"The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do." ~ Eric Hoffer
Zionism, Collectivism, and the State
Column by new Root Striker Scott Lazarowitz.
Exclusive to STR
In their political movement to establish a Jewish national homeland, Zionists asserted a collective claim on the land of Palestine, now called Israel, based on the Biblical scriptures and symbolism of those specific lands. Sadly, collectivist political movements have been a force against individual freedom, and the State has too often been empowered to enforce collectives’ desires at the expense of the individual. While it is not politically correct to criticize Zionism –and many who do are often mislabeled “anti-Semitic” – I believe the truth is important, and will proceed forthwith.
In the current attempts at peace negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinians, there may be an agreement reached and there may be peace, but it won’t last very long, because the Arabs are angry at how their ancestors have been treated over the last century, mostly by those with the power or influence of State apparatus. And Arabs are angry at how fellow Arabs and other non-Jews are currently treated in Israel. It is not good.
History and Migration
Here is a brief history. Following the French Revolution, 19th Century Western European Jews assimilated from the ghettos into the enlightened West, but many Eastern European Jews seemed to remain in ghettos. The persecutions of Jews during the Russian and Polish pogroms led many Jews to leave those areas. Theodor Herzl’s activism was motivated by mass anti-Semitism in France and he believed that Europe was such that Jews needed a State of their own outside of Europe. There were also several movements in Eastern Europe whose priority was the preservation of Jewish identity, but the European Zionist movement had become fixated on Palestine, which, according to economist and historian Murray Rothbard, made no sense:
“Zionism (was) a movement which began blended with Jewish Territorialism. But while the Territorialists simply wanted to preserve Jewish-Yiddish identity in a newly developed land of their own, Zionism began to insist on a Jewish land in Palestine alone. The fact that Palestine was not a virgin land, but already occupied by an Arab peasantry, meant nothing….Furthermore, the Zionists, far from hoping to preserve ghetto Yiddish culture, wished to bury it and to substitute a new culture and a new language based on an artificial secular expansion of ancient religious Hebrew….
“Because of the Arabs resident in Palestine, Zionism had to become in practice an ideology of conquest.”
Previously, during the mid-19th Century Ottoman Empire, land in Palestine was inhabited and cultivated by mainly Palestinian peasants, who until this time were considered to be the rightful owners of the land, but did not have actual formal titles to their land. New Ottoman laws were made that required registration of land ownership, and the territory’s elites took advantage of the new laws and registered land titles in their names, which essentially removed the Palestinian peasants’ rights to their lands. These elites were then known as “absentee landlords,” who sold lands to Jewish settlers.
From the turn of the 20th Century through World War I and the British Mandate’s questionable acquisitions of lands in Palestine, and following continuous Arab and Jewish rioting especially during the 1920s and ‘30s, further conflicts continued through the 1940s and led to the United Nations’ formal establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Besides European Jews, the new Israel had also become home to hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab nations, a result of Muslim persecution of those Arab nations’ Jews, which was mainly associated with the 1948 political events.
Instead of peaceful migration of Jews to Palestine that would have occurred based on freedom of association, exchange and property transfer, the compulsory apparatus of States were used, which amounted to takings, a form of “eminent domain.”
In the years previous to the formal establishment of the State of Israel, Jews (and others) were being persecuted and murdered, particularly in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. However, because of U.S. government immigration quotas, many Jews were prevented from entering what could have been for them a much more practical and safer place, the United States. This problem was an example of the socialistic central planning nature of State-imposed immigration controls, all a part of State-usurpation of property and freedom of association rights. On immigration controls, the Future of Freedom Foundation’s Jacob Hornberger noted,
“As Mises, Hayek, and the (Austrian economists) showed long ago, central planning can never succeed because the planner can never possess the requisite knowledge to centrally plan a complex market, especially one as complex as an international labor market. All the planner inevitably does is produce chaos, distortions, and perversions into the market process….
“In fact, as any citizen in the former Soviet Union will attest, it is socialist central planning that produces chaos. It is what Mises termed ‘planned chaos.’…”
Had there not been the “planned chaos” of U.S. government immigration quotas, Jews could have left the various tyrannies of Europe and come freely to the U.S. to live and work. Private individuals and groups in the U.S. who wanted to save Jews from being persecuted in Europe could have exercised their inherent right of association and voluntary exchange to accept the prospective immigrating Jewish people onto these Americans’ own private property and into their homes and businesses. However, the State-imposed socialism of forced immigration controls prevented them from doing that.
A Jewish State in Palestine was established, with a compulsory government, an example of State intervention and central planning.
The founding of Israel and the years leading up to that included what was essentially the displacement of indigenous Palestinian inhabitants, and had culminated in what was an Arab majority at the turn of the 20th Century having turned into a Jewish majority within that territory. Turning the population form Arab to Jewish majority was not through natural occurrences but through the artificial means of State coercion and manipulation.
