Fighting Jim Crow in Israel
By Mike Whitney
|"March on Lebanon and also on Gaza with ploughs and salt. Destroy
them to the last inhabitant…. Save your people and make bombs, and
rain them on villages and towns and houses till they collapse. Kill
them, shed their blood, terrify their lives, lest they try again To
destroy us…. Whoever scorns a day of bloodshed, He should be
scorned. Save your people, and make war." Ilan Shenfeld; Israeli
poet, Ynet, July 30, 2006
“The raw logic of Israel’s distorted self-image and racist doctrines
is exposed beyond confusion by the now-stark reality: the moonscape
rubble of once-lovely Lebanese villages; a million desperate people
trying to survive Israeli aerial attacks as they carry children and
wheel disabled grandparents down cratered roads; limp bodies of
children pulled from the dusty basements of crushed buildings. This
is the reality of Israel’s national doctrine, the direct outcome of
its racist worldview.” Virginia Tilley “The
Case for Boycotting Israel” Counterpunch
Clearing House" -- -- Ideas have consequences, and the effects of a
racist ideology are suffering and destruction. The growing
similarity between the debris-strewn Levant and the Gaza Strip are
not accidental; they are the predictable results of a world-view
which places the value of one people above another. In Israel, there
is a two-tiered system of justice; one for Jews and another for non
Jews; full-citizenship for Israeli-Jews and “Jim Crow” for Arabs.
Is that acceptable?
Property rights, marriage, citizenship and nearly every other area
of legal protection are corrupted by the effects of
We believe that there are no “second class” citizens, that every man
deserves equal protection under the law. That is the fundamental
principle of democracy.
Israel calls itself a democracy, but its prevailing ethos of Zionism
precludes an evenhanded application of the law. This explains why
Zionism was denounced in United Nations Resolution 3379 (vote 72 to
35) in 1975 which stated:
“Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”
The resolution has since been repealed due to the persistent efforts
of the US, but the effects are not so easily erased.
There cannot be a second set of laws for minorities; that is racism
pure and simple.
The abhorrent treatment of Palestinians is the most striking example
of Israeli chauvinism, but the current aggression in Lebanon is
equally revealing. The massive ethnic cleansing of 750,000 mostly
poor Shia Muslims in the south of Lebanon carries the same racist
overtones as Israel’s conduct in the occupied territories.
When the heart of government is poisoned by prejudice, it expresses
itself in erratic convulsions of violence. So it is with Israel.
Zionism is not simply repressive for its victims in the territories,
but also, for those who stand in the way of its territorial
ambitions. Currently, Lebanon is in the crosshairs, but next year it
will be Syria or Iran. Racism is a disease which radiates outwards
always seeking new objects of abuse. It allows governments’ to
rationalize their perverse addiction to power by demonizing the
imaginary enemies of the state.
The term “Zionism” confuses many Americans and obscures the deeper
Are we against discrimination and bigotry in all its forms or are we
Are we against territorial expansion that violates internationally
accepted borders or are we not?
If we are, (and the vast majority of Jews are as well) then we are
anti-Zionist. This means that we are committed to universally
accepted standards of human rights and national sovereignty.
How can we watch the relentless humiliation of the Palestinians day
after day and fail to identify the root cause? This is not a
relationship between equals, but the cruel and disdainful behavior
of people who believe they are inherently superior to their victims.
Jews would never treat other Jews in the manner they have treated
Occupation breeds contempt; it is a spawning ground for racism.
How could Israel plunge 1 million Palestinians into darkness, cut
off medical and food supplies, block all financial aid, and kill
nearly 200 people in their scattershot military operations if they
had the slightest regard for them as human beings.
Bigotry strips men of their dignity and humanity; leaving them at
the mercy of the wealthy and powerful.
Isn’t that what we’re seeing in Palestine?
The Palestinians have become prisoners of a twisted dogma that is as
real as the walls and checkpoints that encircle their Bantustans.
The West Bank and Gaza have become a farrago of gulags stitched
together by “Jewish-only” roads where generation after generation
languishes in unemployable misery.
These are the inescapable effects of endemic racism.
In America, the same cancer has infected all parts of the
body-politic creating a vast network of Muslim-only concentration
camps at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Force Base, and
countless other spots across the globe. The war on terror has become
the flimsy curtain that barely conceals the monster of xenophobia
and racial hatred.
The real measure of a nation’s commitment to principle is seen in
the way it treats the most vulnerable people. What does this say
about Israel, where fully one-half of the population are locked
behind a monolithic wall which protects the racial purity of the
Those who live beyond the wall are not people at all, but a
“demographic threat” posing a numeric challenge to the untainted
pedigree of the overlords.
Even the biological exigencies of procreation are seen as a threat
to the Jewish state.
How much crazier can it get?
What used to be disparaged as “apartheid” is now revered as
“democracy”, a bizarre Orwellian interpretation of discriminatory
practices which justify the ongoing subjugation of 4 million people.
When prejudice is enshrined in the law, the results are invariably
disastrous. The same rule applies to Israel as it did to South
Africa and the United States.
The world provided a loophole for Israel because of the genocidal
persecution the Jews faced during the WW2. But, how has that worked
out? 60 years of nonstop conflict with no hope of peace in the near
future and the looming prospect of a region-wide conflagration.
Is that a sign of success?
Perhaps, there’s a better way. Israel should consider the same path
that every other democratic, pluralistic society has taken; tear
down the walls, amend the laws so that everyone’s rights are
respected equally, and move towards an integrated, multi-ethnic
As a practical matter, the model of the Jewish state has failed. It
has become a paranoid, war-mongering menace to itself and its
neighbors. Israel’s abortive offensive in Lebanon only accentuates
Israelis are less safe today than anytime in their history; their
dogma-driven aggression has brought the entire Middle East to the
brink of Armageddon.
The expansionist adventurism of their Prime Minister and the
ideologues that surround him, are placing Israel at greater and
greater risk all the time. Non-state actors, guerilla militias and
terrorists are proliferating at a rate that was unimaginable just 6
years ago. Their means of lashing out grows more sophisticated and
lethal all the time. Neither Israel nor the US is prepared for the
generational war they are inciting by their reckless belligerence.
Nations, like people, can change their behavior if they see it is in
their own best interests. No one wants their children to grow up in
fear of random violence. There’s a path away from the two-tiered,
discriminating legal system to equal protection, due process, and
social justice. But the walls will have to come down, the dialogue
will have to begin, the grievances will have to be addressed, and
the state will have to de-militarize. Israel’s 200 nuclear
missile-arsenal and high-tech war machine haven’t produced a day of
peace since the inception of the state.
It’s time to abandon the demographic warfare, the discriminatory
laws, and the expansionistic dream of Greater Israel. The road to
peace and security must be built on a foundation of evenhandedness
and fair play. There has to one law for everyone, Christian, Muslim,
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