For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



Zionism as Jewish National Socialism

By Lasse Wilhelmson


Somewhat mysterious personality, Hess is credited with being a source of the Jewish Question by Karl Marx, who however repudiated him in strong terms. Hess rejected the Class war concept of Marx and offered the Race war and Class peace idea, later utilised by Adolf Hitler. Herzl thought Hess was the true founder of Zionism and his Forerunner. Lasse Wilhelmson calls for a single democratic state in the whole of Palestine, and for boycott of Israel until its racist laws are repealed. Following Israel Shahak, he finds Judaism an extremely problematic doctrine and an origin of Israeli racism. He calls for creation of a Palestinian version of ANC, a joint movement for all native and adoptive Palestinians.

Zionism - more than traditional colonialism and apartheid
By Lasse Wilhelmson

The Jewish colonisation of Palestine under the Zionist slogan "the land without people to the people without a land" started almost a hundred years ago and reached its first climax with the proclamation of The Jewish State of Israel in 1948. A second climax is now in the offing through the ongoing colonisation of the West Bank and Gaza.
A Jewish state needs a substantial majority of Jews in the population. This has been insured by means of immigration, terror and expulsion of the native Palestine population. Jewish hegemony in Israel today is secured through a system of apartheid inherent in all aspects of Society, be it law, administration or religion. Israel lacks a constitution and fixed boarders, which is fully consistent with Zionism's call for continual expansion.

Israel - not even a democracy for Jews

There is a law in Israel, passed in 1985, which forbids political parties to openly oppose the principle of a Jewish state. Neither are they allowed to work for a change of this principle through democratic means. A party so doing will be banned from elections to the Knesset. Democracy is thus denied to those citizens - even Jews - who wish to work within the parliamentary system towards replacing the Jewish state with a secular state which represents all its citizens' equal rights regardless of religion or ethnic origin. This law alone prevents Israel from being seen as a liberal democracy of Western type.

All Jews living outside Israel are entitled by law to immigrate and become citizens immediately, while the Palestinian refugees who were expelled from their homes are prohibited from returning. This is a violation of international law. Israel is the only country in the world that defines its land as belonging to just one group of its citizens, namely Jews. This law works as a fundamental national apartheid law and turns all Jews into potential enemies of the Palestinians.

Israel is an apartheid state

Other laws and administrative regulations emphasize Israel as a Jewish apartheid state. Israeli ID cards indicate whether the holder is Jewish or not and Jews in Israel may not marry non-Jews. Non-Jewish Israelis cannot purchase government-owned land. Many Arab villages in Israel are not zoned as residential areas, as a result of which they have no access to public services such as electricity and water. The disqualification of most Arab Israelis from military service reinforces discrimination as regards social benefits, education and the like.

In Israel/Palestine today, there are three apartheid classes of people.

1. Jews are fully qualified citizens of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and the whole world.

2. Non-Jews in Israel, mainly Palestinians (20 percent) are second class citizens

3. Palestinians are stateless non-citizens on the West Bank, in Gaza or in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.


Israel continues to violate international law and commit crimes against humanity. They have conducted genocide against the Palestinians for a hundred years. When Israel became a member of the UN in 1949 an objection was raised regarding a previous UN demand that the refugees be allowed to return home at the earliest possible date and that they should receive full compensation for property, according to international law and practice. For 55 years, Israel has completely ignored this demand. On these grounds alone Israel could be expelled from the UN. No other state, saving Israel, has so completely ignored so many UN resolutions. Israel is a military superpower with nuclear weapons and took active part in the US and England's war against Iraq. Without any provocation, Israel recently bombed targets in Syria and armed its fleet with nuclear weapons. Previously they attacked Egypt and Lebanon amongst others.

How could this evolve? What is the ideology behind this very special project of colonialism, the only one that has survived two turns of a century? What sort of ideology is Zionism?

More than a hundred years of colonialism

Colonising Palestine continues today on the West Bank and in Gaza according to the practical plan presented by Theodor Herzl in his book "The Jewish State"(1896) The book is mainly about how the project could be financed and how land in Palestine could be transferred to Jewish ownership. The plan was affirmed by the first Zionist Congress 1897. Herzl had some important starting points for the Zionist Project.


  • Antisemitism cannot be remedied by the assimilation of Jews.

  • Jews are a race of people with a right to their own state.

