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“The Bride is Beautiful,
but she is married to another man.”
Zionism, The Jewish Question
and The Question of Palestine
Where is Israel / Palestine?
Where is Israel / Palestine?
Where is Israel / Palestine?
Palestine / Israel (1946 and Today)
How can we frame the primary claim common to the
readings in weeks 1-2 about the nature of the conflict
between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs?
What was the ‘Jewish Question’?
What was ‘Zionism’?
What is the ‘Question of Palestine’?
Can the 2 nationalisms be reconciled?
The Jewish Question?
The Jewish Question?
…Emerges in the mid to late-18th century among
Jews and non-Jews and focuses on how the Jewish
people were to break the scourge of antiSemitism and achieve emancipation.
Solving The Jewish Question?
• Assimilation
Integration into Bourgeois Society
Integration into (Future) Socialist Society
• Separation
Cultural / Religious
Political / Secular
Moses Mendelssohn
Mendelssohn associated
with Jewish Enlightenment
(Haskalah) which imagined
Jewish emancipation
through assimilation with
European Society.
French Revolution
Emancipation of the Jews
Intolerance and Persecution of Jews Continue
Dreyfus Affair
(1894 -1906)
Leo Pinsker / Auto-Emancipation (1882)
“Wherever Jews reside they form a
distinct group unable to integrate
into the societies around them.
Judaism and anti-Semitism are thus
inseparable companions. The
Jewish people can regain their
dignity only by re-establishing
themselves as a living nation
forming a country of their own.
The Jewish question can only be
solved by the formation of a Jewish
nation living on its own soil. Such
an outcome is only possible
through our own efforts – the autoemancipation of the Jews.”
Leo Pinsker
Auto- Emancipation (1882)
…converts sentiments of longing and memory
into politics and above all, state sovereignty.
James Gelvin, p. 5
What was Zionism?
• Nationalist Ideology
Belief in legitimacy of a separate Jewish Nation
equal with other nations.
• Nationalist Political Movement
Program for Emancipation of Jewish nation
through State-building.
• Core Programmatic Idea for State-building
Return to Zion (Jewish Immigration).
Ernst Renan / What is a Nation?
“A nation is a soul. Two things constitute
this soul. One lies in the past, one in
the present; one is the possession in
common of a rich legacy of memories;
the other is a present-day desire to live
together… A heroic past is the social
capital upon which one bases a
national idea…it is summarized in the
present by consent to continue a
common life.”
Ernst Renan
What is a Nation (1882)
Forging a Jewish Nation in Palestine
Inventing the Past to Remake the Present
• Unbroken Bond Between People / Land
• Story has three Phases
• Antiquity (Roots of the Jewish Nation in Zion)
• Exile (Alienation from Zion)
• Return to Zion
Longing for Zion the Foundation for Turning Exile into Nationhood: Zionists
exploited the longing for Zion as the basis for overcoming exile and constructing a
Jewish state.
The Great Divide
Antiquity and Exile (Galut)
“Periodization of antiquity and exile requires a highly selective
representation of many centuries of Jewish experience…and ignores
historical developments that do not fit the principles underlying this
Yael Zerubavel,
Recovered Roots (1995), p. 17
The Jewish Question and The Jewish State
“I consider the Jewish question neither
social nor religious. It is a national
Let sovereignty be granted to us over a
portion of the globe large enough to
satisfy the rightful requirements of a
Palestine is our historic home. The very
name of Palestine would attract our
people with a force of marvelous
potency.…The Jews who wish for a
state will have it.”
Theodor Herzl
The Jewish State (1896)
Zionist Dilemma
1881 Population
21,000 Jews
470,000 Arab
“The bride is beautiful but she
is married to another man.”
A Land Without a People?
“We abroad are used to
believe the Eretz Yisrael is
almost totally desolate, a
desert that is not sowed…..
But in truth that is not the
case. Throughout the country
it is difficult to find fields that
are not sowed.
…if the time comes when the
life of our people in Eretz
Yisrael develops to the point of
encroaching upon the native
population, they will not easily
yield their place.”
