However the Committee was happy to assure people that ‘It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli
Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a
particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without
additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.’ (para 24) In other words, as long as you
treat Israel as you would say The Netherlands, then without further evidence you
are probably not anti-Semitic. But if
you treat Israel for what it is, a racist settler colonial state founded on
ethnic cleansing, you will be in danger of being classified as anti-Semitic and further you may be liable to prosecution for a hate crime if
your criticism of Zionism is in an ‘accusatory
or abusive context’. (paras. 5 and 32)
This myth that Israel
is a oasis of liberal democracy in a Middle East of appalling dictatorships is
just that – a myth – as this article will demonstrate.Israel a Settler Colonial State
The first and foremost reason why Israel is not and never
has been a democracy is that it is a settler-colonial state. In order to achieve the appearance of
democracy, Israel had to expel, in 1948, ¾ million Palestinians in what was
called the Nakba. Thanks to research by Israeli
historians such as Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe, who based their research on the
opening of the haganah archives, the myth that the Palestinian refugees
evacuated their villages in order to allow the Arab armies to conquer Israel
are no longer tenable. First hand
witness testimony from those who took part in the destruction of Arab villages
and the massacre of their inhabitants for example Liz Tcharansky’s On the Side of the Road are conclusive.
Because Israel, unlike South Africa, was particularly
dependent on political support in the West came up with the concept of a Jewish
Democratic state. For the Jews it was to
a certain extent democratic, but for Israel’s Palestinians who spent the first
18 years of the state under military rule it has always been a Jewish state. Whenever there has been a clash or
contradiction between the two then the Jewish prevailed over the Democratic. As the Jewish National Fund explained, after the
Supreme Court ruled in Kadan in 2000,
that the JNF and Israeli Land Authority could no longer refuse to allow Arabs
to rent or lease land:
To the Jewish National Fund, which owns 13% of Israel’s land and controls another 80% what is more important is a Jewish rather than a democratic state –
‘A survey commissioned by KKL-JNF reveals that over 70% of
the Jewish population in Israel opposes allocating KKL-JNF land to non-Jews,
while over 80% prefer the definition of Israel as a Jewish state rather than as
the state of all its citizens’
Origins of Zionist
The process of colonisation began in 1882 with the First
Aliyah, (wave of emigration). Although
Zionists today are fond of describing Zionism as a movement of ‘national
self-determination of the Jewish people’, when the first Kibbutzim were
established, they were called colonies and those who lived in them were known
as colonists. [See Ben-Gurion’s Rebirth & Destiny]
When Theodore Herzl, the founder of Political Zionism, wrote
to the white supremacist founder of Rhodesia, Cecile Rhodes, in 1903 he remarked: ‘How,
then, do I happen to turn to you since this is an out-of-the-way matter for
you? How indeed? Because it is something colonial… [Diaries of Theodor Herzl, p.1194]
Today of course colonialism is not popular so Zionism adapts
to the zeitgeist and adopts the
language of the left to disguise its origins.
Herzl sought what Chaim Weizmann achieved in 1917, an alliance with
British imperialism, the Balfour Declaration, which promised to sponsor a Jewish
settler colony in Palestine against the wishes of the indigenous population.
Zionist colonisation of Palestine first involved buying the
land from a absentee landlords and then evicting the peasant population. At first settlements like Petah Tikvah and Rishon
Lezion which were established in 1878 and 1882 survived because of the support
they received from Baron Edmond de Rothschild.
Later the Jewish National Fund, established in 1901, took over the
purchase of land and the subsidisation of the colonies.
The difference between the first and subsequent aliyah was
that the settlers behaved like traditional colonists and were content to sit
back and let the Arabs do the work. The
Second (Labour) Aliyah from 1904-1914, spearheaded by the Ben-Gurion’s ‘socialist’
Poalei Zion, insisted that it was Jewish workers who were to do the work. The colonies and the Kibbutzim were to be
It was the Labour Zionists, not their Revisionist opponents
who sought to create a wholly Jewish economy as a precursor to a Jewish
state. They campaigned on the policies
of Jewish Labour, land and produce.
