20 January 2008

Let's Play "Connect the Dots": "Vast semi-religious, quasi-political associations..." (7)

From chapter 2 of The Hidden History of Zionism by Ralph Shoenman

The South African Connection

There is a particular dimension to this secret consort between Balfour and the Zionist leadership to betray the aspirations of the Palestinian people. It was Weizmann's close friend and future Prime Minister of South Africa, General Jan Smuts, who, as South African delegate to the British War Cabinet during World War I, helped push the British government to adopt the Balfour Declaration and to make a commitment to construct a Zionist colony under British direction.

The relationship between the Zionist movement and the South African settlers had evolved earlier, as had the friendship between General Smuts and Chaim Weizmann. By the turn of the century, a large Jewish population, primarily from Lithuania, had settled in South Africa. The Zionist movement regarded this population as particularly susceptible to Zionist ideas because of their already established settler status in South Africa. Zionist leaders travelled constantly to South Africa seeking political and financial support.

N. Kirschner, former chairperson of the South African Zionist Federation, provides a vivid account of the intimate interaction between Zionist and South African leaders, the identification of Zionists like Weizmann and Herzl with the South African conception of a racially distinct colonizing populace, and the importance of a virtual pact between the two movements. [22]

In identifying Zionism with South African settler ideology, Chaim Weizmann was following the early admiration expressed by Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, for the quintessential colonial ideologue, Sir Cecil Rhodes. Herzl attempted to model his own political future on the achievements of Rhodes:

Naturally, there are big differences between Cecil Rhodes and my humble self, the personal ones very much in my disfavor; the objective ones are greatly in favor of the Zionist movement. [23]

Herzl advocated achieving Zionist dispersal of the Palestinians by using the methods pioneered by Rhodes, and he urged the formation of a Jewish counterpart to a colonial chartered company, an amalgam of colonial and entrepreneurial exploitation:

The Jewish Company is partly modelled on the lines of a great acquisition company. It might be called a Jewish Chartered Company, though it cannot exercise sovereign power, and has no other than purely colonial tasks. [24]

The poorest will go first to cultivate the soil. In accordance with a preconceived plan they will construct roads, bridges, railways and telegraph installations, regulate rivers and build their own habitations; their labor will create trade, trade will create markets, and markets will attract new settlers. [25]

By 1934, a major group of South African investors and large capitalists had established Africa-Israel Investments to purchase land in Palestine. The company still exists after 54 years with South Africans as joint stockholders, the assets held by Israel's Bank Leumi. [26]

General Jan Smuts was an active member of the Milner Group and had also gotten on well with Rhodes.


22. N. Kirschner, Zionism and the Union of South Africa: Fifty Years of Friendship and Understanding, Jewish Affairs, South Africa, May 1960.
23. Theodor Herzl, Diaries, Vol.II, p.793.
24. Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State: An Attempt at a Modern Solution of the Jewish Question, p.33. Cited in Uri Davis, Israel: An Apartheid State (London: Zed Books, Ltd., 1987), p.4.
25. Ibid., p.28.

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