Israel: Base of western imperialism

Editorial note: The following text was published in a May 1969 pamphlet issued by the “Ad Hoc Committee on the Middle East,” which held its first conference on June 21, 1967, days after the U.S.-Israeli war against Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. The grouping was one of the few on the U.S. left that resolutely opposed Israeli settler-colonialism at that time. It first appeared in the summer 1968 issue of the Arab Journal, published by the Organization of Arab Students in the United States and Canada.


The author has somewhat expanded and revised his article for the present publication.

Mr. el-Messiri has focused on two historical aspects of the Zionist state which will be of special interest to those concerned with the question of self-determination in the Middle East. One deals with Israel as a jumping-off point for imperialist control, and documents that this was indeed the orientation of Zionist leaders in concert with colonial expansionists.

The second aspect of his analysis is particularly relevant to current developments in this country as well as in the Middle East: A discussion of the relations between Israel and the Afro-Asian and developing nations, it puts into its global context the solidarity that has begun to be expressed with the Palestinian guerrillas in the ranks of American anti-imperialist militants.

Palestine as a jumping-off point

Many people in the Western world blame Arab belligerence for some of the peculiar traits of the state of Israel. One such trait is its failure to be an integral part of the cultural and economic structure of the region. Although the Arab struggle against the Zionist state has no doubt helped isolate Israel and contributed to the development of its peculiar, unnatural character, it is also true that the peculiarities of the present Zionist state are inherent in Zionist ideology. The execution is a faithful fulfillment of the idea.

The idea was conceived in 19th-century Europe. When the Austrian journalist Herzl attended the Dreyfus trials in Paris, he was disturbed by what he saw. There in Paris he decided that a place, any place, in the backward continents of Asia and Africa, would provide a solution for the problems of European Jewry. Indeed, in a 19th-century imperialistic Europe haunted with its own dreams of the white man’s burden, it was quite customary “to export European tensions” to Africa and Asia. For example, overproduction of commodities could be solved through the Indian market, and lack of raw materials for British factories could be solved by converting Egypt into a cotton plantation. It was all simple and civilized—for the exploiters. So in this context the Jewish Question could be solved by applying the same magic formula.

Herzl discovered the formula and spent the rest of his life shuttling from one imperial power to another. He first approached the Turkish sultan and the German kaiser. Later, he tried to contact the king of Italy and was granted audience with the antisemitic Russian Interior Minister Von Plehve.

In a journal entry dated September 23, 1902, Herzl gives a detailed list of the colonialists he thought he was relentlessly manipulating:

The figures in my chess game now are Cecil Rhodes (with whom I am to meet after his return from Scotland); Roosevelt, the new President (through Gotthiel), the King of England (through the Bishop of Ripon); the Czar (through General Von Hess), etc. [1].

Writing to one of the chess figures of his game, Sir Cecil Rhodes, Herzl said:

“You are being invited to help make history. That cannot frighten you, nor will you laugh at it. It is not in your accustomed line; it doesn’t involve Africa, but a piece of Asia Minor, not Englishmen but Jews. But had this been on your path, you would have done it by now. How, then, do I happen to turn to you … ? Because it is something colonial” [2].

Like many colonialists of 19th century Europe, Herzl thought of the Jewish state as a partial fulfillment of the white man’s burden. In a letter sent, in 1896, to the grand duke of Baden, Herzl wrote:

“If it is God’s will that we return to our historic fatherland, we should like to do so as representatives of Western civilization and bring cleanliness, order and the well-established customs of the Occident to this plague-ridden, blighted corner of the Orient” [3].

As an outpost of European progress, the Zionist state held great promise for Europe. Apart from restoring cleanliness to that “plague-spot of the Orient,” the Zionists also planned to “build rail roads into Asia—the high-way of the civilized peoples [4].

The Zionist state was designed to be a fortress against Asia, “a vanguard against barbarism” [5].

This viewing of the Zionist state as an extension of the West and as an outpost for Western imperialism, was not solely Herzl’s. Many Zionists tend to identify themselves with European colonizers. Ben-Gurion, in “Rebirth and Destiny,” evoked the image of the conquistadors to describe the Zionist settlers:

“We were not just working—we were conquering, conquering, conquering a land. We were a company of conquistadors” [6].

The image of the French colons in Tunisia or British settlers in Canada and Australia was Weizmann’s favorite. In a conversation with Lord Cecil in April 1917, Weizmann once reminisced, “I ventured the opinion that the Zionist Organization had—even then—done more constructive work in Palestine than the French in Tunis. [7].

