Today is for taboo
Straight to the obvious question: What does Magneto think of Israel?
So, on to it. Which Magneto? Only one stipulation: designated as a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz. Otherwise, Magneto as you most clearly see him, with no specific reference to any issue or title. You’ll have to adjust the toggles of supremacism, ruthlessness, leadership, idealism, and grief to the points and combination that works absolutely the best for yourself, and be ready to summarize them clearly. I’m not interested in your interpretation of canon but rather of concept. [Important: Chris Claremont is the author reference here in X-Men #150, 1981, but is not to be held as the owner of intention or an authority over this question.]
What is Israel? I have one stipulation about that too: no made-up history. The points which follow in a moment are historical fact and whatever view or presentation of Israel you use is invalid without knowledge of them. [the following sentence was initially removed based on a commenter’s response but I have decided to restore it -RE] Criticism of Israeli ideology and policy does not constitute anti-semitism.
As you can see, there’s a deliberate double dial here, generating a special kind of Rorschach test. This isn’t about which personal answer is “right” compared to the others – it’s about illuminating oneself to everyone else. Embrace that if you dare.
The following is the baseline historical context for Israel-Palestine.
Following World War One, the area variously colored on the map below was designated the British Mandate of Palestine. Its population included Arabs of various religions (including 10% native Jewish and ancient Christian, both reaching back to New Testament times) and a small but well-funded contingent of Jewish Europeans calling themselves Zionists, who sought a mass emigration of the global Jewish population to this area. The situation from the 1920s through the 1940s is not well known to Americans or to many others, but suffice to say that both groups had fallen out politically with the British, there were several Arab revolts which were put down in classic British colonial fashion, and the Zionists had entered into covert militia warfare against the British, for which they invented the word “terrorism.”
You should probably click on the image to understand the next part. The area in pale beige was designated “Jewish territory” in the U.N. Partition Plan proposed by the U.S.S.R. and seconded by the U.S. in early 1948. The areas in red and white were outside of that territory and designated “Arab territory.” Upon the scheduled lapse of the British Mandate of Palestine in 1948, two things happened: (1) unilateral recognition by the U.S. Truman administration and (2) the military forces then called the Haganah and the paramilitary forces Irgun and Lehi ethnically cleansed the red areas, displacing approximately 800,000 people, and seized them. In Arabic, this is called the Nakba.
The Partition Plan was never adopted. It would be an irrelevant footnote except that the recognition by the U.S. stipulates those precise borders, which were and have remained completely overrun, and they are briefly referenced in the later UN Resolution 181.
The ensuing 1948-1949 war against the idiotic invasion by Jordan and others heavily favored the Haganah, now called the Israeli Defense Forces, supplied with air power and weaponry by the Soviet Union, against at most one conceivably-competent Arab army armed with WWI-vintage weapons. The seizure of the areas in red became permanent. Although in Israel this is called the War of Independence, it did not “win independence” from anyone.
Israel’s inclusion in the United Nations in 1949, supported by both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., citing U.S. recognition and hence the Partition borders (this is UN Res. 181 mentioned above), was contingent on its declaration of borders and its ratification of a constitution. It also stipulated the permission for refugees to return and the independence of Jerusalem from any state’s control. None of these stipulations have occurred.
Approximately a million European Jewish refugees including some Holocaust survivors were transported to Israel following 1949, to a great extent against their will and in no way afforded political power (Tom Sege’ev, The Seventh Million). To this day such refugees receive extremely little respect in Israel and many live below the poverty line; the exceptions are extremely few. The idea that Israel was “created for the survivors of the Holocaust” as a solution or recompense for the Nazi atrocities is a fabrication.
In 1993, the Oslo Accords abnegated the Palestinian claim to lost lands and established the Palestinian Authority as the government of the West Bank and Gaza, including a schedule by which this government would become independent of Israeli oversight and by which Israel would withdraw its extensive settlements in both areas. None of this schedule has occurred.
To move to the present day, which includes the 1967 seizure and occupation of both Gaza and the West Bank (white areas on the map) including Jerusalem, the composition of the area looks a bit like this:
- Israel including areas seized in 1948-1949 and in 1967, including Jerusalem and the Golan Heights: over six million people, with over a million of them non-Jewish and subject to marginalizing laws – for example, they are “citizens” but not “nationals,” a significant legal distinction there. Many of them are descended from those displaced during 1948-1949. (See Susan Nathan, The Other Side of Israel)
- The West Bank: over 2.5 million people, many descended from those displaced during 1948-1949. This area is nominally governed by the Palestinian Authority established in the 1993 Oslo Accords, but is still fully occupied by the IDF and subject to Israeli martial law. Much of it has been appropriated for Israeli homes and roads, especially west Jerusalem and the city’s surrounding suburbs.
- Gaza: over 1.5 million people, many descended from those displaced in 1948-1949; subject to severe economic blockade since 2005, full Israeli lockdown on energy and water resources, and two atrocity-laden IDF military strikes (2008, 2014).
In case you didn’t know, there is no treaty or any written alliance between Israel and the U.S., and there never has been.
A more complete account is available in my book-and-game Shahida, including the ethnic diversity of Jewish Israelis and the white-nonwhite tension therein. The most important recent book for investigating these issues is Max Blumenthal’s Goliath. The main book for understanding how the Holocaust was co-opted into Zionism is Norman Finkelstein’s The Holocaust Industry.
I also stress that one can conceivably be favorable toward Israeli policy or otherwise feel positively toward its culture without resorting to fantasies (see any of Benny Morris’ historical books, for instance) or without approving its political and military actions (see the long-standing activist Uri Avnery, for instance). Nothing I’ve said here front-loads the Israel dial.
To repeat, I’m not asking my question to Claremont or to Marvel or to any sort of official or unofficial canon. I’m asking you, in the context of my two stipulations.
I know well where my little dial-spins end and have already written it, which I will share only after I see ten (10) substantive replies in the comments.
A bit about the recent me: in 2007, Norman Finkelstein was denied tenure at DePaul University in blatant circumstances of outside pressure and donor decree. Upon his departure, I became the faculty advisor for the Students for Justice in Palestine and did my best to help the group with BDS activism until I resigned from my position at the school in 2014. I wrote and published my book-and-game Shahida about the Lebanese Civil War and became a signatory to the BDS movement during this time.
Note: The political circumstances and resonance of both the 1960s Magneto and the 1981 retcon will be discussed as their own textual issue in a later post, so please save discussion of those for then.
Next: Justice comes by night
Posted on June 7, 2015, in Politics dammit, The great ultravillains and tagged Chris Claremont, Holocaust, Israel, Judaism, Magneto, Max Blumenthal, mutant, Nakba, Norman Finkelstein, Palestine, Partition Plan, Susan Nathan, Tom Sege'ev, Uri Avneri, Zionism. Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.