As Murray Rothbard noted, the current State of Israel is for all intents and purposes a European nation that was placed in the Middle East, in a location that was chosen based not on practicality, but on Biblical symbolism. Israel’s culture is affected by 19th and 20th Century Western expansionism that grew as the various Western governments grew, particularly the American and British empires.
Israel’s Treatment of Palestinians
Many among the Arab population have been treated inhumanely since Israel’s 1948 founding. Anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian discrimination is institutionalized in laws and government policies. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own nephew, Jonathan Ben-Artzi, who has served an 18-month prison sentence as a military conscription conscientious objector, noted,
“Some of the acts of segregation that I saw while growing up in Israel include towns for Jews only, immigration laws that allow Jews from around the world to immigrate but deny displaced indigenous Palestinians that same right, and national healthcare and school systems that receive significantly more funding in Jewish towns than in Arab towns…
“Civil freedom is no better: In an effort to break the spirit of Palestinians, Israel conducts sporadic arrests and detentions with no judicial supervision…
“…perhaps one of the greatest injustices takes place in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is collectively punishing more than 1.5 million Palestinians by sealing them off in the largest open-air prison on earth.”
And as Palestinian journalist Laila El-Haddad has written recently, “Calling Gaza a prison camp is an understatement.” El-Haddad continues:
“…the siege is not a siege on foods; it is a siege on freedoms – freedom to move in and out of Gaza, freedom to fish more than three miles out at to sea, freedom to learn, to work, to farm, to build, to live, to prosper.
“Gaza was never a place with a quantitative food shortage; it is a place where many people lack the means to buy food and other goods because of a closure policy…
“Prices are on par with those of a developed country, except we are not in a developed country. We are a de-developed occupied territory.”
Because of the Israeli State-imposed restrictions on freedom of movement, Palestinians are prevented from leaving Gaza to receive medical treatment or to buy cheaper necessities including food, and are prevented from visiting relatives in the West Bank or Turkey, and students are prevented from traveling between Gaza and the West Bank to study.
Palestinian inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are prevented by force from leaving the area. It is no different from former East Berliners’ inability to get past the Berlin Wall or Russians attempting to escape from the Soviet Union. How would the world react to news that a Jewish population were forcibly locked inside their territory?
And because the 2008-09 war between the Israeli government and Gaza’s governing Hamas severely damaged water and sewage treatment facilities, Palestinians within the Gaza blockade are forced to use untreated water. That the Israeli government had given the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip some kind of “independence” in having their own government and elected governing agents means nothing when the Israelis continue to block the means of repairing damaged water facilities, and forbid the Gazans to dig their own wells.
It seems to me that Western nation collectivists treating the inhabitants of less advanced societies as less than human has been a recurring aspect of the past century, particularly exemplified by the U.S. government’s intrusions into the Middle East since World War II.
During and after World War I, the British Empire made deals with both Middle Eastern nations and Zionists, which were mostly to the disadvantage of the Middle Eastern inhabitants. The British lived and prospered with Iranian oil to the huge disadvantage of Iranians. The U.S. government supported a dictatorship in Iran for 25 years. And we have seen the U.S. government’s senseless and counter-productive aggressions into Iraq and Afghanistan for many years.
In 1979, when asked about Israel, philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand remarked that she would side with Israel over the Arabs because Israel is “the advanced, technological, civilized country amidst a group of almost totally primitive savages, who have not changed for years, and who are racist, and who resent Israel because it’s bringing industry, intelligence, modern technology into their stagnation.”
One might respond by pointing out that the many intrusions, transgressions and exploitations by the already more developed nations against the Arabs (and Persians and others) of these less advanced societies had in fact been hindrances against their own modern development. In Israel specifically, the Palestinians’ natural process of modernization and prosperity had been severely disrupted by invasive forces since the turn of the 20th Century.
In my own attempts to analyze this past century of State dominance and aggression, I have concluded that, as Western democracies had become more advanced and their governments more powerful, there seemed to coincide a collective attitude of dehumanizing the inhabitants of the less advanced societies. The U.S. government has for many years subordinated the inhabitants of especially Iraq and Afghanistan, to rationalize the deaths of their innocent civilians and destruction of their territories, or to prevent those societies from further advancement. An objective look at the last century of how Western governments destroyed or took over the territories of these less advanced societies, including Palestine, with a coinciding abandonment of basic Western principles of private property, freedom of association and individual human rights, exposes the more “primitive” nature of our supposedly more advanced and “civilized” societies.
But there is a difference between being an advanced society economically and technologically, such as America and other Western nations including Israel, and being a civilized society.
From the Enlightenment and the American Revolution and Founding came the recognition of the inherent rights to life and Liberty of the individual and the sanctity of private property and voluntary exchange. But the American Founders unwittingly began the downward trend of civilization by creating a democratic “public government,” mirrored by other Western governments, with territorial monopoly and the power to expropriate private wealth and property, and with whose monopolies restricted commerce and productivity. Thus, it is actually the apparatus of democratic compulsory government itself that has enabled the aggressive and uncivilized actions of Western governments toward the Middle East and Asia.
