Anti-Semitism, Zionism, "Right of Existence" by George Pumphrey

Anti-Semitism,has recently become one of the most used (and misused) words in currentpolitical terminology. It falls into a category with other terms such as"Human Rights", and "terrorism" – terms often used but with"flexible," nebulous definitions.

Whereas renowned Jews have often denounced the misuse and thereforetrivialization of the term, few non-Jews have dared come forward to do thesame. This problem is often treated as if it were an inter-Jewish problem andnot one that concerns the whole of humanity.

The term anti-Semitism is often deliberately misused to silencecriticism, particularly to intimidate non-Jewish critics of Zionism, both inthe form of Israeli state policy and as policies of the Israel lobby abroad.

I believe that this intimidation of many non-Jews – especially in Germany- is so effective, because many are so insecure about what anti-Semitismactually is, where its limits lie, and how far one can criticize the actions ofthe Israeli government before committing anti-Semitism.

Therefore perhaps the first thing should be to define anti-Semitism:

Like racism, anti-Semitism is the aversion or animosity – based onprejudice – against individuals, simply because they are members of aparticular group. The Jew is rejected, merely because he is Jewish, regardlessof what he does or thinks. Anti-Semitism serves as a justification for maintainingpower relations and promoting the corresponding irrational mobilization of socialgroups, even against their own interests.

"Aliens" in the Homeland and Christian Zionism

Judeophobic anti-Semitism is a European phenomenon. Historically it wasmainly expressed in the supposition that Jews were/are aliens in theirrespective societies; that they should not be living with non-Jews.Particularly in times of crisis, Jews as well as other minorities were made scapegoats.

Many believe that Zionism was conceived as an answer to this Europeananti-Semitism. But, on the contrary, Zionism is an ideological perpetration ofEuropean Judeophobia.

The first Zionists were non-Jewish Europeans. During the Reformation,which accompanied the development of capitalism, the Bible was translated intothe national languages. Grace Halsell explains that "with the translationof the Scripture into the vernacular, the early Protestants turned to the OldTestament, known as the Jewish or Hebrew Bible, to familiarize themselves withthe history, stories, traditions and laws of the Hebrews and the land ofPalestine. They memorized Old Testament stories and could recite passages byheart. And many Protestants began to think of Palestine as Jewish land. The Protestantsturned to the Old Testament not only as their most popular literature but alsoas their one source book for general historical knowledge." [i]

Attempts were undertaken to convince Jews that they should"return" to colonize Palestine, build it up and make Israel their"Biblical home".

This idea promised two advantages. On the one hand, it would havesatisfied their Judeophobia – they would have rid themselves of an unintegratedminority, while on the other, this would correspond to their imperial drive fornew spheres of influence in their competition with other European powers forthe heritage that was to be had from the crumbling Ottoman Empire. Israel wasto become a European colony at the center of that empire. Besides, in theirstruggle against Catholic Rome, there were no few Protestants who believed thatthe renaissance of Israel would hasten the return of the Messiah and theconversion of Jews to Christianity (mainly to Protestantism). (This remains awidespread motivation among fundamentalist Christian Zionists – not only in theUSA.)

Bulwark against Arabs

In the first half of the 19th Century, Egypt, under theleadership of Mohammed Ali, rose to become an economic, military and thereforealso a political power. This naturally led to strong tensions and serious conflictsof interests between Egypt and its competitors, particularly the colonialpowers, Great Britain and France. The conflict between Egypt and Great Britainended in Mohammed Ali’s defeat, sealed by the London Treaty of 1840.

Britain’s Foreign Minister at the time, Lord Palmerstone, had repeatedlywritten to his ambassador in Constantinople, instructing him to suggest to theOttoman Sultan that he allow ‘the’ Jews to immigrate to Palestine. "TheJews will be a human wall against Mohammed Ali or his successor to block suchevil intentions – becoming a regional power." Palmerstone explained in anote dated February 17, 1841 that Great Britain would be responsible for therealization of the project of settling the Jews in Palestine."[ii]

In 1939 the British parliamentarian, Lord Ashley Cooper, called on Jewsto emigrate to Palestine. Cooper was against assimilation as well as theemancipation of Jews, because he felt that they will always remain aliens inthose countries where they live among non-Jews. And it made no difference thatPalestine was already inhabited. As far as he was concerned, "Palestinewas a land without a nation for a nation without land."[iii](This slogan was later adopted by Jewish Zionists who saw Palestine as "a landwithout people, for a people without a land.")

