Friday, November 7, 2008

Acre pogrom highlights Zionist anti-Arab racism

By Kim Bullimore
This article was first published in the Australian political newspaper, Direct Action (No. 6) www.directaction.org.au
It has also been published on Palestine Chronicle www.palestinechronicle.com


Violent attacks by Jewish residents in the Israeli city of Acre last month have left 14 Palestinian families, a total of 72 people, homeless. All 72 are Israeli citizens who had their homes destroyed. For the more than 1 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, the Jewish “riots” in Acre are only the most extreme example of the systematic discrimination they face within the Zionist state.

According to a report issued by the Mossawa Centre, an advocacy centre for Palestinian citizens of Israel, many of the 14 families were too frightened to return to what’s left of their homes. The October 20 report noted that the violence against the Palestinian families, which began on October 8, resulted in three homes being burnt to the ground and that in the case of several families the attacks were “another in a series of anti-Arab aggression[s] directed against them”, with at least one family having had their home “destroyed four times since 2000”.

Violence erupted after Acre Jews attacked a Palestinian man, Tawfiq Jamal, for driving his car through a Jewish neighbourhood to pick up his daughter from a relative’s house on the eve of the Jewish religious holiday of Yom Kippur. Jamal, along with his son, were attacked by hundreds of Jews when they arrived at the house of relatives, the Sha’aban family. According to an October 14 report issued by Badil, the Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugees, Jewish residents surrounded and attacked the family home, besieging 15 people inside, “while police stood outside”. As the attack continued, Palestinian Arab residents rushed to the aid of the besieged family, clashing with Jews attacking the house.


Israeli police look at a car that was flipped over during riots between Jewish and Arab residents of Acre; Israeli policemen arrest a rioter for driving during Yom Kippur (photos from Al Ahram)

Over the next four days, Jewish residents carried out repeated violent attacks against the 52,000 Palestinian Arab residents of Acre, who make up a third of the city’s population. Mobs of up to 1500 Jews wandered the streets stoning Palestinians and torching Palestinian residences, cars and businesses. The Israeli media reported that many in the Jewish mobs chanted “Death to the Arabs” as the attacks were carried out.

On October 13, the Israeli Ynet news service reported that the Northern District police commander Major-General Shimon Koren as saying, “the dominant elements behind the riots in Akko seem to be Jewish instigators”. Despite this, many Palestinians who attempted to defend themselves and their families from the pogrom were arrested. According to Badil’s October 14 report, while the police arrested equal numbers of Jews and Israeli Palestinians, the Israeli courts had systematically “released most of the Jewish detainees, while the time of detention for the Arab detainees is extended”.

On October 13, the Israeli police also arrested and charged Tawfiq Jamal for “harming religious sensibilities” by breaking the Jewish tradition of not driving on the Yom Kippur holiday. The Haifa District Court later sentenced Jamal to a week’s house arrest and suspended his driving license for 30 days. This was despite the fact that there are no Israeli laws which stipulate that it is illegal for either Jews or non-Jews to drive on Yom Kippur.

In response to Jamal’s arrest, Palestinian Israeli MP Ahmed Tibi from the United Arab list told Israeli radio on October 14 that the arrest was “unlawful”. Tibi went onto state that “the arrest proves that police had yielded to Jewish hooligans and I wonder if from now on they will start arresting Jews who eat and drink during Ramadan”, the Muslim holy month.

Israeli MP Mohammed Barakeh from the predominantly Arab-supported Hadash party also condemned Jamal’s arrest saying it was “aimed at appeasing right-wing extremists”. Barakeh told the October 15 Tel Aviv Haaretz daily that Jamal should be released immediately and that “the police abused a lynch victim while protecting gangs of extremists and settlers”.


