8-10 million Iranians died over Great Famine caused by the British in late 1910s, documents reveal

The document in the American Archives, reporting the widespread famine and spread of epidemic disease in Iran, estimates the number of the deceased due to the famine to be about 8-10 million.

Sadegh Abbasi*

One of the little-known chapters of history was the widespread famine in Iran during World War I, caused by the British presence in Iran. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Britain became the main foreign power in Iran and this famine or–more accurately–‘genocide’ was committed by the British. The document in the American Archives, reporting the widespread famine and spread of epidemic disease in Iran, estimates the number of the deceased due to the famine to be about 8-10 million during 1917-19 (1), making this the greatest genocide of the 20th century and Iran the biggest victim of World War I (2).

It should be noted that Iran had been one of the main suppliers of food grains to the British forces stationed in the empire’s South Asian colonies. Although bad harvest during these two years made the situation worse, it was by no means the main reason why the Great Famine occurred. Prof. Gholi Majd of Princeton University writes in his book, The Great Famine and Genocide in Persia, that  American documents show that the British prevented imports of wheat and other food grains into Iran from Mesopotamia, Asia, and also the USA, and that ships loaded with wheat were not allowed to unload at the port of Bushehr in the Persian Gulf. Professor Majd argues that Great Britain intentionally created genocide conditions to destroy Iran, and to effectively control the country for its own purposes. Major Donohoe describes Iran of that time as a “land of desolation and death” (3). But this event soon became the subject of a British cover up.

Britain has a long record of its several attempts to conceal history and rewrite it in their own favor. The pages are filled with conspiracies that were covered up by the British government to hide its involvement in different episodes that would tarnish the country’s image. One of the clear examples is the “Jameson Raid”; a failed coup against Paul Kruger’s government in South Africa. This raid was planned and executed directly by the British government of Joseph Chamberlain under the orders of Queen Victoria (4) (5). In 2002, Sir Graham Bower’s memoirs were published in South Africa, revealing these involvements that had been covered up for more than a century, focusing attention on Bower as a scapegoat for the incident (6).

The records that were destroyed to cover up British crimes around the globe, or were kept in secret Foreign Office archives, so as to, not only protect the United Kingdom’s reputation, but also to shield the government from litigation, are indicative of the attempts made by the British to evade the consequences of their crimes. The papers at Hanslope Park also include the reports on the “elimination” of the colonial authority’s enemies in 1950s Malaya; records that show ministers in London knew of the torture and murder of Mau Mau insurgents in Kenya and roasting them alive (7). These records may include those related to Iran’s Great Famine. Why were these records that cover the darkest secrets of the British Empire destroyed or kept secret? Simply because they might ‘embarrass’ Her Majesty’s government (8).

A famine occurred in Ireland from 1845 until 1852 which killed one fourth of the Irish population. This famine was caused by British policies and faced a large cover up attempt by the British government and crown to blame it on ‘potatoes’ (9). The famine, even today, is famous in the world as the “potato famine” when, in reality, it was a result of a planned food shortage and thus a deliberate genocide by the British government (10).

The true face of this famine as a genocide has been proven by historian Tim Pat Coogan in his book The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy published by Palgrave MacMillan (11). A ceremony was planned to take place in the US to unveil Coogan’s book in America, but he was denied a visa by the American embassy in Dublin (12).

Therefore it becomes obvious that Britain’s role in Iran’s Great famine, which killed nearly half of Iran’s population, was not unprecedented. The documents published by the British government overlook the genocide, and consequently, the tragedy underwent an attempted cover-up by the British government. The Foreign Office “handbook on Iran” of 1919 mentioned nothing related to the Great Famine.

Julian Bharier, a scholar who studied Iran’s population, built his “backward projection” estimation of Iran’s population (13) based on reports from this “handbook” and, as a result, ignored the effect of the Great Famine on Iran’s population in 1917. Bharier’s estimations were used by some authors to deny the occurrence of the Great Famine or to underestimate its impacts.

By ignoring Iran’s Great Famine in his estimations, Bharier’s work faces four scientific deficiencies. Bharier does not consider the loss of population caused by the famine in his calculations; he needs to ‘adjust’ the figure of the official census in 1956 from 18.97 million to 20.37 million, and this is despite the fact that he uses 1956 census as his primary building block for his “backward projection” model. He also ignores the official growth rates and uses his personal assumptions in this regard, which is far lower than other estimates. Finally, although Bharier frequently cites Amani’s estimates (14), in the end Bharier’s findings contradict that of Amani’s; notably Bharier’s population estimate for 1911 is 12.19 million while Amani put this figure at 10.94 million.

Despite deficiencies in the population estimates offered by Bharier for the period of the Famine and its earlier period, his article offers useful data for the post-Famine period; this is because these figures are generated from 1956 backward. That is to say, numbers generated from 1956 to 1919 are thus credible because they do not include the period of famine. Moreover, this portion of Bharier’s data are also true to that of the American Legation. For example, Caldwell and Sykes estimate the 1919 population at 10 million, which is comparitive to Bharier’s figure of 11 million.

Gholi Majd was not the first author to refute Bharier’s figures for this period. Gad G. Gilbar, in his 1976 article on demographic developments during the second half of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, also considers Bharier’s estimates inaccurate for the period.

