The Myth of the Myth of Palestine

Israel_Palestine_Flag[1]It is, if I may be frank, quite pathetic that the spurious charge of a myth should so perpetuate itself.  In fact, it is nothing other than Girardian scapegoating on an industrial scale.  If you can convince a person or group that another person or group is somehow less than deserving, less human, less, just less….less…..less….in whatever way is chosen, it stands to reason you can do anything to them.


The founder of the WZO (World Zionist Organisation in 1897), Theodore Herzl, had the primary objective of seeking a homeland.  The irony for this German Jew, was that he loved the German civilization, he didn’t even like the Hebrew religion, and nor did he consider himself scattered or disparate – he loved European culture, as did many of his bourgeois compatriots!  He was also a failed playwright, and even in writing his book Der Judenstat (An attempt at a modern solution to the Jewish question), his primary motivation was, as Goldberg percieves, to establish his credentials as the “sober, judicious Doctor of Law rather than the author of drawing room comedies.”

Vague generalization and hyperbole became Herzl’s trademark rhetoric, as he argued against any assimilation, and for separation.  It is clear that since he was not interested in anything but the high culture of 19th century Germany, he was politically motivated.  Religion was merely a convenience on the back-burners of Zionist thought.  What we see today is a big fat Zionist wedding of the two!

Herzl popularized a phrase used famously by the influential Lord Shaftsbury some fifty years previously, saying the Jews were “a people with no country for a country with no people”, what Palestinian liberationist Jean Zaru calls a “violation” and a “cruel myth.” That the Arabs outnumbered the Jews in Palestine by approximately nine to one had no bearing on Herzl’s sloganeering. Moreover, this is evidenced by Liberation theologian Michael Prior who documented Herzl’s own attitude to the Palestinians when he wrote, “we shall endevour to expel the poor population across the border unnoticed – the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.”

The famous Balfour Declaration of 1917 promised the Jews a homeland in Palestine, something which could only be done because the former colonial masters, the Ottoman Turks, sided with the wrong team in WW1 and so lost their Empire, including the Palestinian land, to the British.

The Declaration quite simply states,

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use its best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in other countries (emphasis mine).

A Palestinian man walks past Israeli border police standing guard as a bulldozer demolishes a structure in the West Bank village of Beit Hanina
A Palestinian man walks past Israeli border police standing guard as a bulldozer demolishes a structure in the West Bank village of Beit Hanina, near Jerusalem November 24, 2011. Two structures, built without permits, were razed by the Israeli army and civil administration on Thursday after three years of reviews and deliberations in a construction committee, a civil administration spokesperson said. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The rights of the existing non-Jewish communities?  There were already about 80,000 Jews in Palestine, mostly from what is termed Agricultural Zionism.  But, the “non-Jewish communities” numbered between 650-700,000 Arabs (Muslim and Christian)!  There had been neither animosity nor conflict for decades if not centuries, until Herzl’s sloganeering gained the wind of Empire in its sails.

Just two years later, in 1919, and despite news of Arab frustration intensifying through violence – the violence of the oppressed, the colonized and the scapegoated – James Balfour wrote with astonishing arrogance, to Lord Curzon, his successor as Foreign Secretary, “The four great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far greater import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit the land.”

In other words, they all knew what they were doing and where it would lead!  It was indeed wrong and bad!

Among the very few other challenges to Balfour, Lord Sydenham of the House of Lords could see what was happening, he wrote to Balfour,

“… the harm done by dumping down an alien population upon an Arab country – Arab all around in the hinterland – may never be remedied … what we have done is, by concessions, not to the Jewish people but to a Zionist extreme section, to start a running sore in the East, and no one can tell how far that sore will extend” (emphasis mine).


In his book, The Parallax View, Slavoj Zizek spots this “Zionist extreme section” when he writes,

“Zionism itself, as embodied in the State of Israel’s predominant politics, is already “anti-Semitic”, that is to say, it relies on anti-Semitic ideological mapping…. Zionism is a species of anti-Semitism.”

He arrived at this conclusion by linking the attempted visit of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann to Palestine, with the Hagana, a secret Zionist organization. Between them, plans were made for the mass deportation of Jews to Palestine. The Germans wanted Jews out of Western Europe, and the Zionists wanted them in Palestine to outnumber the Arabs as quickly as possible. Therefore, Zizek can say Zionism is a species of anti-Semitism because not only has it collaborated with Nazism, but in this collaboration, the common interest was a kind of ethnic cleansing, from Europe to Palestine, and then within Palestine. This way, the Nazi ‘final solution’ i.e. getting rid of the Jews, has been realised from a European standpoint, in the creation of the State of Israel.

With astonishing insight, the only Jew in the British Cabinet at the time of the Balfour Declaration, Edwin Montague, objected to it, calling the Jews a culture not a nation, and the Declaration itself “anti-semitic.”  He even refers to Zionism as “a mischievous political creed.”  And he was a Jew!  This is why there is today, among increasing numbers of religious Jews, a backlash against the political ideology of Zionism.  Why?  Because they rightly declare:  Judaism is not Zionism.  Christians fall into the trap when they do not make this distinction.  Not only is Judaism not Zionism; neither is Christian Zionism Christian.  That’s why John Stott declared it to be “biblically anathema!” There is so much more than can be said to counter the myth of the myth of Palestine.  But I will conclude this very brief summary with this assertion:  Palestine was not empty! 

Palestine was not empty, be it demographically or politically, as was attested by two unnamed Rabbi’s from Vienna, who visited Palestine way back in 1898, and beautifully reported, “The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man.These two Rabbis knew only too well that Palestine was not only occupied by its indigenous people, but that this also meant that to deny them their national identity would be the first stage of industrialized de-humanization that would allow the Western powers and the Zionist movement to ignore their rights. It would be colonisation and ethnic cleansing of the most nefarious kind.

In a meeting of ministers in Torbay before the 2015 UK General Election, the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond admitted to me, rather bravely I thought, that the Israel-Palestine conflict is the most difficult international political difficulty he faces! He, like many others, cannot see a way through the tangled mess of ideology and nationalist extremism.

The world was silent and ignorant of the horrors of the holocaust; and it is silent now of what is happening to the people now known as the Palestinians, in a land that has for long centuries been known as ‘Palestine’!  People do not like being colonized or demonized!  They do not like being made to queue like cattle or placed on one side a a wall, whilst their farm and family were forced to live on the other!

Let us stop creating and adding myth unto myth by knowing what it is we speak of, that we may see the image of God in the one we have supposed is our enemy. We all see through a glass darkly, but the promise is there:  Hope will win; Life will come; love will last!

jews-arabs        Picture Credit:   Twitter (@luigidegennar)

2 thoughts on “The Myth of the Myth of Palestine

Add yours

  1. LIBERTY AGAINST THE LAW by CH says any land not tilled was then not occupied
    so thought Britain

    1. Thanks for your comment Matt. My thought is that not only are you right about this Law but that it is a convenient one for any occupier to exploit on the muscular back of the British Empire who both paved the way for occupation (Balfour) whilst being the Power that was vomited out of the land a generation later (1948). The ironies reach the sky!

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