Ahad Ha’am
Truth From Eretz Israel (1891)
Yitzhak Epstein / A Hidden Question
“…we must admit that we have
driven impoverished people from
their humble abode and taken bread
out of their mouths…. In general we
are making a flagrant error in human
understanding toward a great,
resolute, and zealous people. While
we feel the love of our homeland,
we forget that the people living
there now also has a feeling heart
and a loving soul. The Arab, like any
person, is strongly attached to his
Yitzhak Epstein
A Hidden Question (1907)
Yusuf al-Khalidi (Mayor of Jerusalem)
“Who can challenge the
rights of the Jews to
Palestine? Good Lord,
historically it is really your
country… But [Palestine is
inhabited and immigration
will require brute force and
bring revolt]. In the name of
God, let Palestine be left in
“ The Question of Palestine is therefore the
contest between an affirmation and a denial,
and it is this contest, dating back 100 years,
which animates and makes sense of the current
impasse…Palestine was seen as a place to be
possessed anew and reconstructed.”
Edward Said (1979)
Born of War, or Design?
Debating the Palestinian Exodus of 1948
Zionist Dilemma
1881 Population
21,000 Jews
470,000 Arab
“The bride is beautiful but she
is married to another man.”
Colonization / Settlement
Solution to the Zionist Dilemma?
My argument [about the origins of the Israeli /Palestinian
conflict] highlights the continuous centrality of
colonization in Zionism… Colonization was the prelude of
the state-to-be and the character of that state in the
making was to be found most crucially in the land and
labor markets.
Gershon Shafir
Zionism and Colonialism (1996) pp. 227-228
Arthur Ruppin / Jewish National Fund
“Land is the most necessary
thing for establishing roots in
Palestine. Since there are
hardly any more arable
unsettled lands in Palestine,
we are bound in each case
[of land purchase] to remove
the peasants who cultivate
the land, both owners and
From Benny Morris, Righteous Victims, p. 61
Colonization without the Frontier
The Dilemma
With no frontier of “free” land, how is it possible to
settle and colonize the landscape? Ruling out force
and violence, the only way is to buy it.
Gershon Shafir
Zionism and Colonialism (1996) p. 230.
Integration or Exclusion?
Zionists had 2 options in buying land:
1) Integrate Palestinians by allowing them to work the
land (Plantation model)
2) Exclude Palestinians (Pure settlement colony).
Zionist Land Purchases
Total Land Purchased = 418,000 Dunums
From Large Absentee Landlords = 25%
From Large Resident Landlords = 25%
From Institutions = 37.5%
From Palestinian Peasant Owners = 12.5%
Source: Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity, p. 112.
“Hebrew Land, Hebrew Labor”
The Zionist Conquest of Labor 1904-1930
By 1904 Zionists ponder a new way of organizing the
landscape for redemption. The vision was not only to buy
land, but to place Jewish labor on the land purchased.
No longer would there be exploitation of Palestinians on
plantations because Palestinians would be excluded from
working on them.
Yitzhak Epstein
“Among the difficult questions linked to
the rebirth of our people on its land, one
outweighs all others: the question of our
attitude toward the Arabs…. We buy
lands, for the most part, from the owners
of large estates;… But when we buy such
property, we evict the former tillers from
it…. if we do not want to deceive
ourselves, we must admit that we have
driven impoverished people from their
humble abode and taken bread out of
their mouths.”
“A Hidden Question” (1907)
Land – Seeds of Conflict?
The Iron Wall
“Every indigenous people will
resist alien settlers…This is how
the Arabs will behave so long as
they possess even a gleam of
hope that they can prevent
Palestine from becoming the
Land of Israel. “Zionist
colonization…can proceed and
develop only under the
protection of a power that is
independent of the native
population – behind an iron
wall which the native
population can not breach.”
Ze’ev Jabotinksy (1923)
Where Did Refugees Go?
# (est)
Jordan/W. Bank
The New Historians
Challenging the Seven Myths of Israeli Historiography on 1948
Zionists accepted Partition / hoped for peace
Palestinians rejected Partition / planned for war
Arab states united to expel Jews from Palestine
War erupted because of the Arab invasion
A defenseless Israel faced an Arab Goliath
Israel sought peace, Arabs rejected it
Palestinians fled voluntarily planning to return as conquerors
In 1948 the Palestinians became a
disinherited people…. The reality was
that of an Arab community in a state of
terror facing a ruthless Israeli army
whose path to victory was paved not
only by its exploits,… but also by the
intimidation and at times atrocities it
perpetrated against the civilian Arab
community. A panic stricken Arab
community was uprooted under the
impact of massacres that would be
carved into the Arabs’ monument of
grief and hatred,…
the less [sic] Arabs remained, the
better; this principle is the political
motor for the expulsions and atrocities.
