Wednesday, August 04, 2021

  • Wednesday, August 04, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
In 1921, prominent lawyer and former ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau Sr., wrote an article describing why Zionism is foolishness and a Jewish state is simply impossible.

Here are some excerpts, reported in the Bnai Brith Messenger, August 5, 1921. 

Zionism is the most stupendous fallacy in Jewish history , writes Mr . Morgenthau . I assert that it is wrong In principle and impossible of realization ; that it Is unsound in its economics , fantastical in its politics , and sterile in its spiritual ideals . Where is it not pathetically visionary , it is a cruel playing with the hopes ol a people blindly seeking their way out of age-long miseries . These are bold and sweeping assertions , but I shall undertake to make them good . The very fervor of my feeling for the oppressed of every race and every land , especially for the Jews those of my own blood and faith , to whom I am bound by every tender tie , impels me to fight with all the greater force against this scheme , which my intelligence tells me can only lead them deeper into the mire ol the past , while it professes to be leading them to the heights .

...The notion that Great Britain would for one instant allow any form of government In Palestine , under any name whatever , that was not , in fact , an apparange of the British Crown , and subservient to the paramount interests of British world policy, is too fantastical for serious refutation . 

... I speak as a Jew . I speak with fullest sympathy for the Jew everywhere . I have seen him in his poverty —despised , hated , spat upon , beaten and murdered . My blood boils with his at the thought of the indignities and outrages to which he is subjected . I , too , would find for him , for me , the way out of this morass of poverty , hatred , political inequality and social discrimination . But , is Zionism that way ? I assert emphatically that It is not . I deny it , not merely from an intellectual recoil from the fallacy of its reasoning , but from my very experience of life ; as a seeker after religious truth , as a practical businessman , as an active participant in politics , as one who has had experience in international affairs , and as a Jew who has at heart the best interests of his co-religionists .

The truth is that Palestine cannot support a large population in prosperity . It has a lean and niggardly soil. . It is a land of rocky hills , upon which for many centuries a hardy people have survived only with difficulty by cultivating a few patches of soil here and there with the olive , the fig , citrus fruits and the grape , or have barely sustained their flocks upon the sparse  native vegetation . The streams are few and small , entirely insufficient for the great irrigation systems that would be necessary for the general cultivation of the land . The underground sources of water can only be developed at a prodigious capital expense . This is the condition of Palestine ; not only must agriculture be pursued under the greatest possible handicaps of soil and water , but it is subject to the direct competition of far more favored lands in the very agricultural products for which it is distinctive . A great industrial Palestine is equally unthinkable . It lacks the raw materials of coal and iron ; it lacks the skill in technical processes and the experience in the arts ; and , above all , it is not in the path of modern trade currents . What hope is there for Palestine , as an industrial nation , in competition with America , Great Britain and Germany , with their prodigious resources , their highly organized factories , their great mass production , and their superb means of transportation ? The notion is preposterous .

 Is Zionism a political fantasy ? I assert most emphatically that it is . The present British mandate over Palestine is a recognition , by the great powers of the world , of the supreme political interest of Great Britain in that region .,,, British statesmen can hold but on opinion concerning either Egypt or Palestine , and this opinion is that no matter what else may befall , British influence must be omnipotent on both sides of the Suez Canal . Neither can the British Government afford to irritate India by placing the Mohammedan shrines in Palestine under the control of a Jewish State.

Remember that Palestine Is as much the Holy Land of the Mohammedans as it Is the Holy Land ot the Jew or the Holy Land of the Christian. His shrines cluster there as thickly . They are to him as sacredly endeared . In 1914 I visited the famous caves of Machpelah , twenty miles from Jerusalem , and I shall never forget the mutterings of discontent that murmured in my ears , nor the threatening looks that confronted my eyes , from the lips and faces of the devout Mohammedans whom I there encountered . For these authentic tombs of Abraham , Isaac and Jacob are as sacred to them , because they are saints of Islam , as they are to the most orthodox of my fellow-Jews , whose direct ancestors they are , not only In the spiritual , but in the actual physical sense . To these Mohammedans my presence at the tombs of my ancestors was as much a profanation of a Mohammedan holy place as If I had laid sacrilegious hands upon the sacred relics In the mosque at Mecca . To Imagine that the British Government will sanction a scheme for a political control of Palestine , which would place in the hands of the Jews the physical guardianship of these shrines of Islam , is to imagine something very foreign to the practical political sense of the most politically practical race on earth . They know too well how deeply they would offend their myriad Mohammedan subjects to the earth.

 My answer to the spiritual pretensions of Zionism Is the positive answer that the solution has already been discovered—the way out has been found . The courageous Jew , the Intellectually honest Jew , the forward looking Jew , the Jew who has been willing to fight for his rights on the spot where they were infringed , has won his battle and has found all the glorious freedom which Zionism so unpractically describes .
It is interesting in retrospect that while Morgenthau spends a lot of further space describing how successful Jews have been in the West, he still has a diaspora mentality that indicates that Jews are only successful because the gentiles allow it. It certainly doesn't occur to him that Jews can fight for their rights in Palestine - because the Muslims will never allow it. To him, it is perfectly natural that Muslims should bar Jews from their holiest spots.He says (in a section I didn't excerpt) that Zionism would prompt antisemitism in the same Western nations that he claims Jews have achieved equal rights - but if Jews truly had equal rights, they wouldn't be worried about being attacked by the majority gentiles. 

Morgenthau (and other anti-Zionist Jews of the era) were really concerned about the possibility that a Jewish state would threaten their own financial and political gains by turning Americans against Jews. But they created more seemingly scientific arguments to buttress their opinions, about how the land of Israel could not support more than a million people, how agriculture and industry is impossible. 

When you read an expert opinion, it is very often as based on incorrect assumptions and wishful thinking as that of Henry Morgenthau.  

Of course, this is also a reminder of Ben Gurion's quote: "In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles."







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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون



This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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