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Zionism: Two Deficits

M. Shahid Alam | Pulse Media | October 20, 2010

We do not fit the general pattern of humanity…” – David Ben-Gurion

…only God could have created a people so special as the Jewish people.” – Gideon Levy

The fecundity of the Zionist project in producing claims of exceptionalism is not in doubt. Anyone who scans the voluminous Zionist literature will be suitably impressed by its repeated resort to claims of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism. There is scarcely any aspect of Israeli or Jewish history that has not been embellished with some claim to uniqueness.

Israeli exceptionalism has many uses. It defends, obscures, explains away the ‘abnormal’ character of the Zionist nationalist project. When the Irish sought national liberation, their goal was straightforward. They wanted to regain national control over their lives and their country from a foreign power. No one had to convince the Irish that they are descended from the gods; that they possessed a unique essence which set them apart from all other peoples; or that their history, religion, race, language, morality or culture set them above their colonial masters. Occasionally, driven by exuberance or hubris, nationalists have advanced exceptionalist claims, but the success of their movement has not depended on their acceptance. The Irish claimed sovereignty because they knew that they are a nation with their own territory. In order to create their own state, they did not have to establish that they are exceptional.

The Zionists confronted two handicaps that Irish nationalists did not face. The diverse and scattered Jewish communities of Europe – and even more so, the world – did not constitute a single people. Instead, the Jews of the world were loosely united by their religious heritage, but they shared their languages, cultures and genes with their neighboring communities. Moreover, no Jewish community had its own country, a substantial and contiguous territory where it formed a majority of the population. Despite these twin Jewish deficits – the absence of a nation and a national territory – the Zionists were determined to ‘liberate’ the Jews of Europe and endow them with their own state.

The Zionists would remedy the first deficit by denying its existence. They knew that the Jews were not a nation, but it would be unwise to begin their ‘nationalist’ movement with the admission that a Jewish nation did not yet exist. They also did not think that this deficit was a serious hindrance to their movement. With help from anti-Semites, whose attacks had been growing in recent decades, the Zionists were convinced that they could quickly convince enough frightened Jews that they are a nation. Instead of constructing a nationalism based on a common religion, however, the Zionists chose to cultivate a racial basis for Jewish nationalism. They embraced the anti-Semitic accusation that Jews of Europe are an alien race, not Germans or Russians, descended from the ancient Hebrews.

A racial identity offered the best hope of inculcating nationalism in culturally diverse Jewish communities. Only an identity, based on the myth of a common descent, could unite peoples who were as different ethnically and culturally as the Jews of Portugal, Britain, Germany, Greece and Russia. Only the myth of racial unity, only the conviction that they are a single family, descended from Abraham and Jacob, could unite orthodox, conservative and reform Jews into a nation. Once the Jews were convinced of their racial identity, preserved over hundreds of generations in exile, this would also endow them with pride in their ancient pedigree and their unique ability to survive and preserve their racial purity through difficult conditions. This was sure to engender a strong sense of their distinctiveness, superiority and destiny, rooted in Jewish traditions and the Jewish Bible. With confidence, the Jews could see themselves as a unique nation, both ancient and divinely blessed.

The Zionists were more candid about their ‘land deficit;’ this was not something they could fudge. Indeed, their land deficit defined the ‘abnormal’ condition of Jews; they were an abnormal people because they did not have a country they could call their own. Conceptually, the land deficit was easier to fix. The Jews only had to stake a claim to Palestine as their country: there were two ways of doing this. Jews of secular persuasion could claim that they had a historical right to Palestine, since they were descended from the ancient Israelites. In addition, it would be easy to reclaim this land because – according to early Zionist rhetoric – ‘this was a land without a people.’ No one had claimed Palestine during their absence. The religious Jews had a simpler and – for them – more irrefutable claim. Their God had promised the land to their ancestors for keeps. All they had to do was invoke their divine right to this Promised Land.

It turns out, after all, that the Jews are a people with their own land. Once the Zionists had made their case, there would be nothing abnormal about their national project. This was the official rhetoric of the Zionist project of national liberation for the Jewish people. On the back of this rhetoric, the Zionists would succeed in convincing the Western world to support their exclusionary colonial project in the Middle East.

This is an excerpt from the author’s book, Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism (Palgrave, 2010)

M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University, Boston. Contact him at Visit his website at

October 20, 2010 - Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism


  1. “we do not fit the general pattern of humanity”

    Yes, there is ALWAYS something for which to praise God.
    Do ya suppose that’s because they aint humane?
    And as for that “special”-ness they cling to like a rancid cloth, there are many kinds of special……rabbit turds are “special”…one of kind.

    Comment by Luath | October 20, 2010

  2. Yes…”God Chosen People”…to any sane mind this is utter blithering mad racism. The question then is; How many sane minds are really out there?

    The “Chosen” and the “Saved” are now aligned under “Zion”, the only antithesis would only SEEM to be Islamic.

