The Origins of the Middle East Conflict - Later Developments

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from Zionism, Israel, and the Arabs by Hal Draper (Jewish American socialist 1914-1990)

Chapter VII

This article is a somewhat condensed and edited version of a talk given
in Berkeley shortly after the outbreak of the Third Arab-Israeli War,
dealing with the historical background of the conflict but not with the
current situation, which was discussed separately.

We have just seen War No.3 in the tragedy known as the Israel-Arab
conflict; and we find ourselves in the position of being unable to cheer for
either side in this clash of chauvinisms. At this time I am going to devote
myself mainly to the myths and illusions about the Israeli side of the story,
for the simple reason that it is these myths and illusions that you mainly
read and hear about.

It is not possible to understand what has happened merely by looking
at what happened in the last couple of weeks. Behind War No.3 is a
closely connected chain of events and issues going far back. The main link
in this chain is the story of a nation that has been destroyed.

That sounds like an echo of what we hear all around, viz. the threat of
the Arab states to destroy the state of Israel-the threat which is the
hallmark of Arab chauvinism. But while this is a threat, there was a
nation that was destroyed in Palestine-already. It is this destroyed nation
whose fate has been the crux of the Middle East tragedy, for its fate has
been used and is being used as a football by each side.

When I was born, there was an Arab nation in Palestine, in whose
midst Jews had lived for 2000 years in relative peace. Where is this nation
now, and what has been done to it? The answer is at the heart of the
program which we face now.

Today the leaders of the Arab states are saying, "We aim to destroy
the nation which inhabits Palestine,"and they are rightly denounced for
this. But toward the end of the 19th century, a movement arose which did
in fact set itself the aim of destroying the nation which inhabited Palestine
then; and, moreover, it did so. That movement was the Zionist

Everyone talks nowadays about "the Jews" and "the Arabs," with
doubtful justice. There are Jews and Jews, as there are Arabs and Arabs;
and right now I am talking not about "the Jews," but about the Zionist
movement. Israel today is run by the old men of the world Zionist
movement, and it is still the Zionist ideology which rules Israeli policy.
The European survivors of Hitler's death camps are not the Jews who run
Israel; their terrible fate has been a tool used by the men who run Israel,
so that the crimes of the Nazis have been used to deflect the attention of
world public opinion from the crimes committed in Palestine.

For present purposes, there are three things to understand about this
Zionist ideology, which still rules the rulers of Israel. To present the first, I
quote a typical example of anti-Semitic literature:

"The converted Jew remains a Jew, no matter how much he
objects to it. ... Jews and Jewesses endeavor in vain to obliterate
their descent through conversion or intermarriage with the IndoGermanic
and Mongolian races, for the Jewish type is
indestructible .... Jewish noses cannot be reformed, and the black
wavy hair of the Jews will not change through conversion into
blond, nor can its curves be straightened out by constant combing."

There is more of the same where this comes from. Obviously from the
Nazi commentary on the Nuremberg Laws, or from Streicher's Sturmer,
or perhaps from Gerald L.K. Smith? Not at all: it is from a classic of
Zionism, Moses Hess' Rom und Jerusalem. It is easily possible to quote
pages and pages more of this same mystical blood-tribalism from the best
Zionist sources, all sounding as if it came from the arsenal of the antiSemites.

For Zionism is, first of all, a doctrine about a tribal blood-mystique
which makes all Jews a single nation no matter whey they live or how. It
asserts that Jews are inevitably aliens everywhere, just as the anti-Semites
say they are; and that anti-Semitism is correct in feeling this. This is the
first element in Zionism.

