Why the whitewashing of Zionism will remain a dirty business

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Leopards never change the spots on their skins. It is the nature of things. To attempt otherwise would be an exercise in futility. This is exactly what the United Nations set out to achieve in December 1991 when it revoked resolution 3379, which determined that Zionism is a form of racism.

The UN decision to declare Zionism a form of racism on 10 November 1975 was not the result of an anti-Semitic campaign. It was the verdict of the majority of members of the world body united and resolute in their determination to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. They affirmed that doctrines of racial differentiation or superiority are scientifically wrong, morally condemnable, socially unjust and politically dangerous.

Shortly before the historic resolution was adopted, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity convened their twelfth ordinary session in Kampala (between 28 July and 1 August 1975) and declared, “that the racist regime in occupied Palestine and the racist regimes in Zimbabwe and South Africa have a common imperialist origin, forming a whole and having the same racist structure and being organically linked in their policy aimed at repression of the dignity and integrity of the human being.”

Contrary to the practice of recording the reasons for its declarations, the UN was curiously short of words when it revoked the resolution in December 1991. With virtually no preamble to cushion its considerable impact, resolution 46/86 blandly read that the General Assembly “Decides to revoke the determination contained in its resolution 3379 (XXX) of 10 November 1975.” Analysts were left thereafter to surmise the reasons for this unexplained volte face. In the event, it seemed that the United States of America, at the behest of Israel, imposed it upon the UN after its military victory in the Second Gulf War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Under the new world order, it was irrelevant whether Palestinian national rights were restored or not. This was the Age of Pax Americana, when the language of missiles would reign supreme and might, however brutal and inhumane, determined what was right and acceptable.

The theory of Zionist racism

Those who imagined that the problem of Zionism would vanish by the stroke of a pen were grossly mistaken. Since 1991 it remained exactly as it was at the time of its emergence in the late nineteenth century, a ‘mischievous political creed’, according to Edwin Montague, the former Secretary of State for India and a Jewish member of the British Cabinet. Its objective as affirmed in Theodor Herzl’s Der Judenstaat (The State for Jews) was not only the founding of a national home for Jews in Palestine but also the expulsion of its indigenous people. Herzl articulated the racist supremacist views that was typical of European colonialists when he wrote that the proposed State would become ‘a portion of the rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization opposed to barbarism (p. 96).’

Since there is no human law to justify their eviction of the Palestinians and claim to superiority, the Zionists resorted to a higher authority. Like the Afrikaneers in South Africa, they claimed to be the bearers of the ‘white man’s burden’ to civilize the darker races based on Biblical sanction. Their posturing as the “Chosen People” confused many in the West who failed to distinguish where the revealed faith of Judaism ended and where Zionist nationalism began. In the end, the sanctity ascribed to the Jewish people in the religious sense was transferred to them in the ethnic sense. They no longer constituted a religious community but rather became an organic peoplehood with organic ties that bound them together to the exclusion of all others. Against this background, Zionist leaders such as Asher Ginsberg began to speak of a Jewish “supernation.”

Apart from the obvious difference of racial identity, Zionism has remained conspicuously akin to Pan-Germanism. They both believed in racial theories and presumptions on matters such as “national character” and “exclusiveness”. In an article entitled, “Zionism in Germany”, Gerhart Holdheim, a German Zionist official wrote in a 1930 edition of Suddeutsche Monatshefte (No. 12), “The Zionist programme encompasses the conception of a homogeneous, indivisible Jewry on a national basis. The criterion for Jewry is hence not a confession of religion, but the all-embracing sense of belonging to a racial community that is bound together by ties of blood and history and which is deep in its national individuality.”

Decades after Holdheim wrote his article, a nineteen-member committee of prominent British Jews issued a report in March 2000 entitled, A Community of Communities, urging members of their community to cast off their religious identity and “rebrand” themselves as an ethnic minority. The amazing similarity between these two studies proves that Zionism like the proverbial leopard is incapable of changing its nature. Thus, whereas Zionism requires a Jew to prove his Jewishness by being a blind supporter of Israel, Pan-Germanism as advocated by the Nazis proclaimed that all peoples of the Aryan race owed their foremost loyalty to Germany, the Heimat. Ariel Sharon summed up the Zionist view when he said, “The first and the most supreme value is the good of the State. The State is the supreme value.”

