When we see how Zionist ideology is used and the purposes it serves in Israel, America and Germany, we can obtain a better understanding of the deplorable situation in each case and perhaps some improvements.
Theodor Herzl, the leading ideologist and organizer of the Zionist movement, wrote in his book Der Judenstaat which was published in 1895: “No nation in history has had to endure such struggles and suffering as ours … because of old prejudices lying deep down in the soul/minds (Gemüt) of all other nations … And the longer it takes before they appear the more ferocious they break out. Our only hope for escaping the persecutors is a state for a Jewish nation.”1
Herzl’s assertion about the unique suffering of Jews and the prejudices of all other nations cannot be empirically confirmed, but that was not his concern. His interpretation of Jewish history was likely to convince many Jews and encourage them to take part in the struggle for a state. Many others would pay lip service to the ideology because they shared Herzl´s goal. The first task for the movement was to convince Jews that they were a nation and hinder the assimilation that was underway. The leaders of the movement came out strongly for the colonization of Palestine, a beautiful country where the inhabitants were to a considerable extent well-off and could rest their claim to the land on the fact that it had been inhabited by Arabs for more than 1000 years. Herzl and the later leaders of the movement asserted that all or almost all of the indigenous people would have to leave their country.
The likely outlook on life of the Jews who became convinced of this ideology was mistrust, insecurity and fear of non-Jews. Other Jews would just pretend. The foreseeable consequences of this outlook were bleak: Ruthlessness and a stubborn refusal to admit that they had wronged anybody.
The British newspaper The Economist printed a carricature a few years ago which a former mayor of Hamburg, Klaus von Dohnanyi, described as follows: “It shows us Germans ducked down fearfully in a corner in which a strong arm with the star of David is pointing. The reproach for antisemitism shocks, freightens and does not strengthen the democratic self-confidence of the Germans. One should use the word antisemitism with circumspection and good reasons.”2
Zionism in Israel
Israeli leaders have declared themselves for the Zionist ideology and applied it in matters of great importance.
The Eichmann trial: During the trial which was held in Israel in 1961 the prosecutor asserted many times that this case confirmed the eternal hatred of Jews. This interpretation of Eichmann has acquired enormous significance. Previously the political circles and the media in America explained the mass murder in the Third Reich as well as in communist countries as consequences of totalitarianism. In other words: Hostility toward ethnic groups and classes would not have resulted in such cruelty, or would have been extremely unlikely, in an open society. The philosopher Hanna Arendt expressed herself in this way when she wrote: “He was not antisemitic, not even an ideologist, he was a superficial, ambitious henchman of totalitarianism.”3 If the political circles and media had stayed with this interpretation the importance of the holocaust in America and perhaps in Germany would have been quite different from what it has become.
The Yad Vashen museum: According to the council of this museum, it was erected to proclaim that the lives of Jews outside of Israel are built on shifting sand. With this explanation the council ignored the fact that the mass murder which the museum calls to mind occurred under entirely different circumstances. Unfortunately some people were likely to be misled. “You can fool some people all of the time.” (Abraham Lincoln)
Nuclear weapons for Israel: The CIA informed President Kennedy in 1961 that a nuclear power plant was being built in Israel which probably would be suitable for the production of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, Israel was already militarily much stronger than the Arab states and once in possession of such weapons would be even tougher toward its neighbors than it had been. The Arabs would probably turn to the Soviet Union. Kennedy spoke with Ben Gurion and asked for insurance that no atomic weapons would be produced. He should also allow the Atomic Energy Commission to inspect the plant. In an emergency, America would intervene on behalf of Israel. Besides that, he should allow some of the Palestinian refugees to return. One could ascertain how many would avail themselves of this opportunity. Ben Gurion promised that the plant would only be used for research. He then asserted that Nasser’s goal was to destroy Israel and do to the Israelis what Hitler did to the 6 million Jews in Europe. “And if the refugees came back our situation would be critical. We are surrounded, they want to kill us.” Later the fact that Israel had acquired the bomb became an open secret. Israel’s atomic energy plant has never been inspected by the Atomic Energy Commission.4
The Six Day War (June 1967): It began with the bombing and destruction of the entire Egyptian air force while it was still on the ground. The Israeli ambassador to the United Nations justified the attack saying that it was a matter of life or death. The “final solution” confronted us. Before the attack Israel and Egypt had been disputing about the passage of Israeli and other ships through the straits of Tiran. The US and England were mediating when the attack occurred. The Israeli forces occupied East Jerusalem, West Jordan, the Golan heights and the Sinai peninsula. 250,000 Palestinians and 100,000 Syrians were driven out from their homes and lands. Later four members of the Israeli general staff admitted that they knew that Nasser had no intention to attack Israel. Readers of serious newspapers who read the accounts of journalists in the Middle East and not just the commentaries would in all likelihood have come to the same conclusion.5
The war in Lebanon in 1982: Israel´s prime minister Begin wrote President Reagan that he was marching to Beirut “to liquidate Hitler”, i.e. Arafat. Israel began the war. Its ambassador to the U.N. asserted that the PLO, which at that time was in exile in Lebanon, had repeatedly violated the cease-fire which had been agreed upon eleven months earlier. The U.N. observers reported, however, that the PLO had exercised restraint while Israel violated the truce hundreds of times from the air and the sea. The Palestinian refugee camps, Beirut and other Lebanese cities were extensively bombed. According to hospital reports the bombing resulted in at least 18,000 deaths, 90% of them civilians. About 30,000 were wounded.6
The comparisons between between Hitler on the one hand and Nasser and Arafat on the other were ridiculous and base. The accusers gave the impression that the Arab leaders had no legitimate reason for opposing Israel, that they were motivated by prejudices against the Jews and hoped to kill vast numbers of them and even had the power to do so. In this way they attempted to justify wars of aggression, conquest and the expulsion of their victims.