This same tendency to draw a sharp line of demarcation between a technologically advanced “European” community and backward natives is evident in a note sent by Weizmann to President Truman on November 27, 1947. Describing the Zionist community in Palestine, Weizmann said that it consisted mainly of “an educated peasantry and a skilled industrial class living on high standards.” To this bright image he contrasted the bleak one of “illiterate and impoverished communities bearing no resemblance to the Zionist community.” [8]

While Weizmann and Ben-Gurion use imagery that gilds and somewhat purifies reality, Jabotinsky, like his disciple Begin, embarrasses the Zionists by his frankness. (Jabotinsky was the leader of the right-wing “Revisionist” movement. His follower Begin led the Irgun terrorists in the 1942 fighting and was brought into the Israeli cabinet prior to the June war—ed.) In a language that smacks of racism, he wrote to [U.S.] Sen. O. Grusenberg declaring that he did not admire oriental culture. “We Jews are Europeans. … What do we have in common with the ‘Orient?’ And everything that is ‘oriental’ is doomed” [9].

Therefore, he did not hesitate to assert: “I willingly confess that we have no Arab policy and doubt whether such a policy is at all practicable. History teaches that all colonizations have met with little encouragement from the native on the spot; it may be very sad but so it is, and we Jews are no exception” [10].

Therefore Jabotinsky wanted the Zionists to train themselves in the arts of self-defense just as “in Kenya (where) every European was obliged to train for the Settlers’ Defense Force” [11].

Even after the establishment of Israel, the Zionist state and Israeli masses still view themselves in the same way. Mr. Ben-Gurion learned Spanish to read “Don Quixote” and ancient Greek to read the “Iliad,” but never Arabic to under-stand his environment. Ha’aretz, the Israeli magazine, in the April 30, 1958, issue, reported that Mr. Ben-Gurion re-fused to carry an Israeli identification card because it contains a few Arabic words. Mr. Ben-Gurion gave the reasons for his refusal elsewhere. He greatly fears that Israel might “degenerate into another mere Levantine state” [12].

This would be tantamount to disaster, from his European point of view.

Mr. Abba Eban, in “Voice of Israel” with his customary eloquence, defines his concept of the ideal relationship that should exist between Israel and her neighbors:

“The idea should not be one of integration. Quite the contrary: integration is rather something to be avoided. One of the great apprehensions which afflict us when we contemplate our cultural scene is the danger lest the predominance of immigrants of Oriental origin force Israel to equalize its cultural level with that of the neighbouring world. So far from regarding our immigrants from oriental countries as a bridge toward our integration with the Arabic-speaking world, our object should be to infuse them with Occidental spirit, rather than to allow them to draw us into an unnatural orientalism” [13].

If Ben-Gurion evoked the image of the conquistadors and Weizmann that of the colons, Eban evokes that of the Yankee in Latin America. “What we aspire to is not the relationship which exists between Lebanon and Syria, it is far more akin to the relationship between the United States and the Latin American continent.” [14]

General Itzak Rabin, after the June 5 war, evoked the image of the crusaders coming to liberate the holy land, apprehensive of Arab or Muslim cultural engulfment. Israelis, in general, prefer to look at their country as an outpost of progress and as an oasis of Western democracy in a desert of Afro-Asian backwardness. In the May 13, 1968, issue of Newsweek, an Israeli citizen was reported as saying: “I’m perfectly happy being a foreign body in the Middle East.”

The Zionist state, in other words. since its birth as an idea, and after its realization as an aggressive structure considers itself an extension of Western imperialistic dreams and ideals. Israel is its own jailer.
Now that the intellectual or psychological framework has been treated, more specific details will be presented. It was previously stated that exporting European tensions to Africa or Asia was quite customary. The Zionists actually negotiated for the acquisition of the following places: the Sinai Peninsula, Al-Arish region, a part of Kenya, the whole of Malagasi, a slice of Cyprus, and a portion of Uganda. All of these places are not suburbs of Paris or London, or even Columbus, Ohio. They are all parts of Africa or Asia. The Zionists, however, settled for Palestine, the whole of Palestine including Trans-Jordan, for the obvious reason that it would be easier to mobilize the Jewish masses behind such a project due to the area’s mythical and sentimental appeal.

The not so obvious reason, however, is that the Zionists felt that by choosing Palestine they could enlist the unqualified support of the colonial powers. Many of them wanted a base of operation in the Afro-Asian continent.

The dream of a Jewish state as a jumping-off point was discovered by the first European invader of the East in modern times: Napoleon Bonaparte. On April 20, 1799, the French commander issued an appeal to all the Jews of Asia and Africa asking them to follow the French command so that their “lost glory” and “usurped rights” may be restored. Behind the appeal were Napoleon’s imperial dreams and de-sire to block Britain’s route to India.

The dream was later re-discovered by Colonel George Gawler, one-time governor of South Australia. Throughout the 1840s he pressed the claims for Jewish resettlement in Palestine in order that the British might ensure her unbroken lines of communication [15].

In 1879, Sir Laurence Oliphant, a notorious anti-Semite, was one of the most active British advocates of Jewish resettlement in Palestine. He visited Palestine, and discovered that the scheme of a Jewish state in this region would ensure “the political and economic penetration of Palestine by Britain” [16].

One of the members of the British war cabinet, Sir Herbert Samuel, developed an interest in Zionism and the British Empire. He placed a memoir before the cabinet proposing that Palestine should be made a home for Jews. He argued that apart from humanitarian motives Britain needed to have friendly inhabitants in the region [17].