In an apparently biased review of Majd’s work, Willem Floor confirms Bharier’s model (15), despite its apparent deficiencies, and takes a mocking tone toward the well- documented work of Gholi Majd to undermine the devastation caused by the British-instigated famine in Iran, to the point of total denial of the existence of such a genocide. Floor also offers inaccurate or untrue information to oppose the fact that the British deprived Iranians from honey and caviar in the north, as he argues caviar was haram (religiously prohibited), while no such fatwa has ever existed in Shia jurisprudence and all available decrees assert that caviar is halal or permissible under the Islamic law. There was a rumor made up by Russians at the time, saying that Caviar was haram and Britain made full use of this rumor.

Another criticism made by Floor was to question why Majd’s work does not use British archival sources. A more important question is why Majd should have used these sources when they totally ignore the occurrence of the famine in Iran. The fact that Majd used mainly US sources seems to be reasonable on the grounds that the US was neutral toward the state of affairs in Iran at the time, and made efforts to help by feeding them (16).

*Sadegh Abbasi is a Junior M.A. student at Tehran University. As a student in history he has also worked as a contributor to different Iranian news agencies.


1. Majd, Mohammad Gholi. The Great Famine & Genocide in Iran: 1917-1919. Lanham : University Press of America, 2013. p.71: https://books.google.com/books?id=5WgSAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA71&lpg.

2. Sniegoski, Stephen J. Iran as a Twentieth Century Victim: 1900 Through the Aftermath of World War II. mycatbirdseat.com. [Online] 11 10, 2013. [Cited: 10 12, 2015.] http://mycatbirdseat.com/2013/11/iran-twentieth-century-victim-1900-aftermath-world-war-ii/.

3. Donohoe, Major M. H. With The Persian Expedition. London : Edward Arnold, 1919. p. 76.

4. Nelson, Michael and Briggs, Asa. Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the Riviera. London : Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2007. p. 97: https://books.google.com/books?id=6ISE-ZEBfy4C&pg=PA97&lpg.

5. Bower, Graham. Sir Graham Bower’s Secret History of the Jameson Raid and the South African Crisis, 1895-1902. Cape Town : Van Riebeeck Society, 2002. p. xii: https://books.google.fr/books?id=VFYFZKRBXz0C&pg=PR23&lpg.

6. Ibid. p. xvii.

7. Cobain, Ian, Bowcott, Owen and Norton-Taylor, Richard. Britain destroyed records of colonial crimes . The Guardian. [Online] 03 17, 2012. [Cited: 10 10, 2015.] http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/apr/18/britain-destroyed-records-colonial-crimes.

8. Walton, Calder. Empire of Secrets: British Intelligence, the Cold War, and the Twilight of Empire. New York : The Overlook Press, 2013. p. 15: https://books.google.fr/books?id=f2cjCQAAQBAJ&pg=PT15&lpg.

9. Warfield, Brian. History Corner: The Great Irish Famine. wolfetonesofficialsite.com. [Online] [Cited: 10 12, 2015.] http://www.wolfetonesofficialsite.com/famine.htm.

10. Britain’s Cover Up. irishholocaust.org. [Online] [Cited: 10 12, 2015.] http://www.irishholocaust.org/britain’scoverup.

11. Coogan, Tim Pat. The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

12. O’Dowd, Niall. Proving the Irish Famine was genocide by the British. IrishCentral. [Online] 08 06, 2015. [Cited: 10 12, 2015.] http://www.irishcentral.com/news/proving-the-irish-famine-was-genocide-by-the-british-tim-pat-coogan-moves-famine-history-unto-a-new-plane-181984471-238161151.html.

13. Bharier, Julien. A Note on the Population of Iran, 1900-1966 . Population Studies. 1968, Vol. 22, 2.

14. Amani, Mehdi. La population de l’Iran. Population (French Edition). 1972, Vol. 27, 3: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1529398.

15. Floor, Willem. Reviewed Work: The Great Famine and Genocide in Persia, 1917-1919 by Mohammad Gholi Majd . Iranian Studies. Iran Facing the New Century, 2005, Vol. 38, 1.

16. Fecitt, Harry. Other Theatres of War. westernfrontassociation.com. [Online] 09 29, 2013. [Cited: 10 12, 2015.] http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/the-great-war/great-war-on-land/other-war-theatres/3305-dunsterforce-part-1.html.

thanks to: Khamenei

I falsi ebrei

La mitologia del moderno Israele

La mitologia del moderno Israele
(Foto di Leopoldo Salmaso)

di Tariq Ali 1

Questo articolo è la trascrizione da una conferenza tenuta presso la Rothko Chapel



Al fine di creare un mito per giustificare l’esistenza dello stato di Israele, i leader sionisti avevano due argomenti:
– uno, che queste erano terre bibliche storicamente appartenenti al popolo ebraico;
– e in secondo luogo, queste terre erano concentrate in quella che oggi è la Palestina.

Quindi l’occupazione della Palestina e la creazione di Israele in questo particolare territorio era assolutamente essenziale.

