Sunday, April 24, 2016

A breif history of Zionism

Friday, 22 April, Passover began at sunset. And every Jew prayed, 'Next year in Jerusalem.' But, after being evicted from Palestine by the Romans, and the Jewish Temple destroyed, the prayer was NOT for the Ottoman city of al-Quds, but for the eschatological Jerusalem, the City of Peace (which is what Jerusalem means).


The Zionists would like to have a Jew as the instigator of Zionism, and quite a few people have suggested various Jews, but the first influential person to advocate Zionism was the British WASP Lord Keith.

In the first half of the 19th century, the British discovered mercantilism: raw materials (including food) would be imported from colonies (at below world market prices) and paid for by selling finished products to the colonials (at above world market prices).

If one reads British novels from the 19th and early 20th century, they wanted young WASPs to volunteer as Imperial Officers to supervise the colonies, ensuring that plenty of raw materials flowed into the UK and the colonials bought all their finished products from the UK.

But the UK did not want Jews (or Roman Catholics for that matter) as Imperial officers; however, Lord Keith came up with the idea that all the Jews in the UK should go to Palestine and sell corn and tropical fruits to the UK at below world market prices, and use the money to buy finished products from the UK.


The Ottoman Empire had the notion of property ownership, and the state could not take it away.

In Palestine, most people were tenant farmers. The families stayed on the same plot of land, eating 1/3 of what they grew and giving 2/3 to the owners of the land as rent. The owners sometimes sold the land, but the tenant farmers remained, and just sent the 2/3 they owed as rent to the new owners.

But a very few British Jews took Lord Keith's admonition that they had enjoyed British hospitality long enough, and bought land in Palestine. They evicted the tenant farmers and began farming with modern equipment, producing lots of corn and tropical fruits to sell to the UK. The evicted tenants were annoyed, but no one cared. The Ottomans figured the Jews had purchased the land legally, and could do whatever they wanted with it.

Another feature of the 19th century were some Jews who wanted to change the way Judaism was practised.  Judaism required all practising Jews to be bilingual. The Hebrew language was sacred, the language of the Torah and prayer, and was not to be used to haggle with the greengrocer. For secular use, Jews were supposed to use a language that was not Hebrew. But some Zionists wanted all Jews to be monolingual Hebrew speakers.


In 1918, the Ottomans lost WWI, and their empire was split between the UK and France. The US President Wilson said the US had gone into the war to end all Imperial Empires (except for the tiny US Imperial possessions, of course) but he was ignored by everyone, including the US Congress.

So Britain got Palestine, and, as a colony, they sent British WASPs as Imperial Officers. They also strongly encouraged all British Jews to go there, but they didn't get many takers. The idea was to get a mix of Jews and Palestinians who hated each other, so both would prefer to have Britain keep the peace. In practice, both Jews and Palestinians set off bombs to kill the British Imperial officers, but Britain was too strong, and remained.


In 1933 the German voters gave Adolph Hitler's party a plurality, and the German leadership made him Chancellor. Hitler's platform had been anti-Semitic. At first, this meant that, if a Nazi assaulted a Jew, the law wouldn't do much, if anything, but Jews who could see that things were getting worse and worse, and who had a little money, tried to leave. The ship St Louis tried the countries it could reach that were not in Europe, but all refused to admit them.

In 1938 came Kristallnacht, after which it was perfectly legal to kill Jews in Germany. But no one would allow the Jews to leave. Britain, the US, and many Latin American countries refused to admit them. Britain said Palestine was ONLY for British Jews. So 6 million out of 11 million Jews in Europe were killed by the Nazis, when many could have been saved had the world not been anti-Semitic. The only innocents were the Jews (of course) and the colonials who were subjugated by the Imperial powers, since they could not allow Jews in, even if they wanted to do the right thing, since the Imperial powers banned Jews from entering.

When Europe was liberated in '45 by the Soviets and the Americans, the Concentration Camps became Refugee Camps. Jews were not allowed to return to the properties they'd owned before the war. There still wasn't enough food, but at least, when Jews in the Refugee camps died, they got a proper Jewish funeral instead of cremation.

President Roosevelt had told the British and French they would have to give up their empires after the war. They tried to convince him that that this would be a disaster, but Roosevelt was not convinced, nor was President Truman.

In '47, every poll showed that Truman could not possibly be elected president in '48 (he had been elected vice-president, then became president when Roosevelt died, so it wasn't a re-election).

The British agreed to end the colonies in the Raj and Palestine (they gradually got rid of most of the rest in the '60s, '70s, and '90s, but in '47 they freed Palestine and the Raj).

And Truman ordered every Jew in every Refugee camp in Western Europe, 2 million of them, sent to Palestine (whether they wanted to go or not). And Truman got almost all the Jewish vote in the US, which led to his totally unexpected victory in the '48 election.

