“American and democratic” is possible, but “Jewish and democratic” is not
As Richard Falk points out, “anti-Semitism, and its links to Nazism and Fascism, and now to Trumpism, are genuinely menacing”, but Jews who call Trump himself an anti-Semite (in the sense of having an animus against Jews) are being false and so are those who perceive that the Labour Party in the U.K. is “too tolerant of anti-Semitism”.
Consider these two missives in the news recently.
AN OPEN LETTER TO OUR FELLOW JEWS
To our fellow Jews, in the United States, in Israel, and around the world:
Now Trump is coming after you. The question is: what are you going to do about it? If you don’t feel, or can’t show, any concern, pain or understanding for the persecution and demonization of others, at least show a little self-interest. At least show a little sechel. At the very least, show a little self-respect.
Over 80 per cent of British Jews believe Labour is too tolerant of anti-Semitism within its ranks, poll finds
The poll also found that a further 65 per cent of respondents believe the Government does not do enough to protect British Jews, while 52 per cent said the Crown Prosecution Service could do more
By focusing on the fear of anti-Semitism as the overriding concern for American Jews instead of Fascist Zionism in the Jewish state, the open letter by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman to fellow American Jews exhibits the same moral blindspot as does Trumpism.
In Charlottesville Through a Glass Darkly, Richard Falk writes,
If the majority of Americans can watch the torch parade and urban riot of white nationalists shouting racist slogans, dressed for combat, and legally carrying assault weapons, in silence we are done for as a nation of decency and promise.
The same goes for Israeli Jews watching in silence the Jewish state continuing to dispossess Palestinian Arabs. Some have argued that Zionism at its core is White supremacy. There is truth to that argument, but it is also not the complete picture. There is a particularity to the Jewish nationalist movement that has now gone beyond secular nationalism and wedded itself to Judaism in the Holy Land, encoding both nationalist and religious supremacy in the basic laws of the Jewish state.
The fact that White supremacy is also anti-Semitic does not make Jewish supremacy in Palestine any less worthy of analysis.
The driving force of the hatred (bigotry) is the same in both cases — White supremacy on the one hand and Jewish supremacy in Palestine on the other, but that hatred is directed toward achieving two different ends — White “national purity” and supremacy in the US (or the West in general) and Jewish national purity and now religious domination in Palestine. Paradoxically (and confusingly), the former also includes Jews in its exclusionary or rejectionist formula.
What White supremacy and Jewish supremacy have in common, as Ali Abunimah pointed out, is this:
While Israel purports to be the protector of Jews all over the world, Zionists historically made alliances with the world’s most lethal anti-Semites. Zionists and anti-Semites, after all, shared the analysis that Jews do not belong in Europe, so why not cooperate to transport them somewhere else — Palestine.
Also complicating the issue of Jewish supremacy is that white European Jews colonized Palestine and, as the ruling elite in Israel, they themselves discriminate against Arab Jews, and “lesser” peoples who need to be civilized in classic colonialist fashion. The Jewish founding fathers of Zionism were explicit in their racism against Palestinian Arabs, which is why they had little compunction in ethnic cleansing them.
The millions of Zionists (Jews and evangelical Christians) in the United States today who advocate for Jewish supremacy in Palestine do so for various reasons, including the Bible, but the ultimate means of achieving the desired ends — a judaized Palestine — is to make Islam (and by extension Arabs, and especially Palestinian Arabs) the “only legitimized enemy of the Western order.”
In this way, Israel’s “right to exist as a Jewish state” in the Muslim Arab world [i.e. right to abuse Palestinian Arabs] continues to be sacrosanct in the Western world. White supremacists in the West cannot claim similar “rights”.
In 2010, Haaretz blared: “Former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar announced … that he planned to promote a new initiative which would defend Israel’s right to exist, as ‘if Israel goes down, we all go down’.
And today, despite also believing that Israel itself is “lost to radical Zionism”, Barcelona’s chief rabbi has urged Jews to move to Israel because ‘Europe is lost’ —forgetting to include in his Jewish-centric worldview the Palestinian Arab refugees fleeing bombs in Syria, and denied return to their own homeland by Israel. He doesn’t even remember to mention, as British MP George Galloway explained to a London youth,
the one place in the entire world the Jews were neither discriminated against nor subject to pogroms was the Muslim world. In fact so much that was the case that when Christianity came back to power in Spain in Andalusia, in the western extent of the Islamic empire, when the Muslims left, the Jews left with them, because they feared the Christian anti-Semitism, which would be unleashed in the wake of the departure of the Islamic civilization in the West, that’s why so many Jews are to be found, even today, and were to be found in profusion before the creation of the state of Israel in countries like Morocco and along the north African coast, because under the protection of the Muslims, the Jews left Europe and went to live in N Africa.
