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.

More articles by:

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

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

July 25, 2017
Paul Street
A Suggestion for Bernie: On Crimes Detectable and Not
David W. Pear
Venezuela on the Edge of Civil War
John Grant
Uruguay Tells US Drug War to Take a Hike
Charles Pierson
Like Climate Change? You’ll Love the Langevin Amendment
Linda Ford
Feminism Co-opted
Andrew Stewart
Any Regrets About Not Supporting Clinton Last Summer?
Aidan O'Brien
Painting the Irish Titanic Pink
Rob Seimetz
Attitudes Towards Pets vs Attitudes Towards the Natural World
Medea Benjamin
A Global Movement to Confront Drone Warfare
Norman Solomon
When Barbara Lee Doesn’t Speak for Me
William Hawes
What Divides America From the World (and Each Other)
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Was the “Russian Hack” an Inside Job?
Chandra Muzaffar
The Bilateral Relationship that Matters
Binoy Kampmark
John McCain: Cancer as Combatant
July 24, 2017
Patrick Cockburn
A Shameful Silence: Where is the Outrage Over the Slaughter of Civilians in Mosul?
Robert Hunziker
Extremely Nasty Climate Wake-Up
Ron Jacobs
Dylan and Woody: Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
Dan Glazebrook
Quantitative Easing: the Most Opaque Transfer of Wealth in History
Ellen Brown
Saving Illinois: Getting More Bang for the State’s Bucks
Richard Hardigan
The Media is Misleading the Public on the Al-Asqa Mosque Situation
Matthew Stevenson
Travels in Trump’s America: Memphis, Little Rock, Fayetteville and Bentonville
Ruth Fowler
Fire at Grenfell
Ezra Kronfeld
The Rights of Sex Workers: Where is the Movement to Legalize Prostitution
Mark Weisbrot
What Venezuela Needs: Negotiation Not Regime Change
Binoy Kampmark
From Spicy to the Mooch: A Farewell to Sean Spicer
Wim Laven
Progress Report, Donald Trump: Failing
Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail