Tony Greenstein | 09 September 2018 | Post Views:

This is why Israeli Apartheid is Unique and why John McDonnell’s defence of Zionism is so shameful

The key question running through the debate over the International
Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-semitism is whether or not
Israel is just another liberal democratic state or whether it is suis generis. According to the IHRA
criticism of Israel similar to that
leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic’
. The
problem is that Israel is not any other country.  It is in a class of its own.
Events in Afula, a Jewish-only
city of around 50,000 in northern Israel, in June of this year explain why Israel
is not simply a western state which happens to have racist policies but an
Apartheid state for whom racism is an essential component of its identity. Afula’s
Jewish residents were outraged that a property in the town had been sold to an
Arab. This was a carbon copy of a similar
in 2015 when many of the successful bidders for building
plots were found to be Arabs. The protestors demanded the cancellation of the whole
bidding process and the Nazareth District Court was happy to oblige. Similar
protests and actions have been held in other towns. 
In Safed the Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, a paid state official, issued an edict forbidding Jews to
rent property to Arabs. Eliyahu’s edict was supported by dozens of rabbis when
he came in for criticism.
Israel is a uniquely racist state. For McDonnell to appease the Zionist Jewish
Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel is a shameful capitulation to
those who have been running the false anti-semitism campaign for the past three
years.  McDonnell appears to think that
if he appeases the Zionists and gives them everything they want then they won’t
continue their campaign of destabilisation.  Appeasement rarely works as history
It’s what used to be called Apartheid
What McDonnell seems to have difficulty understanding is that the fake anti-semitism
campaign has one overriding purpose – removing the Corbyn leadership of the Labour
Party, McDonnell included.  The more you
give the Zionists the more they will demand until there’s nothing left to give.  It is a total illusion to give way to these
racists in the belief that they will call off their dogs.
Israel is a ‘Jewish state’ or more accurately a state of the Jewish
nation. What Israel is not is a state of its own citizens. Recent attempts even
to debate such a proposal in the Knesset were blocked.  Knesset
Council Bans Bill to Define Israel as State for All Its Citizens
Uniquely in the modern world, the Israeli state owns and controls 93% of Israeli
land which is reserved for the use of the ‘Jewish people.’ The Jewish National
Fund, a para-state organisation set up by the JNF Law 1953 ensures that access
to that land is barred to the 20% of Israeli citizens who are Palestinians.  
The JNF is quite open
about the fact that it should not be obliged to allocate lands in its
possession to non-Jews…. Whoever seeks to prevent the allocation of JNF lands
solely to Jews must confront the assertions of these laws’
referring to
three land laws passed in 1960-61 which gave the JNF and the Israeli Land
Administration joint responsibility for administering Israeli state land.
Israeli Arabs are confined to 3% of the land.  Not one new Arab town or village has been created
in Israel since its formation 70 year ago despite a more than 10 fold increase
in their population. This contrasts with hundreds of new Jewish towns and communities.
Demonstration against house sale in Afula
In Israel land is segregated in the same way as it was in Apartheid South
Africa.  The only difference is that
Israel sees no need to pass a Group Areas Act relying on a series of opaque
laws instead.
In the wake of the NEC’s decision to endorse the IHRA definition of
anti-semitism, Palestine solidarity activists fly posted bus stops in London declaring
that Israel is a racist endeavour.
This was immediately denounced by McDonnell
who told BBC’s Politics Live that “It is not the right thing to say. It is against the examples that we set out
and linked to the IHRA definitions.”
In these few robotic comments we see the intellectual poverty of Labour’s
political elite displayed in all its glory. 
Why is it wrong to call Israel a racist state?  Are the protestors wrong? Are their arguments
at fault? No, its because it’s against the IHRA formula which the Labour Party
and Theresa May have both adopted, alongside the anti-semitic governments of Poland
and Hungary.
In an equally shocking interview
with Jewish
McDonnell elaborated on these comments, in the course of which he
demonstrated just far he has moved to the right and to what lengths he is
prepared to go in order  to disown his
own political heritage. Time was when McDonnell defended physical force Irish
Republicanism against the British army’s occupation of Northern Ireland.
