Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Apartheid Wall

Can you Spot The Difference? Modern Israel versus Nazi Germany

The genocidal public discourse against Palestinians and non-Jews in Israel is reaching fever pitch.

If we’ve learned anything from the horrors of the 20th century it is that fascism doesn’t stop: We must stop it.

We need to call time on Israeli fascism.

posted this November 21, 2014

Independent Israeli journalist David Sheen brought this image to my attention, with this tweet:

004 rush

You may find this image shocking, eerily reminiscent of the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, African Americans through the era of the Jim Crow segregation laws, or the UK hotel signs of the 1950’s reading ‘No Blacks, no dogs, no Irish’.

I do not make these comparisons for kicks, hype or wanton disregard for these past horrors.  It is because of those disgraceful periods in our history that we must not stand by while it happens again.

Here are just some samples of the sort of sentiments now acceptable to air in public in Israel today.

 

These are public figures, many on the public payroll, calling for the expulsion, harassment, torture and murder of civilians purely because of the ethnic group to which they belong.

And if you feel uncomfortable by the similarity between these pronouncement and those of Hitler, Goebbels and co, then just look what happened when 327 Jewish holocaust survivors and their descendents published an open letter calling on Israel to end it’s genocide against the Palestinians this Summer.

A012

These people, who survived the worst of the Nazi regime, say clearly:

“Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

‘Never again’ must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!”

So how did Israelis react to this letter?  Here are just a sample of the responses from Jewish Israelis on Facebook:

123

Translation:

Katy Morali: Holocaust survivors who think like this are invited to go die in the gas chambers.

Shmulik Halphon: He’s invited to go back to Auschwitz.

Meir Dahan: No wonder Hitler murdered 6 million Jews because of people like you you’re not even Jews you’re disgusting people a disgrace to humanity and so are your offspring you are trash.

Asher Solomon: It’s a shame Hitler didn’t finish the job.

This level of dehumanization and demonization of ‘Arabs’ does not remain confined to incitement and hate-speech, but spills over into street-level violence.

In recent days, Israelis publicly lynched a Palestinian-Israeli bus driver, just hours after Jewish-Israeli hate mob JSIL changed their profile picture to this:

002 keith

The body of Palestinian-Israeli bus driver Yusuf Hasan al-Ramouni, 32, from al-Tur in East Jerusalem was found hanging from a steel bar in the middle of his bus.

Palestinians claim six Israelis attacked al-Ramouni while he worked on his vehicle, while Israeli authorities argue suicide.

These same authorities claimed the murder of Palestinian-Israeli teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir was an ‘honor killing’ committed by family member over his sexuality.  Mohammed was kidnapped from outside his parents home, beaten, had gasoline poured down his throat and was burnt alive from the inside out in July.  It was later found that Jewish-Israeli settlers had committed the act.

But western media outlets continue to air Israeli propaganda as if the state were a credible source.  One example would be when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer aired Israel’s Liar-in-Chief Michael Oren claiming the 2 teens killed on Nakba day, Nadim Nuwara and Mahmoud Salameh, was a staged event and they might not even be dead. Never mind that local CCTV clearly shows the murders were real.

Whenever a Palestinian is murdered by Israelis, the Hasbara machine of Israeli PR kicks in to confuse and mislead.

Conversely, any act of violence against Israelis by Palestinians is amplified, and escalated to Al-Qaeda, War on Terror levels of significance.

Just this week, myself and other journalists close to the Israel-Palestine issue called to task CNN’s Washington Chief Jake Tapper for retweeting this image:

123

The whole situation brings to mind that famous quote from Malcolm X:

If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.

While Palestinians, either side of Israel’s Apartheid Wall continue to face daily threats to their homes, livelihoods, and lives – they are treated by Israeli and Western media as the aggressors.

It is almost beyond belief that such a clearly asymmetrical scenario can be recast into a ‘conflict’ – it is not a conflict.  It is an illegal military occupation of one people over another, it is a racial Apartheid, it is a slowly unfolding genocide.  It must end.

The harsh truth is this: those people turning their heads and disowning the rights of Palestinians today, would have done exactly the same to Europe’s Jews during the holocaust.

They would have believed the propaganda, they would have absorbed and espoused the same bigotry, they would have tacitly or overtly gifted their complicity.  “Never again” means never again for anyone, or it means nothing.

 

Life and Death in a Palestinian Zoo

EXCLUSIVE IMAGES

Until the Second Intifada, the zoo was a popular attraction for families keen to see giraffes, zebras, hippopotamuses and other assorted creatures that they had previously only seen in books.

