Socialist Zionism ultimately meant socialism for no one…
From 5 Broken Cameras, directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, 2011
The Left has a checkered history when it comes to Palestine. For at least the first two decades of Israel’s existence, due in part to the attempted extermination of European Jewry, in part to the distorting effects of Soviet foreign policy, and in part to sympathy for a purportedly socialist movement, almost the entire Western left lived with illusions about Zionism.
Ideologically, Zionism was a broad and heterogeneous nationalist movement, with many competing currents of the Right and Left, each with different degrees of moral awareness vis-à-vis the non-Jewish world. But as it manifested itself concretely, Zionism meant the creation of a colonial sovereignty in historic Palestine, and all that went with it: the calamitous replacement of a complex Palestinian society with vibrant urban and agricultural communities, deeply embedded within the surrounding Arab world, with a European nation-state.
Building a European state outside of Europe meant the destruction, expulsion, or assimilation of indigenous people, what the historian Patrick Wolfe has called the “logic of elimination.” That logic was then rationalized as a reparation for the horrors inflicted on European Jews — even as it was brought to bear against Palestinians who were not responsible for those horrors.
That’s why the shotgun marriage of Zionism and the Left has been so troubled. Socialist Zionism, even in theory, meant socialism for Zionists. Ultimately, it meant socialism for no one: Israel today is the second most unequal developed economy in the world.