Supplements to the ideology: Successors of Herzl have employed supplements to his ideology. They are in some respects similar to the antisemitism reproach and serve the same ends. One of them is the assertion that Israel´s foes have bad characteristics. Chaim Weizman who led the movement at the beginning of the colonization said at a meeting of Zionist leaders in 1920: “They (the Palestinians, KL) are a corrupt race with which one cannot possibly negotiate. The Arabs are treasonable and fickle, they lack moral values, one cannot expect that they will stick to principles.”7 In the 1930s, writers of Hebrew novels and children’s books explained the Palestinian resistance to the colonization of their land in the same way. In line with this explanation the violence of the Jewish colonists was always characterized as reprisals.8 After the Camp David talks, Barak was criticized for having given a false impression of the talks. He replied: “The Palestinians come out of a culture in which lying does not result in much disapproval. In contrast to Christians and Jews they are not burdened with a bad conscience.”9 Like the accusation of antisemitism this is an ad hominem argument and not a factual one about the issue at stake. It is a prejudice against a whole ethnic group, like antisemitism. It is used to explain the behavior of the other group and to exonerate the Israeli side from guilt. This is also one of several Zionist dogmas/political doctrines that detract from the actual circumstances in specific cases.
The assertion that Israel’s existence is at stake is another Zionist supplement to Herzl’s ideology. It too is calculated to cause fear among Israeli citizens and to elicit sympathy from outsiders. It provides an excuse for atrocities committed by the Israel army. It is used where an unbiased person would not agree with the claim. This assertion is also ambiguous: It may refer to a specific conflict between Israelis and Palestinians or to the conflict as a whole. The Zionists have had much success in winning over American and German leaders to the characterization of the whole conflict as a struggle for Israel’s security rather Palestinian resistance to an illegal and unjustifiable occupation.
The last Palestinian uprising: It began in September 2000 after Sharon, accompanied by 1000 soldiers on the Temple Mount, asserted in his speech that all of Jerusalem belonged to Israel. That was an obvious blow below the belt of the Palestinians. The demonstration that followed was to be expected. Seven Palestinians were killed. During the spiral of violence that followed, the Israeli strikes with tanks and bombers were out of all proportion to those of the Palestinian fighters. That holds for attacks on civilians, i.e., terror from both sides. Yet Sharon asserted that he used force only in retaliation, Israel had no choice, it was fighting for its survival. Arafat had called on Sharon to join him in an appeal for a cease fire. He was ignored. Sharon said that he was willing to make a generous settlement but had no partner for negotiations as long as Arafat failed to disarm the terrorists. But the truth is that he did not want any negotiations. It is not unusual that negotiations take place while fighting goes on. It was unlikely that Fatah would defeat Hamas and would dare to try. Hamas’ fighters were well trained and Arafat had lost the confidence of most of the Palestinians and they would have supported Hamas. Sharon’s troops themselves were not able to silence them. Furthermore, Sharon weakened Arafat by means of attacks on his headquarters and his security forces. Arafat requested the Security Council of the U.N. to send troops to stop the fighting. Sharon was opposed. A draft resolution for the sending of troops was vetoed by Bush. In the meantime the colonization of the occupied territories continued.10
Lebanon 2006:The justification for the tremendous destruction in Lebanon and the killing of more than 1000 of its civilians by Israel’s armed forces in response to the capture of two of its soldiers was the same: Shimon Peres, who at that time was Israel’s vice-premier said: “It was a matter of life or death.”11 The Israelis met with stiff resistance from the Hisbullah fighters, but they had a free hand to bomb and destroy.
In view of the fact that Israel attacks when and where it wishes with reckless disregard for lives and property and has never had to compensate its victims, it is no wonder that other states in the region attempt to acquire nuclear weapons as the best possible defense.
The Palestinian election (January 2006): The Olmert government responded to the election of Hamas by the majority of Palestinians in January 2006 by refusing to recognize and deal with Hamas as their representative. Besides that millions of dollars from taxes and duties which belonged to the already impoverished Palestinians were withheld — a punishment for not having chosen Israel’s favorite, Abbas and Al Fatah. This reaction was justified on the ground that Hamas had not recognized Israel’s right to exist and had not renounced violence. In this connection, let us recall that Israel’s leaders and supporters had characterized Hamas as a terrorist organization and emphasized the fact that Hamas’ Charter in 1988 called for the destruction of the state of Israel. In other words: the dogma (political doctrine) that Israel’s existence is endangered served here, too, as justification for refusing to negotiate.
It is remarkable that Israel was able to determine the terms for negotiations concerning the occupied territories and indeed with the approval and support of the United States and the European Union: 1. Israel occupies the territories in violation of international law. 2. Israel has never recognized the right of Palestinians to any part of their homeland. 3. Israel’s violence, including attacks on civilians (terror) has been out of all proportion to that of the Palestinians. 4. The election of Hamas was entirely free. That should have warmed the hearts of our leaders who send young men to fight in foreign countries so that other nations can enjoy the fruits of democracy.
Let us suppose that our leaders in America and Western Europe had successfully urged the Israeli government to recognize the right of the Palestinians to the parts of Palestine which Israel conquered during the Six Day War and to withdraw its troops and settlers. Would Hamas have reaffirmed its Charter? The portrayal of Hamas by Olmert and his supporters surely gives that impression, but it is false and Israel’s secret service and its political leaders know that.
The characterization of Hamas by Israel and the EU as a terror organization is unjustified. Hamas was responsible for many suicide attacks on civilians between 1994 and 1997 and 2003 and 2004. But during the first seven years after it was founded it fought Israel’s military forces. The first series of its suicide attacks was in response to the massacre of Muslims who were praying in a mosque by a Jewish settler. The second series began during the intifada after the Israeli forces killed numerous Palestinian civilians. It is also noteworthy here that Hamas observed a cease-fire for 18 months between January 2005 and mid-2006. The Israeli side ignored that, although a fundamental change in Hamas’ goals was underway. It was expressed in the campaign speeches of Haniya and other leaders of the party and in their program for the election. Hamas sought a political solution and was willing to recognise Israel, but in contrast to the PLO under Arafat, who recognized Israel without getting anything of significance in return,12 Hamas demanded an advance concession: Israel must withdraw completely from the occupied territories and allow the Palestinians to build a state there. The Palestinian state and Israel would then recognize one another. For the time in between Hamas suggested a truce.13
Israel’s leaders have always managed to avoid negotiations that might have led to a withdrawal from the territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state. They put the blame on the Palestinians for the lack of a solution or claimed that more time was needed. At the present time (October 2007) it seems that the much heralded peace conference in November will turn out to be another futile gathering. According to the latest reports the disputed issues — borders, Jerusalem and refugees — will not be discussed for the purpose of reaching a solution. This is the Israeli view and Foreign Minister Rice apparently agrees. Putting off such decisions enables Israel to confiscate more land and bring in more settlers. Furthermore, there is no indication that Hamas will be invited or that the people in Gaza will, be represented.
