No loyalty to apartheid

Israel/Palestine

On October 10, 2010, the Israeli government proposed a bill obligating non-Jewish naturalized citizens to swear loyalty to a “Jewish and democratic state.” The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) deplores this attempt to demand recognition of Israel as a Jewish state – a state whose existence is premised on the removal of the indigenous people of Palestine.

In response to this bill, members of the Zionist “Left” in Israel issued a “declaration of independence from fascism.” Announced at a rally in Tel Aviv, the Middle East’s most ethnically cleansed city (indigenous population: four percent), the declaration asserts that the proposed law “violates [Israel's] basic commitment to the principles of equality, civil liberty and sincere aspiration for peace — principles upon which the State of Israel was founded.”

The Zionist “Left” is distancing itself from this policy, but the proposed oath is entirely consistent with Israel’s racist foundations and continued ethnic cleansing – all of which the Zionist “Left” has played a central role in perpetrating and whitewashing.

In the 1930s, as the Zionist state was forming, the Histadrut and other Labor Zionist institutions campaigned to dispossess Arab peasants and workers, while helping crush the resulting 1936 Arab rebellion.

In 1947-1948, under the leadership of David Ben Gurion, Labor Zionism – the dominant force in the Zionist “Left” – also directed the Nakba (catastrophe), which established the “Jewish state” by terrorizing and expelling at least eighty percent of the indigenous Palestinian population.

In the following decades, “Left” Zionism imposed domestic apartheid, made apartheid South Africa Israel’s closest ally, and led or supported every Israeli war of domination — most recently in Lebanon and Gaza. Under Labor governments, Israeli settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank exploded in number.*

Today, “Left” Zionists, no less than their right-wing counterparts, view Palestinians as a “demographic threat” to Jewish supremacy. Like the “Right,” they insist that Palestinians ratify their own unequal status by recognizing 1948 Palestine (“Israel”) as a “Jewish state.” Ironically, this Zionist racism, violence and apartheid serve to deliver a segregation of Jews that parallels traditional European anti-Semitism.

The problem, then, is not alleged betrayal of Israeli “principles” at the hands of right-wing “extremists,” but Zionism itself — both “Left” and “Right.” For Israeli Jews who reject Israel’s racist foundations, we stand with you.

We ask others not only to join us in opposing the loyalty oath, but to reject the Zionist principles upon which it rests. Concretely, that means supporting Palestinian demands for an end to military occupation, implementation of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their land, and equal rights for all throughout Palestine.

9 Responses

  1. yourstruly
    November 4, 2010, 10:01 am

    In other words “Left” Zionism is an oxymoron. Goes to show that invariably colonialism is corrupting.

  2. Citizen
    November 4, 2010, 10:54 am

    Ah, the tenacity of doublethink & crimethink. Who could ask for more?

  3. clenchner
    November 4, 2010, 6:41 pm

    That rally was organized by two partner political groups: Meretz and Hadash. Hadash is an overwhelmingly Palestinian party, with less than 10% of its voter base comprised of Jews. And Meretz partnered with Hadash in a relatively recent move to work with non-Zionist (=Arab) forces on an equal basis, a departure from past practice.
    Sounds good, right?
    But no, IJAN wants you to see that picture and recoil in horror from the hypocrisy of using language in Israel’s Declaration of Independence as part of the effort to fight fascism in Israel. Like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, they look at one of the highlights of Israel’s democratic forces in the recent past and construct a narrative meant to belittle their efforts.
    If only Hadash was led by the good folks at IJAN, perhaps they would have refused to work with Meretz! Or marched under a banner (addressed to the Israeli public) reading ‘it’s all shit – might as well let the fascist law pass!’

    If the goal is to shift public opinion in Israel against increasingly repressive laws that harm Palestinians, I can’t think of a better strategy than to use the professed democratic principles that the state is formally committed to fulfilling.

    This follows another misleading effort to portray the current Labor party as the historic heart of the Zionist left. No so. To the extent that any Zionists are left, they are from the historic Mapam, from Meretz, from independents like Lova Eliyav, and maybe from folks like Yael Dayan known as the doves of the labor party – and hence, a minority.

    So were Ben Gurionists marching with Hadash? It’s a silly question – of course not. Because Ben Gurionists would never agree to it.

    When someone on the left goes public trying to paint the political heirs of Tawfic Zayyad and Shulamit Aloni as racists covering up Israeli history, take that as a warning sign that the agenda they are pitching is divorced from reality.

