Zionism and the Ethnic Cleansing of Europe

Zionism and the Ethnic Cleansing of Europe

Shome: Zionism and the Ethnic Cleansing of Europe | 1

Zionism and the Ethnic Cleansing of Europe
Siddhartha Shome
Stanford University

The Holocaust was by far the worst genocide in human history and has
understandably attracted much scholarly interest. However, the Holocaust did
not happen in isolation. As the term ‘final solution’ indicates, it was intended as
the culmination of a broad effort to ethnically cleanse1 Europe of its Jews – an
effort that preceded the Holocaust and continued even after it ended. This
paper argues that in a curious ideological relationship, Zionists2 and their
supporters embraced much of the ideological framework of European antiSemitism, and, except for its most intense manifestation in the form of genocide,
implicitly endorsed the effort to ethnically cleanse Jews from Europe and make
Europe judenrein (free of Jews).
The horrors of the Holocaust are widely thought to have ended with the
conclusion of World War II. However, while the worst was indeed over, antiSemitism still prevailed in Europe. Far from assisting Jewish Holocaust survivors
seeking to return home, post-war European society made it clear that Jews
were unwanted and unwelcome. The number of Jewish displaced persons living
in Displaced Person (D.P.) camps run by the United Nations and the U.S. Army
actually increased in the months following the end of the war, peaking at about
a quarter million in 1947 (Berkowitz and Brown-Fleming 169). In Eichmann in

Western Tributaries 1(2014)

Shome: Zionism and the Ethnic Cleansing of Europe | 2

Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt records the testimony of a witness describing the
plight of Holocaust survivors,
He also told how some of them “had wandered home from the DP
camps,” only to come back to another camp, for “home” was, for
instance, a small Polish town where of six thousand former Jewish
inhabitants fifteen had survived, and where four of these survivors
had been murdered upon their return....

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