In their political movement to establish a Jewish national homeland, Zionists asserted a collective claim on the land of Palestine, now called Israel, based on the Biblical scriptures and symbolism of those specific lands. Sadly, collectivist political movements have been a force against individual freedom, and the State has too often been empowered to enforce collectives’ desires at the expense of the individual. While it is not politically correct to criticize Zionism –and many who do are often mislabeled “anti-Semitic” – I believe the truth is important, and will proceed forthwith.
In the current attempts at peace negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinians, there may be an agreement reached and there may be peace, but it won’t last very long, because the Arabs are angry at how their ancestors have been treated over the last century, mostly by those with the power or influence of State apparatus. And Arabs are angry at how fellow Arabs and other non-Jews are currently treated in Israel. It is not good.
History and Migration
Here is a brief history. Following the French Revolution, 19th Century Western European Jews assimilated from the ghettos into the enlightened West, but many Eastern European Jews seemed to remain in ghettos. The persecutions of Jews during the Russian and Polish pogroms led many Jews to leave those areas. Theodor Herzl’s activism was motivated by mass anti-Semitism in France and he believed that Europe was such that Jews needed a State of their own outside of Europe. There were also several movements in Eastern Europe whose priority was the preservation of Jewish identity, but the European Zionist movement had become fixated on Palestine, which, according to economist and historian Murray Rothbard, made no sense:
“Zionism (was) a movement which began blended with Jewish Territorialism. But while the Territorialists simply wanted to preserve Jewish-Yiddish identity in a newly developed land of their own, Zionism began to insist on a Jewish land in Palestine alone. The fact that Palestine was not a virgin land, but already occupied by an Arab peasantry, meant nothing….Furthermore, the Zionists, far from hoping to preserve ghetto Yiddish culture, wished to bury it and to substitute a new culture and a new language based on an artificial secular expansion of ancient religious Hebrew….
“Because of the Arabs resident in Palestine, Zionism had to become in practice an ideology of conquest.”
Previously, during the mid-19th Century Ottoman Empire, land in Palestine was inhabited and cultivated by mainly Palestinian peasants, who until this time were considered to be the rightful owners of the land, but did not have actual formal titles to their land. New Ottoman laws were made that required registration of land ownership, and the territory’s elites took advantage of the new laws and registered land titles in their names, which essentially removed the Palestinian peasants’ rights to their lands. These elites were then known as “absentee landlords,” who sold lands to Jewish settlers.
From the turn of the 20th Century through World War I and the British Mandate’s questionable acquisitions of lands in Palestine, and following continuous Arab and Jewish rioting especially during the 1920s and ‘30s, further conflicts continued through the 1940s and led to the United Nations’ formal establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Besides European Jews, the new Israel had also become home to hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab nations, a result of Muslim persecution of those Arab nations’ Jews, which was mainly associated with the 1948 political events.
Instead of peaceful migration of Jews to Palestine that would have occurred based on freedom of association, exchange and property transfer, the compulsory apparatus of States were used, which amounted to takings, a form of “eminent domain.”
In the years previous to the formal establishment of the State of Israel, Jews (and others) were being persecuted and murdered, particularly in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. However, because of U.S. government immigration quotas, many Jews were prevented from entering what could have been for them a much more practical and safer place, the United States. This problem was an example of the socialistic central planning nature of State-imposed immigration controls, all a part of State-usurpation of property and freedom of association rights. On immigration controls, the Future of Freedom Foundation’s Jacob Hornberger noted,
“As Mises, Hayek, and the (Austrian economists) showed long ago, central planning can never succeed because the planner can never possess the requisite knowledge to centrally plan a complex market, especially one as complex as an international labor market. All the planner inevitably does is produce chaos, distortions, and perversions into the market process….
“In fact, as any citizen in the former Soviet Union will attest, it is socialist central planning that produces chaos. It is what Mises termed ‘planned chaos.’…”
Had there not been the “planned chaos” of U.S. government immigration quotas, Jews could have left the various tyrannies of Europe and come freely to the U.S. to live and work. Private individuals and groups in the U.S. who wanted to save Jews from being persecuted in Europe could have exercised their inherent right of association and voluntary exchange to accept the prospective immigrating Jewish people onto these Americans’ own private property and into their homes and businesses. However, the State-imposed socialism of forced immigrationcontrols prevented them from doing that.
A Jewish State in Palestine was established, with a compulsory government, an example of State intervention and central planning.
The founding of Israel and the years leading up to that included what was essentially thedisplacement of indigenous Palestinian inhabitants, and had culminated in what was an Arab majority at the turn of the 20th Century having turned into a Jewish majority within that territory. Turning the population form Arab to Jewish majority was not through natural occurrences but through the artificial means of State coercion and manipulation.
As Murray Rothbard noted, the current State of Israel is for all intents and purposes a European nation that was placed in the Middle East, in a location that was chosen based not on practicality, but on Biblical symbolism. Israel’s culture is affected by 19th and 20th Century Western expansionism that grew as the various Western governments grew, particularly the American and British empires.
Israel’s Treatment of Palestinians
Many among the Arab population have been treated inhumanely since Israel’s 1948 founding. Anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian discrimination is institutionalized in laws and governmentpolicies. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own nephew, Jonathan Ben-Artzi, who has served an 18-month prison sentence as a military conscription conscientious objector, noted,
“Some of the acts of segregation that I saw while growing up in Israel include towns for Jews only, immigration laws that allow Jews from around the world to immigrate but deny displaced indigenous Palestinians that same right, and national healthcare and school systems that receive significantly more funding in Jewish towns than in Arab towns…
“Civil freedom is no better: In an effort to break the spirit of Palestinians, Israel conducts sporadic arrests and detentions with no judicial supervision…
“…perhaps one of the greatest injustices takes place in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is collectively punishing more than 1.5 million Palestinians by sealing them off in the largest open-air prison on earth.”
And as Palestinian journalist Laila El-Haddad has written recently, “Calling Gaza a prison camp is an understatement.” El-Haddad continues:
“…the siege is not a siege on foods; it is a siege on freedoms – freedom to move in and out of Gaza, freedom to fish more than three miles out at to sea, freedom to learn, to work, to farm, to build, to live, to prosper.
“Gaza was never a place with a quantitative food shortage; it is a place where many people lack the means to buy food and other goods because of a closure policy…
“Prices are on par with those of a developed country, except we are not in a developed country. We are a de-developed occupied territory.”
Because of the Israeli State-imposed restrictions on freedom of movement, Palestinians are prevented from leaving Gaza to receive medical treatment or to buy cheaper necessities including food, and are prevented from visiting relatives in the West Bank or Turkey, andstudents are prevented from traveling between Gaza and the West Bank to study.
Palestinian inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are prevented by force from leaving the area. It is no different from former East Berliners’ inability to get past the Berlin Wall or Russians attempting to escape from the Soviet Union. How would the world react to news that a Jewish population were forcibly locked inside their territory?
And because the 2008-09 war between the Israeli government and Gaza’s governing Hamas severely damaged water and sewage treatment facilities, Palestinians within the Gaza blockade are forced to use untreated water. That the Israeli government had given the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip some kind of “independence” in having their own government and elected governing agents means nothing when the Israelis continue to block the means of repairing damaged water facilities, and forbid the Gazans to dig their own wells.
It seems to me that Western nation collectivists treating the inhabitants of less advanced societies as less than human has been a recurring aspect of the past century, particularly exemplified by the U.S. government’s intrusions into the Middle East since World War II.