restricted access 4 Israel and Palestinian Cultural Genocide
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65 Once more the theoretical considerations we have been working with will come into play in our consideration of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. For, as surely as the Russian czars sought to contain and ultimately destroy Jewish culture within their territories , the same aim is held by the Israeli government (past and present ) toward the Palestinians under their control. Israelis, like South African whites before them, like to think of themselves as an isolated Western enclave in the midst of a non-Western world. Yet in both cases, the result of this attitude is not integration with the West but rather a self-imposed isolation that has allowed for the preservation of racist and ethnocentric attitudes bred of outdated imperialism and colonialism—attitudes that the rest of the West seeks to move beyond. As a consequence, Israel has developed a particularly inbred form of natural localness. The vast majority of Israelis have great difficulty in acquiring and/or applying accurate contextual knowledge to the understanding of nonlocal events that nonetheless have direct influence on shaping their perceptions of their local situation. Despite claims of freedom of the press, the popular stylizing of news in Israel allows for the manipulation of attitudes and behaviors, particularly about non-Jews. Such manipulation does, in fact, Israel and Palestinian Cultural Genocide 4 2 influence the beliefs and behavior of not only Israeli Jews but also their Zionist supporters worldwide. As usual, the vehicles for this manipulation are the government and managed media and the use of emotive language, as well as the presentation of “expert opinion.” The end product of this manipulation is a thought collective that is evolving toward an ever more distorted view of reality. As we have seen, this same process operated to create the thought collective necessary for the dispossession, segregation, and near extermination of the Native American population, as well as the brutal and discriminatory treatment of Jews in Russia. Now, not without irony, it also has created a vicious thought collective for Israeli Jews and Zionists in general. The result is a Jewish state that has long pursued, and continues to pursue, policies of cultural genocide against its chosen “other.” The Concept of Transfer: Ethnic Cleansing in Theory For much of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the virulent anti-Semitic situation in Russian-controlled territory was not replicated in central and western Europe. Indeed, the path of benign cultural genocide through a process of secularization, intermarriage , and assimilation seemed open for Jews in countries such as France and Germany, at least through the period of World War I. When one looks at the history of Zionism, the movement that sought to solve the problem of European anti-Semitism through the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, one finds that the bulk of candidates for the role of Jewish colonial “pioneers” in Palestine were from eastern Europe. That is, these early “pioneers” came from Russian-controlled or -influenced territory, and many of them and their immediate ancestors had suffered the repression described in cultural genocide 66 the last chapter. It was not until the Nazi Party grew influential in the face of Germany’s defeat in World War I and the Great Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s that things changed radically for the Jews of central, and eventually western, Europe. At that point they too would seek to escape from a virulent anti-Semitism that sought the physical genocide of the Jews. Finding escape to places like the United States and Great Britain increasingly difficult, many would end up in Palestine. Settlement in Palestine created a new situation for Europe’s Jews. Coming from an arena of persecution, they now stepped into an arena where they exercised privilege, particularly after Great Britain took charge of Palestine following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. In some ways the position of the Zionist settlers resembled that of the colonists in North America examined in chapter 2. Both those earlier European settlers and the Zionist “pioneers” in Palestine were beneficiaries of European imperialism. Both groups took with them an inculcated Western racism and chauvinism that also characterized European behavior throughout its history of imperial and colonial expansion. Indeed, American Zionists in the early 1920s compared the Palestinians to hostile American Indians and themselves to American pioneers bringing civilization to the wilderness (Davidson 2001, 46). This being the case, just how tolerant would the victims of religious persecution really be toward...


Subject Headings

  • Jews -- Russia -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
  • Palestinian Arabs -- Israel -- Social conditions -- 20th century
  • Tibet Autonomous Region (China) -- Social conditions.
  • Assimilation (Sociology).
  • Indians, Treatment of -- North America -- History.
  • Ethnic conflict.
  • Persecution -- Social aspects.
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