David HaCohen, a former Managing Director of Solel Boneh, the
wholly owned building company of Histadrut, explained what this meant:
‘I had to fight my friends on the issue of Jewish
socialism, to defend the fact that I would not accept Arabs in my Trade Union,
the Histadrut; to defend preaching to housewives that they should not buy at
Arab stores; to defend the fact that we stood guard at orchards to prevent Arab
workers from getting jobs there… to pour kerosene on Arab tomatoes; to attack
Jewish housewives in the markets and smash Arab eggs they had bought… to buy dozens
of dunums from an Arab is permitted but to sell God forbid one Jewish dunum to
an Arab is prohibited; to take Rothschild the incarnation of capitalism as a socialist and to name him the
‘benefactor’ – to do all that was not easy.’ [David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch, p.63].
Unsuprisingly this caused mass resentment which culminated
in the 1929 riots when some 100, mainly Orthodox religious Jews were
massacred. The Hope Simpson Report which
reported into the causes of the riots was clear as to the reasons behind the
riots. It observed:
Haneen Zoabi is physically escorted from the podium of the Knesset because the Zionist members disapprove of what she is saying
The effect of
the Zionist colonisation policy on the Arab.— Actually the result of
the purchase of land in Palestine by the Jewish National Fund has been that
land has been extraterritorialised. It ceases to be land from which the Arab
can gain any advantage either now or at any time in the future. Not only can he
never hope to lease or to cultivate it, but, by the stringent provisions of the
lease of the Jewish National Fund, he is deprived for ever from employment on
that land. Nor can anyone help him by purchasing the land and restoring it to
common use. The land is in mortmain and inalienable. It is for this reason that
Arabs discount the professions of friendship and good will on the part of the
Zionists in view of the policy which the Zionist Organisation deliberately
adopted. (para. 54)
Israel’s Open and Increasing Racism
It is the settler colonial nature of Israel and the definition
of Israel as a Jewish supremacist state where Jews must always retain a
majority of at least 80% that lies at the root of Israeli racism. The ‘demographic question’ which is unknown
in all western democracies, is ever present and manifests itself in the policy
of ‘Judaisation’ of the Galilee, the Negev and Jerusalem. The Koenig Plan and the Prawer Plans are
based on the need to secure Jewish majorities in both the former areas of Israel. The fear that Arabs will one day become a
majority is responsible for Israel being the most racist and right wing state
In Netanyahu’s governing coalition, Ministers are openly
racist in a way that would be unheard of in Europe.
For example the Deputy Defence Minister Rabbi Eli Dahan is of the
opinion that Arabs are not human but beasts.
In an interview when asked what he would do if a law for single sex
marriages was proposed in the Knesset responded ‘“No, under no circumstances. A Jew and a
goy [non Jew] can also not marry.” He went on to explain the racial
hierarchy of souls: “We don’t recognize either of them. In any
case, a Jew always has a much higher [level] soul than a goy, even if he is a
But lest it be thought that Dahan is an exception, we should
remember that Prime Minister Netanyahu, when declaring that Israel was
proposing to erect a fence all around itself, explained
that its purpose was to keep the ‘“wild
beasts” i.e. neighbouring Arabs out.
Racism is the handmaiden of colonialism and occupation. Almost every government minister has made
comments which would, in a liberal democracy, be considered beyond the
For example ‘Culture’ Minister Miri Regev, who spends most
of her time threatening Israeli arts groups with a loss of funding if they
don’t play in settlements, described the 60,000 African refugees who made their
way to Israel in the past decade, as a ‘cancer’ in Israeli society. When people protested Regev apologised
to cancer victims for comparing them to refugees! Regev made these remarks at an anti-refugee rally
in South Tel-Aviv and it resulted in a pogrom
against individual refugees.
Surveys of Israeli Jews find a Majority Adopt Overtly Racist Attitudes
Every opinion poll finds that a majority of Israelis display
what in the West would be considered virulently racist opinions. If a similar percentage of Britons had the
same attitudes to Jews then anti-Semitism would indeed be a problem in this
country. Whereas people with what might
be called anti-Semitic prejudices in this country number around 5-6%, in Israel
a large majority of Israeli Jews are, to be
blunt, racist bigots.