The colonial secretary of England in 1902, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, because he was trying to get possession of places near Palestine to be used as an assemblage center and a jumping-off point, welcomed Herzl’s idea [18].

These are some of the views of the colonialists. Some socialists, who now urge the Arabs to accept Israel as a fact, knew of the jumping-off point theory and its importance for the colonialists.

The Leeds Conference of the British Socialist Party held at Easter 1918 warned in its resolution that the Balfour Declaration of 1917 had been a “veiled attempt at the annexation of Palestine” (the British Mandate was imposed in 1923) “and also a means to enlist the assistance of the Jews the world over for the imperialist ends of Great Britain and its allies.” Wolfe, the mover of the resolution, warned: “The conversion of Palestine into a Jewish state would mean that the Jews would be used as a tool by the capitalists all over the world” [19].

The Zionists were only too happy to be the tools of the colonialists. The ultimate goal of Herzl’s chess game was neither the spread of civilization in “barbaric” Asia nor was it the fulfillment of the ancestral dream of the Jewish people. As he himself bluntly admitted in one of his letters, the idea of the Zionist state is not merely a “theological matter”; it is rather a political factor which “English policy in the Orient could and should reckon with.” “England’s advantage,” Herzl added, “would be that a railroad would immediately be built across Palestine from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf” [20].

The presence of the implanted Zionist state in this strategic point will serve to protect it from the incursions or revolution of the “natives.” After a meeting with Mustafa Karnil, the Arab nationalist leader, the shrewd Herzl wrote the following words in his diary:

“I feel that it would be good for our cause if the English were forced to leave Egypt. For then they would have to seek another road to India in place of the Suez Canal, which would be lost to them or at least rendered insecure. At that point a modern Jewish Palestine would be an expedient for them—the railroad from Jaffa to the Persian Gulf” [21].

Two years before his death, Herzl was still thinking of the colonialist role the Zionist state could play. He wrote to Lord Rothschild of England indicating to him the advantages that would accrue to him if he were to support the Zionist idea [22]:

“You may claim high credit from your government if you strengthen English influence east of the Mediterranean by a great colonization of our people at a middle point of Egyptian and lndo-Persian interests” [23].

Weizmann, the leading Zionist of his time, endorsed the view of the Zionist state as a jumping-off point, He told the British assistant secretary of state for foreign affairs that a “Jewish Palestine would be a safeguard to England, in particular in respect to the Suez Canal” [24].

Jabotinsky, embarrassingly frank as usual, said:

“I need not dwell on the well-known truism of Palestine’s importance from the viewpoint of British imperial interests; I have only to add that its validity depends on one paramount condition. namely that Palestine should cease being an Arab country.

The defect of all England’s “strongholds” in the Mediterranean roots in the fact that (with the only exception of little Malta) they are all of them in-habited by populations whose national magnetic centers lie elsewhere and who are therefore organically and incurably centrifugal.

England governs them against their will, and this is a precarious hold under modern conditions. There will inevitably come a day when Gibraltar will revert to Spain, Cyprus to Greece, Egypt is already “gone” for Egypt is politically if not racially Arab.

Should Palestine remain Arab, Palestine would follow the orbit of Arab destinies—Federation of Arab countries, and elimination of all traces of European influence. But a Palestine predominantly Jewish, Palestine as a Jewish State, surrounded on all sides by Arab countries, will, in the interests of its own preservation, always seek to lean upon some powerful Empire, non-Arab and non–Mohammedan. … This is an almost providential basis for a permanent alliance between England and a Jewish (but only a Jewish) Palestine” [25].

Ben-Gurion also accepted the definition of the Zionist state as a jumping-off point. The conquistadors conquered the land so that “England will have bases of defense on sea and on land in the Jewish state and in the British corridor” [26].

Ben-Gurion was speaking in his capacity as a member of the World Zionist Organization. As a base or outpost of Western “progress,” Israel needs the friendship and defense of big Western powers.

Consequently, later as a prime minister, Ben-Gurion recognized that “from the point of view of our existence and security … the friendship that we (in Israel), arrived at with European countries … is more important than the sentiment that prevails now among the Asian people” [27].

The interest of imperialistic powers in Israel has never slackened. The “jumping-off point” theory is now advocated by some militarists and imperialists in the U.S. State Department. James Landes, “economic representative” to the Middle East and later head of the Civil Aeronautical Authority, said in Fortune, September 1945:

“[O]ur rights to fly and land, even to use what we have built, rest everywhere on the most tenuous of war-time easements. Moreover, to reach around the world, or to reach eastward to China, and the Pacific … we require free and untrammeled access to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea” [28].

WaIter Lippman on Nov. 15, 1945, in the New York Herald Tribune, recommended American presence in the Middle East “for example, at the port of Haifa—exercising not only influence from the distance of Washington, but influence radiating from some local point of actual American power” [29]!

