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Ralph Schernman

Extended Book Review.
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.
Peter Beinart

Book Review

Beinart presents a long-overdue and realistic assessment of where Zionism has come to. The basic message is gloomy, Zionism is a disaster, even for Israel. However it works out, we indorse Beinart's realistic and even-handed view of the new situation. There is some hope. The man holding the high cards in the Israeli government may be seeing that any end game must involve two states, as most of the concerned world also believes.
On inauguration day, George Mitchell became Obama's man in the Middle East. Mitchell won his negotiating spurs in North Ireland, bringing peace to an extended period of violence between Catholic Irish sympathizers and Protestant sympathizers with the British. The issue was who should rule the land.

The issue in Palestine is basically similar, but with a very different history.
Updated 21 June '07

Zionism, as a movement, is perhaps the last gasp of the romantic nationalism era. According to Arthur Herzberg, (of New York University) Zionism has as its "deepest undercurrent, the conviction that a Zionist state is the transforming event in Jewish history and that it is, at the very least, a preamble to the end of days, in this world."

This model is opposed, of course, by those who consider Palestine their home which it has been for centuries. In this way, the stage was set for conflict, even a fight to the death. Ideology of whatever ilk dies hard indeed.

How much has been left unexplained, how many defects, how many harmful superficialities, and how many useless repetitions in this pamphlet, which I have thought over so long and so often revised!
The Society of Jews and Jewish State


This pamphlet is not intended for lawyers. I can therefore touch only cursorily, as on so many other things, upon my theory of the legal basis of a State.
Local Groups


Previous chapters explained only how the emigration scheme might be carried out without creating any economic disturbance.
The Jewish Company

The Jewish Company is partly modeled on the lines of a great land-acquisition company.
The Jewish Question

No one can deny the gravity of the situation of the Jews.

It is astonishing how little insight into the science of economics many of the men who move in the midst of active life possess.
Update 24 June 2007

"The Jewish State"

Like most founders of movements, Herzl was an idealist and like Marx and others, his Zionist ideals foundered on the rocky shores of reality. Herzl was a Hungarian jounalist. In covering the Dreyfus affair for a Vienna newspaper he was incensed over the associated anti-semitism. His response was to compose a pamphlet, Der Judenstaat, in which he argued that the Jews should have their own state.

In 1937 the Peel commission recommended that Palestine be partitioned. That seems simple enough, but 65 years later it is still pie in the sky.

There have been some hopeful events, like the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, and the Camp David and Oslo Accords. Otherwise the history has been one of discord, displacement, war and terror.
Political Boost from Britain

Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), a Russian, moved to London in 1904 and became active in Zionism affairs. Zionism, was not a cohesive element early on.
Theodore Herzl (1860-1904)

Viennese journalist founder of modern political Zionism.
Ze'ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky

Brief Biography

An ardent Zionist, Jabotinsky tried to warn his more radical cohorts about how tough it would be to subdue the Palestinians.
League of Nations 1922

(Excerpts in italics from

"In accordance with the principles of the Balfour Declaration and Article 22 of the League Covenant, the League of Nations drew up the Mandate for Palestine, tailor-made by the British.
Independence Declared 1948
Joined UN 1949

Events leading up to statehood.
The Iron Wall
by Avi Shlaim
Book Review with commentary

We cannot say enough about this book. Written by an Israeli insider, it is an authoritative easy read, and provides reasonable interpretations of the evidence available.
Updated: 6 Feb 2007

Theodor Herzl is rightly known as the father of Zionism. His appeal was first of all to Jews in the diaspora.