In a survey earlier this year, Israel’ Religiously Divided
Society by the Pew Research Centre, 64% of Arabs disagree with the statement that Israel can be Jewish and a
democracy at the same time. This rises
to 72% amongst Christians with 20% disagreeing.
Just 8% of Israeli Jews identify with the Left compared to 37% for the Right and 55% for the Centre. In practice Israel’s centre is on the right and the Right is the far-Right
Amongst Jews 79%
say that Jews deserve preferential treatment in Israel. An overwhelming majority such as this can
only be caused by the perception that Jews already receive preferential treatment.
When it comes to
the question whether the respondents favour the physical expulsion of Arabs a
plurality, 48%, agree and 46% disagree.
In 3 out of the 4 religious cohorts, there is majority agreement with
This opinion poll is consistent with all other polls in
Israel. YNet, the
online English version of Israel’s widest circulation paper, Yediot Aharanot found that ‘62 percent of Israelis want the government
to encourage Arabs to leave Israel, according to the 2006 democracy index
released Tuesday by the Israel Democracy Institute.’
A year later, YNet reported
that ‘over half of the Jewish population in Israel believes the marriage of a
Jewish woman to an Arab man is equal to national treason’. What is interesting about this is that people
didn’t oppose it on national but racial/national grounds.
The survey also found that over 75% of Jews did not
approve of apartment buildings being shared between Arabs and Jews. 60% said
they would not allow an Arab to visit their home. Inter-marriage diluted the dominant race.
About 40% of participants agreed that “Arabs should have their right to vote for
Knesset revoked”. Over half agreed that Israel should encourage its Arab
citizens to leave the country and over half said they would not want to work
under the direct management of an Arab. 55%
said “Arabs and Jews should be separated
at entertainment sites”.
Israeli Jews hold
views that, if they were expressed in Britain, would be attributed to the
far-Right, the BNP and EDL. In Israel such views are mainstream.
young Israeli Jews is even higher than amongst their elders
Israeli Jewish school students in their segregated classroom – most Jewish youth will never meet or have an Arab friend
The poll asked Jewish Israeli high school students in grades
11-12 a variety of questions intended to probe their opinions on current
affairs and political identity, among other issues. Nearly half (48%) of those
polled answered “no” to the question: “Do you think Arab Israelis should be
represented in the Knesset?” The
remainder, 52%, said yes.
Joint (Arab) List members Jamal Zahalka (left), Basel Ghattas (center) and Hanin Zoabi (right) at the weekly Joint (Arab) List meeting at the Knesset, on February 8, 2016. On January 2, the trio met with the families of Palestinian terrorists, prompting a political outcry. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Reuven Harari, the CEO of pollster New Wave, told Army Radio
that the research had two important implications. First, youth in Israel are
more right-wing than their parents. Secondly, while “the trend around the world is
for youth to be more left-wing than their parents, in Israel we are special in
that our youth is more to the right of their parents.”
According to Israel Hayom, a newspaper allied to Benjamin
Netanyahu, the poll also found that 59% of 11th- and 12th-graders identified as
politically right-wing, 23% identified with the center and only 13% said they
considered themselves left-wing.
When asked whether Elor Azaria, the soldier who shot and killed an incapacitated Palestinian in Hebron should be prosecuted, some 60% said
the soldier should not be prosecuted, 30% said he should be prosecuted, while
10% said they had no opinion on the matter.
According to Hariri, 60% of those polled also said they believed medical
treatment should not be given to an injured terrorist.
In 2010 a Ha’aretz article Poll:
Half of Israeli High Schoolers Oppose Equal Rights for Arabs quoted Prof.
Daniel Bar-Tal that “Jewish youth
have not internalized basic democratic values,”. The question is why? The answer is obvious. In a Jewish state where Arabs are
marginalised, education, land and much else is segregated and where there are
real economic differences between Jews and Arabs, then of course young people
will internalise this.
