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26

Nov

2006

Zionism: Pitting the West Against Islam
Sunday, 26 November 2006 04:44

by M. Shahid Alam

It is tempting to celebrate the creation of Israel as a great triumph, perhaps the greatest in Jewish history. Indeed, the history of Israel has often been read as the heroic saga of a people marked for extinction, who emerged from Nazi death camps – from Auschwitz, Belzec and Treblinka – to establish their own state in 1948, a Jewish haven and a democracy that has prospered even as it has defended itself valiantly against unceasing Arab threats and aggression. Without taking away anything from the sufferings of European Jews, I will insist that this way of thinking about Israel – apart from its mythologizing – has merit only as a partisan narrative. It seeks to insulate Israel against the charge of a devastating colonization by falsifying history, by camouflaging the imperialist dynamics that brought it into existence, and denying the perilous future with which it now confronts the Jews, the West and the Islamic world.

 



When we examine the consequences that have flowed from the creation of Israel, when we contemplate the greater horrors that may yet flow from the logic of Zionism, Israel triumphs appear in a different light. We are forced to examine these triumphs with growing dread and incredulity. Israel’s early triumphs, though real from a narrow Zionist standpoint, have slowly mutated by a fateful process into ever-widening circles of conflict that now threaten to escalate into major wars between the West and Islam. Although this conflict has its source in colonial ambitions, the dialectics of this conflict have slowly endowed it with the force and rhetoric of a civilizational war: and perhaps worse, a religious war. This is the tragedy of Israel. It is not a fortuitous tragedy. Driven by history, chance and cunning, the Zionists wedged themselves between two historical adversaries, the West and Islam, and by harnessing the strength of the first against the second, it has produced the conditions of a conflict that has grown deeper over time. 

Zionist historiography describes the emergence of Israel as a triumph over Europe’s centuries-old anti-Semitism, in particular over its twentieth-century manifestation, the demonic, industrial plan of the Nazis to stamp out the existence of the Jewish people. But this is a tendentious reading of Zionist history: it obscures the historic offer Zionism made to the West – the offer to rid the West of its Jews, to lead them out of Christendom into Islamic Palestine. In offering to ‘cleanse’ the West of the ‘hated Jews,’ the Zionists were working with the anti-Semites, not against them.

Theodore Herzl, the founding father of Zionism, had a clear understanding of this complementarity between Zionism and anti-Semitism; and he was convinced that Zionism would prevail only if anti-Semitic Europe could be persuaded to work for its success. It is true that Jews and anti-Semites have been historical adversaries, that Jews have been the victims of Europe’s religious vendetta since Rome first embraced Christianity. However, Zionism would enter into a new relationship with anti-Semitism that would work to the advantage of Jews. The insertion of the Zionist idea in the Western discourse would work a profound change in the relationship between Western Jews and Gentiles. In order to succeed, the Zionists would have to create a new adversary, common to the West and the Jews. In choosing to locate their colonial-settler state in Palestine – and not in Uganda or Argentina – the Zionists had also chosen an adversary that would deepen their partnership with the West. The Islamic world was a great deal more likely to energize the West’s imperialist ambitions and evangelical zeal than Africa or Latin America. 

Israel was the product of a partnership that seems unlikely at first blush, between Western Jews and the Western world. It is the powerful alchemy of the Zionist idea that created this partnership. The Zionist project to create a Jewish state in Palestine possessed the unique power to convert two historical antagonists, Jews and Gentiles, into allies united in a common imperialist enterprise against the Islamic world. The Zionists harnessed the negative energies of the Western world – its imperialism, its anti-Semitism, its Crusading nostalgia, its anti-Islamic bigotry, and its deep racism – and focused them on a new imperialist project, the creation of a Western surrogate state in the Islamic heartland.

To the West’s imperialist ambitions, this new colonial project offered a variety of strategic advantages. Israel would be located in the heart of the Islamic world; it would sit astride the junction of Asia, Africa and Europe; it would guard Europe’s gateway to the Indian Ocean; and it could monitor developments in the Persian Gulf with its vast reserves of oil. For the West as well as Europe’s Jews, this was a creative moment: indeed, it was a historical opportunity. For European Jews, it was a stroke of brilliance. Zionism was going to leverage Western power in their cause. As the Zionist plan would unfold, inflicting pain on the Islamic world, evoking Islamic anger against the West and Jews, the complementarities between the two would deepen. In time, new complementarities would be discovered – or created – between the two antagonist strains of Western history. In the United States, the Zionist movement would give encouragement to evangelical Protestants – who looked upon the birth of Israel as the fulfillment of end-time prophecies – and convert them into fanatic partisans of Zionism. In addition, Western civilization, which had hitherto traced its central ideas and institutions to Rome and Athens, would be repackaged as a Judeo-Christian civilization. This reframing not only underscores the Jewish roots of the Western world, it also makes a point of emphasizing that Islam is the outsider, the adversary.

