Saturday, January 28, 2017

Zionism Then (1933) and Now

The Zionist Organization of America, the most unrepentantly right-wing Zionist organization in this country, has unsurprisingly come out in defense of Trump's ban on Muslim immigrants and refugees. The ZOA, like the hard-right nationalist parties in Israel with which they align, are the ideological and organizational descendants of "Revisionist Zionism," led by Vladimir Jabotinsky.

On February 24, 1933, less than a month after the appointment of Hitler as the Chancellor of Germany, the Jüdische Rundschau, the leading Zionist newspaper in Germany, reported on a speech that Jabotinsky had just given in Berlin (see page 2 of issue 16. The Rundschau was aligned with what was then the mainstream of the Zionist movement, which favored an alliance with the Jewish labor movement in Palestine (though certainly not with Palestinian Arab workers!), and a conciliatory attitude toward the British Mandatory authorities, so their reportage of Jabotinsky, while fair, was not entirely sympathetic. They wrote the following:

Er legte dar, warum Kommunismus und Zionismus unvereinbar seien. Es sei z. B. das politische Ziel der Kommunisten, Europa aus allen Kolonialländern vertreiben zu wollen, während sich Jabotinsky als enthusiastischer Anhänger des europäischen Rechtes auf Herrschaft in der Kolonialländer bekannte. Aber ist nicht die jüdisch-palästinensische Arbeiterschaft selbst die schärfste Gegnerin des Kommunismus?

My translation is as follows:

He laid out why Communism and Zionism could not be united. For example, it is the political aim of the Communists to expel Europe from all the colonial countries, while Jabotinsky is well known to be an enthusiastic supporter of the European right to rule the colonies. But isn't the Jewish labor movement in Palestine the sharpest opponent of Communism?

Two days later, the Reichstag was set aflame. In this moment, as the Nazis were getting ready first to come for the Communists, as Niemöller would later famously reflect, the Labor Zionists saw fit to counter Jabotinsky by boasting of their own steadfast opposition both to Communism and to the struggles of colonized peoples for liberation.

Seventy-four years later, the heirs of Jabotinsky, having long since outpaced the Labor Zionists in the struggle for hegemony within the Zionist movement, are still boasting of their opposition to the supposed barbarian hordes. The way was paved for this by their putative opponents, the Labor Zionists. Those who do not learn from history may get what they deserve, but not before they have dragged the rest of us to hell alongside them.

Has it ever been more clear that any Jew who wishes to remain loyal to the sacrifices of our ancestors, and the moral core of Jewish traditions, that Zionism must be repudiated?

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