Secondly: it follows that the Jews must reconstitute their "nation" in a
state territory; but not just any state territory. In fact there is a point of
view called "territorialism," as distinct from Zionism, which looked for the
establishment of a Jewish nation in a land other than Palestine. But
Zionism demands that the Jewish "nation" take over Palestine-only
Palestine; and by Palestine it means the ancient Jewish state and its
boundaries, Eretz Israel, no less. This is what the tribal mystique

Thirdly: the Zionist ideology dictates that this Jewish state must be set
up not only by Jews who want to live in such a state. One of the tasks of
the Zionist movement is to move allJews, from all countries of the world,
into Palestine, now Israel. In Zionist slang, this is called the "Ingathering
of the Exiles"; for it is an article of basic faith that all Jews living outside
this territory are living literally in exile, and always will merely be exiles,
nothing else. It was not very many years ago that a writer in Davar, the
organ of the Israeli ruling party, made the suggestion that a good way of
uprooting all those American Jews who declined to go to Israel was to
send a gang of anti-Semitic agitators there to make the ground hot under
their feet so that they would move. This, of 'course, is not usually the
course recommended on paper, as against persuasion. But how
persuasion graduates into denunciation and arm-twisting was seen in the
early fifties when David Ben-Gurion, on a visit to the U.S., denounced the
Zionist Organization of America as traitors to Zionism because its leaders
were not working actively to get the entire Jewish population of the U.S.
to move to Israel. It must be understood (though American Zionists
systematically obfuscate it to the best of their ability) that the Israeli
leaders and world Zionist leaders sincerely believe in their mission to
"ingather" all the Jews of the world to the state of Israel, and that they
have devoted their lives to this mission.

The Zionists have always been fond of saying that they are tired of the
Jews being a "peculiar people," that they have been "peculiar" long
enough. They want (they say) the Jews to be a people like any other, and
to have a state just like any other state. In Israel. I would tell you, they
have succeeded notably in this aim: Israel more and more has become a
state like any other state. In this stridently militarist Zionist state, the
current of Jewish humanism which was one of the glories of the Jewish
people from Maimonides to Spinoza and after, is today represented only
by a minority-a minority whose voices are rarely heard abroad, and
hardly at all in the U.S.; but it is this minority which represents the only
Israel with whom one can identify.

Soon after the creation of Israel the press was full of enthusiastic
reports by American Jewish tourists who went to Israel and came back to
relate the wonders that they saw there (and there are many to see). One
that I remember most vividly was a tourist who was quoted as follows in
the course of his burbling: "Why, you walk around Tel-Aviv, and you
know what? Even the policemen are Jewish!" That's true, naturally. The
cops are Jewish in Israel-and they are still cops. The militarists in Israel
are Jewish-and they are militarists. And the people who destroyed the
Arab Palestinian nation which I mentioned were , alas , also
Jewish-though I do not believe that they will go down in the annals of
history alongside Maimonides and Spinoza.

The destruction of that Palestinian nation went through four periods.
The first period goes from the beginning of the Zionist movement up to
World War 1. This was a period of slow immigration of Jews into
Palestine and of gradual land-buying. By the time it ended Jews
constituted something under 10 percent of the population. Despite
Zionism's profession that this was the thin edge of the wedge in its long
term aim to establish a Jewish state in the land inhabited by the Arabs, it
was not taken seriously enough to occasion much resistance until the
second period, inaugurated by the 1917 Balfour Declaration.

It was in this period that British imperialism, taking over the area,
started its decades-long policy of playing Zionists against Arabs in order to
maintain its imperialist control. The Zionist leadership willingly and
knowingly collaborated with the British. They knew that, at this stage, it
was not they who could control the Arab people living in the land; only
British imperialism could do it for them. To be sure, they were not
puppets of the British: they were junior partners, in an enterprise in which
each partner considered that it was using the other for its own ends.

