On the Ideological Bases of Israeli Colonisation

Sulafa Hijjawi
       A Paper delivered in a Symposium held in Brussels/ Belgium in 22-24/1/1981
The main purpose of this paper is to survey the Zionist ideological concepts that played a determining role in shaping Israeli policies towards the people of Palestine
The occupation in 1967 of more Palestinian territory has posed certain ideological questions culminating in a kind of a dilemma in the Israeli circles. The core of this dilemma is whether to incorporate the newly occupied territories as “liberated” parts of “Eretz Israel”, although those parts are densely populated by Palestinians, and what measures should be taken in order to conform with the imperative need to retain the exclusive nature of the “state of the Jews” according to the herzelian formula
Taking into consideration the consistency of Zionist adherence among the ruling Israeli circles, one is liable to be convinced that the tenets and perspectives that governed and determined Zionist policies towards the people of Palestine during the first half of this century still play the same role in determining Israeli policies towards the people of Palestine in general and the natives of the 1967 occupied territories in particular
It is true that there were by the beginning of this century, several schools of thought, yet most of these schools gradually diminished or finally met on the ground of the ultra-nationalist and exclusivist ideology, which is the product of the 19th century European colonial ideology rather than of Jewish tradition
In order to prove this, it is preferable to recall the concept of “Mankind” in Zionist ideology, its perspective on natives in light of the views of various thinkers and doctrinal politicians on the native Palestinians
Very little was written by the Zionist thinkers on Palestinians during the early stages of the Zionist process, although some of them visited Palestine or at least must have read about it in the various reports of European and particularly British travelers and economic experts. How to cope with other “human beings”, especially if they were backward and uncivilized, did not pose any problem for them. There was one classification of beings to which they adhered: the European 19th century theory which classified human beings as either superior or inferior. The European Superior was entitled to accommodate the inferior according to his own objectives, either by exploitation, intimidation or expulsion. The peoples of all the colonies, up to the middle of this century, were inferior, therefore non-existent
The need to justify the predominance of such colonial relations drove the 19th century colonial thinkers to try to rationalize those relations and to secularize them by resorting to the new sciences of the age. The racial theory was thus promulgated
So, when Israel Zangwell raised the slogan “land without a people to a people without a land”, the Palestinian natives were for him, morally non-existent in accordance with European perspectives in general, because the Palestinians were inferior
The idea of the superiority of the “Jewish Race” was introduced by Moses Hess in 1862 in his book “Rome & Jerusalem”. He wrote:” a great calling is reserved for the Jews, to be a living channel of communication between three continents, who shall be the bearers of civilization to peoples who are still inexperienced, and their teachers in the European sciences to which their race has contributed so much” [1
Ahad Ha-Am spoke of the “Jewish Superman”. Yet both Hess and Ahad ha-Am, s formulas of superiority constituted an echo of and a counter to the concept of European Superiority and of Nietche, s “Aryan Superman” in particular. Although Ahad Ha-Am opposed the politicizing of Jewish superiority into a Jewish state in Palestine, his cultural superman and Hess’s Jerusalem became constituent parts of Zionist ideology
The concept of natives as inferior, therefore manageable according to the interests of the superior, is what makes the nature of any project whatsoever a colonial one. Maxim Rodinson asserts: ” The element that made it possible to connect those aspirations of Jewish shopkeepers, peddlers…. to the conceptual orbit of imperialism was one small detail that seemed to be of no importance: Palestine was inhabited by another people” [2
A national liberation movement would not conceive the possibility of attaining its liberation at the expense of another people, or else it would be doomed to be a colonial project. The essential colonial nature of the Zionist project was fundamental to the possibility of its fulfillment. Maxim Rodinson also realizes the fact that
“If the ancestral homeland had been occupied by one of the well established industrialized nations… there can be no doubt that the problem of displacing it would have been in the forefront of the consciousness of even the most ignorant and destitute Zionists” [3 
  Colonial relations between the Zionist settlers and the .native Arabs have stamped the Zionist project since the early beginnings. While Ahad Ha-Am drew the portrait of the cultural Jewish superman, he rejected colonial relations. After a visit he made to Palestine in 1891, he wrote
