Zealots for Zion

Zionist extremists are determined to expand the territory of Greater Israel by seizing more and more land from the Palestinians. But their haste has now led to clashes with Israeli military authorities, as Lawrence Davidson reports.

By Lawrence Davidson

On Dec. 12, hundreds of Israeli settler fanatics besieged an Israel Defense Forces base on the West Bank, destroying equipment, setting fires, and even stoning soldiers, the second such attack in a month.

The cause? Anger over the army’s dismantlement of a small number of isolated, unauthorized settler outposts. The Chief of the IDF’s Central Command, Major General Avi Misrahi, is quoted as saying, “I have not seen such hatred of Jews towards soldiers during my 30 years of service.” He must not have been looking.

This was not an exceptional event. The subsequent indignation over the attack expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (“red lines have been crossed, he declared”) was, as Alex Fishmanwriting in Yedioth Ahronoth put it, staged hypocrisy.

A Jewish settlement in Ariel on Occupied West Bank, or what Israelis call Samaria

The Prime Minister is certainly aware that for some time there has been on-going skirmishing between the settlers and government security forces. Right-wing settlers regularly throw rocks and fire bombs at police and army vehicles and “physical altercations” between settlers and Israeli police and soldiers are “almost routine.”

This is so despite the fact that the government, both Prime Minister and Knesset, “either tacitly or openly” support the settlers. Then why the hatred and why the attacks?

At this stage the battle is over strategy. The Israeli government wants to gobble up all of Palestine in an orderly step by step fashion. In part, this is to avoid too much international criticism at any particular stage of the process. On the other hand, the hard-line settlers don’t give a damn about international opinion no more than do Islamic extremists to which some of the settlers have an unsavory resemblance.

Led by fundamentalist religious leaders who do not recognize the state of Israel and its laws, they are driven by religious fanaticism and have no respect for governments or their agents. It is their ideological conviction that all of Palestine (including, by the way, Jordan) must be Jewish as soon as possible.

The authorities sometime get in the way of this goal and that has led the settlers to, as Fishman puts it, “terrorize not only the Palestinian population but also the police and the army.”

Netanyahu, belatedly noticing an erosion of government authority, has begun to set rules against settler violence when it is directed toward the IDF and police ( but not toward the Palestinians). The New York Times reports that from now on such “radical Israelis” attacking soldiers or policemen will be treated just like “Palestinian militants.” That is they will be “detained for long periods without charge and tried in military courts.”

Alas, this new toughness won’t work. For years Israeli governments have looked the other way as thousands of armed religious fanatics organized themselves and got stronger and more self-assured.

Now, as Adam Keller of Gush Shalom tells us, “the Golem has turned on its creator.” These are the people who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin. What makes Netanyahu believe that Israel’s present army, police and courts which, reminiscent of the Weimar Republic, regularly show sympathy and leniency toward these criminals, are going to change their attitude on his orders?

When a military reporter asked a brigade commander if he was prepared to act toward settler hostility in the same manner as he would Palestinian hostility, he answered “you would not expect me to open fire on a Jew. … I am certain you didn’t mean that.”

The reporter would have gotten a very different answer if she had asked the fanatic settlers about how far they were willing to go. Anshel Pfeffer writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz notes that “the only red line that has yet to be crossed is a scenario in which an Israeli citizen [belonging to] the extreme settler right would open fire on IDF soldiers. There are those in Israel’s security forces who fear that day is not so distant.”

Netanyahu’s apparent change of heart comes too late. What we have here is incipient civil war. Any really serious effort to stop these fanatics will result in their turning their weapons on those who represent the government. What you sow is what you reap.

‘Self-Hating Jews’

This climate of internecine hostility contaminates the Jewish Diaspora as well. There is no rock throwing or armed men threatening violence, but the hatred is there. Jewish critics of Israeli behavior are categorized as “Israel-haters” or, alternatively, “self-hating Jews.”

This is often expressed with the same vehemence displayed by Israel’s settler fanatics. And, indeed, those pointing fingers in the U.S. are often supporters of the extremists on the West Bank.