Shlomo Ben-Ami
pp. 42-43
4 Options To Overcome Dilemma
and Build the Jewish State
From the start, the Zionists
wished to make the area of
Palestine a Jewish state….How
was a Jewish minority to gain
control of a country populated
by an Arab majority? [p. 39]
1) Immigration
2) Apartheid, that is a Zionist
minority lording it over the
Palestinian majority
3) Partition (Create a Jewish
state and an Arab State)
4) Transfer the Palestinians
from Palestine
A Problem Born of War
“The refugeedom of the 700,000
Palestinians was essentially a product of
the war, of the shelling, shooting and
bombing, and of the fears that these
“Above all, let me reiterate, the refugee
problem was caused by attacks by Jewish
forces on Arab villages and towns and by
the [Palestinian] inhabitants fears of such
attacks compounded by expulsions
atrocities, and rumors of atrocities – and
by the crucial Israeli cabinet decision in
June, 1948 to bar a refugee return.
Benny Morris
Revisiting the Palestinian Exodus of 1948 (pp. 37-38)
Morris and Transfer Thinking
“My conclusion was and
remains that thinking about the
transfer of all or part of
Palestine’s Arabs out of the
prospective Jewish state was
pervasive among Zionist
leadership circles before
1937…how exactly this thinking
affected Zionist policy and
actions remains more
complicated than [Masalha
Benny Morris
Revisiting the Palestinian Exodus of 1948 (pp. 40-41.)
What is the Relationship between Transfer
Thinking and Transfer?
“There is no room for
both peoples in this
country. After the Arabs
are transferred, the
country will be wide
open for us…not a single
village or a single tribe
must be left…there is no
other solution”
Yosef Weitz (1940)
Herzl and Transfer
“We must expropriate gently…We
shall try and spirit the penniless
population across the
border…Both the process of
expropriation and the removal of
the poor must be carried out
discreetly and circumspectly”
Theodor Herzl
Diaries (1895)
Berl Katznelson
“The matter of population transfer has
provoked a debate among us: Is it
permitted or forbidden? My conscience is
absolutely clear in this respect. A remote
neighbor is better than a close
enemy. They will not lose from being
transferred and we most certainly will not
lose from it…. But it never crossed my
mind that transfer to outside the Land of
Israel would mean merely to the vicinity of
Nablus, I have always believed and still
believe that they were destined to be
transferred to Syria or Iraq.”
Menachem Ussishkin / Transfer?
• “We must continually raise the
demand that our land be
returned to our possession…. If
there are other inhabitants
there, they must be transferred
to some other place…
• We cannot start the Jewish
state with…half the population
being Arab…Such a state cannot
survive even half an hour… It
[transfer] is most moral… I am
ready to come and defend it
before the Almighty.
Menachem Ussishkin
1930 / 1938
Ben-Gurion a ‘Transferist’?
“The compulsory transfer of
the Arabs from the proposed
Jewish state could give us
something which we never
had….Any doubt on our part
about the necessity of this
transfer…may lose us an
historic opportunity ….I
support compulsory transfer. I
don’t see in it anything
David Ben-Gurion
Diaries (1937)
Speech (1938)
Transfer – Yosef Weitz
“There is no room for both
peoples in this country.
After the Arabs are
transferred, the country will
be wide open for us…not a
single village or a single tribe
must be left…there is no
other solution”
Yosef Weitz (1940)
Plan Dalet
(April, 1948)
“The objective of this plan is to gain control of the areas
of the Hebrew state and defend its borders. It also aims
at gaining control of the areas of Jewish settlements and
concentrations which are located outside the borders (of
the Hebrew state) against regular, semi-regular, and small
forces operating from bases outside or inside the state.”
Opening to Plan Dalet (1948)
“There are circumstances that
justify ethnic cleansing. A Jewish
state would not have come into
being without the uprooting of
700,000 Palestinians. Therefore
it was necessary to uproot
them…. It was necessary to
cleanse the border areas and
main roads…to cleanse the
villages…I know it doesn’t sound
nice, but that’s the term we used
at the time.”
Benny Morris
Ha’aretz Interview (2004)
Nur Masalha
What is the Relationship of Thinking and Doing?
“Can [Morris’] claim that there
was no transfer design and
expulsion policy in 1948 be
sustained? Does the fact that
there was no “master plan” for
expelling the Palestinians absolve
the Zionist leadership of
responsibility for the refugee
problem…? Is it conceivable that
such a transfer policy was based
on an understanding between
Ben-Gurion and his lieutenants
rather than a blueprint?”
