I generally don’t care about the Middle East, but since no one ever seems to shut the fuck up about it for more than five minutes, I will state for the record that I think modern Israel was a bad idea from the get-go. Sylvester Stallone couldn’t have scripted a cornier and more predictable sequel to World War II than to relocate European Jews to an area where they are surrounded on all sides by desert peasants whose holy book tells them to hate Jews. Israel’s very existence in the Middle East laid the foundation for a perpetually volatile situation that I suspect will not end well.
But the idea that modern Jews are in any way “indigenous” to the Middle East seems dubious to me. I’m not convinced that Jews who are derived from Eastern Europe are genetically “Semitic,” but that’s a whole different article. Palestinians, on the other hand, are Semites, whether you like it or not. Whatever way you slice the Jew sandwich, though, it appears that the ancient Hebrews were pioneers at the art of genocide.
Even if I were presented with irrefutable proof that Ashkenazi Jews have an unbroken and untainted bloodline stretching all the way back to ancient Israel, they were largely swept out of that area by force nearly 2,000 years ago, while the Palestinians only began being uprooted in large numbers from the region around 70 years ago. So if there’s a group that can claim “indigenous” rights and a “right of return” to that prickly patch of sand, I’d say it’s the Arabic peoples generally referred to as “Palestinians.”
Then again, I don’t care about “indigenous” rights, either. I don’t view history as some fairy-tale moral struggle, but rather as a never-ending competition for land and resources. It’s not about good guys and bad guys, but about winners and losers. Mao was correct when he said that political power comes from the barrel of a gun. Wars are won by the most efficient killers, not those with the most saintly ideology.
I have no skin in the Middle Eastern conflict, no dog in the fight, not one squib of the sort of emotional investment that causes people to take sides with such flaming blowtorch passion. I am not a Christian nor a Muslim nor a Jew. I do have significant English heritage, however, and if there’s anything that should irk me in a tribal sense about modern Israel, it’s that the British Empire suffered yet another humiliating blow when Israel was founded. Then again, I’m not much of a tribalist, either. The British lost and continue to lose—these days, it seems, almost on purpose. They’re about a generation ahead of America on the path of guilt-inflicted self-destruction.
Nearly half of the world’s Jews live in the USA and—love ‘em or hate ‘em—they wield tremendous power considering their numbers. Our major media and educational system tend to paint modern Israel’s foundation as a glorious moral triumph in which the eternally persecuted Jews somehow formed an orderly beeline out of concentration camps at the end of WWII and peacefully resettled where God wanted them in the first place.
What a childishly naive way to look at it.
The evidence suggests that Jews seized power in the Middle East the old-fashioned way—through violence.
When you seize political power with the barrel of a gun, you also get to control the language, and “terrorism” is an innately deceptive word. Basically, “terrorism” is “war” for those who have yet to go pro. What would be surprising to nearly all historically illiterate Americans is the fact that the land which forms modern Israel was acquired through bombings, assassinations, lynchings, arms smuggling, bank robberies, and perhaps the most effective war tactic of all, mass immigration.
The militant paramilitary Zionist group Irgun bombed the living screaming hell out of Mandatory Palestine through the 1930s and 40s to such an extent that such ordinarily Jew-friendly personages as Winston Churchill, Hannah Arendt, and Albert Einstein denounced them as terrorists. Their most dramatic flourish was the 1946 King David Hotel bombing, which killed 96 and left another 46 injured.
Aiding and abetting Irgun in 1948’s Deir Yassin massacre—a nighttime village attack in which an estimated 250 or so Arab men, women, and children were slaughtered—was an even more radical Zionist underground terrorist organization known as Lehi, AKA the Stern Gang. Their stated goal was the formation of “a new totalitarian Hebrew republic.” Viewing their chief enemy as the British forces that controlled Mandatory Palestine, Lehi even attempted to form an alliance with Nazi Germany in the early years of World War II. In December of 1940, Lehi contacted German authorities offering support against England if Germany agreed to assist in mass emigration of Jews out of Europe and into what they claimed was their ancestral homeland. They felt a common bond with the Nazis regarding the primacy of blood and soil.
The Stern Gang engaged in bank robberies, bombings, and assassinations—even of a Swedish diplomat who’d helped negotiate the release of Jews from concentration camps. They openly self-identified as genocidal “terrorists” who had no moral qualms about exterminating their enemies “to the last man”:
Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat. … We have before us the command of the Torah, whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: “Ye shall blot them out to the last man.”
Unashamedly legitimizing a self-described terrorist organization that had sought an alliance with Nazi Germany, in 1980 Israel honored the group by awarding the Lehi ribbon to former members.
From 1977-1983, former Irgun leader Menachem Begin served as Prime Minister of Israel. From 1986-1992, one-time Lehi leader Yitzhak Shamir assumed the Zionist state’s top spot.
After Israel was formally established in 1948, all of the “terrorist” activity magically ceased because the new nation had acquired the semantic right to pin the “terrorist” label on all violent underdogs who challenged their power. So when modern Israel bombs villages and slaughters children these days, they are not terrorists—they are merely keeping the peace.
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