Hoisted from Comments: The Colonialist and Anti-Semitic Origins of Modern Israel

Yves here. Our Colonel Smithers, a regular commentor who is UK power politics adjacent, recommending republishing a comment by reader vao on how Israel’s ethnic cleansing and genocide of Gazans has many colonial antecedents. We are also hoisting a second comment of his in this thread, how Lord Balfour’s support of the project to establish a Jewish homeland in the Middle East has strong anti-semitic footprints.

The italics below are text from other comments in the thread to which vao is replying.

From reader vao:

Everything that Israel is doing to the Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere throughout Israel was all pioneered in Vietnam.

Many — if not most — of what Israel is doing against Palestinians has a solid colonial tradition that predates the Vietnam war.

Thus, at the same time the USA was implementing strategic hamlets in Vietnam, the Portuguese were proceeding with a “rural reorganization” of their colonies, concentrating the native population in “villages” (aldeamentos) — enclosed with barbed wire and with a small military post in the centre (so that the locals would act as a human shield in case of attacks by the guerrila).

But neither the American nor the Portuguese had invented anything: the French had already practiced the same policy with their “regrouping centres” (centres de regroupement) during the Algerian war — where they ended up parking 2.5 millions natives.

And they were not the first to have done something like that: the British created the “new villages” during the “Malayan emergency” — again, concentrating people in villages enclosed with barbed wire, watchtowers manned by guards with instructions to shoot to kill.

It’s been carved up into districts requiring electronic passes from one sector to another to go into Israel, to go to Jerusalem, or to go to Israel for jobs to work.

Again, a standard colonial practice.

In French colonies, the native population was assigned to districts, within which it could move freely. To travel to another district, it was necessary to get a written authorization, presenting a roadmap (where one wanted to go, when, and the route). Woe to those who, when presenting their laissez-passer, were found to be infringing its roadmap. In addition, the local population was subject to curfews.

A similar system (including curfews) existed in Belgian colonies, but it was possible to obtain a travel permit valid for a limited period (typically 2 months), renewable for a fee.

In Portuguese colonies, natives had to carry a “native booklet” with which they had to justify their presence in any place outside their district. It was basically a log book dated and signed by the employer or civil servant. Also curfews.

Other colonial powers also had a variety of comparable approaches for imposing the control of movement on local populations.

Even the segregation practices in occupied Palestine (roads reserved to Israelis, streets where one side is for Palestinians and the other for Israelis, settlements that Palestinians are not allowed to enter, hospitals where maternity wards are separated by ethnic background, etc) are actually inspired by colonial practices. Italians were the most extreme in that matter, followed by Portuguese, Belgians, British, Dutch, French. Apartheid itself was a colonial system in a post-colonial world — it did not invent anything that had not been already implemented in the colonial realm before (especially in Italian colonies under fascism).

Genocide? A typical colonial practice.

We could go on.

It is useful to realize that, if the zionist movement was led by, and the State of Israel created by Jews originating largely from Eastern Europe (Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Jabotinski, Sharett, etc), the foundation and build-up of zionism was largely the work of Jews originating from Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire (Herzl, Arthur Ruppin, Franz Oppenheimer, Davis Trietsch, Otto Warburg). And for them, the models to apply in order to build a state for the Jews were to be found in the German and French colonies.

vao’s second remark:

I am increasingly convinced that the strategic character of Israel — not just for the USA, but also for European countries — lies in Israel as such.

Israel does not have any mineral or agricultural resources of strategic importance. It does not control some strategic strait like Gibraltar, the Dardanelles, Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb, Malacca. It does not have an industry that is of worldwide strategic importance (like TSMC in Taiwan or AMSL in the Netherlands). It is not a cultural or scientific center of universal significance like Italy or France were in the distant past. The only time its military allied with Western powers to tame a Near-Eastern country was in 1956 during the Suez crisis; its possible joining a Western military endeavour was even viewed as a hindrance during the first Gulf war. The supposedly strategic handle it provides to control hydrocarbons appears to be elusive — witness Iran and Iraq, and at a small scale, Syria and Yemen.

Lord Balfour is very well-known to have promised a homeland to the Jews in his historic 1917 declaration. He is less well-known to have been the Prime Minister of a government that 12 years earlier edicted a law preventing Jews to immigrate into the UK.

I suspect that this kind of hypocritical, latent anti-semitism is what drives Western rulers to stand so demonstratively with Israel: they are satisfied to see Jews away, and do not want to see millions of them coming back — especially if they are Sephardims, Mizrahis, or Falashas.

Does anybody see any other cogent argument for why Israel is so “strategic”?

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  1. Pat

    Cogent, probably not. Nor would I deny that there is some deeply seated anti-semitism, in the broadest sense of the word, in all our Middle Eastern actions. But then I think calling our foreign policy cogent is stretching it almost to the breaking point, and not just in the dumpster fire of this region. Psychotic might be more accurate for at least the last three decades, possibly longer.

    But in regards to Israel, our fealty and acceptance of unacceptable behaviors and actions goes beyond historical precedents. And fear of the other. We have many emotional triggers at play. Guilt, which is fading, evangelical religious fervor, blackmail, corruption, greed, megalomania, even tradition factor in. all of which are even further inflated by our imagined distance from the actions and consequences. And please do not forget that many of those in charge are not as smart, or even educated, as they think they are. Complexities baffle too many of our officials and much of the public. That is not to say that there may not be a few with some plans and big picture overview, but not most of our bureaucracy.

  2. vidimi

    I admit to being very confused by the nature of the relationship of the Anglo-American empire with Israel. I do think that it has morphed significantly from what it was at the start.

    Initially, vao is probably right that anti-semitism played a role and that Israel served the interests of the empire. Over time, the rise of Zionist oligarchs in media, finance and politics reversed the relationship. For one example, Democratic party mafia don Haim Saban is a one issue guy, and the issue is Israel. I do not take this to mean that he wants to sponsor Israel to advance the interests of the US empire but for Israel’s sake. The same went for deceased Republican party mafia don Sheldon Adelson, whose estate retains its power.

    One thing I have been thinking about is how the US has several other pliant regimes in the area in Egypt and Jordan and, arguably, the Saudis. These regimes are afforded nowhere near the latitude that Israel is. Just try to imagine US pols saying that our support for the Egyptians or for the Jordanians is unconditional. Israeli lobbyists are the only lobbyists representing another state that don’t have to register as foreign agents. Why is that?

    I’ve thought about how Israel may serve as a sort of Sword of Damocles over the heads of the Arab despots in the region should they get any idea about giving in to their populations. On the other, those populations wouldn’t be so dangerous where it not for Israel, which they vehemently oppose, so it seems like another self-licking ice cream cone.

    1. digi_owl

      “Democratic party mafia don Haim Saban”

      It keeps weirding me out to see that name crop up, given that he became such a economic powerhouse by making kids entertainment.

      Then again Disney became massive by mythologizing USA…

      1. Carolinian

        Unlike Disney Saban has made a trivial contribution to the movie and entertainment world and that continues be true with his Saban Films. His money came from being an owner of cable channel platforms.

        By contrast Arnon Milchan–another Israeli immigrant–has produced some of the more famous movies of the past few decades. Decades ago he helped Israel get their bomb or so it has been alleged.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, C.

          What about Saban’s Sweet Valley High? How could one not like that?

          How about Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus and their output?

          Pinewood, Elstree / Borehamwood, Warner Brothers in Watford and Shepperton are nearby.

          1. Thistlebreath

            Haim’s partner, Shuki Levy had the key to the treasure vault: retaining music rights to ‘Saturday Morning’ TV animated shows. Riches followed. Worked next office over. No further comment.

      2. Hastalavictoria

        A superb analysis Vao and many excellent comments.While not able to comment on the strategic value of Israel,definitions of anti-Semitism etc and currently battling through Robert Fisk’s superb The Great War for Civilisation – The Conquest of the Far East the transferability of methods of control,subjugation,and dehumanisation of the unwanted other comes as no surprise.

        Surely there must be a PHD here undertaken by a strongly stomached researcher?

        Ideas and ‘best practices’ travel as equally among the community of genocide adherents both political and practical i.e the actual torturers as between scientific economic or any other academic community.

        Our masters have much history and thousands of networks and groups with knowledge passed through the ages of what methods in their opinion are most effective.
        They also employ clever people often the best of the best.

        I recall reading a former German Waffen SS officer’s description of how – now as a French Foreign Legion member – they overcame the problem of avoiding VC ambushes in Vietnam when in convoy in the French Indo- China War.They bound pregnant women and tiny children from local villages to their tanks.He/They found it very effective.

        I await its reappearance in Israel.

    2. Carolinian

      I do think that it has morphed significantly from what it was at the start.

      Yes. Or so I read. Of course many Americans such as yours truly grew up very far from all things Jewish and perhaps the defenders like Dershowitz are right that it’s not our business (or Ukraine either) except to the huge extent the Israelis and their supporters insist on making it our business.

      But it does seem that in the beginning many American Jews were almost ashamed of the passive destruction that took place in Europe and only gradually came to see Israel as some kind of psychological compensation. Then there are the Christian Zionists and one must say that the likely apocryphal story of Moses has inspired other non Jewish colonialists who see themselves as migrating to conquer their own “promised land.”

