I’m willing to bet, that like me, you assumed Zionism was rooted within Judaism. But it isn’t. In fact, Zionism was opposed by Jewish communities to the extent that the first Zionist Congress of 1897 had to moved from Munich to Basel because of pressure from Munich’s Orthodox and Reform rabbis.
But that’s 1897, and Zionism has a history of some hundreds of years going back tho the Protestant Reformation. Back then (around the 1600’s) millenarian Protestants got this idea in their heads that the second coming of Christ would happen when Jews who inhabited the spiritual birth place of Judaism and Christianity converted to Christianity.
I’m going to skip past how that might have fed into persecution of European Jews and merely note that the Protestant’s ideas revolved around religious conversion – ie, Protestants and Jews alike viewed Judaism as a religion – something that can be converted to and converted from.
In the late 1800’s racialism was all the rage. This was the idea, stemming from liberalism incidentally, that humanity could be split off into different races; that each race had definable characteristics with one being superior or inferior to another and so on…and that all would be better off if each kept to their own. Today, we see these basic ideas gaining a bit of credence among liberal fundamentalists (people like Laura Southern, Stefan Molyneux, Richard Spencer and others). The interesting bit is that these people see Israel as being a blueprint for what they might be able to achieve in terms of having a racially segregated world. So if you ever wondered why known anti-Semites and white supremacists drape themselves in Israeli flags and attend counter protests that are held in opposition to Palestinian rallies in the west, and why they are generally supportive of Israel, well… now you have a wee bit of heads up.
Theodor Herzl, officially referred to as “the spiritual father of the Jewish State”, is generally regarded as the principle mover behind the promotion of Jews as a race. He died in 1904 at the age of 44. The appeal to anti-Semites, of this idea of a Jewish race, is pretty straight forward. They didn’t like Jews (their believes) and if a so-called Jewish State could be founded, then they could rid themselves of their Jewish populations. Remember Balfour – the guy who’s famous for the Balfour Declaration that was to provide a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine? Well, in 1905 he had also passed the Aliens Act that barred the entry into Britain of Eastern European Jews who were fleeing pogroms at the time. Nice guy.
But things get better. Remember how Ken Livingston was forced to resign from the UK Labour Party for saying that Hitler supported Zionism? Well, Hitler and the Nazi Party did support Zionism. There’s no two ways about it. Every racist and anti-Semite, then as now, supported Zionism. The relationship between Zionists and the Holocaust is pretty damned murky, and I’m not going to go down that path in this post beyond mentioning the Jim Allen play “Perdition” that was to have been produced by Ken Loach back in 1987. In the words of Ken Loach –
“As its first director, I can say that the essential story the play tells – of collaboration of some Zionists with the Nazis in Budapest in 1944 – was not challenged and stands as historical fact.”
Here’s a link to a half hour TV programme “Diverse Reports” that offered up a two sided and somewhat messy debate on the play. Draw your own conclusions.
Okay, I’m probably trying to cover far too much ground for a single post. If you’re still here, I’m nearly finished. I mentioned that white supremacists were lending support to pro Zionist rallies. Here’s two links to do with that. The first is to The Canary that reported on known white supremacists draping themselves in Israeli flags for a protest on alleged anti-Semitism within the UK Labour Party. The second is to a Real News Network piece on a strange chain of events that saw the person who highlighted the presence of white supremacists at a counter rally after they had called for the death of Canada’s PM, then labeled as an anti-Semite by none less than Justin Trudeau himself.
I don’t have the space to touch on the political relationships Netanyahu is forging with known anti-Semites, such as Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban or the Israeli arms sales to Ukrainian neo-Nazis (and yes, I use that term advisedly). And I don’t have the space to get into Netanyahu’s ridiculous notion that he speaks for all Jews. That’s all Jews, no matter their nationality.
But if you want to run with this stuff and maybe get a bit of a handle on the history of Zionism and its relationship to Judaism, then I’d suggest the following presentation by Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro as a pretty good place to start. He’s an Orthodox Jew who rejects the Zionist notion of a Jewish race. His presentation is long at one and a half hours, but well worth the time.