Ora, sapete, molti di noi hanno confutato la loro tesi, e anche loro confutano lenostre, ma… non è questo il punto.

Quello che interessa qui è che uno storico ebreo molto illustre, o dovrei dire uno storico israeliano, perché lui preferisce essere definito storico israeliano, Shlomo Sand dell’Università di Tel Aviv, ha scritto un libro molto interessante che ha scatenato una tempesta. Il suo libro, che è stato scritto inizialmente in ebraico, è diventato un best-seller in Israele, ha travolto il paese come un uragano. Ci volle un po’ di tempo prima che venisse pubblicato in Occidente, ma alla fine lo fu, prima in Francia e poi in Gran Bretagna e negli Stati Uniti. Ha suscitato un grande dibattito ed è stato molto interessante il fatto che Shlomo Sand ha essenzialmente decostruito tutti i miti del sionismo, con molta calma. Ha detto: “Guardate, non dovremmo usare questi miti per giustificare l’esistenza di Israele”.

Israele è qui per restare. Penso che tutti i cittadini di Israele, siano essi ebrei o palestinesi, arabi, cristiani, musulmani, dovrebbero avere gli stessi diritti. E dovremmo bloccare la legge per cui, se sei ebreo, puoi tornare in questa terra. È pazzesco, ha detto, perché dovremmo farlo ancora? Ma per far valere questo argomento egli ha fatto davvero molto lavoro storico e antropologico, e ha sostenuto che, dopo la distruzione del tempio nel 70 d.C., contrariamente alla mitologia non ci sono state espulsioni di ebrei dalla regione. (Shlomo) ha giustamente sottolineato che i romani non avevano l’abitudine di espellere le popolazioni dalle terre che avevano conquistato, perché erano molto intelligenti e avevano bisogno di coltivatori e persone che lavoravano in quelle terre, perché le legioni romane non lo facevano.

E lui (Shlomo) ha detto che non solo non c’erano espulsioni, ma, allo stesso tempo, c’erano sltre comunità ebraiche che contavano 4 milioni di persone, cioè un numero enorme per quei tempi, in Persia, Egitto, Asia Minore e altrove, che erano e sono rimaste fuori (dalla Palestina).

Egli ha anche sostenuto che l’idea che la fede ebraica, dopo la separazione da essa del movimento riformatore conosciuto come cristianesimo, non credesse nel proselitismo è del tutto falsa: ne fecero di proselitismo, molte persone si convertirono; alcuni si convertirono spontaneamente, mentre gli ebrei askenazisti in particolare nacquero dalle conversioni di massa ai margini del Mar Caspio, tra il VII e il X secolo, fra i Kazari, che finalmente adottarono l’ebraismo e si convertirono all’ebraismo in massa (per decreto regale -NdT), e questi sono gli ebrei ashkenazisti che popolarono l’Europa, e i ghetti d’Europa, e che soffrirono sotto l’Olocausto e tutto il resto.

Queste sono le persone che discendono dai Kazari. Loro in particolare, come dice Shlomo, costituivano la maggior parte del movimento sionista, non avevano assolutamente alcun legame con le terre arabe. Poi lui si è spinto oltre e ha detto: se la Palestina non è l’unica patria ancestrale degli ebrei, che cosa è successo a tutti gli ebrei in questi paesi? E qui trova una spiegazione devastante: dice che in larga maggioranza si sono convertiti all’Islam. Si sono convertiti all’Islam, la maggior parte di loro, non tutti, come molti altri popoli di quella regione all’epoca.

E dice che i palestinesi che abbiamo espulso e oppresso sono i diretti discendenti degli ebrei che un tempo vivevano, vivevano realmente in questa terra. È un libro notevole, e ha creato un enorme dibattito, e il dibattito, dice, non è in Israele. Ed è interessante questo: la maggior parte degli storici israeliani accettano che questa ricostruzione storica è accurata, ma dicono che la loro risposta alla scienza è: “beh, sai, ogni nazione crea la propria mitologia, quindi qual è il grande problema?”. Anche questo è vero, tra l’altro, ma questa mitologia è molto potente, e molto efficace perché questa mitologia è stata diffusa e opera ancora.

Voglio dire, a nessuno importerebbe la mitologia se tutto fosse stato sistemato e se fosse stato raggiunto un accordo, ma poiché non lo è stato, diventa una forza dirompente. E lo stesso Shlomo Sand non è affatto una figura radicale. Dice: “io non sono un sionista hardcore ma credo in Israele, però penso che tutti i cittadini dovrebbero avere gli stessi diritti e non si può dire ai palestinesi: “non tornate in terre che vi sono state portate via”, e intanto continuare a dire agli ebrei, ovunque si trovino in qualsiasi parte del mondo: “potete tornare quando volete”. E ha detto che è per questo che lui ha scritto il libro: per lottare per l’uguaglianza. E i grandi attacchi al libro sono arrivati dalla diaspora. Voglio dire che il New York Times ne ha fatto una grande, grande recensione, il che ha creato un’enorme controversia. E in Francia e in Gran Bretagna non ci sono state polemiche, nel complesso si è accettato che ciò che lui sosteneva fosse vero. Intendo dire che tutti gli storici che hanno recensito il libro hanno detto che è accurato, sapete, non si può estrometterlo dalla storia, perché noi accettiamo le sue tesi. Ma la diaspora era arrabbiata anche solo per il fatto che fossero state esposte, così Sand rispose in modo molto acuto: “Beh, se siete così ansiosi di dire che ho torto e che quello che sto facendo danneggia Israele, perché non mettete i vostri soldi dove avete messo la bocca, e lasciate la diaspora e venite a stabilirvi in Israele?