1 of 3 Palestinian houses torched by Jewish rioters during Acre riots, Oct 2008
Photograph by Oren Ziv, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

The October pogrom in Acre isn’t the first to be carried out by Jews against Palestinian Israelis in Acre or other “mixed” cities in Israel. The anti-Arab riots by Jewish residents in Acre, however, have increased over the last decade with the establishment of a hesder-yeshiva, which combines military and religious training in the city, and with thousands of Israeli settlers being relocated to the city in the wake of Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

The violent attacks against Palestinians inside Israel are reflective of the similar attacks carried out by illegal Israeli settlers against Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). On September 13, more than 100 Israeli settlers from the illegal colony of Yitzhar attacked the Palestinian village of Asira al-Qibliya in the Nablus district of the occupied West Bank. The attack, described as a “pogrom” by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was just one of thousands of attacks carried out by illegal settlers against Palestinians since 1967.

In 2001, the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem noted in their report, Free Reign: vigilant settlers and Israel’s non-enforcement of the law that “settler violence against Palestinians is extensive and has been prevalent in the Occupied Territories for many years”. B’Tselem noted that between December 1987 and October 2001, 124 Palestinians had been murdered by Israeli settlers. The report went onto note that the Israeli military and police regularly failed to protect Palestinians from such violent attacks. B’Tselem’s website notes that since 2001, the situation in the occupied West Bank has not changed but instead gotten worse.


Burning of Palestinian agricultural land by illegal settlers in June 2008
Photograph by Anne Paq, ActiveStills (published with permission from ActiveStills)

Both the Acre pogrom and the ever-increasing settler attacks in the OPT have highlighted the systematic racism endured by Palestinian citizens of the “Jewish” state, despite its “democratic” facade, as well as the Zionists’ racism against Palestinians living in the OPT. While Palestinian citizens of Israel are supposedly afforded full citizen rights by the Israeli state, Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, notes that the Israeli state systematically discriminates against its Palestinian citizens, who account for more than 20% of Israel’s total population. According to Adalah, Israel has never sought to integrate its Palestinian citizens, instead “treating them as second-class citizens and excluding them from public life and the public sphere. The state [has] practiced systematic and institutionalised discrimination in all areas, such as land dispossession and allocation, education, language, economics, culture and poltical participation.” Adalah notes that Palestinian Israelis are not recognised as a national minority. Instead, Adalah points out that “successive Israeli governments maintained tight control over the community, attempting to suppress Palestinian/Arab identity and to divide the community within itself”.

A March 2007 survey by the Israeli Centre Against Racism found that more than half of the Jewish population in Israel believes the marriage of a Jewish woman to an Arab man is equal to “national treason”, that 75% of Israeli Jews did not approve of apartment buildings being shared between Arabs and Jews. Sixty percent said they would not allow an Arab to visit their home, 55% said “Arabs and Jews should be separated at entertainment sites”, and 30.7% felt hatred when they heard Arabic being spoken on the street.


Anti-Palestinian graffiti in Hebron
Photo by Anna Baltzer
http://www.annainthemiddleeast.com/

The violent attacks by Jews against Palestinians in Acre and in the OPT are a result of the institutionalised discrimination and racist bigotry that are an integral part of Israel’s official Zionist ideology. Israel originated as a European colonial-settler state that continues to grant privileges to Jews, while systematically discriminating against its non-Jewish Arab citizens.

This racism in Israel, as Joseph Massad, an associate professor in Modern Arab politics at New York City’s Columbia University noted in an March 2007 Al Ahram essay, Israel’s right to be racist, is manifest “in its flag, its national anthem and a bunch of laws that are necessary to safeguard Jewish privilege”. As long as Israel continues to function as a “Jewish” state and continues its illegal and brutal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank there will be no resolution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict. As Massad notes, “no resolution will ever be possible before Israel revokes its racist laws and does away with its racist symbols, thus opening the way for a non-racist future for Palestinians and Jews in a decolonised bi-national state”.

6 comments:

The MediaBard Network said...

You highlight excellent points about the internal tensions between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, and how the occupation exacerbates the social instability. But you need to check some facts.

First, 16 Arab families had their homes targeted by Jewish attackers. Of the 16, 14 had to leave on a temporary basis. Only three homes, however, were actually destroyed. The other 11 suffered varying degrees of damage.