By 2002, with Qalqilya under daily Israeli attack, the zoo’s resident veterinarian Dr. Sami Khader felt compelled to add a new string to the bow of his already overloaded workload.

As tear gas and Israeli bullets filled the town’s streets, they also began to spill over in to the zoo’s compound.

One night, as Israeli soldiers entered the zoo whilst shooting, animals panicked and ‘Rudy’ the prized male giraffe hit his head against an iron bar and fell. Rudy soon died of a stroke due to a build up of blood pressure caused by the accident.

Rudy’s partner, ‘Brownie’, fell in to a deep depression after seeing her dead mate and miscarried the baby she was carrying.

When tear gas again filled the zoo’s air, Brownie suffocated and died. It was at this stage that Dr. Sami decided to become a taxidermist:

‘I spent most of my time here during and just after the intifada working on taxidermy. The first giraffe took me 6 months alone. Nothing is wasted here and this is what we have, we need to preserve everything so that people can learn about animals’.

Today, the few visitors who do reach the zoo can see an array of live animals and also visit Dr. Sami’s other ‘attractions’ including the museum of stuffed animals. Alongside the giraffes are a zebra, jungle cat and others that died during the intifada, as well as various animals that succumbed to natural causes.

This rather macabre collection does not dominate the zoo’s current life however.

In more recent years Dr. Sami has also established an animal hospital, and local people often bring him injured animals to treat.

His belief is that the educational role that the zoo can provide for Palestinian children is paramount, and he is full of big ideas:

“We care for injured animals, preserve dead animals, look after live animals and I want to create so much more for the children.

Most of my time now is spent developing educational opportunities and working with groups of school children, helping them to learn more about wildlife.

I want to create an earthquake simulator and put together a whale skeleton that people can walk inside, but all this takes time, space and money.”

Being established in 1986 – before the Oslo Accords – the zoo was built whilst Qalqilya was under full Israeli civil and military control.

Dr. Sami was once asked by an Israeli zoologist if the animals were owned by Israel or Palestine. He answered metaphorically:

Animals don’t need borders...”

Qalqilya Zoo simultaneously educates people about animals and provides many metaphors about contemporary Palestinian realities.

Israel’s Apartheid Wall: Facts & Figures

It has been 8 years since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion holding that the Apartheid Wall, or Separation Barrier, that runs inside the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, violates Israel’s obligations under international law.

While the ICJ has ordered that Israel cease construction of the Wall and dismantle the sections already built, the Israeli government has continued construction with impunity.

Below are some facts and figures on the Wall (Barrier) from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Siham Nuseibeh Posted by  on Jul. 11, 2012

Below are some facts and figures on the Wall (Barrier) from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

  • The Barrier consists of concrete walls, fences, ditches, razor wire, groomed sand paths, an electronic monitoring system, patrol roads, and a buffer zone.
  • The Barrier’s total length (constructed and projected) is approximately 708 km, more than twice the length of the 1949 Armistice (‘Green’) Line, which separates Israel from the occupied West Bank.
  • Approximately 62.1% of the Barrier is complete, a further 8% is under construction and 29.9% is planned but not yet constructed.
  • When completed, some 85%, of the route will run inside the West Bank, rather than along the Green Line, isolating some 9.4% of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
  • 71 of the 150 Israeli settlements in the West Bank and over 85% of the total settler population are located on the ‘Israeli’ side of the Barrier’s route.
  • Palestinians with West Bank ID cards who are granted special permits can only enter East Jerusalem through 4 of the 14 Barrier checkpoints around the city.
  • Around 7,500 Palestinians who reside in areas between the Green Line and the Barrier (Seam Zone), excluding East Jerusalem, require special permits to continue living in their own homes; another 23,000 will be isolated if the Barrier is completed as planned.
  • There are about 150 Palestinian communities which have part of their land isolated by the Barrier and must obtain ‘visitors’ permits or perform ‘prior coordination’ to access this area.
  • Access to agricultural land through the Barrier is channeled through 80 gates. The majority of these gates only open during the six weeks olive harvest season and usually only for a limited period during the day.
  • During the 2011 olive harvest, about 42% of applications submitted for permits to access areas behind the Barrier were rejected citing ‘security reasons’ or lack of ‘connection to the land.’
  • Despite the presence of the Barrier, Israeli sources estimate that some 15,000 Palestinians without the required permits smuggle themselves from the West Bank to look for employment in Israel every day in 2011 (Israeli Government Special Committee).
  • The UN Register of Damage (UNRoD) has to date collected over 26,000 claims for material damage caused by the construction of the Barrier in the northern West Bank.