    But this is not true–there is the sane secular portion, which has a smaller voice because of the MSM PR…but we are here and speaking to this through reason nevertheless.


    Comment by hybridrogue1 | October 20, 2010

  3. Jesus abhorred and denounced the form of religious worship practiced in Judea in His lifetime and which is known and practiced today under its new name `Judaism’. That religious belief was then known as `Pharisaism’ (Matthew 23).


    Comment by hybridrogue1 | October 20, 2010

  4. I don’t think Jews frequently believe they are superior. Certainly “chosen people” does not mean this. It refers to the act of being chosen by God for a special duty, but it’s not based on “special worth” or “special abilities.”

    Oftentimes they have intermixed with gentiles, much to the behest of religious, serious Jews, as intermarriage is the worst threat to keeping Jewish identity – and the promise of Israel – alive.

    Jews continued to live in Israel since Biblical times. This article above, as well as many other anti-zionist articles, give the impression that all Jews were outside of Israel before 1948 and they suddenly returned and had to kick everybody out.

    Also genetic studies have proven that not only are most Jews genetically similar, but they also share Middle Eastern history:

    Comment by matt | October 22, 2010

  5. Have you even read beyond the abstract on the Genetics article Matt?

    If you HAD read the paper and follow up critiques, you would find several valid ciriticims that prove that it is the “assumptions” made that define the answers given. That these assumptions are proven false by some pretty simple and reasonable terms.

    So consider the source of this publication:
    The Susanne Levy Gertner Oncogenetics Unit, the Danek Gertner Institute of Human Genetics, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, 52621, Tel-Hashomer, and the Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, 69978 Tel-Aviv, Israel

    Now tell me, that just like the Israeli policy on History and Archeology, that there is no a specific and obvious bias here.

    “I don’t think Jews frequently believe they are superior. Certainly “chosen people” does not mean this.”~Matt

    This anecdotal formation of your opinion belies history.
    You are profoundly naive…and walking a close line to being not worth replying to.


    Comment by hybridrogue1 | October 22, 2010

    • No, haven’t read beyond the abstract, although I read a news report about it, and an opinion piece referencing it. You have to pay a subscription of 32 dollars to have access to the full article and I don’t care enough about arguing with someone I haven’t met on the internet who insults me to pay this.

      The “chosen people” moniker comes from God separating a people from the rest of humanity to receive the commandments and live according to his ways, so as to influence the rest of the world. I don’t know that it has any meaning of being better than the rest of the world. Certainly throughout time Jews have struggled with being influenced by the outer world, and assimilating and intermarrying, which is strong evidence they DON’T consider themselves superior. That said, it is normal for ANY group that considers itself right to consider itself superior, or else they would disband from their religion and become like everyone else. So the same can be said for all religions and political ideologies.

      In regards to Zionism, and laying claim to the land of Israel, certainly the Jews have a right to this claim, as it is fundamental to their religion to keep the land (this is described early in the Bible), and this religion predates Christianity and Islam, the two other religions which would have claim to this territory. The people that lived there before the Jews were wiped out by the Jews per God’s instructions.

      Gentiles are allowed to live in the land of Israel so long as they abide by the law and do not interfere. However the Palestinians are constantly stirring up trouble with the Israelis.

      Comment by matt | October 22, 2010

  6. Wow Matt.
    I’m sorry for you. ‘Theres nothing that will help you’.

    If that was said to you in Hewbrew, you would not get it anymore than you get anything else.

    It’s a freespeech forum here, so you go ahead, make your ignorance abundantly clear. That’s is just fine by me.


    Comment by hybridrogue1 | October 22, 2010

    • I was not looking for help.

      Comment by matt | October 22, 2010

  7. By the Way Matt, since the world was created Oct. 23, 4004 B.C. – making it exactly 6,014 tomorrow, are you going to a Happy Birthday World party?

    Yes Matt, I know you aren’t looking for help, anyone locked into a dogma house has no need for uncertainty or thinking for themselves.


    Comment by hybridrogue1 | October 22, 2010

    • *I* am locked into a dogma house? What do you know about me besides the few comments I have left here?

      Comment by matt | October 22, 2010

  8. “What do you know about me besides the few comments I have left here?”~Matt

    Your comments speak legions beyond what you have said; in their subtext.
    I am an expert in the art of deconstruction and ‘frame’ analysis. You are an open book.


    Comment by hybridrogue1 | October 22, 2010

    • Really? So what do you read?

      Comment by matt | October 22, 2010

  9. “Really? So what do you read?”~Matt

    Topics or bibliography?

    History, Theology, Philosophy, Epistemology, Etymology, Intelligence analysis, Social Engineering, Physics, Anthropology, Psychology…and any interlocking sub topics

    A bibiliography would cover a timeframe of more than 40 years, so it is not practical to list.

    What do you read?