Almost all the families returned to their homes in Acre two weeks after the violence. In recent days, the Knesset has taken up the issue of how to compensate them for their losses.

Next, let's not exaggerate an already unfortunate and disturbing situation. The violence made victims and perpetrators of both Jews and Arabs in the city. These were not exclusively Jewish-fomented riots. It was far from a pogrom.

Jamal didn't break any laws in his decision to drive through an observant Jewish neighborhood on Yom Kippur, true, but it was a poor decision, one with predictable consequences.

On Yom Kippur eve, a mob of predominately Jewish youths attacked his car and the home of his daughter's fiance. Israeli police were slow to respond, and when they did, they were unwilling to take the risk to help him. He fled, and was protected by a nearby Jewish security guard.

The following evening -- at the end of Yom Kippur -- groups of Jewish and Arab youth faced off in the city, at which point as many as 100 shops and cars -- mostly Jewish owned -- were damaged or destroyed by Arab-fueled violence (in response to a rumor that Jamal had been killed). It was the next day, on Shabbat, that Jewish mobs attacked the 16 family homes.

The Yom Kippur violence in Acre underscores the blight of extremism -- both Jewish and Arab -- in Israeli society, and indeed the whole Middle East. The riots -- not a pogrom, as you write -- were the result of groups of angry, bored and mostly young Jews and Arabs looking for a fight, not of the Jewish and Arab communities as a whole.

Israel faces some serious questions of its social fabric that it needs to find answers to if it is to continue to be a viable state. Arabs need to accept their Israelness, and the Jews need to allow them the chance to do so. This is an exceedingly difficult process, as Israel's identity pivots between its two identities: Jewish and democratic.

Finally, one more fact-check. There aren't 52,000 Arabs in Acre; that's the city's entire population. One-third of that, as you write, is Arab.

Kim said...

Dear mediabard,
thanks for your comments and taking the time to read the article.

I appreciate you have taken the time to make your comments, but regarding some of the points you made, unfortunately you do not state where you got your facts from.

As noted in the article, my facts are based on reports issued by several Israeli based advocacy organisations who advocate on behalf of Palestinian Israeli citizens, so as far as I am aware these are the correct statistics.

All of the homes were destroyed, albeit to varying degrees with then all being made uninhabitable for either a period of time or permenantly. You are correct to state that only three were torched (and this was noted in my article).

As noted in my article, tthe Northern District police commander Major-General Shimon Koren told YNET news that "the dominant elements behind the riots in Akko seem to be Jewish instigators".

In addition, I would point out that as far as I am aware, no Jewish residents of Acre were forced to flee their homes, none of them had their homes burnt to the ground etc.

The victims of these riots were overwhelmingly the Palestinian Israeli citiznes, who were targeted because they were Arabs (hence the chants by the Jewish rioters "Death to the Arabs").

As to whether or not the riot was a pogrom. I believe this is a correct description, as a pogrom is defined as a form of riot and attack which is directed against a particular group, often a minority (whether they be ethnic, religious or another sort of minority). In addition, a pogrom is characterised by the killing and/or destruction of their homes, businesses, and religious centers.

This is exactly what happened in Acre (altho thank goodness, there was no killings but there was a organised attack by Jews against Palestinian Arabs over a period of 5 days (starting with the very first one against Jamal Tawfiq) based solely on the fact that they were Palestinian Arabs. These organised attacks resulted in the destruction of thier property and businesses - and thus was the very definition of a pogrom.

As for Jamal apparently making a poor decision, I must apologise in advance for my polemical reply and being a little blunt, but I have to say I find it astounding that so many people are willing to excuse the absolutely inexcusable and illegal behaviour of the Jewish mob/s who behaved like vigilantes and a lynch mob by saying that Jamal made "a poor decision".

The fact is he did nothing illegal and it was the Jewish residents who acted illegally by attacking him (but you would never know this from some of the reports in the media and the excuses made by some many people for the behaviour of the Jewish residents and the lack of action of the police).