Ha detto: “Se siete così appassionati per Israele, perché non venite a vivere qui? Noi viviamo qui e sappiamo come viviamo”. E ha detto ancora: “non viviamo bene, né noi né i non ebrei di quella parte del mondo, ed è per questo che ho scritto il mio libro”.

Ora, Shlomo è un tipo molto coraggioso, tra l’altro non è l’unico: molti storici israeliani hanno scritto libri di questo tipo, ma hanno avuto qualche impatto sui governanti del mondo o sui governanti di Israele?

E qui penso che la risposta sia no.

Una delle cose interessanti che Shlomo Sand cita nel suo libro è una dichiarazione di David ben Gurion, uno dei padri fondatori di Israele, nel 1918, dove ben Gurion scrive: “Sapete, la gente chiede cosa è successo agli ebrei che vivevano in questa regione. Erano fedeli alla terra e per rimanere in questa terra, dice, la maggior parte degli ebrei sono diventati musulmani”. Così lui lo sapeva, e loro lo sapevano, i capi di Israele, che questa mitologia che si stava creando sulla base delle citazioni dell’Antico Testamento era in gran parte mitologia, non basata su alcuna realtà storica.

Ecco quindi un esempio di abuso della storia, un abuso che scatena un dibattito enorme e molto creativo, ma naturalmente i soli dibattiti e i libri, anche se forti e potenti come quello scritto da questo storico israeliano, non influenzano le menti dei politici o dei governanti perché alla fine non governano sulla base dei miti. I miti servono per tenere le persone in riga, essi governano per altri motivi: per mantenersi al potere, per mantenere il controllo della società così com’è, e questo non vale solo per Israele, si applica alla maggior parte dei governanti delle diverse parti del mondo, del mondo di oggi.



1 Tariq Ali è uno scrittore, giornalista, storico, regista, attivista politico e intellettuale pubblico. E’ membro del comitato editoriale della New Left Review e di Sin Permiso, e contribuisce a The Guardian, CounterPunch e alla London Review of Books. Insegna Filosofia Politica ed Economica all’Exeter College, Oxford.

È autore di diversi libri, tra cui ‘Pakistan: regime militare o potere al popolo (1970); ‘Il Pakistan può sopravvivere? Morte di uno Stato’ (1983); ‘Scontro di fondamentalismi: crociate, jihad e modernità’ (2002); ‘Bush a Babilonia’ (2003); ‘Conversazioni con Edward Said’ (2005); ‘Pirati dei Caraibi: Asse della speranza’ (2006); ‘Un banchiere per tutte le stagioni’ (2007); ‘Il duello’ (2008); ‘La sindrome di Obama’ (2010); e ‘Il centro estremo: Un avvertimento’ (2015).


Traduzione dall’inglese di Leopoldo Salmaso

The Mythology of Modern Israel

The Mythology of Modern Israel
(Image by Flickr, modified)

by Tariq Ali1

This article is a transcription extracted from a conference at Rothko Chapel.


In order to create a myth to justify the existence of the state (Israel), the Zionist leaders of Israel had two arguments:
– one, that these were biblical lands historically belonging to the Jewish people;
– and secondly, these lands were concentrated in what is now Palestine.

Therefore the occupation of Palestine and the creation of Israel in this particular territory was absolutely essential.

Now, you know, many of us argued against, and they would say they argue too, but… we don’t matter.
What is interesting now is that a very distinguished Jewish historian, or I should say an Israeli historian because that is: he prefers being referred to as an Israeli historian, Shlomo Sand at the University of Tel Aviv, wrote a very interesting book which created a storm. And his book, which was written initially in Hebrew, became a best-seller in Israel, just took the country by storm. It took some time before it was published in the West but it finally was, first in France and then in Britain and the United States. It created a big debate and what was very interesting was that Shlomo Sand essentially deconstructed all the myths of Zionism, quite calmly, and he said: “look, we shouldn’t use these myths to justify the existence of Israel”.
Israel is here to stay. I think all the citizens of Israel, whether they’re Jews or Palestinians, Arabs, Christians, Muslims, should have the same rights. And we should stop the right that, if you’re a Jew, you can come back to this land. It’s crazy, he said, why should we do this anymore? But in order to put this argument forward he really did a lot of historical and anthropological work, and he argued that, after the destruction of the temple in AD 70, contrary to mythology there were no expulsions of Jews from the region. He pointed out correctly that the Romans were not in the habit of expelling populations from lands that they conquered, because they were very intelligent and they needed cultivators and people working the areas, because the Roman legions didn’t do that.

And he (Shlomo) said not only were there no expulsions but, at the same time, there were Jewish communities numbering 4 million people, which is a huge amount for those times, in Persia, Egypt, Asia Minor and elsewhere, who stayed out.