  • Palestine (or Zion) is the home of the Jewish State

  • The goal is a socialist Utopia - a model state


    The term Zionism was, however, conceived by Nathan Birnbaum in 1885. Together with Herzl he made up the leadership of the Zionist World Organisation. Later on he became a spokesman for Judaism in the Diaspora - outside Israel/Palestine.

    Moses Hess - the Communist Rabbi

    The fundamental ideology of Zionism however evolved much earlier with Moses Hess. He was one of Germany's earliest renowned Socialists. He was a Utopian, a Hegelian and a good friend of Karl Marx. Hess also wrote a contribution to The Communist Manifesto (1848) on the question of Religion as opium to the masses. He is considered by Zionists as the first Zionist. As he grew older he dissociated himself from Marx and "returned" to his People, that is to say Judaism. Marx shunned Hess' chauvinistic ideas. "Communist Rabbi Moses" as he was also called, wrote Zionism's Magnum Opus which Herzl later referred to as the book which says everything there is worth saying about Zionism. This book, "Rome and Jerusalem" was published by Hess in 1862. He was inspired, amongst others, by Spinoza. He defines the Jewish Nation by the following components:


  • The Jewish race - superior and chosen

  • Palestine - the homeland of the Jewish people

  • The Jewish religion - the best guarantee for Jewish nationality.


    The importance of Blood in defining racial purity was common at that time and was also part of Hess' conception. He saw the German race as antagonistic to the Jewish race. He worried about the antisemitism apparent in Germany at that time and this was his main reason for "returning" to Judaism. For him, Socialism, apart from developing equality of the classes must also develop a moral dimension. The Jewish State should have the makings of a Socialist State. Hess predicted both the foundation of the State of Israel and the Holocaust 80 -85 years in advance of these occurrences. Hess considered France to be the foremost ally of the Jews. This was before the Dreyfus trail in France which came to be the one event that convinced Theodor Herzl that Zionism was the only solution to antisemitism.

    Marxist Zionism and Zionist Revisionism

    After the first Zionist Congress, the renowned Marxist Ber Borochov developed the rigorous policies of the Zionist Project. He argued territorial concentration as a solution to, among other things, the Jewish question. He founded Poalei Zion, the Marxist Zionist Party which supported the Russian Revolution in 1917. David Ben Gurion, one of the Party members and Israel's founder, came to Palestine at the beginning of the twentieth century. He considered himself a Bolshevik and was in favour of the dictatorship of the proletariat in all countries, except Palestine where he favoured the dictatorship of Zionism. Ben Gurion considered Jewish national interests superior to class interests in Palestine: a clear case of unmitigated National Socialist leanings.

    When the Poalei Zion split up, Ben Gurion became the leader of the Social Democrat wing and was influential in Zionism for years to come. The colonisation took place in the name of Socialism and the enlightened culture of the Western World. Under the forceful leadership of Ben Gurion the colonisation proceeded in stages while upholding negotiations with the Palestinians. The foundation of the Jewish state could wait. The first issue was the building of a strong army (Hagana), which could drive the Palestinians out and create and defend a substantial Jewish majority on as large a part of Palestine as possible. The strategy was very successful. Israel was proclaimed in 1948 on land which geographically comprised almost 80% of the whole of Palestine: a considerable increase to the UN Partition plan which offered Jews 55%. Today Israel has seized all of the original Palestine, while the Palestinian villages are now surrounded by The Wall, cut through by motorways - only for Jews - and interspersed with hundreds of check points and fortified Jewish settlements.

    A minority within Zionism, represented by Zeév Jabotinsky wanted immediate action. In 1925 he founded a Zionist revisionist movement. In the article "The Iron Wall" (1937), he stated, among other things, that all native people are against colonisation, even the Palestinians. Colonisers must therefore use the utmost determination to show that opposition does not pay off. "We hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done, no matter whether Joseph or Simon or Ivan or Achmet agree with it or not. There is no other morality." (ibid.) The above mentioned are the two main standpoints within Zionism which have also, during different periods of time, served as the official ideology in Israel. Interwoven in these and of varying importance, are other movements such as practical Zionism, radical messianic Zionism, religious Zionism, spiritual/cultural Zionism and more.

    Zionism, National Socialism and Fascism

    While Ben Gurion sympathised with Marxism and later on with Social Democracy, Jabotinsky sympathised with Fascism. He admired Mussolini who supported him. Jabotinsky died in 1940 before the proclamation of The State Of Israel. He founded the Jewish terror organisation Irgun which committed its most horrible deeds during the expulsion of the Palestinians. The Lehi, a splinter group headed by Stern, murdered Folke Bernadotte who was the UN representative and mediator. The man who pulled the trigger became Ben Gurion's good friend and security guard when he retired to the kibbutz Sde Bocker. The leaders of both organisations Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir later became Prime Ministers of Israel.

