Distinguishing between atheist Zionism and Judaism
In the summer of 1982 there began a great savagery that caused the whole world to cry out in protest. The Israeli Army entered Lebanon in a sudden attack, and moved forward destroying every target that appeared before it. The Israelis surrounded the refugee camps, where Palestinians lived who had fled the Israeli occupation years before, and for two days used Lebanese Christian militias to slaughter innocent civilians. Within a few days, thousands of innocent people had been massacred.
This terrible Israeli terrorism outraged the whole world. The interesting thing, however, is that some of the protests came from Jews, even Israeli Jews. Professor Benjamin Cohen of Tel Aviv University penned a statement on June 6, 1982, saying:
I am writing to you while listening to a transistor that has just announced that 'we' are in the process of 'realizing our objectives' in Lebanon: to insure 'peace' for the residents of Galilee. These lies worthy of Goebbels make me mad. It is clear that this savage war, more barbaric than any of those preceding it, has nothing to do with the attempt in London or the security of Galilee ... Jews, sons of Abraham ... Jews, victims themselves of so much cruelty, how can they become so cruel? ... The greatest success of Zionism is the 'dejudaisation' of the Jews. 1
Benjamin Cohen was not the only Israeli to oppose the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. Many Jewish intellectuals living in Israel condemned the savagery carried out by their own state.
This attitude was not restricted to the occupation of Lebanon. Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, its insistence on its policy of occupation, and its links with the semi-fascist administrations in the former racist regime in South Africa had been criticized for many years by many prominent intellectuals in Israel. This Jewish criticism was aimed not just at the policies of Israel, but also at atheist Zionism, its official ideology.
This situation is the expression of a very important truth: Israel’s policy of occupation and state terrorism from 1967 up to the present stems from the ideology of atheist Zionism, and many Jews in the world are opposed to it.
For Muslims, therefore, the concepts that should be criticized are not Judaism or the Jewish race, but Godless Zionism. In the same way that an anti-Nazi can have no hatred for the German people, so he can have none for the Jewish race because he opposes atheist Zionism.
The Racist Roots of Atheist Zionism
After the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem in 70 AD, they began to spread to different parts of the world. During this period of the ‘diaspora,’ which lasted up to the 19th century, the vast majority of Jews saw themselves as a religious group. Over time, most Jews adopted the religion of the countries they lived in. Jews in Germany, for example, began to speak German, and those in Britain, English. Hebrew was left as a sacred language used only in prayers and religious texts. When certain social restrictions on Jews in European countries were lifted in the 19th century, Jews began to assimilate with the societies they were living in. Most Jews saw themselves as a ‘religious community,’ not as a ‘race’ or ‘nation.’ They described themselves as ‘Jewish Germans,’ ‘Jewish Britons,’ or ‘Jewish Americans.’
However, there was a huge rise in racism all over the world in the 19th century. Racist ideas, influenced in particular by Darwin’s theory of evolution, grew enormously and found many supporters particularly in Western societies. Atheist Zionism was the effect this racist storm had among the Jews.
There are two varieties of Zionism today. The first of these is the Zionist conception of the devout Jewish people, who wish to live in peace and security in Israel alongside Muslims, seeking peace and wishing to worship in the lands of their forefathers and engage in business. In that sense, Muslims support Zionism. We would fully back the devout Jewish people living in peace and security in their own lands, remembering God, worshipping in their synagogues and engaging in science and trade in their own land.
The Zionist belief held by a devout Jew and based on the Torah does not in any way conflict with the Qur’an. The Jews’ living in that region is indicated in the Qur’an, in which it is revealed that God has settled the Children of Israel on it:
Remember when Moses said to his people, “My people! Remember God’s blessing to you when He appointed prophets among you and appointed kings for you, and gave you what He had not given to anyone else in all the worlds! My people! Enter the Holy Land which God has ordained for you. Do not turn back in your tracks and so become transformed into losers.” (Surat al-Ma’ida: 20-21)
It is the “irreligious, Godless Zionism” that we as Muslims condemn and regard as a threat. These Godless Zionists, who do not defend the existence and oneness of God, but, on the contrary, encourage a Darwinist, materialist perspective and thus engage in irreligious propaganda, are also a threat to devout Jews. Godless Zionism is today engaged in a struggle against peace, security and moral virtue, and constantly produces strife and chaos and the shedding of blood. Muslims and devout Jews must join forces to oppose this Godless Zionism and encourage belief in God.
Judaism Is Not the Origin of Atheist Zionism
The Jews who propagated the idea of Godless Zionism were people with very weak religious beliefs, most of whom were atheists. They saw Judaism as the name of a race, not as a community of belief. They suggested that the Jews were a separate race from European nations, that it was impossible for them to live together and that it was essential they establish their own homeland. They did not rely on religious thinking when deciding where that homeland should be. Theodor Herzl, the founder of irreligious Zionism, once thought of Uganda, and this became known as the ‘Uganda Plan.’ The Zionists later decided on Palestine. The reason for this was Palestine was regarded as ‘the Jews’ historic homeland’ rather than for any religious significance it had for them.
The atheist Zionists made great efforts to get other Jews to accept these non-religious ideas. In fact, the World Zionist Organization that was set up for this purpose undertook vast propaganda work in all countries with Jewish populations, and suggested that Jews could not live peacefully with other nations and that they were a separate ‘race,’ for which reason they had to go and settle in Palestine. Most Jewish communities ignored these calls.
In this way, atheist Zionism entered world politics as a racist ideology which maintained that Jews should not live with other nations. First of all, this mistaken idea created grave problems for and pressure on Jews living in the diaspora. Then for the millions of Muslims in the Middle East, it brought the Israeli policy of occupation and annexation, together with bloodshed, death, poverty and terror.
Many Jews today criticize this atheist and radical form of Zionist ideology. Rabbi Hirsch, one of the foremost Jewish men of religion, said, ‘Zionism wants to define the Jewish people as a national entity ... which is a heresy.’ 2
The famous French Muslim thinker Roger Garaudy wrote this on the subject:
The worst enemy of the prophetic Jewish faith is the nationalist, racist and colonialist logic of tribal Zionism, born of the nationalism, racism and colonialism of 19th century Europe. This logic …inspired all the colonialisms of the West and all its wars of one nationalism against another…There is no future or security for Israel and no peace in the Middle East unless Israel becomes "dezionized" and returns to the faith of Abraham, which is the spiritual, fraternal and common heritage of the three revealed religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. 3
For this reason, therefore, we must distinguish between devout Jews and atheist Zionists. Not every Jew in the world holds such an understanding of Zionism. In fact, atheist Zionists are a minority in the Jewish world. Moreover, there are a great many Jews who oppose atheist Zionism’s crimes against humanity, who want Israel to withdraw at once from all the territory it has occupied, and say that instead of being a racist ‘Jewish state’ Israel should be a free state where all races and communities can live together in equality.
While Muslims rightfully oppose Israel and atheist Zionism, they must also bear these truths in mind, and remember that it is not the devout Jews who are the problem, but atheist Zionism.
1 "Professor Leibowitz calls Israeli politics in Lebanon Judeo-Nazi" Yediot Aharonoth, July 2, 1982
2 Washington Post, October 3, 1978
3 Roger Garaudy, "Right to Reply: Reply to the Media Lynching of Abbe Pierre and Roger Garaudy", Samizdat