Zionism - I. Early Beginnings of Contemporary Zionism

Since 2008-07-01

Among the few Western Middle East specialists who have handled Middle Eastern issues with objectivity and in depth is Robert Fisk, the Middle East correspondent for The Independent. Reading his interesting book (Pity the Nation), helped me to deduce his journalistic talent, seriousness and neutrality in handling issues of the region.

Fisk revealed unheard of atrocities committed at Lebanon during the time of 1982 Israeli invasion, specially the massacre committed against the Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila. In his documentary From Jerusalem to Bosnia, he exposed in sound and pictures the horrible atrocities that the Palestinians were facing as a daily routine under the Zionist oppressive occupation. It also revealed the reluctance of world leading countries to lift oppression from the helpless Bosnians while facing a genocide that was similar to that committed by the crusaders eight centuries ago in Palestine.

I have been informed that this documentary was banned in the U.S, not by a congressional decree, but instead the copy right for distributing the film was purchased by a Zionist firm which was able to prevent the American public from knowing the truth of what was happening in the Holy Land via the support of the American tax dollars. What a brutal censorship!!, Such behavior reminded me of Paul Findley's valuable book (They Dare to Speak Out), in which he unveiled the great influence the Jewish lobby has on national policy towards Middle Eastern issues. Before the book was finally accepted for publication by Lawrence Hill, twenty publishing houses had rejected taking the risk of publishing it.

Nevertheless, the book faced many attempts to curtail its sales and distribution. A few sentences from the book clearly describe to what extent the Israeli influence is so effective in shaping decisions about the Palestinian issue: "Washington is a city of acronyms, and today one of the best-known in Congress is AIPAC. The mere mention of it brings a sober, if not furtive look, to the face of anyone in Capitol Hill who deals with Middle East policy. AIPAC - the American Israel Public Affairs Committee - is now the preeminent power in Washington lobbying." (p.25). Findley cited the words of a former Congressman, Paul N. McCloskey, who lost his seat in Congress because he revealed some of the mal practices of the Jewish lobby that he thought were against the interest of the American people; "Congress is terrorized by AIPAC."

One of the primary aims of international Zionism has been to establish influence over decision-making bodies in predominant countries, starting with Great Britain at the beginning of this century and ending with the United States. To commemorate the Israeli celebration of their 50 years of occupation, demolition and suppression of human rights, light will be shed on some historical steps the international Zionist movement has gone through.

The name Zionism was derived from the word Zion, a hill in Jerusalem claimed by the Jews to be the original location of the Temple of Jerusalem. It aimed at uniting the Jewish people of the Diaspora (exile) and settles them in Palestine. Some historical sources refer to the beginning of Zionism as an organized political movement to the late 19th century and culminated in 1948 in the establishment of the state of Israel, immediately after the British mandate over Palestine.

However, the Austrian Jewish philosopher Nathan Brinbaum was the first to apply the term Zionism to this Jewish movement in 1890. Based on the Talmudic teachings, religious Zionists associated the hope of the return with the coming of the Messiah; according to them a savior whom God would send to deliver them. In contradiction to the understanding of the majority of many fundamentalist Christians who support the Jewish occupation of Palestine, the Old Testament (The Torah) is not the basis for the doctrines of contemporary Judaism. In the words of the modern Jewish writer Herman Wouk in his book; This is My God: " The Talmud is to this day the circulating heart's blood of the Jewish religion. Whatever we are Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or merely spasmodic sentimentalists, we follow the Talmud. It is our common law".

Based on such belief, many individual Jews often migrated to Palestine to join the Jewish communities who have been granted their religious freedom under the Islamic rule for centuries. Two European Orthodox rabbis, Juhuda Alkalai and Zevi Hirsch Kalischer led this religious approach toward Zionism. They adapted the idea that Jews ought to furnish the way for the coming of the Messiah. Influence of this ideology led the Jewish German Socialist Moses Hess to publish his book Rome and Jerusalem, in 1862, in which he rejected the idea of assimilation into European society that some Jewish leaders had suggested, insisting that the essence of the Jews' problem was their lack of a national home.

Secular Zionism on the other hand was greatly influenced by the political and social upheaval of the French Revolution. Around 1791, the European Jewry began to achieve political equality in most of Europe during the next few decades. This process of secular Zionist was called Haskalah (enlightenment). It was greatly influenced by the ideas of the German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. This period marked the beginning of a move a way from traditional religious orthodoxy and created a need for Jewish feeling to replace religion as a unifying force. The initial trend at that time was to assimilate into the European society. By doing so, the liberal Jewish reform movement in Germany, for example, sought to reduce Judaism to a religious denomination, allowing Jews to adopt German culture. Such situation was very similar to the status Jews have in Western Europe nowadays, with the exception that they still maintain their Jewish identity and Zionist affiliation to Israel.

Nevertheless, the secular proposals of Jewish acculturation and social and political integration into the European society was rejected by many Zionists who had aspirations of having a Jewish homeland as a secure heaven for the Jewish people in Diaspora. In 1896 Theodor Herzel, an Austrian Jewish journalist, published a booklet titled The Jewish State, in which he analyzed the causes of hatred toward Jews and proposed the creation of a Jewish state, as the only cure. When such plans to have a homeland for the Jews in Palestine were introduced to As-sultan Abd al-Hamid II by the influential Jews in Germany and Turkey, he courageously refused them and firmly indicated that Palestine is a Muslim land and its Jewish population was enjoying its religious freedom. The Turkish Jewry later on united with Al-itihad wa Taragi party with an influential role by Jews of Ad-Donama to depose As-sultan Abd al-Hamid and the Othman Empire along with him. The Zionist movement was able to achieve its long-lived dream of establishing a state in Palestine in 1948; even if that meant displacing its original people and conducting horrible atrocities.

Dr. Abdallah H. Al-Kahtany
* from his book new zionism


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