Zionism is sometimes described as one of the world’s most successful modern political movements. This description hides the ideology’s dark reality.
Formulated in the late 19th century, Zionism championed the creation of a homeland for the Jewish people. By 1948, Zionism had created a Jewish state in most of Palestine, with a majority Jewish population. Zionists spoke of this as giving ‘a land without a people to a people without a land’.
This was false. Palestine had a large indigenous population for many centuries before Zionism. That population was composed of Palestinian Moslems and Christians, with a small population of Palestinian Jews and other minorities.
However, European Zionists were not interested in assimilating into this cultural mix. From the beginning their goal was to take over all of Palestine and create a Jewish state - by peaceful means if possible, by force if not. Their original plan was to buy up the land from wealthy landowners, send away the Palestinian inhabitants and populate the land with immigrant Jews to create a ‘country that was as Jewish as France was French and England was English’.
Zionists were never able to buy more than a tiny fraction of the land of Palestine, so the movement turned to violence to achieve its goals. Zionist violence and terrorism culminated in the ethnic cleansing of most of the Palestinians from Palestine in 1947 and 1948.
No one should be surprised that, from its very beginning, mainstream Zionism categorically rejected living peacefully with Palestinian Arabs in one country. Zionism is an ideology rooted in religion, ethnic nationalism, and false ideas of ‘modernity’. Each of these gave Zionists a sense of their own superiority and exclusiveness, of the need to stay separate from the local inhabitants.
Ironically, although most early Zionists were not at all religious, they saw themselves as superior to the "others" because they could claim to belong to "the true religion" and were the "true inhabitants" of the land based on biblical stories. Then again, as Europeans and as Jews, Zionists saw themselves as culturally, economically and politically superior and more advanced than the indigenous population, giving them the "right" to take Palestine by force and drive the Palestinian people from their own land. Ironically, this clearly exclusivist and racist ideology was even turned against Jewish immigrants from Muslim countries not long after the creation of Israel, demonstrating that, whatever Zionism may claim to be in theory, it is clearly racism in practice.
Palestinians, whom Zionists expected to simply ‘disappear’, have continued to resist Zionist oppression and to fight for self-determination for over sixty years. They know that racist Zionism is the enemy of peace for both Palestinians and Jews alike and must be opposed until justice is at last attained for both peoples.