A map of the UN shows the present extent of the Zionist colonization. 40 % of West Jordan is exclusively for Israeli citizens and military. The rest is divided into cantons/bantustans. Movement between them is severely restricted by road blocks and check points. Jews are now settling in Hebron and Palestinians are leaving. The Jordan valley is also becoming Jewish. A leading member of Sharon´s cabinet has admitted that the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza was not intended to be the first step in a significant withdrawal from the territories. It was done to get Bush’s consent to Israel keeping the large Jewish settlements in West Jordan. Bush generously agreed.14 It seems likely that Gaza will become another bantustan. In view of the miserable living conditions for the Palestinians considerable emigration is to be expected. The Zionist dream may soon come true.
Zionism in America and Germany
Three topics will be dealt with in this section: 1. The so-called wave of antisemitism during the recent Palestine uprising. 2. The obsession with the mass murder of Jews during the Third Reich and the question whether it was unique. 3. The Zionist goals in America and Germany.
1. The “wave of antisemitism”
The assertion that antisemitism was widespread began in April 2002 when the bombing of Palestine cities and refugee camps reached its peak and was followed by severe criticism in Europe and elsewhere. Thus 59% of the Europeans expressed the opinion in a poll that the greatest danger to world peace came from the state of Israel. What do these findings have to do with antisemitism? In ordinary and scholarly usage it is a prejudice against the Jews as a whole. A prejudice is an attitude which is not factually based. A negative statement about Israel or its leaders, even if it is a prejudice against them, is not about “the Jews.”
The reproach of antisemitism during the intifada was propagated by the large Jewish organizations in America, by the Council of Jews in Germany and some Jewish journalists and academicians. Because of their close affiliation with Israel it is appropriate to refer to them as Zionists. Here are some examples: The editor of the Commentary, one of the leading Jewish journals in America, wrote: “We are past the Kristallnacht in America and well on the way to the final solution … Jews in the United States are being targeted for murder.” The leader of the Anti Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, asserted that “the survival of the Jewish people might once again be at risk.” Elie Wiesel, a prominent stimulator for high-lighting the holocaust, spoke at a conference on antisemitism in Berlin and at the United Nations. In Berlin he said: “There are too many cities in the world plagued by vocal and violent hatred toward the Jewish people … extreme left-wing banners unashamedly slandering Israel…mass incitement to hysterical violence disguised as anti-Israel propaganda.” In New York: “Sixty years after the worst tragedy in human history Jew — hatred is once again in the rise.”15
The response of Jewish leaders in Germany to the criticism of Israel was the same. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung printed an article by Salomon Korn, a member of the Council of Jews in Germany, in which he wrote: “All Jews are held responsible for every offense of Israel against the Palestinians. The debate about the Middle East conflict exposes the prevailing antisemitism. That old question hangs over the heads of the Jews like the sword of Damocles: ‘Was it right to stay in Germany?’” It is noteworthy that the German foreign minister Josef Fischer, endorsed Salomon’s assertion shortly thereafter in the FAZ: “Why is Israel being so sharply criticized? Why this one-sidedness? In these months many German Jews feel themselves abandoned.” Michel Friedman, a former member of the Council, said in a television interview while soliciting donations for Israel: “Antisemitism is the greatest problem of the Western World. It is quite acceptable in all circles to run down the Jews.” In answer to the question whether philosemitism existed in Germany he said: “The philosemites are worse than the antisemites. They always expect thanks from us.”16 The Israeli ambassador to Germany, Shimon Stein: “Antisemitism in Germany is obviously a chronic illness. Now it is concentrated on Israel as the collective Jew.”17
This accusation was also made against individuals. The chairman of the Council of Jews in Germany, Paul Spiegel, spoke in June 2002 at a meeting of the Christian Democratic Party. He warned the party against participating in a coalition government with the Free Democrats. He said that “a leader of the FDP” — he meant Jürgen Möllemann — had made antisemitic remarks. “Antisemitism would probably be part of official politics again.” None of the politicians who were present asked which remarks were meant or what Spiegel considered antisemitic. Möllemann, a former minister of education and president of the German — Arab society had accused the Israeli government of committing state terrorism. The word terror in our cultural area means attacks on unarmed civilians. That certainly includes attacks with helicopters on individuals who have not been tried by a court and found guilty, whereby other persons too are hit. This happened more than 100 times during the intifada. Möllemann also said: “the aggressive — arrogant treatment of Sharon’s critics by Michel Friedman is unfortunately likely to lead to anti-Israeli and antisemitic responses.” None of these statements is a derogatory statement about “the Jews.” Another former minister, Norbert Blüm, got similar treatment after he said the charge of antisemitism “was being used as a club to sweep criticism of Israel’s disregard for human rights under the carpet.”Spiegel responded with the remark that Blüm’s statement was ”racism.”18
The comments of leaders of the most important parties in the German parliament are remarkable. Chancellor Schröder, the leader of the Social Democratic party, accused Möllemann’s party of “playing with antisemitism.” His vice chairman said: The FDP wants to win over “antisemitic currents” in Germany for their purposes. A speaker for the Green Party which was in the coalition government, said that Möllemann was a “mean antisemite.” Another speaker for the Greens said: “Anyone who holds the Jews responsible for antisemitism legitimizes antisemitism.” The chairman of the Christian Social Party (CSU) added: “The FDP provoked leading Jewish representatives to win votes from the die-hard reactionaries.” A speaker for the Christian Democratic Party: “Blüm’s remark is ‘useful for the die–hard reactionaries.’”19 None of these parlamentarians breached the question what was meant by the word “antisemitism.” In this respect too, they resembled the Zionist spokesmen.
