Thursday,25 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1403, (26 July - 1 August 2018)
Thursday,25 April, 2019
Issue 1403, (26 July - 1 August 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Israel goes official: Zionism is racism

For many years, Israel has considered it a battle of life or death to abolish the UN General Assembly resolution adopted in 1975 that rightly equated Zionism with racism, and considered it a “national victory” when this mission was accomplished in 1991. The people of Palestine and nearby Arab countries who suffered Israel’s illegal occupation of their territories since 1948 didn’t need international resolutions to prove a reality that they suffered on a daily basis, with insane claims of “Jewish supremacy” that allegedly entitled Israelis to control lands that never belonged to them.

Historically, not all Jews accepted Zionism, and many reasonable Jewish leaders saw no justification to occupy the territory of another population on the basis of illogical claims that violate all international conventions and human rights principles adopted by the world order established following World War II. Occupation, racism, claims of white supremacy were supposed to come to an end as former colonial powers recognised the right to self-determination of the many peoples in Arab countries, Asia and Africa. But Palestine remained an exception, with its brave people struggling over nearly a century to maintain their identity and their right to live in their homeland.

Late last week, the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, narrowly approved a law that left no doubt that Israel is a racist, apartheid state, known as the “nation-state law”. The law itself has been in the cabinet of right-wing Zionists for nearly seven years. But with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeking to distract the public from corruption charges filed against him and his family, while appeasing racist Zionist groups and his own base, and feeling emboldened by the blind support of US President Donald Trump who recognised occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital, the Israeli premier gave his support to the shameful, racist law.

The legislation declares that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, with occupied Jerusalem as its capital, and that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” It establishes Hebrew as the official language of Israel and downgrades Arabic to a language with “special status”, asserting that illegal Jewish settlements in territories occupied by Israel in 1967 are a national value, promising to encourage and advance settlement efforts. The bill was passed by a 62-55 margin amid stormy protests by Palestinian Knesset members who represent the remaining Palestinian minority living in the state of Israel established in 1948.

Palestinian leaders and all Arab governments issued statements strongly condemning the law, dubbing it a “racist and apartheid law”. With such provisions pushed before the world’s eyes, Palestinians were right to call on the UN General Assembly to reinstate the “Zionism is racism” resolution.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) said in a statement that the law “paved the way for ethnic cleansing” and was “a declaration of war on all Palestinians”. It was also considered “a declaration of war on the Palestinians’ land, rights, identity and language”. The new law, the PA said, “unleashes the arm of terrorism and racism” and provides justification for harming the status of the Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Secretary Saeb Erekat noted that the legislation “officially legalises apartheid and legally defines Israel as an apartheid system”. He added: “It is a dangerous and racist law. It denies Arab citizens the right to self-determination, to instead be determined by the Jewish population.”

It is well known that international law considers apartheid a crime against humanity, but Israel has always given an exception, thanks to US veto power in the UN Security Council. When racist Israeli practices against Palestinians living under occupation are documented and exposed by UN human rights bodies, Washington’s response is never to restrain its key regional ally. Instead, the Trump administration, and other administrations before it, slammed the UN, and even recently pulled out of the UN Human Rights Council, alleging that it was biased against Israel.

Undoubtedly, the US administration’s blind support of Israel and its total disdain for international law has emboldened Israel to persist with such unlawful and immoral policies.

Unfortunately, Israel never seemed to learn the lessons of 70 years of occupation, believing its own lie that it is an “oasis of democracy” surrounded by Arab foes. But no laws or racist policies will change the reality that Palestine is a fact, and that Palestinians, whose ancestors have been living there for centuries, will never vanish.

The only result of this racist law is fuelling the conflict and human losses, and providing support for racist Zionists and their exclusive rhetoric and hate speech.
Meanwhile, the law is a great opportunity for all those who provided Israel with support as a “democratic state” to reconsider their positions. The so-called “nation-state law” leaves no room whatsoever to doubt that racism is an integral and indispensable part of Zionism.

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