The practice of Zionist racism

In order to carry out the exploitation, repression and expulsion of native peoples, settler colonialism always denied their humanity wherever it took root. In South Africa the Dutch, and later German and French settlers, systematically tried to dehumanize the African population. Similarly, in Palestine, the Zionists consistently denied the existence and humanity of the Palestinians. This vulgar obsession for racial supremacy has been a permanent feature of the Israeli discourse both before the UN resolution of 1975 and after its revocation in 1991. It was epitomized in Golda Meir’s infamous outburst in 1969 that “there is no such thing as Palestinians.” Similar slurs were reflected in the writings and speeches of Meir Kahane who throughout the 1980s led forays into Arab villages addressing their residents as ‘dogs’ and telling them to leave the country. The former Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, currently spearheads this tradition. To mark the anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre on 9 April 2001, he declared, “We must show them no mercy; we must bomb them with missiles and exterminate those evil and cursed Arabs.”

Deep-rooted hatred of this kind is not confined to the Israeli religious establishment. It is also at the core of its educational system and institutions. Recent academic studies confirm that Israeli school textbooks and children’s storybooks portray Palestinians and Arabs as unenlightened, inferior, fatalistic and unproductive. After conducting a study of 124 elementary, middle and high school texts on grammar, history, geography and Hebrew literature, Professor Daniel Bar-Tal of Tel Aviv University verified that there has been no significant change in the country’s curriculum since the 1950s. He reported that although these books contain less direct denigration of Arabs, they still continue to stereotype them in negative and retrograde modes. In their self-appointed role as bearers of civilization, the Zionist have even usurped the right to write the history of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel. Though constituting one million (one-fifth of Israel’s population), the Palestinian Arabs hold less than 1% of the jobs in the country’s Ministry of Education. As a result, they have no input into the textbooks used in their schools, even though they are written in Arabic. Wherever similar practices were uncovered in the West, they were condemned as ‘institutionalized racism’ or ‘ethnic bigotry.’ In Zionist Israel they are slavishly whitewashed and condoned by the United Nations.

Although Israeli textbooks depict the Palestinians as ‘cruel’, ‘bloodthirsty’, ‘killers’ and ‘robbers’, the history of the last ten months demonstrates just the opposite. More than 520 Palestinians were killed, five times as many Israelis during the same period. The military elite who have ruled Israel in the name of democracy since 1948 have lost no opportunity to loot, pilfer and destroy Palestinian property. The seizure of Orient House and the theft of large quantities of official documents represents yet another chapter of Zionist totalitarianism.

Zionism and the Palestinian right of return

Of all the discriminatory laws and practices of Zionism, none can match the Israeli Law of Return for its inequity. This law, which was enacted on 5 July 1950, affords to every member of the “Jewish people” born anywhere in the world the right to immigrate to Israel and become a citizen upon arrival. At the same time, it denies this right to Palestinian Muslims and Christians who were born in Palestine and expelled during the successive wars of occupation.

Although Israel claims to be a modern democracy, it still refuses to promulgate a democratic constitution (as required by UN resolution 181) “guaranteeing to all persons equal and non-discriminatory rights in civil, political, economic and religious matters.” Instead, it prefers to rule by an array of so-called Basic Laws. While the Law of Return seeks to ensure the constant increase of Israel’s Jewish population, its legal adjunct, the Nationality Law enacted in 1952 aims to limit the growth of the Palestinians. Thus, whereas the latter guarantees automatic citizenship to Jews through immigration, residence, birth and naturalization, it enforces a completely different set of rules and conditions for Palestinians.

If ever the world became oblivious to the racist nature of Zionism, Israel’s Law of Return continues to be a shocking reminder of this fact. In practice, it contravenes international human rights laws as well as the human rights provisions enshrined in Articles 55 and 56 of the United Nations Charter. Rights, which according to Article 80 (1), should be guaranteed to “any peoples.” Instead of discouraging debate on the subject, the UN Human Rights Commission should immediately discharge its moral obligation and restore resolution 3379, which equates Zionism with racism. Every attempt to whitewash Zionism serves only to encourage Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian land. As long as Zionism is legitimized, Israel will continue to deny Palestinian rights, flout international law, destabilize the Middle East and perpetuate the cycle of war that has now become endemic to the region.

Martin Buber, the former leader and later critic of Zionism, had no doubt about the way forward:

Only an internal revolution can have the power to heal our people of their murderous sickness of causeless hatred (for the Arabs). It is bound to bring complete ruin upon us. Only then will the old and young in our land realize how great was our responsibility to those miserable Arab refugees in whose towns we have settled Jews who were brought from afar, whose homes we have inherited, whose fields we now sow and harvest, the fruits of whose gardens, orchards and vineyards we gather, and in whose cities that we robbed; we put up houses of education, charity and prayer while we babble and rave about being the ‘people of the book” and the “light of the nations (Ner, Jan-Feb 1961) !”

The author is a researcher at the Palestinian Return Center, London, and editor of its Return Review.

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