Zionism owes its success solely to this unlikely partnership. On their own, the Zionists could not have gone anywhere. They could not have created Israel by bribing or coercing the Ottomans into granting them a charter to colonize Palestine. Despite his offers of loans, investments, technology and diplomatic expertise, Theodore Herzl was repeatedly rebuffed by the Ottoman Sultan. It is even less likely that the Zionists could at any time have mobilized a Jewish army in Europe to invade and occupy Palestine, against Ottoman and Arab opposition to the creation of a Jewish state on Islamic lands. The Zionist partnership with the West was indispensable for the creation of a Jewish state. This partnership was also fateful. It produced a powerful new dialectic, which has encouraged Israel, both as the political center of the Jewish Diaspora and the chief outpost of the West in the heart of the Islamic world, to become more daring in its designs against the Islamic world and beyond. In turn, a wounded and humiliated Islamic world, more resentful and determined after every defeat, has been driven to embrace increasingly radical ideas and methods to recover its dignity and power – and to attain this recovery on the strength of Islamic ideas. This destabilizing dialectic has now brought the West itself into a direct confrontation against the Islamic world.  We are now staring into the precipice. Yet do we possess the will to pull back from it?

M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at a university in Boston, and author of Challenging the New Orientalism: Dissenting Essays on America’s War Against Islam (IPI Publications: 2006). He may be reached at alqalam02760@yahoo.com. © M. Shahid Alam

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Winter Patriot said:

Winter Patriot
Thank You!
This is a very brave article; thank you for sharing with us.

"... what you saw here is a very perfect example ..."

how true!
 
November 26, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Art James said:

0
Thank you too. informing
trying to jump from one war-fry pan I jumped into the Zionist Homeland 'idealism' which still pains me. Looking at the above maps and the concise 'piece' helps understanding. We meet people along life's path. Often, they mislead us into real danger. In 1973, non-Jewish by birth or practicing the Israeli Faith, I found myself 'lost' in a kibbutz in occupied territory that once was named Palestine. I felt the Zionism zeal. I enjoyed a community, I thought, was passionate about restoration of Homeland, based on agriculture...the blossom of the dessert land....However, I was compelled to "pull back from it" like I didn't want to be a bat in hell when the 1973 war was unleashed. We blunder and it takes more than a lifetime to inform our own ignorant Self...but we need the courage to admit (above) we aren't dealing with high-ranking Nazis now. thanks. I often feel we are all exiled to this hell-fire-blaze Earth. Our Homeland here in America is joined to a mentality not unlike the Nazi government Reich. America has been so shameful. It heats up one fry-pan after another.
 
November 26, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Noga said:

0
...
Mr. Alam's is a highly fanciful indulgence in reinventing history according to the narrative of the grand humiliation of Muslim Arabs vis-a-vis the West.

The Zionist project began in the last decades of the Nineteenth century, when the geographical region known as Palestine, (encompassing parts of Lebanon, Syria and the entire Eastern part of the Jordan river, unlike the map presented by Mr. Alam) was under Ottoman Domination.

He also completely ignores (understandably) the creation of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, long before the state of Israel was finally established, according to the UN patition plan (on three small cantons on the Western part of the Jordan river, a fraction of what had originally been promised to the Jews by her Majesty's government). Looks like by the time Jordan was created, the value of Arab Middle East became a great deal more precious for the "the West" than whatever benefits a Jewish democracy might reap for them. They made a clear choice, to support Arab nationalism, at the cost of the Jewish homeland that they were supposed to help create. Hence the several "White papers" imposing immigration bans on Jews-only into the geographical region known as Palestine.