Questions Palestinian Queers are tired of hearing: 8 of them

You might think that the main goal of a group of queer activists in Palestine like us in Al-Qaws (The Bow) should be the seemingly endless task of dismantling sexual and gender hierarchy in one’s own society.

It is. But you might think otherwise, judging from the repetitive questions we get during our lectures and events, or from inquiries we receive from media and other international organizations.

Ghaith Hilal posted in The Electronic Intifada this November 27,  2013

131127-ramallah-graffiti.jpg

Graffiti in Ramallah reads “Queers passed through here.” (Image courtesy of Al-Qaws)

We intend to end this once and for all. Educating people about their own privilege is not our burden.

But before we announce our formal retirement from this task, here are the eight most frequent questions we get, and their definitive answers.

1. Doesn’t Israel provide Palestinian queers with a safe haven?

Of course it does: the apartheid wall has sparkly pink doors lining it, ready to admit those who strike a fabulous pose. In fact, Israel built the wall to keep Palestinian homophobes out and to protect Palestinian queers who seek refuge in it.

But seriously: “Israel creates refugees; it does not shelter refugees. There has never been a case of a Palestinian — a descendant of a family or families who were forcibly displaced, sometimes massacred, often thrown in jail without charge — magically transcending the living legacy of this history to find him or herself granted asylum in “Israel” — the state that committed these atrocities.

If some people manage to cross the wall and end up in Tel Aviv, they are considered “illegal.” They end up working and living in horrible conditions, trying to avoid being arrested.

2. Aren’t all Palestinians homophobic?

Are all Americans homophobic? Of course not. Unfortunately, Western representations of Palestinians, particularly lesbian, gay, transgender or queer Palestinians, tend to ignore diversity in Palestinian society.

That being said, Palestinians are living under decades-long military occupation. The occupation amplifies the diverse forms of oppression that are experienced in every society.

However, homophobia is not the way we contextualize our struggle. This is a notion comes from specific type of activism in the global north.

How can we single out homophobia from a complex oppressive system (patriarchy) that oppresses women, and gender non-conforming people?

3. How do you deal with your main enemy, Islam?

Oh, we have a main enemy now? If we had to single out a main enemy that would be occupation, not religion — Islam or otherwise.

More fundamentalist forms of religion are presently enjoying a global resurgence, including in many Western societies.

We don’t view religion as our main exceptional challenge. Still, increased religious sentiment, regardless of which religion, almost always creates obstacles for those interested in promoting respect for gender and sexual diversity.

Palestinian nationalism has a long history of respect for secularism. This provides a set of cultural values useful in advocating for LGBTQ Palestinians.

Furthermore, religion is often an important part of Palestinian LGBTQ people’s identities. We respect all of our communities’ identities and make space for diversity.

4. Are there any out Palestinians?

I’m glad you asked that question. We have great Palestinian gay carpenters who build such amazing closets for queers with all the Western comforts you can dream of — we never want to leave.

Once again the notion of coming out — or the politics of visibility — is a strategy that has been adopted by some LGBT activists in the global north, due to specific circumstances. Imposing this strategy on the rest of the world, without understanding context, is a colonial project.

Ask us instead what social change strategies apply to our context, and whether the notion of coming out even makes sense.

5. Why are there no Israelis in al-Qaws?

Colonialism is not about bad people being mean to others (“bad” Israelis don’t steal queer Palestinians’ lunch money). Being super “good” doesn’t magically dissolve systems of oppression.

Our organization works within Palestinian society, across borders imposed by the occupation. The challenges that LGBTQ Israelis face are nothing like the ones faced by Palestinians.

We are talking about two different societies with different cultures and histories; the fact that they are currently occupying our land doesn’t make us one society.

Being queer does not eliminate the power dynamic between the colonized and colonizer despite the best of intentions.

We resist the “global, pink, happy, gay family” sentiment. Palestinian-only organizing is essential to decolonizing and improving Palestinian society.

6. I saw this film about gay Palestinians (Invisible Men/Bubble/Out In The Dark, etc.) and I feel I learned a lot about your struggle

You mean the films that were made by privileged Israeli or Jewish filmmakers portraying white Israelis as saviors and Palestinians as victims that needed saving?

These films strip the voice and agency of Palestinian queers, portraying them as victims that need saving from their own society.

These films rely on racist tropes of Arab men as volatile and dangerous.

These films are simply pinkwashing propaganda, funded by the Israeli government, with a poignant oppressed/oppressor love story the glitter on top.

If you want to learn about the reality of our community and our struggle, try listening to what queer Palestinians have to say, at the Al-Qaws or Palestinian Queers for BDS websites.