McDonnell stated that ‘It is
anti-Semitic to oppose a Jewish state, of course it is.’
Israel calls
itself a Jewish state but what does that mean? Quite simply Israel is a Jewish supremacist
state in the same way as South Africa was a White supremacist state and Ulster
was a Protestant supremacist state.
Being Jewish in Israel means having very real and significant privileges.
A Jewish state means that you constantly worry about the ‘demographic threat’ that the Arabs pose. In an article Expert
confirms Jews and Arabs nearing population parity
Aron Heller wrote that ‘Israel will be faced with a daunting choice
between becoming a binational state or one in which Arabs and other minorities
do not have equal rights.’
That is why Israel constantly encourages Jewish immigration at the same
time as it takes steps to minimise the Arab population.  It means politics in Israel are ethnicised at
every level and in every sphere of civil and social life.  The 20% of the population that are
Palestinians are not represented at any level in the government, the senior
civil service or the judiciary. It means segregation in most areas of life
including education and housing. It also results in government
campaigns against miscegenation, sexual relations between Jews
and Arabs that are reminiscent of the Nuremberg Laws (Israel’s
vile anti-miscegenation squads
What is particularly shocking is not only that McDonnell has so little
historical or political awareness but that he is prepared to jettison the Palestinians
for the sake of a pact with the devil. The idea of religious states died out
with the French Revolution. Nationality became a function of residence in a
certain territory not religion.  In the words
of Count Clermont-Tonnerre, a Deputy in the French Constituent Assembly, “Jews should be denied everything as a
nation, but granted everything as individuals….”
Tonnerre’s words represented
the views of 18th-century rationalists and French revolutionaries
toward Judaism and the Jewish question. That was why Zionism, like the Jewish
Orthodoxy, hated Emancipation and the French Revolution (alongside Hitler and
European fascism).
In Israel being Jewish is more a question of race and nation than religion.
 There is no right to a Jewish state nor
is it anti-semitic to oppose it. Jews are members of all nations. The idea of
Jewish nationhood and thus Jewish self-determination is an anti-semitic
argument that implies that Jews aren’t members of the nations amongst whom
they  live.
There is also no right to a Protestant or Catholic or Islamic state.  A simple understanding of the fight for
democratic rights and the works of people like Thomas Paine and JS Mill eludes
McDonnell’s also suggested that all states are racist and Israel is no
different. That is a fundamental failure to understand that Israel is not just
another Western state. Israel is unique in not having its own nationality. Jews
are a separate nation to Arabs and there are about 130 nationalities in Israel
of which only one, Jewish means anything.
Israel is a state that was founded on the basis of Jewish racial
supremacy. When the Supreme Court ruled in Ka’adan
that the State could not discriminate against Arabs by refusing to sell them
State land, the response of the Knesset was to pass in 2011 an Acceptance to Communities Law which allowed communities of
less than 500 people to set up Admission Committees which screened potential
residents on ethnic or other grounds such as colour. 
Imagine if, in Britain, someone Jewish was told that they could not
purchase land because it was owned by the Christian National Fund.  There would be an uproar but that is the
situation in Israel in respect of Arabs. John McDonnell sees nothing amiss in
McDonnell, in his desire to appease the Labour Right is prepared to throw
the Palestinians under a bus. First he  suggested that Margaret Hodge’s abuse of
Jeremy Corbyn should not be made the subject of a disciplinary investigation despite
having said nothing about the disciplinary hearings against Jackie Walker, Marc
Wadsworth, Ken Livingstone and myself. Then McDonnell called for full support
for the IHRA and now he is first off the starting block in denouncing activists
for saying that Israel is a racist rotweiller that guards over Western
interests in the Middle East whilst systematically discriminating against its
non-Jewish inhabitants.
