The Spectacular Failure of the Zionist Project

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The two-state solution is no longer possible and the only way forward is the struggle for a democratic secular state accommodating both Palestinians and Israelis, writes Stefan Moore.

A young girl in the Gaza Strip is taken to receive medical care, Oct. 17 2023. (Fars Media Corporation, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

By Stefan Moore
Special to Consortium News

As a secular Jew raised in a fiercely anti-Zionist family, I grew up viewing the State of Israel as an unfortunate fait accompli and accepting that the two-state solution was probably the best that could be hoped for.

Since then, I have come to the conclusion that the creation of a Jewish state was a catastrophic mistake and that Zionist Israel has relinquished its right to exist.

What good could possibly have come from a project that handed a group of Jewish Europeans a land that for countless centuries was inhabited by Arab Palestinians?

Not only did Palestinians have no say in the creation of a Jewish state on their homeland, but just at the time when other developing countries around the world were finally breaking free from the yoke of colonial rule Palestinians, like Native Americans and Australia’s First Nations people before them, became the victims of European settler colonialism — this time endorsed by a U.N. resolution that neither the Palestinians nor any of the Arab states agreed to or voted for.

Second Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, Aug. 28, 1898. On podium, center stage, Theodor Herzl is seen indistinctly, giving keynote address. (Robert Spreng/National Library of Israel/Wikimedia Commons)

The driving force behind both the 1917 Balfour Declaration that called for a Jewish homeland in the British Mandate of Palestine and the 1948 U.N. Partition Plan that established a Jewish State, was Zionism, a religious, political and cultural movement that began in the late 19th century to claim Palestine as the God-given homeland of the Jewish people.

Contrary to official mythology, however, the Zionist fervour was not shared by the majority of Jews.

The socialist Jewish Labour Bund in Eastern Europe, for instance, believed that Jewish culture should be preserved right at home in the shtetls (villages) as opposed to running off to Palestine and thought that the notion of Jews colonising Palestine was farcical.  They even wrote a mocking Yiddish song for the Zionists – “Oy, Ir Narishe Tsionistn” (“You Foolish Little Zionist”).

Meanwhile Jews, Christians and Muslims had been living aside each other in historic Palestine in relative peace for centuries. It was only after the rapid influx of European Jewish refugees fleeing the pogroms in Eastern Europe following World War I, and in the wake of the Holocaust, that the conflicts in Palestine escalated and the bloodshed on both sides began.  

By the time of the U.N. partition plan, Israeli Defence Force brigades had already launched a bloody campaign of burning villages and killing men, women and children to drive Palestinians off their land. In all, 750,000 Palestinians were expelled into refugee camps in neighbouring Arab countries.

This was the beginning of the Nakba (the catastrophe) that continues today – most strikingly in Gaza — as Zionist zealots insist Israel has a rightful claim to all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Basel Steet, Tel Aviv, 1939 named after Basel, Switzerland where Zionist Congresses were held. (Public Domain)

In their view, all of Palestine belongs to Jews because in the words of Likud Party Knesset Member Danny Danon, the Bible is “our deed to the land.”

For Zionists like Danon, expelling Palestinians is an existential necessity, a view that echoed in 1956 by Moshe Dayan, military commander of the Jerusalem Front in 1948, who proclaimed:

“We are a generation of settlers, and without the steel helmet and the cannon we cannot plant a tree and build a home… This is the fate of our generation, and the choice of our life – to be prepared and armed, strong and tough – or otherwise, the sword will slip from our fist, and our life will be snuffed out.

What cause have we to complain about their fierce hatred to us? For eight years now, they sit in their refugee camps in Gaza, and before their eyes we turn into our homestead the land and villages in which they and their forefathers have lived.

Let us not be afraid to see the hatred that accompanies and consumes the lives of hundreds of thousands of Arabs who sit all around us and wait for the moment when their hands will be able to reach our blood.”

Next Uprising Would Dwarf Oct. 7

A Hamas rocket attack from Gaza into Israel, Oct. 7, 2023. (Tasnim News Agency, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

As Dayan knew then, Israel would never be safe. In Gaza now, Israel is creating the next generation of Palestinian resistance fighters who have witnessed their families slaughtered, guaranteeing that the next uprising will dwarf the Hamas invasion of Oct. 7.   

Whatever legitimacy Israel might have claimed as a haven for Jewish refugees who were abandoned in the West after the Holocaust, their right to a state of their own has long since been forfeited.

Both the 1917 Balfour Declaration that promised Jews a homeland in the British Mandate of Palestine and the 1948 U.N. partition plan creating the State of Israel stipulated that the rights of Palestinians had to be safeguarded and, following the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948, U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 of that year specifically said the refugees’ had the right to return “at the earliest practicable date.”