7. Isn’t fighting for gay rights a more pressing issue than pinkwashing?

Mainstream LGBT groups in the North would have us believe that queers live in a separate world, only connected to their societies as victims of homophobia.

But you cannot have queer liberation while apartheid, patriarchy, capitalism and other oppression exist. It’s important to target the connections of these oppressive forces.

Furthermore, pinkwashing is a strategy used by the Brand Israel campaign to garner the support of queers in other parts of the world. It is simply an attempt to make the Zionist project more appealing to queer people.

This is another iteration of a familiar and toxic colonial fantasy — that the colonizer can provide something important and necessary that the colonized cannot possibly provide for themselves.

Pinkwashing strips away our voices, history and agency, telling the world that Israel knows what is best for us.

By targeting pinkwashing we are reclaiming our agency, history, voices and bodies, telling the world what we want and how to support us.

8. Why do you use terms from “the West” like LGBT or queer to describe your struggle? How do you answer that critique?

Though we have occasionally been branded as tokenized, complicit with Israel, naïve and Westernized (by those based in the West), our activists bring decades of experience and on-the-ground analysis of cultural imperialism and Orientalism.

This has provided the raw material for many an itinerant academic. However, the work of those in the Ivory Tower is rarely, if ever, accountable to those working in the field nor does it acknowledge its power (derived from the same colonial economy) on activists.

We are accountable to our local communities and the values developed over years of organizing.

Language is a strategy, but it does not eclipse the totality of who we are and what we do.

The words that have gained global currency — LGBTQ — are used with great caution in our grassroots movements. Simply because such words emerged from a particular context and political moment does not mean they carry that same political content when deployed in our context.

The language that we use is always revisited and expanded through our work.

Language catalyzes discussions and pushes us to think more critically, but no word whether in English or Arabic can do the work. Only a movement can.

Ghaith Hilal is a queer Palestinian activist from the West Bank who has been part of Al-Qaws leadership since 2007.

Zionist movement and mandated powers: Boycotting the Palestinians“Boycott” is a term put into circulation in 1880. An Irish peasant, Charles Boycott, started an action to prevent peasant evictions from the land by landlords and their agents. This is not to say that this was the first time such a tactic had been used.

1. In 1830, the National Negro Convention in the USA supported a boycott of slave-produced goods, a movement which had started among White Quakers at the end of the 18th century. The slave-produced goods  boycott would spread among White and Black abolitionists during the 19th century until the American Civil War. These boycotts to restore the land and freedom of peasants and slaves would inspire movements in the 20th century.

2. In 1919, India adopted anti-colonial tactics by boycotting the British goods to end the British occupation of India.

3. In 1935 and for 3 years, the first Palestinian Intifada (mass civil disobedience) used anti-colonial-settler tactics (including the Arab League boycott of the Jewish settler-colony in the 60’s),

4. In the 1960s, we witnessed the anti-South African Apartheid boycott

5. The anti-racist tactics, the anti-Nazi Jewish boycott of 1933 to end Nazi racial separatism

6.  The Montgomery Bus Boycott by African Americans in the mid-1950s to end American white colonial settler apartheid in Alabama and the rest of the American South….

There is however a different history of the uses of the boycott

Joseph Massad, author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question, published  in Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Boycotting the Palestinians

In contrast with its uses to force the end of race, class and colonial injustice, boycott would also be deployed as a tactic to bring about colonial and racial injustice.

Zionism would be a pioneer in this regard. Upon the formalization of Zionist settler colonialism in the 1897 First Zionist Congress, Jewish colonists were incensed that earlier Russian Jewish agricultural colonists who had settled in Palestine since the 1880s would employ Palestinian labor in their colonies, on account of its availability and cheapness.

It was in this context that Zionism would develop its racially separatist notion of “Hebrew labour”, insisting and later imposing its regulations on all Jewish colonists in Palestine, namely that Jewish labour should be used exclusively in the Jewish settler-colony.

 

Israel’s expertise in separation fences and walls was put to productive use with the massive “Apartheid Wall” it built on Palestinian Realizing the difficulty of imposing its racist project on Palestine, a country which Zionism did not control yet, the movement developed the idea of the first racially separatist planned community for the exclusive use of Ashkenazi Jews, namely the Kibbutz, which would develop in the first decade of the 20th century.

Lest one mistake the idea of the Kibbutz as a commitment to socialism, Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion, who came up with the exclusive “Hebrew labour” idea to boycott the Palestinians, set the record straight: The Kibbutz was set up to “guarantee [separatist] Jewish labour” and not as an application of socialist theory.  

As a racially separatist Jewish economy and colony established on the lands of the Palestinians continued to be the primary goal of Zionism, the principle of boycott of Palestinian labour and products would become more aggressive as time passed.

