THE ZIONIST movement was created by secularized Jews, after the victory of the European Enlightenment. Almost all the founders were convinced atheists. They were mostly quite ready to use religious symbols for decoration, but were roundly denounced by all the great religious sages of their time.Indeed, before the creation of the State of Israel, the Zionist enterprise was remarkably free of religious dogmas. Even today, extreme Zionists talk about the “Nation State of the Jewish People”, not of the “Religious State of the Jewish Faith”. Even for the “national religious” camp, the forerunners of today’s settlers and semi-fascists, religion was subordinate to the national goal – the creation of a national Jewish state in all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.This national onslaught met, of course, with the resolute resistance of the Arab national movement. After some initial hesitation, Arab national leaders turned against it. This resistance had very little to do with religion. True, for some time the Palestinian resistance was led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini – not because of his religious standing but because he was the leader of Jerusalem’s most aristocratic clan.The Arab national movement was always decidedly secular. Some of its most outstanding leaders were Christians. The pan-Arab Baath “Resurrection” party, which came to dominate both Syria and Iraq, was founded by Christians.The great hero of the Arab masses at that time, Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, though formally Muslim, was quite un-religious. Yasser Arafat, the leader of the PLO, was a pious Muslim in private, but under his leadership the PLO remained a secular body with many Christian ingredients. He spoke about liberating East Jerusalem’s “mosques and churches”. For some time the official aim of the PLO was to create in Palestine a “democratic and non-denominational” state.SO WHAT has happened? How did a nationalist movement turn into a violent, fanatical religious one?