When people have raised this with me, I usually have responded with the following scenario saying:

Imagine if a Jewish person did something "inappropriate" making a "poor decision" during Ramadan (like eat food in public, as the Knesset member used as an example) and was attacked by Muslim vigilantes. What do you think the reaction in Israel would be?

Do you think the reaction would be the same as what has happened in this case? That people would condone, justify and excuse the attacks by the attackers (in this case Muslim for argument sake) saying well basically its the Jewish victims fault because he made a poor decision and brought it on himself?

The answer of couse is no.

There would rightly be outrage and such appalling and illegal behaviour against thos who carried out (who in the scenario are Muslims). They would have been jailed and a big deal would have been made about their appalling and illegal behaviour.

Also imagine if say Jews were attacked in Europe or an Arab country during Ramadan or some other religous time because they did somethign inappropriate. What do you think the reaction of Israelis or people around the world be?

They would be appalled and condemn the attackers.

But in Israel, its the other way around, the victim is blamed and the attackers are excused and condoned, their actions justified.

The reason for this is as a result of the appalling levels of racism in Israel as I noted in the article and which is an intregal part of Israel's official Zionist ideology.

As for the police not responding. This is typical behaviour unfortunately by Israeli police, as a range of reports on racism in Israel have noted. While police are quick to respond to Palestinian Arab agression against Jews, they are reluctant to do so if Israeli Jews attack Palestinian Israelis. This same behaviour is reflected in the Occupied Territories, where the Israeli Border Police and the Israeli Occupation Forces, will respond with force in relation to any attacks carried out by Palestinians but refuse to intervene on behalf of Palestinians who are being attacked by illegal Jewish settlers.

As for Israel being democratic, I would have to disagree with you here as well. As studies have repeatedly shown, Israel is a democracy for Jewish people but it isn't for non-Jews as they are systematically discriminated against.

A really good article on this is one which was written a couple of years ago by American Jewish anti-racism activist, Tim Wise.
http://www.alternet.org/story/13087/

in relation to Acre's population figure. You are correct. Unfortunately, I must have typed the wrong figure by mistake (I will endeavour to get a correction in the next issue of Direct Action pointing out the mistake :)

Thanks again for your comments (and apologies if I was a little overly polemical)

The MediaBard Network said...

Kim,

Don't worry about being polemical; this is the Middle East, after all, what kind of place would this be without fiery ethno-partisanship?

My facts are from some of the same organizations you pulled yours from. I'm probably privy to a few of the more nuanced details because I work for one of them. My colleagues were in Acre during the violence, and wrote the reports that you reference. I edited them. I've been to the family homes, visited them when they were displaced, had coffee with them. Just yesterday I was in Acre with someone from International Crisis Group, for a report they are working on.

As for the level of damage that resulted from the violence, I think this is just a matter of definition. When you use the word "destroy" it means "complete ruin," or "to put an end to the existence of something," which is different than merely damaging something.

Partly destroyed is an oxymoron, and fully destroyed is redundant. Either something is destroyed or its something to a lesser degree.

In the Acre case, 16 families suffered varying degrees of damage to their homes, of which three were destroyed. Fourteen families had to leave temporarily.

Let's address the blame game (or, more to the point, the victim game), which goes to the heart of the Jewish-Arab relationship.

The problem with extremists and ideologues is that they refuse to admit when "their side" is wrong, preferring instead to defend their actions -- those both justified and not -- through the prism of victimization. In reality both sides have been, at various points, the victims and the victimizers.

Acre is a poor city. Its immigrant Jewish population isn't much better off than the indigenous Arab minority, except that the Jews can more easily get out of Acre if they wanted (and could afford) for a better life elsewhere, while the Arabs don't enjoy those same alternatives.

Add to that Jewish extremists who the state has encouraged to move in (either out of stupidity or conspiratorial cunning), and you have yourself a very disquieting situation.

