish Cypriots, aboriginal trackers in Malaya, Kikuyu loyalists in Kenya and Protestants in Ireland.

Jewish military collaboration with the British army is the subject of this article, leaving aside the recruitment by the colonial government of thousands of extra Jewish settlement and supernumerary police, almost 15,000 according to one source. Army-Jewish collaboration started with shared intelligence gathering, a combination that morphed into joint military units, notably the unconventional Special Night Squads (SNSs) that fought in Galilee in northern Palestine in 1938–39 and were led by the Nazareth-based British Army intelligence officer Captain Orde Wingate, a dedicated (Christian) Zionist who died in Burma in 1944 leading irregular forces against the Japanese. British commitment to the SNSs initially took the form of three platoons of 37 British soldiers based in Jewish settlements such as Hanita and Ein Harod and commanded by three subalterns seconded from Brigadier John Evetts’ Haifa-based 16th Brigade: Lieutenants Mike Grove (Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment), Robert ‘Rex’ King-Clark (Manchester Regiment) and H. E. N. ‘Bala’ Bredin (Royal Ulster Rifles). Evetts had ‘encouraged’ Wingate to reconnoitre Galilee and draw up a ‘detailed plan’ for the ‘establishment of Jewish counter-insurgency units which would operate at night with the support of British troops … . The policy had the blessing of Force Headquarters in Jerusalem but because it was considered to be an irregular practice few papers ever mentioned it.’

Wingate led patrols and was wounded doing so at the village of Dabburiyya in July 1938. Large numbers of Jewish soldiers from the Zionist defence organisation Haganah (The Defence) keen to get formal military training from the British passed through the SNSs, including many future Israeli commanders such as Yigal Allon and Moshe Dayan. Haganah became the Israeli army in 1948.

The supreme general officer commanding (GOC) in Palestine in early 1938, General Archibald Wavell, had lent his support to Wingate, but his successor, General Robert Haining, and the high command in Jerusalem were uncomfortable with unconventional warfare and the army eventually demanded Wingate's departure from Palestine in October 1938, spurred on by reports of SNS brutality...

This study of the SNSs argues that tough, often brutal, exemplary action was standard military counterinsurgency practice for the British soldiers leading the SNSs, easily employed by them against local civilians and insurgents, and then passed on to Jewish soldiers training and fighting with the unit. British military counter-rebel practice and doctrine had always been harsh and openly targeted civilians but soldiers’ humanity, civil oversight, legal strictures, public and press scrutiny, rebel counter-measures and the colonial state's hierarchy of race—with ‘white’ insurgents usually treated less harshly—mitigated military action.

Moreover, soldiers rotated through Palestine on time-bounded regimental tours of duty on what was for them another interesting colonial posting and they were not interested in the country's fate and so had no personal animosity for Palestinians beyond their being in revolt. When asked whether he or his men knew anything about Palestine before shipping out from the UK in 1938, King-Clark remembered in his memoirs how ‘at that time, in the Army at least there was almost total indifference in and ignorance of political affairs—among the younger officers and men, anyway'. This was not the case with the independently minded SNSs. The mercurial Wingate was a fanatical supporter of a Jewish state and he filled the SNSs with Jewish soldiers training for a future war of survival against the local Palestinians, which would come in 1948. This, alongside the lack of a formal military chain of command, meant that brutality by the SNSs quickly spiralled out of control, upsetting senior officers mindful of the negative impact of atrocity stories, and was one of the reasons that they eventually curtailed and then closed down the unit. It is difficult uncovering the brutality inherent in military operations but the night-time actions of the SNSs are especially murky and ‘wild', as will be discussed below.11 British SNS brutality prompted Jewish soldiers, taught them how to deal with insurgency and insurgents and set this within a colonial legal framework of collective punishment and punitive action that normalised draconian action.

Full article here


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