Unlike the grand conspiracy that Mr. Alam's mind brewed, the creation of Israel amounted to a shrug of indifference and helplessness in the face of historical compulsions by the West. Immediately followed by the systematic non-stop attacks on its legitimacy, vialibility and security by its Arab neighbours, assisted by the great propaganda and military machines of the Soviet Union and its allies. Once the Soviets were exctinct, their anti-Israel cause was picked up naturally and easily by the dark forces of the European Left, the Left that I call Indecent, in its betrayal of the high ideals of Sartre and Camus.

Mr. Alam's is a monstrification of Zionist history, one that has very little authenticity or validity in any reliable accounts. A nice little post-colonislist fairy tale, with the West as the evil witch and the Arabs as poor, helplessly manipulated Cinderela. Give me a break. Can't you people read any account with any quantity of salt?
 
November 27, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Rob Proctor said:

0
Democracy hypocracy
Noga speaks of a "Jewish democracy" in his response to Mr.Alam's article.Strict defitnition of democracy does not include religious ideoligy,church and state are to be separated to the benefit of all it's citizens in order to garuntee freedom.In my opinion these two words do not belong together.Democracy is not to be installed upon a group of people it must develop from within to interfere with nations in this manner is no better than the Soviet Union and its interference in other nations in its attempt to spread communism.America ignores the words of its own constition "by the people for the people" when it unjustly invades or interferes with other nations covertly to "spread democracy".I do believe that the true values of democracy can be promoted in a more positive fashion than making democracy a hypocracy
 
November 30, 2006
Votes: +0

Noga said:

0
The Contentious Centrist
What I'd like Mr. Proctor to explain is where does he locate an incompatibility between Judaism and Democracy, and in what way does he consider Israel's democracy different from any other parliamentary democracy?
 
November 30, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Noga said:

0
...
Shahid Alam, in his article: "Israel was the product of a partnership that seems unlikely at first blush, between Western Jews and the Western world. It is the powerful alchemy of the Zionist idea that created this partnership. The Zionist project to create a Jewish state in Palestine possessed the unique power to convert two historical antagonists, Jews and Gentiles, into allies united in a common imperialist enterprise against the Islamic world."

Iranian president Ahmadinejad to Hamas kindred-spirit PM Ismail Haniyeh : "As everybody knows, the Zionist regime was created to establish dominion of arrogant states over the region and to enable the enemy to penetrate the heart Muslim land."
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1164881801325&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

It appears that both the Proffessor and Ahmadinjad are making the same claim. Could they have been both brought up at the same school of thought? But how so, if the Prof is a teacher at a (presumably) liberal university in Boston, and Ahmadinjad is a product of the mind-shrinking hyper-religious madrassas in the oppressive theocracy of Iran? How come they are both making the same a-historical claims about Zionism? How come the not-so-secret Iranian desires for regional domination express themselves in exactly the same kind of logic of the "enlightened" Rococo Left?

Maybe Ahmadinjad is not really a fanatic megalomaniac ideologue but really a Chomskyan intellectual, speaking "truth" to power?

 
December 03, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Rob Proctor said:

0
Judaism and Democracy
The concept of Democracy in most of the Western world calls for separation of church and state.To me this is keynote in protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals as I had stated in my previous post.This is not a concept of my own obviously so there fore do we really have a democracy in a jewish context in Israel.I suggest probably not.Noga where else in the world do we have a democracy existing that combines religous ideoligy and democracy in the same breath?
 
December 07, 2006
Votes: +0

Noga said:

0
...
Rob: Israel's establishment came as a result of Zionism which started as a secular movement in the second half of the nineteenth century in response to racially motivated pogroms and discrimination. By "religious ideology" I think you mean the historical bonds Jews have always maintained to Jerusalem and Israel. Israel is mostly secular and Jewish. There is a very fine democractic legislature, culture and discipline in Israel which works for all, including religious minorities. You need to read a little about these things. For example, how many Western countries allow the Muslim call for prayer five times a day? American Muslims had to go to court in order to gain this right in one town. In Israel, you can hear the muezzin and the church bells anywhere and none is bothered by it. There is a universally accepted principle of freedom of worship which is almost sacred (pardon the pun).

I suspect you just don't like the idea that Israel defines itself as a Jewish state. Would you like it better if it defined itself as a Hebrew state? That would minimize the religious aspect in its national identity, and emphasize the shared history, culture, and language of the majority of its inhabitants. Like the French state, or the Norwegian state. Where the national religion and culture is Christian but where other minorities can live with their rights intact.qxnma
 
December 11, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Edda said:

0
Arm Waving
Noga's citing of the creation of Lebanon, Syria and Jordon, is purely non sequitur designed to distract from Shahid Alam's excellent accounting of Zionist history. Fact is that the creation of the other states was done without the introduction of alien peoples brought in from Minsk, Warsaw, Yonkers, Sherman Oaks, etc. It was far different and it was greatly antagonistic -- mildly put -- to the indigenous people inhabiting that land; i.e., the Palestinians.