And he then argued that the notion that the Jewish faith, after the separation of the reform movement known as Christianity from it, didn’t believe in proselytization is totally false: they did (proselitism), many people were converted; some converted themselves, and the Ashkenazi Jews in particular grew out of the mass conversions on the edge of the Caspian Sea, between the seventh and tenth centuries, off the khazars, who finally adopted Hebrew and converted to Judaism wholesale, and these are the Ashkenazi Jews who peopled Europe, and the ghettos of Europe, and who suffered under the Holocaust and all that.

These are those people descending from the khazars so he (Shlomo) said they in particular, who formed the bulk of the Zionist movement, had absolutely no connection with the Arab lands at all. Then he went even further so he said: if Palestine is not the unique ancestral homeland of the Jews, what happened to all the Jews in these countries? And here he comes up with a devastating explanation: he says by and large in their majority they converted to Islam, they converted to Islam, most of them not all of them, as many other people did in that region at the time.

And he says that the Palestinians whom we have been expelling and oppressing are the direct descendants of the Jews who used to live, actually live in this land. It’s a remarkable book, and it has created a huge debate, and the debate, he says, is not in Israel. And it’s interesting this: most Israeli historians accept that this is accurate, but they say their response to science is to say: well, you know, every nation creates its own mythology so what’s the big deal? But you know this is also true, by the way, but this mythology is very potent, and very powerful because this thing that is unleashed is still going on.

I mean, no one would mind the mythology if everything had been settled and some agreement had been reached, but because it hasn’t, it becomes a very disruptive force. And Shlomo Sand himself is by no means a radical figure. He says: I’m not a hardcore Zionist but I believe in Israel, except that I think all citizens should have equal rights and you can’t say to the Palestinians: “don’t come back to lands that were taken away from you”, as long as you keep saying to Jews, wherever they may be in whichever part of the world: “you can come back whenever you want”. And he said that’s why he wrote the book: to fight for equality. And the big attacks on the book have come from the Diaspora. I mean the New York Times ran a big, big review of it, which created a huge controversy. And in France and in Britain there was no controversy at all, by and large it was accepted that what he argued was true. I mean all the historians who reviewed the book said it’s accurate, you know, you can’t sort of catch him out of history, because we accept this. But the Diaspora was angry that this had even been said, to which Sand replied very very sharply: “well, if you’re so keen to say that I’m wrong and what I’m doing is harming Israel, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is, and leave the diaspora and come and settle in Israel?”.

He said: “if you’re that keen on the country, why don’t you come and live here, we live here and we know how we live”. And he said that: “how we live is not good, either for us or for the non-jews in that part of the world, and that is why I’ve written my book”.

Now, he’s a very courageous guy, by the way he’s not the only one: many Israeli historians have written books of this sort but do they have any impact on the rulers of the world or the rulers of Israel?
And here I think the answer is no.

And one of the interesting thing Shlomo Sand quotes in his book is a statement from David ben Gurion, one of the founding fathers of Israel, in 1918, where ben Gurion writes: “you know, people ask what happened to the Jews who lived in this region. They were loyal to the land and in order to stay in this land, he says, most of the Jews became Muslims”. So he knew it, and they knew it, the leaders of Israel, that this mythology that was being created on the basis of quotations from the Old Testament was largely mythology, not based on any historical reality at all.

So here you have an example of history being abused, but at the same time the abuse triggering off a huge and very creative debate, but of course debates alone and books, even as strong and powerful as the one written by this Israeli historian, do not sway the minds of politicians or rulers because ultimately they do not rule on the basis of the myths. The myths are to keep people in line, they rule for other reasons: to keep themselves in power, to keep control of the society as it is, and this doesn’t just apply to Israel, it applies to most of the rulers of different parts of the world, of the world today.

Tariq Ali is a BritishPakistani writer, journalist, historian, filmmaker, political activist, and public intellectual. He is a member of the editorial committee of the New Left Review and Sin Permiso, and contributes to The Guardian, CounterPunch, and theLondon Review of Books. He reads PPE at Exeter College, Oxford.
He is the author of several books, including Pakistan: Military Rule or People’s Power (1970), Can Pakistan Survive? The Death of a State (1983), Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity (2002), Bush in Babylon (2003), Conversations with Edward Said (2005), Pirates Of The Caribbean: Axis Of Hope (2006), A Banker for All Seasons (2007), The Duel (2008), The Obama Syndrome (2010) and The Extreme Centre: A Warning (2015).

La mitología de Israel moderno

La mitología de Israel moderno
(Imagen de Flickr, modificado)

Por Tariq Ali[1]

Este artículo es una transcripción extraída de una conferencia en la Capilla Rothko.


Para crear un mito que justificara la existencia del Estado (Israel), los líderes sionistas de Israel tenían dos argumentos:

– uno, que estas eran tierras bíblicas que pertenecían históricamente al pueblo judío;

– y, en segundo lugar, estas tierras estaban concentradas en lo que ahora es Palestina.

Por lo tanto, la ocupación de Palestina y la creación de Israel en este territorio en particular eran absolutamente esenciales.

