The Zionist Stratagem

Anti-Semitism has grown and continues to grow, and so do I.

— Theodore Herzl1

As a self-defined movement for the national ‘liberation’ of European Jews, Zionism had an anomalous relationship with its perennial Other, the Gentile nations, from whom it wanted the Jews to secede and become a distinct nation under a Jewish state.

The Zionists did not define Europe’s Gentile nations as the adversary they would have to oppose, and against whom they would struggle, to secure the rights of Jews to emerge as a distinct nation.

On the contrary, the Zionists would harness the strength of their perennial Other — their adversary — to gain their nationalist objective. Unlike nationalists who secede from a state or empire by drawing new borders, the Zionists did not demand any European territory; they planned to establish their Jewish state outside the borders of Europe.

In other words, the Zionists were offering to execute what any state facing secessionist demands would have embraced quite avidly: the Jewish ‘secessionists’ would sail away from Europe and establish their state in the Middle East, well-removed from Europe.

This was a novel approach to national liberation.

As a first step, the Zionists proposed to liberate Jews from European persecution by arranging for their exodus from Europe. This had always been the dream of European anti-Semites: to cleanse their landscape of Jewish presence. Over the past thousand years, different states in Europe had periodically attempted this voiding of Jews through forced conversions, pogroms, expulsions, and segregating Jews from Gentiles.

The Zionists were now proposing to purge Europe of its Jews on a scale never attempted before, and without the inconvenience of disturbing the peace. It was a contract that Europe’s anti-Semites would have difficulty turning down. Indeed, the Zionists fully expected the anti-Semites to give them whatever help they needed to effect the Jewish exodus.

The Zionists were counting on this help; it was indispensable for the completion of their project. The second step in the Zionist plan was to seize control of Palestine, open it up to Jewish colonization, and, when the Jewish colons had gained sufficient demographic mass in Palestine, they would convert it into a Jewish state, preferably without the natives. The Zionists could not undertake this step without the help of European powers.

This was a clever stratagem: quite original to Zionism.

The Zionists sought to convert an impossible nationalism — with little prospect of ever achieving its goal inside Europe — into a settler-colonial project. In addition, they would convert the Jews’ erstwhile adversaries into strategic partners. The Zionists expected to persuade at least one European power to play the part of ‘mother country’ to the Jewish colons in Palestine.

It appeared that the Zionists were going to outperform Moses of Jewish tradition. Moses too had chosen to liberate the Hebrews of ancient Egypt by marching them out of Egypt into Canaan, where they would establish their own state. There were important differences, however, between the two plans.

The Zionists did not seek divine help, but they would receive help from the anti-Semites. Moses had divine help but his plan was opposed by the Egyptians. The Egyptians could not have agreed to Moses’ long march because he was running away with their property — their Hebrew slaves. In Europe, on the other hand, the Jews owned considerable property — banks, bank accounts, factories, houses, lands — that they would leave behind.

Clearly, the Zionists were offering the Europeans an attractive deal. Help us create a Jewish settler-state in Palestine: and we will solve your Jewish problem, free you from Jewish competition, free you of the Jewish presence, and you can have all their property we leave behind. This Jewish property was another gift the Zionists offered to Europe’s anti-Semites.

To Europe’s anti-Semites, the deal was irresistible. In fact, some of them would think they could kill two birds with the Zionist stone. They would get rid of the Jews, and renew the Crusades against the Muslims.

Of course, there were complications. States do not get into deals without considering all the costs. The great powers with an interest in the Middle East knew that backing the Zionist plan would mean war against the Ottomans. It would also mean perpetual war against the Muslims, since this was an egregious injustice against them and a deep violation of their historical space. That is why the great powers balked.

It was World War I that changed the calculus. When the Ottomans joined the war on the side of Germany, the Allied Powers — Britain, France and Russia — decided to dismantle the Ottoman empire. Even then, there was little interest in the Zionist plan, despite intense Zionist lobbying.

Two factors turned the tide in 1917. In Britain, a new cabinet had taken office in December 1916 with at least five strongly pro-Zionist ministers, including the prime minister, David Lloyd George. In addition, the war had been going badly for the Allied Powers on the eastern and western fronts.

Now more than ever before, Zionist lobbying became a formidable force. The Zionists lobbied Britain, Germany, and the US for their support of Zionist goals. They made sure that their lobbying of one power was known to others: thus forcing them to compete for the support which the Zionists promised them in their war effort.