Alam neglected to detail another aspect of the Zionist State, and that is the lack of commitment on the part of its citizens. Too many have dual citizenship, too many hop a plane and leave when war clouds are on the horizon, too many are there for the economic free ride they receive, and too many are in a hold-over mode waiting to go to someplace better. A people who are committed will love and contribute to their homeland and are willing to die for it. They do not look, as Israel does, for others to do their fighting.

The fact that calls-to-prayer and church bells are ringing in some parts of the Jewish State doesn't offset the fact that thousands of Palestinian prisoners are imprisoned in Israel's concentration camps. I'm sure the nazis didn't turn off the church bells either.
 
December 11, 2006
Votes: +0

Noga said:

0
...
Palestinian terrorists are imprisoned in Israeli jails because they attempted, or succeeded, in committing acts of violence against Israeli citizens. Some Israeli-Arabs are also in prison for assisting in suicide bombings. What's their excuse?

For Edda's information, there was always a very sizable Jewish population in pre-Israel Palestine ever since Roman times. In the main cities, like Jaffa, Haifa, Jerusalem and Zafet, Jews always outnumbered the other Ottoman subjects by a ratio of 5:1, at least. Since the Zionist project began, Jewish residence swelled to 600,000 at least, over a period of over half a century.

Her claim that Jews are not historically, spiritually and culturally rooted in Palestine stinks of historical revisionism, at which point any further engagement with her will be like grinding water. Her solution, as can be sniffed from her knee-jerk reference to the Nazis, is clear. She appears to have learned something about Nazi methods of hate-mondering and genocidal propaganda while depicting themselves as the poor victims of the Jews.

Her frustrations remind me of something I read today:

"Can you please explain to me what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to do with these problems?

-The Palestinian cause is central for Arab thinking.

In the end, is it a matter of feelings of self-esteem?

-Exactly. It's because we always lose to Israel. It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about 7 million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West's problem is that it does not understand this."

http://www.worldpoliticswatch.com/article.aspx?id=395

Unfortunately, as long as people like Edda and the Editor-in-chief continue to believe in their hallucinated mythologies and feed their hatreds, eschewing their own responsibility for their future, no understanding can ever be hoped for between the two peoples. Which is, I suspect, exactly what these two are aiming for.
 
December 11, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Edda said:

0
The Map
Forgot to add: Look at the sequence of maps included in Alam's article, then look at them again. The Israeli agenda of fragmentation and consumption is well recorded.



 
December 11, 2006
Votes: +0

Noga said:

0
...
If you want to have an idea about what a Palestinian state will look like, I recommend you look to the maps Dennis Ross furnished in his book. 95%-97% of all Palestinian territories + a part of Israel proper in compensation for the 3-5% of land approriated and integrated into Israel. If it were up to me, I would give them also Um-el-Fahm. I believe Barak suggested it to Arafat but Arafat refused. He wanted land emptied of people. But in the end, he rejected this offer. And still you manage to somehow blame it on Israel.

Isn't your memory, either short or selective or both, really instrumental in maintaining your hatreds and positions? Are you scared of facts?
 
December 11, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

The Bee man said:

0
Evidence
There is good and bad in pretty much ever Country.
What evidence have you's got that is the Jewish Isealites are behind it.
How does anyone knows if it is not the England or America doing the trouble.
 
January 21, 2008
Votes: +0

The Bee man said:

0
The bible
In the holy bible is says that GOD sent the messiah into Israel and gave the land to the Jews and claimed that they are his people.
As christian's really the people have the right and privelage to defend Israel against it's enemies as 2 wrongs do not make a right.
 
January 21, 2008
Votes: +0

The Bee man said:

0
The rich of wealthy people
If they got the money through the parent's then they deserve it.
I do not agree with the war's that people start in Iraq and Iran which will probably lead to World war 3 but I realize that pretty much everythinh happens for a reason.
It says in the holy book as well.
Let no fingers move and no hair fall fall on one's shoulder's without the permission of the creator.
 
January 21, 2008
Votes: +0

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