So the Zionist leaders have performed a stunt across the stages in America and Germany which reached a peak in the antisemitism conferences in New York and Berlin: Criticism of Israel or, as some of them say, sharp critique, is symptomatic of antisemitism. This is another political dogma which the chorus of leaders preach one after the other without offering evidence. One ardent promoter of this dogma, Alan Dershowitz, professor of criminal law at Harvard, wrote in 1991. “It is impossible to understand why Israel receives the attention — most particularly the criticism — it does receive without recognizing that Israel is ‘the Jew’ among nations.”20 There are, however, other possible explanations. Since the beginning of the colonization of Palestine in 1920, it has been the center of an earthquake area, and that concerns all of us. Furthermore, millions of people are appalled by the deplorable way Israel has behaved toward the Palestinians and other neighbors. Perhaps many critics of Israel have developed hostile attitudes toward Jews generally while observing Israel and its unconditional support by Jewish leaders in America, Germany and elsewhere who purport to represent Jews. That would be unjust, but it is unfortunately a fact that wrongs done by some individuals in a nation often result in prejudices against the whole nation. But here another Zionist dogma turns up: Jews can never be responsible for anti-Semitism.21
2. The obsession with the holocaust
Americans and Germans look back repeatedly on one great atrocity while the other ones remain in the shadow. In America the obsession with the Jewish tragedy is the work of large Jewish organizations and Jews (by no means all Jews) in key positions in newspapers, journals, television, book publishing, in Hollywood and in the academic world.22 Here is a brief sampling of what they have accomplished: There are holocaust museums not only at a prominent place in Washington but also in every big city. In some of them other victims of the Third Reich are remembered but only marginally. At the place in New England which is dedicated to the heroes of the American Revolution there is also a monument for the Jewish victims of the Third Reich. In many American states, teachers are obliged to instruct students about the holocaust. For this topic, there are professorial chairs at colleges. The nine hour film Holocaust was viewed entirely or for the greater part by 110 million viewers. Jewish organizations published Schindler’s List with 110 million copies of a 16-page brochure and worked over the most important newspapers to persuade them to print the book in series. The National Council of Churches named the first day of the showing Holocaust Sunday. Yellow stars of David were distributed. Between the years 1996 and 2000 the New York Times printed 3,500 articles with references to the holocaust. Politicians find it useful to have themselves photographed in Yad Vashem.23
The holocaust was not brought into prominence in America until the 1960s. After World War II, the cold war was under way, it lasted until the end of the 1950s. Political circles and media were fighting communism, comparisons between the crimes under communism and the National Socialists were commonplace and not frowned upon. But with the end of the cold war the interest in emphasizing communist crimes died out. The explanation of the Eichmann case by the prosecutor gave a powerful stimulus for the change. When the trial began many Jewish leaders doubted whether it was good for Jews. Objections were made to it in some of the media, because Jews were both prosecutors and judges and because it was a show trial. The leaders of two of the most important Jewish organizations explained the Eichmann case as a consequence of totalitarianism. But during the trial which lasted for four months the viewers saw terrible pictures and heard horrid stories and the criticism died out. The path for the holocaust as a long-standing success was levelled.24
In Germany, the struggle against communism did not interfere with the emphasis on the Jewish victims of National Socialism. Already in the early 1950s the government, the parliament, media and educators made considerable efforts to throw light on the Third Reich. Prominent persons often urged the public not to forget what had happened, especially the suffering of Jews. This development was furthered by the trial of persons accused of war crimes, the stage adaption of The diary of Anne Frank (there were 1420 performances) and the sale in 1957 of 700,000 copies of the pocket book edition. In 1959 some young men devastated a synagogue in Cologne. There were numerous expressions of sympathy for the congregation and the culprits were punished. But the media in Germany played up the event and Jewish organizations in America and England claimed that the crimes during the Third Reich were being played down, Hitler’s ideas were still lurking in German minds. Public opinion polls and sundry investigations resulted in an entirely different portrayal. Nevertheless, this event and the Eichmann trial, which was treated for two years in German media, were the immediate causes of the obsession with the holocaust in Germany.25 The “remembrance” is kept fresh in the public mind with memorials, commemorative speeches, often by Israelis, reviews of books by or about Jewish victims, American and German films and so forth. Characteristic of the attitude of the Council of Jews in Germany is the statement of the recently elected chairwoman, Charlotte Knobloch, that one of her main tasks was to ensure that the “remembrance” continues. Certain political parties have frequently accussed other parties of suppressing the history of the Third Reich, especially the persecution of Jews.
In this connection, two recent events concerning the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem are noteworthy. First: Germany has contributed more than two million euro for the identification and copying of a documentation of the museum about the persecution of Jews. The German minister of justice, Brigitte Zypries, gave the director a check in 2005 and said: “Our duty as Germans is to keep the remembrance of the crimes of the Nazi regime alive because this is necessary to prevent such crimes ever occurring again.26 The minister simply parroted a reason which many Jewish leaders have used over and over again in spite of the many mass murders that have occurred meanwhile. The minister might well have mentioned one of the purposes for which the remembrance actually is used. Second: The museum offers seminars on “Education after the holocaust” for teachers. German teachers take part with support from German provinces. In 2006 the German ambassador to Israel, Rudolf Dressler, invited the German teaches who participated to a reception. He said in his speech: Sixty years after Auschwitz there can never be enough teaching about the holocaust. Even after forty years of diplomatic relations there cannot be normal relations between Germany and Israel.”27
Was the holocaust unique? When the “remembrance” is insisted upon, it is often said that it was “unique.” The statement that an event is unique is, of course, ambiguous. It can mean that it has characteristics that cannot be found with other events, which is true of all events. But those who advocate the uniqueness of the holocaust aim to convince others that it was the worst crime in human history. This intention becomes clear where comparisons with other major crimes are said to be playing down the holocaust. The statement that some crime was the worst in history is not empirically verifiable, it is neither true nor false, it is a matter of opinion. To clarify this point it is worthwhile to examine the most frequent reasons that have been given for the uniqueness of the holocaust.