And that's the problem. Not Jews, not Arabs, but the extremists that dwell within both communities like parasites, whipping up the fears of the uneducated poor, and scaring the moderate majority into submission by wielding significant political power.

This is the case throughout the Jewish-Arab conflict, whether it's the continuation of the occupation and expansion of settlements/outposts, or the promotion of suicide terrorism and rocket attacks. Or inter-ethnic relations inside Israel.

If a Jew attacks an Arab, the Arab community sees it as some kind of coordinated attack by the Jews as a whole, an effort to exterminate them or scare them off their land.

Same if an Arab attacks a Jew. Jews see it as an attack perpetrated from the Arab community as a whole, branding them as dangerous fifth columnists.

In realty, maybe it's just the actions of a demented bigot, still living 2,000 years ago, who the silent majority needs to grow a pair to put a stop to, so common sense can rise to the surface.

That is, no doubt, an overly concise and simplistic understanding of the situation, but appropriate for this comments section. I go into much more depth throughout my blog, including a 30 page position paper on the topic that I wrote in the spring.

Kim said...

Hi Media Bard,
thanks for the response and information on where your figures were located from. Unfortunately it seems that there seems to be a variety of figures being distributed, even by perhaps the same organisations. Unfortunately, I do not speak Hebrew and I only have very limited Arabic, so I have to base my facts on what figures are available in English. As a result, as these were the figures formally issued by the Mossowa Centre on their website, I will stick to that, as I have seen no reference to the 16 (thats not to say you are not correct, but I can only go on the formal figures issed by the stated organisations).

I agree with you in relation to your analysis of the class composition of Acre. Definitely, my first reaction to all of this was this is what you get when you combine working class poverty (for both Jews and Palestinians) and Zionist anti-Arab racism.

I would have like to have explored more deeply the class aspect of the riots, but unfortunately, as it the case with most publications you do have to adhere to a word limit etc.

I also agree with you that the problem is not "Jews" or "Arabs" per se.

However, I do think a major problem is Zionist ideology, which in my opinion is a very racist ideology. Zionism, which is the official state ideology of Israel, actively works to privilege one on cultural ethnicity and religion over another, while actively discriminating against all others.

It does not view all citizens of Israel as truly equal and does not afford them the same equal rights, instead, Jewish Israelis are privileged over non-Jews.

The levels of racism in Israel have steadily been increasing over the years, as the studies I quoted have shown. The primary reason for this is that the state not only condones racism against Arabs but it also actively engages in it itself.

And while there may be poverty amongs both Jews and Palestinians, the fact is that Palestinians must also endure a "second class citizenship" (actually, I would probably call it third or fourth class citizenship because if you are non-Jewish but white - say like many Israeli spouses are, who are non-Jewish but married to Israeli jews - you still rank higher up the ladder then Palestinians, whatever their religion)

I will definitely have look at your paper on your blog and will look forward to reading it.

The MediaBard Network said...

Kim,

I am enjoying this conversation. It is so ... blogospheresque.

I agree racism (or bigotry, to be more precise, as Palestinians themselves are not a race but an ethnicity) is endemic in Israel. And not just against Palestinians; football fans often hoot like monkeys when an Ethiopian player on the opposing team gets the ball.

It's disgusting.

Indeed, the whole conflict is mired in stereotypes and assumptions so ingrained in our social conscience we're hardly aware we're making them. From a broad sociological perspective, Israel is viewed as an extension of the West, as it is a country settled by European elites (who just happened to be Jewish and largely socialist).

They are "us," and must act accordingly. Meanwhile, the Arabs are that brown "other." So when Israel kills children in Gaza, the international community condemns it in a way that says, "this is not how white people act."

When a Palestinian blows up a bus, the international community condemns it in a way that says, "What's new? The barbarians are acting barbarian again."

But I digress. I don't think Zionism is an inherently racist ideology. Rather, it is an outdated ideology, and because it has ceased to serve its purpose -- the dream of a Jewish homeland has been realized -- it lingers with punishing elitism.

