Hated Victims, Hidden Racism:

Palestinians and the Zionist Enterprise

(Part Two of Four)

- by M. Junaid Alam

Go to:  | Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

Early Zionist Colonization and Plans for Expulsion

Let us now turn to Zionism in the context of the Palestinian question. Zionist emigration rose quickly: in 1914, some 60,000-80,000 European Jewish colonists had settled Palestine (starting from none in 1882), and this number had increased to 650,000 by 1947. [5] Naturally, the massive settlement did not proceed without protest from the meddlesome natives. Prestigious Israeli historian Benny Morris, whose works are based on newly declassified archives, has written of the pre-war period, "Like white colonists everywhere, [the Zionists] felt perpetually threatened by the surrounding mass, and they were a minority exploiting and occasionally displacing a native population".

He also cites the assessment of Zionist commentator Ahad Ha'am, who noted in 1891 that settlers displayed "a tendency to despotism as happens always when a slave turns into master." Two years later, he added, "The attitude of colonists toward their tenants and their families is the same as towards their animals." [6] The Zionists, after having labored to collaborate with the real 'masters' across Europe, decided to turn their rage against those who were never their masters, and who were now fated to become their slaves. The viewing of the natives of animals once again confirms the basic truth that Zionism was not some liberation movement emerging from the Holocaust experience-that has already been exposed as chronologically and logically impossible-it was rather a Western colonialist movement. We need only recall that Black Marxist and African revolutionary Frantz Fanon, wrote in The Wretched of the Earth that the French settlers, too, came to view the Algerian native in "zoological terms."

The Jewish settler in the pre-war period usually purchased Palestinian land 'legally', which is to say that he bought land from absentee Palestinian landlords, expelled Palestinian tenants, and formed an exclusively Jewish labor force. Dr. Ruppin, head of the Zionist Organization (founded in 1907), wrote bluntly that, "Land is the most necessary thing for establishing roots in Palestine…we are bound…to remove the peasants who cultivate the land". [7] Therefore, the decisive question of the pre-war period in Palestine is not a matter of settlement buildup, but rather what the Zionist leadership was intending to do on a large scale, and how they planned to proceed after having "established roots", during which time it is never prudent to reveal one's true designs.

That Zionism required, as its basis, the complete and total removal of the indigenous population was never in doubt among the principal leadership of the movement. As far back as 1895, Herzl himself posited the following position: "We must expropriate gently….We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our country…" [8] Of course, at this early stage the proposition was tinged with a humane, idealistic sense of compensation, just as every colonialist dagger is initially hidden under its sheath of 'emancipatory ideals' for the native. But as the hour of collective murder drew nearer, it was becoming easier to discern the jagged lines of Zionism's sharp blade.

"We have not come to an empty land to inherit it, but we have come to conquer a country from people inhabiting it", declared Moshe Sharett in 1914, who was to become Israel's first foreign minister. [9] "Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population," wrote leading Zionist theorist Ze'ev Jabotinsky in 1925. He added: "To formulate it any other way"- which is the professional occupation of present-day Zionists - "would be hypocrisy." [10] Later in his life, Jabotinsky provided us with a most 'sound' authority for justifying expulsion: "Hitler - as odious as he is to us - has given this idea a good name in the world." [11]

The general aim held by the Zionist movement in the pre-war period is now clear. Morris notes, "thinking about the transfer of all or port of Palestine's Arabs….was pervasive among Zionist leadership circles long before 1937", adding that by 1936, "no mainstream [Zionist] leader was able to conceive of future coexistence…" [12] Indeed, Ben-Gurion himself, the leader of the Zionist movement throughout the war period and Israel's first prime minister, declared in 1937 the need to "remove the Arabs from our midst," announcing a year later, "I support compulsory [population] transfer. I do not see anything immoral in it." [13] Finally on this score, we can cite Yosef Weitz, head of the Jewish National Fund in 1940: "...The Zionist enterprise so far...has been fine and good in its own time, and could do with 'land buying' - but this will not bring about the State of Israel; that must come all at once….and there is no way besides transferring the Arabs…" [14]

In 1947, despite the influx of 650,000 Jewish settlers, Palestinian natives comprised the vast majority of Palestine's population, numbering 1.4 million. According to the United Nations, Palestinians also represented absolute majorities in 15 of 16 of the country's sub-districts. Additional UN and British statistics illustrate that the Jewish population legally owned a mere 7% to 10% of all private land, with the rest in Palestinians hands. [15] Yet the UN Partition plan of 1947 which was drawn up in order to create a Jewish state in Palestine was to provide the colonial minority over half the land (55%). [16] War was inevitable.

This is part two of a four-part, wide-ranging essay on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. M. Junaid Alam is co-editor and webmaster of Left Hook; he can be reached at alam@lefthook.org

5. "Revisiting the Palestinian Exodus", by Benny Morris, contained in The War for Palestine, ed. Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. p.39
6. Benny Morris, Righteous Victims, New York: Random House, Inc., 2001. p.47-48
7. Ibid, 61.
8. Ibid, 22.
9. Ibid, 91.
10. Nur Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of 'Transfer' in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948, Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992. p. 28.
11. Tom Segev, One Palestine Complete, Holt/Metropolitan Inc., 2000. p. 407.
12. see note 8, p.40, and see note 9.
13. see note 9, p. 43, and see note 13, p. 117.
14. Edward Said, The Question of Palestine, Vintage Books, 1992.

15. "The Palestinians and 1948: the Underlying Causes of Failure", Rashid Khalidi, contained in The War for Palestine, ed. Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. p.12 [Khalidi cites statistics from the Arab Office in London and United Nations reports.]
16. see note 9, p. 186.

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