Again, thank you for allowing my post to stand! I do so because you make important, but, to my mind, inadequate points. You seem only to be able to see things from the perspective of Zionist propaganda, and I suggest your responses betray a strange lack of knowledge for someone who is clearly intelligent and has done much research.
You ask the important question; “is it seriously your position that the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is justified by European anti-Semitism?”
To this I would answer that it was never the intention of early Zionism to ethnically cleans anyone. Arguably it not only was, it was regarded as inevitable.The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is regarded my most Israelis as the greatest failure of Zionism. In 1907, Yitzhak Epstein wrote; “Among the grave questions raised by the concept of our people’s renaissance on its own soil, there is one which is more weighty that all the others put together. This is the question of our relations with the Arabs.”
In 1926, Ben Gurion wrote that; “the Arab community is an organic, inextricable part of Palestine.; it is embedded in the country where it toils and where it will stay. It is not to disinherit this community nor to thrive on its destruction that Zionism came into being … Only a madman can attribute such a desire to the Jewish people in Palestine. Palestine will belong to the Jewish people and its Arab inhabitants.” In 1937, he wrote; We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their place. All our aspiration is built on the assumption – proven throughout all our activity in the Land – that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs.” This seems to be quoted from Ben Gurion’s letter to his son (5th Oct 1937), where he also writes, ‘What we really want is not that the land remain whole and unified. What we want is that the whole and unified land be Jewish [emphasis original]. A unified Eretz Israeli would be no source of satisfaction for me– if it were Arab’. He, along with Weizmann earlier, believed that it would take time for Palestine to absorb the ‘2 million’ he anticipated. And, again with Weizmann, he demonstrates European racism in his unwarranted sense of superiority over the Arabs.
Again in 1937, at the Twentieth Zionist Congress, he declared; “No Jewish State, big or small, in part of the country or in its entirety will be [truly] established so long as the land of the prophets does not witness the realize of the great and moral ideals nourished in our hearts for generations; one law for all residents, just rule, love for ones neighbour, true equality.” In 1938, in its submission to the Peel commission, the Zionist movement undertook “not only to respect the civil and religious rights of its non-Jewish citizens, but also to safeguard and, to the best of its ability, to improve their positions.” But, as with Balfour, not their political rights, as to which, they were to be 2nd class citizens, and this despite the League of Nations classifying Palestine as Category 1, ready for independence.
Now, clearly they were unrealistic/naïve in this, and most certainly, they were neither perfect, nor all wise, nor living in an ideal world. Early Zionism is suffused with an apocalyptic vision of the destruction of European Jewry. They were desperate and decent men trying with few resources to rescue their people. It didn’t work out as they had hoped. They thought their return to the land of Palestine would benefit the local inhabitants, and they believed they could deal fairly with other peoples in the land. That was the essence of Jabotinsky’s “Iron Wall” concept. He believed that a weak Jewish community would always be rejected by the Arab community, and that only a strong Jewish community would be able to live in peace with its Arab neighbours. In that famous article; “The Iron Wall” he argued that the Jewish community needed to be as strong as an iron wall. “not till then will they [the local Arab leaders] drop their extremist leaders, whose watchword is ‘never!’ We should recognise that Arab nationalists had every right to oppose the large scale immigration that would lead to a Jewish state; noting that Balfour only spoke of a ‘homeland. Would Australia be happy to allow the immigration of, say, 60 million Chinese? It has plenty of space. The argument of a ‘right of return’ is not rational and cannot be justified biblically (we have disagreed on that in the past). And the leadership will pass to the moderate groups who will approach us with a proposal that we should both agree to mutual concessions. Then we may expect them to discuss honestly practical questions, such as a guarantee against Arab displacement, or equal rights for Arab citizens, or Arab national integrity. And when this happens, I am convinced that we Jews will be found ready to give them satisfactory guarantees, so that both peoples can live together in peace, like good neighbours. … I consider it absolutely impossible to eject the Arabs from Palestine. There will always be two nations in Palestine – which is good enough for me, provided the Jews become the majority. … I am prepared to take an oath binding ourselves and our descendants that we shall never do anything contrary to the principle of equal rights, that we shall never try to eject anyone. This seems to me a fairly peaceful credo.” ‘provided the Jews become the majority.’ Quite so. Weizmann refused even to consider the ‘principle of equal rights’ until Jews were in a substabtial majority (Trial and Error).
The Second Aliyah, immigratioan from Eastern Europe and Russia, were mainly socialist/communist Jews. Colonialism was repugnant to them, as was the use of Arab labour. “Jewish labour” was seen as both the correct ideological response to this threat – if we don’t employ any one, we cannot be exploiting them, and also as a spiritual concept, as in the beliefs of A. D. Gordon, the Jewish people being remade as they work their land. They felt that, as socialists, they would be the natural allies of the Arab workers, against the feudal rulers who lorded it over them. A remnant of this thinking was seen when Ben Gurion cabled Nassar after he took over Egypt, hopeful that now, as fellow socialists, they could make peace. The early (pre- 1914) settlers were self-consciously colonialist, as Weizmann reports. And, as a Jewish socialist recently remarked to me, ‘Jewish Labor was more right wing than our present Tory party’!
