Israeli State Racism Parallels the Racism of Its Supporters

A racist pro-Israel counter-protester at a Block the Boat action in Los Angeles on 18 October 2014 told black Palestinian solidarity activists to “get their Ebola self out of here.”

LA-based activist Taher Herzallah first tweeted the picture and quote.

This quote was corroborated by numerous activists who attended the demonstration. I asked several LA protesters personally, and they verified that the Israel-supporter indeed spewed such racism.

The sign the counter-protesters held read “Radical Islam is the new Nazi.”

This is somewhat strange, considering there are many recorded instances of Israeli actual neo-Nazis beating up Palestinians, African refugees, and Jewish leftists, often while police stand by, doing nothing.

It’s also strange considering journalist David Sheen has collected video footage of numerous rallies in which groups of Israeli fascists chant “Death to Arabs” & “Death to leftists.”

Israeli peace activist and Duke University professor Rann Bar-On was attending a demonstration in Haifa this summer, with “about three or four hundred left-wing activists demonstrating against the war, for peace between Arabs and Jews, refusing to be enemies,” when

well over a thousand … militant activists from the right, surrounded by police and others, screaming, ‘Death to Arabs! Death to leftists!’ As we were protesting, they moved towards us. The police allowed them to move towards us. The police allowed them to attack us, to throw stones at us. Later on, as we were trying to leave, … the police did not attempt to allow us to leave. They took over an hour to evacuate us while we were under heavy attack by stones and other missiles. Many were injured. We’ve had over 30 injured. Two women are still in hospital. There were gangs roaming the streets, beating up anyone they thought was an Arab or member of our demonstration.

During “Operation Protective Edge,” Israeli fascists roamed the streets, looking for Arabs and Jewish leftists, whom they would then harass and attack. There is video footage of Israeli mobs shouting “Death to the Arabs” and attacking Palestinians at a Jerusalem mall. Israeli fascists took the life of 17-year-old Muhammed Abu Khdeir, burning him alive, after forcing him to drink gasoline (which made his internal organs burn while he was still alive).

As if it was not enough to take a young, innocent man’s life, Israeli police then ransacked the home of Abu Khdeir’s family and arrested relatives in “revenge for the family’s role in publicizing CCTV footage of [Tariq, his cousin] Abu Khdeir’s brutal beating at the hands of Israeli police, and their public campaign to secure his return to the US.”

The Racist Roots of Zionism

Events like these serve as regular reminders that Zionism is indeed, au fond, a racist, colonialist ideology.

Ohio State University Presidents’ Club Professor of Law John B. Quigley documents the colonialist origins of Zionism in his 2005 book The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective.

zionism is colonialism

Professor Quigley cites the correspondence of Theodor Herzl, the “Father” of Zionism. Herzl openly spoke of “the idea of Zionism, which is a colonial idea” and called it “something colonial,” while trying to appeal to British colonialists for support.

Israeli anti-Zionist economist and journalist Shir Hever recalls that Herzl openly spoke of Zionism as a colonial question, and wrote a letter to Cecil Rhodes “to ask him for advice about how to colonize” Palestine. Real News host Paul Jay adds that early Zionists justified their settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing by, like any other European colonial force, resorting to racism, claiming “they are a force of the growth of civilization, civilizing ‘uncivilized’ peoples.” Clearly the best way to “help” an indigenous population is to murder them, force them off of their land, and destroy their culture.

The racism of this Zionist counter-protester is symptomatic of a much larger culture of bigotry and hate. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has gone on record calling his country, in the words of the Jerusalem Post, “a sick society that needs treatment.” Haaretz, the “Israeli New York Times,” has also shown that racism is getting even worse among younger generations, that Israeli teenagers are “Racist and proud of it.”

This racism manifests itself politically in the form of apartheid. Israel is simply an apartheid state. There is no candy-coating this fact. In 2007, David A. Kirshbaum, of the Israel Law Resource Center, published a piece titled “Israeli Apartheid — A Basic Legal Perspective,” meticulously detailing the myriad ways in which Israel is an apartheid state, under its very own laws. Once again, Israel’s most-read newspaper has published pieces confirming this fact, admitting that “Israeli Arabs have never been equal before the law.”

And yet this racism is not only directed at Palestinians. David Sheen has been “carefully chronicling the racist attacks against non-Jewish African asylum-seekers in Israel for several years,” documenting “social media stories about the recent violence, footage from four years of anti-African rallies, and extended one-on-one interviews about opposition to the presence of Africans in Israel.” He writes:

In January 2012, an organization in Israel that aids African asylum-seekers, the African Refugee Development Center, asked me to author on their behalf a report to the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). After receiving the report in text and video form, the UN committee urged the Israeli government to prevent racist attacks against Africans in Israel. The Israeli government ignored the UN’s call, and the following month, Israelis firebombed a kindergarten for African children in Tel Aviv, igniting a wave of violence against non-Jewish African people in Israel that is still ongoing.

Jewish anti-Zionist journalist Max Blumenthal, along with Sheen, released a brief documentary titled “Israel’s New Racism: The Persecution of African Migrants in the Holy Land.” In it, they show video footage:

– of prominent politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Member of Knesset Michael Ben-Ari, calling African refugees “infiltrators” and “cancer,” and openly using the n-word,

– of Israeli citizens harassing fellow Israelis for engaging in interracial relationships, and

– of some politicians even going so far as to propose the creation of concentration camps in which to hold African refugees.

In the time since this documentary was made (mid 2013), Israel has in fact created what are effectively concentration camps for African refugees. Israeli anti-Zionist journalist Lia Tarachansky, reporting for the Real News, has documented these horrific practices. She notes that African refugees are imprisoned en masse in open-air prison camps in the middle of nowhere. They are told they are not prisoners, but they must sign in three times per day, and the prison camp is so far from any neighboring city that it is impossible to leave on foot. Moreover, when African refugees collectively decide to leave in protest of the concentration camp conditions in which they are involuntarily held, the army violently stops them. In response, African refugees are now going on hunger strike.

Given the obscene levels and grotesque displays of racism in Israeli society, it should not be a big surprise that Israel’s supporters tell black Americans to “get their Ebola self out of here.”

Racist Zionist protesters like these remind one that the Palestinian solidarity movement is a fundamentally anti-racist movement. In the words of Max Blumenthal, we are “principled” anti-Zionists because “we’re genuinely disgusted by any form of racism. It’s why we’re disgusted by the Israeli government and by the structure of Israeli apartheid.”

Palestinian solidarity activists—advocates for Palestinian human rights, freedom, and dignity—organize and fight not because they are racist, but on the contrary, precisely because they oppose racism, and want to see an end to it anywhere and everywhere.