The Balfour Declaration and the Origins of Zionism
by Edward Morgan
“Zionism” is a complicated term to define in some ways, all the more so for the sheer amount of exaggeration and misinformation. There’s political Zionism, which aims to serve the interests of the state of Israel. There’s religious Zionism, which refers to Jewish [or Christian] interest in Israel in terms of fulfilling “Biblical prophecy” or “Divine Will”.
These two schools of Zionism could in some instances be entirely separate. People can be political Zionists without being religious Zionists or vice-versa. An example of this would be right-wing American evangelical organizations who are in fact die-hard Zionists for the sake of fulfilling perceived Bible texts.
Zionism is just as Evangelical “Christian” as it is Jewish. But the point is that the aim of Zionism originally was the restoration of a “Jewish Homeland” in what was Palestine for 2000 years; a goal that was accomplished comprehensively in 1948 in the shadow of the Holocaust, although it had its roots as an international movement from the time of World War I. Ever since then, Zionism can be regarded as a political movement aimed at furthering the interests [nationally and internationally] of that artificially created nation and at ensuring the security and protection of this so-called State of Israel.
Many anti-Zionist commentators also link Zionism – both religious and political – with a concept of a secretive global Jewish agenda to control the world. Zionism in its mainstream form is believed to have originated with Theodor Herzl in 1896, an Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist, playwright, and political activist. Beginning in late 1895, Herzl wrote Der Judenstaat or State of the Jews. In it he argued that the only solution to the “Jewish Question” in Europe was the creation of a state for the Jewish people.
Anti-Jewish sentiments were so widespread across Europe that Herzl saw the creation of a national sanctuary for Jews as the only long-term solution. And thus Zionism was born, or at least this is the mainstream version of events. Other scholars will contest that notion and offer arguments for a much older origin.
Of course if we’re talking about religious Zionism as opposed to political Zionism, then the origin is much older and much more mysterious. The notion that the land of Israel (Hebrew: אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל, Eretz Yisrael) had always belonged to the Jews or that it was promised to the “Children of Israel” by their Biblical God is an ancient one and a false myth at best. Of course, such profound lunacy has no sound basis for 20th century nation-building, or so we thought and were hoping.
It was the colonial powers of the late 19th and early 20th century, particularly Britain, who actively pursued the Zionist agenda under the guidance of powerful and wealthy British Jews such as Lord Rothschild, resulting in the famous Balfour Declaration. The British made grandiose wartime promises (during World War I) to create a “Jewish homeland” in Palestine. Although mass Jewish immigration to Palestine began occurring after World War I, it wasn’t until after World War II and the Holocaust that the agenda was comprehensively fulfilled.
Another cornerstone of Zionist folklore is the fabled book, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, believed by many to be the blue-print for a global Zionist takeover. We will come back to this point later on in this article.
Despite Britain’s official actions, however, neither public nor government opinion was unanimous in its support for the excessive commitment made by Britain to further the Zionist agenda. Winston Churchill, in a 1922 telegraph, is recorded to have written of, “a growing movement of hostility against Zionist policy in Palestine,” adding that, “It is increasingly difficult to meet the argument that it is unfair to ask the British taxpayer, already overwhelmed with taxation, to bear the cost of imposing on Palestine an unpopular policy.” This disapproval of political Zionism has continued for all the decades to follow and is even more widespread and vehement today than it was a century ago!
Mahatma Gandhi wrote in 1938, “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs…. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract.”
And contrary to the view propagated by some that anti-Zionism is “anti-Semitism”, Jewish speakers have at various points also spoken out openly against the Zionist agenda. Among them, Rabbi Elmer Berger published the book, The Jewish Dilemma, in which he argued that Jewish assimilation was still the best path for Jews in the modern world and not the segregation and siege mentality of the Zionist state. In Rabbi Berger analysis, Zionism itself was simply resigning to the prevailing racial beliefs about Jews and playing into them.
In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution that designated Zionism as “a form of racism and racial discrimination”. More contemporaneously, in 2010 the former BBC and ITN journalist Alan Hart published the book, Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, while famous atheist-in-chief, Richard Dawkins said in an interview (speaking about Zionism and the Jewish Lobby in the US): “If atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place.”
This is just a fraction of stated opposition to Zionism by reputable, respectable people. I reference that here to illustrate the point that anti-Zionism isn’t just the safeguard of so-called “anti-Semites” and that we should bear in mind the substantial number of Jews who also sternly oppose to Zionism.
It couldn’t be denied, even by the most ardent Zionist supporters, that the influence of political Zionism along with many of the actions and policies of their Zionist State have, aside from the long-term oppression of the Palestinian people, contributed massively to the polarization of the Middle East and the growth of Jihadi radicalism.
Aside from the destructive, toxic effect that the creation of the Zionist regime had at the point of its inception (in Palestine itself, but also vis-à-vis its juxtaposition effects on Lebanon, Syria and other neighbors), a divisive, destructive effect has also continued through to the present day beyond the borders of the Middle East.
It is quite demonstrable, for example, that a longstanding US-Israeli plan for the redrawing of the Middle East map has been carried out in the last several years, toppling independent governments and stable nations and ultimately seeking the balkanization and subjugation of Iraq, Syria, Libya, et al. with the ultimate evil goal of subjugating Iran which is their main target.
The alleged Zionist Plan for the Middle East, also known as, The Yinon Plan, was the vast strategy composed to ensure Zionist regional superiority via the radical reconfiguration of Israel’s geopolitical surroundings through the balkanization of the surrounding Arab [and non-Arab] nations into smaller and weaker states.
The Clean Break strategy also essentially amounts to the same thing. What we have so far witnessed in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and even Yemen can be seen to play into this US-backed Zionist strategy quite clearly. It is particularly relevant to note that Iraq, Syria, and Libya were three of the most stable, modern, secular, independent, and non-sectarian Arab nationalist states, but instead are now three collapsed, geo-sectarian, wastelands waiting to be carved up into pieces.
Through exploring the Greater Israel Project, there’s little question that Zionism has been a toxic and problematic imposition onto the region and perhaps the larger world, all the more so because the Zionist regime has been aggressively propped up, armed, and defended by its Western patrons, especially Washington. These days, we are all shocked by Obama Administration’s $38 billion pledge to this evil, monstrous regime.
Something similar can be said of the influence of Wahhabism in the region. Wahhabism, like Zionism, isn’t some centuries old, time-honored religious sect, but a relatively new politically expedient but barbaric ideology.
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