    It is remarkable how similar the two Zionist standpoints are in practical politics. The Iron-Wall policy is now being completed by Israel's present Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, with greater military force than ever before. Sharon belongs to the same right-wing group as Begin and Shamir (Likud). However it was the governments lead by the Social Democrats that started and completed most of the considerable expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza. The Eastern European Jews, who were Marxists, stamped their mark on the colonisation of Palestine during the first half of the twentieth century. Collective farms - the kibbutz - were the main instrument in bringing it about. They were democratic, socialist, experimental units, often secular. No money was in use and the collective upbringing of children was common for a long time. Only Jews were allowed to be members. The seemingly racist kibbutz played an important part in the capture and military defence of occupied territory. The settlements of today on the West Bank and in Gaza serve a similar purpose, though they are religiously orthodox.

    A Zionist leftist ideology dominated in the beginning. As shown above this can also be seen as Jewish National Socialism, upheld by Ben Gurion. After the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 a Zionist right-wing ideology, like Jabotinsky`s has dominated. The Israeli "left" of today is predominately left-wing Zionism. Within Zionism's two main standpoints there has been interaction. Thus left-wing Zionism has targeted policies for the settlements, while the right-wing has been responsible for terrorism and ethnic cleansing. After 1967, the religious influence on Israel's politics has grown. However, religion has always been important in Zionism. Nowadays in Israel, religion and politics have merged.

    Zionism and Jewish Religion

    Classic Judaism (and orthodox of today) has its roots in the Jewish societies in Europe of the Middle Ages. Zionism has given it a boost. Its antagonism towards non-Jews and the opinion that Jews are God's Chosen People has great impact on Israel's policies towards the rest of the world.

    According to Halachah, classic Judaism's laws and customs, for example "compassion towards others" extends to Jews only. Murder or manslaughter is judged mildly when the perpetrator is Jewish and the victim a non-Jew. Also according to Halachah, it is accepted for a Jew to kill a non-Jew if he is laying claim to "eternal Jewish land". This is what the settlers' religious organisations are alleging. There is no corresponding law in Israel's judicial system but in effect it influences the system as punishment of such crimes is very mild.

    Israel's state terrorism, theft of land and occupation, demolition of houses, the building of the Wall etc including the so called 'extra-judicial killings' (assassinations), are seen by Zionists as legitimate defence of the Nation and therefore fall under international law - which Israel ignores. Israel Shahak discusses the influence classic Judaism has on Israel's policies in his book "Jewish History, Jewish Religion" (1996). For a long period of time Shahak was chairman of Israel's Society for Human and Civil Rights. He is especially critical of the double moral standards kept by prominent left wing intellectual Jews, particularly Martin Buber, the well known philosopher. Buber critisised Nazism while commending the Jewish Religion (Hassidism) but keeping quiet about its dehumanising of non-Jews (goyim). These double standards act to increase Israel's chauvinism and hatred of all non-Jews. Israel's Peace Movement has been accused of harbouring similar sentiments.

    Many countries which think of themselves as modern, attempt to do away with religious thinking from the Middle Ages, mainly by the separation of Church from State and laws against racism. The opposite has occurred in Israel. The revival of classic Judaism in Israel's politics can be seen as an expression of Zionist expansion, thus increasing opposition to the Palestinian Arabs. Had the Jews, some 75 years ago, chosen a bi-national democracy for their national sovereignty, there could have been peaceful development of the English Mandate for Palestine. The Mandate was partitioned by the UN in 1947 even though this meant the further extension of land already colonised. Judah Magnes, head of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, advocated bi-nationalism, as did Folke Bernadotte, the UN mediator. A Jewish nationalism which acknowledges the Palestinians right to national sovereignty is more in keeping with Judaism's long tradition of humanity and "Jewish Enlightenment". But the Zionists under their leader Ben Gurion demanded a Jewish State in no less than the whole of Palestine.

    The next opportunity Israel had to achieve a peaceful development was the Oslo Agreement. The Palestinians accepted a Jewish State on 78% of land that was the original Palestine in return for the development of their own State on the remaining 22%. But the Zionists turned down this generous offer. Israel has thus repeatedly rejected solutions which could have insured Jewish national interests and given them international recognition. Instead of this, Israel has chosen a policy which runs the risk of shattering The Jewish state. The logic of this can not be understood without taking into consideration classic Judaism's close connection with Zionism.