This was also the period of the beginning of Arab nationalism, of an
Arab national-liberation movement. This movement had every right to
fight for liberation from Britain (or in other parts of the Middle East, from
France). To supporters of Arab freedom, the Zionist movement could
have appeared only as what it actually was: a partner of the European
imperialists. It makes no difference whatsoever that the Zionists played
this baneful role not out of love for Britain but in pursuit of their own
expansion. The fact is that Britain used the Zionist tool to increase the
number of Jewish settlers so as to play them off against the indigenous
Arab population. Thus it was inevitable that Jewish immigration should
appear to the Arabs as a tool of imperialist domination, for it was so.

It was therefore during the 1920s that, for pretty much the first time in
Palestine, there began sporadic Arab attacks against Jewish settlers. On
the one side, these were the first stirrings of an Arab national liberation
movement, directed not only against the British but also against the allies
of the British who were at hand, viz. Zionist infiltrators into the country.
On the other hand-and here you get the typically tragic element in this
story which goes through it from beginning to end-these stirrings took
on strong overtones of the backward social and religious aims of the Arab
movement; for progressive social elements were weak, working-class
formations were incipient. But this hardly can change the fact that there
was a legitimate nationalist movement under way.

The third period-which was to prove decisive to the outcome-came
with the onset of the Nazis' anti-Jewish drive, first in Germany itself, and
then in the course of World War II in the rest of Nazi-occupied Europe,
up to the mass extermination campaign and its death camps. lt should be
added that in the period immediately following the war, there was also the
onset of Soviet anti-Semitism on a big scale, thereby boosting the impact
of what had happened during the war.

This is the period that everyone knows about; some think it is all one
has to know. But there is more to this than meets the myopic eye.

To be sure, for the Jewish remnant Europe represented burning
ground: they had to get out-somehow, somewhere, anywhere. This
plight of the Jewish refugees-one of the most terrible in the history of
man's bestiality to man-was what dramatically captured the sympathy
of everyone decent in the world; it is this that is tied up in the public mind
with the exodus to Palestine. This is entirely true as far as it goes; but one
has to know something else too. This terrible plight and this great world
sympathy were not enough to open the gates of a single Western country
to those Jewish refugees!

During those years we independent socialists called for opening the
doors of the United States to the Jewish victims of Hitlerism, those who
were left. I can tell you that in this great "liberal" country, crawling with
liberals, there was hardly an echo of such a notion, of opening the doors
of this country to the poor Jews for whom everyone's heart bled-in print.

One reason for this is clear and can be easily documented. Morris
Ernst, the famous civil liberties layer who was involved at the time, has
told the story, among others: about how the leaders of the Zionist
movement exerted all the influence they could muster to make sure that
the U.S. did not open up immigration to these Jews-for the simple
reason that they wanted to herd these same Jews to Palestine. This is what
their Zionist ideology demanded. White Christian America was only too
glad to go along with this "solution"! Who wanted a few hundred
thousand miserable Jewish refugees coming into the country? Not our
liberal Americans, who were so heart-stricken by Nazi brutality. Not the
British, who took in an inconsequential token number. Nor anyone else.
These Jewish victims were people on the planet without a visa. Liberals in
this country, as elsewhere, had a convenient way of salving their tender
consciences; all they had to do was parrot the line which the Zionists
industriously provided them: "They want to go only to Palestine ... "

Now there is no point in anyone's arguing to what extent this was
really true or not, or of how many it was true, because no one ever gave
them the chance to decide whether they wanted to go to Palestine or to
some other country that was open to them The doors were shut against
them, with the help of the whole Zionist apparatus and of other "influential"
Jews who were no more enthusiastic about "flooding" the country
with poor Jews than their WASP neighbors. First it was made damned
sure that Palestine was the only possible haven, and then they might
possibly be asked where they wanted to go, as if they had a free choice! In
my eyes, this is one of the basest crimes committed by the Zionist leadership.

In this way the Jewish survivors of the Hitlerite death camps were
herded toward Palestine, to keep the U.S. and other countries from being
contaminated by their presence (for some) or to make sure that they were
properly "ingathered" (for others). Of course, Palestine was not really
open either, being still under the control of the British, but here at least
the Zionist movement was willing to go all-out to crash the gates, with
heavy financing from many an American Jew who himself had no
sympathy for Zionism but could be convinced that Palestine was certainly
a more suitable haven than New York.