    • Avi
      November 5, 2010, 2:25 am

      And Meretz partnered with Hadash in a relatively recent move to work with non-Zionist (=Arab) forces on an equal basis, a departure from past practice.

      To characterize non-Zionism as equaling Arab voters is to ignore the statistical data from the last 63 years.

      The Palestinian citizens of Israel — otherwise called Israeli Arabs by those who seek to divide and control the Palestinian population — have, and continue to, vote for both Zionist and non-Zionist parties.

      Thus, there is a sizable percentage of non-Jews who vote for Zionist parties, including parties like Likud, Avoda (Labor), Kadima, even Shass. That’s right, Shass, too.

      For example, 50% of non-Jewish voters, voted for Zionist parties in 1992.

      In 2006, that percentage went down to 25% from 46% in 1996.

      In 1949, 10% voted for the Labor party.

      In 1981: 29% voted for the Labor party.

      Source: Research conducted by Haifa University professor Sammy Smooha (Jewish).

      So the notion that non-Zionism = “Arab” in Israeli politics is factually inaccurate.

    • Shmuel
      November 5, 2010, 3:00 am

      And Meretz partnered with Hadash in a relatively recent move to work with non-Zionist (=Arab) forces on an equal basis, a departure from past practice.

      I was an active member of Meretz (Jerusalem branch and central committee) in the 90s and early 2000s, and the party regularly cooperated with Hadash-Balad, Arab parties and anti-Zionist groups such as the Alternative Information Centre – in Knesset, at demonstrations, and in joint steering committees. There is nothing new here.

      Ad hoc cooperation does not mean renouncing or even softening ideological and political differences. On a fundamental level, IJAN is right, but were I still living in Israel, I would have no problem cooperating with Meretz or Peace Now to further shared goals. The “anti-fascist” statement however, is a shameful exercise in denial and is, in fact, counterproductive to achieving just peace or democracy in Israel. Hadash should not have been there, or should at least have distanced itself from the hypocritical and false declaration. I’m not sure the party would have done the same under Gozanski’s or Barakeh’s leadership (well, maybe Barakeh).

      • Evildoer
        November 5, 2010, 4:34 am

        To be clear, the statement above does not condemn cooperation with the Zionist “left” as such. It condemns the expressed political basis upon which the Zionist “left” mobilized against the “loyalty oath” and reminds people outside of Israel what the real problem is.

      • Shmuel
        November 5, 2010, 5:17 am

        Thanks, Evildoer. That’s what I was trying to say.

  4. Evildoer
    November 4, 2010, 9:30 pm

    If I understand you correctly, Mapam is different from Ben Gurion’s party, because the kibutizm of Hameuchad, created by Ben Gurion party are on stolen Palestinian land whereas the kibutzim of the Artzi were on the moon. Is that correct?

    Mapam, whose Palmach unit was a leading force in the Nakba, is the real left, that shouldn’t be confused with the unreal left of Ben Gurion, who merely gave orders to the Palmach to do the ethnic cleansing. Is that your understanding?

    Thanks for bringing clarity to such a confusing subject.

    The “declaration of Independence from fascism” that was the manifesto of this protest, covers up Israeli history. That is a hard fact. If you want to challenge that fact, nothing could be easier. All you have to do is quote the relevant passage from that document that acknowledges Israel’s history or even mention who the victims are.

    Pretending that Israel has a legacy of equal rights that is only now being betrayed is pandering to Israeli racism. You can put lipstick on this but it is still a pig. This strategy never works. When you pander to racism in order to “reach out” to more people, you strengthen racism, you don’t undermine it.

    If the only way to bring 4000 residents of Tel Aviv to a protest is to craft a message that panders to racism, than this protest is useless. A protest of five Jews in Um al fahem is worth more than all the thousands who marched here. And if one could have brought almost the same number to the street on the basis of a truly anti-racist message, then the organizers need to be challenged for their lack of leadership. Either way, failing to notice the problematic base for this mobilization doesn’t help the struggle against apartheid. Furthermore, the problem here is not only what happens in Israel, but the way the blind worship of such “opposition to fascism” feeds soft Zionist organizing in the US, which is all about “helping obama” see the light. That too must be challenged.

    The Israeli “left” has a history of being extremely eager to protest when the right is in power, while being totally silent when far worse crimes are committed by Laborites. There is no evidence that this pattern has been broken here.

  5. RoHa
    November 4, 2010, 10:38 pm

    Article in the SMH!

    link to smh.com.au

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