Ahora, ustedes saben, muchos de nosotros discutimos en contra, y ellos dirían que ellos también lo hacen, pero… no nos importa.

Lo que es interesante ahora es que un historiador judío muy distinguido, o debería decir un historiador israelí, porque eso es: prefiere que se le llame historiador israelí, Shlomo Sand, de la Universidad de Tel Aviv, escribió un libro muy interesante que creó una tormenta. Y su libro, que fue escrito inicialmente en hebreo, se convirtió en un best-seller en Israel, simplemente tomó el país por asalto. Pasó algún tiempo antes de que se publicara en Occidente, pero finalmente lo fue, primero en Francia y luego en Gran Bretaña y los Estados Unidos. Creó un gran debate y lo que fue muy interesante fue que Shlomo Sand esencialmente deconstruyó todos los mitos del sionismo, con bastante calma, y dijo: “Mira, no deberíamos usar estos mitos para justificar la existencia de Israel”.

Israel está aquí para quedarse. Creo que todos los ciudadanos de Israel, ya sean judíos o palestinos, árabes, cristianos, musulmanes, deberían tener los mismos derechos. Y debemos detener el derecho de que, si eres judío, puedes volver a esta tierra. Es una locura, dijo, ¿por qué deberíamos seguir haciendo esto? Pero para poder presentar este argumento, él realmente hizo mucho trabajo histórico y antropológico, y argumentó que, después de la destrucción del templo en el año 70 d.C., contrariamente a la mitología, no hubo expulsiones de judíos de la región. Señaló correctamente que los romanos no tenían la costumbre de expulsar a las poblaciones de las tierras que conquistaron, porque eran muy inteligentes y necesitaban cultivadores y gente que trabajara en las zonas, porque las legiones romanas no lo hacían.

Y él (Shlomo) dijo que no sólo no hubo expulsiones, sino que, al mismo tiempo, hubo comunidades judías de 4 millones de personas, lo cual es una cantidad enorme para aquellos tiempos, en Persia, Egipto, Asia Menor y otros lugares, que se quedaron fuera.

Y luego argumentó que la idea de que la fe judía, después de la separación del movimiento de reforma conocido como cristianismo, no creía en el proselitismo es totalmente falsa: ellos lo hicieron (proselitismo), muchas personas se convirtieron; algunos se convirtieron a sí mismos, y los judíos ashkenazis en particular surgieron de las conversiones masivas al borde del Mar Caspio, entre los siglos VII y X, de los khazars, que finalmente adoptaron el hebreo y se convirtieron al judaísmo al por mayor, y estos son los judíos ashkenazis que poblaron Europa y los guetos de Europa, y que sufrieron a causa del Holocausto y de todo eso.

Estas son las personas que descienden de los kázaros, así que él (Shlomo) dijo que ellos en particular, que formaban el grueso del movimiento sionista, no tenían absolutamente ninguna conexión con las tierras árabes en absoluto. Luego fue aún más lejos y dijo: si Palestina no es la única patria ancestral de los judíos, ¿qué pasó con todos los judíos de estos países? Y aquí viene con una explicación devastadora: dice que en su mayoría se convirtieron al islam, se convirtieron al islam, la mayoría de ellos, no todos, como muchas otras personas lo hicieron en esa región en ese momento.

Y dice que los palestinos a los que hemos estado expulsando y oprimiendo son los descendientes directos de los judíos que solían vivir, en realidad, viven en esta tierra. Es un libro notable, y ha creado un gran debate, y el debate, dice, no está en Israel. Y es interesante esto: la mayoría de los historiadores israelíes aceptan que esto es correcto, pero dicen que su respuesta a la ciencia es la siguiente: bueno, ya sabes, cada nación crea su propia mitología, así que, ¿cuál es el gran problema? Pero ustedes saben que esto también es cierto, de hecho, pero esta mitología es muy potente, y muy poderosa porque esta cosa que se desata todavía está en marcha.

Quiero decir, a nadie le importaría la mitología si todo se hubiera resuelto y se hubiera llegado a algún acuerdo, pero como no se ha logrado, se convierte en una fuerza muy perturbadora. Y el propio Shlomo Sand no es en absoluto una figura radical. Dice: No soy un sionista duro, pero creo en Israel, excepto que creo que todos los ciudadanos deben tener los mismos derechos y no se puede decir a los palestinos: “No vuelvas a las tierras que te fueron arrebatadas”, mientras sigas diciéndole a los judíos, dondequiera que estén en cualquier parte del mundo: “puedes volver cuando quieras”. Y dijo que por eso escribió el libro: para luchar por la igualdad. Y los grandes ataques al libro han venido de la diáspora. Quiero decir que el New York Times hizo una gran, gran revisión de la misma, lo que creó una gran controversia. Y en Francia y en Gran Bretaña no hubo ninguna controversia en absoluto, en general se aceptó que lo que él argumentaba era cierto. Quiero decir que todos los historiadores que revisaron el libro dijeron que es exacto, ya sabes, no puedes sacarlo de la historia, porque aceptamos esto. Pero la diáspora se enfadó porque esto ya se había dicho, a lo que Sand respondió de forma muy contundente: “Bueno, si estás tan ansioso por decir que estoy equivocado y que lo que estoy haciendo es dañar a Israel, ¿por qué no pones tu dinero donde está tu boca, dejas la diáspora y vienes a instalarte en Israel?”.

