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Book Review: Israeli Rejectionism - A Hidden Agenda in the Middle East Peace Process

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Book Review: Israeli Rejectionism - A Hidden Agenda in the Middle East Peace Process

Israeli Rejectionism - A Hidden Agenda in the Middle East Peace Process

By Zalman Amit and Daphna Levit

Pluto Press

Review by Herb Gamberg

ISRAELI REJECTIONISM, by authors Zalman Amit and Daphna Levit, is a courageous book because it dares to articulate truths that are put into silent limbo by almost all of mainstream reputable and even disreputable opinion. The proof of this is the fact that there are few reviews of the book, which was published more than two years ago.

Media Coop is one of the few journals to deal with it.

The book is insightful in that it provides a novel look at a central issue of our time. One major argument wends its way through the whole work, an argument so fundamentally true that it stuns the reader to ask: “Why didn’t I realize this a long time ago?”

It simply states that Zionism, from its very beginnings in the 19th century and right through to today, has had one goal, and that is the complete domination of Palestinian territories from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, territories still referred to by Israel as Judea and Samaria.

As evidence for the proof of this position, the authors depend not on secondary interpretations, but on the words of major Zionist initiators and leaders, and acknowledged heroes of the Israeli state, all of them, without exception and with great pride, assuming the Jewish right to the entire “biblical homeland.”

Because Zionism has at times been without a state, and in recent years its state has been weak or perceived to be weak, it has followed the precept of Ben-Gurion, the founder and first Prime Minister of Israel, who asserted the overriding policy of the Jewish state: “talk peace and to take land.”

As the book demonstrates with overwhelming evidence, the allegedly peaceful, democratic Zionist nation (now possessing the only nuclear arsenal in the region), has with conscious and deliberate intention been warlike and expansionary throughout Zionist history. As for its vaunted democracy, the Israeli treatment of its Palestinian citizens and residents is more akin to the American slavocracy of 1840 than to anything resembling a democracy.

The book hardly has to mention the myriad of injustices perpetrated by the Israeli state—oppression of the Palestinian people, racism, imperial expansionism, chauvinist militarism, and an apartheid creation of the West Bank and Gaza bantustans. These are taken for granted in Israeli Rejectionism, whose task it is to get to the root of these injustices.

What the book does not ask is what is unique to Jewish nationalism that has created a state with some characteristics similar to the state that in an earlier period had, as a major goal, the very extermination of Jews.

How can one explain how a people with a history of courageous struggle against injustice, a people who were handed a state by much of humanity because humanity was sympathetic to their historic plight, could make its state, a small one at that, into one of the scourges of the modern world?

One possible partial explanation can be found in a little mentioned essay by Karl Marx called “On the Jewish Question.” In this essay, Marx says that the Jews as an oppressed people have been oppressed in a way different from other oppressed people. Because they were not permitted to own land during the feudal period in Europe, they were allowed to become the agents of money lending and commerce at a time when land-owning Catholicism considered all such activities as sinful and criminal. The anti-semitic image of “Jewish money” as dirty money derives from this particular history.

Thus, says Marx, the Jews as an urban, literate, commercial people were initiators of capitalism before the world domination of capital by a mainly Christian elite, and they have always played a role in capitalist development, albeit secondary and despised. The position of Jews as a group often deprived of rights while still being privileged has given a unique cast to Jewish ideology and Jewish nationalism.

When Thorstein Veblen in the early twentieth century wrote his seminal article on the intellectual pre-eminence of the Jews, he explained this phenomenon to be the result of the marginal, outside status of Jews in Western history. He concluded his article with the ironical suggestion that Jews, if they were ever to become a nation, would be like all other capitalist nations. What Veblen did not recognize is that the unique combination of Jews as oppressed outsiders along with their material privilege could result in Zionism’s specifically rabid form of nationalism. Buttressed by the money, advanced technology, and military hardware of the richest imperial nation on earth, this little Jewish outpost in a region awash in black gold has become a veritable juggernaut.

The ideology of “chosen people” Zionism is the deeply ensconsed ideology of the nation of Israel. Amit and Levit have brilliantly exposed, out of the mouths of Israel’s most honoured spokespersons, this most fundamental ideology.

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