SIR – Teresa Trainor warns of the danger of conveniently rewriting history. She then proceeds — with no hint of irony — to relay some of the self-serving pseudo-historical myths employed by the Israeli state to justify its brutal subjugation of Palestine and its people.
These include claims such as:
(i) that modern Jews are a distinct ethnic group descended from the ancient Israelites;
(ii) that Palestine/Israel is consequently their national horded, which they have inherited and are entitled to rule;
(iii) that Palestinians are descended from relatively recent Arab ontruders with no historic claim to the land;
(iv) that Zionism arose from the long-standing desire of the international Jewish community to return to the ancestral land.
As pointed out by numerous historians (including some courageous Israelis), all these claims are demonstrably false. Ms Trainor adds her own fairytale by suggesting that the United Nations, representing international opinion, implicitly endorses Israel’s ruthless aggression.
A very different reality emerges in the recorded views of two Jewish leaders. The First Zionist Congress in 1897 — the brainchild of ambitious intellectuals during the high tide of European colonialism — prompted the following comment from Dr Hermann Adler, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom: ‘The idea of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine is absolutely mischievous, contrary to Jewish principles, the teaching of the Prophets, and the traditions of Judaism.’
His verdict reflected Jewish majority opinion at least up to World War 2. It should be set beside the claim that the state is divinely ordained, and the official equating of religious faith, supposed ethnicity and secular privilege.
In a book published in 1918, a young scholar named David ben-Gurion presented evidence that modern Palestinians are the direct descendants of the ancient Hebrews, and deserve to be honoured as such. As a much older soldier/politician, he directed the ethnic cleansing of those same people, which he deemed necessary for the creation of an Israeli state (thus acquiring the status of heroic founding father). That astonishing contradiction illuminates the morality and legitimacy of the Zionist’s colonial project and its outcome.
Ms Trainor’s characterisation of Zionism as ‘an indigenous rights movement “’would be laughable if it were not so grossly offensive. It was no accident that the Israeli state’s closest ally for many years was the South African apartheid regime — so famous for its scrupulous protection of the rights of its indigenous people. The lessons learned from South Africa are now being applied daily in occupied Palestine, where the devout Chosen People have been transformed into an armed uniformed swaggering Master Race.