In the view of U.S. Senator Riley, Israel is indeed such a local point. At a mass rally held for Israel on March 29, 1953, he said that the United States regards the Zionist oasis as the main base for its military and economic efforts in the Middle East. In 1968 the imperialist’s view of Israel has not undergone any radical change. The New York Times Jerusalem correspondent, James Feron, reported on June 11, 1966, some conversations with Israeli officials. The following excerpt is highly instructive:

“This is the way a Foreign Office official put it: The United States has come to the conclusion that it can no longer respond to every incident around the world, that it must rely on a local power—the deterrent of a friendly power—as a first line to stave off America’s direct involvement.”

In the Israeli view Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara outlined this approach last month just a few days before the Skyhawk deal was announced. In a major address in Montreal, one that attracted con-siderable attention in high quarters here, Mr. McNamara reviewed American commitments around the world and said: “[I]t is the policy of the United States to encourage and achieve a more effective partnership with those nations who can, and should, share international peacekeeping responsibilities.” Israel feels that she fits this definition and the impression that has been conveyed by some gov-ernment officials is that Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Mr. McNamara conferred over Skyhawk details in the context of this concept when the Israeli diplomat was in Washington last February” [30].

The Zionist state is determined to be an oasis of peace under the aegis of the burning napalm.

The oasis and the Afro-Asian countries

Israel, a foreign, alien body, was not welcomed by the countries of Africa and Asia. The original 1947 recommendation to create a “Jewish State” in Palestine was approved on the first vote, only by European, American, and Australasian states. Every Asian state and every African state (with the exception of the Union of South Africa) voted against it. When the vote was cast in plenary session on Nov. 2, 1947, American and Zionist pressures succeeded in prevailing only upon one Asian country (the Philippines) and one African country (Liberia), both of which had special vulnerability to American pressures, to abandon their declared opposition. In other words, the “Jewish State” was planted at the point of intersection of Asia and Africa without the free approval of any Middle Eastern, Asian or African country except the Union of South Africa, a white supremacist settler state [31].

Israel was created by white racism, and as a state it has remained basically a white and racist entity. This may partly account for the refusal of the colored of the desert to welcome the oasis. Whenever a colored, oppressed people achieve a measure of freedom and independence they usually take a pro-Arab position.

This is clearly demonstrated by the attitude of the heroic Afro-American people. In the forties, when the Partition Plan was being considered in the United Nations, American Zionist organizations pressured the NAACP to try to influence the Liberian vote in favor of the Partition Plan. Liberal, compromising, integrationist elements have always been, and still are, staunch supporters of the racist state of Israel. But like all the ancient regimes of Afro-Asian countries, the integrationist leaders are becoming increasingly irrelevant. The new radical leadership, which represents a new spirit of pride and independence among Afro-Americans, is avowedly pro-Arab.

In the last two years, the Arab cause was propagated and defended by Afro-Americans with amazing historical in-tuition and in the face of cheap Zionist propaganda and smear tactics. White America, for the first time, was forced to hear about the Deir Yassin massacre and Israeli land robbery. The Black Power convention at Newark in the summer of 1967, the Black caucus of the New Politics Convention at Chicago, the SNCC newsletter about Zionist atrocities in Palestine, all made headlines and reminded the dormant American conscience of the displaced Palestinians. They made it a long hot summer for the Zionist imperialists.

A good example of the attitude of Afro-Americans on the Arab-Israeli conflict is the statement by the national liberation leader Stokeley Carmichael. When asked by a National Guardian reporter on Sept. 16, 1967, about the basis of SNCC’s stand on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Carmichael answered:

“We reason that the Jews have been mistreated for centuries and centuries. … There is no need (however) for the Jews to turn around because the white man persecuted them, and persecute the Africans and especially the Arabs. If the Jews want a state of their own it seems to me that what they should have done after the war when the white Western powers were dividing up Germany was to demand that they be given a part of Germany. … But for the Jews to use the extermination of the Jews in Germany by Germans as an excuse to take land from the Arabs is clearly unjust.”

The NAACP supports Israel, while the militants champion the Arabs. The same pattern could be traced in Latin America. While the satellites and the police states agree with the American imperialists and back Israel, the revolutionary forces and independent countries take a pro-Arab position. The Cuban government, in a statement on June 7, 1967, accused Israel of collaboration with the imperialists. “For this reason,” the statement went on to say:

“The Cuban Revolutionary Government, fully aware of the principles formulated in this declaration (of June 2) of our party, reiterates its strongest solidarity with the Arab nations facing imperialist aggression today, and condemns this aggression.”

Che Guevara, in a message to the Tricontinental spoke in similar terms. He charged that Israel collaborated with the imperialists in its attack against “the progressive countries of the Zone.” In addition, other progressive and revolutionary parties back the Arabs in their fight against the oasis. In the Afro-Asian continents, Israel has remained, ever since its inception, a total stranger [32].

It has been refused admission to any inter-state conference of Asian, African, Afro-Asian or Non-Aligned States ever held. In the first Afro-Asian Conference held at Bandung on April 18, 1955, the Afro-Asian countries declared their “support of the rights of the Arab people of Palestine, and called for the implementation of the United Nations resolutions on Palestine and the achievement of the peaceful settlement of the Palestine questions.”