Last week, Howard Gutman, the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, addressed “a group of European Jewish lawyers gathered … to discuss anti-Semitism.” Gutman told them that there were now two different kinds of anti-Semitism: a “classic” type that is “directed against Jews for being Jews” and “a newer form” that is a product of “the Israeli-Arab conflict and can therefore be mitigated by reducing Israeli-Palestinian tensions.”

This is actually a conclusion that was reached by Israel’s Defense Ministry as early as 1994, but that didn’t matter. When Gutman’s statement became public “the long knives” came out “for another Jewish liberal who committed the sin of stating the uncomfortably obvious truth about a causal relation between Israeli policy and Muslim anti-Semitism.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s Executive Director Matthew Brooks called Gutman’s revelation “outrageous” and one that “makes excuses for anti-Semitic hatred and bigotry.” Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, called Gutman’s remarks “inexcusable,” and Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, suggested that Gutman himself might be anti-Semitic.

Again, the charge of anti-Semitism can be and frequently is leveled against fellow Jews who are critical of Israel. The logic goes something like this: Judaism and Israel are one and the same. Ergo if you are critical of Israeli behavior you are critical of Jewish behavior and that makes you an anti-Semite. Very neat. Of course, the whole train of thought rests on the false assumption that Israel and Judaism are two sides of the same coin.

Despite these virulent reactions, Jewish criticism of Israel is growing quickly and this creates a frustrating dilemma for the Zionists. The pro-Israeli blogger Steven Plaut describes this situation in catastrophic terms: “Jewish anti-Semitism is all around us, part of the political air we breathe, a modern disease. In the twenty-first century the world is experiencing an explosion of it, a virtual plague.”

However, none of this Zionist extremism can be dismissed as a passing phenomenon. It has been with us too long. In fact, it has been with us since 1917 and the Balfour Declaration. That is when a certain segment of European Jewry began its obsessive drive to create and maintain a state for one group only. It was then, and continues to be an inherently racist project.

Ideologies, like Zionism, that support such projects usually reject all opposition. And opposition from erstwhile members of the in-group is the very worst because it exposes the false nature of claims of ethnic, religious or racial solidarity.

When and if Israeli society comes to its senses and decides to rid itself of the Occupied Territories, the settler fanatics will resist “fanatically,” and the civil war that is now incipient will release its full potential violence. When and if that happens, there will be repercussions for U.S. and European Jews and they too may well entail violence.

It would seem that the people chosen to be a “light unto the nations” have only managed to create another badly flawed nation state one with a preference for apartheid policies. Zionism said, “let modern Israel be” and, pop, the light went out.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

16 comments for “Zealots for Zion

  1. George archers
    December 22, 2011 at 09:23

    Admit it.Israel and the Jews in the middle east are protected for only one reason–a western military beach-head to put a check on the Arabs.Control the middle east oil and keep the American dollar as the world reserve,which can only be used to trade in oil.sad part,all countries must convert and have billion$ of uSA yank dollars for this purpose. And who are the oil barons and Money changers ? The Jews who funded billion$ to settlers to buy out Palestinian lands :^/

    • flat5
      December 23, 2011 at 09:40

      more delusional antisemitic b.s.

  2. ojkelly
    December 21, 2011 at 12:23

    flat 5 and Mike.Good work, but flat 5, not so dismissive, please, it detracts from what you say.
    The hypotheisis that Ashkenazi are decended from the Rus and Khazars (which explains the ginger Jews,red hair and blue eyes,that I know here in NYC) as well as a hypothesis repecting the source of the current Arab population are beside the point when you think about it.
    The most powerful myth supporting Israel is that the “Jews” of Revealtion are the Zioists, and thus, support of Israel hastens the Rapture. That fo’ sho’ ain’t so.
    There is huge disinformation about mitochondrial DNA,breeding pairs, etc, all of which “proves” that most Ashkenazi have Middle Eastern cousins, which doesn’t mean that the Kazars, Rus, and Byzantines don’t and didn’t either, before Ghengis,the Golden Horde and Tamerlane literally swept populations west and destroyed ALL historical records of the area.
    Maybe Pontius Pilot sent 10,000,000 Jews to Poland and now as survivors of WW II they are coming home, but…
    Once you break the connection between the huge Christain right money machine and their narrative of “world events”, then you won’t see 535 Americans jumping up and down like monkeys on chains for a foreign leader, who DOES NOT have American interests at heart, and then, settling an apartheid overstructure will no longer pay.
    Or, we can have the Marines land to keep the Straights of Hormuz open. Iran is a big country, Big army, human wave attacks their specialty. Not Iraq or Afghanistan. Bibi will be back at Columbia.
    I like the recent NY Post column saw, “Liberals love Jews and hate Israel. Conservative are the opposite. (just kidding conservative friends)

