Palestinians, seen here being marched out of Ramle in July 1948, are expected to celebrate the oppression inflicted on them by Zionism. (Wikimedia Commons)
In the spirit of Marx’s celebrated Theses on Feuerbach:
European Christians oppress European Jews. They then demand that the Palestinians must allow European Jews to oppress them in turn and that the Palestinians must ignore if not celebrate their own oppression, while condemning European Christian oppression of European Jews.
European Jewish Zionists also demand that Palestinians celebrate the oppression inflicted on them by European Jews (and non-European Jews mobilized by Zionism) and marvel as to why the Palestinians resist the understanding that European Jews have the exceptional right to oppress them because as Jews, they were oppressed by European Christians.
European Jewish Zionists are horrified that anyone would suggest that they should celebrate the oppression inflicted on them by European Christians. They are equally horrified that anyone should suggest that the Palestinians should not celebrate the oppression inflicted on them by European (and non-European) Jews.
European and Euro-American Christian Zionists and European Jewish Zionists insist on the exceptionalism of Europeans. European Jewish Zionists recognize that European and Euro-American Christians should have the right to oppress anyone they choose except for Jews, while European and Euro-American Christian Zionists recognize that European (and other) Jews have the right to oppress only the Palestinians, and a motley array of other Arabs and Muslims.
European and Euro-American Zionists, Christians and Jews alike, do not consider it controversial when modern Egyptians claim descent from the ancient Egyptians and the Pharaohs, nor do they consider it controversial when modern Iraqis claim descent from the Babylonians; or when the Lebanese claim descent from the Phoenicians, or when the Jordanians claim descent from the Nabateans. The only controversy is over the Palestinians’ claim that they are descendants of the ancient Hebrews.
At the same time, it remains utterly uncontroversial that modern European Jews, who are descendants of European converts to Judaism who were and are foreign to Palestine’s geography, claim instead that they, not the native Palestinians, are the real descendants of the ancient Hebrews.
When some Zionists admit their war crimes against the Palestinians, the expulsion, the massacres, the destruction of Palestinian cities and towns, the theft of land and property, they claim that they had little choice, as they were persecuted in Europe and needed a refuge, even if at the expense of the Palestinians. When Palestinians insist on resisting these Zionist crimes and claims, the same Zionists accuse the Palestinians of lack of sympathy with their oppressors and of anti-Semitism.
Zionism bases itself on three claims: (1) that the ancient Hebrews possessed ancient Palestine and nobody else lived there; (2) that modern descendants of European converts to Judaism are the direct descendants of the Hebrews; and (3) that, based on these two claims, modern European Jews have the right to take Palestine from the Palestinians.
While the first two claims lack any historical validity as attested to by mounds of historical evidence, even were we to assume that they were valid, they do not lead to the acceptance of the third proposition. Otherwise all European white Aryans would be claiming northern India as their home (as they claim to have originated there) and would seek to displace all Indians (dark Aryans) living there today and take their land away from them.
Religious and secular Zionists use the Jewish scriptures to assert that God promised the ancient Hebrews the land of Palestine and that the Hebrews went there and killed the native Canaanites and took their country. They add that this gives modern European Jews the right to repeat that very same crime today by killing the native Palestinians and by taking away their country.
Israel claims to be of Asian Hebrew origins, yet it insists that it is part of Europe and the West.
Zionism claims to be an answer to the loss of Jewish cultures (on account of Jewish assimilation in the diaspora) and to the threat of anti-Semitism, which threatens Jewish lives in the diaspora.
Yet it is Israel which has played a major role in destroying all diaspora Jewish languages (including Yiddish, Ladino and Arabic) and cultures and substituted for Jews instead an assimilated European gentile Hebrew-speaking culture. As for safeguarding Jewish lives, today and for the last six and a half decades, Israel, rather than being the safest place for Jews, has been the most dangerous place for them.
Anti-Zionists have interpreted the Zionist project; the point however is to undo it.
Resist Zionism: Boycott — Divestment — Sanctions!
Joseph Massad is Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University.