Other Afro-Asian conferences that proclaimed similar positions are:

  • The (First) Conference of Independent African States held at Accra, April 15, 1958
  • The Casablanca Conference of the Heads of African States, held at Casablanca, Morocco on Jan. 3, 1961
  • Conference of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the States of the African Charter of Casablanca, held in Cairo in April 1961
  • The (First) Conference of the Heads of State or Governments of Non-Aligned Countries held at Belgrade in September 1961

This list is highly selective, and is not meant to be exhaustive by any means. What is even more important than the official conferences, are the conferences held by revolutionary parties or organizations in the Afro-Asian continents.

Again a partial list of such conferences may give some idea about the solid base of support for the Arab Palestinian people in the Afro-Asian continents, and the opinions the peoples of these continents hold about Israel.

The First, Second, Third and Fourth Conferences for the Solidarity of Afro-Asians held respectively in Egypt in 1958, Ghana 1960, Tanganyika (now Tanzania) 1963 and Ghana 1965. The Fourth Conference was attended by delegates from 70 countries.

The resolutions of these conferences are quite representative of the attitudes of the Afro-Asian peoples. The conferees stated that Israel was a base of Western imperialism as a jumping-off point to dominate the emerging Afro-Asian countries. The resolutions of the Third Conference specified that Israel was founded to protect the petroleum interests of the imperialists and to halt Arab socialist and nationalist reconstruction as well. The Second Conference described Israel as an agent of neocolonialism and international corporations. After reviewing Israel’s role in Afro-Asian countries, the Third and Fourth Conferences asked all revolutionary forces and parties to fight against Zionist penetration on the Afro-Asian continents. All conferences condemned the forcible eviction of the Palestine people in order to found the alien state of Israel. Therefore the conferees (in the Second and Third Conferences) condemned Jewish immigration to occupied Palestine, upheld the right of the Palestinian people to go back to their land and praised their heroic determination to achieve this goal.

The Fourth Conference asserted that “the Palestine issue cannot be solved except as a part of a general plan for the liquidation of imperialism. Any solution that does not include a liquidation of the aggressive imperialistic base Israel is nothing but an imperialistic compromise.”

  • Conference of Afro-Asian Youth held in the UAR in 1958
  • Conference of the Solidarity of Afro-Asian Women held in the UAR, 1961
  • First and Second Conferences of Afro-Asian writers held in Japan in 1961 and in the UAR in 1962
  • Conference of African Peoples held in the UAR in 1961
  • First, Second, and Third Conferences of Afro-Asian Journalists held in Indonesia during 1963 and 1964

The First Intercontinental, held in Havana, Cuba in January 1966 and in which 82 countries participated. The resolutions of this conference concerning Israel were quite comprehensive. Here is a very brief summary of the main points:

The conference, after reviewing the resolutions of the Afro-Asian solidarity conference, and after familiarizing itself with the circumstances under which Israel was imposed on the Palestinian people and the role Israel is playing in serving the interests of the imperialists against the forces of progress and peace in the region, resolved: That world Zionism is an imperialistic movement, expansionist in its goals, racist in its structure, and fascist in its methods; that Israel, the settler state, is a base of imperialism and one of its tools; that the right of the Palestinian people to liberate their homeland is a natural extension of their right for self-defense; that the presence of Israel in occupied Palestine is illegitimate; and that all progressive forces and political parties and committees should sever relations with Israel. The conference denounced America’s backing of Israel, Jewish immigration to Palestine, and the military aid given by Israel to satellite governments in Africa. The conference also warned against the so-called Israeli technical and financial aid and considered it a new disguised form of American imperialism. The conference finally called for the backing of the Palestinian people in their fight against Zionism.

If the revolutionary forces back the Palestinian people, some Afro-Asian Western satellites or white-settler states support the oasis.

There is a great deal of sympathy for Israel in South Africa and Rhodesia because the Afrikaners and Rhodesians believe that the Zionists of Israel, like them, are a white people surrounded by hostile, non-white neighbors. The National Review in its Nov. 30, 1965, editorial, exhorted that Rhodesia, South Africa and Israel must all be defended as outposts of Western civilization. One oasis Rhodesia (occupied Zimbabwe), is intensely interested in lending a helping hand to Israel. The Rhodesian government extended all possible facilities for Rhodesian Zionists to transfer funds to Israel, the Israeli paper Ha Yom reported in its Jan. 4, 1968, issue. The paper then added, “Zionist activity in Rhodesia is not inferior to that in South Africa. There are Zionist Youth movements working with the assistance of Israeli missionaries.”

Another oasis, South Africa, does its best to keep Israel green. The relationship between South Africa and Israel, however, have deep roots and a well-entrenched tradition.

