Natalia Zawidowski: Zionism & Racism
If Zionism is Racism, I am a proud Racist…and so was Martin Luther King!Natalia Zawidowski
“And what is anti-Zionist? It is the denial to the Jewish people of a fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa and freely accord all other nations of the Globe. It is discrimination against Jews, my friend, because they are Jews. In short, it is anti-Semitism” Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend,” Saturday Review XLVII (Aug. 1967), p. 76.Reprinted in M.L. King Jr., “This I Believe: Selections from the Writings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” (NY: 1971), pp. 234-235.
The fact that Israel has now started building a fence has enraged a lot of people. Many are claiming, not for the first time, that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is similar to the treatment of blacks in apartheid South Africa. Looking at statements from famous statesmen and politicians this seems to be an unusual opinion to hold…
“…For the first time in history thousands of black people are being brought to a country not in chains but in dignity, not as slaves but as citizens.” (William Safire, White House advisor and Pulitzer Prize Winner)
In a series of airlifts beginning in 1984, Israel became the first country in the world to bring black people into their country as citizens, not slaves. They airlifted 42,000 Ethiopians to Israel over a period of ten years, giving them full rights and helping them start a new life. Of course Israel gives preference to Jews when applying for citizenship, but as a leading civil rights lawyer said “A world that closed its doors to Jews who sought escape from Hitler’s ovens lacks the moral standing to complain about Israel’s giving preference to Jews”.
Yet Israel stands accused and many support the claim that once again Israel the mighty is subjecting the Palestinian people to racism and discrimination.
Are these people forming their accusations on ignorance or prejudices? They have obviously forgotten or ignored the fact that under apartheid black South Africans were not allowed to vote and were not citizens of the country in which they formed the overwhelming majority of the population.
“There is still one other question arising out of the disaster of nations (…) whose profound tragedy, only a Jew can comprehend. This is the African question. Just call to mind all those terrible episodes of the slave trade, of human beings who, merely because they were black, were stolen like cattle, taken prisoner, captured and sold. (…)I am not ashamed to say (…) that once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.” — Theodor Herzl
Here lies the first striking difference in these situations. It is the simple fact that Palestinians in the territories do not consider themselves and, more importantly, do not want to be considered part of the Israeli population, as they never tire of declaring that their struggle is one for a Palestinian state.
Meanwhile, Palestinians from the territories are allowed to work in Israel and receive similar pay and benefits to their Jewish counterparts. They are allowed to attend schools and universities. None of this was true for South African blacks!
But not only were the two situations very different, also their aims and attitudes can not be compared. While blacks in South Africa did not seek the destruction of South Africa itself, but only the apartheid regime, Palestinians in the territories have never even tried to hide their belief that Israel has no right to exist.
This was the reason why the first terrorist attacks on Israel were carried out by Arafat and his likeminded brothers years before the 1967 war and therefore long before the actual problem of the “occupation”.
This is the reason why you will look in vain for Israel on a Palestinian map and this is the reason why Palestinian schoolbooks continue to teach that the geographic extent of the Palestinian nation “includes all the territory west of the Jordan River." Even Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, and Nazareth are listed as Palestinian cities, disregarding their present location in Israel. This is why Hamas continues to declare openly on TV that peace can not exist as long as the state of Israel exists. This is why the Palestinian National Charter continues to call for the destruction of Israel.
The Palestinians have made it very clear that their ultimate goal is not a country of their own (although that would be useful too for their purposes…) but the total destruction of the only Jewish State worldwide.
But even though these sentiments were known, efforts were made by Israel from the outset to allow Palestinians the greatest possible freedom. This might be denied vigorously by many, but only those who ignore the actual facts:
Unlike the blacks in South Africa, the Palestinians could not claim they had been deprived of their legal rights. Indeed in 1967, for the first time in Palestinian history, everybody, even women and non-Land owners were allowed to vote while in South Africa all blacks had been completely deprived of any basic human and legal rights whatsoever, in a country which wasn’t even willing to accept them as citizens. Unlike the blacks however Palestinians were increasingly encouraged by Israel to take more and more responsibility for their own affairs.
