Mike Rosen


Israel and its heroes

(8 September 2001)

In my view, Socialist Worker (GB), No.1765, 8 September 2001.
Downloaded from the homepage of Socialist Worker homepage.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for REDS – Die Roten.

WHEN I was a teenager in the early 1960s, Jewish kids I knew were being asked by their parents to look up to a great Jewish hero – David Ben-Gurion. He was one of the founders of Israel. Every summer these kids rushed off there to work on a kibbutz. They would come back to tell me that, as I was a socialist, I should go and see socialism in action. My own Jewish parents, who were ex-Communists, never seemed tempted by the beaches of Eilat.

“How can you have socialism for one people?” I remember my parents saying. “That’s National Socialism, isn’t it?” I wondered, was there really common ground between Jews trying to create socialism for Jews only, and Nazis claiming they were making some kind of socialism for Germans only?

At the time I didn’t have the great words of David Ben-Gurion to hand: “We shall reduce the Arab population to a community of woodcutters and waiters.” And if I had been less interested in CND and more interested in Middle East politics, I might have read the words of the man who has inspired most Israeli leaders since the 1960s – Vladimir Jabotinsky.

“There is no choice – the Arabs must make room for the Jews in Eretz Yisrael. If it was possible to transfer the Baltic peoples, it is also possible to move the Palestinian Arabs,” he said. One of those leaders was kindly old Golda Meir, who said, “There is no such thing as Palestinians. They never existed.” In South Africa delegates from countries all over the world have been debating the history of racism.

But the question of whether Zionism is racist has been dodged by the Western countries. It’s actually quite clear. Let’s start with genes. Jews are not a bunch of people sharing Jewish genes. Someone like me, whose grandparents all came from Eastern Europe, share more genes with non-Jewish Poles than with, say, a Jew from Iraq. And that Jew shares more genes with a non-Jewish Iraqi than with me.

In other words, there is no such thing as a Jewish race. So when Zionists say that the only people who can of right become Israelis are people of Jewish descent, they are trying to create a thing that isn’t a thing. Of course there’s a Jewish religion, but Zionists don’t make that a criterion for becoming an Israeli. An atheist Jew like me is welcome.

It would be like the Irish government saying that the only people who can come and live in Ireland must either be Irish Catholic, ex-Irish ex-Catholic, have an Irish Catholic grandparent or an ex-Irish ex-Catholic grandparent! But Israel’s unquestionably racist immigration policy is the least of its many acts of racism.

Having colonised Palestine and then terrorised the original population, it denies these refugees and their descendants (five million in all) any right of return. Having invaded a territory outside of its borders, it refuses to leave and terrorises the people within this area-the West Bank.

What’s more, the colonisation continues. And with it the demonisation and killing of Palestinians – or in Israeli terms, the “two-legged vermin”, “cockroaches”, “beasts walking on two legs”, “grasshoppers that have to be crushed”, a people that should “resign themselves to live like slaves”.

Zionism not racist? Tut mir eyn feyve! (That’s Yiddish for “Do me a favour!”)


Last updated on 4.2.2002