This turn brought the Zionist movement into conflict with the same
British imperialism whose junior partner it had been. The partners ' paths
now diverged. The Jewish refugees- fleeing from a horror behind them,
and rejected on all sides- became the human material the Zionists
needed to carry out the goal they had set a half century before: to
dispossess the Arab nation of Palestine and install a Jewish state in its
stead and LO do this with the sympathy of a good deal of the world.
The Palestinian Arabs, as well as their Arab neighbors, had a very
simple comment to make on this situation: "Hitler's extermination
program was a great crime, but why does that mean that we have to give
up our land to the Jews? It is the world's problem, not just ours." I should
like to see someone refute this.

We must note that by this time the Zionist movement had finally come
out openly vvith its proclaimed intention of taking Palestine away as a
Jewish state. This had been done in 1942, in the so-called "Biltmore
Program." (Up to then, the Zionists had used doubletalk about a “Jewish
homeland" to confuse the picture.) Now that the cards were on the table,
there were even some Zionists-or at least people who considered
themselves to be Zionists-who were outraged. It was around this time
that the Ichud was founded in Palestine by Rabbi Judah Magnes. The
idea of a bi-national state in Palestine was counterposed to the official
Zionist program: instead of a “Jewish state" it meant a state in which both
Jews and Arabs could live peacefully and tranquilly together; but it was
rejected. Instead, the Zionists said, "We are going to take the whole
country"; and they did.

Here I need only sketch how this happened. After a series of
doubledealing maneuvers by the great powers (particularly the U.S.,
Britain, and Russia) which it would take too long to go into, by 1947 the
United Nations decided on a partition plan. There were to be two
separate states in Palestine, a Jewish state and an Arab Palestinian state.
By this time, there was indeed a Jewish majority in the territory assigned
to the Jewish state-something like a 60% majority-and therefore one
could feel that this majority had the right to invoke the right to self-determination.
I might as well mention that, at that time (1948), I did
myself believe and write that the Palestinian Jews had the right to make
this mistaken choice (for, of course, a right exists only if it includes the
right to make a mistake). I mention this only to make clear that I believed
and wrote at that time that the attack on the new state of Israel by the
Arab states was an aggression and a violation of the right to self-determination.

But at that moment Israel was still new-born, and there were different
ways in which it could defend itself-in a progressive and democratic
way, and in a racist and expansionist way. The answer to that historical
question was not long in coming: it was given right away by the same
Zionist leaders who were also the rulers of the new state power. From its
first hour the Zionist power took the road of a reactionary and racist
purge of the Arabs as such. At this point I am not talking abou the
foreign Arab states, but of the Arabs of Israel themselves, the great mass
of whom never took up arms against Israel or aided the aggressors.

A new act in the Middle East tragedy begins here; although it is a
crime smaller in magnitude than Hitler's against the Jews, it is still one of
the most shameful in recent history. The Zionist ruler utilized the attack
by the foreign Arab states to run the Palestinian Arabs off their land, by
means of a series of laws and measures which were taken not only in
1948- 49 but which went right on into the 1950s. The forty percent of the
population which was Arab in the partitioned territory was reduced to
about 10 percent in the new state of Israel. Immense proportions of Arab-owned
land were simply robbed from them, by "legal" means. By 1954
over one-third of the Jewish population then in Israel was settled on land
that had been stolen from the Palestinian Arabs. And the Arab state of
Palestine which had been created by the partition never came into
existence; by the end of the war, five sections of it had been grabbed by
Israel and were never given up, and the West Jordan area was
incorporated into the state of Jordan.

