« Bibi and Francis, an odd couple | Main | Dulling the Mind: A Protest by Richard Sale »

03 December 2013


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Babak Makkinejad

Richard Sale:

Many contemporary peoples & nations are "invented people" - such as Americans or Indians or Canadians or Pakistanis or Nigerians

But now they exist and nothing can be done to un-invent them.

It reminds me of the Navajo and the sheep - sheep are part of their creation myths now even though sheep were introduced into the Americas by the Europeans.

SAC Brat

How did the Christian community in Palestine fare during this period? It seems that a lot of effort (outside this article) has been made to stereotype the Palestinians as Moslems only for some reason.

William R. Cumming

Remember the scene of destroying a S. Vietnamese village in order to save it? The US may be headed that way in MENA generally including Israel IMO!

The US continually negotiates without explanation to its own people!

nick b

Mr. Sale, Let me apologize in advance for the picayune nature of this question. As I read your article I was confused by a quote attributed to "One Israeli politician, Zingwell". Was this perhaps the British writer Israel Zangwell? I thought the description of Zingwell (Zangwell?) as an Israeli politician indicated he was a more recent figure (post 1948), and the date 1905 seemed odd. A little research turned up Mr. Zangwell. Did I get this right?

Patrick D

"Were they a people united by language, race and a common culture like the Jews?"

The common but false perception behind this question is that the Jews are "a people" by this definition.

Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews whose culture (and even genetics, apparently) was shaped and changed by life in predominantly Christian Europe with its antisemitism and participation in the Enlightment are probably a people.

Ladino-speaking Sephardi Jews whose culture was shaped by life in Islamic Iberia and then fleeing with those Muslims to the Middle East and North Africa or going into hiding in the outer reached of the Spanish Empire after the Reconquista are probably a people.

Arabic- and Persian-speaking Mizrahi Jews whose culture was shaped by life in the Islamic Greater Middle East (and likely has more continuity than the culture of the Ashkenazis as a result) are probably a people.

"The Jews" would all include the groups above, east African Jews from Ethiopia, much smaller groups from part of South and East Asia, a multitude of converts (how does someone "convert" to a people?), as well as the atheist, socialist, Ashkanazi, Zionist pioneers that got the project rolling in the Eastern Med as well as other spots where things didn't pan out like an area that is now part of Uganda (hardly a historical connection there).

Whether or not you think the Palestinians are a people, they fit the definition above far more closely than "the Jews", an idea that is largely the product of the ignorant (when most Americans, including most Jewish Americans, reference "Jews" they really mean Ashkanazi Jews), antisemites, and Zionists.


What are you talking about? When did the US as a matter of national policy decide to destroy South Vietnamese villages? You think the US will decide to destroy Israel? The Israeli's are already destroying their society. The US is not responsbile for the conduct of Netanyahu's government.


Israel has never intended to return any lands she occupied. So, IMO, all these peace processes are just waste of time. Israel has established herself as a powerful country so Arabs have to deal with this reality.

I don’t mean to offend Arabs but I think the problem with them is cultural, as was mentioned ”domestic problems, intra-Arab quarrels, and petty jealousies have dogged every Arab effort to federate”. And add the high rate of illiteracy (45%, according to www.gial.edu/images/gialens/vol4-2/Magin-Arab-Illiteracy.pdf‎) to this mix and you get the picture. The Arab world needs to be educated, throw out the nonsense superstitions and bigotry and learn to seek the long-term solution to its problems.

Lars Moller-Rasmussen

Richard Sale

"… the US threatened Greece with a total aid cutoff…".

To its everlasting honour, Greece successfully resisted the US pressure and voted against the UN resolution to partition Palestine. While quite a few member states abstained (notably Britain and China, then non-communist), Greece, India and Cuba were the only non-Muslim countries to vote against partition.