Before there was a state, the ideology had to elevate Jews above everyone else; if they were the same as everyone else, why grant them a place to call specifically theirs?

Now, Jews need not be held above everyone else. They have their state. Zionism succeeded. It's past time Israel dismantles its Zionist superstructure that is so obsolete. Jews can keep their collective rights without denying it of the Palestinians (whether inside the Green Line or not).

I haven't read his book yet, but Bernard Avishai writes all about this in The Hebrew Republic.

The core problem with Israel/Palestine is that it is a zero-sum game. One side gets everything, the other gets nothing.

Arafat tied the creation of Palestine to the destruction of Israel, and in so doing, denied his people's chance at a country. Israel, meanwhile, maintains that it can't surrender once inch of self determination to their Palestinian population because that would unravel the whole Zionist project.

It is a perverted construct.

Kim said...

Hi Media Bard,
Yes, I am enjoying the conversation as well.

On a couple of points you raised:

I agree that being Palestinian is an ethnicity, however, Arab people are a race and what you have in Israel is anti-Arab racism that happens to be direct at one particular Arab ethnicity – the Palestinian people, so I think it valid to describe what happens in Israel as racism (ie. anti-Arab racism, as I note in my article).

I do agree with you as well that there is racism against other groups of people – including against for African Jews in Israeli, as you note (ie. Ethopians).

Racism as an ideology assumes that there are separate races of people – ie. Arab, African, Causican (white), Asian etc, which are clearly definable by sets of social and physical characteristics. Racial categoration is tightly bound up with the systematic fetishation and reifaction of physical appearance in capitalist society.
Racism is an ideoloyg which is used to justify social practices of racial oppression, of institutionalised inequality based on racial categorisation.

Racism allows racists to portray non-white groups, such as Arabs (Palestinians in this case) or Africans (Ethopians in your example) as “subhuman”.

The fetishation of race (or racism) has its roots in the development of capitalism, as well colonial and imperial practices (now thats not to say that people didn’t notice differences in people’s skin colour or other issues prior to capitalism or perhaps even discriminate them, however, what capitalism did was develop an ideology which sought to justify the systematic oppression of groups of people based on their skin colour).

So for example, when Colombus invaded the Americas in the late 15 century, the colonial plunder of the Americas began. As part of this colonial plunder, not only did the Spanish and Portuegese plunder the gold and silver of the Native American people but they also stole their lands, establishing plantations to grow tobacco, rice, sugar etc, which was then transported to Europe and sold commercially.

In addition, they turned the native people into slaves, justifying their oppression and dispossession of them on racial grounds that they were an inferior race.

This happened all over the world - in Australia, in Latin America, in the Middle East.

In the case of Palestine, the colonial project of Zionism, which is based on a European secular ideology which claims that Jewish people can not live among non-Jewish people and need a “land with out a people for a people without land” (and which if you think about it is also very similiar to anti-semitism – that supposedly Jewish people can not live among non-Jews – this is why in my opinion that Zionism is a complete failure in combating anti-semitism. Anti-semitism like racism is a social construct, which needs to be opposed and overcome but it can not be opposed and overcome by buying into the notion that Jews need to live separately from non-Jews, instead this just reinforces the ideas of anti-semitism).

The Zionist movement was and still is a colonial-settler movement, which justified the colonisation of a foreign land and the dispossession of its native inhabitantst (the Palestinian people).

You just need to read Herzl’s The Jewish State – he clearly outlines the colonial nature of the project, the fact that they will “spirit” the indigenous inhabitants. This whole perspective is also reiterated in the writings of Ben Gurion, Jabotinsky(most notablely in The Iron Wall essay), Chaim Weizman and other key Zionist leaders.

As you note yourself , “Israel is viewed as an extension of the West [note from kim: Herzel stated that Israel would be a colonial bulwark of Europe in Asia] and that it was settled [colonised] by the European elites” [Ashkenazi Jews].

As for them being “socialist” I would dispute this.

The type of socialism advocated by many of the Zionist settlers was a distortion of what socialism is.

