Friday, April 03, 2009

Why Palestine is a Conservative Cause

I will return to this topic later in more detail. But, I am finally going to put down my main ideas as to why I think Palestine is a conservative cause. The reasons are fairly straightforward and I believe much more coherent than the reasons given by former Marxists and leftist "neoconservatives" in support of Zionism.

The Palestinian population in 1947 consisted overwhelmingly of traditional agrarian communities composed of practicing Muslims and Christians. They had strong family values and traditions rooted in their religious beliefs. They also had deep roots in the land and long established local communities. Their daily way of life and world outlook thus fit the definition of conservative perfectly.

The Zionist movement in contrast was led by self described atheists and socialists such as David Ben-Gurion who were intent on radically transforming the demographics, landscape and economy of Palestine along revolutionary lines. The Labour Zionists were heavily influenced by the model of the USSR under Stalin and openly cited the NKVD's violent deportation of the Volga Germans and Crimean Tatars as models for removing the native Arab population of Palestine. In this endeavour they initially received the support of the USSR and socialist bloc which recognized the ideological similarities between Labour Zionism and Soviet socialism under Stalin. This assistance included heavy arms in violation of a UN arms embargo, military training and diplomatic support in the UN. The resemblance between Stalin's uprooting of the traditional communities of the Volga Germans, Chechens, and Crimean Tatars and the Zionist expulsion of the Palestinians is thus not coincidental. They share common ideological roots and the Zionists borrowed many of the techniques of ethnic cleansing from the Soviet Union. Thus the Zionist movement was in contrast to Palestinian society the antithesis of conservative. It was radical, socialist and atheist rather than traditional and religious like Palestinian society.

It is thus not surprising given the radical socialist roots of Israel that most of its supporters have traditionally been Marxists and other self described leftists. Indeed one often sees the term "progressive except for Palestine" on the Internet. This term is used to describe leftists, usually Americans, who support Israel's ongoing repression of the Palestinians. But, Palestine has only become a "progressive cause" fairly recently. In the US most critics of Israel such as Patrick J. Buchanan have been traditional conservatives. Looking at modern Israel's origins in 1947 and 1948 this makes perfect sense.


Kristina said...

Thanks for this explanation that I found helpful in understanding the complex Palestinian issue. I met a Palestinian on the plane when flying over the Atlantic two weeks ago. He lives in Jordan now but works for a company in Germany and Netherlands. He was going to a telecommunications conference in San Diego. I mentioned the work you are doing to him, he was interested.

T. said...

You make it seem as if Zionism was the only player in this game. Also, why no mention of the fact that "Palestinians" before the PLO included Jews? Lastly, there are more than enough accounts of Jews pleading and asking Palestinians to remain where they were. Many left due to the propaganda from Arabs and promises of Jewish property after they were done driving Jews "into the sea." How exactly does this equate to Stalinist deportations? You seem to be drawing some very generalized conclusions.

J. Otto Pohl said...

The claim that Palestinians left due to Arab propaganda was debunked already by Walid Khalidi in 1959 and Erskine Childers in 1961. No existing Arab radio boradcasts calling for Arabs to leave Palestine have ever been found. Childers asked the Israeli government for evidence for the documents proving this assertion and never received them. None of the FBIS (US) or BBC archives of Arab radio braodcasts in 1947 and 1948 show any evidence of Arab propaganda calling on Palestinians to leave their homeland. Even Israeli historians like Benny Morris no longer make this claim.

It was not the Arabs who drove the Jews into the sea in 1948. Rather it was the Zionists who drove the Arabs out of Palestine. But, in the case of the ethnic cleansing of Haifa the Zionists quite literally did drive the Palestinians into the sea.

Anonymous said...

I think that this posting reminds me of the logic that a cat has four legs, so does a dog, therefore a cat is the same as a dog.

I don't doubt that some Zionists shared some traits with Stalinists; there's the old saw about those who once sought their Jerusalem in Moscow, but found their Moscow in Jerusalem. However, Zionism is essentially a cross-class movement; it appeals to all classes amongst Jews. It is also a movement that ranges from the left to the right; there have also been outright fascist trends within Zionism, and a prominent member of the current Israeli government shows that these still exist.

Stalinism, on the other hand, is a distinct political trend that emerged from the nationalist development (I'd say degeneration) of a wing of the socialist movement that had obtained state power in Russia.

The conduct of Zionism in power in Israel/Palestine is not just comparable to that of Stalinism in power in the Soviet Union. Expulsion and expropriation of an indigenous population, using the language of modernity whilst doing so, has also been the practice of many decidedly non-Stalinist states, including those with conservatives at their helm.

Gert said...

The idea that Palestinians would flee from liberating Arab armies hasn't only been debunked, it's also counter-intuitive and ahistorical.

Show me one, just one example where a people flee from an advancing liberating army, that NEVER happened. Instead people ALWAYS flee from advancing occupying forces out of sheer fear.

Open Mind said...

I think the American Liberals should also be given some credit. It is personalities such as Naomi Wolf, Naomi Klein, Robert Fisk, Ilan Pape, Noam Chomsky and others who have been open to speak about the not-so-nice facts. I agree that Conservatives in the US should be more open to many issues than they currently are.
Concerning comparisons of Stalinism and Zionism I am very critical, since I do not believe that these movements can be compared. They ought to be looked at individually.