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Ralph Schoenman

Extended Book Review via quotations.

When Schoenman says the history of Zionism is hidden, he is right on the button. For example:

Conceptual Origin of Israel: p 18 “In 1840, when there were over 1,000 socially-cohesive villages in Palestine, Lord Palmerston in Britain to propose ... the founding of a consulate in Jerusalem, to propose, presciently, the founding of a European settler colony to ‘preserve the larger interests of the British Empire.’ “
Theodor Herzl: The Jewish State Chapter 6. “Will people say, again, that our enterprise is hopeless, because even if we obtained the land with supremacy over it, the poor only would go with us? It is precisely the poorest whom we need at first. Only the desperate make good conquerors. Will some one say: Were it feasible it would have been done long ago? It has never yet been possible; now it is possible. A hundred -- or even fifty years ago it would have been nothing more than a dream. Today it may become a reality. Our rich, who have a pleasurable acquaintance with all our technical achievements, know full well how much money can do. And thus it will be: just the poor and simple, who do not know what power man already exercises over the forces of Nature, just these will have the firmest faith in the new message. For these have never lost their hope of the Promised Land.”
Courting Imperial Favor: p 19 “By 1905, the Seventh World Zionist Conference had to acknowledge that the Palestinian people were organizing a political movement for national independence from the Ottoman Empire—a threat not merely to Turkish rule, but to the Zionists designs.”
The Balfour Declaration: 2 Nov 1917 “His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home of the Jewish People, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object….” P 20. “…The Balfour Declaration also contained a passage intended to lull Arab feudal leaders shocked by the treachery of the British Empire in handing over to the Zionists the very land in which Arab self-determination had been promised: It being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine….” Arthur Balfour, in memoranda to officials was explicitly brutal: “Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad is rooted in present needs [of the British Empire], in future hopes of far profounder import than the desires of the 700,000-plus Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.” In his Iron Wall, Vladimir Jabotinsky wrote in 1923: “There can be no discussion of voluntary reconciliation between us and the Arabs, not now, and not in the foreseeable future. …Try to find one example when the colonization of a country took place with the agreement of the native population. Such an event has never occurred.”
Colonizing Palestine This was a thirty-year endeavor: “In 1917, there were 56,000 Jews in Palestine and 644,000 Palestinian Arabs. In 1922, there were 83,794 Jews and 663,000 Arab. In 1931, there were 174,616 Jews and 750,000 Arabs. …By 1931, 20,000 peasant families had been evicted by the Zionists. …Arab rural society was being destroyed by the process of colonization.” In 1936, the Arabs revolted. The 20,000 British soldiers sent to quell the rebellion began losing ground in 1938. At this point, the British turned to the well-organized Zionists for help. Between them, the Haganah (police) and Irgun (military) comprised a force of 15,000 well trained men--all Zionists. A year later the Zionist forces numbered 14,411, organized in 63 mechanized units of eight–ten men. The tide was turned. From this point Zionist Militarism picks up the thread of Zionist history. After WWII America became Israel’s sponsor. See Jabotinsky
Ways Forward suggested by Schoenman include: “Zionist state is at once a species of capitalism class rule and an extension of the U.S. imperial power in the region, the struggle against Zionism becomes, programmatically, a struggle for a socialist Palestine and, as the dawn follows the long night, a struggle for a socialist Arab East—from the Mediterranean to the Gulf.” “There is no short cut to liberation, as the century-old ordeal of the Palestinian people has shown. The road to victory will only be shortened when leadership arises which knows its direction and proposes the path in a language which enlists the people, mobilizes them in their own behalf, and exposes fearlessly the false leaders dangerously in the way.” “The Palestinian answer to the Zionist and imperialist schemes can be found in the stone-throwing children of Jabliya, the Beach Camp, Balata, and Dheieheh. For this, Jabotinsky was obliged by them to acknowledge, is a people, a living people—not rabble, but a conscious people fighting with stones and sling shots against the fourth largest military in the world.”

Schoenman’s book is well annotated by numerous references. For more on our takes, see Zionism for links.


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