  3. Eddie
    December 21, 2011 at 00:05

    As always, a good interesting article by Prof Davidson, in this case exploring the nuances of internal Israeli politics.

  4. Duglarri
    December 20, 2011 at 21:55

    When I was young many decades ago my father once remarked, “As soon as they have no Arabs the Jews will begin fighting each other.”

    It seems hard to say now that he was wrong.

  5. John
    December 20, 2011 at 21:32

    flat5, You are pathetic. The people of the Palestinian area wanted autonomy from the Ottomans before WWI began. And no people like to see their people badly treated. You mistreat Palestinians and bad mouth Muslims you only make it harder for amiable people, Palestinian or Muslim to get on. It was the same with the mistreatment of Jews in Europe.
    And your Avi Shlaim states that many Zionists wanted a pure Jewish state at the time of Balfour and before. What was “a land without a people for a people without a land” supposed to mean to people who had never been there? I am not familiar with Masalha’s work, but Shlaim writes that Masalha’s studies were “based on extensive research in Israeli state, party and private archives, supplemented byaterial from British and Arab sources. He makes full use of the diaries and memoirs of prominent as well as obscure Zionist leaders.” He continues, “The notion of transfer, says Masalha, was born almost at the same time as political Zionism itself, with Herzel’s hope to ‘spirit the penniless population across the border.'”
    Shlaim continues, “In their public utterances the Zionist leaders avoided as far as possible any mention of transfer, but in private discussions they could be brutally frank. So it is from the private rather than public sources that Masalha draws a bulk of his incriminating evidence.”
    You constantly try to deny a people any validity by making out they aren’t a country. To get around that oft used misconception about a society, the Genva rules were modified to say people rather than country, to make it clear to manipulators like yourself.
    You harp on about Hamas, then why did Israel fund and give Yassin a permit to collect funds to build Mosques and religious schools. Hamas was furthered by Israel to undermine Arafat and Palestinian nationalism. And Hamas has never before led a people and been given the time modify their behaviour to become acceptable to most Palestinians. They won the election because people saw corruption in the old government. Why should anyone have talked to Begin or Sharon, both terrorists or in your case perhaps, freedom fighters.
    Why did Netanyahu go to a Christian Fundamentist meeting in Washington before seeing Clinton. Jerry Falwell had just prior to the meeting released information about Lewinsky, but I’m damn sure that he and his group never had the technology to tap lines and come up with that intelligence. I’d say that Israeli intelligence knew that it was better for the information to be released through American lips. Netanyahu was upset because he knew Clinton was going to ask him to be more forgiving in regards Oslo.
    Israel’s problem is that colonialism is dead today, and the information age has opened up the door so we can all see what is going on. That didn’t exist when Puritans came to America and did their dastardly campaign, and likewise with the Boers, or the British in India. Today it is wholly unacceptable, even in law, in the small world we now live in. And most Palestinians want peace and to live together as equals, not have their crops burnt, cars vandalized, homes demolished on just suspicion or distant associoation to some crime, have their farms spooked by setlers like the KKK, or have their children terrorised on the way to school. The nature of Israel is changing for the worst, the people exploited for political gain, people brought in from non-democratic states to settle the occupied land (at a cost of Western intelligence), and the gentler people are leaving. What a future ! And indebted Americans pay dearly for it through their tax dollars but are too ignorant to see it.

    • flat5
      December 21, 2011 at 21:26

      John, your delusional loosely veiled antisemitism is quite evident. Why don’t you move to one of your beloved medieval states. I never saw a Jewish Homicide Bomber, or the daily venomous antisemitic rants that come daily from Arab media. Like I said before, idiots like yourself deny Jews the right to defend themselves, win wars, and by following your line, I’d be smoke up a chimney long ago..