Because of the similarity between the South African experiment in apartheid and Zionist ideals, South Africans have always been able to appreciate the aims and objects of the Zionist movement. From the beginning of Union, the leaders of the new South African nation showed a deep understanding of the great adventure of the Jewish people to build their own land. There was Botha the first prime Minister of the Union of South Africa. … There was Smuts, who played a part in securing the Balfour Declaration, and whose name is written imperishably into Zionist history because of all he did to help the Jewish people. There was Hertzog … who gave his blessing to the Zionist Movement. There was his lieutenant, Tielman Roas who was the chief architect of the Pro-Zionist Declaration which the Government of General Hertzog issued in 1926 [33].

Zionist leaders also flocked to the white-settler state to receive inspiration. Chaim Wetzmann, later first president of Israel, visited South Africa and received an honorary degree from the Witwatersrand University. He was warmly welcomed by the South African [34].

When the 1948 war broke in Palestine, Jewish youth in South Africa, living in an atmosphere conducive to the understanding of Zionist ideals, went gladly to fight [35].

Once Israel was established, the South African prime minister, Daniel F. Malan, was the first head of government of any country to visit Israel. He went back to the apartheid state with a message that Israel could offer inspiration to South Africa [36].

During the last war between Israel and the Arab people [1967], the racist government of South Africa announced that it had given permission to the Zionist Federation in Pretoria to send half a million pounds in aid to Israel. The ministry of finance of the Union declared that it would allow the Zionist Federation to remit annually a similar amount to Israel for the coming five years [37].

The South African Sunday Times of June 11, 1967, editorialized:

“South African Jews can thank the Prime Minister for permitting the transfer of funds from South Africa to Israel. A statement issued last night by the South African Zionist Federation (Second, in strength to the Zionist Organization of America) and the South African Board of Deputies says it greatly appreciates the sympathy given by the Prime Minister to the delegation, representing the entire Jewish community of South Africa, which recently called on him.”

Commenting on the outcome of the war, the South African magazine Sondagstem of June 11, 1967, congratulated Israel on its amazing achievement. Die Oosterlig of June 12, 1967, said that the June events in the Middle East proceeded “to the advantage of South Africa.” If one oasis triumphs, the others share in the fruits. A totally independent Egypt that helped Algeria and other African national liberation movements is indeed a menace and a threat to other white-settler states.

Other reactionary forces in the Afro-Asian continents support Israel and have strong relationships. Right-wing parties in India who, like the Zionists, tend to think of the Arab-Israeli conflict as racial and religious, back Israel. Some of them in the ‘forties volunteered to fight for the Zionist invaders. During the June 5 war, they opposed the stand of the Indian government and advocated full support for Israel.

The states of Nepal and Thailand, notoriously pro-Western, have full diplomatic relations and have signed various trade and cultural agreements with Israel. Israel is also on very good terms with Australia and New Zealand.

During the June 5 war, Ho Chi Minh issued a statement supporting the Arabs and condemning the United States and Britain. The Saigon regime, on the other hand, throws what little weight it has behind Israel. Premier Ky, who wanted four or five Hitlers in Vietnam, said, “I’m for Israel.” He need not worry at all, Israel is for him, too. The Dec. 6, 1967, issue of Newsweek reported that Israel may go so far as to officially recognize the South Vietnamese government. However, if diplomatic recognition has not come as yet it could take many other forms. The Jan. 22, 1968, issue of Newsweek reported that Premier Levi Eshkol, during his visit to the United States to get military aid, insisted to Jewish leaders, including critics of LBJ’s Vietnam policy, that “what Johnson does in Vietnam is right.”

The polarity of a Western oasis and an Afro-Asian desert is very well exemplified by the fact that the Palestine Liberation Army sent representatives to “stand by the Vietnam Liberation Front in its struggle against U.S. imperialism.” In contrast, Moshe Dayan, shortly to become Israeli defense minister, at the same time was making a trip to Vietnam which was financed by the USIS. He conferred with McNamara, Taylor and Rostow both before and after the trip. The imperialists wanted his advice and needed his help. He was only too willing to gratify.

What does the oasis do to the desert?

Israel is loyally discharging its function as a loyal oasis. Many Western capitalists send their capital to Israel so that it may acquire a little tan and some Afro-Asian veneer. In this way, the capital is made more acceptable to emerging nations.

Many Israeli companies and organizations which invest money in the African states and grant loans are either completely or partly owned by Western monopolies. American, British, French and West German monopolies own over 400 of the important projects in Israel. The Afro-Asian institute, in Tel-Aviv, was established to train Afro-Asian trade union leaders and to generate in them a genuine love for “democracy” and free enterprise.

The AFL-CIO, well-known for its subversive activity against revolutionary movements in the underdeveloped world, contributes 50 percent of the institute’s expenses.

Israel backed American intervention in Korea. It opposed and still opposes China’s admission to the United Nations. It also voted against many anti-colonial resolutions. The most notorious votes are those cast against the independence of Tunisia and Algeria. The colons of Israel did not like the idea of seeing another community of colons disappear. Some of the French generals in Algeria, who tried to set up a Franco-type government-in-exile, confessed during their trials in Paris that they had obtained promises from some countries to recognize their government once it was established. Those states were the governments of South Africa, Portugal and Israel!

