Wonderful article, but I have one quibble. Lawrence Davidson writes of “genocidal yearnings” as if they were some accidental byproduct of colonial power relations. I would contend that they are a necessary and deliberately cultivated means of achieving strategic ends. Intentionality in genocide should not be sougth in extremist rhetoric – to do so is actually to partake in the dumbing down process that seeks to obfuscate certain instances of genocide. The evidence of intentionality, of “genocidal yearnings”, is to be found in strategic planning which necessitates the effacement of a genos. By documentary evidence and by a clear established pattern of behaviour we know that Israel pursues a strategy with a maximal endpoint of the extinction of the Palestinian genos as such. It follows, much as day follows night, that evinced attitudes should reflect this goal, but often they might actually be disingenuous. Even Hitler wrote (to Martin Borman) “We use the term Jewish race merely for reasons of linguistic convenience, for in the real sense of the word, and from a genetic point of view there is no Jewish race. Present circumstances force upon us this characterization of the group of common race and intellect….” Implicitly he must have felt the Slavic “race” equally a convenient fiction – yet the strategic Generalplan Ost under which Germany expanded eastwards was strategic and genocidal – race was only the “linguistic convenience” deployed with intent in order to effect the strategy.
By the middle of the 19th century the multi-ethnic empire was on its way out as the dominant political paradigm in Europe. Replacing it was the nation-state, a political form which allowed the concentration of ethnic groups within their own political borders. This in turn formed cultural and “racial” incubators for us (superior) vs. them (inferior) nationalism that would underpin most of the West’s future wars. Many of these nation states were also imperial powers expanding across the globe and, of course, their state-based chauvinistic outlook went with them.
Zionism was born in this milieu of nationalism and imperialism, both of which left an indelible mark on the character and ambitions of the Israeli state. The conviction of Theodor Herzl, modern Zionism’s founding father, was that the centuries of anti-Semitism were proof positive that Europe’s
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