The Anti-Semitic Birth of the Zionist State: A History of Israel’s Self-Hating Founders

Self-Hating Jews Feature photo

By Miko Peled

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When the victims of Zionism finally have their day in court, the world will see just how cruel and racist the early Zionists really were.

Zhid, Kapo, Nazi, and Little Jew” — are among the epithets used by Zionists to insult Jewish people who oppose or reject Zionism and its racist ideology.

A recent episode of Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro’s podcast “Committing High Reason” recalls the history of Theodor Hertzl, the founder of Zionism and of the Zionist State, and sheds new light on the term “Self-Hating Jew.”

Committing High Reason

Rabbi Shapiro sources all of his claims methodically and when one hears what Hertzl, who was Jewish himself, wrote about Jewish people, the only conclusion is that he was the quintessential “Self-Hating Jew.” There can be no doubt that he hated Jewish people and wanted nothing more than to dissociate himself from the “common” Jew. Furthermore, he was not alone: other Zionist leaders — Vladimir Jabotinsky, Chaim Weizmann, and others — were equally openly hateful of their Jewish brethren.

In 2018, Rabbi Shapiro published a 1,400-page book titled “The Empty Wagon, Zionism’s Journey from Identity Crisis to Identity Theft.”  The book outlines the vast differences that exist between Judaism and its main nemesis, Zionism. The book was written for Orthodox Jews and indeed every Orthodox Jewish home I have visited in the last two years had a copy of this massive work. Even though it assumes a great deal of knowledge about Judaism, the book has an unprecedented amount of well-sourced information, so that even those of us who are not well versed in Judaism can learn a great deal from it.

The information presented in this particular episode of Rabbi Shapiro’s podcast can also be found in his book, and it leads to the undeniable fact that the founder of Zionism — and many of his contemporaries — hated everything about Jews and Judaism and hated the fact that they themselves were Jewish. According to Rabbi Shapiro and many other Orthodox rabbis whom he quotes, it was their hatred of Jews and not their desire to save them from anti-Semitism that was the driving force behind the creation of Zionism and the establishment of a Zionist state.

The founder of Zionism not only believed that the anti-Semitic trolls about Jews were true, but also justified them. He claimed only that these racist accusations applied to the “other” Jews, those who were not as secular and “enlightened” as he.

The story of Hertzl, as it is told in Zionist schools both in Israel and around the world, makes him seem like the savior of Jews, a man motivated by the desire to do good. However, a more in-depth look into the man and his motivations reveals that he despised Jewish people and wanted to separate himself from “common” Jews by creating a space, an existence for people like himself who were Jews by birth but despised what it means to be Jewish.

Vladimir Jabotinsky, the father of right-wing Zionism and today’s Israeli Likud Party, was another classic case of the “Self-Hating Jew.” He wrote that “[t]he Jews are very nasty people and their neighbors hate them and they are right.”

Another Zionist spiritual leader, Uri Zvi Greenberg, wrote: “Those loathsome Jews are vomited by any healthy collective and state not because they are Jews but because of their Jewish repulsiveness.”

Zionists worship physical strength while Orthodox Judaism looks down upon it. In a conversation I had once with Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Dovid Feldman of New York, I asked about this. I told him that to people like me, who were raised Zionist, Orthodox Jews look weak and pale and very unattractive. Rabbi Feldman looked straight at me and replied: “You have no idea how hard we work to maintain this look. Being a Jew is a spiritual-religious existence, not a masculine physical one.”

Maushel (or Moishel)

In the October 15, 1897 edition of the Zionist paper Dei Welt, a publication that Hertzl founded, he published an essay, titled “Maushe,” about a Jew who is an anti-Zionist. The focus of the essay was a fictional character, a Jew Hertzl called “Maushel,” which was a derogatory name for Jews used by anti-Semites at the time.

Dei Welt
The front page of the Zionist paper Dei Welt circa 1897

Maushel — or Moishel, depending on one’s accent — is the “common” religious Jew. The article was originally written in German, with an English version published in another Zionist publication called The Maccabean. Here are a few examples of how Hertz depicts the Jews in his essay:

Maushel | Theodore Herzl
Maushel | Theodore Herzl

“Maushel is an anti-Zionist. We know him well and long and we always felt disgusted when we saw him.” Hertzl is all the more disgusted and chagrin by being obliged to acknowledge that Maushel is indeed “of our people,” though there is “not the slightest use of being proud of the fact,” which he laments results from “the co-mingling at one dark period of our history of a lower class of people with our nation.”