The same pro-Western, pro-colonial policy is manifested in Israel’s support for the atomic tests conducted by France in the African Sahara. The tests enraged the African peoples because the nuclear radiation was a definite menace to life on the continent. The collaboration between Israel, France and England in the Suez affair of 1956 marked the climax of the aggressive activism of the outpost. This was the climax, but not the conclusion. When the U.S. Marines landed in Jordan and Lebanon and threatened the 1958 Iraqi revolution, Israel endorsed the intervention. In 1961, Israel supported Tshombe’s secession movement in Katanga. Israel also provided Portugal with arms to exterminate African nationalists in Angola and Mozambique. The Nov. 29, 1961, Haolam Hazeh reported that Israel not only sold Portugal machine guns, but also supplied her with planes to destroy African villages in Angola. Very recently, a Guardian correspondent asked Spartacus Monimambu, commander of the Angolan Peoples Liberation Movement, about the sources of military aid for Portugal, the latter pointed out that they were NATO and Israel [38].

It seems that Israel is entirely committed to aiding colonial powers. Furthermore, in 1967, Israel voted against the independence of Aden. (It is an open secret in the United Nations that the Israeli delegation always gives aid and comfort and valuable advice to the imperialists.) When the issue of Aden was being considered in the United Nations the Israeli delegation, I was told, lobbied against the passage of a resolution favoring the independence of Aden even more than did the American and British delegations. Radio Israel still backs the Yemeni royalists in their reactionary war against the republican regime.

One of the latest acrobatic accomplishments of Israel was the Ben Barka affair. The leftist Arab trade unionist was kidnapped and murdered in Paris under very mysterious circumstances. An article in the Dec. 11, 1966, issue of the Israeli magazine BUL implies that Israeli intelligence was responsible for the kidnapping and assassination of Ben Barka. The editor of the Israeli weekly and his assistant were arrested and convicted of having violated state security regulations. The Israeli court that tried the two editors ordered that the verdict not be published. The revealing issue of BUL was swiftly confiscated and suppressed. Four hundred copies, however, had already been circulated.

Hostile as it is to the colored of the desert, Israel had consistently refused to vote in the United Nations against the apartheid regime of South Africa. In the last few years, however, Israel—in order to better serve the interests of the neo-colonialists in the virgin continents—is trying to change its appearance. It has built up a new façade and tries to pass for a vigorous, energetic emerging state, anxious to help others. For this reason, Israel now votes against South Africa in the United Nations, and Zionists in the apartheid state apologize for the misdemeanor and point out that apart from this little, nasty voting, everything is fine and dandy.

Yet the volume of trade between the two outposts is always increasing. It is bound to remain at its present level or even increase because most of the Zionist funds, collected by Zionist groups for Israel, have to be spent in South Africa due to the foreign exchange regulations. (A similar situation occurred in America after the dollar crisis. Israel promised President Johnson to spend the money for Israeli bonds in the United States, which will lead to a deepening of the relations between the oasis and the metropolis.)

The outpost of progress in Asia is helping defend other out-posts. An earlier reference mentioned Israeli support of American intervention in Korea. Its support of the Saigon regime and of American intervention in Vietnam, however, assume more subtle forms.

The Near East Report, a pro-Zionist publication, reported in its March 1966 issue that the South Vietnamese ambassador to Washington announced that his government “had accepted a 1965 Israel invitation to send South Vietnamese agricultural experts for training in Israel.” The term “agriculture” may sound a little innocuous, but it should be remembered that the Israeli Nahal are both farmers and soldiers. The ambassador also told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Saigon government was negotiating with Israel for the dispatch of Israel’s Nahal instructors to his country.

The degree of Israeli involvement in Vietnam can also be measured by the admission of an Israeli foreign office spokesman that Israel had sent “humanitarian” aid to the Saigon government in November 1961. During his trip to Asia in 1967, Mr. Abba Eban did not denounce, in his communiques, American raids on Hanoi. When asked by the Knesset on April 12, 1967, for an explanation, he gave the very pragmatic answer that such a denunciation sharply conflicted with the official policy of all the countries he visited. The minister, it seems, confined his visits only to oases!

On the same day, a communist member in the Knesset, Meir Vilner, sponsored a motion that revealed beyond any doubt, Israeli involvement in Vietnam. Excerpts from this motion, because of its extreme importance are translated below:

“The Knesset censures the decision of the governments to receive missions (of farmer-soldiers or diplomats—text unclear) sent by the pro-American government and asks for the cancellation of such missions. The Knesset asks the government to order Israeli shipping companies to stop the transport of supplies and fuel from the U.S.A. and Japan to Vietnam. The Knesset asks the government to join other governments that support the cessation of raids on the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam and the withdrawal of American troops. In the discussion that followed, not a single member of the Knesset contested the truth of the statements in the motion. One deputy, though, suggested that Mr. Vilner should send this motion to Cairo. When the motion was put to the vote it was opposed by such “leftists” as the Mapam and Ahdut Havoda deputies” [39].