Like its parent Zionist movement before it, which used the tactic of boycott to effect racial separation and discrimination rather than end it, the Zionist labour Federation, the Histadrut, would begin in 1927 to use the time-honoured act of picketing.

Picketing is traditionally used by workers and unions to end practices involving the exploitation and unfair treatment of workers. In the case of the Jewish colonists, they used picketing to bring about discrimination against Palestinian workers and to deny them employment in their own country.

The Zionist picketing campaign sought to boycott Jewish businesses which continued to employ Palestinian labor as well as the goods the Palestinians produced. This was not only confined to the agricultural Jewish colonies in the Palestinian countryside, but also included urban settings where Jewish businesses employed Palestinians in the area of construction.

The Zionist campaign would continue until 1936 when the Great Palestinian Revolt would erupt threatening both the Zionist settler colonial project and the British occupation safeguarding it. In these 9 years of picketing, not only did the workers among the Jewish colonists join the picket lines, but so did the professionals and the middle class of Jewish colonial society, including actors, teachers, librarians, as well as Histadrut officials.

In addition to the major picketing campaign of the citrus groves of Kfar Saba in the 1920s, the Histadrut would organize “mobile-pickets” where picketers would travel from one construction site to the next in the cities, including Tel Aviv, where Palestinian workers were employed in the building of the first racially separate Jewish city.

If labour picketers around the world would harass scabs who were coopted by exploitative employers at the expense of union workers, colonial Jewish picketers in Palestine would harass Palestinian workers who were violating the racially separatist project of Zionism. Picketers would attack and beat up Palestinian workers and steal their tools and destroy their work.

The picketers would also destroy the produce of the Jewish colonies that employed Palestinian peasants and workers. This was hardly an exception, but harked back to Zionist colonial practices in the first decade of the 20th century when the racist principle of “Hebrew labour” was first put into action.

When Jewish colonists found out in 1908 that the saplings in a forest that was founded in memory of Zionism’s founder Theodor Herzl in Ben Shemen near Lydda were planted by Palestinians, they came and uprooted them and then replanted them again, thus preserving the Jewish character of the forest.

Breaking the anti-Nazi boycott

Unlike the Zionists who were pioneers in their use of boycotts to effect racial separatism, the Nazis would be latecomers to the tactic. The Nazis would begin to boycott Jewish businesses in Germany starting in April 1933 in response to the American Jewish call for a boycott of Nazi Germany, which had started a month earlier in March 1933.

In view of the racist Nazi regime’s targeting of Jews, American Jews and other European Jews started a campaign in March 1933 to boycott Nazi Germany until it ended its racist campaign and political targeting of German Jews.

Whereas American Jews, including Zionists, began to lobby US politicians and organisations to join the boycott, the Zionist leadership in Palestine and Germany saw the matter differently. It was in this context that the Zionists signed the notorious Transfer (Ha’avara) Agreement with Nazi Germany, whereby Jews leaving Germany to Palestine would be compensated for their lost property, which they were not allowed to transfer outside the country, through the transfer of German goods to the Jewish colonies in Palestine.

The official parties to the agreement included the Zionist Federation of Germany, the Nazi government, and the Anglo-Palestine Bank (which was founded in 1899 as the financial arm of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) under the name “The Jewish Colonial Trust”, and renamed in 1950 as “Bank Leumi“).

Bank Leumi is today the largest bank in Israel. The Ha’avara Agreement, which was signed in 1933, not only broke the boycott against Nazi Germany, but also entailed the selling of German goods by the Zionists to Britain. 60%of all capital invested in the Jewish colonies of Palestine between 1933 and 1939 came from German Jewish money through the Transfer Agreement. This infuriated not only American and European Jews who were promoting the boycott, which the WZO was breaking, but also the right-wing revisionists within the Zionist movement itself who assassinated the major Zionist envoy to the Nazis, Chaim Arlosoroff, in 1933 upon his return from Nazi Germany where he had been negotiating the Agreement.

Not only would Zionism break the boycott, but its local German branch would also be the only German Jewish organisation that would support the Nazi Nuremberg laws that were issued in 1935 to separate German Jews from German “Aryans” racially.

The Zionists, like the Nazis, agreed that German “Aryans” and German Jews were separate races and people. Here Zionist thinking becomes clear on the question of boycotts. Wherein Zionists were using boycotts to bring about racial and colonial separatism in Palestine to privilege colonizing Jews and separate them from Palestinian Arabs, they opposed the Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany which sought to end Nazi racial separatism in the country targeting Jews.