Ha’aretz noted that ‘The
results paint a picture of youth leaning toward political philosophies that
fall outside the mainstream.’ It
would seem however, on all the evidence, that the views of Israeli high school
students fall squarely within Israel’s mainstream. That is the problem!
In response to the question of whether Arab citizens should
be granted rights equal to that of Jews, 49.5 percent answered in the negative.
The issue highlighted the deep fault lines separating religious and secular
youths, with 82 percent of religious students saying they opposed equal rights
for Arabs while 39 percent of secular students echoed that sentiment.
When students were asked whether Arabs should be eligible to
run for office in the Knesset, 82 percent of those with religious tendencies
answered in the negative, 47 percent of secular teens agreed. In total, 56
percent said Arabs should be denied this right altogether.
While an overwhelming majority (91 percent) expressed a
desire to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces, 48 percent said they would not
obey an order to evacuate outposts and settlements in the West Bank. “This poll shows findings which place a
huge warning signal in light of the strengthening trends of extremist views
among the youth,” said an Education Ministry official.
The survey, which indicates “a gap between the consensus on formal democracy and the principles of
essential democracy, which forbid the denial of rights to the Arab
population,” the official said.
“The differences in positions between secular and
religious youth, which are only growing sharper from a demographic standpoint,
need to be of concern to all of us because this will be the face of the state
in another 20-30 years,” said Bar-Tal. “There is a combination of
fundamentalism, nationalism, and racism in the worldview of religious youth.”
The Erosion of Even the Most Minimal Democratic
Rights in Israel
In an editorial ‘Who Needs The Courts in Israel?’
Ha’aretz describes how ‘A government-sponsored bill that
would expand the defense minister’s powers to restrict the freedom of Israeli
citizens constitutes another step in an unbridled campaign whose goal is to
deal a death blow to human rights and the sacred fundamental principles of the
rule of law and the separation of powers.’
The bill would
grant the Defence Minister the authority to detain individuals without trial or
to issue a restraining order with minimal judicial oversight, and even that
sometimes only after the fact. The minister would have the authority to exclude
an individual from working in a certain trade or profession, from entering or
leaving defined locales, from leaving the country or having contact with
certain people. In what other democratic
country would the Minister of Defence have the power to detain anyone or issue
There is a myth
that Israel’s Supreme Court has been a block on the Likud government. This is not so. Although it has tended to favour the secular
against the religious in Israel, when it comes to Israeli Arabs it has been nearly
always ruled against them. In terms of
the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories the courts has been even worse,
repeatedly ruling that Israeli law trumps international law. They have consistently turned a blind eye to
land theft and confiscation using a variety of legal pretexts. The Supreme Court is now stuffed with judges
who live on settlements in breach of international law. Israel’s
High Court Rules Residents of Settlements Can Serve as Justices
Minister, Ayelet Shaked, a member of the far-right HaBayit HaYehudi (Jewish
Home) settler party, even the present limited freedom of the Supreme Court is
too much to bear. Shaked is on record as advocating the genocide of Palestinians, putting on
her Facebook a quote from a settler leader that “They [the Palestinians] are all enemy
combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes
the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They
should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should
the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little
snakes will be raised there.”
Shaked is Israel’s Justice
The Attack on Human Rights NGOs
On particularly favourite target of the Zionists in recent
years have been Israel’s human rights groups, notably B’tselem and the
soldier’s group, Breaking the Silence.
They have been repeatedly accused by government ministers of supporting
‘terrorism’. The result has been the ‘Transparency Law’. Ha’aretz described
how this Bill ‘demands that NGOs which receive funding from foreign governments
specify that in all their official publications, along with the names of the
countries that contribute.’ Israeli
human rights NGOs receive most of their
funding from abroad because there is little support for human rights amongst
Israel’s Jewish population. Right-wing NGOs
and Likud, also receive foreign funding,
but this is from private not public
groups therefore it doesn’t have to be disclosed.
Director Hagai el-Ad recently appeared before the UN Security Council saying
that without international pressure, Israel would never abandon its settlements
in the West Bank, he was threatened with
loss of his citizenship, called a traitor and attacked by all sections of the
Zionist movement. The Times
of Israel describes how:
Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli said the group was helping to
advance “the libel and demonization of Israel.” A Labor party activist even
lodged a police complaint for alleged treason by the organization.
