FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Racism and the Movement to End the Israeli Occupation

by PAUL LARUDEE

On August 6, 2013, State House spokeswoman Jen Psaki made history by telling AP reporter Matt Lee that the U.S. had “determined that we do not need to make a determination” whether the military coup in Egypt was in fact a coup d’état, which would have triggered a suspension of roughly $1.5 billion annually in mostly military aid to Egypt.  This head-in-the-sand approach to policymaking and implementation apparently has other applications, as groups dedicated to “ending the Israeli occupation” of Palestinian land are discovering.

The question came up as one of those groups, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, sought to formulate a statement and policy against racism within its ranks.  The draft statement expressed the opposition of USCEIO to  “…all forms of racism, including Islamophobia, anti-Semitism or any other expressions of bigotry…”  In the discussion, one of the participants (me) proposed the addition of Zionism to the expressed forms of racism.

Zionism is obviously a key cause of injustice to Palestinians and therefore an important consideration in the mission of the USCEIO.  However, is Zionism racism?

There are several definitions of Zionism, but it is widely understood as the movement to create and preserve a Jewish state in Palestine.  If you advocate a Jewish state, you are a Zionist (although some people claim to defend a Jewish state because Zionists want one and not because they are themselves Zionist).

In order to create Israel, which defines itself as a Jewish state, it was necessary to expel most of the existing non-Jewish population, which outnumbered the Jewish population two-to-one at the time.  The determination of whom to expel was simple: Jews stay; non-Jews leave.  Racist? You decide.

Then there’s the matter of immigration.  Who gets to become Israeli?  Jews, of course, and occasionally their non-Jewish immediate family (who will hopefully convert).  Non-Jews, including those who were expelled from their homes are out of luck.  Racist?

The third and final illustration is the matter of housing in Israel for Israeli citizens.  More than 93% of Israeli land is off limits to its non-Jewish citizens.

There is much, much more, but the point is that all of this is done in the name of Zionism.  Granted, not all Zionists agree with all of these policies.  In fact some of them – often called “anti-occupation” Zionists – advocate the return of Palestinian lands seized by Israel in the 1967 war, and they oppose any further land seizures within Israel.  However, they do not advocate returning the much larger seizures of Palestinian land prior to 1967 and allowing Palestinians to return to their homes in those areas.

Why?  Because they want those lands for their Jewish state.  Palestinians must be excluded from returning to their homes in those areas because they are not Jews.  Is that racist?  You decide.

Strategically, there may be reasons to cooperate with anti-occupation Zionists even if they are racist.  They are critical of Israel and some of their objectives are the same as those of non-racists.  This is in fact what the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign has done.  It surreptitiously modified its original mission statement in order to accommodate a subgroup of these Zionists (those who support BDS), which has now come to dominate the movement, with some significant results to its credit.

The USCEIO would also like to pursue the agenda of anti-occupation, pro-BDS Zionists.  Unfortunately, this is incompatible with an anti-racism statement.  A model of such a statement was signed by more than 100 prominent Palestinians and published on the Electronic Intifada (EI), but it seems unlikely to win approval by USCEIO because it includes Zionism, along with Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, as forms of racism.  The preferable course, therefore, appears to be to “determine that it does not need to determine” that Zionism is racism.

What are the consequences of this choice?  Since there are few if any Palestinian groups that participate in USCEIO, the inescapable conclusion is that USCEIO prefers to be inclusive of some Zionists rather than most Palestinians, who are unlikely to join unless USCEIO takes a strong stand against Zionism and a consistent stand on racism, like the EI declaration.

Is it possible to include both?  Perhaps, but in order to move in that direction, USCEIO would need to become an anti-Zionist organization that accommodates anti-occupation Zionists that have some common strategic interests, not an anti-occupation Zionist organization that accommodates anti-Zionists willing to bend to Zionist ends, which is what it is now.  Only then can a consistent statement against racism be crafted.

Paul Larudee is a writer and human rights advocate, and one of the co-founders of the movement to break the siege of Gaza by sea.

Also: Read US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation’s official response to Paul Larudee.

Paul Larudee is on the steering committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail