The Collapse of Zionism & Hope in a New Generation

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by Neil Godfrey

* The anthropologist’s work I have just completed is fully in line with similar kinds of analyses of the causes of radicalization and extremist, even suicidal, acts of mayhem — Scott Atran, Jason Burke, Robert Pape, William McCants, Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger, Bruce Hoffman, Anne Speckhard, Raffaello Pantucci, Riaz Hassan, Loretta Napoleoni, Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan (sic), Clark McCauley and Sophia Moskalenko, Peter Neumann, Ghassan Hage, Thomas Hegghammer, Richard Jackson, Ed Husain, Mohammed M. Hafez,  Lorne L. Dawson, Quintan Wiktorowicz, Nate Rosenblatt — along with specialist studies of Hamas itself. The point being that the arguments are supported by mountains of research studies.

— I have posted on the research of the above (and others) on this blog. Search under the tags “radicalization” and “terrorism”.

Among the initiators of the The Palestine History and Heritage Project (PaHH) (that I spoke about recently in Imagine Palestine) was Dr Ilan Pappé. Pappé has written a sobering article in which he sees some hope for both Jews and Arabs beyond the current horrors. I’ve read in past years opinions by various hopefuls that “this time” we will see the beginning of the demise of an aggressive power only to have such thoughts wisp away into nothingness. But one thing is certainly clear as day — and this comes just after I have finished reading the latest work by a prominent anthropologist* in which he addresses the nature of “band of brothers” type bonding and willingness to sacrifice one’s life in resistance to an overwhelming force — and in that light it is clearer than ever that even if Israel manages to kill every current Hamas fighter it will inherit only more waves of like minded resistance fighters to battle.

Pappé draws comparisons with the last days of South Africa’s apartheid regime. Some of us will recall how SA’s use of horrific violence to maintain its system only convinced us that it would never change.

. . . Hamas’s assault of October 7 can be likened to an earthquake that strikes an old building. The cracks were already beginning to show, but they are now visible in its very foundations. More than 120 years since its inception, could the Zionist project in Palestine – the idea of imposing a Jewish state on an Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern country – be facing the prospect of collapse? . . . 

. . . Here, I will argue that [the early indicators] are clearer than ever in the case of Israel. We are witnessing a historical process – or, more accurately, the beginnings of one – that is likely to culminate in the downfall of Zionism. And, if my diagnosis is correct, then we are also entering a particularly dangerous conjuncture. For once Israel realizes the magnitude of the crisis, it will unleash ferocious and uninhibited force to try to contain it, as did the South African apartheid regime during its final days.

A first indicator is the fracturing of Israeli Jewish societyAt present it is composed of two rival camps which are unable to find common ground. . . .

— Time capsule – Vridar’s 2007 post on Gaza (Watch this to understand the background to October 7): Gaza (the reality behind the myth of “God’s will” for modern Israel)

One camp can be termed the ‘State of Israel’. It comprises more secular, liberal and mostly but not exclusively middle-class European Jews and their descendants, who were instrumental in establishing the state in 1948 . . . .

The other camp is the ‘State of Judea’, which developed among the settlers of the occupied West Bank. It enjoys increasing levels of support within the country and constitutes the electoral base that secured Netanyahu’s victory . . . .

. . . . More than half a million Israelis, representing the State of Israel, have left the country since October, an indication that the country is being engulfed by the State of Judea. This is a political project that the Arab world, and perhaps even the world at large, will not tolerate in the long term.

One often hears through mainstream channels that the problem is “very complicated”. I recently listened to an academic excuse himself from commenting on the current conflict because Israel-Palestine is “not my area of expertise”. Nonsense. It is as “complicated” as the European dispossessions and ultimate genocides of the indigenous peoples in North and South America and Australia. I posted an overview of the planning and implementation of the Zionist project under Masalha: Expulsion of the Palestinians

The second indicator is Israel’s economic crisis. . . .  The conflict between the State of Israel and the State of Judea, along with the events of October 7, is meanwhile causing some of the economic and financial elite to move their capital outside the state. Those who are considering relocating their investments make up a significant part of the 20% of Israelis who pay 80% of the taxes.

The third indicator is Israel’s growing international isolation, as it gradually becomes a pariah state. This process began before October 7 but has intensified since the onset of the genocide. It is reflected by the unprecedented positions adopted by the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court. . . . 

The fourth … indicator is the sea-change among young Jews around the world. Following the events of the last nine months, many now seem willing to jettison their connection to Israel and Zionism and actively participate in the Palestinian solidarity movement. . . . 

The fifth indicator is the weakness of the Israeli army. There is no doubt that the IDF remains a powerful force with cutting-edge weaponry at its disposal. Yet its limitations were exposed on October 7. . . . 

The final indicator is the renewal of energy among the younger generation of Palestinians. It is far more united, organically connected and clear about its prospects than the Palestinian political elite. Given the population of Gaza and the West Bank is among the youngest in the world, this new cohort will have an immense influence over the course of the liberation struggle. The discussions taking place among young Palestinian groups show that they are preoccupied with establishing a genuinely democratic organization – either a renewed PLO, or a new one altogether – that will pursue a vision of emancipation which is antithetical to the Palestinian Authority’s campaign for recognition as a state. They seem to favour a one-state solution to a discredited two-state model. . . .

Pappé, Ilan. “The Collapse of Zionism.” NLR/Sidecar, June 21, 2024. https://newleftreview.org/sidecar/posts/the-collapse-of-zionism?pc=1610.

To refer back to my latest reading, Inheritance by Harvey Whitehouse: The best we might dare hope for is the emergence of a boundary-crossing leadership, of which Nelson Mandela was a clear example. Two key works cited:

We have seen young Jewish Israelis and Arab Palestinians working together for justice and assistance for many years now (though their efforts have not made headlines) — so the possibility of that kind of leadership after the slaughter has ended is not out of the question. Though an acceleration of violence in the meantime seems inevitable.


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Neil Godfrey

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10 thoughts on “The Collapse of Zionism & Hope in a New Generation”

  1. The collapse of Islam in the Middle East and the entire world is imminent. Islam has been substained for the past 100 years by oil revenues which are sinking fast and will sink faster with electric cars becoming predominant on the world market in the next two or three years.https://www.iea.org/reports/global-ev-outlook-2024/trends-in-electric-cars.
    Islam is the most anti-scientific of all religions and the most anti-secular.
    No scientist or atheist has anything to fear in Israel, while every atheist and scientist in all of the 50 Islamic dominant countries live in constant fear every day of their lives.

    1. You say all that as if it means it’s okay to massacre random civilians as a collective punishment for the crimes of other people or that the barbarity of some Islamic nations means we should ignore Israel’s barbarity. That the safety of scientists in Israel somehow balances out the heaps of dead children just beyond its borders.

      Your argument seems to me to be fundamentally unjust.

  2. Oh Jay, you are an educated person. Why not apply the same research and scientific method you imply is antithetical to the thinking of all Muslims (and in the context of this post I presume you are also attacking Palestinians with the same single brush) to your own learning and awareness about Muslims and the diversities of Islam and the relationship of social and political systems to the variants found across the Muslim world.

    I can share with you some of my own research: https://vridar.org/tag/islam/ and https://vridar.org/tag/islamic-societies/

    The Wahhabism that you conflate with all of Islam and Muslims is deplored as much as Christians and Jews deplore some of their own horrific sectarians. Have you heard of the Arab Spring? Muslims rising up against Muslim autocrats seeking democratic changes — the worst of those autocrats being backed by the West.

    Do you recall Afghanistan and how Muslims lived there under Russian occupation and how all that changed when sectarian theocrats took over (again thanks to Western support) and caged their hitherto educated and science appreciating and very modern Muslim women and men?

    Did you know that the Palestinian cause has been historically actively supported — In the West Bank and Gaza — by Christian Arabs and atheist Arabs alongside Muslim Arabs? Are you aware of the Christian churches that were accepted and how Christian Palestinians are accepted as one by their Muslim brothers and sisters?

    I have lived among Muslims and visited some of their countries with some frequency. I have struck up friendships with them though they (Muslims in south-east Asia) know I am neither Muslim nor Christian nor follow any religion. I have never felt threatened at any time. I have always felt welcomed.

    Now let’s get back to this post. Study Hamas for a start and see what they are really fighting for — do some research, serious stuff, not just a few decontextualized and out of date quotes from documents they themselves have openly said they do not agree with. Yes definitely, their military wing is a terrorist outfit just like the IRA wing of the independence movement was in Ireland. Study how Palestinians themselves think about Hamas — not from armchair easy stats, but from some serious research from those who have seriously studied them.

    And when you visit Israel, be sure to steer clear of the Zionist religious extremists who have a documented record of spitting on Christians. And have pity on the Palestinians in their midst who are living in Israel itself and learn how they are treated — if they get the same honour as your white western scientific thinkers.

    And do read to the end of Pappé’s article and what is wanted by the youth, both Arab and Israeli, with respect to a single democratic state. The two state solution is dead.

    Finally, please do acquaint yourself with some of the highly reputed (internationally) public and other Palestinian intellectuals. See if you can help out when the shooting stops to rebuild Gaza’s universities so they can resume learning some of your sacred scientific thinking as they were doing before October 7.


    I can’t believe you really think Islam is going to disappear when oil is no longer king. You surely know a little more about religion and human psychology and the history of religions of the book to know better. But maybe you were just looking for a cheap shot to turn the phrase against Palestinians in an effort to speak up for their oppressors. If you don’t believe Zionism has been actively dispossessing and oppressing Palestinians, again, do some serious research. Maybe just begin some of the links I posted in the side-boxes in the post.

    1. Neil, thank you for posting such a well presented response.
      I have always thought that Palestine could become a country named Holyland, free of religious extremists managed by economic interests.

      1. My suspicion is that Jay did not read the post itself but knee-jerked at the headline and a quick skimming of the intro. Even less is he likely to return to engage with responses to his post.

  3. Not to change topics, but native Siberians should really get included in our list of natives being oppressed and displaced by western forces (in this case West-Russians). When I not too long ago learned about native Siberians it struck me how similar their situation was and is to native Americans.

    Thanks for this post Neil, I grew up with the war already in progress, and it is heartening to think I might see an end to this misery in my lifetime,even if this doesn’t directly affect me. That people are actively looking for solutions even when it might be easier to continue feeling divided and hurt.

    1. I was unaware of the native Siberians. What are some useful sources? My point of comparison has been the way our ancestors treated our indigenous Australians — a genocide the extent of which and the way it was carried out even today not enough people are truly aware of.

      1. That, I’ll have to get back to you about. I haven’t sunk my teeth in to it so much I can name scholars or books to look out for.
        Many sources are in Russian which I can’t read, and a lot of research specifically about Siberians focus on other historical topics or cultural details, so it’s hard (for me at least) to find a scholarly work dedicated to this topic.
        Aside from the many Wikipedia articles, there are some news articles and interviews online, but them being often translations or from Russian authors, I’m not always familiar with their website’s reputation. There’s the usual like vanishing of the lifestyles and languages; but also the Buryats fleeing to Mongolia (several times); them and other ethnic minorities in Russia being overrepresented in the Russian army (death tolls) – most of them against their will; and industry doing, well, pretty much what it also did and is still doing to the native Americans and Australians alike.
        It’s hard to tell from those snippets of information, it looks like it has been more dispossession and less genocide, but even now circumstances have improved I feel the socio-political climate in Russia doesn’t allow for a very honest discussion about what happened.

        After hours of searching I found one book that looks promising: James Forsyth, A History of the Peoples of Siberia: Russia’s North Asian Colony 1581–1990. In fact that’s the source given for the following quote from Wikipedia on agriculture in Siberia, the one that struck me so: “[seizing native lands] could take many forms, one of which being that Russian settlers sometimes simply ploughed up the land around a native family’s yurt, forcing them to move”.
        Also these articles should sound a little familiar to Australians concerned with treatment of native heritage: https://adcmemorial.org/en/articles/coal-vs-indigenous-siberia/

        1. Thanks — I think all I ever “learned” about the Russian expansion was that it happened. No awareness surfaced about how it impacted the people already there. We were all imperial powers and that’s just what we did.

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