    Comment by hybridrogue1 | October 22, 2010

  10. Matt,
    You probably won’t appreciate Atzmon’s article much, but the musical interlude at the end of the article is a kick, try some humor…

    Lipstick-Artie Fishel and the Promised Band by Gilad Atzmon; a brilliant musical interlude.


    Comment by hybridrogue1 | October 22, 2010

  11. A Jew, by the fact that he belongs to the chosen people and is circumcized, possesses so great a dignity that no one, not even an angel, can share equality with him.(1) In fact, he is considered almost the equal of God. “He who strikes an Israelite” says Rabbi Chanina “acts as if he slaps the face of God’s Divine Majesty.”(2) A Jew is always considered good, in spite of certain sins which he may commit; nor can his sins contaminate him, any more
    than dirt contaminates the kernel in a nut, but only soils its shell.(3) A Jew alone is looked upon as a man; the whole world is his and all things should serve him, especially “animals which have the form of men.”(4)

    (1) cf. Chullin, 91b
    (2) cf. Sanhedrin, 58b
    (3) cf. Chagigah, 15b
    (4) “Thus on the Sabbath day Jews celebrate with wine, meats, fish and all the delicacies made for men; for them it is a full holiday; they abstain from all kinds of work and will not lift a finger to do anything that has the appearance of labor or that involves work of any kind. Thus if there is need to light a fire in winter, to light or blow out a candle, to cook or heat food, or to milk cows, they employ poor Christians to do such work. Hence they glory in the fact that they are masters and Christians are their servants who must minister to them while they rest at their ease.


    Comment by hybridrogue1 | October 22, 2010

  12. Its amazing to us goyim, how totally BIZARRE and “out there”, the vicious, rabid reactions evoked when even the mere inkling of a thought aspires to make itself known, that the zionist/jews are not THE chosen race, out of all that exist on earth. To think it even is EARTH SHATTERING, oh my god! dont say it!!!! The universe will STOP, time will become non-time, and the earth itself will stop rotating in protest that one should “dare” to suggest such “heresy”. The rage of arrogance seen in Gaza is astounding in its magnitude of false righteousness. Of what do you have to be proud, oh jew that is not? Revelations speaks of your kind, is that why you deny its validity?
    Your talmud, which as far as I know, is the only book in the entire history of the world, to grossly malign and verbally degrade and violate in perpetuity One who was a Redeemer. Why is the talmud such a hateful book? Not even the Koran has such filthy, disgusting and hateful words. The Arabs, who are rightfully against you, even they speak well of Our Lord. They don’t “claim” chosenness. Yet you who cling to the talmud, the traditions of the Elders, as Jesus called them, that book blasphemes God and as if that is not enough, you impugn His Mother. Thats just low. No other so-called “holy book” does that, only the talmud. Hmm, seems to me that He really pissed you guys off, huh? Did He hit a nerve? Was He in your way? Did the Truth of what Jesus Christ said to you and about you rub you the wrong way, so that you had to eternally write your real feelings about Him? Because of the foaming-at-the-mouth routine you so eloquently display, the rest of us have taken note of your, uh….”issues” with the subject, and you make Him stand out as a result. Your satanic hatred of Jesus makes Him stand out all the more as being real, because no one else does it so well. Only you, the modern day Pharisees. You are the best proof that Jesus is who He said He was, because your hatred of Him and His people is so viciously bizarre……so special.

    Comment by Luath | October 22, 2010

  13. TALMUD

    In the Tract Sanhedrin (103a) the words of Psalm XCI, 10: ‘No plague shall come near thy dwelling,’ are explained as follows:

    “That thou mayest never have a son or a disciple who will salt his food so much that he destroys his taste in public, like Jesus the Nazarene.”

    To salt one’s food too much or to destroy one’s taste, is proverbially said of one who corrupts his morals or dishonors himself, or who falls into heresy and idolatry and openly preaches it to others.

    6. SEDUCER

    In the same book Sanhedrin (107b) we read:

    “Mar said: Jesus seduced, corrupted and destroyed Israel.”


    Finally as punishment for his crimes and impiety, he suffered an ignominious death by being hanged on a cross on the eve of the Passover (as we have seen above).


    The book Zohar, III, (282), tells us that Jesus died like a beast and was buried in that “dirt heap…where they throw the dead bodies of dogs and asses, and where the sons of Esau [the Christians] and of Ismael [the Turks], also Jesus and Mahommed, uncircumcized and unclean like dead dogs, are buried.”(25)

    (25) In the book Synag. Judaica, (Ch. III, p. 75) is the following: ‘He who cuts himself off [namely, who does not believe blindly in the Rabbinical teachings] will suffer the tortures of the damned, as is decreed in the Talmudic law of punishment in the Tract de Repudiis (Gitt. c5): He who despises the words of the wise men shall be cast into the dirt heap with the damned.”
    Maimonides attempts to prove how much Christians err in worshipping Jesus in his book Hilkoth Melakhim (IX, 4):(27)


    Comment by hybridrogue1 | October 22, 2010

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