  6. flat5
    December 20, 2011 at 13:14

    It’s Fayyad Who’s Ignorant, Not Gingrich
    Posted by FresnoZionism.org, December 12, 2011

    Here are a few quotations from a recent interview with presidential candidate Newt Gingrich:

    I believe that if somebody is firing rockets at you, they are probably not engaged in the peace process. I believe if somebody goes around and says you don’t have a right to exist, they’re probably not prepared to negotiate for peace. I think if someone says they wanna wipe you out, you should believe them.


    I think we’re much more likely to see an Arab winter, than we are to see an Arab Spring. The fact is that when people point out that of the 1,200,000 Christians who were in Iraq when we arrived, 700,000 have fled the country. That doesn’t strike me as a success. When you know that Coptic Christians who have been in Egypt for 2,100 years are now being persecuted and having their churches burned, that doesn’t strike me as a success. I think the Israeli Defense Minister said the other day that he’s very concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood’s success in this recent election.

    Remember, I think 15% of the seats went to people who are more extreme than the Muslim Brotherhood…

    So, I think there’s a lot to be concerned about, and whether or not the Arab world is going to evolve now in a very negative, probably very destructive, way.


    …you have Abbas who says in the United Nations, “We do not necessarily concede Israel’s right to exist.” You’ve had four PLA ambassadors around the world say flatly, “Israel does not have a right to exist.” In late November in India, the PLA ambassador said “Anybody who thinks there is a big gap between Hamas and Fatah is kidding themselves.” You know, and so you have to start with this question “Who are you making peace with?”


    I believe that the Jewish people have the right to have a state, and I believe that the commitments that were made at a time…remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940’s, and I think it’s tragic.


    Well, I think it’s delusional to call [the Oslo process] a peace process. I mean, we have an armed truce with a Palestinian Authority that’s relatively weak. And on its flank is a Hamas authority which may become relatively weak, because it can’t deliver anything. But both of which represent an enormous desire to destroy Israel. And I think unless you start with…and frankly, given their school system and the hatred they teach in their schools, often with money that comes from us through the United Nations, I mean I think there’s a lot to think about in terms of how fundamentally you want to change the terms of debate in the region.

    Say what you will about Gingrich as a viable candidate, but you cannot say that he doesn’t understand the Middle East and particularly the Israeli-Arab conflict.

    The quote about the “invented Palestinian people” has stirred up the expected hornet’s nest. For example, Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad called his remark “cheap and disgraceful”:

    Responding to the statements of Gingrich, Dr. Fayyad stated that “the Palestinian people inhabited the land since the dawn of history, and intend to remain in it until the end times”, and added that “people like Gingrich must consult history as it seems that all what he knows about the region is the history of the Ottoman era”.

    Perhaps Gingrich’s tone was insulting, but historically he was not incorrect. Ridiculous Palestinian claims that they are descended from ancient Canaanites notwithstanding, most of the ancestors of the present-day ‘Palestinians’ arrived in the region along with or after the expedition of the Ottoman governor of Egypt Muhammad Ali into Syria in the early 1830′s. Rebellions and famines in Syria brought waves of Arabs into Palestine in the 19th and 20th centuries. And of course British and Zionist development brought even more Arab immigrants.

    While Palestinian Arabs were mostly united in their opposition to Jewish immigration (although there were exceptions), specifically Palestinian nationalism probably did not exist before the first decades of the 20th century; interestingly, at first most nationalists were Christians rather than Muslims. Arab inhabitants of Palestine often insisted that the area was actually ‘southern Syria’, and identified as ‘Arabs’ and not Palestinians.

    This changed with the founding of the PLO in 1964. Arab residents of the former Palestine Mandate became the ‘Palestinian people’. And in truth, the regional wars and terrorism, their indoctrination by every means possible into a culture based on one main principle, hatred of Jews and Israel, their incarceration by the Arab nations and the UN in ‘refugee camps’ where they are bred like farm animals in order to incarnate a weapon of mass destruction for use against the Jewish people — all this has finally made them a people. What kind of people is another question.