Él dijo: “Si te gusta tanto el campo, ¿por qué no vienes a vivir aquí?, nosotros vivimos aquí y sabemos cómo vivimos”. Y él dijo que: “La forma en que vivimos no es buena, ni para nosotros ni para los no judíos de esa parte del mundo, y por eso he escrito mi libro”.

Ahora bien, es un tipo muy valiente, por cierto, no es el único: muchos historiadores israelíes han escrito libros de este tipo, pero ¿tienen algún impacto en los gobernantes del mundo o en los gobernantes de Israel?

Y aquí creo que la respuesta es no.

Y una de las cosas interesantes que Shlomo Sand cita en su libro es una declaración de David ben Gurion, uno de los padres fundadores de Israel, en 1918, donde Ben Gurion escribe: “Sabes, la gente pregunta qué pasó con los judíos que vivían en esta región. Eran leales a la tierra y para permanecer en ella, dice, la mayoría de los judíos se convirtieron en musulmanes”. Así que él lo sabía, y ellos lo sabían, los líderes de Israel, que esta mitología que se estaba creando sobre la base de citas del Antiguo Testamento era en gran parte mitología, no se basaba en ninguna realidad histórica en absoluto.

Así que aquí tenemos un ejemplo de cómo se abusa de la historia, pero al mismo tiempo el abuso desencadena un debate enorme y muy creativo, pero, por supuesto, los debates por sí solos y los libros, incluso los tan fuertes y poderosos como el escrito por este historiador israelí, no influencian las mentes de los políticos o gobernantes porque, en última instancia, no gobiernan sobre la base de los mitos. Los mitos son mantener a la gente en línea, ellos gobiernan por otras razones: para mantenerse en el poder, para mantener el control de la sociedad tal como es, y esto no sólo se aplica a Israel, se aplica a la mayoría de los gobernantes de diferentes partes del mundo, del mundo de hoy.


[1] Tariq Ali es un escritor, periodista, historiador, cineasta, activista político e intelectual británico paquistaní. Es miembro del comité editorial de New Left Review y Sin Permiso, y contribuye con The Guardian, CounterPunch y London Review of Books. Es profesor de EPP en el Exeter College de Oxford.

Es autor de varios libros, entre ellos, Pakistán: Military Rule or People’s Power (1970), Can Pakistan Survive? The Death of a State (1983), Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity (2002), Bush in Babylon (2003), Conversations with Edward Said (2005), Pirates Of The Caribbean: Axis Of Hope (2006), A Banker for All Seasons (2007), The Duel (2008), The Obama Syndrome (2010) y The Extreme Centre: A Warning (2015).

thanks to: Redazione italiana di Pressenza

Livingstone fired over Hitler remarks

The former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, is fired from his radio show for saying Hitler supported Zionism.

Livingstone said last month that “let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”

Sorgente: PressTV-Livingstone fired over Hitler remarks


L’ex sindaco di Londra cacciato dal Partito Laburista per aver detto una cosa che sta scritta nel Museo dell’Olocausto e Centro Documentazione Yad Vashem di Gerusalemme (e anche in quello di Washington, by the way…). Booooo!

Per chi non è aggiornato: Ken Livingstone, ex sindaco laburista di Londra, è stato appena cacciato dal Partito con la bolla infame di Antisemita per aver detto che i leader Sionisti ebrei emigrati in Palestina nei primi del ‘900, collaborarono poi attivamente con Hitler. 

Booo??!! E’ vero! Non capisco.

Sta scritto nero su bianco in “The Transfer Agreement and the Boycott Movement: A Jewish Dilemma on the Eve of the Holocaust”, di Yf’aat Weiss, Yad Vashem Studies Vol. XXVI, Jerusalem 1998, pp 129-172. E’ uno dei più autorevoli documenti sul tema del ventilato Accordo di Trasferimento (Pulizia Etnica) degli ebrei europei che sarebbe dovuto avvenire per opera dei Nazisti con l’entusiasta collaborazione dei Sionisti ebrei di Palestina, ed è parte, di nuovo, del Centro Documentazione dello Yad Vashem, mica meno.

Non capisco, ma che gli prende a Jeremy Corbyn, sto sedicente fesso austero sedicente finto socialista leader dei Laburisti inglesi? Ma studiano una pagina almeno una volta all’anno sti cagasotto? Ciò che ha affermato Livingstone lo affermano i massimi storici dell’Olocausto d’Israele. Booo!!!???

La documentazione sul piano di pulizia etnica dei Palestinesi da parte dei Sionisti a partire dal Primo Congresso Sionista a Basilea nel 1897 è ormai talmente schiacciante che da Golda Meir a Moshe Dayan a Rabin, Begin, Shamir e oggi Netanyahu è stata da loro ampiamente ammessa senza tanti giri di parole. Il padre fondatore del Sionismo, Theodor Herzl, lo lasciò scritto prima del 1904: “Tenteremo di sospingere la popolazione (palestinese) in miseria oltre le frontiere procurandogli impieghi nelle nazioni di transito, mentre gli negheremo qualsiasi lavoro sulla nostra terra… Sia il processo di espropriazione che l’espulsione dei poveri devono essere condotti con discrezione e di nascosto…” (Herzl, Theodor, «The complete diaries» N.Y. Herzl Press, 1969 vol. I, p. 88.)