In 1845 Edward L. Mitford of London’s Colonial Office proposed theestablishment of a "Jewish Nation in Palestine", under the protectionof Great Britain. He declared that a Jewish state would be a great asset to GreatBritain. A Jewish state, he said, "would place us in a commanding positionin the Levant from whence to check the process of encroachment to overawe ourenemies and, if necessary, repel their advance."[iv]

Jews in Europe wanted to have nothing to do with this anti-Jewishproject. They did not want to be sent off to the desert. They wanted to berecognized as full-fledged citizens in their respective countries.

So Zionism, at the beginning, continued to mainly be espoused byProtestant Christians. That was more than 50 years before Theodor Herzl, 1896,made Zionism a "Jewish" political program.

Jewish Zionism

Herzl claimed that Jews could not assimilate into the societies, where theywere living, that their intelligence could find no healthy expression. In hisdiary he wrote, for example that "we have no wholesome outlet in eitherdirection. On the lower level we are proletarianized and becomerevolutionaries, the non-commissioned officers of all revolutionary parties,and at the same time our terrifying financial power grows on the upperlevel."[v]

It was he who developed the reactionary concept of a Jewish race thatknows no class distinctions. Zionism was to become the major Jewish nationalistcause leading to the founding of the Jewish state.

Herzl’s Zionism was inspired by and carried many traits of Germannationalism.

Throughout history, there has been a fundamental difference between Zionistand non-Zionist Jewish organizations: whereas Zionist organizations viewanti-Semitism as an inevitable, natural and even a congenital phenomenon, non-Zionistorganizations have been struggling against anti-Semitism, for the rights ofJews in their homelands and against discrimination.

Zionists do not see anti-Jewish prejudice as a social phenomenon.Zionists don’t see anti-Jewish chauvinism as something that must be learned andtherefore can also be overcome. Zionism maintains that Judeophobic anti-Semitismwill exist as long as Jews live among non-Jews, regardless of anything they door do not do. This is why Jews should give up their homelands to move to"their" state – the "Jewish state," Israel.

Because the large majority of Jews, like every other ethnic minority,struggled for equality in their homelan
ds, Zionism remained very marginal, themajority of Jews viewed this concept as anti-Jewish, as against theirinterests.

Hitler in Power – Zionism on the Rise

Up until Adolf Hitler was given power in 1933, the mainrepresentative of Jewish Germans was the Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürgerjüdischen Glaubens (Central Association of German Citizens of the JewishFaith), representing 95% of the organized Jewish Germans. In its bylaws it wasspecified that its chief task was the "fight against anti-Semitism." WithHitler in power and anti-Semitism becoming state policy, these bylaws made the CentralAssociation an organization "hostile to the state."[vi]

The Zionist Federation of Germany (ZVfD) – a sect – hadnot participated in the struggle against anti-Semitism and the rise of fascism.With Hitler in power, this organization was chosen by the Nazis to become therepresentative of the Jewish community. The Nazis sought a Europe without Jews;the Zionists wanted all Jews to immigrate to Palestine. One sought a purely Aryannation, the other a purely Jewish one. Both were against the assimilation ofJews and their marrying non-Jews.

With the Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935, Jews were effectively isolatedinside Germany, robbed of their rights and stigmatized as untouchables.

The main Zionist newspaper, the "Jüdische Rundschau," publishedthe codified restrictions with a commentary by Alfred Berndt, theeditor-in-chief of the German News Bureau. Berndt recalled that, only two weeksearlier, all the speakers at the World Zionist Congress in Lucerne hadreiterated that the Jews of the world were to be correctly seen as a separatepeople unto themselves regardless of where they lived. Well then, he explained,all Hitler had done was to meet "the demands of the International ZionistCongress by making the Jews who live in Germany a national minority".[vii]

One aspect of the laws, now long forgotten, but which attractedconsiderable attention at the time, was the fact that from then on only twoflags were to be permitted in the Third Reich, the swastika and theblue-and-white Zionist banner. This, of course, greatly excited the ZionistFederation, which hoped that this was a sign that Hitler was moving closer toan accommodation with them.[viii]

Throughout the Nazi period, the Zionist priority was to haveJews immigrate to Palestine. Those seeking to go elsewhere were left to theirfates. Addressing the Zionist Executive Council in Tel Aviv Feb. 18 1943,Yitzhak Greenbaum, Chairman of the Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency inPalestine, said "when they asked me, ‘couldn’t you give money out of theUnited Jewish Appeal funds for the rescue of Jews in Europe,’ I said NO! And Isay again, NO! (…) One should resist this wave which pushes the Zionistactivities to secondary importance." [ix](…) Greenbaum also made the observation, "one cow in Palestine is worthmore than all the Jews in Europe".[x]Greenbaum became Israel’s first Minister of the Interior.