An excellent book on this very issue was written by Zeev Sternhall [who recently had a pipebomb exploded at his home by right wing terrorists] called The Founding Myths of Israel .

The book looks closely at the mythology and ideology of Zionism and “Labour socialism” as utilised by the Zionist colonialists.

The focus of these “socialists” was not on the liberation of the working class (whatever their race, nationality etc – as Marx and Engels state in the Communist Manifest – “the working class have no country” meaning that they do not adhere to nationalism which is a bourgeois concept which seeks to divide the working class against each other) and the conquest of power by them in order to build a communist society based on equality for all people, of all races, of both genders and which seeks to redistribute the wealth to ensure that the needs of the people are put before the needs of an elite few.

This is what socialism is and it was NOT what the Zionists who adhered to “labour socialism” supported.

Instead Zionist “labour socialism” supported to and advanced the idea of the “conquest of labour” which sought to build the Jewish state based on a Jewish colonisation and control of Arab lands. As Sternhall notes in his book, the focus was no the establishment of the state as a Jewish state, not on the liberation of all the working class (Arab or Jew) and the focus was on how the labour of the Jewish working class could be utilised to build the Zionist project.

In relation to whether Zionism has “served its purpose” and whether it no longer necessary etc, I would disagree with you.

Yes, its true that Zionism has succeeded in establishing a Zionist state, however, it has not “served its purpose”.

With out the continuing colonial and settler practices, which are at the heart of the Zionist ideology (and which as I point out promote the dispossession of the Palesitnian Arabs, as well as racism against them) then Israel as a “Jewish state” will cease to exist. IN order for Israel to exist as a Jewish state, then Zionism must be implemented , with all its brutality, its racism, its colonialism, its setller activity, every single day.

As a result, there is nothing “post-Zionism” about Zionism. Ithas not “served its purpose”, it must continue to be utalised by Zionists to ensure their Zionist project of a Jewish state continues. And this means in turn, that in reality, that Israel, as as Zionist state, must continue to dispossess the Palestinian people, to discriminate against them and treat them in a racist colonial way.

In the end its not about one-side getting everything and one side getting nothing. It is about how do you create a situation where every single person has true formal equality. That is they have the exact same rights as another.

The fact is as long as Israel exists as a “Jewish state” this can never happen. One group of people (in this case the Jewish citizens of Israel) have more rights, more power economically,socially, politically. They recieve privileges that non-Jews don’t.

AS long as this continues to happen you can never have real democracy or equality. You can even attempt to end discrimination or oppression or racism against non-Jews.

This is why I support a binational democratic secular state in what was historic Palestine – we can not turn back the hands of time and expel the people who were born into the Israeli state and know no other home, but we can build a state which treats both groups of people with true equality, not privileging one ethnicity or religion above the other (which as we see today in Israel results in discrimination and racism against non-Jews).

If we believe in truly in democracy and equality, then people should not be supporting a state that systemically and institutionally supports one race, ethnicity or religious group over another.

As Joseph Massad notes in his excellent article called “Israel’s right to be racist”, if you support the concept of a Jewish state which privileges Jews over non-Jews then you are endorsing its right to be racist. See http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2007/836/op1.htm

Ps: and just for the record, I oppose all theocracies – whether they be Christian, Jewish, Islamic or any other religion. Just as I believe that Israel should be a democratic secular state for all people, I also believe that Iran should be a democratic secular state for all people (and yes, before hardcore Zionists start whinging and bleeting, I have campaign against the brutalities of the Iranian state . I have also actively organised demonstrations against the brutality of the Iraqi state – including when Saddam Hussien was still an ally of the US and he was “their bastard”. I have been active in support of campaigns in support of Sudanese political refugees – who were brutalised by the Islamic regime there etc.

The point is, however, if people oppose racism, discrimination and oppression and support real democracy and real equality then they must oppose anything that results in systematic discrimination and oppression of groups of people based on their race, ethnicity or relgion.

This unfortuantely, is what is happening in Israel today as a result of Zionist ideology).