The Neglected History of the State of Israel

One of Chotiner’s best interviews ran this past November. A leader of the militant West Bank settlement movement told him that Jews have a sacred duty to occupy all the land between “the Euphrates in the east and the Nile in the southwest,” that nothing west of the Jordan River was ever “Arab place or property,” and that no Arabs, even citizens, should have civil rights in Israel.

Even the most learned and thoughtful observers of Israel and Palestine miss a basic historic foundation of the crisis.

Chotiner asked, “So rights are not some sort of universal thing that every person has. They’re something that you can win or lose.” The settler answered, “That’s right.” He followed up: “When you see Palestinian children dying, what’s your emotional reaction as a human being?” She replied: “I go by a very basic human law of nature. My children are prior to the children of the enemy, period. They are first. My children are first.” Chotiner responded with incredulity: “We are talking about children. I don’t know if the law of nature is what we need to be looking at here.” The settler, nonplussed, repeated herself: “I say my children are first.”

I USE THE WORD “FASCIST” in the literal sense. Do not flinch from it. The founders of Revisionist Zionism certainly didn’t. Respect them enough to take them at their word.

In 1928, a prominent Revisionist named Abba Ahimeir published a series of articles entitled “From the Diary of a Fascist.” They refer to the founder of their movement, Ze’ev Jabotinsky (his adopted first name is Hebrew for “wolf”), as “il duce.” In 1935, his comrade Hen Merhavia wrote that Revisionists were doing what Mussolini did: “establish a nucleus of an exemplary life of morality and purity. Like us, the Italian fascists look back to their historical heritage. We seek to return to the kingdom of the House of David; they want to return to the glory of the Roman Empire.” They even opened a maritime academy in Italy, under Mussolini’s sponsorship, for the navy they hoped to build in their new Israeli state. “[T]he views and the political and social inclinations of the Revisionists,” an Italian magazine reported, “are absolutely in accordance with the fascist doctrine … as our students they will bring the Italian and fascist culture to Palestine.”


Important article, given the tendency to treat Jews as a homogeneous lump of identity. The Amalek reference is worth following up too.

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