While some kind of partition had become inevitable after World War II, at least in my opinion, I never cease to wonder why this particular plan was chosen. Is there anyone with more historical knowledge than I have who can explain how the state sponsors of the partition resolution hoped to sell a plan so clearly unworkable, even in practical terms? A country the size of Massachussetts, or half my own country, Denmark, was to be the home of two states, each of which was split up in three areas just barely contiguous.

Even if the two communities had been on the best of terms, they would have had difficulty sorting out the problems of traffic from the Jewish coastal strip to Jewish Eastern Galilee crossing traffic from the Arab West Bank to Arab Western Galilee. I find the brazenness of the plan remarkable.

Lars Moller-Rasmussen



"Israel has never intended to return any lands she occupied. So, IMO, all these peace processes are just waste of time." you must be new here. We all know that. pl



Some idiot who lives in Thailand wrote the other day to claim it was US policy to do just that, i.e., destroy SVN villages. the stupidities of the left persist. people who make unsupported statements like that are usually trying to justify something they are ashamed of. pl


What about the Prawer Plan...? With Israeli Bedoiuns being expelled from Israel proper...!




Let me guess.. some of your best friends are Arabs.


Not so fast, Fred. The US has vetoed every international action to sanction Israel's wrong doings over the last 60 years, often breaking its own laws to do so. The US continues to ensure that Israel will be more militarily powerful than all its neighbors combined. The US is willing to accept racist treatment (including murder) of its own citizens to enable Israeli racism at home.

You may be making a distinction between the American government and the American people – which I would understand – and you may be implying that Netanyahu's government is of a different kind than previous governments – although its not – but surely you admit that a great deal of responsibility for the Israeli government actions can be attributed to the support and protection of the US government.



"Many contemporary peoples & nations are "invented people" - such as Americans or Indians or Canadians or Pakistanis or Nigerians"

Don't forget in that list of invented people "the jewish people":


PS: As I see it the whole discourse about "a people united by language, race and a common culture" is in it's core a racist discourse, and as it is modern now, talking about ethnicity instead of race is hardly more than a mask for that same old racist discourse. And much of that racist discourse is like a self-fulfilling prophecy: when people permanently talk about race questions, the society becomes racist and race question become a reality.

My opinion is that it would be better to bring that whole racist or "ethnic" discourse onto the level of politics, and so, better speak about political factions living in this or that land.



"But this chief point of all this comes down to this: after the Six Day War, Israel became the strongest element in the Middle East, and the prickly insecurity that lay at the base of its foundation, changed in two decades, to a self-satisfied arrogance."

I think in this point you are wrong. Zionism was from the start a deeply racist ideology fitting in it's time and it was always filled with a lot self-satisfied arrogance.

If you don't believe that, have a look what the well respected Rabbi Felix Goldman wrote exactly a hundred years ago, in 1913, about the nature of Zionism:

" Anti-Semitism was primarily – you need not mistake or deny other moments that resonate more or less – religious hatred, and the emancipation of the Jews and their intrusion into economic life also made the economic side of Jew-hatred emerge much stronger. But the anti-Semitism of today is racial hatred! And that means a complete re-evaluation and a huge uptrend. Religious and economic anti-Semitism are more superficial nature, they are the nature and the perception of action, not the person. The racial anti-Semitism, however, is against the human person itself. It turned a forceful opposition, in which both sides seek to convince by arguments , into ​​an anti-Semitism of contempt of inferior Jews and preaches complete separation from him in all areas of culture and social life. With what success is known! If the “racial” moment has acquired a meaning in which nothing counts of everything else, merits, virtues, striving and disposition, if the Jew is outlawed, if you want to depress him into a pariah position, so it is a success, the national belief, the chauvinistic racial madness of our times, has won in diligent work.

And this chauvinist, national racist madness is the theoretical basis, the spiritual soil of Zionism! That’s where it borrowed the specific features of it’s being and it’s effectiveness! Even the utterance of this undeniable and undisputed fact contains the most damning criticism of this pseudo messianic movement. With all clarity the consequences must be imagined of what it must mean for the nature and manifestations of Zionism that it grew up on the same marsh soil as the racial anti-Semitism, this scourge, which we Jews are suffering under so horrible. And it’s always the same water, may it now be called Aryan anti-Semitic, or may it now be colored Jewish-national that comes from the same poisoned wells, and no staining of the world can make it a healthy drink.