Many scholars have speculated about whether peaceful relations might have been possible between the early Jewish community and the Palestinian Arab population. These thoughts remain speculative because the pressure of external events overwhelmed them. In 1936, the Jewish community submitted a memorandum to the Peel Commission. The memorandum emphasized the urgency of the hour—the Nazis had been in power for three years and had stripped German Jews of their civil rights. The memorandum stressed that Jews were “not concerned merely with the assertion of abstract rights” but also with “the pressure of dire practical necessity”:
“The conditions now prevailing in Germany are too well known to require lengthy description. … But it is not only in Germany that the Jews are living under [such] conditions. … About five million Jews . . . are concentrated in certain parts of eastern and southeastern Europe . . . for whom the visible future holds no hope. The avenues of escape are closing. … What saves them from despair is the thought [of the Jewish national home].” Simply untrue. The majority of Jews in Eastern Europe wanted to go to America, failing that, to Britain. Immigration to those places had been closed because their governments believed that the economy (and the people) could not accommodate more refugees. The Jewish National Fund, which could have helped, would consider no-one unless they were willing to go to Palestine. And only those who were fit, young and/or wealthy.
Weizmann’s presentation stressed the “six million people . . . pent up in places where they are not wanted,” he said, faced a world “divided into places where they cannot live and places into which they cannot enter.” The Jews sought but “one place in the world . . . where we could live and express ourselves in accordance with our character, and make our contribution to civilization in our own way.”The propaganda that may have been self-fulfilling, who can say? The majority of Jews were not in Germany and even in 1938 there was no sense that they were particularly threatened by Germany. As late as 1941 many German Jews refused to believe the rumours, the Nazis attempting to keep secret their intentions. Reports to Jewish Agencies by escapees from a Polish concentration camp in 1942 were not at first believed. Hindsight must be used carefully!
Jabotinsky spoke of the urgent imperative of rescue:
“We have got to save millions, many millions. I do not know whether it is a question of re-housing one-third of the Jewish race, half of the Jewish race, or a quarter of the Jewish race . . . but it is a question of millions. . . . It is quite understandable that the Arabs of Palestine would prefer Palestine to be the Arab State No. 4, No. 5, or No. 6—that I quite understand—but when the Arab claim is confronted with our Jewish demand to be saved, it is like the claims of appetite versus the claims of starvation.”
Now, you may say, with some justification, that it was not fair that the Palestinians should pay the price of European sins, (ignoring the Mufti’s close alliance with Hitler), Let’s not! Let’s ask, when, whether and why? There is in fact no evidence of a ‘close alliance’. The Nazis regarded Hussayni, with justification, as of dubious use. More Arabs, including Palestinian, joined up and fought for the Allies than for the Axis. But had the reverse been the case, and Hussayni shows it, they might be forgiven. Nothing to do with Jew-hatred, everything to do with Britains broken promises. but frankly, the times were not fair on the Jews either. Weizmann was correct. Six million Jews were in places where they were not wanted, and as Jabotinsky said, their task at this point was to rescue as many as possible. If that quashed any hopes for peace with the Palestinians, then that was a tragedy, but a tragedy far greater was the mass murder of six million Jews.
Dave, you need to admit that every Jew whom the Balfour Declaration enabled to go to Palestine was a life saved from genocide. That in itself is reason enough to celebrate it! The Jewish community, aware that immigration was the saving of lives, accepted every peace plan, every compromise offered, but would not negotiate on immigration. Sorry, Colin, this simply is not true. You cannot logically justify those statements. Immigration was the key issue, there could never be true equality in a ‘Jewish State’ the concept is nonsense.
Ethnic cleansing was never their policy, it was a war forced upon them which finally resulted in this, often against their wishes even then – see the Arab exodus from Haifa for example. This is utter nonsense, Haganah units were in action long before 15th May 1948. In 1940 Jabotinsky wrote; “The transformation of Palestine can be effected to the full without dislodging the Palestinian Arabs.” He foresaw the Arab minority as full citizens, participating on an equal footing “throughout all sectors of the country’s public life.” As early as 1905 he stated that “we must treat the Arabs correctly and affably, without any violence or injustice.”
So, was “the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is justified by European anti-Semitism?” No. It was forced unwillingly upon the Jewish community by violence and wars they strove to avert. It was a tragic, unintended consequence they had tried to avoid.
We have to distinguish between what Zionist leaders said for public consumption and what they recorded in their diaries or private meetings. You quote Jabotinsky and some of what you quote seems to me a little selective. I have the advantage in that I have relatively easy access to the National Archives and British Library. This is Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian quoting Leo Motzkin from 1917, ‘Our thought is that the colonization of Palestine has to go in two directions: Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel and the resettlement of the Arabs of Eretz Israel in areas outside the country. The transfer of so many Arabs may see, at first unacceptable economically, but is nonetheless practical. It does not require too much money to resettle a Palestinian village on another land.’
Zionist leaders were well aware, and planned for as early as the 1920’s that to create a Jewish state in Palestine would necessitate the removal of many if not all the Arabs. How could it not? The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians was not unintended, but an intended and inevitable consequence of Zionism’s aims. If we could have some honesty here from Israel’s supporters it might be possible to move from impasse to a peaceful solution for Palestinians that avoids further injustice, especially for Jews.