Those who think that this will not have any effect on McDonnell’s
potential role as a Labour Chancellor, should think again. McDonnell has begun
travelling the same road that his famous predecessor, Sir Stafford Cripps,
took.  Cripps started off on Labour’s
far-left, was expelled and ended up as Attlee’s Chancellor and the enforcer of
Foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy. If McDonnell bends the
knee to the Zionist lobby now then he is he going to doff his cap to American
foreign policy and the ‘special relationship’. 
We can only imagine what McDonnell’s response will be when faced with a
hostile banking sector and a run on the pound. If he can’t even criticise Margaret
Hodge’s vile attack on Jeremy Corbyn and support the mandatory reselection of Labour
MPs then it is to be feared that McDonnell will end up as another Dennis Healey
McDonnell is even more narrow minded and blinkered because in the event
that Jeremy Corbyn was overthrown he would immediately be a target. Last month
when it seemed that Corbyn might be overthrown stories
began to appear in the press concentrating on McDonnell’s past such as sponsoring
an Early Day Motion supporting the then recently formed International Jewish
Anti-zionist Network.
If McDonnell really thinks that Israel is no different from any other
western state then he should look at the following articles on Afula. McDonnell’s
failure to understand the bogus and synthetic nature of the fake anti-semitism campaign
is worrying because he doesn’t recognise the scale or nature of the attack on Jeremy
Tony Greenstein

of Israelis Demonstrate Against Home Sale to Arab Family

Former mayor joined protest: ‘the residents of
Afula don’t want a mixed city, but rather a Jewish city, and it’s their right.
This is not racism’
About 150 residents of the northern city of Afula
demonstrated on Wednesday afternoon against the sale of a house to an Arab
family. Protesters waved Israeli flags and carried signs condemning the sale
and the homeowners who sold their house to Arabs, one of which read: “Traitors
against the Jews will get no rest.”
Former Afula Mayor Avi
It’s what used to be
called Apartheid
Protesters raised Israeli flags and shouted slogans against the sale of
the house in the city’s Yizrael neighborhood. Chairman of Joint Arab List Ayman
Odeh wrote in response to the protest: “It is not a surprise that in a
country that has founded 700 towns for Jews and not even one for Arabs, the
idea that Arabs should be pushed aside does not shock citizens. And still, it
is more than a little worrying to see how our hope for living together is
crumbling due to hatred and racism fueled by the government.”
Member of Knesset Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) added that “racism
ethnic superiority have become a legitimate reality under this right-wing
government. This protest should rock the political system and keep up at night
all those who care about equality and human dignity.”
A notice calling on residents to turn out for the demonstration made
reference to “the sale of homes to those who are undesirable in the
and went on to say: “One transaction has already been
carried out and everything needs to be done to cancel it and to put a stop to
this phenomenon from the beginning. Friends, now is the time to come together.
All Jews are responsible for one another! Today it’s us, tomorrow, it’s you.”
In response to the Afula protest, the Coalition Against Racism
organization called for a halt to efforts by “those inciting the public
against the possibility of living together.”
The phenomenon will not stop
without “clear responses by courageous public figures and political
the organization said, adding: “Now is the time for the voice
of the sane majority in Afula, both politicians and the wider public, to be
About two years ago, Afula residents held a number of demonstrations
objecting to a
bidding process for lots in a residential neighborhood of the city
in which
all 43 successful bidders were Arab. Approval of the bids was rescinded by the
Nazareth District Court after the court found that some of the successful
bidders had engaged in improper coordination of their bids and that the minimum
bid provisions were vague and misleading.
Jews not welcome – another Nazi practice imported into Israel
Half of Jewish Israelis say
they wouldn’t want an Arab as a neighbor. In March, Kfar Vradim’s local council
head Sivan Yehieli ordered
to halt bids
for selling building plots of land in his community, after 50
percent of the winners so far turned out to be Arabs. In a letter he
disseminated among the community’s residents he promised that “no more land
would be sold until an appropriate solution was found to ensure our ability to
maintain our communal life and the special character of Kfar Vradim
The so-called nation-state bill passed the first of three Knesset calls
in May in a a version that has a clause allowing the establishment of
communities for Jews only. Clause 7b of this bill specifically states that “the
state can allow a community composed of people of the same faith or nationality
to maintain an exclusive community.”