      Anyway thanks for the above. Perhaps the truth will finally come to make us free of all this violence including the tremendous violence that has been committed by the US in Vietnam and other places. Ho said he was first inspired by Jefferson’s “all men are created equal.” That oh so reasonable assertion is the thing conquerors have so much trouble with.

    3. WJ

      I think this is right. I also think this is an important question:

      “Israeli lobbyists are the only lobbyists representing another state that don’t have to register as foreign agents. Why is that?”

      It seems to me that the exemption today given the Israeli lobby is either because (1) it is perceived as advantageous for US imperial interests to do so or (2) the lobby is by now too powerful to fully control, even if its dictates run contrary to what may be perceived as US imperial interests (as they do to Mearsheimer).

    4. Albe Vado

      Isn’t the simplest, most straight forward explanation just a combination of blackmail and funding? I bet lots of congress critters and senate creatures are sex weirdos or have other skeletons in their closets and Israel retains damaging proof. As well as Israel funding lots of political campaigns, and always having the dual threat of withholding money, while launching a smear campaign and funding a rival who will be loyal to Israel.

      Maybe there’s literally nothing strategic going on at all here and it’s all just personal level scheming. People try to come up with various systemic, imperial, strategic explanations for US devotion to Israel, when maybe there isn’t any such thing at all. Maybe it’s just a strange parasite nation, strategically a giant albatross, that has through various intelligence and influence operations held US politicians hostage.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        “I bet lots of congress critters and senate creatures are sex weirdos or have other skeletons in their closets and Israel retains damaging proof”

        long ago, my band played for the birthday party of this old local man, back home…filthy rich and connected…owned a bunch of strip clubs.
        in his heated pool in a greenhouse, no less.
        we witnessed numerous local bigwigs…justice of peace, hotshot constable(both of whom are still in this positions, 30+ years later)…preachers, principals, bank owners, and on and on….snorting coke off the pubic mounds of naked painted girls…while professional photographers roamed around recording the events for posterity.
        an epic debauche!
        by the well appointed!
        and it made me so nervous to even know about all this afterwards, that i finally left(after years of cop harassment, etc), and havent been back since.
        ive said before that i thought about that night when the epstien thing came about…i have no doubt that such things are rife within the ruling class, at every level…extremely local all the way up to Davosman.
        and i’d bet $ that every such soiree has pro-photographers running around and nobody bats an eye at being preserved in their debauchery, because thats just how the game is played.
        like Lambert used to say, “we are ruled by Harkonnens”

        1. digi_owl

          I think perhaps it is the blatant hypocrisy that burns the most.

          As all those justices, preachers, principals etc will then turn around and with a straight face decry the evils of all that they did in private. And will gladly string someone up, either in the proverbial or the physical, for the same activity when caught.

      2. vidimi

        I do think that that’s a big part of it. There’s a carrot and stick approach to supporting Israel. On the one hand, lobbies like AIPAC and the MIC fund pro-Israel candidates lavishly ; on the other, Zionist media and organisations like the ADL shamelessly smear anyone who opposes anything less than unconditional support for Israel.

        There are still-unsubstantiated rumors that Israel was involved in the JFK assassination. James Jesus Angleton was a staunch (non-Jewish) Zionist and Israel liaison for the CIA. Assassinations were a preferred tactic then and Israel did try to assassinate Churchill earlier. Whatever the facts, elected leaders were terrified of the deep state thereafter.

    5. clarky90

      Re: “hypocritical, latent anti-semitism is what drives Western rulers to stand so demonstratively with Israel: . ”

      IMO this encrypted message can be easily cracked using the “Widdershins Key” (turn the words and phrases upside down, and then inside out, to decode the intended meaning).

      It is entertaining …. like crosswords, “who done it” novels, or scientific enquiry…

      Can you solve this puzzle? It is an easy one!

  3. DJG, Reality Czar

    Thanks for this post. I read vao’s upper comment the other day, and I was impressed at how vao drew a line through history showing how this practice of isolating villages is a colonialist tactic. I have a feeling that the Portuguese tactics were less visible to the other imperialists, Portugal being one of the PIIGS and all. But the examples of the French in Algeria, Belgians in the whited sepulchre of the Congo, and British in Malaya are instructive.

    Does anybody see any other cogent argument for why Israel is so “strategic”?
    –It isn’t just imperialist guilt or bad faith or an anti-semitic desire not to deal directly with Jews. The lower comment strikes me as less viable for this reason–the cause of Israel’s importance isn’t imperialist psychology.
    –Given what we know about the constant Israeli “innovations” in spyware, I’d say that Israel is an on-site nest of spies. The most recent for-instance is the continuing scandal in Greece involving Intellexa and Predator spyware. The Israelis have made themselves useful for years, well before digitization made spying so much easier.
    –Israel serves as a physical disruption of Arab ambitions. The U S of A and Israel have been messing with Syria for years. The CIA is reported to have been involved in the first coup in Syria–back in 1948 or so. Israel’s constant disruption of Lebanon means that Beirut has declined as the great emporium of the Arab world (an irony indeed, with the rise of less friendly places like the U A E). Jordan would be a viable state, if it didn’t have a hyper-aggressive neighbor.
    –Israel serves as a beacon of Western Civilization in a region that has been less westernized. It is culturally “superior” to the local population of irrational and excitable natives. See: Gibraltar. See: U.K. military bases on Cyprus.

    1. Cassandra

      I have wondered if Israel was set up as a test kitchen for the western government deep states, allowing them to develop and refine their less savory recipes before a general roll-out. (See: plausible deniability)

      **adjusting tinfoil hat before heading out the door**

      1. Kouros

        Why tinfoil hat?! The high level of imorality & amorality existent in Israel with regards to the world of goyims pretty much encapsulates how secret services think and operate.

        The former Australian PM Paul Keeting, has expressed his total disdain towards the secret services and their shady actions and morals and asserted that in fact it is these services that run the foreign policy of at least the Anglosphere…

        1. paul

          That was wonderful,
          It was like the bum of the month club in the Q&A.

          One thing that struck me was that all those stalwart journalistalikes spent far more time on their personal grooming than their questions.

    2. Emma

      We also need to see Israel as the West’s go-to clearinghouse for dirty activities. A country with no coherent history or culture (since previous Mizrahi and Ashkenazi identities must be shed to coalesce into the Zionist identity) but who sees the end of its physical security as justifying any means, is perfect for outsourcing dirty activities that even the CIA and MI-6 may be uncomfortable partaking in.

      We see Ukraine and the Baltics states developing in this direction, but Israel has half a century head start. Over time, Israel’s wet works also means it has accumulated incredible leverage in Western power centers via the likes of Jeffrey Epstein and AIPAC, which are just great for elite discipline.

      It may be that Israel has finally grown into such a mad monster that the Western power elites will have to fully put it down to save themselves. However, Israel’s participation has also created such a lemon market for Western politicians, media/intellectual figures, and business elites, that they may not longer be able to control their monster.

      1. vidimi

        Indeed, western empire managers and Zelensky himself have called for Ukraine to be the Israel of Eastern Europe. However, that may soon have a different meaning as Ukraine is headed to become a Land without a People.

  4. ciroc

    The anti-Semitic nature of the Balfour Declaration is well documented in a critique by his Jewish colleague, Edwin Montagu. In fact, anti-Semitism, which sought to expel Jews from Europe, and Zionism, which believed that all Jews should “return” to Palestine, were two sides of the same coin. Because the Nazis initially promoted the emigration of Jews to Palestine rather than their extermination, Leopold von Mildenstein, a Nazi SS officer and reporter, traveled to Palestine with Dr. Kurt Tuchler of the German Zionist Federation and saw how wonderful Jewish life was there. With Goebbels’ permission, he published their travelogue in the official Nazi Party newspaper.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Uri Avnery, in his short autobiography as an introduction to his Israel Without Zionist, writes that his father was an unwavering Zionist, but never, ever though of leaving Germany. Until Hitler rose to power, then he sold everything and took his family to Palestine.

      Avnery also paints (I assume on purpose) an interesting image by first telling how in Germany the school kids were forced to sign Horst Wessel in military formations and then how he joined Irgun and was happy to sign Irgun hymn while standing in military formation…

      He also points out in 1939, when he left Irgun/Stern gang and started Young Palestinians, that were trying to join Jews and Arabs to fight together against the British colonialism for all Semitic peoples. Had that movement been more popular, we’d be looking a different world now.

  5. Polar Socialist

    To me founding of Israel is much more akin to reconquista than colonization. It’s not about central power taking advantage of suppressed local population – it’s about foreign military, supported by foreign money, taking over the land by ethnic cleansing.

    It’s almost like the last crusade, come to think of it, but sans le croi.

    1. Kouros

      Actually the last crusades were carried in the Baltic States by German knights, who had as their cursus honorum internship in pillaging the pagan tribes in what is now the Baltic States.