If you stand on the position that the national hate speech and racial anti-Semitism is a crime against culture – and who would not – you must also condemn it’s brother in Jewish garb, the national Zionism, because it’s results will be as pernicious as those."

For fear of retribution by zionists Rabbi Goldman wrote this text anonymously (In German: Schriften zur Aufklärung über den Zionismus, N° 2 „Der Zionismus, seine Theorien, Aussichten und Wirkungen“, it was published by the "Antizionistisches Komitee Berlin 1913" - the English translation is mine).

So, Rabbi Goldman understood Zionism as a racist and aggressive nationalist ideology like they were common in Europe (and the US) at the end of the 19th century, the difference just being that Zionism came in jewish garb. And my opinion is that while the world changed and renounced racism during the last century Zionism missed that train largely, still speaks in terms of Jews versus Arabs.

In that booklet Rabbi Felix Goldman also wrote some sentences about the methods of Zionists:

"After all these things, is it neccessary to draw attention to the means by which Zionism does it's fights? It corresponds only to its nature when it, like any number of a Zionist newspaper proves, so behaves in the battle, as it has learned it from its great role model, the anti-Semitism. It never fights objectively, but always personal. Its strongest arguments are defaming opponents, suspicion of their motives, the churning of his most intimate relationships, and if everything of this is not successful, intimidation and threat must replace the might of objective reasons."

Again, the original text is in German, the translation is mine, done by the best of my knowledge. That's what the respected liberal Rabbi Goldman said about Zionism in 1913. I find it surprisingly up-to-date still today, a 100 years later.

David Habakkuk


“Israel has never intended to return any lands she occupied. So, IMO, all these peace processes are just waste of time.” Exactly. Those naïve fools in the West, and among the Palestinians, who thought that Israeli was genuinely interested in a two-state solution were played for suckers.

And as ‘liberal Zionism’ – in which the vast majority of American and British Jews believed – was always implicitly premised upon belief in the possibility of a two-state solution, it has been exposed as a totally unreal belief system: a bit like ‘socialism with a human face’.

One has to ask how so many came to be so comprehensively duped by successive Israeli governments. In an interesting lecture given in Ramallah back in December 2010, a London-based development economist who has worked extensively with the Palestinian Authority, Professor Mushtaq Khan, proposed an answer – that we all misunderstood how Israelis would perceive their self-interest.

His argument was discussed, and developed, not long after in a piece by the former MI6 officer Alastair Crooke:

“The root premise has been, since the outset of the ‘process’, that Israel was intent on having and maintaining a Jewish ‘majority’ within Israel, and that with time – and a growing Palestinian population – Israel would have to acquiesce to a Palestinian state simply to maintain its Jewish majority: that is, by losing Palestinians into their own state, Israel’s Jewish majority could be conserved – and by these means, and only by such means, finally could such a majority be conserved.

“It is a very compelling narrative. It suggested that a Palestinian state was inevitable: Palestinians simply had to ‘prove’ their readiness to assume statehood to Israel – and a state would be given them.

“Professor Mushtaq Khan from London’s School of Oriental and African Studies argued in a recent talk that it was precisely this type of analysis that lay behind Fatah’s approach to Oslo. It explains, he argues, why the Palestinian leadership at this time never made real attempts to create serious bargaining power vis-à-vis Israel: the leadership simply did not think it necessary. They saw their task to be ‘confidence building’ with the Israelis. Professor Khan notes that Oslo was conducted not as a serious negotiation, but more as a confidence building exercise by the Palestinians.”