In the same vein, David Ben Gurion said: "If I knew that it was possibleto save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, and onlyhalf by transferring them to the Land of Israel, I would choose the latter, forbefore us lies not only the numbers of these children but the historicalreckoning of the people of Israel."[xi]

German Zionists had harbored many illusions about Hitler’s intentions.Lenni Brenner explains in his book, "Zionism in the Age of Dictators"that "the Zionists were simply reactionaries, who naively chose to emphasisthe points of similarity between themselves and Hitler. They convincedthemselves that because they, too, were racists, against mixed marriage, andbelieved that the Jews were aliens in Germany; because they, too, were opposedto the Left, that these similarities would be enough to make Adolf Hitler seethem as the only ‘honest partners’ for a diplomatic détente."[xii]

The Zionists had believed that their refusal to join the antifascistresistance and their readiness to collaborate with the fascists would sparethem in the end. But after the pogrom of the "Kristallnacht" in 1938also their organization, the Zionist Federation of Germany, was banned.

"Israel’s Right of Existence" (as a Jewish State)

I would like to touch on another point that always plays a role in ourdiscussions: "Israel’s Right of Existence". Even though Israel hasbeen in existence for the more than 60 years and the Palestinians are stilltrying to establish their nation, recognition of Israel’s "right" toexist is being demanded like a creed from anyone who expresses a standpoint onthis subject.

Even if we were to suppose that they are speaking of Israel’s physicalexistence, we should ask with the international jurist, John V. Whitbeck:

What Israel,within what borders, is involved? The 55% of historical Palestine recommendedfor a Jewish state by the UN General Assembly in 1947? The 78% of historicalPalestine occupied by Israel in 1948 and now viewed by most of the world as"Israel" or "Israel proper"?

The 100% ofhistorical Palestine occupied by Israel since June 1967 and shown as"Israel" on maps in Israeli schoolbooks? Israel has never defined itsown borders, since doing so would, necessarily, place limits on them. (…)Todemand that Palestinians recognize "Israel’s right to exist" is todemand that a people who have for almost 60 years been treated, and continue tobe treated, as sub-humans publicly proclaim that they ARE sub-humans — and, atleast implicitly, that they deserve what has been done, and continues to bedone, to them.[xiii]

But this "right of existence" has nothing to do with thephysical existence of the Israeli nation. The only nuclear military power inthe Middle East, with the world’s fourth most powerful military force and itspowerful allies, particularly the USA and the EU, Israel has not been threatenedin its physical existence for a long time.

The recognition of a "right of existence" is for Israel’s rightto exist as a JEWISH state. The current Israeli government has now openlydeclared this to be the case.[xiv]

Israel’s first president, David Ben Gurion, had already laid out theroute Israel was to follow, has followed and continues to follow even today.Here are but a few quotes:

"This isthe political idea of Zionism. Zionism is building a state; (…) Building astate requires first of all creating a Jewish majority in the country."[xv]

He also said:"We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, confiscation of land, and thecutting of all social services to rid Galilee of its Arab population."[xvi]

"Let usnot ignore the truth among ourselves … politically we are the aggressors andthey defend themselves… The country is theirs, because they inhabit it,whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to takeaway from them their country."[xvii]

One could add numerous quotes of current Israeli politicians with similarcontents.

We are often told that Palestinians must recognize "Israel’s rightof existence," sometimes even as a PREREQUISITE for negotiations.

