Last update - 09:18 08/08/2008
By Zeev Sternhell
"The Zionist Enterprise," said Berl Katznelson in 1929, when he summed up the first 10 years of the Ahdut Ha'Avoda movement, is a "conquest enterprise." And in the same breath he added: "It is not by chance that I am using military terms to describe the settlement of the country." And in fact, Zionism was a movement of conquest, and all means were permitted to carry out the task.
However, what was essential and therefore justified in the pre-state days is now assuming an ugly and violent form of colonial occupation: the authoritarian regime in the territories, the creation of two legal systems, the placing of the army and police at the service of the settlement movement, the robbing of Palestinian lands. These all symbolize not the fulfillment of Zionism but rather its burial. It is there, between Hebron and Yitzhar, that the settlements are burying the democratic Jewish state.
Like other colonial regimes, the government in the territories is trying to operate under cover of darkness. A visit organized by Peace Now three weeks ago, with about 250 participants, was forbidden to enter Hebron. The area was declared a closed military area by the head of the Hebron Brigade, but the Hebron police did not prevent local toughs from trying to attack the tour's participants. Nor did the police stop other cars that left and entered Hebron undisturbed. We can reasonably assume that had members of Likud and the National Religious Party come for a visit, the area would not have been closed, and the army would have been at the service of the visitors.