On all counts, Israel has completely failed to live up to its obligations to protect the most basic rights of the Palestinian people. 

Today, Palestinians living inside Israel remain second-class citizens without equal rights to own property or even use their own language. On the West Bank, Palestinians are dispossessed and murdered daily by Jewish settlers with the backing of the IDF.

In Gaza, even before Israel’s invasion following Oct. 7, Palestinians have lived under a brutal state of siege in an open air prison. The millions of Palestinians who were exiled into refugee camps in neighbouring Arab states are still denied the right to return.

Indeed, the Zionists have brought to Palestine the very scourge they fled in Europe — murdering, expelling and ethnically cleansing an entire population, mirroring the behaviour of their Nazi oppressors. 

In the documentary film Tantura about the 1948 massacre of almost 300 Palestinians in the Palestinian village of Tantura, former Israeli soldiers, now in their 90s, retell the story of the slaughter unashamedly.

One brigade member laughs as he recalls, “Of course we killed them, without remorse… If you killed, you did a good thing.” An old woman says matter-of-factly, “Let them remember (what we did to them) like we remember what happened in Europe (the Holocaust). If they did it, we can also.”  

Yet, despite the evidence of Israeli war crimes, Zionists have continued to deny Israel’s atrocities while claiming their own superiority. Professor emeritus at Haifa University, Ilan Pappe, says of the mindset:

“I think the self-image of Israel as a moral society is something I haven’t seen anywhere else in the world. We are the ‘Chosen People’ (in the Old Testament Jews were chosen by God as his special people). This is part of the Israeli self-identification…(But) basically, the project of Zionism has a problem… You cannot create a safe haven by creating a catastrophe for other people.” 

Today, complicit Western leaders and their media proxies wring their hands about the regrettable loss of civilian lives in Gaza while hypocritically calling for a two-state solution they know is virtually impossible since Israel has reduced the amount of Palestinian land from 45 percent at the time of partition to 15 percent today.

Craig Mokhiber, who recently resigned as New York director for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights over the U.N.’s failure to act on war crimes in Gaza, said in his resignation letter:

“The mantra of the ‘two-state solution’ has become an open joke in the corridors of the U.N., both for its utter impossibility in fact, and for its total failure to account for the inalienable human rights of the Palestinian people.”

Writing On Wall For Two-State Solution

Academic Ghada Karmi at the Palestinian Festival of Literature in 2011. (PalFest/Raouf haj Yihya via Creative Commons)

After 75 years of Israel’s colonial oppression of the Palestinian people, it has become glaringly obvious that any notion of a two-state solution has become little more than a fig leaf for Israel’s apartheid regime and the only way forward is one secular democratic state that safeguards the fundamental rights and equality for all of its citizens.

Obviously, it won’t happen overnight or without conflict – Israel will aggressively defend its perceived right to exist as a Jewish state with the massive backing of the Western powers. Palestinians will never abandon their yearning for a homeland as it was before the arrival of European Jewish settlers — but the writing is on the wall.

Almost two decades ago the late Palestinian-American academic Edward Said wrote that:

“The beginning (of one democratic state) is to develop something entirely missing from both Israeli and Palestinian realities today: the idea and practice of citizenship, not of ethnic or racial community, as the main vehicle of coexistence.” 

More recently, Palestinian academic and physician Ghada Karmi has cautioned:

“The U.N. that made Israel and must now unmake it, not by expulsion and displacement as in 1948, but by converting its bleak legacy into a future of hope for both peoples in one state.” 

But if the U.N. fails to act, Karmi sees a more apocalyptic path to the end of the Zionist state. In her recent book One State: The Only Democratic Future for Palestine, she writes:

“Israel will fiercely reject the shared state, but will be powerless to prevent it from happening. … It will not happen solely as a result of a one-state campaign and solidarity movements. … but rather through people’s natural resistance to relentless oppression leading to the ultimate overthrow of the oppressors.”

If that can happen without cataclysmic global repercussions, possibly bringing the U.S. and Europe to the brink of the next world war, perhaps a new secular democratic state for both Jews and Palestinians will evolve from the struggle.

In any event, it is time to acknowledge that the Zionist project has been a spectacular failure and the status quo can no longer be maintained. Israel has become a pariah state in the eyes of most of the world and the winds of change are now howling across the region.

Stefan Moore is an American-Australian documentary filmmaker. His documentaries have received four Emmys and other awards. In the U.S., he was co-director of TVG Productions in New York, a series producer at WNET and a producer for the prime time CBS News magazine program 48 HOURS. In the U.K. he worked as a series producer at the BBC, and in Australia he was an executive producer for Film Australia and the ABC.

Views expressed in this article may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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