The state of Israel was founded through the massive ethnic cleansing,expropriation and disfranchisement of the Palestinians, and this remains thepolicy of that state even today. Since 1967 alone:

  • more than a mi
    llion Palestinians have been driven from their homeland
  • Thousands were killed, tens of thousands wounded
  • 650,000 Palestinians have been kidnapped and held captive in Israeli jails and camps, including legally elected parliamentarians and ministers, many without charges
  • 12,000 Palestinian houses have been demolished
  • and more than a million olive trees – the basis of Palestinian agriculture – destroyed or stolen
  • Israel has been constructing a wall in the West Bank, since July 2002, to annex even more Palestinian land
  • Through a system of forbidden zones, sieges, curfews, roadblocks, and checkpoints, Palestinian daily life is being made miserable
  • Following the total siege of the Gaza Strip, the world was witness to Israeli mass murder and the deliberate destruction of the Gazan infrastructure a year ago. And Israel continues to prohibit entry of reconstruction materials for the most vital necessities.
  • Israel occupies not only territory in Palestinian, but also in Lebanon and Syria.

This is to drive Palestinians from their land. This is to ethnicallycleanse Palestine of the Palestinians.

The Israeli peace activist and veteran Knessetparliamentarian, Uri Avnery, formulated the demand for the recognition ofIsrael’s right of existence by Palestinians from still another perspective andasks: "Must a Native-American – or indeed anybody at all – recognize theright of the USA to exist? Interesting question. The USA was established by Europeanswho invaded a continent that did not belong to them, eradicated most of theindigenous population (the "Red Indians") in a prolonged campaign ofgenocide, and exploited the labor of millions of slaves who had been brutallytorn from their lives in Africa. (…) SO WHY is Hamas required to"recognize Israel’s right to exist"? (…) So why is this weirddemand addressed to the Palestinians? Why must they recognize the right ofIsrael to exist as a Jewish State?"[xviii]

(…) and German History

But what does this all mean in light of German history? After the abominableexperience of an ethnic chauvinist policy, shouldn’t we, here in Germany, beparticularly skeptical towards the ethnic chauvinist policies of a ZionistIsrael? After the Aryanisation of Jewish property, can we accept the Judiasationof Arab property, or after the Aryan "Lebensraum policy,"[xix] cana Jewish "Lebensraum policy" be acceptable?

Couldn’t, on the one hand, an "ethnically pure" ghetto nation forJews mean nations "free of Jews," on the other? The Jews, who willpopulate the "Jewish nation’s" constant expansion, have to come fromsomewhere.

The rise of the Zionist nation in the aftermath of genocide on EuropeanJews came in handy for those old Nazis, who had been returned to power in WestGermany. Their support for "Israel’s existence" was a comfortable smokescreen for the crimes the Nazis had just committed. After all, they could becomethe best ally of the "Jewish state." And that state was far enough away,carved from the territory of another people, bearing no responsibility forGerman fascism. Israel even provides the hope that Jews will go in great enoughnumbers to "their" ghetto nation and leave Germany essentially"Judenfrei" (free of Jews).

Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor of West Germany, commented on thefounding of the state of Israel with "We have now Asianized the Jewishproblem."[xx]

Zionism, an Imperialist Ideology

Earlier in East Germany and in a large part of the WestGerman Left, Zionism was understood and openly declared to be what it is: animperialist, racist-colonialist project that was not completely successful thanksmainly to Arab resistance, in general, and Palestinians resistance inparticular.

But today, in the widespread confusion about whatconstitutes Left or even civilized principles, Zionism is receiving a helpinghand from unexpected quarters.

Zionism cynically seeks to hide behind the genocide on EuropeanJews during the Second World War, (after having often refused to come to theiraid). Zionism has been largely successful in camouflaging its fascist,anti-Semitic character, because those who should be denouncing it have been ominouslysilent.

As the Israeli Human Rights activist and writer, MichelWarschawski clearly pointed out, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is apolitical conflict, one between a colonialist movement and a nationalliberation movement. Anti-Zionism is a political criticism of a politicalideology and movement; it does not attack a people, but challenges a certainpolicy.[xxi]

This is an objective truth. ManyJews have for years been shouting it from the rooftops. Zionists would not haveit so easy, if also more non-Jews would recognize the dividing line betweenJewry and Zionism and actively fight anti-Semitism – also in its Zionist form.