First: The killing was done by organized factory-like gassing. But killing by other means, e.g., by torture or burning, could be regarded as just as bad or worse. Furthermore, the Roma and others in extermination camps were killed in the same way as Jews were.28
Second: It is often asserted that Hitler intended to kill all the Jews and, indeed, for ideological reasons. The evidence for that is lacking. According to his ideology, the Aryans, above all others, had the mission to develop their capacities in matters of culture and statecraft. For that purpose, opposing forces were necessary to resist and stimulate the Aryans. (This is in line with social Darwinism). The Jews were, he claimed, the opposing party, they were destructive and must be resisted.29 In light of his further statement that “something bad must exist to stimulate what is good,” one may conclude that the interaction with Jews would always be necessary for the self-realization of the Aryans. In January 1939, he said in a speech: “If the Jews in international financial circles again succeed in plunging the nations of the world in a world war, the result will be the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe.” In January 1941, he said: “If America is forced into a general war by the Jews, all of the Jews in Europe will have played out their role in Europe.” These were sharp and unjustifiable warnings but not an unconditional statement of intent and did not refer to all Jews. The agreement between the Hitler government and the Zionist leadership which lasted from 1933 until 1938 “to further the emigration of German Jews to Palestine” is evidence that the intention was to force Jews to leave Germany. According to Ludwig Pinner, whose study was published by the Leo Baeck Institute in Berlin, the implementation of the agreement brought about the rapid advance of the Jewish economy in Palestine to an industrial economy.30
But even if the killing of all Jews was intended, the claim of uniqueness does not hold water. The wiping out of whole peoples has been intended and the intention has been carried out.31 Whether such cases are the worst of all is also a matter of opinion. Finally, it can be argued that the number of innocent persons actually killed is decisive. That would presumably mean that the worst crime was committed in communist China.32 But here, too, the standard of ascertaining the worst — or second worst — is a matter of opinion. Nota bene: Whether the holocaust was the worst of all crimes is a matter of opinion. But this finding is not meant to belittle its enormity.
3. Zionist goals in America and Germany
First: Like Herzl, their primary goal is to convince Jews that they belong to the Jewish nation and that Israel is their “mother country.” Katzav said in a speech in the German parliament that he spoke in the name of the Jewish nation. This remark may have led some people to believe all Jews or Jews in general profess loyalty to Israel. That is not so, even in America where Zionism has its strongest base outside of Israel. Numerous Jews reject Israel’s claim and oppose it vigorously. No doubt Katzav’s intimation holds with rare exceptions for the leaders of the major Jewish organizations in America and the Council of Jews in Germany. Their attitude may well have been expressed in Michel Friedman’s remark “Israel gives us our identity and our self-image.”
Like Herzl his successors strive to keep Jews together and separate from others by spreading fear and mistrust among them. Alarms have been sounded in America like these: “If you know history at all, you have to presume not that it could happen again, but that it will. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.” “A holocaust-consciousness is necessary, so that the Jews are ready to leave America.” But these assertions were deliberate deceptions. Peter Novick, professor of history at the university of Chicago has shown that the panic-mongers were trying to stop mixed-marriages and assimilation. In the 1960s, 40% of the Jewish men and 30% of the Jewish women married non-Jews. That led to these counter measures. There was talk about a “bloodless holocaust.” But anti-Semitism was of no significance in America, and Jews held influential positions in the media, in politics and on universities. A distinguishing feature of Jews as a group was their extraordinary wealth.33
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In my treatment of the so-called wave of anti-Semitism I have shown that Zionist leaders in Germany, too, sounded fearful alarms for Jews which were unfounded. If the Council really believed that the Germans constituted a threat to Jews, it certainly would not have lobbied for the immigration of 200,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union. The frightening sounds they make are not intended to cause a flight to Israel, but to strengthen Jewish national consciousness and ties to Israel. This task gives the leaders a purpose in life and material rewards, too. More about that below.
It is remarkable that this Zionist goal is supported financially by the German state. A so-called “international treaty” between the German government and the Council has recently become a law. The government promises to pay the Council three million euro yearly. These payments are apart from the financial support which Jewish religious communities receive. The preamble to the “treaty” contains this statement: “The German nation has a historical responsibility for Jewish life in Germany.” The money is to be used for “common interests of the Federal Republic and the Council”, namely for the development of the Jewish community and the “integration tasks” of the Council. Besides that it is to be used for tasks “which go beyond the region” and for administration costs. The Ministry of the Interior refers to the Jews from the former Soviet Union as “contingent refugees.” But in one passage, it states: The admission of an applicant depends upon his being of Jewish descent. “Persecution or discrimination are not criteria for the admission.” This agreement is only ostensibly a contract, it is in fact a gift. No quid pro quo is required. The flabby description of the tasks of the Council means in plain English that the Council should use the funds for purposes it wishes to pursue. The “integration” task is not understood by the Council to mean that Jewish immigrants should be assimilated in the German nation. Friedman has said that he plans a Jewish lobby in Europe like the one in America. The great majority of the German population wants the various ethnic and religious groups to strive primarily for common ends and not for what keeps them apart. During the last Ramadan the German president expressed the wish that the Muslims regard Germany as their homeland. Should this be addressed only to Muslims?
A second goal: Support for Israel. Its image and financial, diplomatic and backing from outside are enormously important for its success. The Zionist leaders in America and Germany occupy wide fields in the public eye where they can make their view about Middle East affairs known and exert considerable influence. They assert obstinately that Israel is only defending itself and fighting for its existence. Dershowitz, for example: “The great moral issue facing the world at the dawn of the millennium is whether Israel’s attempt to protect itself against terrorism will result in a massive increase of world-wide antisemitism.”36 Paul Spiegel expressed himself along the same line after a helicopter attack on Hamas’ headquarters, where eight civilians, including some children, were killed: “They are declaredly terrorists … self-defense — a matter of life or death.”37 Criticism of Israeli actions by Zionist leaders is a rarity. When a member of the Council of Jews in Germany, Professor Paul Verleger, criticized Israel’s practice of assassinations without any judicial hearing and the ruthless destruction of large parts of Lebanese cities, the Council leadership accused him of using anti-Israeli “clichés” and expelled him from the Council.
