Jews Against Zion : Israeli Jewish Anti-Zionism

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VOL. 5


No. 1
P. 56
Jews Against Zion : Israeli Jewish Anti-Zionism

In a speech to graduating officers of Israel's Army Staff and Command College in 1968, Moshe Dayan told the story of Dr. Arthur Ruppin. Dr. Ruppin directed Jewish settlement efforts in Palestine from 1920, the year he returned to the country after a dozen years in exile by Ottoman order. During his absence from Palestine, Dr. Ruppin was one of the few Zionists to seriously seek an answer to the "Arab question."


Dayan told the young officers, "Dr. Ruppin was a humanist by nature, a man of conscience, and when he encountered the 'Arab question,' he wanted to be persuaded that Zionism could be fulfilled without detriment to the Arabs of Palestine." In May 1911, Ruppin "suggested in a letter to the Zionist executive a limited population transfer" of Palestinian Arabs dispossessed by Jewish land purchases to other lands near Aleppo and Homs. "But this was vetoed because it was bound to increase Arab suspicions about Zionist intentions."  In 1914 Ruppin proposed that a part of all lands acquired by Jews in Palestine be set aside for Arab tenants. While Ruppin had every intention of colonizing Palestine, his intention was not to do so without considering the feelings of the indigenous population.


But, as Dayan revealed to the officers, Ruppin's answer to the "Arab question" evolved in three stages: in 1923, Ruppin hoped to integrate Jewish immigrants into the fabric of the Arab East; in 1925, recognizing differences between the European Jewish immigrants and their indigenous Semitic cousins, he favoured the creation in Palestine of a single "bi-national state"; 1936, the first of three years of dramatic Arab resistance to Jewish immigration and British occupation, Ruppin concluded that "it is our destiny to be in a state of continual warfare with the Arabs." 


Charles Glass is a Special Correspondent for Westinghouse Broadcasting Company.