Hertzl goes on to say that “[t]he disgust which we had for him was coupled with pity. We sought to explain his miserable and wretched appearance. We told ourselves that we must tolerate him that it was our sacred duty to civilize him.” Wanting to disassociate himself from the Maushel Jew, Hertzl says, “He is the terrible companion of the Jews and so inseparable from them that one is always mistaken one for the other. “

Hertzl continues with his blatant hatred and writes that Maushel is “the antithesis of a human being, something unspeakably degraded and obstinate…Maushel proceeds with his own dirty business in poverty Maushel is a wretched schnorrer.” Then sadly Justifying anti-Semitic attacks on Jews, Hertzl says, “Maushel always supplied reasons for the attacks upon us.” In other words the Jews, the “real” Jews” like Hertzl are targeted by anti-Semites because of this distant, unrelated person who the anti-Semites confuse for a Jew.

Further, Hertzl writes:

In the eyes of the anti-Semite the Jew and Maushel were bound together; then Zionism appeared and the Jew and Maushel had to define their position, and now Maushel did the Jews a service: he divorced himself from the union because he is an anti-Zionist.”

In other words, Hertzl claims that only the real Jews are secular Zionist Jews. He then goes on to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism: “When people say that Jews do not support Zionism the answer is no! The Jew cannot be an anti-Zionist, only Maushel is.”

Rhetoric like this is very common in Israel today, that the real Jews are the secular Zionists and religious non-Zionist Jews are described in a variety of derogatory terms.

“That’s fine,” Hertzl continues, “let us be relieved of him. It is an opportunity to purify ourselves of these degrading elements.”

The confusion regarding Jewish identity and the claims that Zionism is part of Jewish identity is very common, and indeed very troubling. This deep misunderstanding of both Judaism and Zionism clearly can be traced back to the founder of Zionism, Theodor Hertzl.

What makes a Jew a Jew?

The great Jewish sage, Rabbi Sa’adiya Ga’on- – whose full name was Sa’id Bin Yousef El-Fayyumi — was one of the most important Jewish rabbinic figures of all times. He was born in Fayyum in upper Egypt in the late Ninth century; went on to study in Tabariya, Palestine, which was an important center of Jewish learning; and later lived, worked, and wrote in Baghdad. In what is considered one of his most important books — “Emunot Ve-Deot,” or “Beliefs and Opinions,” which he wrote in Arabic using Hebrew letters — Ga’on wrote that the people of Israel — in other words, Jews — are a nation only by virtue of their religious laws (he used the term Sharia in Arabic for religious laws). In other words, a people bound by faith.

Saadiya Ga'on
A Page from Rabbi Sa’adiya Ga’on’s book “Emunot Ve-Deot”

According to Hertzl, Jews are a nation because, as he put it, “our enemies made us one without our consent; distress binds us together.” The former defines Jewish people as a religious group bound by laws and faith, the latter as an undefined group united by the hatred of non-Jews.

A eulogy to Hertzl

Vladimir Jabotinsky’s eulogy to Hertzl was a monumental offering of praise and even veneration. First published as a booklet in Odessa in 1905, it was written in Russian and later translated into Hebrew. In it, Jabotinsky discusses the legacy of Hertzl, whom, despite their differences, he admired deeply. In one section, Jabotinsky praises the wonderful features of a Hebrew and compares them to what he calls the disgusting features of a Jew. Instead of saying Jew, he used the horribly degrading, anti-Semitic term “Zhid.”

Dr. Hertzl
“Doctor Hertzl,” the cover of the booklet containing Jabotinsky’s eulogy

The eulogy begins with Jabotinsky admitting that no one has ever seen a true Hebrew (“None of us has seen the true Hebrew with our very eyes.”) and continuing on to say that the Jew we see around us today is not a Hebrew but a Zhid (“And so today, we take as our starting point the Zhid, and try to imagine his exact opposite,” in an effort to imagine a Hebrew.).