[i]         Halsell, Grace, Prophecy and Politics,Lawrence Hill Books, Chicago, USA, 1985, pg. 135

[ii]         Gesprächmit Mamdouh Habashi, Junge Welt:  10.01.2009,  http://www.jungewelt.de/2009/01-10/001.php?sstr=Habashi

[iii]        Halsell,Grace, ibid

[iv]        ibid

[v]         Herzl,Theodor, Briefe und Tagebücher, Zionistisches Tagebuch 1895 – 1899 (Propyläen)S. 199 (in German) also (in English) Herzl, Theodor, The Jewish State – II, General Part, http://www.doingzionism.org/resources/view.asp?id=288

[vi]        Arendt, Hannah, "Eichmann inJerusalem", Pinguin, New York, pg. 59

[vii]        Margaret Edelheim-Muehsam, Reactions ofthe Jewish Press to the Nazi Challenge, Leo Baeck Institute Year Book, vol. V(1960), p.324. Quoted in Brenner, Lenni, "Zionism in the age of dictators,a Reappraisal," 1983,

[viii]       Brenner, Lenni, "Zionism in the ageof dictators, a Reappraisal," 1983, http://www.marxists.de/middleast/brenner/ch07.htm

[ix]        Reb Moshe Shonfeld, The HolocaustVictims Accuse: Documents and Testimony on Jewish War Criminals Part 1, NetureiKarta of USA, New York, 1977 p. 26 Quoted in "Nazi-Zionist Collaboration6: The background to collaboration" http://www.lastsuperpower.net/docs/nzc6backgroundtocollaboration/view

[x]         Liebermann, Rabbi Gedalya (Australia),"The Role of Zionism in the Holocaust" http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/antisemitism/holocaust/gedalyaliebermann.cfm

[xi]        Ben-Gurion, David, Shabtai Teveth’sBen-Gurion, pp 855-56 (http://www.economicexpert.com/2a/David:Ben:Gurion.htm)

[xii]        Jacob Boas, The Jews of Germany:Self-Perception in the Nazi Era as Reflected in the German Jewish Press1933-1938, PhD thesis, University of California, Riverside (1977), p.111,.Quoted in Brenner, Lenni, "Zionism in the age of dictators"

[xiii]       Whitbeck, John V., "A Moral Judgment is Called
For On Israel’s’Right to Exist’", CounterPunch, December 21, 2006, http://counterpunch.org/whitbeck12212006.html

[xiv]       Eldar, A., Harel, A. and Issacharoff, A.and news agencies, "Netanyahu demands Palestinians recognize ‘Jewishstate’" Ha’aretz, April 16, 2009, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1078827.html

[xv]        Ben Gurion, David, speech at the 14thZionist Congress, 1925, "Between Zionism and Judaism" p. 251 http://books.google.de/books?id=iTFo1rpzSCwC&pg=PA251&lpg=PA251&dq=%22political+idea+of+zionism%22+gurion&source=bl&ots=bBDQaG0baX&sig=ym2iy7CQblqmvGIpe4YCcPFlc7k&hl=de&ei=B-4KS4jPONOG_AbH9dWSBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22political%20idea%20of%20zionism%22%20gurion&f=false

[xvi]       Ben Gurion, David, May 1948 to hisGeneral Staff, quoted in Ben-Zohar, Michael, "Ben-Gurion: ABiography" Delacorte NewYork, 1978,

[xvii]       Ben Gurion, David, quoted on pp 91-2 of Chomsky’s Fateful Trianglewhich appears in Simha Flapan’s "Zionism and the Palestinians pp 141-2citing a 1938 speech

[xviii]      Avnery, Uri, "Facing Mecca"http://www.uni-kassel.de/fb5/frieden/regionen/Nahost/avnery18.html#orig

[xix]       "Lebensraumpolitik" or"living space policy" was built around the premise that Germanyprovided too little space for accommodating the Germans, so Germany set out toannex the territories of its neighbors, both by a deliberate settler policy,bringing ethnic Germans from far outlying regions of Europe to settle closer toGermany in neighboring countries, to create a demographic majority that willthen call for being included in the German Empire (Reich), or even by militaryconquest, as was planned and attempted for large sectors of the Soviet Union inthe Second World War.

[xx]        Smole,Prof. Ernst, "Europas Schuld am Gazakonflik", «Jüdische Zeitung», Februar 2009  

[xxi]       Warschawski,Michel, "Antizionismus ist nicht Antisemitismus," http://www.arendt-art.de/deutsch/palestina/warschawski_michel_antizionismus_ist_nicht_antisemitismus.htm

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