“….they treat the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, deprive them of their rights, offend them without cause and even boast of their deeds, and nobody among us opposes this despicable and dangerous inclination” [4
Among the early ideologues who shaped the Zionist perspectives on Palestinians as natives, were Aharon David Gordon, Ber Borochov and Vladimir Jabotinsky
Aharon David Gordon, the father of labour Zionism and practical colonization in Palestine from 1903 on, started as a socialist-nationalist, but ended as an ultranationalist. In his early stage, Gordon established “Historic Title” and working the land as two criterias. He viewed that both Arabs and Jews as acquiring both rights
” The Arabs have the attributes and qualities of a living nation but not a free people. They live on the land, they till the soil, they speak a national language inherently their own…[5
Therefore, he asserted
     “We cannot deprive them of their rights, but neither can they deprive us of our rights to the land on which we live and labour [6
But later and as colonization was in process, Gordon introduced the factor of competition
“Who ever works harder, creates more, gives more of his spirit, will acquire a greater moral right and deeper vital interest in the land [7
And as Gordon, s views went hand in hand with the practical process, he introduced the idea that ” the unity of two nations is a graft of unlike species where grafting cannot succeed” [8
This idea constituted an introduction to the principle of the conquest of land and labour, which was perpetrated by his followers since the second decade of the twentieth century. Gordon tried to politicize this philosophy in the following argument
“If mastery of the land implies political mastery, then the Arabs long ago forfeited their title. Turks ruled the country for centuries, and now the British are its rulers. If we bar the rights acquired through living on the land and working it, the Arabs, like ourselves, have no other than a historic claim to the land, except that our claim is stronger. It cannot therefore be said that we are taking the land from the Arabs. As for rights accruing from occupation and from work on the land, we too live and work upon it. Between us and the Arabs, the real difference is based on numbers, not on character of the claim” [9
 Although Herzel had previewed the displacement of natives in his diary, saying
“The mass of poor natives (are) to be expropriated… both the expropriation and the removal… must be done discreetly and circumspectly…By spiriting the penniless population across the border… While denying it any employment in our country” [10
 Yet, it was Gordon who theorized the displacement, which became a consistent concept of Zionism
Ber Borochov, the father of socialist Zionism, viewed Palestinians as “consumers” of Jewish products, who would finally be assimilated with the Jews, because “they are not a nation and would not be so for a long time”[11], and that the “development of the forces of production will be taken over by the Jewish immigrants, and the present population will eventually become economically and culturally assimilated with the Jews [12
Borochov established a materialist concept that Palestine was the territory where territorial autonomy would be achieved, not due to old traditions or practicality, but because spontaneous Jewish immigration would direct itself towards Palestine for pure economic reasons, where the Jewish proletariat would eventually liberate itself from Jewish bourgeoisie. Jewish capital would have accumulated by means of Jewish exports to the surrounding backward areas
At a later stage, Borochov abandoned this theory, and started to emphasize on the “Unity of Zionism” and the building of Palestine as a home for the “entire Jewish People”. He even changed the term “Palestine”, which he had used, into “Eretz Israel”. Borochov did not give the Arab question any consideration. He rather came to stress on the need “to remove all obstacles [13
Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of militant Zionism, regarded the Palestinian Arabs as “a yelling rabble dressed up in gaudy, savage rags [14]“, who must be driven out of Palestine by force
“The establishment of a Jewish majority in Palestine will have to be  achieved  against the wishes  of the country’s Arab majority [15
Jabotinsky, who came to be the founder of revisionist Zionism and the champion of greater Eretz Israel which included in his map parts of Lebanon and all Trans- Jordan, was described by Haim Weizmann as “utterly unjewish in manner, approach or deportment”. He had championed the Al-Arish proposal and had shared with Herzl an ambivalent attitude to Palestine and had lacked a romantic or religious attachment to the land [16
Displacement of natives became an established doctrine of Zionism. Ben Gurion, a disciple of Aharon David Gordon, formulated in the forties two doctrines leading essentially to the above conclusion. The first: “the right of territory is not established on the bases of political authority, but on the bases of work”. The second: “the rights to Palestine do not belong to the existing settlers, whether it be Jews or Arabs…the crux is the right of Return of dispersed Jewry” 17