      1. Polar Socialist

        My bad, I meant state of Israel is the last/latest crusade, as in carving a state out of the heathen dominions on the Holy Land.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Sorry for replying to myself, but I did come across (honestly, wasn’t looking for it), a column by late Avnery telling that both he and the historian Steven Runciman had the same idea already in the early 1950’s.

          1. Kouros

            But it is only crusade by proxy, since is done by Jews, in the name of the star of David, not of the cross, and that could also lead to the expulsion of all churches and mosques from Jerusalim. So it wold be not crusade but stellade…

  6. Emma

    There needs to be a distinction made between the Zionist identity and the Jewish diaspora identity. The Zionist identity is openly militant, ethnosupremacist, and full of imagery of tones muscular ubermensch bodies in IDF uniforms. It has always disdained the integrationist diaspora identity as weak and non-militant. The Western ruling class has always embraced the Zionist identity and has always treated the more diverse diaspora identity as suspect.

    We can see that today with Western governments esp. Germany and UK, who backs Israel 120% while arresting and suppressing dissent anti-Zionist Jews today. Their support for Jews is conditional on supporting only the “Aryanized” Jewish settlers in Israel but are perfectly comfortable actively suppress the more “traditional” diaspora Jews who are perceived as troublemakers – even though these dissident diaspora Jews far more closely resemble the Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

    I see this as a subset of Western orientalism where a portion of a previously “other” grouping can become acceptable and supported if they take on certain trappings of Western culture(i.e. genocide and land stealing as “civilization”) but anyone in that group who rejects these trappings are treated as “deplorable”.

    1. vidimi

      A very good comment, and anti-Zionist Jews have been pointing out for quite some time that you can be as anti-semitic as you want in the West, just not anti-Israel.

      Part of the problem is that the answer to the question ‘what is a Jew’ depends on whether you ask a Zionist or anti-Zionist. An anti-Zionist will tell you that it is someone practicing the religion of Judaism whereas a Zionist will tell you that it is someone ethnically from the Levant. For this reason, Zionists and real anti-semites are perfectly aligned and also why smearing opponents of Zionism as anti-semites has lost all its sting.

      1. Vicky Cookies

        This is probably a fair representation of the anti-zionist view you describe:

        I don’t see an argument for Jews being a race, in part due to the several periods during which Jews actively proselytized and sought to grow their faith via conversion. Racism seems to me to be the further subdivision of humanity, or the race Homo Sapiens Sapien, into ‘races’, such as the Monogloid, the Negroid, and the Semetic. I reject this, and i believe that everyone should. The Jewish religious tradition, however, takes that idea as fundamental to itself, and further claims that one of these supposed races has been literally chosen by God. After the reform period, many of those defining themselves as Jews no longer lived lives tightly controlled by rabbis and religious law; they were not orthodox, as we would say today. Probably the intolerance they and their ancestors faced contributed to later generations continuing to identify as separate, making modern, non-orthodox Jewish identity schismogenetic.

        The category of Semetic might be helpful in tracing the migration of linguistic families, and the Hebrew language belongs to this tree; I don’t see it as being helpful in talking about religion or ethnicity. The term ‘anti-semitism’ presupposes a Semetic ‘people’, and so it is probably accurate to use it to describe the behavior of racists who agree with those Jews who say that they are a race. This has nothing to do with that religion, which ought to be subjected to the same criticism as other faiths, and perhaps more, due to the ‘chosen people’ idea and its consequences. Thankfully, most religious people don’t seem to have read their holy books, or we’d be in a whole lot more trouble.

        The term anti-semitism, even if we don’t dive into what is meant by semetic, has lost its sting because genocide apologists have hurled it reflexively at the Pope, the International Court of Justice, and organizers with Jewish Voice for Peace, in a macabre and maddening theater of the absurd.

        It would be useful to clear some of this up, so that conversations can be had openly about how dangerous it is to support a theocracy of ethnic chauvinism.

        1. Prairie Bear

          This is an interesting comment overall, but I thought I would note something that jumped out at me. You mentioned the division into races “such as the Mongoloid, the Negroid, and the Semetic.” I have that phrase imprinted into my boomer brain from grade school! Except in my memory, it is “the Negroid, the Monogoloid, and the Caucasoid.” It was in our “social studies” textbooks. I can also hear it as being recited as a group, chanted sort of in response to the prompting by the teacher, but that may be an invention of my own brain.

          It was horrible nonsense of course. The things that stick in our minds! I have told my partner about this a long time ago, and in private, I will often make ironic or joking references to it related to current events. I would never use any of these words around anyone else except, well, I guess I just did here.

          Hope this is not too frivolous for the thread.

        2. aleph_0


          When confronted by the statement: “a race chosen by God,” I always wonder how long that choice lasted (or will last?), as no choices are particularly permanent in this world.

        3. samm

          “The category of Semetic might be helpful in tracing the migration of linguistic families, and the Hebrew language belongs to this tree; I don’t see it as being helpful in talking about religion or ethnicity.”

          Indeed — would the Israelis want to include the Arabs under their umbrella? Or the Amharas, native to Ethiopia (and whose language is the most widely spoken in the country)? Perish the thought.

          1. Polar Socialist

            Depends on a particular Israeli, I guess. I already referred to Uri Avnery, who was even elected to Knesset in the 1960’s while supporting a Semitic rather than a Jewish state.

            He always considered it an enormous tragedy that Semitic people fought among themselves and not together against the colonial and neo-colonial powers.

    2. Mikel

      “…Their support for Jews is conditional on supporting only the “Aryanized” Jewish settlers in Israel but are perfectly comfortable actively suppress the more “traditional” diaspora Jews who are perceived as troublemakers…”

      To be straightforward: suppression is for those who are perceived as communists.
      That was usually the big hair on fire fear of Jewish people in the diaspora during the 19th/20th/21st centuries.

      1. Emma

        I think this suppression can target any group that may threaten the bourgeoisie or oligarchic interests of those at the top of the state. They have just as much problem with Arab nationalists and even AfD. If the group can be subverted like the European Greens then it doesn’t matter how ostensibly left or radical their politics, but anyone who may genuinely threaten their power will be targeted for destruction.

        Anti-Zionist Jews are individuals who can build solidarity across narrowly defined identities, that’s why they’re a threat to the liberal-fascist state.

        1. Kouros

          Very astute. Reminder – always include a marxian class struggle interpretation when analysing things.

      2. vao

        There was not much love between the Jewish Bund and the Zionists at the time when there still was a possibility not to follow an ethno-nationalist approach to the Jewish question.

  7. timbers

    After watching the Michael Hudson video interview a few days back regarding CIA involvement, I think of Israel having morphed into a CIA construct outpost plundering Arab oil, gas and land masquerading as a nation.

      1. pjay

        I agree – a *joint* venture. Israel is not just a tool of Anglo imperialism, and neither is the US simply “captured” by the Israel lobby. Rather, they have used each other as their perceived interests have converged. The Israelis have always feared and worked to undermine Arab Nationalism; maximum balkanization has always been a key strategic goal of theirs. So, too, has the West, including the US, feared pan-Arab unity or real Arab (or Iranian) nationalism given our own geopolitical interests and a postwar ideology that defined “non-alignment” as the road to Soviet/communist control. I think it took a while for the US national security apparatus to become so thoroughly integrated with that of Israel. And there have been a few Presidents (usually those friendly to Arab oil like Reagan or Bush) who have been willing to push back a bit. But in general, it has been a marriage of convenience between two dominant mafia clans. Religious fanatics on both sides provide useful ideological cover.

        Reflecting timbers’ (and Michael Hudson’s) comment, the CIA was leading the way in this marriage early on as they always do. Their Israeli counterparts have certainly returned the favor in spades.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Looks to me like the Zionists are playing Uncle Sucker as a freier. https://www.thejc.com/judaism/jewish-words/freier-1.5970

        They want the petro resources of Palestine for themselves, not the Empire. The Greater Israel project has as one of its goals the control of oil resources all around the colonial state, the expanded version of it to include all or parts of Jordan, Egypt, etc.

        It’s surprising that no one here has mentioned the archetypical colonial-settler state, South Africa, which gave the world the cognomen “apartheid” to comfortably describe the horrors practiced by the Dutch Boer tiny white minority on the African and “non-white” population on the path to stripping huge wealth from that land. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apartheid

        One wonders whether a forced recreation of Palestine might lead to the kind of maladministration on display in South Africa today. It’s not like the Palestinian “leaders,” many of whom are patent Quislings personally profiting from “alignment” with Israel, are likely to build a decent state out of the ruins of Old Palestine.

        We should remember the close ties that existed between the South African apartheidists and the Zionist establishment (which historically was so chummy with the National Socialists they now resemble.)

        One can’t help but despair a bit, that nuclear-armed, foaming-at-the-mouth Zionist creatures will likely blow everything up rather than relinquish their horrid construct.

          1. Synoia

            Quislings personally profiting from “alignment” with the Crown, are likely to build a decent state out of the ruins of America after its Civil war. /snark.

        1. barefoot charley

          Oh yes: the Boers who created the apartheid state were themselves locked in concentration camps by the Brits during the Boer war. Then like European Jews, they 3-D projected their torments onto others–or if you prefer, The Other.