    Zionism and Nazism

    Moses Hess put together the fundamental components Race, People, Nation and "the Chosen" to make a National Socialist version of colonialism. It was later to be known as Zionism. Hitler, 60 years on, put together the same components in Mein Kampf and formed his National Socialist Party. Hess' opinions about the "purity of the Jewish race" correspond to Hitler's belief in "the pure Aryan race".

    This is extreme chauvinism based on the theory of the connection between "Blood and Soil". Despite the similarity of ideological structure, there are differences in constitutional and organisational structures. The same goes for similarities to the former apartheid State of South Africa. Family ties (Blood ties) are however still basic to Jews all over the world and in the Jewish state of Israel. A person with a Jewish mother is defined for religious purposes as a Jew, according to the Jewish Community in Stockholm, even if he considers himself an atheist. Jewish religion and family ties today are interwoven at a personal level, like religion and politics are in Society as a whole, as shown above.

    "I too, like Hitler, believe in the power of the blood idea", Chaim Nachman Bialik writes this in "The Present Hour" (1934) Bailik is Israel's most acclaimed poet. Had it been 10 years later he would probably have chosen to refer to Moses Hess, or kept quiet on the matter. Bialik's sentiments on the enigma of the Blood can also be found in the above mentioned Martin Buber's book "On Judaism" (1967).


    Israel is not only a traditional colonial State with apartheid and racism, but also a Western imperialist fortress in The Orient. Zionism also means expansion and ethnic cleansing. Furthermore, it is an elitist ideology. It grows politically and religiously amongst the broad masses of people and is thereby strengthened. Religious totalitarianism is its ideological base with strong links to National Socialism and Fascism.
    The brutal violence, the intransigence and the dehumanisation of the Palestinians can only be understood against this background. Against this background, the genocide of the Palestinians is possible and consistent. It is the background against which Israel is a "time bomb" in the Middle East policies of the US. It is high time Zionism and its Jewish State was replaced by a secular parliamentary democracy with equal rights for all citizens regardless of ethnic or religious beliefs. The grounds for a system of apartheid and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza would thereby disappear. This is a necessary, if not conclusive, requirement if there is to be lasting peace between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. Whether it results in one or two secular democracies is of secondary importance.
    A feasible strategy for achieving democracy in Israel/Palestine would be the start of a liberation movement where Jews and Palestinians could pull together similar to the ANC movement in South Africa. Those Jews and Palestinians who are already fighting Zionism should therefore be given support first.
    It is also high time Jews - both in Israel and elsewhere - started reforming the Jewish religion. The concept of Blood ties should be replaced by religious conviction, the idea of Jews as "The Chosen People" should be rejected and Jews looked upon as people like everyone else.
    The current genocide must stop. First of all for the sake of the Palestinians but also for the Jews. It fires a growing hatred of Jews in large parts of the World. United Nations forces are needed to protect the Palestinians and worldwide sanctions of Israel should be maintained.

    Lasse Wilhelmson, Stockholm

    From Peter Myers, Australia
    Re: Moses Hess and Lasse Wilhelmson

    Hess wrote Rome and Jerusalem in 1862; yet in 1870 or so, he was a participant at the First International, in Marx' camp.

    I know of no antagonism between Marx & Hess over Hess' position on Jewish nationalism.

    There was a clash between Marx' camp & Bakunin's camp. Marx was manoevring to exclude Bakunin.

    Bertram D. Wolfe writes in his book Marxism: One Hundred Years in the Life of a Doctrine, (Chapman & Hall, London 1967):

    {p. 60} The International Workingmen's Association was originally founded by the British Labour Movement in collaboration with some workingmen's delegations from France. Marx had been called {p. 61} in at first as a respected emigre from Germany, with a revolutionary past and a doctor's degree. ... Yet its congresses could and did outvote him and his faction, for Bakunin, Proudhon, and others who did not accept his every pronouncement, had more influence than he in France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland, while the English continued to have views distinctly their own. Marx had decided just before the Franco-Prussian War that he must pack a congress with his disciples, set it to be held in a country from which Bakunin was banned, strengthen the powers of the General Council over the affiliated movements, whose mere clearing-house and obedient servant it was supposed to be, then expel Bakunin and move the Headquarters of the General Council to far-off America, where Bakunin could not lay hands on it and where it would not require so much of Marx's attention and time.