    Nevertheless, it is Fayyad who is ignorant of history, not Gingrich.

  7. flat5
    December 19, 2011 at 23:42

    Click on this link to see the antisemitic propaganda that is spewn from arab media. I doubt that most of you who post would stop kissing the medievalists ass, but you can’t fault a Liberal Jew who loves Israel.


  8. December 18, 2011 at 12:24

    Israel was built of false premises, which I believed growing up. Jewish liberalism in the US was built from a combination of false history, real history and genuine courage. I admired that courage which extended itself to others, blacks in this country and anyone wishing to believe the promised words of our constitution which themselves were not true for everyone as equally as they sounded.

    False narratives about who we are mixed all too seamlessly with real history and it can be hard to tell the difference. But, the Zionists who constructed Israel attacked an enemy who did not yet exist without their own actions, an enemy they greatly underestimated in much the same way over-confident despots start wars they cannot win, such as Hitler and Japan, wars which lead to their own ruin. To a large extent their thuggish tactics can win a great deal of territory for them but they always overextend themselves. And to a large extent the non-zealots in their societies go along and allow this to happen. It seems the Zionists are just one more such group.

    Their history has been wrong for many centuries
    1) about God picking them out as “chosen” above and beyond all other people on the planet (really?),
    2) about God telling them they should take over other people’s territory as a sort of divine eminent domain procedure slaughtering the people there in the process
    3) that they were driven out en masse 2000 years ago from that little spit of land and spread to the ends of the earth 3) must return there because it is still their
    4) that they and their religion need a country to call theirs (unlike all other religions) and so forth
    5) that military might is the way to create and hold a nation because their God will make up the difference between their numbers and those they displace and anger
    6) that Palestinians are not to be given full respect as humans, that Palestinians left their homes of centuries, millenia actually, of there own accord to let Israelis have their fields, houses, orchards, factories (really?)
    7) that Palestinians are such an implacable enemy that they must be totally cleansed from the land which “was” theirs
    8) that Palestinians must leave as payment for the Holocaust, none of which was from the people forced to leave their land
    n) and on.

    But until recently these stories have been far enough away that they have not harmed others or Jews in general. They were just stories people bathed themselves in without actually living them. Putting in action their own superiority-over-others belief has led down this road.

    Like most people, Palestinians and the surrounding peoples just want to live their lives, their every day daily lives, without conflict. That is why the bomb-throwing thugs are able to get away with so much (such as Israeli terrorists (starting with Irgun Zevai Leumi), Israelis who chose to be blind as eager supporters and believers in the false narratives).

    Like any situation where reckless and dishonest people make inroads on responsible and honest people. To the settlers of the old US the only good Injun was a dead Injun as our own false narrative of the west would have it. Just replace the disparaging “Injun” with Palestinian and call these religious thugs settlers, not criminals.

    In the end they damage Jews everywhere. Now that I realize how enormously false was the original narrative I learned growing up and held for so many adult years I cannot look at everyday Jews the same without seeing the bigotry I once thought Jews were the natural foes of. I agree that there is a new category of “Self Hating Jews.” If only their twisted viciousness affected only themselves.

    • December 18, 2011 at 12:29

      In both FireFox and IE I am seeing a happy face displayed where I had typed the numeral 8 followed by a closing parenthesis. Like this 8) (just a test to see whether I get another happy face). Because I saved the text in Notepad I was able to check and sure enough I did not type anything else, no odd characters or special characters. Looks like a formatting mystery.

      • December 18, 2011 at 12:30

        I did get another happy face. As a programmer I have to wonder who stuck that in the code. Clearly intended. Funny but not really appropriate.

        • December 18, 2011 at 12:33

          In that location in what I wrote it is liable to further inflame – though it probably doesn’t take much anyway.

    • John
      December 18, 2011 at 20:32

      I admire your courage Mike and your outlook on all humanity. Best wishes.

  9. December 18, 2011 at 11:59

    Great article. Thanks. Have yet to read a Zionist able to manage criticism of any sort.

  10. flat5
    December 17, 2011 at 18:15

    such bullshit

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