Geoffrey Wheatcroft on Zionism’s Colonial Roots

Today, Benjamin Netanyahu is seen widely as a leader of the Right (although in comparison with Avigdor Lieberman and others who have held office in Israel lately, Netanyahu could look moderate), and Israeli politics have long been categorized in terms of Left and Right, with the Revisionists cast as right-wing no-goodniks. That was so from the 1930s: with the rise of fascism, it became quite common to characterize Jabotinsky as a fascist, a word widely used by his Zionist foes. Rabbi Stephen Wise, a prominent liberal Jewish American of his day, called Revisionism “a species of fascism,” while David Ben-Gurion—the leader of the Labor Zionists in the Yishuv (the Jewish settlement in British Palestine) and then a founding father and first prime minister of Israel—referred to his foe privately as “Vladimir Hitler,” which didn’t leave much to the imagination. And to be sure, while Jabo called himself a free-market liberal with anarchist leanings, the oratory of Revisionism—“in blood and fire will Judea rise again”—and the visual rhetoric—the Betarim in their brown shirts marching and saluting—had alarming contemporary resonances.

Read the rest, it’s very good throughout.

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