The King of Jordan, who had become King of both the Transjordan and Palestine, said he could take 500,000 or so Jews, but not 2 million. But Truman didn't listen to the King of Jordan, and 2 million Jews were sent to Palestine, and they displaced many Palestinians.

Fearing the heavily armed Zionist army, many Palestinians fled Palestine, hoping the Arab armies would defeat the Zionists and give them their homes back. This never happened.

The eastern part of Palestine, including the city al-Quds (the Old City of Jerusalem to the West) remained part of Jordan. The western part of Palestine became the new country of Israel, recognised by the UN (and the US, of course, and many other states).

Every Muslim country, most of which had many, many Jews, up to 1/3 of the population, ordered all their Jews to leave. Or else. And most went to Israel, because no other country would take them.

So Israel had a huge number of Jews, and needed more land. Any Palestinian accused of harbouring anti-Zionist feelings had his house destroyed, and a new house erected on the spot and given to a Jew. Many of the Jews forced to travel to Israel did NOT want to go, they had no choice in the matter. But the ones forced into Israel needed a place to live, and sending the Palestinians to other countries, ANY other countries, seemed like the only choice.

The Palestinians want their old homes back, and some tried to fight (without any success).

Except for Jordan, most Muslims countries say the Palestinians must never be given citizenship, the world must return Palestine to them.

In '67, saying they knew the Arabs were about to attack, the Zionists took over the third of Palestine that had been part of Jordan and Egypt. Those Palestinians are all colonials, to this day, with almost no rights. Those in the part of Palestine that formed Israel in '47 are citizens, but only second class citizens, and are (officially) banned from entering any Muslim country (since they have Israeli passports).

With support, first from France and later from the US, the Zionists have made life terrible for the Palestinians.

Of course, the Zionists ask, 'What choice did we have?' and that is a VERY good question. The world said Jews were not welcome, and the Nazis wanted to exterminate every single Jew. The only place the world would let the Jews go was Palestine.

And the Palestinians still resent losing their land, and only Jordan allows them to become citizens (but second class citizens, with limited rights). So what can they do?

Much of the world is guilty, but it's hard to fault the Zionists OR the Palestinians, since the rest of the world won't give either the Zionists or the Palestinians any other choice.


Passover started last Friday at sunset. Every Passover, every Jew must read from the PASSOVER HAGGADAH. And one of the prayers is:

As our Passover meal draws to an end, we take up our cups one last time.
The redemption is not yet complete. Not everyone in our world is yet free.
This fourth cup reminds us of our responsibility to be G_d's partners in
bringing freedom to all those enslaved, peace to all those at war, food to all those
who hunger. This is our purpose as Jews. May we live to fulfil it.
This prayer was written by a very Reform Rabbi, but it encompasses what the Passover should be: a conviction that, since G_d freed the Jews from Pharonic slavery, all Jews must strive to bring peace and freedom for everyone, including freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from oppression.

It's not at all clear to me how the Zionists can make the required Passover prayers.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The New York Times Magazine on how Hawkish Secretary Clinton Is

The official New York Times policy is that:

a) The evil Syrian dictator has single-handedly murdered 300,000 innocent, peaceful, unarmed protesters, thousands with poison gas, and must be removed; and
b) Secretary Clinton is the only one running for a nomination in this campaign who is qualified to be President of the US of A.

Over and over the 'stories' and columnists and editorials support these two points.

But sometimes the New York Times Magazine runs articles that don't quite fit.

Theo Padnos went to Syria to interview the peaceful, unarmed protestors. He was planning to interview them for a week or two, but was 'invited' to stay for a year or so, during which time the Free Syrian Army he had gone to interview all turned out to be al-Qaeda, and they kept teasing him, saying they planned to sell him to Daesh (ISIS in English) to be beheaded on YouTube. As it turned out, Mr Panos was lucky: al-Qaeda doesn't usually kill unarmed captives who have broken no Islamic law, they follow a less sanguinary version of Islam than the Daesh. So he finally managed to get out of Syria and write his report, and then, miraculously, it made it into the New York Times Magazine.

This week,  the New York Times Magazine has an article about Secretary Clinton, pointing out that she is the most hawkish candidate they have ever seen. Of course, being the New York Times Magazine, they conclude in the very last, short paragraph (of a very long article that is mostly scary) that, in our world with the Daesh threatening an attack on the US much worse than 9/11, with the Soviet Union trying to expand and overrun all of Europe, and with China trying to take control of all of East Asia, the US desperately NEEDS a very strong Hawk who will stand for no nonsense from the Daesh, Russia, or China, but will send as many divisions and fleets as necessary to keep us all safe, and the Republicans (and Sanders) aren't nearly as willing and able to send troops (or nukes, if necessary) to make the world safe for Democracy.