By giving some people the power of compulsion over others, such a compulsory government negated those inherent individual rights to life and Liberty recognized during the Enlightenment. This has been referred to by economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe, particularly in his book Democracy: The God That Failed, as a main part of the “decivilization” process. And now, Americans have given their government powers the Founders never intended it to have, and we are now seeing how the U.S. government is behaving most uncivilly toward its own citizens as well as toward the people of foreign territories. But unlike America, which was founded on the principles of individualism, private property and voluntary exchange, Israel was founded through collectivism, internationalism and statism.
The world Zionist movement insisted on the territory of Palestine and only Palestine as the homeland for Jews, and would not consider any other territory in the world, based more on a collective sense of cultural and ethnic belonging tied to the Biblical scriptures than on any actual “belonging” tied to individual family ancestry, or based on providing Jews a “safe haven” to protect them from persecution. Such an identity to a specific territory, while based on Biblical scriptures, had become a political ideology, and throughout the history of modern democracies since the American Revolution, political ideologies have been a powerful motivation for State-imposed aggression and military violence.
It is necessary to forthrightly acknowledge that stubborn insistence on Palestine and only Palestine to be the “safe haven” for Jews worldwide, and the means of aggression and exploitation used to carry that out. It should not be difficult for those who believe it is important to tell the truth of history to see why for a century Palestine’s indigenous Arab population and their Arab and Islamic neighbors in the Middle East have reacted negatively, and that such negative consequences have given Jews an unsafe haven.
There needs to be a realization in today’s real world that Israel will always be threatened as long as territories were acquired by means of aggression, coercion, and deceit. Similarly, the U.S. will never get rid of terrorist threats originating from Middle-Eastern inhabitants as long as the U.S. government keeps its governmental and military apparatus occupying those foreign lands, which for decades is what has provoked those territories’ inhabitants in the first place.
And it seems that a pervasive negative attitude toward Palestinians in Israel now includes the insistence by the government that Arabs must swear to an oath of loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish State.” Regardless of what one wants to believe as to the origins of the current state of Israel, such a loyalty oath could actually be considered an effrontery to Palestinians.
But what seems to be offensive to some Israel loyalists in recent years, and can’t be tolerated, is one’s merely pointing out the injustices and violations of basic human rights in Israel. Even passive, non-violent supporters of Palestinians’ human rights are treated as criminals, as Jewish Boat to Gaza passenger Lillian Rosengarten, 75, had recounted when her boat was seized by Israeli authorities in September,
“For me the deportation process was humiliating. Jew against Jew is totally against the dreams of so long ago, what we imagined how our beloved Israel would evolve. That dream was for me a safe haven, a country of compassion. Tolerance for all, and a completely open society. I can imagine that Israel would have become a beacon of light for the world to follow. In this dream there would be tolerance for political difference. Now sadly, Jews have become divided against one another and it is no longer a safe haven. We from the Jewish boat were treated as traitors and people to get rid of. We were not "good Jews," but "bad Jews to deport without being allowed to enter Israel again." Only in Fascist regimes are people forced to think the same. I experienced humiliation when arrested. I was not physically mistreated but suffered emotionally. I suffered when the immigration person asked me if I was Jewish after I told him I was a refugee from the Nazis, the last generation to be able to tell the heinous story. He wanted me to prove that I was Jewish. How was I to do that and yes, how deeply humiliating. When I witness the Israel of today, I feel enormous pain. I was deported because of my human rights beliefs and nonviolent actions. In detention I no longer felt safe or cared about. I don't even think it mattered that I am Jewish. Now I will not be allowed to return to Israel as the cycle of hate and fear goes on and on. Those of us who dreamed of a different kind of Israel can only weep.”
Now, the divine mysticism of Zionism and statism has grown to such an extent that the Israeli government’s aggressions have been increasingly brazen, as well as its psychology increasingly insecure to the point of irrationality. Israel won’t admit to having nuclear weapons, yet insists that Iran disclose its nuclear program, and with Israel’s fear of Iran and Iran’s fear of Israel, despite Israel’s aggressions and ill treatment of Palestinians, Israel appears to want to avoid responsibility for its actions.
Meanwhile, for many decades now, some of the more frenzied Israel supporters in America have been using Israel as a center for geopolitical strategy for U.S. government hegemony in the oil-abundant Middle East at the expense of Middle-eastern security, American security, Jews’ security, American sovereignty, and, most of all, freedom and prosperity. Many of America’s staunch supporters of Israel are mystical, despite Israel’s past and current transgressions against the U.S., and continue to push for war on Iran, which can only backfire on both Israel and the U.S.
These 21st Century circumstances are tragedies wrought by collectivist ideologies.