The Zionists promised to bring the US more fully into the war, to keep Russia in the war, and to mobilize the resources of world Jewry on the side of the power that would support their cause. It did not matter if the Zionists could deliver these promises: the European leaders were convinced they could.

At this point, all the pro-Zionist forces converged – anti-Semitism, Christian Zionism, Crusader zeal, racism, national interests, and, above all, Zionist lobbying — to place the power of the British empire behind the Zionists.

By late October 1917, after many months of maneuvers, the Zionists and the British finally agreed upon a statement that would signal British commitment to Zionism. On November 2 1917, this statement was delivered by Lord Balfour — British foreign secretary — in a letter to Lord Rothschild, a distinguished leader of Britain’s Jewish community.

This was the Balfour Declaration: this was the document that would formalize a new – and for the most part, irreversible — partnership between Western Jews and the West, joined, pitted, in expanding wars against the Islamic world.

During the nineteenth century, when Britain and France competed to control the land bridge of the Levant, each sought to lure the Jews into their scheme to create a Jewish protectorate in Palestine. The Jews then quietly rejected these overtures: they could sense that a Jewish state in Palestine would be a trap.

Starting in 1897, when the European powers had lost interest in this colonial scheme, it was the Zionists who revived it. Their hubris was so great, they were willing to ignore the hazards of their plan. No doubt, the Zionists did overcome these hazards: and their successes have been stunning.

But Zionist successes have not helped to establish a political equilibrium in the Middle East. On the contrary, they have been deeply destabilizing. Zionist victories over existing foes produce new ones, harder to defeat than those they replace.

Despite its military superiority, Israel feels paranoid. It seeks its security in the total obliteration of its foes. It works round-the-clock to strangulate the Palestinians, it has repeatedly unleashed destruction against the Lebanese, it was the leading advocate of the war against Iraq. And now it threatens to unleash a nuclear holocaust against Iran.

Most Zionists now believe that Israel is just another war away from forging an absolute, irreversible ‘right to exist’ — a code for the right to exercise perpetual hegemony over the Middle East. Will the world grant Israel this ‘right’ if this last war turns Iran into a nuclear wasteland? Will history forget or forgive this crime?

  1. David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2003): 286. []
M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University. His latest book is Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism (Palgrave Macmillan, November 2009). He may be contacted at: alqalam02760@yahoo.com. Read other articles by M. Shahid, or visit M. Shahid's website.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozhidar balkas said on August 8th, 2008 at 9:04am #

    if one accepts torah as word of god, that person knows he/she is an uebermensch.
    such people do not just believe (conjecture/wish) they actually evaluate as true that they are chosen.
    the rest of us are untermenschlich and wld be treated as pals are treated for the last century. thank you.

  2. Michael Kenny said on August 8th, 2008 at 1:01pm #

    A few points of historical inaccuracy. All talk of the Crusades or wars on Muslims is nonsense. That’s not the way Europe viewed the world in the colonial era, which lasted into the 1960s, in fact. Europe saw non-European peoples as primitive and uncivilised. The idea of waging a “crusade” against such “savages” was nonsense. They quite simply did not have any human rights. They were a sort of vermin to be pushed to one side if they got in the way and stepped on if they refused to move. You can still see that outdated mentality today in Israel and the US. Indeed, that’s why both are so totally out of sync with the rest of mankind!

    On the other hand, Professor Alam is perfectly right to say that Europe wanted to see the last of the Jews, who, as an alien people on other’s people’s land, just didn’t fit into Europe’s territorial monoculture and the development of nationalism in 19th century Europe exacerbated that. Indeed, the reason why there is no significant hatred of Jews feeling in modern Europe is that the great mass of Europeans don’t see any Jews to hate! Here again, the antics of the US Israel Lobby are slowly changing things but so far mostly at the level of the elite. What would really change things would be if Israel collapsed suddenly, causing large numbers of Jews to flood back into Europe. It is to avoid that that European leaders pussyfoot so much around Israel. They would like to see Israel wither away slowly, with the Jews “seeping” towards New York, or somewhere or anywhere but not back into Europe!

    Nobody here sees Europe as being in any kind of a “partnership” with the Jews (not even the Jews, who see us as being under their thumb, not their partners!), and certainly not an irreversible one. Europe’s difficulty in “ditching” the Jews stems from the US stranglehold on the world economy and the Lobby’s stranglehold on US politics, and the former is easier to break than the latter. US military power begat the economic power which begat the political power. But US military power is now destroyed, which is why the dollar is falling apart, and that is slowly but surely depriving the US of its political power. The US is like a crazed psychopath, armed to the teeth, but whom everybody can see is running out of ammunition.

