Posts Tagged ‘Palestinians’

Zionism, colonialism and national liberation

October 7, 2015

In the 1950s and 1960s, I thought of Israel mainly as a refuge for Jewish refugees from Hitler and from the “displaced person” camps after World War Two.

Zionism was in fact partly a movement to give Jews a refuge from anti-Semites, but it was two other things as well.

Vladimir Jabotinsky

Vladimir Jabotinsky

It was a national liberation movement for people who had never before constituted an independent nation, like the Kurds today.  At the same time it was a colonial movement, an attempt to take over a land inhabited by other people.

Vladimir Jabotinsky, one of the early Israeli settlers, saw clearly that Zionist leaders were kidding themselves if they thought they could peacefully co-exist with Arabs.  Neither Arabs nor anybody else will ever tolerate being made a minority in their own country.

He called upon his fellow Zionists to face up to the fact that Zionism was colonialism, and that making the Palestine Mandate a Jewish nation could not be accomplished without force.

He said peace between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs could only happen when the Arabs were convinced that the Jews could not be dislodged by means of force.

Israelis today think of themselves as a nation like any other, fighting to maintain their national existence.  Palestinian Arabs and their allies think of Israelis as invaders, like the white settlers of the former Rhodesia.  The problem is that both beliefs are true.

I think that someday both sides will accept that neither one can get rid of the other, and they have no choice but to live together in peace.


The Jewish Terrorists by Asaf Sharon for The New York Review of Books.  [Hat tip to my expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack]

The Iron Wall by Vladimir Jabotinsky (1923)  [Hat tip to Jack]

Why don’t the Palestinians just give up?

December 5, 2012


I just got finished reading Max Hastings’ great new book, Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945. The book is a vast panorama of human suffering, including an episode almost forgotten today—the ethnic cleansing of the Germans from eastern Europe and from the German territories of East Prussia and Silesia.   German families were sent out onto the roads in winter with what they could carry on their backs, to survive as best they could.  As many as a million perished.  But after the suffering inflicted on the world by the Nazi regime, few had any sympathy for the plight of German people.

I described this to a friend of mine, and he wondered why the Palestinian people can’t accept defeat as the Germans did.  There are winners and losers in war.  The Palestinian Arabs are the losers.  Why can’t they accept that?   I forget what answer I mumbled in reply, but it wasn’t a good one.

The real answer is that this is not a question for me or my friend to decide.   The Irish were defeated time and time again by the British, but they never accepted defeat and eventually won their independence.  On the other hand they came to accept the partition of Ireland as the price to be paid for peace.   The nation of Poland was wiped off the map not just once, but twice, and the Poles reconstituted themselves as a nation.   The people of Chechnia and Kurdistan fight on for independence even though their causes seem hopeless.

Jewish people created a new Israel thousands of years after the original Israel was destroyed, and Armenian people have a new Armenia thousands of years after the old Armenia vanished.   The question is not whether the Palestinian Arabs have been defeated.  It is whether and when they will accept defeat.



“This is Israel winning…”

November 21, 2012

Jim Henley wrote a couple of posts for his Unqualified Offerings web log some two and a half years ago about the situation in Gaza which are, unfortunately, just as relevant now as when they were written.

He thinks that the Israeli government’s goal is to achieve the war aims of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, which is to make the boundaries of Israel the boundaries of the old Palestine Mandate, and to make conditions on the West Bank and Gaza so intolerable that the Palestinian Arab population will “self-deport.”  Everything that the government of Israel is doing brings it closer to that goal, he says.

Click on This Is Israel Winning Part One and This Is Israel Winning Part Two to read Jim Henley’s two posts from May, 2010,.

Click on Beneath the Layers of Gaza for his current thinking.