Herzl’s Zionism and Settler Colonialism in Palestine

Published date19 January 2024
Date19 January 2024
AuthorSamir Abed-Rabbo
Subject MatterHerzl’s Zionism,Settler Colonialism,Palestine,Great Britain,Jewish state,Ethnic cleansing,Palestinian culture
Samir Abed-Rabbo
Submission date: June 19, 2023; Acceptance date: September 29, 2023;
Publication date: January 19, 2024
© 2024, Samir Abed-Rabbo. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms
of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/
licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Abstract: This article examines Zionist claims to colonize Palestine and the role of Great
Britain and prominent European Zionist Jews in the effort to establish Israel. Theodore
Herzl, his lieutenants, and supporters personify Hannah Arendt’s phrase “the banality
of evil” while acting and appearing as respectable statesmen, scientists, journalists, and
businesspeople who advocated for freedom, liberation, and combating antisemitism.
They deliberately collaborated with known antisemites and worked to dismantle ancient
Jewish communities, relentlessly removing Jews out of their countries of origin, coloniz-
ing Palestine for the creation of a Jewish state, ethnically cleansing the indigenous people
of Palestine, fabricating history, erasing Palestine and its long history, demeaning and
oppressing the Palestinian people, and suppressing and appropriating Palestinian culture.
Keywords: Herzl’s Zionism, Settler Colonialism, Palestine, Great Britain, Jewish state,
Ethnic cleansing, Palestinian culture
Herzl’s Zionism: Historical and Ideological Development
Herzl’s Zionism is the political ideology behind the establishment of Israel in
Palestine. It is the product of European Jewish socio-economic conditions.
Herzl wrote, “We are what the Ghetto made us. We have attained pre-eminence
in finance, because mediaeval conditions drove us to it. The same process is
now being repeated. We are again being forced into finance, now it is the stock
exchange, by being kept out of other branches of economic activity. Being on the
Samir Abed-Rabbo is visiting Professor at the University of Heilbronn (HHN), Germany
ASQ 46.1 Produced and distributed by Pluto Journals
stock exchange, we are consequently exposed afresh to contempt. At the same
time, we continue to produce an abundance of mediocre intellects who find no out-
let, and this endangers our social position as much as does our increasing wealth.
Educated Jews without means are now rapidly becoming Socialists.”1 As a politi-
cal ideology, Zionism emerged in the 1880s along with other ideologies like colo-
nialism, socialism, nationalism, fascism, and national socialism. Lenni Brenner
in his well-researched and documented work examines the relations between fas-
cism, Nazim and Zionism.2 Historically, Leon Pinsker, a Russian Jewish doctor,
and a founding leader of the Hibbat Zion movement, is considered the father of
political Zionism. On January 1 1882 he published a pamphlet in German called
Autoemanzipation! (literal translation Autoemancipation!) In this pamphlet he
advanced a form of Jewish nationalism suggesting the idea that Jews could be fully
realized culturally and politically only in a homeland of their own. Some Christian
Europeans and European Jewish Zionists argued that Europe’s “Jewish problem”
could be resolved by dismantling its ancient Jewish communities, clearing Europe
of its Jewish population, and settling them out of Europe - the Nazi regime in
Germany had its plan to clear Germany of its Jews and settle them in Madagascar
in Africa.3 Herzl’s plan entailed the dismantling of ancient Jewish communities
and transporting them out of Europe, “If I wish to substitute a new building for an
old one, I must demolish before I construct.”4 To Evangelical Protestant Christian
Zionists, the sooner that the Jews are gathered outside of Europe the sooner the
second coming of the Messiah would be realized. Other factors at play were the
social currents in Europe that brought together the interests of influential wealthy
Jews and established powerful Gentiles to rid Europe of its Jewish agitators for
revolutionary change and social justice in their countries of origin and use their
energy to settle and colonize non-European lands. After meeting with Kaiser Wil-
helm of Germany in 1898, Herzl wrote an entry in his diary, “I explained that
we were taking the Jews away from the revolutionary parties.”5 Colonial designs
gave impetus to such wealthy Jews like Baron Maurice de Hirsch who created the
Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) which by 1920 recruited and transported
150,000 East-European Jews for the purpose of colonizing Argentina and Baron
Edmond De Rothschild who in 1924 established the Palestine Jewish Coloniza-
tion Association (PJCA), which acquired more than 125,000 acres of land from
feudal non-Palestinian families and created around 30 settlements in Palestine.
Ultimately, the Baron (and his family) to whom the Balfour Charter was addressed
financed and established a winemaking business and forty-four Jewish communi-
ties, including kibbutzim and moshavim. Both schemes hired only Jewish labor
and were managed to maximize Jewish gains. Atheist secular Zionist Jews who
left their faith and Zionist religious Jews collaborated closely to achieve the Zion-
ist main colonial objective to establish “a Jewish homeland.” The larger Jewish

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