Vladimir Jabotinsky Likud
Vladimir (Zeev) Jabotinsky’s photo on the Likud Party website

“Because the Zhid is ugly, sickly,” the father of Israel’s Likud Party writes, “we will give the ideal image of the Hebrew masculine beauty, stature, massive shoulders, vigorous movements,” Jabotinsky concludes:

The Zhid is frightened and downtrodden, the Hebrew proud and independent. The Zhid is disgusting to everyone, the Hebrew should be charming to all. The Zhid accepts submission, the Hebrew ought to know how to command. The Zhid likes to hide from the eyes of strangers, the Hebrew will possess brazensess and greatness.”

Hertzl, according to Jabotinsky, was the perfect specimen of the Hebrew that no one has ever seen.

Zionism — for whom?

If indeed Hertzl and the other leaders of Zionism were self-hating Jews and looked down upon the “common” Jew, what was their motivation for establishing Zionism and working so hard to found a Zionist State?

In Chapter One of his book, Rabbi Shapiro quotes one of the most respected rabbis of his day, Rabbi Chaim Soloveichik, who lived in Eastern Europe at the end of the nineteenth century. According to the quote, Rabbi Soloveichik says that Zionists wanted to create a state in order to destroy Judaism.

In other words, Zionists were secular and viewed themselves as enlightened and better than the “common” Jew. They looked down at Torah-observant Jews. They wanted a place where people like them, who did not look or live like “common” Jews, would be able to live without having to deal with (or even see) observant Jews, and where they could be like other nations.

The State of Israel was not created for the “common” Jew, the one with a long beard and payot (the curls that dangle from the side of their heads), those who lived in the shtetl (ghettos) of Europe. Neither was the Zionist state created for the Arab Jew, but for the secular European Jew, who wants more than anything to be European.

In a book that describes how Zionist leaders viewed the Jews of Europe, there is a photo that shows Jews in the market in Nalewni Ghetto in Warsaw. There is a quote attributed to Chaim Weizmann, a major leader in the Zionist movement and later the first president of the State of Israel. The caption reads, “Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel, or Palestine) was not meant for the peddlers of Nalewski, Warsaw.” These are the Jews that Hertzl and the other Zionist leaders despised.

When the victims of Zionism finally have their day in court, the world will see just how cruel and racist the early Zionists really were. The world will see that Israel, today’s Zionist state, is a perfect reflection of what the early Zionists were: racist, violent, and hateful.

In Israel today, Ultra-Orthodox Jews who oppose Zionism are despised and ridiculed; non-religious, anti-Zionist Jews are pushed away; and Palestinians are merely collateral — the price that needs to be paid so that the vision of Hertzl and the other “Self-Hating Jews” could become a reality.

Gilad Atzmon on Adam Green’s Know More News

 BY GILAD ATZMON

Adam Green and myself discuss questions to do with the current authoritarian shift and the centrality of Jewish sensitivities in this transition.

“But The Jews Also Suffered An Injustice”

By Rima Najjar

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Question: Have there been other examples in history where victims of gross injustice, like that perpetrated against Palestinians by colonizing European Jews, are asked to acknowledge and embrace the poisonous and false claims of their oppressors?

Of course, there have been. Those with the military or political power to oppress have historically imposed their “narratives” on their victims and written their history books accordingly. When liberation came, when the oppression was lifted, the colonial downtrodden and dispossessed were able to reclaim their geographic territory and their history. The oppressors were forced to reevaluate their racist/supremacist self-education.

I am not saying, by any means, “and they all lived happily ever after,” because they haven’t, as we observe in continuing struggles today, many years after liberation technically occurred, especially in settler-colonial countries. To use Angela Davis’ words, freedom is a constant struggle. But “progress,” albeit in fits and starts, is still evident in many, if not all (Kashmir!), of these causes.

The case of Palestine has many similarities with other settler-colonial cases. These are often pointed out in discussion. Our case, however, has been stubbornly resistant to “progress,” even in a century in which “progressive causes” are largely self-evident — except for Palestine.

The reason for the cognitive dissonance embedded in the expression “progressives except for Palestine” lies in the Jewish identity of those who orchestrated the implementation of Zionism on Palestinians. By that I mean Jewish history in Europe continues to pose a challenge to Palestinian liberation.