The Zionist Union
is the parliamentary group that is dominated by the Israeli Labour Party. These are the ‘moderate’ alternatives that
the Labour Party’s affiliate the Jewish Labour Movement would have people believe
are a principled opposition to Likud and Netanyahu.
In Israel it is possible for someone to be administratively
detained without trial for up to 6 months at a time and for that detention to
be renewed indefinitely without someone ever being brought before a court to
face a charge. The Jerusalem Post described how ‘In Israel, the administrative detention of Jews and Palestinians is
different by any measure, including length of detention, and number of
detainees.’ At the time when the article was written there were three
Jewish detainees all of whom were due to be released, meaning that there would
be no Jewish prisoners detained compared to some 700 Palestinian detainees.’ The three Jewish prisoners were only detained
because they were suspected of having firebombed the Dawabshe family home in
Duma village, in which 3 people including an infant died and a toddler barely
The Post described how ‘Justice’ Minister Shaked explained ‘why the state routinely demolishes
Palestinian terrorists’ homes, but never Jewish terrorists’ homes. Shaked
explained the much wider need to deter Palestinian terrorism justified applying
the law differently.’ In other
words, Jewish terrorism against Palestinians isn’t really terrorism.
Addameer, the Legal Rights group that provides representation
and legal services to Palestinian
detainees, in an article On
Administrative Detention describes how since the beginning of the Israeli
occupation in 1967, Israeli forces have arrested more than 800,000
Palestinians, almost 20% of the total Palestinian population in the occupied
Palestinian territories. About 40% of male Palestinians in the occupied
territories have been arrested.
Addameer itself and its workers have been repeatedly harassed by the Israeli
army subjecting some to administrative detention. Human Rights Watch issued a statement Israel:
Military Harassing Rights Group Staff in which it called on Israel’
stop harassing members of
Addameer, a rights group that provides legal services and advocates for the
rights of Palestinians in detention. The Israeli military has imposed severe
restrictions and penalties on Addameer’s staff, either without even alleging
any violent activity, or without due process.
of Palestinian Children
Perhaps the most abominable of all practices is the arbitrary
detention, beatings and torture of Palestinian children. This in itself is proof that Israel’s claims
to be a liberal western democracy is a sham.
In The Palestinian children –
alone and bewildered – in Israel’s Al Jalame jail the Guardian
described how in Al Jalame prison in northern Israel, ‘Palestinian
children are locked in solitary confinement for days or even weeks. One
16-year-old claimed that he had been kept in Cell 36 for 65 days.’
‘The only escape is to the interrogation room where
children are shackled, by hands and feet, to a chair while being questioned,
sometimes for hours…. ‘Most say they are threatened; some report physical
violence. Verbal abuse – “You’re a
dog, a son of a whore” – is common. Many are exhausted from sleep
deprivation. Day after day they are fettered to the chair, then returned to
solitary confinement. In the end, many sign confessions that they later say
These claims and descriptions come from affidavits given by
minors to an international human rights organisation and from interviews
conducted by the Guardian… Since 2008, Defence
for Children International has collected sworn testimonies from 426 minors
detained in Israel’s military justice system.
Their statements show a pattern of night-time arrests, hands bound with
plastic ties, blindfolding, physical and verbal abuse, and threats. About 9% of
all those giving affidavits say they were kept in solitary confinement,
although there has been a marked increase to 22% in the past six months.
Minors are rarely questioned in the presence of a parent,
and rarely see a lawyer before or during initial interrogation. Most are
detained inside Israel, making family visits very difficult.
Most children maintain they are innocent of the crimes of
which they are accused, despite confessions and guilty pleas, said Gerard
Horton of DCI.
Israel is one of the few countries where torture is not
illegal. In May 2016 UN
official Jen Modvig, of the UN Committee Against Torture told
Israel: ‘You must criminalize torture.’
Israel has argued before the committee in the past that
treaties like the Convention against Torture are applicable only in areas of
the country in which Israeli law fully applies. Surprise, surprise, that
doesn’t include the West Bank or Gaza, except for Jewish settlers of course!