      1. juno mas

        Go to Archives at the top of this webpage. You can do a quick search and find it. (Hudson gave NC first look.)

        1. Acacia

          Yah, I already did that before and found:

          Michael Hudson: The Truth about the Destruction of the Palestinians

          In which the only mention of the CIA was:

          Well, Biden loves ISIS, and Blinken loves ISIS, and the entire neocons, the CIA loves ISIS because they’re all running it, but they can’t say it to the American public.

          It’s a very interesting interview, overall, but alas I can’t really use this particular claim about “CIA involvement” in a conversation with anybody else unless I have some evidence.

          So that’s why I was wondering about a link. I.e., perhaps there was another interview that I missed.

  8. Daniel Oudshoorn

    Canada also created starvation conditions to force Indigenous peoples onto Reserves (cf. “Clearing the Plains” by Daschuk), and then implemented a pass system so that nobody was permitted to leave the Reserve without permission from the government’s “Indian Agent.” See here: http://thepasssystem.ca/

    The Canadian model provided inspiration to both the Apartheid regime in South Africa and the German Nazis who came to study it.

    1. Eclair

      Well, Daniel, as SocialJim points out above, the fledgling United States did Indian clearances and did them bigger and better than you Canadians. As benefits The Exceptional Nation. In addition, the US genocided an entire species of large mammal: the buffalo. There were an estimated 30 million roaming the Plains states before westward expansion of European settlers: 324 remained in 1884. The economy of the Plains nations depended on the buffalo: food, tools, shelter, clothing: nothing was wasted. The mass slaughter of buffalo by the settlers disrupted the entire ecosystem of the Plains. They were the olive trees of the Lakota and Dakota peoples.

      1. digi_owl

        I seem to recall reading that some of that happened as pure “sports” out of railroad cars crossing the prairie.

      2. juno mas

        Yes, it was so. A good introduction to a broad, native american history is “One Vast Winter Count” by Colin Galloway. You will be amazed.

  9. Louis Fyne

    >> strategic character of Israel

    maybe not a major thought in 1947 (or maybe it was?), but Israel became a check on the secular Pan-Arabism of Nasser in the early Cold War…..a Pan-Arabism that was self-declared neutral but flirted w/the Soviets too much for the liking of the Americans.

    Then after the 1979 Iranian revolution, Israel, with the acquiescence of the Gulf States, became a check on the Shia bogey-man.

    I hope I am still around if/when the entire CIA-MI6-Mossad archives re. secret services activities post-1979 become public…..I bet it will horrific in that it will be proven without a doubt that the West created/amplified sectarian fundamentalism.

    Every combined foreign policy act of the US-Europe-Israel has been completely wrong since Camp David—-and keep snowballing into bigger own-goal problems.

    1. Revenant

      With respect to vao, I think he is wrong that Israel does not represent anything strategic other than itself.

      The wider Levant is the fulcrum between Europe, Africa and Asia and Israel represents a significant piece of real estate for it is the crossing of the land routes into the Hejaz and down to Yemen, into Sinai and down to the Horn of Africa and across to the Nile, into the Lebanon and up to Syria and Turkey and the Tigris, and into the Iraqi desert and on to the Euphrates and the Gulf. Before the Suez Canal, there would have been a significant portage trade through the Levant.

      Oh, and of course these days, the Levant is also the centre of significant natural gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean.

      Israel is a foot on all of these windpipes….

  10. Michael Hudson

    This is very valuable, Yves. Thanks.
    Actually, I myself had copied these comments on my article, because as soon as I read them I saw that indeed, what Herman Kahn and other US military were doing in the 1960s was indeed part of a long tradition of colonialism.
    I had not read about this tradition, and only knew what I saw being planned, as if it were a freshly thought-out policy.
    Regarding the twist the sending the Jewish population out of Europe to Israel was anti-Semitic, that I did indeed know. Hitler was all in favor of relocating the Jews in Israel, out of Germany.
    But my point was that Britain and the US also sought a benefit of using European Jews as intermediaries to control the Near East and its oil.

  11. Michael Hudson

    I should have added above, Israel’s help in securing Middle Eastern oil is its role as an intermediary administering ISIS as America’s foreign legion to attack Syria, Iraq and recruit ISIS members for fighting Russia along its periphery. It thus acts as an agent of chaos on behalf of the US. And at the time of its unfortunate formation, it provided a military base.
    Also, my Greek friends tell me that Israel dominates the whole Mediterranean naval and military grouping, with Greece completely under its thumb.
    And don’t forget Israel’s role as political assassination bureau. Certainly the US military thought Israel was very helpful.

  12. The Rev Kev

    I always thought of Israel as a sort of immovable American aircraft carrier parked in the Middle east. Remember that if American money and weapons stopped flowing to Israel, then that country would disappear. And one noted official (cannot remember who at the moment. Biden perhaps?) stated that if Israel did not exist, then the US would have had to invent it. It’s purpose is to be the local hegemony of this region to wreck the development of Arab countries so that they pose little threat to the west taking their oil. It has not escaped my notice that Israel has really developed their air force to such an advanced state so that they can bomb all of their neighbours as well as countries further afield at a whim. And right now they are bombing Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq though Iran may be a bridge too far. Those sobs shoot back! As I stated in a previous comment, in a sense they are a colonial power and as such are expansionists by definition so more trouble ahead.

    1. James E Keenan

      And one noted official (cannot remember who at the moment. Biden perhaps?) stated that if Israel did not exist, then the US would have had to invent it.

      Biden himself says that he’s said that many times. See, e.g., Times of Israel.

    2. Prairie Bear

      “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; your territory shall be from the wilderness and Lebanon and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the western sea.” Deuteronomy 11:24 (RSV)

      The Euphrates, not the Jordan. This passage doesn’t seem to get too much attention. Also, some time after October 7, I saw a clip of some Israeli official, a woman whose name I can’t remember, mention something about greater Israel extending to the Nile, but I can’t find it now.

      1. Arkady Bogdanov

        I have read claims that the two blue stripes on the Israeli flag represent the Euphrates and the Nile. Supposedly this is one of those wink/nod things that is known to everyone in Israel, but they deny that representation to the rest of the world. I do not know how true this is, but I have read it multiple times going back at least a decade, and given the levels of dishonesty coming out of that society, there may be some truth to it.

  13. Paul Art

    I think that its all about the money. Initially ‘guilt’ and other reasons may have contributed to the Balfour declaration but as the Zionists grew in power in America and the UK (lets face it – they are exceedingly good at whatever they do – if there is an Uber Mensch then it is them. I would argue its more cultural then anything to do with race. They are just so tightly knit and they share knowledge amongst themselves and help each other so well that they have some kind of a terrific force multiplier weapon). Once can see the same kind of dynamic among the Brahmins of India. In ancient times they were the only ones with access to education and that gave them a quantum leap over the others which they still maintain. Every generation assiduously passes its knowledge down to the subsequent. In the West once they permeated the money centers especially on Wall Street and Banking all over the world then it was game over. I think today they control everything through money plain and simple. It is the silver or the lead all the way as Michael Hudson says and as witnessed by the recent assassination of the University Presidents. In the current context they are indulging in overreach. They are exhibiting an arrogance that was always well hidden before. They have successfully evoked the disfavor of the entire world.

    1. Kouros

      Extremely good at what they do…

      It reminds me of my late ex father in law, poet and editor of an important publishing house in Socialist Romania. He was asserting that over there, the Jewish intellighentia was seething that couldn’t come on top of the Romanians, neither in letters, music, arts, etc… They convinced the Party to ban Brincusi so the guy donated all his unsold work to the French State, in display just beside the Pompidou Centre. They tried to remove my ex father in law from his role, but the greatest Romanian poet at the time intervened and helped the house stay afloat with some of his work…

      As for financing, all the aristocracy of the world was in a ban of delving into it. A known exception, Brutus, we all know what that did for him (maybe a lesson present day financiers have taken to heart, to always stay in the shadow). The Japanese samurai had their wifes dealing with the finances…

      Some things stayed with me in the aftermath of the Romanian “Revolution” (a misnomer since reversion to oligarchy is usually called counter – revolution) and one of them was the assertions, on the tube, of an older Jewish lady, of how persecuted they were, just because they were so much smarter. The last mass peasent revolt in Europe was in Romania, started in the Moldovan village of Flaminzi (The Hungry Ones), which was leased for management by the absentee landlord to a company of two Jewish brothers probably originated from Galicia but moved into Romania (a price Romania had to pay to Austro-Hungarian Empire as a cost of recognition).

      The saying in Romania was that they might be smart, but the street sweeper in Tel Aviv was also Jewish… So it cannot be that they are all smart, eh?!

  14. Matthew

    Well, it’s what we did here, right? Everyone from Hitler to the S Africans looked to our models in creating the “reservations.”

    Vietnam? Only in the sense that methods of warfare were evolved there. Went to hear Israel in Egypt by Handel at the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona last month. This is a colonializing model with legs. The Puritans compared themselves to the Israelites. Lot of history and ideology wrapped up there.

