What is Zionism? This is the question that millions of people across the United Kingdom will undoubtedly have been asking themselves over recent days in light of the political crisis and media firestorm that’s been whipped up over allegations that the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party has a problem with antisemitism. It is a crisis that has seen Labour MP Naz Shah suspended by the party, along with former mayor of London and Labour Party veteran Ken Livingstone – the former over Facebook comments that came to light, the latter over comments made in an interview he gave defending Shah during which he brought up the existence of the Haavara Agreement between the Nazis and Zionists in Germany to arrange the transfer of Jews from Germany to Palestine. It was a collaboration that was fiercely opposed within the wider Zionist movement and unanimously so within the wider Jewish Disapora at the time. In fact this opposition led to the assassination of leading Zionist Chaim Arlosoroff in Tel Aviv in1933 by, it is thought, Zionists belonging to Vladimir Jabotinsky’s Revisionist faction, over Arlosoroff’s support for and role in the Haavara Agreement.
This is a complex and, for obvious reasons, delicate history, which Livingstone was ill advised to attempt to unpack in the course of a short interview. If anything he was guilty of being crude in attempting to over simplify it, but no serious person could accuse him of antisemitism for having done so.
Regardless, such has been the intensity of this media firestorm, Labour has decided to establish an independent inquiry into antisemitism within its ranks. This development constitutes a clear gift to Corbyn’s opponents – both those within and without the Labour Party – for in establishing such an inquiry the leadership has effectively surrendered to the allegations, thus tainting the party’s 400,000 members with the inference that Labour is a party dripping with antisemitism.
In taking things this far, however, in subjecting Ken Livingstone to trial-by-media over his comments on Zionism, his detractors have also unwittingly placed Zionism itself on trial, with the question of Zionism, as mentioned, undoubtedly now being pondered by millions of people who previously would have had zero interest in the subject. And what most of those people will inarguably find if they delve deep enough into that question, despite the determined efforts of Israel’s supporters to conflate Zionism with Judaism, is that this is a political doctrine and ideology responsible for crimes against humanity on a grand scale.
Parenthetically, into this mix must be mentioned the book that Ken Livingstone revealed was the main source of his information on the history of the aforementioned Haavara Agreement – Lenni Brenner’s Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (Lawrence Hill, 1983).
Brenner’s book will now be enjoying the kind of upsurge in sales the author and his publisher could only ever have dreamed of prior to this row breaking out. Of course, and predictably, Brenner – who also happens to be Jewish – is now being roundly traduced and dismissed as a conspiracy theorist, ultra left loon, his credentials as a historian ripped to shreds. Anyone who’s read the book, however, including yours truly, can testify that it is impeccably and exhaustively referenced, and also extremely well written. You don’t have to take my word for it either. A review of the book appeared in the London Times newspaper, the UK’s newspaper of record no less, in 1984, written by Edward Mortimer, who went on to be appointed Director of Communications, Executive Office of the Secretary General, United Nations. Of Brenner’s book, Mortimer writes, “It is short (250 pages), crisp and carefully documented.”
But the purpose of this article is not to dissect the Haavara Agreement, as this has already been done in numerous articles over the course of this crisis, but to look at the activities of the Zionist movement in Palestine and how it underpinned the mass programme of ethnic cleansing and the atrocities that were committed in its name.
The definitive work in this regard is Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oneworld, 2006). In the preface of his forensic exploration of what is known today throughout the Arab world as al-Nakba (the Catastrophe), Pappe writes: “…it took six months to complete the operation [ethnic cleansing of Palestine]. When it was over, more than half of Palestine’s native population, close to 800,000 people, had been uprooted, 531 villages had been destroyed, and eleven urban neighbourhoods emptied of their inhabitants. The plan decided upon on 10 March 1948, and above all its systematic implementation in the following months, was a clear-cut case of an ethnic cleansing operation, regarded under international law today as a crime against humanity.”
The truth of Zionism is revealed in this passage. It is a racist, supremacist ideology responsible for some of the most heinous crimes against humanity the world has seen in recent history.
The most notorious of those crimes during the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was the mass murder of men, women, and children in the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin. Many of the women were also raped before being murdered by Zionist terrorists belonging to the Irgun and the Stern Gang. The head of Irgun at the time was one Menachim Begin, who went on to found Israel’s Likud Party and was prime minister of the country between 1977-1983.
Among the victims of the terrorist campaign waged by Zionist militia groups in Palestine between 1946-48 were British soldiers deployed to Palestine during the Mandatory period. This point is important to bear in mind when we consider the staunch defense of Zionism that we have seen being mounted by various high profile voices within the British establishment over the course of this media firestorm and crisis within the Labour Party.
That’s the thing about history. Sooner or later it catches up even with the most determined efforts to suppress the truth.
In other words, it’s an equal opportunities bullshit detector.
John’s work appears regularly at RT, Counterpunch, the Morning Star, and he is a regular commentator on BBC Radio Scotland.