Thus the Arab nation of Palestine was destroyed, except as a
discriminated-against remnant in Israel, and even the truncated Arab
state of Palestine set up by partition was destroyed. I am entirely willing to
denounce anyone who wants to destroy any existing state, including
Israel; but some thought should be given to this recent history by those
who are willing to denounce only the threat to destroy Israel.

The great land robbery of the Israeli Arabs was the despoiling of a
whole people. It was carried out in various ways, but generally speaking
the pattern was this: any Arab who had left his village during the war for
any reason whatsoever was declared an "absentee" and his land was
taken away by Zionist agencies. The Zionist myth has it that all these
Palestinian Arabs left at the behest of the foreign Arab invaders and in
cahoots with them. This is a big lie. There was a war on, and even if they
fled from the Arab invaders and in fear of them, and even if they fled only
to a neighboring village, they became "absentees." They also fled from
the British; they not only fled from the invading Arabs but also fled from
the Zionist troops-the Haganah and the Irgun. This was especially true
after the massacre at Deir Yassin.

Deir Yassin was the name of an Arab village in Palestine, whose
people were outstandingly hostile to the Arab invaders. In 1948 a
battalion of the Irgun (the right-wing Zionist force) attacked the village.
There were no armed men in the village, and no arms. Purely for
terroristic purposes, the Irgun sacked the village and massacred 250 men,
women, and children. One hundred fifty bodies were thrown down a
well; 90 were left scattered around. This massacre was deliberately
directed by the Irgun against a village known to be friendly to the Jews, as
an example. Although the dirty job was done by the Irgun, the official Zionist
Haganah knew of the planned attack; immediately afterward the
Irgun, instead of being pilloried in horror by the Zionist movement, was
welcomed by the Haganah into a new pact of collaboration. (The Irgun's
leader, Begin, by the way, was taken into the Israeli cabinet along with
General Dayan just before the outbreak of the recent Third War.)

Of course, the Irgun was able to show the way to the Haganah
because it was semi-fascist; but the Haganah leaders learned fast. Before
the First War had ended the Haganah too was attacking and ousting
unarmed and non-belligerent Arab villagers, although naturally not as
brutally as the Irgun (since they were democrats and "socialists").
Especially after the Deir Yassin massacre, it was only necessary that any
troops show up, and the Arab peasants got out of the way, as anyone else
would do. They thus became "absentees," and their land was taken away
by a series of laws over the next several years. All of the Zionist parties,
from "left" to right, sanctioned this robbery. There was even a legal
category known as "present absentees," who were very much present as
Arab citizens of Israel but who were legally accounted to be "absentees"
because they had been absent from their village on a certain date-and
therefore could be legally robbed of their land. The largest portion of this
stolen land went to the kibbutzim-not only the kibbutzim run by the
Mapai (right-wing social democrats) but even more went to the kibbutzim
of the Mapam (who claimed to be left socialists), whose leaders regularly
made clear that their hearts bled for the plight of the Israeli Arabs.
However, their hearts also bled for their land, even more.

Along the border areas, Palestinian Arabs were pushed over the line
into the Gaza Strip, or into Jordan, and then they were shot on sight as
"infiltrators" if they tried to come back. It was in ways like this-which I
sketch here only briefly-that Israel's rulers created the massive Arab
refugee problem. Literally they surrounded the country with a circle of
hatred-hatred which they themselves had caused-the hatred of the
despoiled Palestinian Arabs looking over form the other side of the border
and seeing their own lands being tilled by strangers whom the Zionists
had brought from thousands of miles away to take their place.

This robbery is not transmuted into justice just because some of these
strangers were Jewish refugees from Europe against whom another crime
had been committed by someone else. The Zionist agencies welcomed
these despairing refugees to their new life by putting them on the marches
of the hate-encircled state so that they would have to defend themselves,
their lives, and their stolen gifts, from the previous Arab owners. (Thus the
"exiles" were not only "ingathered" but also very useful.)

