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Israel, Zionism and the smearing of critics

The archives reveal a troubling story of a colonial settler movement prepared to ally itself with powerful anti-semites in European governments to achieve its goal of creating a Jewish state in Palestine.

State of Terror

by Jonathan Cook

Tom Suarez has written an important history of early Zionism, State of Terror, finding in British archives a wealth of evidence damaging to the Zionist cause. The archives reveal a troubling story of a colonial settler movement prepared to ally itself with powerful anti-semites in European governments to achieve its goal of creating a Jewish state in Palestine. That included at different times dealing with the Nazis and the Italian fascists.

It is also worth remembering that British officials who aided the Zionist movement were far from immune to anti-semitism either. The Balfour Declaration, 100 old years this year, was Britain’s promise to the Zionists to help them create a “national home” at the expense of the Palestinian people. But as Edwin Montagu, the only Jew in the British cabinet at that time, realised, it was also a very good way for Britain’s anti-semitic elites to rid themselves of a domestic Jewish population while also creating a colony-state in the Middle East dependent on Britain.

As Suarez’s books reveals in shocking detail, any means were seen as legitimate by the Zionists, including violence and terrorism against Palestinian civilians, the British, and even fellow Jews, in their efforts to drive out the native population. A lengthy extract from Suarez’s book, published by Mondoweiss, gives a disconcerting taste of what the Zionists were prepared to do to win themselves someone else’s homeland.

The single most deadly terror attack conducted by the Zionists in Palestine was not the blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, as is commonly remembered. It was “the Jewish Agency’s bombing of the immigrant ship Patria in 1940, killing an estimated 267 people, of whom more than 200 were Jews fleeing the Nazis.”

The Jewish Agency, the Zionists’ government-in-waiting in Palestine, wanted to foil British efforts to relocate to Mauritius these Jewish refugees fleeing Europe. For the Zionist leadership, it was worth killing Jews if it aided the cause of creating a Jewish state in Palestine. As Suarez concludes, the terror attack “was no aberration, but the driving principle of the Zionist project: Persecuted Jews served the political project, not the other way around.”

Similar uses of terror continued after Israel’s creation in 1948, part of false-flag operations to drive Jews out of Arab lands as a way to bolster the Jewish majority in the new state of Israel.

Suarez also reminds us that before the rise of Hitler the Zionist movement was far from popular, even among most European Jews:

most Jews and Jewish leaders dismissed Zionism as the latest anti-Semitic cult. They had fought for equality, and resented being told that they should now make a new ghetto – and worse yet, to do so on other people’s land. They resented being cast as a separate race of people, as Zionism demanded.

Even after Hitler launched the Holocaust, most Jews fleeing Europe wanted to head to the new promised land of the United States, not a territory unknown to them in a region, the Middle East, most would have associated with deserts and backwardness. But US Zionists lobbied their own officials ferociously to get the doors closed to most of these Jews, forcing them to become Zionists in Palestine.

In 1944 US Zionist leaders sabotaged President Roosevelt’s provisional success in establishing a half million new homes for European DPs [displaced persons], most of these homes in the United States and Britain. When Roosevelt’s aide Morris Ernst visited the Zionist leaders in an attempt to save the program, he was, in his words, “thrown out of parlours and accused of treason” – “treason”, because he was Jewish, and the Zionists owned Jews.

This is archival history that has been intentionally forced down the memory hole – by Zionist organisations, by Israel and by British officials – for very good reason. It risks reminding us that Israel emerged out of an unholy alliance between, on the one hand, British anti-semites and colonial officials and, on the other, Jewish ethnic supremacists who had adopted for themselves the ugly ideology of Europe’s racial nationalists.

US intelligence officials in the Middle East, points out Suarez, understood the roots of Zionist ideology. In a report in 1943, they concluded that Zionism in Palestine was “a type of nationalism which in any other country would be stigmatised as retrograde Nazism”.

The tactics of the Zionist leadership haven’t much changed even now that their state, Israel, has been achieved. Today, they don’t need to blow up hotels to get their way. Instead, its more fanatical devotees use respectable kinds of terror to silence anyone, like Suarez, who wants to remind us of this hidden history and help us understand how the past can cast a very clear light on the present.

I advise you to read this post by him explaining how Zionist leaders in the UK, backed by media like the Daily Mail (a paper that has a long history of anti-semitism and that expressed sympathy for the Nazis back in the 1930s), have worked on a ruthless misinformation campaign to seek to discredit Suarez and prevent him from holding public events. The catalogue of cancelled speaking engagements he documents is truly exasperating.

Sadly, too few organisations emerge from this affair with honour. These confected smear campaigns still work because we let them. The Quakers, who have had a relatively good history of supporting pro-Palestinian activism, have let themselves down badly in twice bowing to such intimidation.

The goal of Zionist activists like Jonathan Hoffman and Zionist organisations like the Board of Deputies of British Jews is not just to silence Suarez. They want to pillory him as a warning to anyone who might think to follow in his footsteps. Similar intimidation campaigns in the UK to stop criticism of Israel have been launched against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and a raft of Labour activists who support Palestinian rights.

Will any academic, young or old, dare to unearth more of these of official documents telling the real story of Israel’s creation? Would any of them want to suffer the smears and the irreparable damage to their professional reputations afters seeing what has happened to Suarez.

Similar campaigns against journalists (I have some personal experience of this!) ensure that they mostly keep their heads down too. They won’t be publicising or reviewing Suarez’s book.

When politicians, writers, thinkers, journalists and academics are all targeted if they dare to speak even a little truth about Israel or about Zionism, who is left with any prominence who can do so?

Jonathan Hoffman and smear artists like him know the answer very well. Which is why they are not about to stop using misinformation and falsehoods to blacken the name of anyone with integrity like Suarez who tries to offer some illumination.

Jonathan Cook is a Nazareth- based journalist and winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism.


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