Nur Masalha
Critique of Morris, pp. 91-92
Bi-National State?
“Palestine should be neither
Jewish nor Arab. It should
be a bi-national state in
which Jews and Arabs share
full equality….
the inhabitants of this
country, both Arabs and Jews
have not only the right but
the duty to participate…in
the government of their
common homeland.”
Judah Magnes
Testimony (1946)
Speech (1930)
Chapter Four
Reshaping the Landscape
Copyright © 2013. Dundurn. All rights reserved.
long the side of the path through the eucalyptus trees lie rusted
army vehicles. Just beyond them is a cemetery, or what remains of
it. The graves are now little more than rubble, a jumble of stones on the
hillside. This, in former days, was al-Kabri, a thriving Galilean village of
some six thousand people. In March 1948, a convoy of seven armoured
trucks headed out through Arab territory to assist the settlers of the
recently established Kibbutz Yechiam. The convoy was ambushed here,
on the edge of the village, and forty-seven young Jewish fighters were
killed. All were aged between sixteen and twenty-two.
By May, the tide of the war was turning. Haganah forces were clearing out Arab villages across the Galilee. As they approached al-Kabri,
the destruction of the Yechiam convoy was fresh in their minds. Their
orders were specific: “attack with the aim of conquest, the killing of
adult males, [and] the destruction and torching of the villages of Kabri,
Umm al Faraj and al Nahar.”1 Dov Yirmiya, who took part in the operation, reported that:
Kabri was conquered without a fight. Almost all inhabitants fled. One of the soldiers, Yehuda Reshef, who was
together with his brother among the few escapees from
the Yehi’am convoy, got hold of a few youngsters who
did not escape, probably seven, ordered them to fill up
some ditches dug as an obstacle and then lined them up
Roberts, Jo. Contested Land, Contested Memory : Israel’s Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe, Dundurn, 2013.
ProQuest Ebook Central,
Created from ucsd on 2018-04-19 10:18:30.
9781459710115_INT.indb 107
13-07-04 3:56 PM
Contested Land, Contested Memory
Copyright © 2013. Dundurn. All rights reserved.
and fired at them with a machine gun. A few died but
some of the wounded succeeded to escape.2
The surviving villagers fled and their homes were destroyed. The
orange grove close to the cemetery is gone as well, replaced by the eucalyptus trees. A large house nearby was completely leveled; no trace of
it remains.
The convoy’s heroic struggle to help the besieged settlers is commemorated on the site of the former village by a sign, erected by the
Jewish National Fund (JNF). “In the footsteps of Yechiam Convoy,” it
says, in yellow lettering on painted wood. This is now a recreation area,
with picnic tables and tarmac paths winding through the eucalyptus
trees. The hollow shells of the armoured trucks are repainted regularly, a
rusty red-brown. As I’m looking at the sign, a busload of visitors arrives
on a day-trip; a woman comes up and asks me where the toilets are.
The landscape of al-Kabri has been completely transformed to tell a
story of its past, and to tell that story as if it were the only one to tell. This
process is an inherent part of a nation’s self-construction. The physical
landscape, although it seems to be natural, neutral, and permanent, is
not. Its soil, trees, and stones are malleable, open to playing a role in the
re-creation of a collective memory.
“Within nation states, history and heritage tell powerful stories,
often ones that stress stability, roots, boundaries and belonging,”3 writes
anthropologist Barbara Bender. “The landscape is never inert, people
engage with it, rework it, appropriate and contest it. It is part of the way
in which identities are created and disputed, whether as an individual,
group, or nation-state. Operating therefore at the juncture of history and
politics, social relations and cultural perceptions, landscape has to be …
‘a concept of high tension.’”4 For Bender, from whose perspective political territory becomes anthropological landscape, “Landscapes contain
the traces of past activities, and people select the stories they tell, the
memories and histories they evoke, the interpretive narratives that they
weave, to further their activities in the present-future…. We need to be
alert to whose stories are being told, and to be aware that they naturalize
particular sorts of social relations.”5
Roberts, Jo. Contested Land, Contested Memory : Israel’s Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe, Dundurn, 2013.
ProQuest Ebook Central,
Created from ucsd on 2018-04-19 10:18:30.
9781459710115_INT.indb 108
13-07-04 3:56 PM
Copyright © 2013. Dundurn. All rights reserved.
Reshaping the Landscape
When these social relations reflect the dynamics of a radical imbalance of power, the landscape becomes charged with that high tension
referred to by Be …
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