To: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
From: Lenni Brenner
I applaud your offer to answer questions on any topic, from Arabs and others, worldwide. The old saying is correct: ‘Better jaw-jaw than war-war.’
As an 11 year old, I remember the creation of Israel in 1948 and the race between the USA and the USSR to recognize the new state. But, as I became a historian, I realized that the American public’s support for Israel was based on sympathy for the survivors of the holocaust, and the Biblical notion that God had given Israel to his chosen people. Few American Jews, fewer gentiles, had an in-depth knowledge of Zionism’s history. That remains true to this day.
You recently addressed America’s Congress. Many Americans support some of your positions. But few can outline your Likud Party’s politics beyond your speech, or know anything about its history. Revisionist Zionism is the dominant ideological movement in the party. Indeed your father was secretary to Vladimir Jabotinsky, Revisionism’s founder. But how many American politicians can define Revisionism? How many American Jews have read even one word by Jabotinsky?
The U.S. Congress arms Israel, Egypt and Lebanon. It also funds the Palestine Authority and trains its police. In 2012 the President and Congress will be elected by that public which knows so little about Zionism or Arab nationalism. No mincing words: Isn’t a politically illiterate American electorate a recipe for more dead Israelis and Palestinians, and perhaps some Americans?
With that in mind, I must now question you re Jabotinsky’s most important writing, his 1923 article, “The Iron Wall (We and the Arabs),” so that Americans can at least have a clearer perspective on the Zionist aspect of the Middle East’s politics. As I know you are busy, I’ll wait seven days for your reply, and then circulate this note and your reply over the internet. If you don’t reply, I’l circulate this note and an English translation of The Iron Wall. In either case, Americans will have a clearer historical perspective re the Likud’s politics.
Jabotinsky defined Zionism as a colonizing movement. There are 14 usages of “colonisation,” “colonists,” “the Jewish colonist,” etc., in the article. He insisted that
“Zionist colonisation must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population. Which means that it 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 cannot
That is our Arab policy; not what we should be, but what it actually is, whether we admit it or not. What need, otherwise, of the Balfour Declaration? Or of the Mandate? Their value to us is that an outside Power has undertaken to create in the country such conditions of administration and security that if the native population should desire to hinder our work, they will find it impossible.”
You frequently use Jabotinsky’s term, the iron wall. How do you, today in 2011, evaluate Jabotinsky’s 1923 article? Is it still valid? In what ways is it out of date? Was Zionism indeed a colonial movement in 1923? Is it still a colonial movement?
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|Timothy V. Gatto|