Ballet Russe, Zionism, and Terror

In my recent post of Richard Francis Burton’s translation of two short tales from Scheherazade’s 1001, I included a picture of Ida Rubenstein, a figure from fin de sièclela Belle Époque history who was new to me.  She was born to a wealthy family of Russian Jews, came to dance late, for a ballerina, that is, and made a big splash with Leon Bakst and Nijinsky.  Her début was a private performance of Oscar Wilde’s Salome, in which she danced through the seven veils to the nude.  She was denounced by the Archbishop of Paris for dancing as Saint Sebastian in a ballet scored by Debussy, with costumes by Bakst.  Sacrilege!  A Jew and a woman depicting the martyred saint!

During WWII, she fled France for England, where she helped escaped Resistance members, and was intimate with Walter Guinness, her sponsor and sometime lover.  He was assassinated in 1944 by members of the Stern Gang, a terrorist organization of Zionist Jews trying to dislodge Britain from Palestine.

Stern Gang is what the Brits called them, but they referred to themselves as Lehi, but also as ‘terrorists’ and, according to Wikipedia,  may have been one of the last organizations to do so:

An article titled “Terror” in the Lehi underground newspaper He Khazit (The Front ) argued as follows:

Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat. We are very far from having any moral qualms as far as our national war goes. We have before us the command of the Torah,whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: “Ye shall blot them out to the last man.” But first and foremost, terrorism is for us a part of the political battle being conducted under the present circumstances, and it has a great part to play: speaking in a clear voice to the whole world, as well as to our wretched brethren outside this land, it proclaims our war against the occupier. We are particularly far from this sort of hesitation in regard to an enemy whose moral perversion is admitted by all.

There we have it.  Infatuation with The Cause, with Violence, with The Nation.  Sound familiar?  On the principle of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” the Lehi made overtures to Nazi Germany, offering to assist in its war against the British in exchange for allowing the free emigration of Jews to Palestine to join the nation-building cause.

The more I learn about the history of Zionism, and its role as a foundation of Israeli society, the more disgusted I become.  Former Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Shamir, was a member in good standing of the gang.

9 Responses to Ballet Russe, Zionism, and Terror

  1. imagenmots says:

    The Zionists have been and still are akin to AlQuaida. All extremisms are alike wherever they come from. But, unfortunately, not approving of Zionism has become synonymous with anti-semitism. I hold that most Zionist are Semites but not all Semites are Zioinists. Anyway Jews and Arabs are first cousins and it’s all a family feud that has been going on since Abraham.

  2. Lichanos says:

    The feud hasn’t been going on that long. Until Mohammed, Arabs didn’t get much exposure outside of the Arabian penninsula. Also, not all Zionists are as extreme as AlQuaida, but the Stern Gang certainly seems close.

    There are many Jews who don’t subscribe to or are critical of Zionism. Sometimes they are attacked as anti-semites. Another formulation, often hurled at Chomsky, is that of the “self-hating Jew.”

  3. imagenmots says:

    there are even some ultra conservative Jews who say Israel is an illegitimate state because it was not created by the Messiah but by a secular power and they side with the Palestinians.
    As for Abraham, I refer to Ismaël, the son of the slave, and Israel, Sarah’s son and how the slave and her son were sent in the desert, according to the Scriptures of course, and the endless wars between the descendants of both, the Jewish Semite and the Arab Semites or Israelites and Ismaelites. Is it clearer?.

  4. troutsky says:

    Moshe Dyan , Ben Gurion, Hagana, the King David hotel, not a history that comes up much any more. If we think of it as trauma upon trauma upon trauma it is easier to understand the dysfunction of current “politics” as such.

    • Lichanos says:

      Nation building in the past has always involved brutality, if not atrocity. Now, it’s supervised by the UN or the USA…

      The Irgun got the hotel, not Hagana. They cooperated with the Stern Gang. Ben Gurion wasn’t a member of either, I believe. Dayan was in the Hagana, another paramilitary force. Hagana became IDF. Begin was the leader of the Irgun-King David caper.

      I’m sure many Palestinians are intimately acquainted with the terrorist lineage of some Israeli heroes and institutions. There’s too much irony here to stomach.

      Thinking about the past is a dead end in the Middle East. How far back to go? They’re all there. They will learn to live together or go on dying together. I guess the current Israeli government thinks that fighting forever is a viable course, but the demographics are against them. Of course, there are solutions for that too, but they are too horrible to think about now…

      • imagenmots says:

        A very simple, but totally unrealistic solution, would be to fence them all in, stop supplying arms to both sides and let them fight it out. Same applies to all the ongoing conflicts.
        But there is too much money to be made in arms dealing and just think of all the unemployment it would cause even in our not so pacific Canada.

  5. Ducky's here says:

    What choice did they have?

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