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Can anyone be more defensive of Zionism’s reputation than Israel’s Prime Minister? Therefore many people wondered why Ehud Olmert suddenly announced after Annapolis that “if the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished” (“Olmert Warns of ‘End of Israel’,” BBC, 11/29/07)
Apparently he was reacting to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s blunt statements to him. Haaretz, Israel’s most prestigious newspaper, tells us that
In private conversations — and as she said in Annapolis — Rice tends to compare the Israeli occupation in the territories to the racial segregation that used to be the norm in the American South. The Israel Defense Forces checkpoints where Palestinians are detained remind her of the buses she rode as a child in Alabama, which had separate seats for blacks and whites. This is an uncomfortable comparison, of course, for the Israelis, who view it as “over-identification” on her part with Palestinian suffering. (Aluf Benn, “What’s the Hurry?” 12/27/07)
Abe Foxman of America’s Anti-Defamation League and other apologists for Israel scream at ex-President Jimmy Carter for attacking West Bank Israeli apartheid. And Haaretz says that American Zionist ultras are dumping on Rice for using the s-word, which, if it sticks to Israel, will ultimately be fatal for Zionism in the US. Now these fanatics are ranting at Olmert for his statement. But he is smarter than them. When Carter and Rice say what they say, Israel must make a deal with the Palestine Authority and the Arab states backing it, or face growing opposition within American imperialism from those more concerned about Arab oil than Zionist campaign contributions. Olmert knows that growing divisions between Israel and its patron will inevitably inspire many Palestinians to continue to fight Zionism until it is defeated like the apartheid regime that even he says it resembles.
Of course Olmert isn’t abandoning Israel’s ‘right’ to exist as a Jewish state within borders recognized by the Authority and the Arab world. Ditto Carter and Rice. But if a Jewish state is legitimate in principle, how and why did “the only democracy in the Middle East,” as Israel proclaims itself, end up looking like apartheid South Africa and the segregated American south, even in the eyes of its own PM and Bush’s international motor-mouth? Be sure that we will never get honest answers to that query from Olmert, much less from Rice, who shows zero signs of in-depth knowledge of Zionist history. But there is indeed an intelligent explanation, and we can find it in “The Iron Wall (We and the Arabs),” written in 1923 by Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880-1940), the founder of the “Zionist-Revisionist” movement which Olmert grew up in.
Although he was born in what is now Ukrainia, Jabotinsky was Russian-speaking and a gifted writer in that language and many others. Indeed his talents were so extraordinary that he soon became a leading international Zionist figure and was instrumental in getting London to establish a “Jewish Legion” in 1917 to help Britain take Palestine from the Ottoman empire.
Zionism, like any ideology, has writers who don’t do and doers who don’t write. But fighting in the imperial army made Jabotinsky the writer into a realistic doer. Read him on “colonisation,” his c-word. You will understand exactly why Israel, regardless of all the monkey-chatter about it being “the only democracy in the Middle East,” inexorably came to be the discriminatory regime summed up so well by Rice’s “segregation” and Olmert’s “apartheid.”
They each, in different voices, call for a “two-state solution.” But Olmert wants as big a Zionist state as he can keep with minimal Israeli casualties, with the Palestinians confined in a Bantustine no bigger than a broom-closet. Rice is prepared to be a tad more generous. But segregation or apartheid, religious or ethnic, has no right to exist on even one inch of our planet. After decades of struggle, American legal segregation and South African apartheid are dead and gone and we all say good riddance to them. In time, when progressive Palestinians and Israelis get their act together and set up their equivalent of the American civil rights movement and the African National Congress, Zionism will join segregation and apartheid in the cemetery reserved for discredited and defeated colonial regimes.
Lenni Brenner was born into an Orthodox Jewish family. He became an atheist at 10, and a left political activist at 15, in 1952. He was arrested 3 times during 1960s Black civil rights sit-ins in the San Francisco Bay Area. He spent 39 months in prison when a court revoked his probation for marijuana possession, because of his activities during the Berkeley Free Speech Movement at the University of California in 1964. Immediately on imprisonment, he spent 4 days in intense discussion with Huey Newton, later founder of the Black Panther Party, whom he encountered in the court holding tank. Later he worked with Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture), the legendary “Black Power” leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in the Committee against Zionism and Racism, from 1985 until Ture’s death in 1998. Brenner is the author of 4 books, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir, Jews in America Today, and The Lesser Evil, a study of the Democratic Party. In 2002 he edited 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis. It contains complete translations of many of the documents quoted in Zionism in the Age of the Dictators and The Iron Wall. In 2004 he edited Jefferson & Madison on Separation of Church and State: Writings on Religion and Secularism. He blogs at <www.smithbowen.net/linfame/brenner>. He can be reached at <BrennerL21@aol.com>.