Thinking About Zionism

Next week we’ll celebrate Yom Haatzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, and before the partying starts, we thought we’d spend this week being a little more introspective about Israel and Zionism.

Toward this end, Matt Plen has written a comprehensive and incredibly sophisticated article for us about the ways in which Zionist thinkers have thought about the Palestinians.

According to Plen, few Zionists seriously thought Palestine was “a land without people for a people without a land,” and he guides us through Hertzl’s Altneuland, Hashomer Hatzair’s Marxism, Jabotinsky’s Revisionism, and into the present.

Perhaps most interesting, is the early (Socialist-inspired) belief that economics would settle the potential conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Jews.

Until the 1930s, for example, David Ben Gurion believed that as the economic growth caused by Jewish immigration enhanced the Palestinian Arabs’ standard of living, they would gradually come to appreciate the benefits of Zionism; the conflict would thereby be neutralized. This prognosis was shattered by the outbreak of the Arab revolt in 1936, at the peak of a cycle of economic growth. The Labor Zionists had failed to take into account the nationalist, ideological basis of the Arabs’ opposition to Zionism. That reality now became painfully clear.

You can read the full article here.

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David Ben-Gurion

The first prime minister of the Jewish state.