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Israel's new government, the ugly face of racism

By Hatem Abudayyeh

Israeli right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu, who stated that Israel did not “go far enough” in its 22-day invasion and massacre of 1400 Palestinians in Gaza earlier this year and who has never accepted even the possibility of an independent state for the Palestinians, is now the new prime minister. He was sworn in on April 1, after being asked in February by President Shimon Peres to form a coalition government.

Netanyahu’s government includes Ehud Barak, who as Defense Minister in the previous Labor Party government masterminded the war on Gaza. The Israeli Labor Party, which is supposedly a left-leaning party, is about as leftist as George Bush. To make matters worse, the new foreign minister is Avigdor Lieberman of the racist, anti-Arab Yisrael Beiteinu Party and one of Time magazine’s 100 “Most influential people in the world.” He is also a former member of the outlawed Kach Party, whose founder, Meir Kahane, advocated the forcible expulsion of all Palestinians from all of historical Palestine. Time failed to mention this aspect of his history.

This triumvirate represents what will be undoubtedly be a continuation of previous policies of ‘population transfer’ and forced exile, a government determined policy to push more and more Palestinians off their land in the 1948 territories as well as the West Bank and Gaza. There are also dozens of laws in the 1948 territories that explicitly and clearly discriminate against the Palestinians who live there, especially in the criminal justice system, but also in regards to civil restrictions on buying land, building on already owned property, and even marriage.

In his first crack at prime minister a few years back, Netanyahu expanded illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and has promised to continue to push Palestinians out of Jerusalem through continued land expropriation and settlement-building in the present and future as well. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Netanyahu has also agreed to initiate legislation to deprive Palestinians of their citizenship and other rights in the 1948 territories, in support of Lieberman’s stance that all Palestinians who live there must sign a ‘loyalty oath’ to Israel.

Although this new government has leaders who are terrorists, war criminals and ultra-right wing racists, it is Zionism and the entire conceptualization of the state of Israel that should be indicted and condemned. A state for Jews only, a state that was formed by expelling hundreds of thousands of people, a state that makes laws to uphold the supremacy of Jews over other religious groups, a state that violates international humanitarian law every minute of every day, is a manufactured state, is a state that has no right to exist.

With the economic, military and political backing of imperial Great Britain, and against the popular sentiments of tens of millions of Arabs, Israel became a Jewish state in 1948, established on 78% of historic Palestine (even though Jews owned only 6% of the land), and forced into exile over 750,000 Palestinians. These Palestinians and their descendants make up the largest refugee population in the world, with estimates varying from 4.7 to 6.2 million people.

At the time of the founding of Israel, the most famous slogan of the Zionists was that Palestine was “a land without a people for a people without a land,” as if the Palestinians had never existed. Zionist militias, armed and protected by the British, terrorized Palestinian cities and villages and forced the mass exile of 1947-48 that the Palestinians call the Nakba, or Catastrophe.

This political movement, Zionism, sought to bring Jews from all over the world to settle in and colonize Palestine as a state exclusively for Jews. Britain, and later the U.S., have unequivocally supported Israel, considering it their settler-colonial outpost in the Arab world and Middle East. And leaders of these Zionist terrorist groups became future Israeli government officials, like former Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzak Shamir, who believed in the concept of Greater Israel – that all of historic Palestine, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the territories occupied in 1967, belonged to the Jews as well.

For 61 years, the state of Israel and the Zionism it represents have repudiated the national rights of Palestinians to self determination, return and independence. The Palestinians constitute a nation, one that has been oppressed for decades and one that continues to resist Israeli Zionist racism.

Resistance to South Africa’s apartheid system was the most correct and righteous struggle of its day. At that time, you would have been on the wrong side of morality, justice and history if you challenged the South African liberation movement’s demand to absolutely destroy and shatter apartheid. Why is Zionist Israel any different? Especially this new government? It is correct to boycott Israel, to divest from it and to push for sanctions against it. And you will find yourself on the wrong side of history again if you challenge the Palestinian liberation movement’s demand to dismantle Zionism, racism and the state of Israel. This is the real road to peace and justice for all people who live in historic Palestine and the entire region.

#Palestine #Commentary #Israel #Netanyahu #OpEd #MiddleEast