Besides protestations of innocence Israel’s image is varnished in America and Germany by unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism against its critics and by repeatedly calling the holocaust to mind. During the recent intifada the wave of anti-Semitism accusations, including the conferences in New York and Berlin, served to divert the public from the deaths and destruction the Israeli army was causing. The reproaches against individuals were clearly aimed at disparaging them and their critique and deterring others, especially public figures, from speaking frankly about Israel´s atrocities. That holds also for the attacks on the German minister for development aid Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul after she referred to the danger from the numerous blind shells that still lay around in Lebanon after the war. Knobloch reproached her for having spoken “one-sidedly to the detriment of Israel and thereby supported antisemitic attitudes.” Apparently no other political leader who was a member of the government during the intifada or the recent war in Lebanon risked criticizing Israel. More recently several Catholic bishops visited the occupied territories and made frank statements about what they experienced. One bishop apparently spoke of a “Ghetto in Ramallah.” Mrs. Knobloch said that this was a comparison with the ghettos during the Third Reich and accused him of “moving close to the border of antisemitism.”38 But a ghetto in ordinary usage is a quarter in which Jews are compelled to live and from which they are not allowed to go out at night. Furthermore, instead of getting to the factual issue — comparisons can throw light on events — she resorted to an ad hominem argument. The accusation of being on the verge of anti-Semitism may not ruin ones reputation in Germany and America, but it throws a shadow on the person attacked. If the presidents or some other prominent persons in America and Germany had clarified what is meant by prejudices against ethnic groups, including anti-Semitism, they would have done a good deed for their countries.
The constant calling to mind of the holocaust in connection with Israel is likely to give the impression that, in spite of all appearances, Israel is the victim or at least that critics should allow for extenuating circumstances. After the Israeli army conquered the rest of Palestine in the Six Day War and then “for reasons of security” began settling Jews there, Israel’s image became tarnished world-wide. The idea then turned up among Israel supporters in America that this was due to a lack of holocaust-consciousness. Various remedies were used. Holocaust novels were sent to all members of Congress. In films and novels Palestinians and the Nazis planned the destruction of Israel. The director of the ADL wrote: “The Palestinians, or many of them, were Hitler’s little helpers.”39 During the last intifada the president of the Council of Jews in Germany, Paul Spiegel, and Israel’s ambassador, Shimon Stein, demanded better holocaust-instruction in the schools ostensibly for the purpose of fighting anti-Semitism. Spiegel also recommended that the ministers of culture in the German states turn to Yad Vashem for advice on holocaust-instruction.
The Zionist leaders justify the claims they make against America and Germany in favor of Israel in quite different ways. Support from America is said to be in America’s interest, whereas support from Germany is characterized as part performance of a moral obligation of the German people. For an elaboration of the US-Israel relation I confine myself here to recommending the recent study by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt about the Israel lobby and some critical and affirmative reviews of the book.40
Zionist and German political leaders assert again and again that the Germans are morally obliged to secure Israel´s existence and that the state must fulfill this obligation. Thus, Israel’s president Katzov said last year in a speech before the German parliament: “There can never be forgiveness or pardon for the shoa.” This hard remark was clearly meant to burden the consciences of all Germans, even the unborn, although in our cultural area and not only here only those who have done wrong have need for forgiveness. Michel Friedman said: “The heirs of the Jew-killing state have no choice but to accept this historical obligation.” At the beginning of the recent intifada Israel’s prime minister Barak said to Chancellor Schmidt who was visiting Israel: “Because of the shadows of the past, Germany has a special obligation to Israel.” While the Israeli army was employing force out of all proportion to that of the Palestinian fighters, Germany’s foreign minister, Josef Fischer, declared that the Islamic terrorists wanted to destroy Israel. Israel had a right to exist. “We are obliged to use all means available to prevent the destruction of Israel.”41 The employment of the German marine to patrol the Lebanese coast during and after the Lebanese war was explained by the speaker of the government as follows: “First, there is the historical obligation to secure the existence of the state of Israel and second the interest in stability in the Middle East.” In this connection Angela Merkel declared: “Our reason of state is above all to secure Israel’s existence.”42
These statements are objectionable for at least three reasons. 1. If one has swallowed enough of Zionist ideology, one can talk without any compunctions as if Israel’s existence and not that of the Palestinians and the Lebanese state was at stake. 2. Let’s turn the tables: If all Jews were held to be morally responsible for the past wrongs of some Jews, we would rightly call this a prejudice against the Jews, anti-Semitism and a defamation. It is noteworthy that leading German politicians persist in defaming their own nation. 3. When the head of a state declares that “our reason of state” is to defend some other country and no public figure objects, it is high time to think about emigrating.
Even if we assume that all of the Germans are responsible for wrongs done to individual victims by some of the Germans during the Third Reich, the question would still remain whether the obligation would extend to the state of Israel. A former German ambassador to Israel, Klaus Schütz, has argued that the Germans are responsible to secure Israel’s existence because the holocaust was the spark for the establishment of Israel. He did not clarify what was meant by “spark” or why it should be decisive. His assumption, however, that the obligation must be grounded in a causal relationship is worth examining. The all-important cause for the establishment of Israel was doubtless the alliance between the government of England and the Zionist leaders and what they did in Palestine. England held the key to Palestine. Beginning in 1920, the government supported the Zionist colonization for 17 years. The British army suppressed the first Palestinian Uprising (1936-1939). It is has been estimated that about 3000 rebels were killed, 100 were hanged and the leaders were exiled. The Zionists were allowed to build an army which with Jewish terror organizations expelled 750,000 Palestinians. (Half of the Arab population of mandatory Palestine became refugees). The expulsions began while Britain was still responsible for law and order. The only (relatively small) causal connection between Germany and the establishment of Israel was the fulfillment of the agreement which the Hitler government made with the Zionist leaders. Were the British people obliged to secure Israel’s existence? The answer is obviously “No,” and there are two reasons for that. First, only individuals are guilty and responsible for wrongs committed. Second, England did not harm Israel, it enabled the Zionists to get what they wanted. The Palestinians were harmed. The members of the English government, the Zionist leaders and their supporters were guilty and responsible for the harm they caused the Palestinians.
Israel’s only possible claim against Germany was for compensation for the costs it might have incurred by integrating Jewish victims. But a very substantial part of these costs were covered by the Palestinians whose lands and homes were given to Jewish settlers. These consequences were pointed out by Arab embassies but Chancellor Adenauer said he had no right to take a stand on the relation between Jews and Arabs. This statement contradicted the almost unanimous opinion among philosophers of ethics — and our common sense — that the probable consequences must be taken into consideration in judging whether an agreement is morally good. Israel claimed compensation for integrating 500,000 Jews and the German government paid it.