I Sionisti intenti a cacciare i Palestinesi dalla loro (dei Palestinesi) terra avevano tutto l’interesse che il maggior numero di ebrei europei possibile emigrasse in Palestina per scalzare la maggioranza araba. E il Nazismo con la sua espressa intenzione di liberarsi degli ebrei rappresentava per loro una ghiotta occasione. Bussarono, i Sionisti, al Terzo Reich e offrirono collaborazione alla pulizia etnica ebraica in Europa. Fine, è vero, sta scritto allo Yad Vashem. E ho personalmente filmato al Museo dell’Olocausto a Washington le citazioni dei vari leader occidentali cui Hitler voleva spedire in massa gli ebrei per sbarazzarsene. Nessuno li volle, e mi ricordo ancora la risposta australiana: “Non abbiamo un problema ebraico da noi, e non ne vogliamo uno adesso”. Carini eh? Ma oggi il povero Ken Livingstone dice la verità e lo cacciano.

La cosa grottesca è come noi occidentali quando si tratta dei Sionisti siamo disposti a strisciare bavosi e tremebondi persino superando loro! nella difesa dei loro crimini. Siamo i patetici ‘più realisti del Re’… come quel tizio che ho affrontato a Quinta Colonna e che urlava come un pazzo mentre contraddiceva le parole di un ministro israeliano che mi dava ragione. Lui, sto urlante, ne sapeva di più di un ministro d’Israele sui crimini contro la Palestina… I ‘più realisti del Re’.

Bè, che pena tutta sta roba, che tragedia dell’intelletto. Booo??!! Povero Ken.

Sorgente: Paolo Barnard – [Alcune considerazioni su…]

Block-aid: Protesters squeeze into boxes to highlight Gaza siege

August 14, 2014 16:18

Volunteers sit in wooden boxes at Parliament Square, to represent living conditions in Gaza, during a protest in London August 14, 2014. (Reuters / Dylan Martinez)

Volunteers sit in wooden boxes at Parliament Square, to represent living conditions in Gaza, during a protest in London August 14, 2014. (Reuters / Dylan Martinez)

More than 150 men, women and children squeezed into tiny wooden boxes in Parliament Square as part of an Oxfam protest to highlight the suffering caused by the blockade on Gaza.

The symbolic protest in the heart of Westminster on Thursday saw demonstrators place wooden boxes opposite Parliament to launch Oxfam’s nationwide campaign of action. The confined spaces within the wooden boxes signified the conditions faced by the population of Gaza.

Amidst the sea of boxes the word Gaza fashioned in a quasi-industrial font was propped up with Big Ben looming overhead.

A volunteer sits in a wooden box at Parliament Square, to represent living conditions in Gaza, during a protest in London August 14, 2014. (Reuters / Dylan Martinez)

The charity warned that full recovery from the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza will be impossible unless Israel’s blockade is lifted permanently.

Under the blockade, Oxfam say Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility, constituting a collective punishment illegal under international law.

“The international community will be guilty of a dereliction of duty if it stands by and watches the blockade continue to impose further misery on Palestinians in Gaza,” said Nishant Pandey, head of Oxfam in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel.

Volunteers sit in wooden boxes at Parliament Square, to represent living conditions in Gaza, during a protest in London August 14, 2014. (Reuters / Dylan Martinez)

“Israel does have legitimate security concerns, but punishing everyone in Gaza will not achieve lasting peace and security for either Palestinians or Israelis. Enough is enough – the blockade must be lifted now.”

Oxfam say over 100,000 people have had their houses destroyed and at least 15 hospitals and 16 clinics have been damaged, including four the charity supports.

More than 200 schools have been damaged, 25 of which are completely destroyed, and Gaza’s only power plant has been destroyed.

Israeli bombing has severely damaged dozens of wells, pipelines, and reservoirs, leaving half of Gaza’s 1.8 million people without access to clean water and the other half receiving water only every five days. Raw sewage is now spilling onto the streets and risking a health crisis.

Volunteers sit in wooden boxes at Parliament Square, to represent living conditions in Gaza, during a protest in London August 14, 2014. (Reuters / Dylan Martinez)

“Even before the current crisis, Gaza’s isolation was strangling its economy,” Pandey added. “There is a closing window of opportunity for international pressure to end this blockade, and the UK government should play a vital role. The people of this region deserve good news, and lifting the blockade is a necessary step toward a lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”

British aid agencies, including Oxfam, have launched an emergency appeal to help the thousands of Palestinians caught up in “a humanitarian emergency affecting virtually every man, woman and child in Gaza.”

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) said “even before the conflict began the people of Gaza were close to breaking point.” They called on the public to make charitable donations to aid those blighted by the conflict.

Volunteers sit in wooden boxes at Parliament Square, to represent living conditions in Gaza, during a protest in London August 14, 2014. (Reuters / Dylan Martinez)

thanks to: RT