As part of the Camp David negotiations Israel even proposed an autonomy plan to grant the Palestinians greater control over their affairs. The Palestinians however rejected autonomy.
For the rest of the decade, Israel nevertheless attempted to shift increasing responsibilities from the military to civilian administrators and to Palestinians. Those efforts were mostly undermined by the Palestinians themselves by intimidating, threatening and even murdering any fellow Palestinian wishing to support Israel.
Finally though, in Oslo in 1993, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to a plan that would give the latter limited self-government. Thereby giving the Palestinian Authority freedoms they were later to abuse. Freedoms which they were incapable or unwilling to use for the improvement of the population’s situation.
increase of Arafat’s and the PLO’s power also came an
increase of corruption and dishonesty. ( see the statistics
Blame It On The Occupation
Still, the myth of the ongoing “discrimination against the Palestinians” remains popular and wide spread.
Discrimination is described in the dictionary as ‘unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice’.
There are a lot of myths surrounding the rights and privileges of Arabs in Israel…most of which have absolutely no foundation in reality!
Israeli Arabs have not only the right to vote but also currently hold 10 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.
They have not only held various government posts (including one who served as Israel's Consul-General in Atlanta), but Ariel Sharon's cabinet also includes the first Arab minister, Salah Tarif a Druze who serves as a minister without portfolio.
Arabic, like Hebrew, is an official language in Israel. All road signs are written in Hebrew, Arabic and sometimes English (how many countries do you know which do that?) and Israeli TV programs are subtitled in Arabic.
In fact Israel is one of the most open societies in the world. Out of a population of 6.3 million, about 1.1 million — 18 percent of the population — are non-Jews (945,000 Muslims, 130,000 Christians and 100,000 Druze).
Discrimination? The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel is that the latter are not required to serve in the Israeli army. This is to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren.
Many myths have been conjured up claiming that Arab citizens have fewer possibilities on the job market than Jews, actually the opposite is the case as Arabs have an advantage in obtaining jobs during the years Israelis serve in the army. In addition, industries like construction and trucking have come to be dominated by Israeli Arabs.
Others claim that Arabs in Israel are barred from buying land. Unfortunately these people usually forget to mention that 92% of the land of Israel is in possession of and governed by the Israeli State. It is not for sale to anyone, Jew or Arab!
The remaining 8 percent of the territory is privately owned. The Arab Wakf, for example, owns land that is for the express use and benefit of Muslim Arabs. Government land can be leased by anyone, regardless of race, religion or sex. All Arab citizens of Israel are eligible to lease government land.
But even robbed of one good reason after another to accuse Israel of discrimination against Arabs, people won’t give up. Other myths will be invented such as the claim that "Israel uses administrative detention to imprison peaceful Arabs without trial." These accusations though are just as untrue as the others, as one of the laws Israel inherited and adopted from the British was one clearly entitling the detainee to be represented by counsel, and his right to appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court.
Israel's policy is that administrative detention is only to be used against violent offenders and that rulings may be reviewed by Israel's Supreme Court. By contrast, in much of the Arab world, administrative detention is not necessary because the authorities frequently arrest people and throw them in jail without due process.
Discrimination? It seems ridiculous that people would accuse Israel of discrimination, while completely ignoring the situation in other Middle Eastern countries. Take Saudi Arabia for example in which torture, beatings, and other abuses of prisoners are committed regularly by both the Mutawwa'in (Religious Police) and officials in the Ministry of Interior. Freedom of speech and of the press are severely limited in this so called “moderate” Arab country, criticizing Islam or the Royal family is illegal and can result in prolonged imprisonment without trial. Even the basic freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia is nonexistent, in fact all citizens must be Muslims, and only the Sunni branch of Islam can be practiced publicly. In the year 2000 a number of Christians were actually deported because they had allegedly practiced “apostasy” in too public a manner. Numeroeus reports have been received from Asian and African workers living in Saudi Arabia complaining about widespread discrimination, and difficulty in the redress of grievances. Remember this is considered to be a “moderate” state by governments worldwide.