There was/is something about Palestinian liberation that plays havoc with the minds of Jews on the Left in the “diaspora,” not to mention in the minds and hearts of Israeli Jews. Now that Peter Beinart has opened the door for some revision — not of that history, but of the mindset that balances Palestinian human rights against Jewish interests and reluctantly (or in anguish) finds room for Palestinians in a “Jewish tent” — the key to acceptance of the Palestinian cause as a “progressive cause” appears to lie in the hands of Jews, especially young American Jews, who are growing up rejecting their parents’ beliefs that Jews worldwide are “a people” with a right to self-determination outside their countries of origin.

But it’s still “complicated.”

In pleading our cause, it appears, we have the burden of convincing our oppressors that they have nothing to fear and everything to gain by recognizing our humanity and by sorting out what many have described as their pathology. What’s more, we must, it seems, also be credentialed as their allies in the struggle to end antisemitism — an antisemitism we in Palestine have had nothing to do with, and in which they themselves are complicit!

Israel celebrates its so-called “independence,” as the US does; both are settler-colonial states; both perpetrated genocide/ethnic cleansing and displaced native inhabitants — a criminal project that’s ongoing in Israel. But when people say about “the Middle East” that “it’s complicated,” they are referring to the Israeli phenomenon of successfully selling the status of colonizing Zionist Jews as indigenous. Therein lies the “complication.”

What it is, really, is a hoax. Deception has always been Israel’s first option for the attainment of its Zionist goals. And through deception, Israel has turned the internationally recognized Palestinian right of return into a “redemption fantasy of return across the Green Line,” and the Biblical fantasy of Jewish redemption, i.e., “God redeeming the people of Israel from their exiles,” into a reality.

If reconciliation in conflict means restoring the right relationship between adversaries, our biggest challenge as Palestinians is to persuade all those otherwise rational Jews and non-Jews who understand, on the one hand, that the creation of Israel in Palestine in 1948 was a terrible injustice to the Palestinians, and on the other, fully accept the legitimacy of Israel, that they are wrong.

When you ask such people for an explanation, the answer invariably begins with: “But the Jews also suffered an injustice.” This is exactly what Israeli historian Avi Shlaim says.

To that I say, give us Palestinians a break!

Righteous Anger Vs. Zionist Jewish Wrath

By Rima Najjar

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Rabbi Yaakov Yosef e4e65

The tragedy of the Israeli mentality is that there is no room for Palestinian anger and frustration in its make-up but plenty of room for Jewish wrath. I found myself reflecting on this proposition after participating in a discussion thread on Facebook the other day.

Harvey Stein, an American-Israeli filmmaker and blogger in The Times of Israel, recently generated a long heated thread on Facebook by embracing Peter Beinart’s vision of the end of the two-state “solution,” and inviting his friends to comment. He finally abandoned the thread, saying: “The genuine debate I try to inspire here is impossible.”

When people begin discussion of an issue with two different premises, the discussion is destined to remain on parallel tracks that never meet. But what I observed and am exploring in this post goes beyond the obvious. It has to do with how emotions are perceived on each side — perhaps a little like the difference between Dr King’s perception of black riots in 1966 as “the language of the unheard…to make justice a reality,” and Trump’s perception of the riots today in the context of black protests as an opportunity to exploit the racist fears of white nationalists in order to be reelected.

Neal Hugh Hurwitz, a “soft” Zionist participating in Stein’s thread was alarmed by my show of anger in the discussion. He commented: “Harvey Stein — — so we know about the bad guys on our side — — whatcha goin do about the Rima Najjars from Indiana???:) I think she’d slit your throat.”

In his mind, my anger as a Palestinian at the injustice and thievery of the Zionist project is equivalent to the aggression of hard-core Zionists, who were trolling on Stein’s thread, and whose terror tactics in the West Bank are ongoing.

The fear that Palestinian anger might lead to terror against Israelis is a fundamental principle of the Zionist Jewish state. Brutally repressing any and all expression of that anger has been the premier job of the state for all of its 72 years.

Debate that does not embrace historical facts is destined to produce anger and frustration on both sides, but only one side’s anger can honestly be characterized as righteous. Harvey Stein, a Jewish immigrant from New York, believes his right to belong in Jerusalem is equal to mine, a Palestinian exile in Indiana denied return, by virtue of his being a Jew (he may or may not be religious, I don’t know). He and other soft Zionists are willing to go as far as declaring that their “profound belonging” to Palestine-now-Israel does not supersede mine — and no farther.

