[Marxism] The myths of Zionism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu May 5 07:56:08 MDT 2005


John Rose - The Myths of Zionism

The most recent demonstration in London, against the ongoing occupation of 
Iraq once again showed that most of those who oppose the US and UK 
adventures in the Middle East also oppose the persecution of the 
Palestinian people by the Israeli State.

The huge anti-war demonstrations follow a tradition in this respect, 
because the great European anti-capitalist protests, in Prague and Genoa, 
closely followed by the European Social Forum events, also had numerous 
Palestinian flags, banners and badges.

John Rose’s book is a fantastic introduction to the arguments and 
historical basis for the existence of the Israeli state, and the consequent 
oppression of the Palestinians. Israel’s existence is down to the ideology 
of Zionism – the belief that there should be a Jewish state which would 
mean an end to the centuries of anti-Semitism and oppression that Jewish 
people have faced. The appalling genocide of the holocaust was for many, 
the final impetus for the creation of such a state.

Unfortunately, many of the assumptions and arguments in favour of Zionism 
are, as John Rose points out, based on half-truths and myths. The biggest 
lie, that Israel was a “Land without people, for a people without land”. 
This myth has been returned to, time and time again. Rose quotes, Israeli 
Prime Minister Peres in 1986,

”The land to which they came, while indeed the Holy Land was desolate and 
uninviting; a land that had been laid waste, thirsty for water, filled with 
swamps and malaria, lacking in natural resources. And in the land itself 
there lived another people; a people who neglected the land, but who lived 
on it. Indeed the return to Zion was accompanied by ceaseless violent 
clashes with the small Arab population”

While Peres at least acknowledges the existence of the Arab population, 
“small” is not the correct description of a people numbering at least 
650,000. His description of their “neglect” of the land shows a level of 
racism towards a people who had successfully farmed and lived on the land 
for centuries.

The author is careful not to simply blame the Zionists for the current 
situation – he also points his finger at western imperialism and 
colonialism for its role. Notorious anti-Semites like Winston Churchill 
were quite happy to sponsor the aims of Zionism so that they could create a 
“Watch Dog” country, to support British (and later US) aims in the Middle East.

Rose’s book also looks at much historical and archaeological data to back 
his argument for a very different historical Israel, one far from the 
biblical myths that Zionism often uses to justify Israel’s existence. He 
documents how increasingly Israel archaeologists are finding it hard to 
“discover” the land they expect to find. But he also shows how 
historically, Jews and Arabs have lived together, often using the very 
differences of their religions to strengthen their mutual society.

Rose ends on an optimistic, if controversial point. His optimism, is that 
precisely because Jews and Arabs have lived together across the Middle East 
in the past (and the not to distant past) they could do so in the future. 
His controversy comes because he argues convincingly, that for this to 
happen Zionism as an ideology must be discredited and removed, just as 
apartheid was dismantled in South Africa.

If I can make one small criticism of this book, it’s simply to do with the 
design. Two things are very annoying – the references Rose cites are placed 
within the text, making reading difficult and the sub-chapter headings are 
often comical in their content, reading like stilted introductions to a 
GCSE essay.

But these are minor criticisms in a book that will no doubt be a source of 
impassioned debate and argument for many years.



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