The Collapse of Zionism

The Collapse of Zionism

By Ilan Pappé

Hamas’s assault of October 7 can be likened to an earthquake that strikes an old building. The cracks were already beginning to show, but they are now visible in its very foundations.

More than 120 years since its inception, could the Zionist project in Palestine – the idea of imposing a Jewish state on an Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern country – be facing the prospect of collapse? Historically, a plethora of factors can cause a state to capsize. It can result from constant attacks by neighbouring countries or from chronic civil war. It can follow the breakdown of public institutions, which become incapable of providing services to citizens. Often it begins as a slow process of disintegration that gathers momentum and then, in a short period of time, brings down structures that once appeared solid and steadfast.

The difficulty lies in spotting the early indicators. Here, I will argue that these are clearer than ever in the case of Israel. We are witnessing a historical process – or, more accurately, the beginnings of one – that is likely to culminate in the downfall of Zionism. And, if my diagnosis is correct, then we are also entering a particularly dangerous conjuncture. For once Israel realizes the magnitude of the crisis, it will unleash ferocious and uninhibited force to try to contain it, as did the South African apartheid regime during its final days.

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