    All of the new scholarship–about how the American holocaust continued in Cali into the 20th c, with whites hunting natives in the mountains for fun–underscores these settler-colonial connections. (See Five Broken Cameras, the academy-award-nominated I/P production for the mechanics, pimpled and awkward Brooklyners learning how to shoot and beat Palestinians.) But it’s the Khalidi book that really lays this out well. Unimpeachable, from a brilliant man from a brilliant, deeply cultured family of Palestinian intellectuals. The vain Arafat didn’t help; Khalidi saw this from up close. But Israel still preferred Hamas to Arafat’s popularity.

    Other takeaways from Khalidi? Settlers at work doing serious killing within months of the end of the Shoah. Israel erecting huge lamps so that the Lebanese militias could conduct their slaughter nights at Sabra and Shatila. With the United States informed–usually looking over–battle plans at every step.

    They spent three billion to defend Israel from Iran’s drones the other day, and we can’t get our teeth fixed.

  15. Michael Fiorillo

    I don’t know about the author’s end thesis: I think there are plenty of characters in Langley, Fort Meade and elsewhere in the political economy of Spookdom who consider Israel’s cyber surveillance and urban warfare industries to be of considerable strategic importance.

      1. JustTheFacts

        That preparations were being made for a big event was known and reported up the chain of command who did nothing about it. Even Egypt warned Israel. It’s illogical to consider that a failing of the surveillance industry.

        1. steppenwolf fetchit

          One wonders if the Netanyahu government deliberately on purpose “stepped back and stood down” Israel’s defenses along that border precisely in order to invite a Hamas incursion which Netanyahu would hope to use to stay in power as long as possible to delay his corruption trials as long as possible. And he perhaps got a bigger more far reaching Hamas operation than what he expected when he was LIHOPing it.

  16. Adam1

    I have to wonder that since the British appear to be one of the early employers of such tactics if that wasn’t a direct response to the American Revolution. I mean, the British left their N. American colonial subject alone to pretty much do as they please for about 150 years and then when they decided to impose a more direct rule approach they found out the hard way that the locals were not happy with that, were already fairly well organized and worst yet well armed even if they couldn’t compare to the British trained army. I’d suspect they decided that they weren’t going to make that mistake again.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Red Coats of the era weren’t the Napoleonic Red Coats where they were hiring the Irish and emptying jails. They were basically farm boys who wanted to see the world, the same as the colonial population in most respects. Though English immigration stopped in 1700, everyone white in the colonies assimilated into English communities except distant hillbillies.

      The Tories brought in Hessians to terrorize the locals. The victory at Trenton was a huge deal as the Red Coats weren’t going to fire on their own.

    2. Kouros

      British Oligarchy was always loath to spend on wars, military, and blood (since Britain’s oligarchy was not of burgeois origin but aristocratic, wars would also do some culling out of their ranks as well, as well as force some higher taxation). Shady tactics and just killing the defensless were cost effective approaches which Mr. Scrooge would full heartedly condone.

  17. John Steinbach

    Regarding Israel’s nukes, Simon Perez, the architect of Israel’s nuclear program said, ““acquiring a superior weapons system (nuclear) would mean the possibility of using it for compellent purposes- that is forcing the other side to accept Israeli political demands, which presumably include a demand that the traditional status quo be accepted and a peace treaty signed.”

    More to the point of the post about what the US supports Israel, the following is excerpted from a paper I wrote titled The Israeli Nuclear Program: Another major use of the Israeli bomb is to compel the U.S. to act in Israel’s favor, even when it runs counter to its own strategic interests. As early as 1956 Francis Perrin, head of the French A-bomb project wrote “We thought the Israeli Bomb was aimed at the Americans, not to launch it at the Americans, but to say, ‘If you don’t want to help us in a critical situation we will require you to help us; otherwise we will use our nuclear bombs.’” During the 1973 war, Israel used nuclear blackmail to force Kissinger and Nixon to airlift massive amounts of military hardware to Israel. The Israeli Ambassador, Simha Dinitz, is quoted as saying at the time, “If a massive airlift to Israel does not start immediately, then I will know that the U.S. is reneging on its promises and. we will have to draw very serious conclusions…” Another example of this strategy was spelled out in 1987 by Amos Rubin, economic adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who said “If left to its own Israel will have no choice but to fall back on a riskier defense which will endanger itself and the world at large… To enable Israel to abstain from dependence on nuclear arms calls for $2 to 3 billion per year in U.S. aid.” Since then Israel’s nuclear arsenal has expanded exponentially, both quantitatively and qualitatively, while the U.S. currently provides Israel with approximately $3 billion in annual military aid. Regarding Israel’s nukes, Simon Perez, the architect of Israel’s nuclear program said, ““acquiring a superior weapons system (nuclear) would mean the possibility of using it for compellent purposes- that is forcing the other side to accept Israeli political demands, which presumably include a demand that the traditional status quo be accepted and a peace treaty signed.”

    1. jan

      Very interesting, thanks!

      Now that Iran has shown it could attack anything in Israel, like the Negev Nuclear Research Center, would that alter this equation?

    2. JustTheFacts

      So we now have two paths to nuclear escalation:

      1. Israel bombs Iran with its nukes. Iran bombs Israel’s nuclear reactor and cracks it.
      2. Israel twists the Wests’ arms to “defend them”, the US intervenes on the side of Israel against Iran, Russia intervenes on the side of Iran to defend them, the US and Russia nuke each other.


      1. Polar Socialist

        The third path was announced today by Iranian officials: if Israel strikes Iranian nuclear research facilities, Iran may reconsider it’s ban on nuclear weapons.

  18. Uncle Doug

    I’m always baffled by deep-diving discussions about Israel’s alleged strategic value to the US. It has seemed clear to me for a very long time, at least intuitively, that Israel is a liability for the US, not an asset at all.

    The reason for the massive and uncritical support the US provides Israel was the unmentionable elephant in US Middle East policy formation for many decades: the Israel lobby in the US, with its ability and willingness to either support and enhance American political careers or to thoroughly destroy them. Since Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s seminal 2007 book, the evidentiary burden for those arguing that other reasons are key is a very heavy one, almost never met, in my opinion.

    As I was wondering whether to post this, a friend sent me a link to yesterday’s podcast by the Notre Dame International Security Center, with both Walt and Mearsheimer. Highly recommended.

    1. pjay

      I do not dispute the influence of the Israel Lobby at all, nor the infiltration of our National Security Establishment by Zionists who might as well be Israeli agents. But again, the “strategic value” of Israel for US interests is very clear. We both share the goal of maximum disruption and balkanization of non-cooperative Middle Eastern regimes and have grown closer to accomplish this goal. This serves our geopolitical interests as well as Israel’s security concerns. As I said above, it is the *convergence* of interests by two mafia clans that are using each other. Why do you think the likes of Cheney and Rumsfeld were joined at the hip with the Zionist neocons in their plans for a “New Middle East”? Do you think it was because they were fearful of being smeared or blackmailed? Hell no. It was because the neocon Zionist Dream converged with their own visions of global domination.

      Having said all that, though, we have a long history of those we use as clients or proxies slipping the leash and getting out of control. I believe it’s called “blowback.” The monster we allowed to emerge, including its powerful lobby, may help bring us down as it is destroying itself.

      1. Uncle Doug

        “We both share the goal of maximum disruption and balkanization of non-cooperative Middle Eastern regimes and have grown closer to accomplish this goal. This serves our geopolitical interests as well as Israel’s security concerns.”

        That makes no sense at all. There is absolutely no rational reason for the US to have such a goal except in service to Israel’s misguided goal. Why would it?

          1. undercurrent

            Thanks for the information. Am I missing something? I might be wrong, but I didn’t see Bernie Sanders’ name on the list. If that’s correct, good for him.

        1. Arkady Bogdanov

          Fomenting chaos/balkanization in the Middle East/West Asia prevents those nations from developing or industrializing, which ensures more oil and gas are available for export. This seems like a perfectly logical motive for those that run our system in the interests of global capital.
          Israel is the primary tool in the toolbox for pursuing that goal, and if that goal also suits the Zionists, then they are all the more motivated to pursue the objective.

          1. Uncle Doug

            “Fomenting chaos/balkanization in the Middle East/West Asia prevents those nations from developing or industrializing, which ensures more oil and gas are available for export. This seems like a perfectly logical motive for those that run our system in the interests of global capital.”

            Well, it might be logical to pursue such a goal if the net benefits substantially exceeded the costs. I think that’s extremely unlikely, and I’ve never seen even the slightest credible evidence that anyone actually is pursuing such a goal.

            1. pjay

              I am genuinely puzzled by your insistence on this point. “Fomenting chaos/balkanization in the Middle East/West Asia” is literally our *main* policy strategy toward non-compliant regimes. Are you seriously saying you’ve “never seen even the slightest credible evidence” of this? To me, this is like saying you’ve never seen any credible evidence of the sun rising in the East. Am I missing something in your response?

              Whether the “benefits” exceed the “costs” of this strategy is a separate question. I certainly believe they won’t. Nevertheless…

              1. Uncle Doug

                “Fomenting chaos/balkanization in the Middle East/West Asia is literally our *main* policy strategy toward non-compliant regimes. Are you seriously saying you’ve ‘never seen even the slightest credible evidence’ of this?”