Since then the German governments along with other Western governments have aided and abetted the Israeli wars of aggression, expulsion and exploitation. Some of the deliveries of weapons have been kept secret, some were paid entirely or in part by Germany, i.e. by the taxpayers. Thus, Germany paid 80% of the costs of three submarines which could be equipped with nuclear weapons.43 It is noteworthy that the last delivery was made soon after the brutal suppression of the last Palestinian uprising. The fact that there is a causal relation between Germany’s support for Israel and the hard fate of the Palestinians and other Arabs is never mentioned. This reality — and the guilt and moral responsibility of the countries’ leaders — is glossed over with the dogma that the Germans are obliged to secure Israel’s existence.
The dire consequences of what Israel has done in the Middle East with the support of western governments goes against the grain of the majority of the European people. I have already referred to the results of the public opinion poll that was taken during the intifada. During the war in Lebanon, two questions were asked in a poll in Germany. The first: “Israel is attempting to stop attacks by the radical Islamic Hisbullah. Do you regard the Israeli attacks on Lebanon as justified as a defense measure, or does Israel have no right to do that? 22% answered with “Yes,” 63% with “No,” and 15% had no opinion. The second question: “Should Israel forgo attacks on big cities to avoid causing civilian victims, even when Hisbullah also attacks cities in Israel with missiles?” 72% answered with “Yes,” 18% with “No,” and 10% had no opinion.44 The majority of the population called a spade a spade and showed its sympathy for the victims.
It is hard to believe that the German leaders themselves are convinced that their nation is morally responsible to secure Israel’s existence. Suppose the Zionists had not conquered a part of Arabia which was unable to defend itself but some part of America and driven out its inhabitants. Would they have supported the Zionists or the Americans? It is also noteworthy that one rarely hears about the murder of non-Jews, Roma, and others in the concentration camps, and the assertion of an obligation to them is hard to find. The most recent example of the indifference to non-Jewish victims is the new memorial at a prominent place in Berlin which is dedicated only to the Jewish victims. Finally, the treaty between Adenauer and Ben Gurion, whereby Germany was to provide Israel with goods and services in the value of 3 billion German marks during the following 12 years, had been made after America, England, and France suggested that Germany give Israel economic support. At that time, Germany was eager to join the western alliance, have its debts limited and obtain support in its dispute with East Germany over Berlin. Adenauer wrote in his memoirs that his success at the London Claims Conference depended upon his satisfying Jewish banking circles in regard to the terms of his treaty with Ben Gurion.
3. The third goal of Zionists in America and Germany is to maintain a privileged position for the remembrance of the Jewish tragedy. There are other ethnic groups who want the past sufferings of their groups to be recognized. A draft resolution in Congress for the erection of a museum in remembrance of what black slaves had to endure from Americans was rejected. Blacks have never received compensation. Just recently, however, the state of Virginia did express its regrets. A draft resolution in Congress in remembrance of the extermination of a large part of the Indian population fell through.
A draft resolution for the recognition of the Armenian tragedy was fought successfully by Israel and Jewish organizations.45 They argued that the Jewish tragedy was unique because there was no rational reason for it. This statement is ambiguous. It can mean that there was no just reason for the murder of the Jews, but that holds for the killing of the Armenians, too. It can mean that the act was done for no reason at all which in the case of Hitler is unproved. He might have been moved by the belief that “Jews in international financial circles” plunged America into the war, as he said in 1939. Whether his reason was right or wrong is not the issue here.
The holocaust memorial in Washington was originally intended to be built in remembrance of all the victims of the Third Reich. At that time, President Carter’s party feared that his sympathy for the Palestinians would cause the loss of Jewish campaign funds and some important electoral districts. Elie Wiesel, who spoke for interested Jewish groups, objected to Carter’s plan. He insisted that only Jewish victims should be remembered, because their suffering was unique. If it were dedicated to other groups, too, the Jews would not support it. Carter gave in.46 The Council of the holocaust museum in Washington explained its purpose as follows: “The memorial belongs at the center of American life, because America, as a democratic civilization, is the enemy of racism and the most radical form of genocide”. The Nazis have violated the deepest belief of the American people in word and deed. There are some ethnic groups in America who surely are not convinced of this interpretation of American history. The privileged position of Jews in America has led to much tension between them and weaker minorities, especially the blacks.
The huge monument in Berlin which is dedicated only to the Jewish victims of the Third Reich was advocated in public by two Germans who were not Jewish, but Paul Spiegel spoke at the dedication ceremony. The fact that other victims were overlooked was justified by the two advocates with the following assertions:
1. The mass
murder of the
Jews was unique.
2. “According to some sources,” the number of Roma killed was much smaller than what the Roma have claimed. But the number of Jews who were killed has also been disputed.
3. The Roma were killed in different ways and for different reasons. But Roma were also gassed in the concentration camps, and why should the killing of innocent people for one reason be less deplorable than the killing for some other reason.
4. A fourth goal: It is in the very own interest of thousands of people to spread the Zionist ideology and dogmas. They can be awarded with money, prestige and influence. Among them are the largest Jewish organizations in America, the Council of Jews in Germany, the Jewish Claims Commission against Germany, Councils and employees of holocaust museums, film producers, publishers of Jewish newspapers and journals, journalists, writers, lawyers and others.47
The distinguishing feature of Zionist ideology and its dogmas is fear and insecurity. They give distorted pictures of reality. Like some other ideologies its employment has brought the promoters a great deal of success but also tragedy for the Palestinians and other Arabs and suffering for many Jews, too. The dogmas are:
1. Jews can
only be secure
when they live
in a Jewish
anchored in the
nations and will
2. Dishonesty, fickleness and dangerousness are characteristics of the Arabs.
3. Israel merely defends itself, it is fighting for its existence. Israel´s security is the crucial issue in the Middle East conflict.