Meanwhile in Israel, the 10 percent of the Palestinian Arabs left-who
had not taken up arms but had not fled-were placed under military
control like an occupied enemy people, and discriminated against in
many ways. It is not without reason that they have been called the
"niggers of Israel"; but as a matter of fact the American Negroes would
not have taken lying down what the Israeli Arabs had to endure for two

On the borders-for example, in the Gaza Strip-the dispossessed
and robbed Arabs lived a wretched existence under the control of Egypt,
but the Egyptians only used them for their purposes as pawns, while
keeping their help to a minimum. They were not admitted into Egypt
proper. They were forced to fester there so that their misery and hatred
might make them a bone in the throat of the Israelis; at the same time
Israel was as little interested as Nasser in arriving at a deal for the
settlement of the Arab refugee problem.

Every now and then some of the refugees would "infiltrate"-that is,
slip across into Israel to visit his own land or till his own soil or try to take
back his own belongings-and would be shot to death by those same
Jewish policemen and guards who so delighted the heart of the Jewish
tourist mentioned earlier. As a result the Israelis complained bitterly
about the "infiltrators" who were so evil as to do this. The terrible
situation escalated. Infiltrators began to commit acts of sabotage on the
property that had been stolen from them, or struck out more blindly at
the robbers. The Israelis began to resort to organized military reprisals to
terrorize them into acquiescence. In 1953 there was a massacre organized
by Israeli armed forces in the Arab village of Kibya. In 1955-a year that
more or less marked a turning-point for the worse-there was a big attack
by an organized Israeli military force on Gaza; more and more Israeli
leaders oriented toward "preventive" war, since military force was their
only answer to the problem created by their own crimes. This was the
traditional and classic answer of the militarist and expansionist mentality;
it is the same answer as was recommended by General MacArthur on
how to treat Koreans and Chinese and other such "gooks"-you show
them who's master--that's what they can understand, etc. The answer of
the Israeli militarists was, similarly: kill and terrorize the "gooks" and
"teach them a lesson" so that they won't do it again.

There were negotiations over the plight of the Arab refugees but
neither side was interested in a real settlement-not the Israeli side and
not the Egyptian and Arab side. For Nasser, the Arab refugees leading
their wretched existence were useful tools to harass the Israelis. As for
Israel, at the same time that they argued that they could not restore the
land to the Arabs they had robbed, they were industriously bringing in
whole Jewish populations, from Yemen and Morocco, for example (not to
speak of the whole Jewish population of the U.S. which Ben-Gurion was
so vainly anxious to move to Israel). There was plenty of room in Israel
for such hundreds of thousands of Jews, but in the negotiations over the
Arab refugee problem there was not a dunam of land that could be
spared. The decisive thing to remember is that, from the Zionist
viewpoint, for every single despoiled Arab who would be readmitted to
Israel there was a Jew who could therefore not be "ingathered."

The problem was not how Israel and the Arab states could have made
peace; the problem was that neither side wanted to make peace, except of
course on capitulatory terms. They did not then, and they do not now.

For Nasser, the Israel issue was a pawn in the inter-Arab struggle for
power. It was also a useful distraction from the internal failures of his
bureaucratic-military regime, which lacked any progressive domestic
program. In both Egypt and Jordan, the pressure of the refugees within
the country was relieved only by pointing them outward, against Israel.
As for Israel, it must be remembered that Zionism still did not rule the
"Land of Israel" as the Zionist program demanded; the "Land of Israel"
still included territories outside of the state of Israel. Israeli expansionism
was implicit in this, and also in the fact that, if room was going to be
made for the millions of "exiles" who were to be ingathered, more land
was needed. In 1955 Israeli leaders (some eagerly convinced of the
necessity of "preventive" war, some dragging their feet) were looking for
some pretext to launch a war against Egypt and the Arab alliance. As it
happened, British and French imperialism brought them to launch that
aggression themselves. In 1956, openly and in the sight of the whole
world, side by side with the two leading European imperialisms (of which
it was once again a junior partner), Israeli invaded Egypt as its partners
struck at the Suez Canal.