Talking about discrimination…let us examine the busily accusing side in this conflict for a moment, after all there is a syndrome in Psychology called ‘projection’ which states that any bad traits of character or weaknesses in the person himself will be projected by him onto others, mistaking his own weaknesses with theirs.
We do not have to go far. We do not even have to leave the disputed territories or ask Jews about complaints of maltreatment and harassment. Since Yasser Arafat took control of Bethlehem, the percentage of Christians in the city has decreased from over 50% to less than 30%. They say they are leaving because they fear the Fatah groups who roam there like a mafia, fully sanctioned by Yasser Arafat. ( In comparison the Christian population of Israel has grown from 34,000 in 1949 to about 140,000 today )
In July 1997, the PA police broke down the doors of the Abraham’s Oak Russian Monastery in Hebron, physically assaulted the monks and nuns, and expelled them from the premises. (Israel Government Press Office, July 9, 1997) In September, a Palestinian Arab Christian named Muhammed Bakr, from the village of Kin, was arrested and tortured by the PA police for distributing Bibles to Muslims. (Jerusalem Report, September 4, 1997)
An internationally published letter, written by Christian Palestinians from Betlehem and Beit Jalla was recently presented to the secretary of the United Nations, Kofi Anan, and the Pope, accusing the PA of "ethnic extradition." The letter claimed that the PA and various other Muslim influences were forcibly trying to rid the West Bank of their Christian inhabitants. Apparently Tanzim forces had frequently invaded and taken over Christian homes for the purpose of using them as bases for shooting at Jewish neighborhoods. Fearing for their lives Christian house owners were powerless to stop these Tanzim paramilitary forces ensuring once again that a Christian household was destroyed, as opposed to a Muslim household.
When Palestinian gunmen would show up at the door, Christian families often had no choice but to let their homes be used as sniper posts and face the consequences of Israeli retaliation. The militants were acting under Arafat’s Fatah Movement’s and the Tanzim group’s full protection.
"They hate us Christians more than they love Palestine." says a family member of the Taglieh family whose son had died in Israeli fire. They had tried to put up a small statue in remembrance of the 17 year old boy. It was kicked and spat on by the gunmen, then toppled with ropes and cables and left smashed on the ground.
Palestinians discrimination of Christians, sad as it is though, can not even begin to compare with the open hatred which has been displayed recently and in the past, in the Muslim world. The history of disrespect and hatred for the Jews in Arab countries reaches over centuries into the present times.
Decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues were enacted in Egypt Syria (1014, 1293-4, 1301-2), Iraq (854-859, 1344) and Yemen (1676). Despite the Koran's prohibition, Jews were forced to convert to Islam or face death in Yemen (1165 and 1678), Morocco (1275, 1465 and 1790-92) and Baghdad (1333 and 1344). Many mass-murders of Jews in Muslim societies were recorded. Anti-Jewish propaganda flourished.
It is still flourishing today.
“We have found books with passages that are so anti-Semitic, that if they were published in Europe, their publishers would be brought up on anti-racism charges.” - French lawyer and European Parliament member Francois Zimeray commenting on Palestinian, Syrian and Egyptian texts (Jerusalem Post, October 16, 2001).
Synagogues and Jewish areas throughout the world have had to experience violence, discrimination and destruction to such a degree that they have begun to feel threatened everywhere they go. It is being played down by the governments as a legitimate reaction to the Middle East crisis and the “maltreatment” of the Palestinian people.
So once again the world is looking in the other direction. They ignore the fact that by this non-reaction they are excusing anti-Semitism and discrimination, pushed this time by an Islamic propaganda machine, not a German one.
"We shall fight on Saturday and then on Sunday" (popular chant taught to Palestinian children. In other words, first the Jews and then the Christians.