For Zionism, what mattered most was its commitment to racial separatism, whether in Germany or Palestine, and it supported only those boycotts that would bring it about. Indeed, as the Nazis in the 1930s sought to deport Jews and render Germany Judenrein (the Nazis proposed Madagascar as a destination for German Jews), the Zionists were proposing Palestine as the destination for German Jews, whose deportation they ultimately supported and were using the boycott and picketing campaigns to render the Jewish State-to-be in Palestine Araberrein.

 Inside Story: On the road to Israeli apartheid?

The Palestinians countered Zionist separatism with boycotts of their own, targeting the Zionist colonies and their products during the British Mandate years.

The Arab League of States would issue its own boycott of Zionist and Israeli goods that would go into effect in 1945. Like the American Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany in 1933 which sought to end Nazi racial separatism, the Palestinian boycott of the 1930s and the ongoing Arab League boycott were imposed precisely to end Jewish colonial and racial separatism and discrimination against the Palestinians.

Supporting French settler-colonialism

From 1948 until 1967, the Israelis would become the major ally of France, which was the chief colonial-settler European enforcer of racial apartheid on another Arab people, namely Algerians. Not only would France become Israel’s major arms supplier and ally during this period, the fact that the two countries shared the status of being the only two European settler-colonies on Arab lands was paramount in its calculations.

When the Algerian revolt started in November 1954, the French decided to increase their arms sales to the Israelis. French Generals explained the intensification of their military alliance with Israel as part of the fight against the Algerian revolutionaries, as well as against the anti-imperialist Arab leader Gamal Abdel Nasser who supported the Algerian Revolution. The alliance and friendship between the two colonizing states was so strong that Israel would also carry out military manoeuvers with the French on occupied Algerian territory and would enlist Algerian Jews (who were granted French citizenship in 1870 by France to separate them from their compatriot Algerian Muslims and grant them the privileges of White French colonists) to spy on the Algerian National movement that was seeking to end French colonialism and racism.

A few months after the end of his 13-month stint as Governor General of French Algeria, the French colonial politician and later terrorist, Jacques Soustelle, helped to create and presided over the pro-Israel lobbying group Alliance France-Israel in November 1956.

This followed Israel’s collusion with France to invade Egypt that year and destroy the regime of Abdel Nasser. In 1958, Soustelle would enjoin not only Israel but the world Jewish communities to support French colonial apartheid in Algeria: “We believe that given the influence which not only Israel but above all the Jewish communities throughout the world exert on international opinion, this alliance would produce happy results for us.”

Soustelle’s anti-Semitism and Nazi-like views concerning the alleged power of the world Jewish communities did not bother Israel one bit. Indeed, Soustelle would join the terrorist group Organisation de l’armee secrete (OAS) in 1960 to fight against Algerian independence, which was by then increasingly becoming the accepted vision in French government circles for the future of Algeria.

The military alliance with Israel did not only provide arms and impart military training to the Israelis, but also made it possible for the French themselves to learn a few Israeli tricks, including “convoy bombing”, which the French would use in Algeria. This was not all. French officers would be dispatched to Israel to learn new techniques in psychological warfare from the Jewish colonists.

French General Maurice Challe, Commander-in-Chief of the French forces in Algeria (1958-1960), insisted in an interview with Sylvia Crosbie that the Israelis were “consummate artists” at dealing with the Palestinian natives. Challe went further and hoped to use the Kibbutz as a model for his pacification program in Algeria, but the triumph of the Algerian Revolution would prevent his plan from being executed.

Israeli study missions in Algeria were also welcomed as the Israelis were keen to learn from the French the use of helicopters to fight the Algerian guerrillas. Challe, like other generals who were friends of Israel, would participate in the failed coup of April 1961 against the French government in Algeria and would be tried by a military tribunal. Testimonies by at least one participant in the failed coup stated that the coup leaders were expecting support from a number of settler colonial powers: “Portugal, South Africa, South America, and perhaps Israel.”

“For Zionism, what mattered most was its commitment to racial separatism, whether in Germany or Palestine, and it supported only those boycotts that would bring it about.”

Israel’s alliance with colonial France would sour when the French opted to end their war against the Algerian people and acceded to their independence. Not happy with its isolation as the only remaining European settler colony in the Arab world, Israel rushed to support the right-wing French terrorists who opposed their government and began to fight against Algerian independence.

Aside from conscripting a number of Algerian Jews, who had joined the terrorist OAS, into Israel’s spy network, the Israelis provided logistical support to the French terrorists. This included support for Jacques Soustelle himself, who was supported by Ben Gurion and was financed by rich right-wing pro-Israeli American Jews who opposed de Gaulle and Algerian independence.