The point is not that Nasser is or was a dove of peace, himself, as has
been made clear. One of the reasons why Nasser was not in a position to
give warlike substance to his blowhard threats was that he was too
preoccupied with internal difficulties and too weak. But if Nasser was no
dove, it is still true that Israel exposed itself to the whole world as an open
aggressor in alliance with European imperialism. Every dirty expansionist
plan it had been accused of turned out to be true. Even after the British
and French enterprise failed, Israel fought to retain the land it had
grabbed in Egypt and gave it up only after immense international

This pattern must be remembered in the light also of the way in which
the recent Third War was initiated: i.e., with Nasser taking the situation
to the brink, talking loudly about destroying Israel, while the Israelis went
straight to the business at hand by precipitating the shooting war.

There is one other story to be told for this period-the story of a
pogrom. This pogrom was directed against an Arab village in Israel
named Kfar Kassem. On the day that Israel attacked Egypt in 1956, the
Israeli government declared a new curfew for its Arab citizens (who,
remember, were under military control anyway, even without a war). The
new decree advanced the curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 p.m. Israeli officers
showed up in Kfar Kassem, as well as other places, to make known the
change on that day. They were told that the men had already gone out to
the fields; the officers' reply was, roughly speaking, "Don't bother us with
details." In the evening, when the men of the village returned from
working in the fields after the new curfew hour, they were shot down in
cold blood by the Israeli soldiers-for violating a curfew that had never
been told them. The government admitted that 46 men were thus killed;
the number wounded was not made public. The government admission
applied only to Kfar Kassem but it was reliably reported that the same
thing happened that day at other Arab villages. Even this much was
admitted by the government only after a week had passed and the reports
could no longer be hushed up. All of Israel was appalled. Some
underlings were made the scapegoats.

It was clear, then, that the Zionist program of making Israel a "state
like any other state" had come true: it had its own Jewish policemen, it
had its own soldiers, it had its own militarists, and now it had its own

In 1967, the road that started in Deir Yassin and goes through Kfar
Kassem has now reached the bank of the Jordan, where Arab refugees
are once again being pushed out and around by the Israelis, as they have
been for the last 20 years. It would be useful to go through the whole
chapter subsequent to 1956, leading up to the Third War, but, aside from
time considerations, we would only find that it is more of the same thing:
the tragedy of one reactionary chauvinism versus another reactionary

There is an image that haunts me, about this whole tragic
embroilment in the Middle East. Buck deer in the mating season will fight
each other, and now and again it has happened that they will entangle
their antlers and be unable to disengage. Unable to break loose, unable to
win, locked in a static hopeless combat until they die and rot and their
bleached bones are found by some hunter in the forest, their skeletons are
grisly evidence of a tragedy which destroyed them both, ensnarled.

It may be that, in the Middle East entanglement, the Arabs, or some
of the Arabs, can survive this conflict. But it is doubtful whether, in the
long run, the Jews ofIsrael can. What the Zionists have made out ofIsrael
is a new ghetto-a state ghetto, a ghetto with state boundaries. That's not
a new life for theJews; that is more of the old life of which theJews have
had more than their share. This generation of Zionist hawks ruling Israel
is a curse. No matter how many more great military victories they win,
the sea of Arab peoples ringing them cannot be eliminated from the
picture, and hatred grows. It may be another decade or two before the
Arab states become modernized enough to wage war effectively; and then
it will take more than euphoria over military heroes to point a way for

There are some in Israel who know and say what has been said
here-more who know and fewer who say-and it is to be hoped that the
next generation will be more willing to listen to their kind, to the kind of
Jews who represent what is best in the history of Jewish humanism and
social idealism rather than those who worship the Moloch of a "state like
any other state."

New Politics, Winter 1967