4. Criticism of Israel is proof of anti-Semitism. For some Zionists this is only true when the criticism is sharp.
5. Jews are never responsible for anti-Semitism.
6. The holocaust was purely and simply a consequence of anti-Semitism, totalitarianism could not have been a necessary condition. In this connection, two more dogmas: The holocaust was the worst crime in human history. And all Germans, even the unborn, are morally obliged to do what is necessary to secure Israel’s existence.
All of this speaks for the abolition of the lurid and narrow–minded Zionist ideology and its dogmas. It would be good for all concerned if it were replaced with a guideline which is closer to reality and open to the spirit of respect and reconciliation. My wife recommends the words of Zarastro in The Magic Flute: “Life begins where fear ceases.” This can also be said about pretenses of fear and insecurity. Such a change will not be easy, but “The world is not a stinking pond. It is a river. What isn’t now, may well still be.” (Ole Bienkopp, Erwin Strittmatter).
Theodor Herzl, Der Judenstaat (1895), quoted in Julius Schoeps, Zionism (Wiesbaden 1983, p. 87. Schoeps gives a portrayal of the Zionist movement and its historical background. For a very different version see Allan Taylor, The Zionist Mind (Beirut 1974).
Klaus von Dohnanyi, Zivilcourage contra Political Correctness (Munich 2003) pp. 12, 32/33.
Hannah Arendt, Report on the Banality of Evil, quoted in Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (Boston, New York 1999) p. 134.
Avi Slaim, The Iron Wall (London 2000) pp. 208-216.
See eg., Kenneth Lewan, Der Nahostkrieg in der westdeutschen Presse (Cologne 1970).
Noam Chomsky, The Fateful Triangle (London 1999) p. 227.
Simha Flapan, Zionism and the Palestinians (New York 1979) p. 82.
Lewan, Ist Israel Südafrika? (Tossens 1993) p.71.
New York Review of Books (2005).
Lewan, Die Zweite Intifada - Zwiespalt in der Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Frankfurt November 2002) pp. 23-43.
Süddeutsche Zeitung, July 26, 2006.
The Oslo negotiations dealt with increases in the autonomy of cities in the occupied territories but not with the withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the territories. This matter is explained in detail in Ludwig Watzal, Feinde des Friedens (Berlin 2001), p. 75 ff. Robert Malley, a close advisor of President Clinton at Camp David, remarked later that Barak had carefully avoided making any offer. New York Review of Books, 2006. There was no written record of the proceedings. A former member of the German Foreign Office, Joachim Koch, has informed me that during the 25 years in which he engaged in international negotiations serious offers were always made in writing.
For detailed accounts of Hamas’ development see Helga Baumgarten, “Hamas,” Materialien der Gesellschaft für österreichisch – arabische Beziehungen, January 2007, pp. 5-15 and Khalid Hroub, “A ‘New Hamas’ Through its Documents,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Summer 2006, pp. 6-27.
Henry Siegman, “The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam,” London Review of Books, August 16, 2007.
Norman Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah (Berkeley 2005) pp. 39, 33 and 81.
“Israel ist unser Rückgrat,” Interview with Michel Friedman on SAT 1, quoted in Tacheles, January 4, 2005.
Tribüne, March 5, 2005.
Lewan, Die zweite Intifada, pp. 126-134.
Ibid., p. 130.
Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah, p. 33.
Finkelstein, Ibid., p. 78-81.
Novick, The Holocaust in American Life, pp. 208-210.
Novick, Ibid., pp. 207, 208; Juncker, “Die Amerikanisierung des Holocausts,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, September 9, 2000.
Novick, Ibid., pp. 85-102, 127-125.
Manfred Kittel, Die Legende von der Zweiten Schuld (Berlin 1999) passim.
Press Release of the German Ministry of Justice, May 23, 2005.
Newsletter of the Israeli embassy in Berlin, in www.Jüdische, August 31, 2005.
Guenter Lewy, Rückkehr nicht erwünscht (Berlin 2001) pp. 372-378).
Frank Kroll, Utopie als Ideologie (Paderborn 1988) pp. 44-46.
Ludwig Pinner, “Die Bedeutung der Einwanderung aus Deutschland” in: Werner Feilchenfeld, Dolf Michaeli and Ludwig Pinner, Havara-Transfer nach Palästina (Tübingen 1972) pp. 89-106.
Immanuel Geis, Geschichte griffbereit (Gütersloh 2002) vol. 4, p. 1009.
Stéphane Courtois and others, Communist Crimes, Terror and Repression (Paris 1997) p. 16. The publication of this book in Germany led to several reviews in newspapers, whereby stands were taken on the question whether the crimes in the Soviet Union were comparable to the holocaust. These reviews along with articles by French authors were published in Der Rote Holocaust, edited by Horst Möller, the director of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich. But this matter has not been debated by the parties in the parliament. In the mean time the last two chancellors have said what is politically wise in Germany namely that the holocaust was unique.
Novick, The Holocaust in American Life, pp. 170-188.
Wolf Calebow, Auf dem Wege zur Normalisierung (Berlin 1999).
The director of the institute has asserted that the distinguishing feature of anti-Semitism is different from the definition of other prejudices against ethnic groups. He did not explain why that is the case or wherein the distinction lies. See Newsletter, Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung, March 2005. During the intifada a study of this institute about anti-Semitism in Europe was commissioned by the European Monitoring Commission on Racism and Xenophobia. It was rejected, however, on the ground that it was “biased” and “lacking in empirical evidence”. For further details see Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah, pp. 35-38.
Finkelstein, Ibid., p. 46.
Lewan, Die zweite Intifada, p. 132.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 10, 2007.
Novick, The Holocaust in American Life, p.156ff.
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby (New York 2007). Short versions of the book have appeared in London Review of Books, March 10, 2006, and Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring 2006. The JPS added several reviews.
The remarks of Barak, Friedman and Fischer are quoted in Lewan, Die zweite Intifada, pp. 112-120.
Süddeutsche Zeitung, September 7, 2006.
Christopher Steinmetz, German-Israeli Armaments–Cooperation, Berlin Information Center for Security, November/December 2002.
TNS Infratest for the magazine Spiegel, July 18-20, 2006.
Novick, The Holocaust in American Life, pp. 178, 179.
Novick, Ibid., 16-22.
Finkelstein gives numerous examples of the use of the holocaust-remembrance for profit in The Holocaust Industry (London, New York 2000).