Algerian Jewish commandos organized themselves in Oran against Algerian Muslims and sought partition of the colony along racial lines. They were said to be inspired in their quest by Israeli government policy. Thus, just like its support of Nazi racial separatism and refusal to join the Jewish anti-Nazi boycott, Zionism and Israel opted to support French colonial racism and separatism, and indeed to fight actively against its final dissolution in Algeria, rather than join the international condemnation of French colonial policies.

Breaking the boycott against apartheid

But the story of Zionism and boycotts would not end there. Zionism would stay true to its principles of supporting boycotts that promote racial apartheid and denouncing boycotts that oppose racial apartheid to the present. When the United Nations imposed mandatory sanctions against the racist settler-colony of Rhodesia in 1966, Israel supported the sanctions at the UN but in reality never abided by them.

Israel would provide arms and helicopters to be used in counterinsurgency by the Rhodesian government against the anti-racist independence movement seeking to overthrow the regime (a tactic, as we saw, which it learned from French colonial forces in Algeria and which it was now imparting to Rhodesian white supremacist colonists). Indeed the Israelis, breaking the international boycott, would provide the racist Rhodesians in the 1970s with a 500-mile separation fence along the border with Mozambique and Zambia. The fall of the Rhodesian settler colony in 1980 and the rise of Zimbabwe did not bode well for the future of Israel.

When the African National Congress (ANC) and progressive allies, who would also be joined by the United Nations, began to call for and effect different forms of boycott against apartheid South Africa beginning in the early1960s, Israel would be a central breaker of the boycott, becoming the apartheid state’s major political and economic partner. Indeed Israel’s strategic alliance with South Africa would be built in the late 1960s as the boycott campaign against the apartheid regime became more vociferous.

Here again, Zionism was true to its principles. One of its founding fathers, Chaim Weizmann, was a close friend of none other than the Afrikaner leader Jan Smuts, one of the central founders of modern South Africa. Smuts was such a big supporter of the Jewish settler colony that Jewish colonists named a Kibbutz after him: Ramat Yohanan.  It was both ideological proximity and structural positionality that led to the alliance between the two settler colonies.

In November 1962, The UN General Assembly resolution 1761 was passed and called for a voluntary boycott, requesting member states to break off diplomatic relations with South Africa, to cease trading with South Africa (arms exports in particular), and to deny passage to South African ships and aircraft. In August 1963, the United Nations Security Council established a voluntary arms embargo against South Africa. Finally in November 1977, the Security Council adopted a mandatory arms embargo. Under increasing domestic and international pressure, the Carter administration finally voted in favour of the embargo.

As international consensus was mounting against the apartheid state, Israel would strengthen its alliance with it, not only in military, including nuclear cooperation, but also in providing it with training, arms and equipment to put down the ongoing anti-apartheid demonstrations and uprisings. Support for the apartheid state would come from Israel’s quintessential racist and separatist institution, the Ashkenazi-Jewish Kibbutz. For example, Kibbutz Beit Alfa would provide the apartheid security forces of South Africa with anti-riot weapons to put down the demonstrations. One of Beit Alfa’s main industries is indeed riot control equipment, including water cannons, which it would provide to the apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1980s in a “secret pact”. Kibbutz Beit Alfa, it should be mentioned, was established by the Jewish National Fund partly on lands purchased from absentee landlords and partly on confiscated lands belonging to Palestinian villages.

 Israeli settlers take part of Palestinian city

Israel would also provide South Africa, as in the case of Rhodesia, with hundreds of miles of mined electric fences to protect the racist state’s borders from ANC guerrilla infiltration. It would also build a thousand-mile fence on the Namibia-Angola border to protect South Africa’s occupation of Namibia. Its expertise in separation fences and walls would be put to productive use with the massive “Apartheid Wall” that Israel would build on Palestinian lands beginning in 1994 and continuing into the 21st century. Israel’s breaking the boycott against the apartheid regime would continue until the latter’s demise in 1994. With the fall of colonial Algeria, Rhodesia and South Africa, Israel remained alone as the last European settler-colony across Asia and Africa.

The Palestinian Authority and boycott

Since the beginning of the so-called “peace process”, all diplomatic solutions which Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have signed on to are engineered to preserve Israel’s racially separatist project of a “Jewish state” and of racial partition. Indeed, not only does Israel and US president Barack Obama insist on preserving Israel as a separatist and racist Jewish state as a precondition to all peace talks, but also on Israeli policies of racial separation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem which continue unabated with the construction of Jews-only settlements and Jews-only highways on stolen Palestinian lands.