Israel’ new law to expel Arab MKs from the Knesset
Israel’s main claim
to being a democracy is that Arabs have the vote. This too is deceptive. In Israel most voters vote for either Arab or
Jewish Zionist parties unlike in western countries where people vote according
to their political allegiance. The result
is that the Jewish majority consistently dominates the Israeli Palestinian minority.
Even so there are
constant attacks on both the Arab parties and individual parliamentarians. The latest move to restrict the freedom of
manoeuvre of Arab members of the Knesset is an Expulsion Law. Jonathan Cook writes how ‘Critics fear the new legislation
is designed to empty the Knesset of its Palestinian parties’
Nazareth Cook describes how ‘The Knesset,
awarded itself a draconian new power last week: A three-quarters majority of
its members can now expel an elected politician if they do not like his or her
Even Likud’s Attorney General warned that the Bill ‘frustrates the will of the voters’. Joint Arab List head Ayman Odeh said he
would resign if Balad MKs are ousted. Another Arab MK Tibi described the Bill as ‘The parliamentary translation of the phrase
‘Death to Arabs,” a favourite slogan of the Israeli Right.
Elor Azaria –
the Soldier Murderer as National Hero
At the demonstration for Azaria in ‘liberal’ Tel Aviv, one banner said ‘My honour is my loyalty’ the SS slogan
Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif and Ramzi al-Qasrawi, both 21, were
shot dead after they allegedly tried to attack Israeli occupation soldiers in
the West Bank city of Hebron on 24 March. The killing of al-Sharif
was caught on video which shows the youth on the ground, incapacitated, as
Azarya points a rifle at him from close range and fires directly at his head.
The Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq called the
killings war crimes and noted the complicity of Israeli medical workers who did
nothing to assist the injured al-Sharif before he was extrajudicially
executed. Al-Haq dismissed the arrest of Azarya as part of a public
relations effort, noting that no one was detained in the shooting of
al-Qasrawi, whose killing was not filmed.
If an Israeli Palestinian had held this banner they would have been instantly arrested and placed in administrative detention and then charged – but in Israel Jewish racism is openly displayed without legal consequences
In an article “Death to the Arabs” rally draws thousands in Tel
Aviv Electronic Intifada described how, at a
demonstration held in Tel-Aviv on April 19th 2016 there was a banner ‘Kill Them All’. The ‘all’ can be taken to ‘mean
Arabs, leftists, critics of the IDF….)Another
independent reporter, Dan Cohen, tweeted that many in the crowd chanted “Death to Arabs,” a frequently heard
rallying cry at anti-Palestinian demonstrations.
Times of Israel reporter Judah Ari Gross tweeted that an
activist from B’Tselem, the human rights group that released the video of
Azarya shooting and killing Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif, had to be escorted out of
Rabin Square by police in order to “protect his life.”
Reporter David Sheen, a contributor to The Electronic
Intifada, was set upon by a mob and then ordered to leave the area by police
after he was accused of association with B’Tselem.
“It doesn’t surprise me
that people in Israel harbour hatred towards journalists,” Sheen
said. “They don’t see the
soldier’s actions as a problem,” he added. “They see the problem as exposure to world media that puts pressure on their
government to withdraw support from that soldier.”
Dan Cohen wrote
that ‘Also in attendance were
members of El Yahud, a loose network of Jewish supremacist thugs who organize
mob violence against Palestinians and anyone they deem “leftists” that sprouted
during the last assault on Gaza – a group journalist David Sheen compared to
the Ku Klux Klan.
There are many other reasons
why Israel is not a democracy. It has a
pervasive censorship that extends even to Israel’s archives. Rewriting History – First the Holocaust now the Nakba
– Netanyahu style. It has a
permanent state of the emergency despite
that fact that Israel is a military superpower that is under no military threat
from its neighbours. It has certain
democratic rights, for its Jewish citizens but even they, if they challenge the
Zionist status quo are in danger of falling foul of the security
apparatus. It however serves western interests
well to pretend that Israel is some beacon of democracy in the Middle East.