                First, you’re conflating “strategy” and “goals.” Those things are related but not at all identical. And I am indeed saying that I’ve never seen the slightest credible evidence that the US has as a goal chaos and balkanization in the region. Further, I’ve said and continue to say that it would make no sense for the US to have such a goal, because the goals of the planetary ruling class are not served by regional chaos.

                It’s pretty clear that the US goal in the region, as elsewhere, is to prevent any major player from becoming strong enough to challenge (real/aspirational/notional) US supremacy on the global stage. It’s the Wolfowitz doctrine.

                I certainly don’t deny that chaos has been and continues to be the result of US misadventure in the region. That is certainly the case. But much of the misadventure is driven by a clumsy pursuit of a muddy combination of US goals with Israel’s misguided ones. And US adoption of Israel’s goals is overwhelmingly due to the effective application of influence by the Israel lobby in the US.

        2. pjay

          The reason is to weaken resistance to US hegemony by stirring up internal opposition to non-compliant regimes and sectarian conflict. Not only does it make perfect sense — divide and rule is as ancient as war itself — but it was discussed as a clear goal by our global war-mongers many times, well-documented, and carried out pretty much anywhere there were US interests – Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, etc., etc. The neocons wrote it up for Cheney at the beginning of the Bush administration; he had to back off a bit before 9/11, but after that it was “seven countries in five years” time. They had written up a remarkably similar plan for Israel. The disruption, balkanization, and maximizing sectarian conflict were central elements.

          1. Uncle Doug

            Again, conflation of goals, strategy and tactics leads, often, to misunderstanding what the goals actually are, and, in this case, whose goals they are.

            Edit: Typo.

  19. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves, for hoisting Vao’s comments, which resonated with me due to Mauritian roots and visits to SA in 1991 – 2 and hearing first hand accounts from family about the mistreatment of Palestinians on their pilgrimages, and the shout out.

    With regard to the roots of what became Israel*, they go back in the UK nearly two hundred years.

    A wave of evangelical fervour erupted in the 1830s and 1840s, perhaps as a reaction to Catholic and Jewish emancipation, the latter championed by Macaulay. Some Tory and Whig PMs like Melbourne became radicalised. Radicalisation spread to Ulster, too, but that is another story.

    From the mid-19th century, the twofer of a British colony in the Middle East to be populated by Jews from the UK and elsewhere was floated. Some of the support came from from the emerging Jewish oligarchy. Some scions of the oligarchy became Whitehall and colonial officials**, colonial merchants and Westminster MPs, moving from the City of London and thriving with empire*, a fifth of the millionaires whose fortunes were not landed. As in 1917, the likes of the Abrahams, Cohen, Goldsmith, Isaacs, Nathan, Montefiore, Montagu, Rothschild and Samuel families were divided over zionism.

    *Although later, some African colonies were considered for the settlement.

    **By 1900, the oligarch cousinhood had secured many of the most significant administrative positions in the Empire. The Nathan family alone had by that date secured the positions of Governor of the Gold Coast (Ghana), Hong Kong and Natal, Attorney-General and Chief Justice in Trinidad, Private Secretary to the Viceroy of India, Officiating Chief Secretary to the Governor of Eastern Bengal and Assam, and Postmaster-General of Bengal. In Parliament, Lionel Abrahams was Permanent Assistant Under-Secretary at the India Office, working under his cousin Edwin Montagu who was then Parliamentary Under-Secretary for India.

    Support for the zionist project was not limited to Britain. French politician Adolphe Cremieux shared the enthusiasm, when he wasn’t busy aiding and abetting his own country’s imperialism in the Maghreb.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      I should have added that for much, if not most of the PMC in Europe, Israel represents their idea of modernity / centrist moderation and as opposed to Russia. One often hears from them and wannabes about how gay rights are respected and promoted in Israel and a comparison made with the neighbourhood. The question is then asked how many Nobel prizes, including economics :-), have been won by Palestinians.

      1. Kouros

        Is anyone asking how is the LGBT movement faring in the Orthodox and Settler Blocks of Israel?

        Nobel Prize in Economics should bring disqualifying points, except maybe for Elinor Ostrom (Née: Elinor Claire Awan and I couldn’t see where Awans are coming from – likely not being Jewish, it is not mentioned, especially since it has a Muslim wiff to it, maybe from Lebanon or some place that is today Israel)… who boosted the standing of the Commons.

        1. Lena

          Re: Elinor Ostrom

          Ostrom was born in Los Angeles to a Jewish father, Adrian Awan, a Hollywood set designer, and a Protestant mother, Leah Hopkins, a musician from South Dakota. Ostrom was raised Protestant but as a child spent considerable time with her father’s side of the family who came from Eastern Europe and kept a kosher home. Ostrom was taunted by other children when she growing up for being a Jew. She spoke in interviews about experiencing childhood antisemitism and how those feelings of being an “outsider” helped her persevere as a woman in the field of economics.

      2. JustTheFacts

        Israelis seem to get Nobel prizes for:

        * Peace (3, somewhat ironically)
        * Economics (3, most came from Europe/US and all have strong connections to the US and US citizenship)
        * Chemistry (3 pairs — they did research in pairs. About half have some Western education, and double nationality with a non Israeli Western country)
        * Literature (1).

        About half of them came from other countries, so Israel’s count has benefited from a large brain drain.

        Given that, they should perhaps be compared with other Western nations, rather than Palestine. For instance, Sweden which has only 10 million people, yet earned 34 Nobel Prizes of which 4 were awarded to people who came from abroad. Israel has a similar population (10 million people, 73% of which are Jewish, but presumably the dual nationals not living in Israel are not counted, while they are claimed by the Nobel Prize count) yet only has 13 Nobel Prizes.

        There are plenty of arguments why this comparison might be unfair to Jews and Israelis, given the horror they were subjected to in the 1940s, but that’s my point — it’s equally unfair to Palestinians to make this comparison, because they’re not afforded the same opportunities or traditions of erudition as Israelis today. Indeed, arguably they were doing their best, given that there were 12 universities in Gaza, now rubble, and they have a >97.5% literacy rate.

  20. Prairie Bear

    Regarding the idea of pre-Holocaust Nazi-Zionist interaction mentioned by several above, there is a fascinating documentary called The Flat that delves into this. It’s been a while since I saw it, but at the time it was a huge shock and revelation. It is available on Amazon Prime as a rental, not sure where else.

  21. Victor Sciamarelli

    Israel is not now, nor has it ever been, a strategic asset of the US. It has, however, been a political asset. American Jews are generally politically active. They donate money, more often to Democrats, participate in US culture and business, and, more important, they vote.
    In contrast, Palestinians have near zero political influence within the US. They have little money or much to offer and, unfortunately, they have little power in the ME.
    Moreover, American Jews have a real and sentimental attachment to Israel, similar to what other groups have to their ancestors home country.
    For a number of reasons, Harry Truman played an important role supporting the establishment of Israel, the 1947 UN partition plan, and recognition of the state of Israel in 1948. One reason, it made sense to satisfy, rather than alienate, Jewish American voters.
    The only possible case for making Israel an asset would be during the Cold War because the Soviet Union had influence in the ME, especially in Egypt and Syria. Post-Cold War and the US hegemonic moment after the Soviet Union collapsed, the US didn’t need Israel for anything; it still doesn’t.
    The problem for Israel, and the US, is the world has moved on and many people are more civilized than people a century ago. You can’t easily commit genocide and slaughter children in the age of internet videos; even American Jews are distancing themselves from Israel. And the Israel Lobby might be losing its influence. A majority of Americans might soon realize Israel is has become a major strategic liability.

    1. Uncle Doug

      Good summary. I don’t know if it’s true that more people are more civilized, but more are certainly better and more-quickly informed about world events and affairs.

    2. Feral Finster

      Of course, just as HIV prevention efforts and $$ were focused on male homosexuals (often wealthy, often politically active and aligned firmly with Team D) than IV drug users, even though by that point, HIV was increasingly spreading among drug users.

    3. steppenwolf fetchit

      The AIPAC-based Israel Lobby we know today may be losing its influence, especially within the Democratic Party. If enough AIPAC-targeted Democratic officeseekers can win their primaries or elections in successful defiance of AIPAC wishes, AIPAC may be seen to have lost enough power to cause it to lose even more power.

      At which point, a new Israel Lobby will be built around CUFI and other such Rapture-Armageddon groups.

  22. QABubba

    I think many people are getting a history lesson of this country for the first time, and do not like what they see. Nevertheless, the Zionists will try to erase this history as much as they can, as they always have. The Nakba involved erasing whole Palestinian villages from the map and planting pine trees in their place.
    This is a continuing project for them, and is far from finished. They are gleefully blowing up mosques in Gaza, and have their sites set on Al Aqsa. But it won’t end there. It cannot be a “Jewish” land with any traces of the “others.” When they are able, all of the Christian sites will be destroyed also. They don’t want them there to remind their children there ever were any “others.” Erasing history is necessary for the plan.
    As regards my previous comment on the site of the Temple, I suspect they will destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque and then “discover” that the Temple was actually in the City of David.