The few voices of moderate Zionists were hushed down. In 1907, Yitzhak Epstein wrote
    “At a time when we feel the love of our homeland…we forget that the people now living in the land also have a heart and a soul. Like all men, the Arab is bound to his homeland by strong ties. The less developed a people is, the stronger is the bond between it and its native country and the harder it is for individual members of that people to leave their villages and farms…[18
 Dr. Judah Magnes wrote as well
“Even more realistic than the ugly realities of imperialism is the fact that the Arabs live here and in this part of the world, and will probably be here long after the collapse of imperialism and the rise of another. If we too wish to live in this living space, we must live with the Arabs”[19
In 1933, Chaim Arlosorov was murdered by the followers of Jabotinsky. Arlosorov had written
“An Arab movement really exists… it will be calamitous if we negate its importance or rely on bayonets, British or Jewish [20
In 1944, and after the World Zionist organization held the Atlantic City Convention, Dr. Hannah Arendt, a Jewish anti- Zionist, wrote
” The end result of fifty years of Zionist politics… was that American Zionists from left to right, adopted unanimously the demand for ” a free and democratic Jewish commonwealth…which shall embrace the whole of Palestine, undivided, undiminished”…The Atlantic city Resolution goes even a step further than the Biltmore Program of 1942, in which the Jewish minority had granted minority rights to the Arab majority. This time, the Arabs were simply not mentioned in the resolution which obviously leaves them the choice between voluntary emigration and second class citizenship [21
She went on to say
“The Zionists have indeed done their best to create thatinsoluble tragic conflict, which can only be ended through cutting the Gordian knot [22
The 1967 Israeli occupation raised a relative question as to the boundaries of “Eretz Israel”, within which natives are supposed to be negated. Ber Borochov had spoken of 80 to 90 thousand square kilometers in accordance with the Ben Zvis investigations of the area. But Borochov also says: “But even in its present limited boundaries, Palestine’s 27 square kilometers can accommodate up to 9 million people [23
The boundary of “Eretz Israel” has become an essential factor in Zionist policy since Britain sponsored the program in 1917. Earlier, Hertzl had described these boundaries  in his “Altneuland: “To the north, it reaches as far as Beirut”,  and in one scene, the youth boards a train en route to summer vacation in the mountains lying just inland from the city. To the east and south, Altneuland stretches to the Euphrates and the southern boundaries of Palestine and Trans Jordan, while its western limits are the Mediterranean and Sinai [24
 The proposal that was submitted to the Peace Conference by the Zionist Movement in 1919, demanded, for the first time in history of the Zionist Movement, recognition of the “Historic Title” of the Jews to Palestine and attached to the proposal a description of the required boundaries as follows
“The outlet of the Litani River in the north (one third of Lebanon’s territory), as well as the entire Jordan River from its sources in the southern slopes of Mount Hermon. It required the cereal growing lands from Mount Hermon south-east of the Jordan, including the falls of another stream, the Yermouk. A southern boundary from Aqaba to Al-Arish in Sinai was also required [25
Haim Wizemann did not relinquish Zionist claims to the whole “Eretz Israel”. He asserted that colonization of Palestine proper would eventually lead to Jewish settlement in the area between Jordan and the Euphrates [26
In 1931, Ben Gurion addressed the 17th Zionist Congress
 “In Eastern Palestine, there are broader and emptier acres, and Jordan is not necessarily the perpetual limit of our immigration or settlement” [27
After the establishment of Israel, Ben Gurion asserted:
‘It must be now said that the state of Israel has been established in only a portion of the land of Israel [28
 The Zionist Orthodox parties, which were created long after the birth and growth of secular Zionism, took a unanimous stand considering Palestinians as “Temporary occupants”, or guardians of the land. Once the Arabs are removed from Palestine either through expulsion or population transfer and exchange, the Arab issue will be automatically solved. So did Golda Meir in 1969, when she recalled the Zangwell slogan
There was no such thing as Palestinians. It was not as though
  there were a Palestinian people and we came and threw
Them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist [29
 All the Israeli policies which are presently perpetrated in the occupied territories show that the Israeli colonial authorities still embrace the same concept on natives. All the Israeli peace proposals as well as the Camp David Agreements preclude any recognition of the right of the Palestinian natives of the occupied territories to the land on which they live and work. They are considered as mere dwellers on the land which belongs to others. This consistent approach has led in the past to the displacement of about one million Palestinians whose problem has not been solved since 1948