I understand Harvey Stein actually discovered the name of the Palestinian family who owned the house he now lives in. How can he sleep at night — in Jerusalem or in New York, I wonder. (It’s worth noting here that Miko Peled in his book The General’s Son mentions how his mother, who was born and raised in Jerusalem, refused to occupy the home of a Palestinian family who had been forced out of West Jerusalem in 1948 when it was offered to her.)

Every morning without fail, as I read the news coming out of Palestine/Israel, my helpless anger rises to a boiling point at the relentless march of violent events inherent in the makeup of the national/Judaic state that would have been legitimate only if, at the end of the 19th century, its founders had happened to discover an uninhabited piece of land somewhere on the globe and immigrated there.

Instead, its criminally-minded founders (their own words attest to their unconscionable aggression) finagled their way into Palestine (their campaigns of advocacy and early lobbying in Britain and the US are well-documented) and executed a meticulous plan of terror, as described in Thomas Suárez’ book State of Terror: How Terrorism Created Modern Israel.

I am not sure to what the word “modern” in Suárez’ title refers. There is no such thing as modern and ancient Israel in the same sense we use these terms to differentiate between modern and ancient territorial polities like Greece, for example, or modern and ancient Egypt. The word “modern” in association with Israel is totally misleading, as is the ubiquitous term “diaspora” used to describe Jews outside Israel for the purpose of emphasizing their mythical religious/spiritual connection to the Holy Land.

The name Palestine to describe the region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River was most commonly used from 1300 BC onward, and it has evolved from a multiplicity of beginnings — ancient, medieval, modern, nationalist — into a geopolitical concept and distinct polity. This is unlike the myth-narratives of the Old Testament with its single “beginning.”

The idea of a “modern” Israel has thus necessitated the obliteration of thousands of years of Palestinian history, jumping, as Israelis do, from the Old Testament to the 20th century.

Israel’s state terror has been met in some instances by retaliatory acts of terror against Israelis by Hamas. That is true. But those acts are not comparable with the racist/supremacist, indeed systemic, actions of the Zionist Jewish state that regards Arabs as inferior and accepts “revenge” as a “mitigating circumstance” for a brutal lynching — (that report was in my news-pouch today).

According to a 1954 “fatwa” by Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli, Jews are allowed to kill enemy civilians–men, women, and children (“massacre of revenge” — milhemet nakam). Also in self-defense. The massacres perpetrated on Palestinians by terror gangs as described in Suárez’ book pre-Israel, and those perpetrated on Gazans, are all today rationalized by the Israeli forces as acceptable and ethical conduct.

It is no accident the Jewish offensive warfare pre-1948 turned into “defense” forces of the Jewish state. Offense is defense in the Zionist mentality.

In 2011, Sari Nusseibeh, at the time a professor of philosophy at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem and also its president, published an article in Al Jazeera that explains why the Israeli demand to be recognised as a “Jewish state” by the Palestinians is an inherently problematic concept:

… recognising a “Jewish state” in Israel — a state which purports to annex the whole of Jerusalem, East and West, and calls Jerusalem its “eternal, undivided capital” (as if the city, or even the world itself, were eternal; as if it were really undivided, and as if it actually were legally recognised by the international community as Israel’s capital) — means completely ignoring the fact that Jerusalem is as holy to 2.2 billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims, as it is to 15–20 million Jews worldwide.

… Nevertheless, it remains true that, in the Old Testament, God commands the Jewish state in the land of Israel to come into being through warfare and violent dispossession of the original inhabitants. Moreover, this command has its roots in the very Covenant of God with Abraham (or rather “Abram” at that time) in the Bible and it thus forms one of the core tenets of Judaism as such, at least as we understand it. No one then can blame Palestinians and descendents of the ancient Canaanites, Jebusites and others who inhabited the land before the Ancient Israelites (as seen in the Bible itself) for a little trepidation as regards what recognising Israel as a “Jewish State” means for them, particularly to certain Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox Jews. No one then can blame Palestinians for asking if recognising Israel as a “Jewish State” means recognising the legitimacy of offensive warfare or violence against them by Israel to take what remains of Palestine from them.

At the beginning of Zionist terror in Palestine, the impetus for it came from a secular national/supremacist construct that professedly had little to do with religion. But religion now permeates the psyche of the state, and the bigots it has let loose on the West Bank dramatize that fact.

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