Protests against Arab
families moving into Jewish cities are a reminder that until everyone is free
to choose where they want to live, the Israeli regime will remain
segregationist and racist at its core.
By Suhad Bishara
Illustrative photo of demonstration by far-right Israelis. (
Jewish residents of the northern Israeli city of Afula protested
last week
against the sale of a home to an Arab family and the possibility
that the city would have a mixed Jewish-Arab population. I have no doubt that
every person who believes in freedom and justice will view this protest as an
expression of pro-segregation racism reminiscent of South African apartheid.
The protest comes just a few months after Sivan Yehieli, the head of the Kfar
Vradim Municipal Council, announced that his pastoral town must
maintain its Zionist-Jewish character
after 58 Arab citizens won bids to
build their homes in the town.
Let’s make one thing clear: 150 protesters are not an aberration in
Israel. They were simply expressing overtly the racist segregation upon which
Israel’s land regime was founded. This is precisely how military rule over
Israel’s Arab citizens – in
effect from 1949 until 1966
– functioned: “cleansing” vast swaths of land
in order to settle Jews and to ensure reserves of land that would continue to
exclusively serve Israeli Jews.
This “cleansing” process was implemented, among other ways, via the
construction of hundreds of new Jewish towns and communities, as well as
through the establishment of admissions
in kibbutzim, moshavim, and other communities.
Yehieli faithfully represents the Israeli planning authorities’ policy
aimed at demographically re-engineering the country. He represents an Israeli
legal system that refused to allow the implementation of its own decision to
allow the internally-displaced Palestinian residents of Iqrit
and Bir’im
to return to their villages, that gave the green light to the
Admissions Committees Law, and that allows the state to uproot
the residents of Umm al-Hiran
in order to replace them with Jewish citizens
– just like during and immediately following the Nakba. And we can expect much
more of the same.#
Bedouin women collect their belongings from the ruins of their demolished homes in the village of Umm al-Hiran, Negev desert, January 18, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Much of the criticism leveled at the racism of Afula’s residents focuses
on the lack of development in Arab communities, which results in the necessity
of young Arab citizens to seek housing solutions in nearby Jewish towns.
The decision of Israel’s Supreme
Court in Ka’adan has effectively been overturned by the Knesset and by the
Supreme Court itself
This thinking prevents envisioning a situation in which an Arab citizen
of Israel has the right to choose where she/he wants to live simply because it
suits her/him to live there. It buys into the paradigm of a discriminatory,
racist, and apartheid-like land regime that forces them to find a
circumstantial explanation for the phenomenon, rather than simply calling it by
its name: racism and segregation.
Imagine a scenario in which the Israeli government takes unprecedented
steps to allocate land for the development of Arab communities. Imagine that it
begins developing Arab communities of all kinds — cities, villages, and
agricultural communities — while also ensuring the development of industrial
and commercial zones in accordance with the principles of distributive and
restorative justice.
But yet, even in this scenario, it remains the right of every Arab
citizen to decide where he or she wants to live — be it Kfar Vradim, Tel Aviv,
or Afula.
As long as Israeli state authorities cannot or will not imagine the
country’s land as open to all, we cannot talk about justice or constitutional
rights. The Israeli regime will remain segregationist and racist at its core.
Segregated living will remain racist, even under the guise of “separate but
Imagine protesters demonstrating against Jews buying homes in a Christian
town in Europe. Israelis would declare them racists and anti-Semites, and
Israel’s prime minister would surely remark that it reminds him of the dark
days leading up to the Holocaust. Inside Israel, however, an almost identical
scene is framed by Afula’s former mayor Avi Elkabetz as such: “The residents
of Afula do not want a mixed city. They want a Jewish city — and this is their
right. This isn’t racism.”
Thus racism in Israel magically becomes the “legitimate right” of
the Jewish citizen.
Attorney Suhad
Bishara is the Director of the Land and Planning Rights Unit, Adalah – The
Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. This article was first
published in Hebrew on Haokets. Read it

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