(See http://www.aljazeera.com/palestinepapers/2011/01/201112412224387862.html )

The failure was in not realising that Israeli Zionists really believed in the notion of their state as the ‘national home’ of some kind of monolithic ‘Jewish people’. So Crooke quotes remarks by Tzipi Livni to Ahmed Qurei:

“I think that we can use another session – about what it means to be a Jew and that it is more than just a religion. But if you want to take us back to 1947, it won’t help. Israel is the state of the Jewish people – and I would like to emphasize the meaning of “its people” is the Jewish people – with Jerusalem the united and undivided capital of Israel and of the Jewish people for 3007 years....”

What however have also to be grasped are some implications of Tzipi Livni’s position. The problem which so many misguidedly thought would make the Israelis concede a viable Palestinian state would now seem likely to be insoluble. Accordingly, a basic conflict opens up with the new secular religion of the age – that of human rights – and Israel is increasingly coming to be seen as an ‘apartheid state’.

Moreover, in terms of her ‘blut und boden’ conception of Jewish identity, it has never been open to any authentic Jew to choose to be a wholehearted British, American, or indeed Czech, German or Russian, patriot, seeing their capital in London or Washington, or indeed Prague, Berlin, of St. Petersburg.

It was precisely this implication of the endorsement of the idea of a Jewish ‘national home’ in the Balfour Declaration which caused Edwin Montagu, in 1917 the sole Jewish member of the British Cabinet, to accuse its authors of anti-Semitism, and was responsible for the vivid personal bitterness which underpinned his abortive attempt to prevent the document being issued. It seems to me now, as it seemed to him then, a radically false belief which inevitably sooner or later must call the loyalty of Jews to the countries in which they live in question.

William R. Cumming

FRED! I never mentioned NATIONAL POLICY! But I would argue that how NATIONAL POLICY was reflected in the ROE [rules of engagement] of US forces in Viet Nam has never been studied and was not made clear at anytime to the American polity.

And do the LBJ tapes reflect NATIONAL POLICY?


Ah, So Israel is not responsible for its own conduct, it's all America's fault.

Charles I

There's a difference between "a great deal" and "all". That parts of the U.S. government are enablers of the colonial program seems irrefutable on the face of it. That Israel is responsible for the consequences of its rampages is not the same point.


I am certainly not implying that.

The Israeli government bears primary responsibility, and the US government also bears a great deal of responsibility.

I regret my post: I'm not telling anyone anything they don't know.

Babak Makkinejad

Arabs of the Persian Gulf are also racists, ask any one from Pakistan.

Edward Amame

When Afrikaners did this kind of stuff in South Africa, it sparked a trade embargo.


If Jews are so hot on "Israel for Israelis" why are they always at the forefront of making sure more third worlders are allowed to immigrate into Western countries?

One rule for me, another for thee.



"Arabs of the Persian Gulf are also racists, ask any one from Pakistan."

What you do here is a generalization of people which I find unfair and in itself close to racism. See, for example, Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, who I think fulfils every criteria of an "Arabs of the Persian Gulf" - I don't think he is a racist, but you label him as such just because he is an "Arab of the Persian Gulf."

Certainly, it is different when you speak about the governments of Arab countries at the Persian Gulf. If it is about these governments - and their wahhabi and takfiri constituencies - I would agree, that there is a huge chunk of racism involved in their behaviour.

Accidentally, those who brought these "governments" based on the pseudo messianic Fitna Al Wahhabiyah to power during WWI were Brits - the same Brits, that empowered at the same time the pseudo messianic movement of Zionism with the Balfour Declaration. And of course, I think, the British empowering of wahhabism in WWI should be seen in the context of oil found in Mesopotamia, and oil should be seen as the reason why the Wahhabi racists are in power there since.

So what I think in result is: just like Zionism Wahhabism and Takfirism in that region is based on medieval racism, it largely missed the train of world-wide anti-racism in the last century and one of the reasons for this is western protection for these medieval regimes motivated by oil.


It is Israel's colonial program, not America's. Manipulation of the US government policy is part of the Israeli program.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad