Zionism is portrayed today as a progressive movement in its origins, even if it went off the rails somewhere along the line. I’ve just finished reviewing a book by Yehouda Shenhov ‘Beyond the Two State Solution’ which makes exactly this argument.
It is of course a nonsense. The Zionists, from the 1st Congress in 1897 onwards, always referred to colonisation. They formed a Jewish Colonial Bank and Trust. Colonisation was seen as a good thing in the West and the Zionists sought to portray themselves as loyal colonialists, eager to team up with whichever imperial power would have them.
Indian men tied to British cannons which then blew them to smithereens.
The British High Commissioner’s Garden Party in Jerusalem The advantages to the British Empire are obvious. The Suez Canal
and air stations, the oil-pipe outlet in Haifa and its harbor, have
become vital to our naval strategy in the Mediterranean. The security
of the imperial complex of interests can be better assured by a large
European population (Zionists) than by the few battalions that can be
– British Lord Melchett
David Ben-Gurion, the first Labour Prime Minister of Israel, referred to the ‘colonies’ and ‘colonisation’ in for example Rebirth & Destiny.
It is therefore very interesting to read from the ‘Editorial Notes’, of the United Empire, ‘The Royal Colonial Institute Journal’, Volume 8, no 12, December 1917, concerning the newly established alliance between British imperialism and Zionism – as per the Balfour Declaration of November 1st 1917:
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s
Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist
aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:
‘His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in
Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their
best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object…’
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour
The RCIJ’s editorial notes state:
Without determining the actual status of Palestine, Great Britain’s promise to facilitate the establishment there of a national home for the Jewish people, implies that the future of the country no longer ranks as one of the world’s unsettled problems; and we may perhaps go farther and see in a Jewish commonwealth under British protection the most satisfactory safeguard for Egypt as a vital artery of the British Empire.
Egypt was important of course because of the Suez Canal, the route to India. 39 years later Britain and France, together with Israel, would stage an invasion of Egypt after its President Nasser had nationalised the Suez Canal.