One thing is sure, everyone's eyes are glued to Israel-Palestine. If you are reading this, you likely know of Zionism, and think it's bad news. But if I were to ask you to define Zionism, or what specifically is the problem with Zionism, would you be able to?

A common misunderstanding about Zionism is that it arose as an answer to the persecution of Jewish people as a direct result of the Holocaust. However, Zionism’s roots run far deeper than the last century. The Balfour Agreement was in 1917, and the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916. Zionism’s history can be traced to Theodore Herzl who was the first to advocate for a Jewish state in 1896. Theodore Herzl is considered the father of modern Zionism as he was the first to set out its political aims clearly. But even the notorious Zionist slogan, “A land without a people for a people without a land!”, coined by Christian Restorationist Alexander Keith, in reference to Palestine was popularised in 1843, predating Herzl.

The lack of understanding over Zionism’s origins has allowed modern Zionism to reposition itself as a largely secular movement in a largely neoliberalist world. However, Zionists have consistently relied on the careful marketing of their biblical narrative, which was integral to the success of establishing this modern day settler project, and Zion, as the central voice for the Jews.

Israeli Flag

Let me explain. Under the Jewish biblical narrative, the notion of Jews returning to the land of Zion has existed within Jewish religious life for a millennia. Zionists recognised this, and offered their political system as the action plan. Zionism was propagated as the answer to the perpetual persecution and dispossession of Jewish people globally, from their forced displacement, or ‘the Exodus’, from Egypt in 13 century BCE, and subsequent ‘Exile’s Return’ to Palestine from Babylonia in 538 BCE.

The biblical narrative in itself is faultless. Jewish communities have been one of the most persecuted groups in human history, this is fact. Zionists recognized the power in the biblical narrative to garner public support, from Jews globally and sympathisers of their plight, and used it. However, the issue of Zionism is that they have weaponized this biblical narrative - transitioning from victims of white supremacy, to orchestrators of their own white supremacy.

[...] when Jewish historians think about ‘empire’ they are very likely to think not about the imperial heartlands of the Ashkenazi world, but rather about the extra-European world, about colonialism and the Jews in general, and about the French and British empires in particular.”(Abigail Green, Colonialism and the Jews, 2019).

It's 1948. Zionists have just displaced 750,000 Palestinians from their ancestral lands, razed hundreds of Palestinian villages, killed thousands of Palestinians, and declared Israel a State. At this point, there are about 650,000 Jews living in Palestine, with the Palestinian indigenous communities on Israel’s new territory now rendered the minority. The vast majority of these Jewish populations were Jewish settlers coming from Central and Eastern Europe, or commonly known as Ashkenazi Jews. They pioneered the Zionist movement, making up the militias that carried out the Nakba, and orchestrated Israel's first political parties and government. However, once established, Zionists realised the population of European Jewish settlers, at only a third of the total population of Palestine, was not enough to work the now 70% of Palestinian land they were granted (UN Partition of Palestine, 1947). In comes the marketing of Zion.

The first large-scale exodus of foreign Jewish communities into newly established Israel took place in the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from Iraq, Yemen, and Libya. In these cases, over 90% of the Jewish population left their home countries for new Israel, themselves fleeing poverty and having bought into the biblical narrative propagated by the Zionist project. Israel's population more than doubled between 1948 and 1951, growing from 650,000 people in 1948 to 1,350,000 people in 1951, due to Jewish immigrants from Arab countries. One of these communities were the Mizrahi Jews, whose ancestors hailed from Yemen.

To answer the Ashkenazi Zionist issue of too much land, not enough Zionists, Operation Magic Carpet [yes, Magic Carpet] came into action. In the 1940s-50s, the State of Israel systematically immigrated Mizrahi Jews from Yemen, under the pretence that the Yemeni Jews were being persecuted, and that Israel would bring about their societal and economic prosperity. In reality, the lived experience of the Yemeni Jews, that of economic hardship, was the same condition many others in Yemen faced at this time.

Nevertheless, the Mizrahi Jews bought into the biblical narrative of a return to Zion, and the promise of better economic opportunities. However, upon the arrival of Yemeni Jews, the Mizrahi Jews experienced egregiously poor living conditions in tent camps, where they were to exclusively work the land, secluded from urban Israeli society. Further, Zionists invented the word Mizrahi, meaning “those of the East”, in order to dilute their Arab heritage, and force their assimilation. This openly ‘othered’ the Yemeni Jews, acting as an early indication that the agenda was never to fully integrate the Mizrahi into Israeli identity.