  23. Ignacio

    I had already read the first vao’s comment s well as Colonel Smithers’ suggestion and find it a good idea having this singled in a post. I hadn’t read the second commentary which is, I have difficulties finding the correct word, quite suggestive, even somehow provocative, though quite possibly accurate about the origin of modern Israel.

    “I suspect that this kind of hypocritical, latent anti-semitism is what drives Western rulers to stand so demonstratively with Israel: they are satisfied to see Jews away, and do not want to see millions of them coming back — especially if they are Sephardims, Mizrahis, or Falashas.”

    Here i was surprised to find the Sephardims though I guess vao is using the term in the broadest sense it has now, that includes many Jews of different ethnical origin and not only to the Sepharad jews, the jewish diaspora from the Iberian peninsula by the end of 15th century. I say this because recently both Portugal and Spain had recently (starting in 2015) enacted laws that allowed Sepharad jews who could demonstrate Iberian origin to ask for citizenship.

    In any case, thanks for this link. I might add that the Spanish colonies also showed the same or a similar colonial strategy through the creation of “Reducciones” in at least several regions of South America. I don’t know how this term is translated into English.

    1. Ignacio

      I think this last example predates all previous examples mentioned by vao, starting in the XVI century. Quite possibly former empires did the same.

    2. vao

      Yes, I was using the current acception of Sephardim as Levantine Jews.

      Regarding my controversial thesis: there are just too many suspicious hints.

      Those Evangelicals who are such staunch supporters of Israel: If I understand correctly, their argument is that the establishment of Israel and its victory over its foes will hasten the return of the Messiah, the final triumph of Christianity, and ultimately the destruction of the Hebrews. How then are those vociferously pro-Israel ideologues supposed to be friends of the Jews?

      Then there has been the Corbyn affair. In the end, it appeared that his enemies within Labour never bothered to investigate the cases of anti-semitism in the party, instead plotting to unseat him by associating him with those affairs and with his pro-Palestinian positions. Thus, those pro-Israel politicians actually do not care about anti-semitism — it is just a tool for power games.

      There is also the standing ovation in Canada for a Waffen-SS veteran, the enthusiastic support for extremist movements in Ukraine that never hid their anti-semitism, Jews voicing criticisms of Israel being arrested and “cancelled” in Germany — all by politicians who are very explicitly pro-Israel.

      It stinks.

      That is why I contend that the vehement pro-Israel stance of Western politicians dissimulates the unadmissible motive of anti-semitism; the peculiarities of the creation of the State of Israel (e.g. Balfour) provides additional historical grounds for this thesis.

      1. paul

        To me, historically, latent AS may have been a factor, but things have degraded so far, it is almost irrelevant.
        I have long viewed I as a criminal organisation masquerading as a state.
        I do not think there is much of a strategy, but great utitily.
        An area allowing:
        Chaos in the region
        A behavioral science lab that would make standford green with envy.
        A free fire weapon testing site.
        An unregulated vivsection facility
        A front runner in testing the limits of ‘rules based order’
        A pioneer in the field of circular economics
        A bolt hole for spooks and crooks to mutually fester
        A refinery for humiliation.

        The best explanation comes from america’s greatest poet:

        Ah Pook is here

        The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push.

        I is that most fondly remembered thing, a pre castro cuba.

  24. Dida

    It is my conviction that the sociopathy of imperial elites is a given that explains nothing. Lord Balfour’s Declaration and the creation of Israel need to be seen in their historical context, which is the slow collapse of imperial Russia and the instability of world capitalism at the end of the 19th century.

    Two waves of large scale pogroms broke in tsarist Russia, the first between 1881-1884, triggered by the assassination of Tsar Alexander II (one of the assassins was of Jewish descent), and a much bloodier second wave from 1903 to 1906, right after the major Russian financial crisis of 1899-1902. The financial crisis led to substantial social upheaval and was itself a contributing cause of the 1905 Russian Revolution.

    The pogroms propelled mass emigration: between 1880 and 1920, two million Jews fled the Russian Empire, mostly going to the United Kingdom and US. Now the United States had ample room to accommodate them, but Britain not so much. End-of-century Britain had to assimilate around 1 million East European Jews into a country of 25-30 million people.

    The problem was that the British working classes weren’t doing that well themselves: the Long Depression of 1873-1892 had brought heavy unemployment in the basic industries. A recruitment drive for the Boer War found that 40% of the candidates were not fit for the army, having suffered from malnourishment and stunted growth in their childhood. This is the context in which the British ruling class introduced the 1905 Aliens Act which denied entry to ‘undesirable immigrants’, mostly targeting Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe, and they did it to maintain control of a situation which could have turned socially explosive, not because they were anti-semites (which they most certainly must have been).

    Western Europe had no appetite to welcome massive immigration either. The gold standard, which brought so much wealth to Britain’s upper classes, gave a deflationary bent to world economy, causing unemployment, and sending hordes of white settlers to the New World and various colonies in the Old World. Elites everywhere were afraid of losing control.

    In Britain, there were about 40 Jewish plutocratic families who were involved in the running of the empire, mostly engaged in the colonial plunder called ‘finance and investment’. These families contributed enormous funds to the charities that resettled and re-socialized East European Jews. They were committed to saving the endangered Jewry, but feared that Britain could not absorb more immigration. And obviously, any social disruption would have jeopardized their own position at the top of the world. Thus Jewish elites started scheming to establish a Jewish state, exploring various ‘options’ that involved various corners of the empire.

    The Rothschilds in particular, who were instrumental in securing the Balfour Declaration, held a great deal of social power. The House of Rothschild had provided the British state with the loans to build the Suez Canal, essential to ensuring access to India, the backbone of the empire. Michael Hudson and Radhika Desai had explained in detail here how the ruthless exploitation of India underpinned the gold standard and the free trade regime under British hegemony.

    The negotiations over the Jewish state, prolonged over several decades, came suddenly to fruition in 1917, when Britain was fighting the Great War, and the ruling classes found themselves in need of inordinately large loans for their war chest. The final accord over Palestine represented a meeting of the minds: Jews get a homeland, and the empire would get a vassal state in the Middle East, whose main role at the time was to assist in maintaining control over the Suez Canal. And so the Balfour Declaration was signed, starting the Calvary of the Palestinians, although later American hegemony adapted the geopolitics of Israel to different goals.

    1. Alan Sutton

      That is a very persuasive and detailed comment Dida.

      Your mention of the elites’ desire to solve the problem of the Jewish emigrants from Russia by finding somewhere else for them to go reminded me of the foundation of Liberia.

      Even the anti slavery Liberals in the US back then could not imagine having all those ex slaves living freely in their neighbourhoods.

      The idea was just too much for them so they tried to send them all “back” to Africa.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Dida. That’s another comment worthy of being hoisted into a post.

      Please see my comment above with regard to the oligarchs. There are still Goldsmith and Montefiore shills about.

      The oligarchs were also worried about assimilation and set up schools like the Jewish Free School to faciliate integration. The comparison was made with Irish migrants.

      Families like the Rothschilds (banking and commodities), Montefiores (insurance, Alliance) Samuels (Shell) and Sassoons (banking), who migrated from the east to Blighty, were particularly involved with empire and, in particular, the route to India and business opportunities around that.

  25. Librarian Guy

    Very good comments over all, but I read most & am surprised beyond one mentioning the German & Austrian Mittel-European roots of the colonizing populace, nobody mentioned the place of the Khazars in diaspora Judaism.


    As Wikipedia notes these are “a Turkic people”, & NOT Semitic, who mass-converted during the Middle Ages for reasons of trade & commerce. The map suggests (with a question mark) that they were from an area east of modern Georgia & Armenia & SE of “Rus” of that era. They had to trade & were pressured to practice Islam, Eastern Orthodox Christianity or Judaism. Evidently they chose the latter because the other 2 had stronger prohibitions on the practice of usury and taking interest on loans than the Khazars believed Judaism did.

    So for those racial essentialists out there, these people never lived in nor came from that far West in Asia like the legendary “Israel” story . . . just look at someone like Bibi Netanyahoo (who looks as gentile as the German side of my family) v. someone like Aaron Mate, who comes from a Hungarian Jewish family and has dark skin & eyes, hair coloring like the Arabs living there today do. The two Jewish guys who run the “Due Dissidence” podcast regularly joke about being culturally Jewish, but knowing that their ancestry is from nowhere near Israel. (Actually Keaton Weiss is half Maltese, they spoke a Semitic language, so he may have a link there.) They & others (Ali Abunimah, Katie Halper, etc.) have pointed out that the people they are mass-murdering are the descendants of actual Jews and other (Canaanite) Semites.

    I don’t believe in the modern “Great Replacement Theory” but something akin to this seems to be going on. Turkic people appropriate Judaism & class themselves as the only “true” Jews. Thus the land is “given” to them by YHVH forever.