    The strategy for packing the congress was such that even a Lenin might have envied it. Marx picked The Hague, to which Bakunin could not go because he was wanted by the police of both France and Germany. Engels paid the fare of five members of the General Council who would side with Marx. Marx wrote to Kugelmann in Germany and to Sorge in America to send the largest possible delegations of the faithful, and as many blank credentials as possible which he might fill in with suitable names. {end quote}

    Bakunin made some rude remarks about Marx' Jewish congregation (not that word, but words to that effect). I have the material somewhere.

    Some info on the clash between the Marx & Bakunin camps at the First International is at

    Shlomo Avineri wrote of Hess in his book THE MAKING OF MODERN ZIONISM: The Intellectual Origins of the Jewish State (Basic Books, New York 1981):

    {p. 36} CHAPTER 3 Moses Hess: Socialism and Nationalism as a Critique of Bourgeois Society

    IN MOSES HESS (18l2-75) two powerful ideological and political forces - socialism and the beginning of Jewish national thought - were integrated into a unique synthesis. When he died after decades of activity in the German and international socialist movement, the inscription on his tomb, near Cologne, read: "Father of German Social Democracy." Seventy-five years later, when the State of Israel was established, its government (then under the leadership of the Labor Party), transferred his remalns from Germany and reinterred them in the cemetery of the first kibbutz, near Lake Tiberias. There he lies now among the other founders of Zionist socialism - Syrkin, Borochov, Katznelson.

    {p. 40} In the year 1845 Hess's essay,

    {p. 41} "On Capital," appeared, which contains very severe pronouncements regarding the Jews and identifying Judaism with capitalism. Only recently has it been shown that Hess' work preceded that of Marx. Hess wrote his essay in 1843 and sent it to Marx for publication. However, it was published a year and a half later. Hence, Hess's work was known to Marx while he wrote his essay, "On the Jewish Question," and most of the images which appear in Marx' works are borrowed from Hess. {endquote}

    This is very important. Where did Marx get his inside information on the operations of Jewish bankers like the Rothschilds - perhaps from Hess? And where did Hess get it, if not from direct connections? Given Hess' importance as a pioneer of Zionism, this information is the more credible.

    David McLellan has some more information on this theme in his book Marx Before Marxism, 2nd edition (MacMillan, London, 1980).

    With regard to Marx' article On the Jewish Question, he writes:

    {p. 141} Many of the themes of this article, particularly that of money and the Jewish-Christian relationship, are taken directly from an article by Hess entitled 'On the Essence of Money'.2 Hess submitted this article for publication in the Deuch-Franzoche Jahrbucher, but the review collapsed before it could appear. Hess's influence here is important, as Marx's criticism of Bauer's second article contains his first tentative application to the field of economics of Feuerbach's idea of alienation. Hess had converted both Engels and Bakunin to communism, but his influence on Marx was a much slower process: in 1842-3, when Hess's proselytising was at its most active, Marx was no communist, and by the time Marx did become a communist, in Paris, Hess was only one among many new points of reference. Nevertheless, at this particular juncture, Marx seems to have leaned very heavily on Hess.3

    It is largely this article that has given the impression that Marx was an anti-semite.4 This is inaccurate. In the passages already referred to in the Holy Family which deal with the Jewish question, Marx tends to side with the Jews more than with Bauer. Marx also makes clear there that he judges the political maturity of a state by the degree to which the Jews in it are emancipated, and considers it illogical of civil society not to grant the Jews equal rights.5

    2 See further McLellan, The Young Hegelians and Karl Marx, pp. 153 ff. 3 On the relationship of Hess to Marx, see Kagi, Genesis des historischen Materialiismus, pp. 146 ff.; McLellan, The Young Hegelians and Karl Marx, pp. 137 ff. For a view emphasising the 'eschatological' element peculiar to both, see E Thier, Das Menschenbild des jungen Marx (Gottingen, 1967) pp. 41 ff. 4 See, as an extreme, D. Runes's edition of this article entitled A World without Jews (New York, 1959). There is a general treatment ot this question in: J. Carlebach, Karl Marx and the Radical Critique of Judaism (London, 1978) pp. 148 ff. 5 See S. Avineri, 'Marx and Jewish Emancipation', Journal of the History of Ideas, xxv (1964).


    Zeev Sternhell on National Socialism in Israel:

    Peter Myers, 21 Blair St, Watson ACT 2602, Australia



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