    The theory that the Jews did a deal with Britain and France to use their international connections to keep Russia in the war (Kerensky was Jewish!) and get the US to join (there’s no “more fully” in this case, that was WWII) is one I hadn’t heard but it certainly is plausible. The post-WWI theory was that Jews in the world of Viennese industry and finance egged Austria to attack Serbia in the belief that it would be a short war, like all other European wars since Waterloo, and that they would make a packet of money financing it and replacing lost war material. That too is plausible and, indeed, both could well be true.

    Professor Alam’s final question is much too pessimistic! He assumes that US/Israel will be successful in any attack on Iran and that it will be for history to judge. No way! An attack on Iran would instantly and irreversibly discredit both the US and Israel, which is why I don’t think they’ll do it. Indeed, it would suit the Iranians perfectly if they were attacked! All they would have to do is go to the UN as the victim of aggression. The US would have to veto the Security Council resolution condemning it and Israel, thus shooting themselves in the other foot. Europe would not support them for fear of terrorism and the same fear would push Europeans to want the US out of the NATO bases. Those bases are simply a pretext for keeping forces and military supplies near to Israel. Losing them would be a disaster and Iran isn’t worth the price! Heads, Iran wins, tails, the US loses!

  3. Brian Koontz said on August 8th, 2008 at 9:14pm #

    “Indeed, it would suit the Iranians perfectly if they were attacked! All they would have to do is go to the UN as the victim of aggression.”

    That’s crazy. Many countries have gone to the UN as victims of the aggression of the American state, and that’s all that happens – they end up being victims of the American state who have paid a visit to the UN. Iran is much more powerful in all ways than most of those countries but to say a massive possibly nuclear attack “suits them perfectly”, regardless of whether you’re talking about the Iranian state or the Iranian people, is wrong. The Iranian state made serious peace overtures to the Bush Administration in 2003, before deducing rationally that this administration could not be reasoned with and they had better get going on a nuclear program ASAP to protect themselves.

    The Iranian state saw what happened to Iraq precisely because Saddam Hussein *did not* have weapons of mass destruction. They don’t want the same thing to happen to their country.

  4. MrSynec3 said on August 9th, 2008 at 1:19am #

    TROLL ALERT: Michael Kenny is a Troll

    Michael Kenny is camouflaged troll. I admit he is good in sophistry.
    Do not waste any time or energy rebutting his good but appartent sophistry.

  5. DanE said on August 10th, 2008 at 10:41am #

    Echo in spades: MrSynec3 has it absolutely right, Michael Kenny is not worth reading.
    Neither IMHO is Balzidar Balkas, another perpetual troll who has the virtue of being unreadable:)

    Brian Koontz on the other hand raises an interesting pt, before going off into Mindreading. Yes, it may seem logical that the Iranians would think as Koontz describes — but that is pure speculation, & the Iranians deny it.

    Mucho Props to Dr Shahid Alam, very knowledgeable article, I’ll have to go see his website.

    The other day a friend & I were talking about the Zionist strategy, the well-debunked conspiracy to rule the world, what the real aims of those who adhere to Zionism might be, the contradiction between Zionist values and purely Capitalist “bottomline” motivations, between Herzl’s vision and Karl Marx’s “Accumulate Accumulate, that is Mose & the Prophets”.
    We disagreed on several mostly minor pts, but seemed to “reach consensus” that the Vision being pursued now might have seemed so ambitious, so remote, in Herzl’s day, even in Ben Gurion’s, as to not be worth talking about & best not mentioned. But said Vision would seem to be one that took the British Empire as the model: a tiny southern half of a small island in control of all the world worth controlling.
    In the days when most of the globe was Anglo-Saxon pink, a large swath was Ottoman green. If the Israelis/ZPC/Lobby can con Bush or successor into bombing Iran into the stone age, little would stand in the way of turning said swath Dodger Blue… At least that seems to be the vision that keeps the fanatics united: a pot of Blue at the end of the rainbow, & they don’t mean Durban. Knock off Iran, extend the Kosher Kruzade to Pakistan, then on to Indonesia where all the goodies are.

    Did not the USA achieve primacy on the world stage NOT by challenging its predecessor, but by becoming the British Empire’s top ally?
    Shalom Shalom, onward & upward, no end in sight is there.