Zionism and the Future of Palestine

 By Robert W. McGee*

 

    I read an interesting book the other day -- Zionism and the Future of Palestine. It was written by Morris Jastrow, Jr. and published by the Macmillan Company in 1919. It has been out of print for many years now and is almost impossible to find. The person who lent it to me told me that there has been a conscious effort to remove it from library bookshelves. It deserves to be reprinted.

 Jastrow traces the origins of Zionism and discusses its three aspects -- religious, economic and political -- which must be sharply differentiated from each other. Religious zionism involves the belief that the Jews will return to Palestine. Economic zionism was aimed at ameliorating the pitiful conditions of the Jews living in countries like Russia and Romania without citizenship rights and subject to oppression and persecution. Political zionism had the aim of converting Palestine into a Jewish state, which Theodore Herzl, the founder of political zionism, claimed to be the solution to the Jewish question.

 Jastrow spends some time discussing the origins of these three aspects of zionism, but the most interesting part, and the part that is most likely to enrage ardent supporters of the Jewish state, is the section on political zionism. He spends much of the remainder of the book discussing the fallacies and dangers of political zionism.

 Reform Judaism, along with the possibility of attaining full citizenship in the west, snapped the ties between religion and nationality. As Jews could become citizens of the western countries they moved to when they escaped oppression in Eastern Europe, they were able to practice Judaism while exercising their rights as citizens in a number of western states. Political zionism involves a misinterpretation of the trend of Jewish history over the last 2,000 years. Religion and nationality were no longer inextricably bound together. Thus, political zionism was based on a false premise, that religion and nationality were inseparable.

 Even many zionists of the time conceded that there was no legitimate reason for having a Jewish state as long as the Jews who lived in Palestine were guaranteed the freedom and security of the other inhabitants of the region.

 Jastrow correctly predicted that the intertwining of religion and nationality -- political zionism -- would have negative consequences. Whereas non-Jews have only one country and one loyalty -- Americans are American, the French are French, etc. -- Jews are seen as having split loyalties. They are both citizens of the country in which they live and also supporters of the Jewish state. Thus, Jews who live outside of Israel (occupied Palestine) are seen as being less than totally loyal to the country where they reside. This political difference adds to the anti-semitism that already exists, just as Jastrow predicted.

 As time passes it is becoming increasingly clear that Britain did a great disservice to the inhabitants of Palestine by giving away land that it did not own. Present-day problems can be traced to this tragic violation of property rights, coupled with the false premise of political zionism, which Jastrow exposed in 1919.

 
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 * Prof. Robert W. McGee is the President of The Dumont Institute for Public Policy Research, Dumont, NJ-USA- http://www.dumontinst.com
 
 

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