    Returning to history, what an irony it is that while the Nuremberg trials of Nazis were ongoing (1945-49), the Settler-colonialists in 1948 started the displacement and murder of the native peoples known as the Nakba in earnest. But since Harry Truman, the Germans & the (falling) UK Empires among others employed them as a proxy against those native brown people who lived there, success & a new nation was guaranteed, for 7 decades & counting . . . .

    1. Polar Socialist

      That might be because there’s no actual evidence of the Khazar thing, and because during the last few decades the genetics have shown that all the Jewish groups are closely related (with some admixture from the diaspora, naturally), and also quite closely related to the Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians.

  26. Not Qualified to Comment

    The fact that my very own forebears held themselves as being inherently superior to the natives and entitled to subjucate, corrale them in reservations, enslave them or even ethnically cleanse them from lands my ancestors believed should belong to them does not, I suggest, bar me for despising the Israelis for what is being done in Gaza in their name. Even the examples given of Vietnam and Korea are now 70-years and two generations ago, the world has moved on and solid examples of a new way of thinking embodied however imperfectly in institutions such as the UN and expressions of ideals such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights show me a ‘better’ way of relating to the rest of humanity the which I respect even if the possibility never crossed my great-great-grandfather’s mind.

    Indeed my far more distant ancestors indulged in animal and even human sacrifice to appease or win the approval of the capricious Gods to which they attributed the natural forces they did not understand, but now thanks to education, science and the open mind of enquiry I like most modern people understand these impartial forces far better and the idea of winning supernatural support to mitigate them by way of animal sacrifice – say of red heiffers – is merely a sorry sign of that a few primitive, uneducated folk in the remotest regions of the Amazon not exposed to modern education, science and understandings still, regrettably, live and believe as their ancestors did. Oh.

    Ps. I believe that the lineage on my mother’s side would ‘entitle’ me to regard myself as a Jew should I choose to do so but, fortunately for me, she didn’t and that allowed me to define myself by the mind rather than the blood I was born with.

    1. vidimi

      I was raised on the idea that Western values were the Nuremberg trials and the Geneva conventions. The Gaza genocide revealed to me more than any other event that no, western values are actually the things the former two were in response to. Hence my outrage.

  27. viscaelpaviscaelvi

    A comment on each of the topics:
    As far as I know, the ones who came up with the idea of concentration camps were the Spaniards in Cuba and Philippines. They called them “reconcentrados”. In this case, the idea was to round up the civilian population and put it in a concentration camp to sever its ties with the guerrilla and the support that the latter derived from it. They were not elimination camps but, of course, the living conditions were such that the civilians would drop like flies. Colonial lives were worth what they were worth.
    The English then adopted the system during the Boer wars and given the resounding success, its use expanded elsewhere. I did not know that the Portuguese had used them.

    On the second point:
    “I suspect that this kind of hypocritical, latent anti-semitism is what drives Western rulers to stand so demonstratively with Israel: they are satisfied to see Jews away, and do not want to see millions of them coming back”
    Emmanuel Todd, in his latest book, explores the issue of Russo-phobia in the Eastern European countries, and comes to an interesting reflection that is complementary to the quote. Astonished by the contrast between the Russo-phobia and the Germanophylia of those countries, he tries to make historical sense of those reactions: the Russians are hated because of the history of Soviet occupation bla bla… fine. But then, what to make of the Germanophylia that those same countries display? Because, if they are “re-living” their historical Soviet experience, well, there are very good reasons for them to think that their history under German occupation was much worse, and yet… And then Todd reflects gloomily that in his worst moments, in moments of despair, he wonders if that Germanophylia is not the expression of a sense of thankfulness to Germany for having rid them of their Jewish problem during WWII.

  28. B.stie

    Of course there was antisemitism in the 1940s amongst Europeans, as well as general xenophobia (not so different today). In responding to the problem of Jewish refugees post Holocaust, it was Australia that claimed “we do not have an immigrant problem, and have no intention of importing one”. However, this lust to find a mythical explanation for support of Israel also borders on antisemitism. One need only read “Doomed to Succeed” by Dennis Ross to understand how the US went from the Eisenhower Doctrine of favoring the Arab states over Israel to the reverse. Largely, it had to do with backing whoever was less likely to become a foothold in the middle east for the Soviet Union. As mentioned above, a base from which to protect access to both oil and the suez canal. Later, the power split was between Israel and Iran and even today as we saw in the recent attack, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, even Malaysia (!) are far more afraid of Iran than they are of Israel. The Yeminis today are persecuted by the Houthis while Hezbollah has turned Lebanon into a terrorist vassal state of Iran. Support for Israel from the west is not much different to why it is supported by the moderate Muslim states, to keep in check the power and regional domination of Iran.

  29. AnObserver

    Ilan Pape explained it best: Israel is a settler colony. Different from the first comment, where he described colonialism. The operative word here is “settler” – hence the ethnic cleansing (genocide if that fails).

    For the second comment, he is absolutely correct. There is no strategic reason for the west supporting Israel. Antisemitism excuse breaks down when you consider that there are MORE Jews outside of Israel than in it. What explains the support perfectly is when you realize that Israel is NOT an asset but a LIABILITY. In which case, it is Israel (and by extension some Jews in the west) that are driving that support – contrary to the interests of western countries.

  30. K.M.

    I think we can use the same argument of Antisemtism to argue for the opposite. George Marshall (the secretary of state at the time of the establishment of Israel ) is accused of antisemtism (even post-mortem) because he opposed recognizing the state of Israel in 1948. That means that the argument of antisementism does not help to explain anything here.

    The most important factor here is who took the initiative to create the state of Israel. It was the initiative of the Zionists and not of the europeans or the americains whose opinions were irrelevant. Of course the influence the jews had and still have on americain politics, economy and media made that possible, but made possible to the detriment of US interest ( and to the detriment of the jews interest ) and this is why George Marshall opposed its recognition. I am sure his view was not personnel.

    Michael Hudson says often that Israel is immovable American aircraft carrier. It might be true but if it is , it should be at a cost.

    The cost of the establishment, the support and protection of Israel is the most important issue to consider here as far as american interests are concerned.

    There is an inherent conflict between the existence of Israel and the interests of the USA as a superpower. That was not very clear during the cold war, the middle east conflicts being framed as part of the Cold War conflicts. It became very clear since September 11th. It is safe to assume that one of the imporant , if not the most important , aim of the conflicts the US got involved in since then was to try to align artificially the interests of USA as a superpower and the interests of Israel. It did not work because there is inherent contradictions between the two.

    Failure to undesrtand that and act accordingly will bring just more suffering to the populations of the Middle East and undermine further the US interests.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Your conjecture is not correct. The US was at a remove from the Jewish emigration after pogroms and other persecution. The US also appears to have been pretty successful in getting some top Jewish scientists to flee to the US and lend invaluable help to Project Manhattan.

      So our baseline condition (size of country v. potential level of emigration) was very different than in the UK. And we weren’t the ones running the British Mandate in Palestine, FFS.

      The Balfour Declaration was set in 1917 and increasingly treated as settled fact. It would take a lot of doing for the US to oppose the UK’s long-set plan. And for what, exactly?

      Moreover it is very likely that Marshall and other US officials had been on the receiving end of Zionist lobbying and would therefore naively not understanding the deeper anti-Semitic roots.

      1. K.M.

        What I mean is that the argument of antisemitism is irrelevant to explain what is going on in the middle East since 1948 or even before.

        As far as the palestinians,-who consider themselves as semites too- are concerned, the fact of the existence of Israel is antisemitism. Israel considers any opposition to its policy now as antisemitism. It is a conflict between people who are all semites.

        It is possible that all of them may be right depending on how each party defines antisemitism but all the parties will surely disargree on what antisemitism refers to. How then can we explain what is going on using something no one can say for sure what it refers to?

        The second World War was so disruptive that it made it easy for the US to oppose or undo any UK’s long-set plan as long as it did not serve its interest in the post-war new world order.
        The administration of President Truman was divided on the issue of the recognition of Israel for reasons that had nothing to do with antisemitism.

  31. B Popolo

    I am certain the US has opportunistically fellow traveled with Israel all these many years, but I would not be certain that sowing chaos throughout the middle east, PNAC style, should be projected back into the past and deemed a permanent US policy.

    This seems a more recent, hard lobbied development, likely furthered on the notion that Carter, he of the hostage crisis and the (heaven forfend) Camp David accords, was too weak.


  32. Synoia

    In French colonies, the native population was assigned to districts, within which it could move freely. To travel to another district.

    As was the practice in feudal times in England, and probably over most of Europe. Keeping yjr peasants under the Lord of the Manor’s thumb was a widespread after the Norman Conquest in England and probably in most of Europe.
    Peasants were as essential in those times, as Electricity and Fossil fuels are today.

  33. Mark Ó Dochartaigh

    The Balfour Declaration’s purpose was to form a “little loyal Jewish Ulster in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism”.
    Balfour and many other British colonialists, including the black and tans, came straight from Ireland to Israel. Even in Ulster, where as much as 90% of the native population had been killed in some areas, British colonialism had not been without problems. It is hardly surprising that this “little Ulster” which had not been similarly depopulated would be at least as problematic, or that Ireland would be one of the Palestinian’s staunchest friends.


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