Moreso, the global scandal that was only addressed at state-level in 2017 - when Zionists stole thousands of Mizrahi babies - further evidences their systematic othering. One of the most heinous initiatives of Operation Magic Carpet was the stealing of Arab Jews babies, and giving them to European Jews to be raised. It is believed up to 5,000 thousands Mizrahi babies were stolen in this period. This made global news, however, Israel faced little to no reprisal, and Mizrahi Jews no reparations. The racist profiling and forced assimilation of Arab Jews by the Zionist project, and even the stealing of babies, harrowingly mirrors the many ways we’ve seen Israel mistreat the Palestinians, historically, as well as in recent months. And yet, these are still not the only targets of the Zionist regime.

In the case of Beta Israel, commonly known as the Jewish community hailing from Ethiopia, various Israeli military operations set to immigrate Ethiopian Jews to Israel starting in the 1980s, under the Law of Return, which subsequently contrived the ‘Ethiopian Israeli’ identity. The Ethiopian Israeli population by the end of the 20th century was largely due to Operation Moses in 1984-5, and Operation Solomon in 1991, which brought in nearly 100,000 Beta Israel. Under the biblical narrative and powerful marketing of Zionism, Beta Israel communities were to also benefit from newfound Zionist prosperity, after experiencing famine, civil wars and religious persecution in Ethiopia, driving many to seek refuge in Sudanese refugee camps.

Yet, when they arrived in Zion, Beta Israel, quite visibly different to their European Israeli counterparts, faced appalling discrimination and racism, and police brutality by Israeli forces. Mass protests against the mistreatment of Ethiopian Jews took place in Tel Aviv as recently as 2015, indicating the othering and persecution of Beta Israel is an ongoing struggle. More harrowingly, only by 2013, did Israel at state-level finally acknowledge it had given Ethiopian Jews birth-control injections without their consent. This is eugenics, torn off the same fabric of genocide that first persecuted European Jews in the Holocaust. And again, we see the Zionist project rear its ugly head. And again, we see Zionism as a system that is inherently racist, and one that is in fact not a safe haven for all Jews, but only a select privileged group.

The plight of the Mizrahi and Beta Israel in the early decades of the Zionist project reveal one crucial fact. The subjugation of vulnerable groups, like the Palestinians, is not a religious issue. What binds Zionism with other colonial forces in their treatment of vulnerable communities is one thing - white supremacy. Zionism was created from the victims of white supremacy, and answered by their own version of white supremacy. Under the pretence of the Israel-Hamas conflict, it is easy to confuse the plight of the Palestinians as being the sole group persecuted by the Israeli State. Rather, Zionism is fundamentally racist and violent against Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. It was a white supremacist political movement, since its inception, and has only become more sophisticated in its orchestration. Zionism, throughout history, continues to shatter its own false premise that Israel is a ‘safe haven’ or utopia for Jews, and yet, remains largely without consequence. This is the impenetrable fortress that is the biblical narrative, which continues to serve Zionists and their sympathisers steadfastly.

Bombed building and rubble in Gaza, 2024

Under Zionism, minorities are nothing more than a primitive labour force, or roadblocks to their settler project. In order for the Zionist project to succeed, it is integral that ‘othered’ groups remain subjugated, and diluted of their culture and self-determination.
Zionism is the co-opting of Judaism, speaking on behalf of Judaism, and on behalf of all Jewish people. And yet, how could this be the case considering the subjugation of the Mizrahi Jews and the Beta Israel? How could this be the case when Palestinian Jews are shot point-blank at Israeli checkpoints? How could this be the case when Ultra Orthodox Jews in Israel that protest Israeli forced conscription are considered antisemites, they themselves beaten and arrested. The popular slogan used by Jewish people calling for a ceasefire at Pro-Palestinian protests, “Not In Our Name”, is proof of this co-option.

Moreso, Zionists have also co-opted the space of Semitic Jews, despite the establishment of Israel being intrinsically Ashkenazi Jews, meaning of European, white descent. They set the footing for a white supremacist Israel, with the mass persecution of various minorities in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The ethnic division between Israeli Jews, especially between the European Ashkenazi Jews and their Arab and African counterparts, is as old as the Zionist project itself. This is its primary function. Settler identity must be superior to work. This notion ties all colonial settler projects together. This was employed in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Belgium and the like. Supremacy is fundamental to the success of a settler project, and this likely explains the forgiving support Israel is constantly granted from other Western countries with similar colonialist histories. The answer, again and again, is white supremacy.
All communities have a born-right to safety, dignity, and a land free from their own dispossession and persecution, but this cannot come at the price of the rights and land of others. Palestinians, Christians, Muslims, and Jews must have equal standing and self-determination. This is why we call for a Free Palestine, and an end to the white supremacist Zionist regime.

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