Why are White supremacists perceived as racist villains, but Jewish supremacists perceived as ‘complex’? At least that’s how liberal Zionists and so many Jews in and out of Israel would have it.
Put another way, the question is why are liberal Zionists blind to their own racism against Palestinian Arabs while condemning racism by other groups?
In addressing this conundrum related to the Palestine exception — an exception that involves not only censorship of pro-Palestine speech but also bald-faced, legitimized racism against Palestinian Arabs that extends to Muslims generally - Philip Weiss writes:
I make it a point to hear Rabbi Yehuda Kurtzer speak at J Street and other Jewish spaces. He is a very smart guy and very positive. While he’s too Jewish-communitarian for my taste (the touchstones of his political judgments are Jewish values rather than universalist ones), he’s an idealist who addresses Israel’s crisis. So, I was disturbed to discover on his Facebook page from June a promotion of a visit to rightwing “hilltop” settlements in the Occupied West Bank to get to know those folks better, sponsored by the Shalom Hartman Institute, of which Kurtzer is an executive.
Weiss is justifiably disturbed to hear this from Rabbi Yehuda Kurtzer on three grounds. One is because “those settlements are illegal under international law”. The second is because they are “segregationist” communities, and the third is because of the schizophrenia involved in “condemning and exposing” White nationalism on the one hand, and seeking to understand “the settler movement” (meaning the spread of Jewish Zionist colonization of Palestine to the remaining territory that was partitioned in 1948) on the other.
To me, there is no mystery in the conundrum with which Weiss is concerned.
These liberal American Jews (both religious and secular) don’t know any better because they are committed to Israel as a Jewish state, just as Jews on the right of the political spectrum are.
They see no shame or contradiction in that position because they have swallowed whole the Zionist narrative that defines their identity as Jews, including the inability to see Palestinian Arabs as fellow human beings with fundamental human rights.
So, to me, the problem of Jewish supremacy or nationalism as it manifests itself in Palestine is the fundamental problem of Zionism — its immoral racialist and racist premise.
It makes no difference which brand of Zionism got the upper hand in Palestine, whether it is the nationalism of Theodor Hertzl (i.e., as a response to external pressures that were impossible to avoid — meant for Jews “who do not wish or are unable to assimilate”) or the nationalism of Ahad Ha-Am, to whom the possibility of total assimilation of Jews into their host societies was unacceptable, because the Jewish people was morally superior to all other people.
Today we have a situation in which millions of Jews, whether “assimilated” into their countries of origin or not, believe that Israel has a “right” to exist as a Jewish state and that Palestine belongs to Jews worldwide and not to its indigenous inhabitants regardless of religion or ethnicity.
That, to me, is the disturbing element of all Zionists, including the liberal Zionists Weiss addresses. They want Israel to “exist” as a Jewish state on land forcefully usurped and stolen from under the feet of its true owner, the Palestinian people, who continue to suffer as refugees and in exile as well as in Palestine under military occupation and under Apartheid.
Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is disturbing. Jewish supremacy whether rearing its ugly head in West Bank settlements or embodying the very existence of Israel is the nightmare.
A recent survey has found that nearly half of Israeli Jews believe in ethnic cleansing. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin reportedly called the findings a ‘wake-up call for Israeli society’. But what is it that these people should wake up to? The Jewish state was founded on ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs and defends its “existence” by continuing to ethnic cleanse Palestinians. That’s what they should wake up to — the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
The Jewish supremacist state of Israel must come to an end as such. The goal of exposing Israel’s crimes and the immorality of its supporters is to seek transformative justice in Palestine.
Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.