Tony Greenstein | 05 November 2019 | Post Views:

Tony Greenstein Talk to the Palestine Solidarity Group in Stuttgart October 25th 2019

Zionism as a Form of Jewish Anti-Semitism

Amidst all the nonsense about how anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism and how difficult it is to tell the difference between the two, it is easy to forget that when Zionism first arose among Jewish people, it was seen as a form of Jewish anti-Semitism.

Lucien Wolfe, the Secretary of the Conjoint Foreign Committee of the Board of Deputies no less reacted to the Zionist claim that Jews were a separate nation, a claim that is still the basis of Zionist ideology (though most Jews are not aware of the implications) by saying:

I have spent most of my life in combating these very doctrines, [that Jews form a separate nation] when presented to me in the form of anti-Semitism, and I can only regard them as the more dangerous when they come to me in the guise of Zionism. They constitute a capitulation to our enemies.’

Theodore Herzl, the founder of Political Zionism, was a Viennese journalist who wrote the founding pamphlet of the Zionist movement, The Jewish State or more accurate the State of the Jews (Der Judenstaat) which was published in 1896. It was written in the wake of the Dreyfus Trial in which a Jewish Captain Dreyfus was convicted of espionage in December 1894. Herzl wrote in his Diaries (p.8) that

The degradation of Dreyfuss – whose sword was broken in two

‘In Paris… I achieved a freer attitude towards anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognise the emptiness and futility of trying to ‘combat’ anti-Semitism.’

His pamphlet didn’t make so much as one reference to the Dreyfus Affair which convulsed France for the best part of 12 years before Dreyfus was finally exonerated. It led to the open letter ‘J’Accuse from Emile Zola who was forced to flee to England. It led to the defeat of the aristocratic-military clique led by Edouard Drumont.

Herzl’s pamphlet was welcomed and favourably reviewed by Drumont and Herzl was more at ease with the anti-Dreyfussards than the supporters of Dreyfus including Bernard Lazarre, who initiated the campaign to overturn Dreyfus’s conviction. Elected to the Zionist Actions Committee at the first Zionist Congress in 1897 within a year he had resigned because Herzl was completely indifferent to the Dreyfus Affair. Yet a myth has grown up, spread by people like the BBC’s tame historian Simon Schama that Herzl was inspired by the Dreyfus Trial into becoming a Zionist.

Zionism began as a movement of despair which accepted the inevitability of Zionism. It moved from that to an acceptance that the anti-Semites were right. Jews didn’t belong in the diaspora and from there it was but a short step to collaborating with anti-Semites, the Nazis included.

Alone amongst Jews, the Zionist leadership welcomed the Nazis to power. In the words of David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel ‘Hitler’s rise was “a huge political and economic boost for the Zionist enterprise.’ Other Zionists spoke similarly. Of course the Holocaust was 8 years away and no one believed that the Nazis would embark on the systematic extermination of the Jews. Nonetheless most Jews knew enough to launch a Boycott of the Nazis. The Zionists however broke the boycott with a trade agreement, Ha’avara, with the Nazis. They sought to profit from the misery of Germany’s Jews which they did. 60% of capital investment in Jewish Palestine between 1933 and 1939 came from Nazi Germany. Hitler literally built the Jewish state.

This was the subject of my talk in Stuttgart. The simultaneous translation has been stripped out.

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Tony Greenstein

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