In Israel itself, Israel’s state-appointed rabbis have been incensed that Israeli laws do not fully ensure racial separatism. In light of Safad’s chief Rabbi’s call urging Israeli Jews not to sell or rent houses or apartments to non-Jews, dozens of Israel’s municipal rabbis signed onto his rabbinical ruling in December 2010. The Rabbis issued a letter to announce their call to “urge neighbours of anyone renting or selling property to Arabs to caution that person. After delivering the warning, the neighbour is then encouraged to issue notices to the general public and inform the community… The neighbours and acquaintances [of a Jew who sells or rents to an Arab] must distance themselves from the Jew, refrain from doing business with him, deny him the right to read from the Torah, and similarly [ostracise] him until he goes back on this harmful deed”.

Unlike the Palestinian anti-colonial resistance which sought to boycott colonial goods in the British Mandate years, and unlike the Arab League which mandated an Arab boycott of Israel, the PA has a different view of economic relations with Israel. Like the World Zionist Organization and the German Zionists who saw the fight against anti-Semitism as self-defeating and saw collaboration with anti-Semitism as crucial to the success of Zionism, the Oslo Palestinian leadership has followed a similar strategy of collaboration with Zionism and of prohibiting resistance to it.

Calls for boycotts by Palestinians are constantly assailed by PA operatives, who only recently, in 2010, and under public pressure heeded a minimalist call to boycott the Jewish colonial settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In December 2012, unelected PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, an erstwhile opponent of a boycott of Israel, issued a call to West Bank Palestinians to boycott all Israeli goods for the first time ever in retaliation for the Israeli government decision to sequester PA tax revenues, an action that bankrupted PA coffers. His government, however, never provided any mechanisms or logistical support for such a boycott nor has there been any official follow-up. In fact, when Fayyad announced the boycott of settlement goods in May 2010 as a publicity stunt, it was accompanied with assurances from unelected PA President Mahmoud Abbas that the PA was not boycotting Israel at all and would continue trade cooperationwith it.

“Israel’s attempt to rebrand itself as a just and egalitarian society comes up against its actual and stark racist reality.”

BDS, Obama, and pinkwashing

Today, it is the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and its international solidarity network that is the champion of a boycott of the racist Israeli settler colony. Like its noble predecessors, from African American boycotts in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Indian boycott of British goods, the Jewish anti-Nazi boycott, and the international boycott of Rhodesia and South Africa, the BDS movement insists that its call for a boycott should be heeded until Israel sheds all its racist laws and policies and becomes a non-racist state.

Israel has expectedly mobilised much of its political power to defeat the BDS initiative and has solicited the help of its formidable ally, Barack Obama, who has publicly expressed hostility to the BDS movement and shamelessly threatened the Palestinian people with dire consequences were they to dare to dismantle Israel’s racist institutions. Israel’s campaigns have included what some have called “pinkwashing”, portraying itself as a democratic country that safeguards the rights of homosexuals unlike its allegedly oppressive Arab neighbours. In this regard, it is important to mention Zionism’s prehistory of “pinkwashing”.

The first European Jew that the Zionist movement assassinated in Palestine was the Dutch Jewish poet and novelist Jacob Israel de Haan. De Haan, whom the Zionists assassinated in 1924, was not only a fighter against Zionist racism and oppression of the Palestinians, but was also known in Zionist circles to engage in homosexual activities, and that he had a special fondness for young Palestinian men (he wrote a poem about the theme). His assassin, Avraham Tehoni of the official Zionist army, the Haganah, was given the orders to assassinate him by Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, who would become Israel’s second president (1952-1963). The Zionists tried to pin de Haan’s murder on the Palestinians who were allegedly motivated to kill him on account of his homosexual activity with Palestinian boys.  While Zionist propaganda failed, and de Haan’s Jewish murderer would confess decades later publicly to his assassination, some evidence suggests that de Haan’s homosexual activities might have been an important factor on the mind of Zionist decision-makers when they ordered his assassination, though his assassin denied that this was a motive.

Israel’s attempt to rebrand itself as a just and egalitarian society comes up against its actual and stark racist reality. Its opposition to the Palestinian BDS movement is often framed as an opposition to all boycotts as a form of struggle. But as the historical record shows, this is not a time-honoured Zionist position. As they have done throughout their history, Zionism and Israel will continue to support any boycott that seeks to institutionalise racism and racial separatism and will denounce any boycott that seeks to end racism and racial separatism. Their campaign and that of Obama against BDS should be understood in this context of their commitment to apartheid as a principle of organising human life.

Joseph Massad teaches Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question published by Routledge. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,427,872 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 775 other followers

%d bloggers like this: