Thursday, July 21, 2011

Malcolm Lassman and Zionism

I worked as a parlegal at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld from 1988 to 1991.  During my employment a senior Akin Gump partner named Malcolm Lassman used to have frequent surreptitious communications with my sister, or so I believe.  On at least one occasion Malcolm Lassman said to my sister (in my reconstruction): "Your brother acts like this is the only place he could work!  There are plenty of places he could work.  This is Washington, DC!  There are a lot of employers who will hire somebody with a law degree.  He doesn't have to work at a law firm.  He could work for a trade association or other place.  He acts as if Akin Gump is the only place he can work!"

Recently I was thinking about Malcolm Lassman's comments -- or my imaginary reconstruction of his comments -- and I had a remote association: an association to Zionism and the Jews' program of creating a homeland in Palestine.  For more than a hundred years Arabs in Palestine have said: "The Jews act like Palestine is the only place they can live.  There are plenty of other places in the world where Jews can live.  They could live in Germany, in Poland, in Russia.  The Jews act like Palestine is the only place in the world they can live!"

In fact, at the Sixth Zionist Congress, held in August 1903, Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, proposed the British Uganda Program as a temporary refuge for Jews in Russia in immediate danger. By a vote of 295-178 it was decided to send an expedition ("investigatory commission") to examine the territory proposed.  The British had agreed, in principle, to Jewish settlement in East Africa "on conditions which will enable members to observe their national customs."   Eventually, the Uganda Program was scrapped in favor of the program to resettle European Jews in Palestine. 

So, at one point in the history of Zionism, Jews themselves accepted the idea that Palestine was not the only place in the world they could settle and create a homeland.

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