Israel as an outpost of Western capital and neo-colonialist ideologies fulfills the prophecies and aspirations of the imperialists. On the day that the 19th-century European Zionist ideologue Theodore Herzl started formulating his plans for a Jewish state, Israel began to assume its present unnatural form.

That the Afro-Asian peoples, including the Arabs, oppose Israel is only logical and human. The history of these peoples in modern times is one of revolution against Western imperialism and Western cultural dominance. They are trying to pull down imperialism and all that it stands for: military bureaucracies, dictatorships, feudal and reactionary regimes, and white-settler states. Israel is an integral part of this disintegrating structure.


When I told a pacifist member of the Mapam Party, a student at Rutgers University, of the attitude of his party to the war in Vietnam, his answer was, “Israel has to defend itself.” This confirms all the fears of Afro-Asian socialists and nationalists. Israel was implanted by the imperialists as an isolated entity so that it might evolve interests which are in sharp conflict with those of the inhabitants of the region.

By virtue of this isolated existence, the Israelis will not only alienate themselves from the inhabitants’ aspirations but, in preservation of this isolation, they will move in an opposite direction. The repatriation of the Palestinian refugees and the creation of a new socialist democratic multi-ethnic, multi-religious state, an ideal advocated by the Palestinian freedom fighters, could help liquidate a racist political structure which has served imperialist interests in the Afro-Asian continents.

About the author

Abdel el-Messiri was born in Egypt in 1938. He received his B.A. at Alexandria University in 1959 and his M.A. at Columbia University in 1963. Mr. el-Messiri taught American literature at Rutgers University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1969. He is the author of several articles on American and Western literature, which appeared in Arab and American periodicals.

Featured photo: Israeli soldiers prepare to demolish a Palestinian house. Source: Wikimedia Commons.


[1] Theodore Herzl, vol. 3 of Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, ed. Raphael Patai, trans. Harry Zohn (New York/London: Herzl Press and Thomas Yoseloff, 1960), 1179.
[2] Ibid., vol. 3, 1194.
[3] Ibid., vol. 1, 343.
[4] Ibid., vol. 1, 338.
[5] Uri Avnery, “A War Between Two Semitic Brothers,” Contemporary Zionist Thought (in Arabic) (Beirut: Pal-estine Liberation Organization, 1963), 341.
[6] Quoted by Fayez Sayegh “The ‘Non-Colonial’ Zionism of Mr. Abba Eban,” Middle East Forum, (XLII, 1966), 50.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Harry S. Truman, vol. 2 of Memoirs (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1955), 159.
[9] Joseph Schechtrnan, Fighter and Prophet: The Vladimir Jabotinsky Story. The Last Years, (New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1961).
[10] Quoted by Ben Herrnan, “Zionism and the Lion,” Zionism, Israel and the Arabs, ed. Hal Draper (Berkeley, California: Independent Socialist Clippingbooks, 1967), 31.
[11] Arthur Hertzberg, ed., The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader.
[12] Conference of Zionists, 1961. Quoted by Erskine Childers in his speech to the Palestine Day Conference held in London, May 15, 1966.
[13] Abba Eban, Voice of Israel (New York: Horizon Press, 1957), 76.
[14] Ibid.
[15] William R. Polk et. al., Backdrop to Tragedy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957), 136.
[16] Ibid. 137.
[17] Ibid. 160.
[18] From a speech by Erskine Childers at the Palestine Day Conference in London, May 15th, 1966.
[19] Quoted by Labour Monthly, August 1967, 342.
[20] Diaries, vol. 2, 500.
[21] Ibid. vol. 2, 526.
[22] Ibid. vol. 4, 1309.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Alfred M. Lilienthal, What Price Israel? (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1953), 22.
[25] Ben Herman, “Zionism and the Lion,” Zionism. Israel, and the Arabs, 27.
[26] Ibid., 26.
[27] Arrusky, “The Tragedy of Israeli Chauvinism,” Ibid., 191.
[28] Rita Freed, The War in the Mideast: June 1967 (New York: The Ad Hoc Committee on the Middle East, n.d.), 15
[29] Ibid., 15-16.
[30] Quoted by Hyman Lumer, The Middle East Crisis (New York: New Outlook Publishers, 1967), 8.
[31] Fayez Sayegh, “Twenty Basic Facts About Israel” (New York: Arab Information Center, 1960), 4
[32] In this section I relied heavily on Dr. Sayegh’s book Zionist Colonialism in Palestine (Beirut: Palestine Liberation Organization, 1965) and Larla al-Kadi, The Palestine Question in Thirty Three International Conferences (Beirut: Palestine Liberation Organization, 1966).
[33] N. Kirschner, “Zionism and the Union of South Africa,” Jewish Affairs, May 1960, 42.
[34] Ibid., 45.
[35] Ibid.
[36] Ibid., 42.
[37] Hayuon, January 4, 1968.
[38] Don Barnett, “In the Liberated Areas of Angola,” Guardian. May 11, 1968, 12.
[39] AI-Itihad (an Israeli newspaper in Arabic), April 14, l967.