[News] Bring on the Bulldozers - The Problems of Labour Zionism

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 6 13:49:11 EST 2009


Many leftists think of Zionism as a right-wing 
movement and ideology. But Israel's recent 
assault on Gaza was directed by Defense Minister 
Ehud Barak, leader of Israel's Labor Party – a 
party with socialist roots. For half a century 
this party, and the broader labor Zionist 
movement including forces farther to the left, 
dominated the Zionist settlement in Palestine and 
in the State of Israel that emerged from it. 
Labor Zionists directed the 1948 war and the 
Nakba, the mass expulsion of Palestinians that 
accompanied Israeli independence. They 
established a state and legal system based on 
discrimination against non-Jews. They led 
Israel's 1967 conquest of Gaza, the West Bank, 
the Sinai, and the Golan Heights, and began the 
illegal program of building Jewish settlements in 
the Occupied Territories. These actions embody a 
colonialist program that is fundamentally at odds 
with social justice and human liberation.

Yet labor Zionism originated in the ferment of 
Marxism, anarchism, and radical populism that 
inspired millions of European Jews in the early 
20th century. Labor Zionists celebrated the 
working class and built a network of collective 
institutions in Palestine and Israel, most 
notably the kibbutz (communal farm) movement, 
which many saw as the model for a future 
revolutionary society. To this day, labor Zionist 
organizations and traditions underpin 
"progressive" Zionist politics in the United 
States, Canada, and many other countries. In this 
way, in addition to producing many of the 
institutions and individuals responsible for a 
century of violence against Palestinians, labor 
Zionism has provided progressive cover for those 
very actions, allowing Israel to present itself 
as a state based on democracy and social justice 
while it pursues a strategy of mass displacement and occupation.

We have written an article that examines the 
contradictions at labor Zionism's core, with a 
combination of historical analysis and 
first-person reportage. "'Bring on the bulldozers 
and let's plant trees': The Story of Labour 
Zionism" shows how the movement has used the 
longing for social justice to bolster Israel's 
oppressive system. This critique is especially 
timely given the Israeli Labor Party's central 
role in the most recent campaign of atrocities 
against the Palestinian people of Gaza and 
elsewhere. The article appears in the current 
issue of the Canadian-based radical journal 
Upping the Anti (# 7, October 2008). For 
information on ordering copies of the journal, 
see <http://uppingtheanti.org/>http://uppingtheanti.org/.

The full text of "'Bring on the bulldozers..." is 
available online at 

-- Nava EtShalom and Matthew N. Lyons

contact us via our websites:

Nava: <http://www.netshalom.com/>www.netshalom.com

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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