On the other hand, Tony Klug, a special advisor on the Middle East to the Oxford Research Group and an international board member of the Palestine-Israel Journal blames Israel correctly, not only for a potential rise in anti-Semitism worldwide, but also for the rising Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism which Jewish organizations foster in Israel’s name.
In a letter to Moshe Sharett in 1954, Ben Gurion wrote, “We must not separate religion from the state. The fate of the state of Israel and the Jewish people is one.”
… the immediate practical aim of transforming such a national self-definition into a concept in international diplomacy, specifically in the context of the so-called “peace process,” is to totally obviate the right of return for Palestinian refugees, before it is even broached diplomatically, and to diminish the international legitimacy of this right by conferring ultimate priority on a another principle agreed upon by the major players, this being “two states for two peoples.” Acceptance of this principle is a clear demonstration of sympathy with Israel’s demographic fears, even with respect to its own Arab citizens. Moreover, recognition on the part of the international community and the Arabs of the Jewishness of the state would inherently imply their rejection of the concept of a “state for all its citizens” as applied to Israel. This concept defies the notion of the Jewishness of the state as it operates on the ground in Israel, and irreconcilably juxtaposes the ideology and practice of the Jewish state against the principles of equality and democracy. (Azmi Bishara, General Director of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies)
The population of Jews in Israel is 6,484,000 (74.7%) according to the Jewish Virtual Library. This site goes on to boast: “On Independence Day 2017 Israel’s population stood at a record 8,680,000. This is a 10-fold increase compared to when the Jewish state was founded in 1948” on the bones of Palestinian Arabs. And the site has the chutzpah and gall to talk about “diversity”, citing the remnants of Palestinian Arabs as 1,808,000 (20.8%) of the population — and boast of the growth of the Jewish population without mention of the denial of Palestinian right of return.
About annexed East Jerusalem, the site has this to say: “Jerusalem is Israel’s largest city, with a population of 865,700.” Jerusalem is the spiritual homeland for Jews, as it is for Christians and Muslims. By insisting on placing Jerusalem at the center of the political Jewish entity, Israel is pushing Palestinian Arabs out and claiming the physical city as an a priori right for Jews worldwide.
I ask myself the question: If the supremacy of White Jews in power in Israel ends tomorrow, will Palestinian Arabs be saved? I fear not, because, by and large, Jewish supremacy of Arab Jews (the social identity category “Arab Jew” is “fiercely debated” in Israel, according to Haaretz) is not any less supremacist and fascist in their internalized Zionist logic than the virulent fascism of the White Jewish elite.
In Israel about 27% of Jews are Arab “by paternal country or origin”, according to Israel’s own tortuous “national” and “ethnic” classification system. Jews living in Palestine before 1948, in keeping with Zionist denial that Palestine ever existed, are not calculated in this category but rather in the 37% of Israel’s population who are “from Israel by paternal country of origin”.
Regardless of how Zionism first manifested itself in Palestine, Jews by their millions everywhere, including those classified as Arab Jews, have suckled on the Zionist claim that Jews worldwide (as both an “ethnic” and “religious” group) have a moral and political right to some form of sovereignty in Palestine for far too long.
Ending White supremacy in settler-colonial countries like the U.S., Canada and Australia is a highly desirable goal. But doing so does not involve or necessitate a radical shift in the political system in the sense of, for example, denying “the right” of the United States of America to exist as the United States of America. Though it has much to atone for, not least in its appalling history of slavery, the U.S. declared its independence from the colonial British without needing to forcibly evict the indigenous people outside their country and prevent their return, though it did ethnic cleanse and displace them internally.
But ending Jewish supremacy in Palestine involves and necessitates the ending of the existence of Israel as such by implementing the right of Palestinian self-determination and the right of return. The only way to do this is through the continuation of the Palestinian revolution and Palestinian resistance (sumoud), not through “liberalism” or “democracy” — as tried and proven impotent in the face of Jewish supremacy and, it appears, White supremacy in the U.S. as well.
“American and democratic” is possible, but “Jewish and democratic” is not, because the criminal Zionist entity is conceptually undemocratic and therefore morally bankrupt.
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.