Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Pre-State Origins of Zionist Apartheid

So what makes Zionists, both within and outside Israel, the adorable creatures we know them to be?

Herewith are further musings on the substance of my previous post...

Uri Davis, author of the classic 2003 text, Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, explains the difference between racism and apartheid:

"Racism is not apartheid and apartheid is not racism. Apartheid is a political system where racism is regulated in law through acts of parliament. Racism is prevalent in all states, including liberal democratic states such as the current western liberal democracies. But in liberal democratic states, those victimized by racism have legal recourse to seek the protection of the law under a democratic constitution, namely a constitution that embodies the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In an apartheid state, on the other hand, the state enforces racism through the legal system, criminalizes expressions of humanitarian concern and obligates the citizenry through acts of parliament to make racist choices and conform to racist behaviour." (p 37)

Israel emerged as a fully-fledged apartheid state, underpinned by a cluster of laws enshrining a division between Jews and non-Jews*, in the years immediately following its creation in 1948. Its apartheid legislation, however, didn't come from nowhere. It was preceded in the pre-state era by the Zionist movement's use of pressure tactics aimed at preventing the development of any kind of inclusive, non-Zionist initiative or enterprise involving Arabs and Jews. These tactics were indicative of the kind of racist, Jews-only mindset which eventually found expression in Israel's post-48 apartheid legislation.

The following two stories show how the Zionist movement, once unleashed on Palestine by the British, immediately set about forcing decent and independent-thinking members of the Jewish community there to make essentially racist choices, and punishing those who failed to toe the Zionist line.

The first comes from Lt.-Col. Walter Francis Stirling, the British Governor of the Jaffa district from 1919-1923:

"In the early days there were many Jews in Palestine who were not Zionists, but the pressure applied by the Jewish Agency became so great, and its Gestapo methods so severe, that few Jews dared openly express any other faith. Just before I left Jaffa a very important Jewish farmer from Richon-le-Zion sent a message asking if he could come and see me. I accordingly invited him to come to my office the following morning, but he refused to do that and asked for an appointment at my house after dark. When he arrived he told me he had come to ask for any advice on a personal problem. He explained how, as a small boy, he had been brought to Palestine by his father, one of the biggest landowners of his village. Growing up there, he had made numerous friends among the little Arab boys of his own age. On his father's death he had taken over the property and naturally continued to employ his boyhood friends as herdsmen, ploughmen and teamsters. That morning, however, the Jewish Agency had ordered him to dismiss all his Arab employees and to engage some newly arrived Jewish immigrants at a wage-rate far in excess of the pay of his Arab workmen. What should he do? If he dismissed the Arabs in the summary manner suggested, such bad feeling would be created that, being a vindictive people, they might well burn his crops. Apart from this consideration, they also happened to be his friends. The Jews who had been proposed to him as labourers knew nothing about farming, and certainly nothing about the local conditions. The Arabs would work to all hours of the night if it were a question of getting a crop in before the rain; the Jews would down tools precisely at 6 o'clock, no matter what the weather. He now saw no possibility of working his land on economic lines, and he would inevitably go bankrupt. I was put in a difficult position, for any advice I gave him would certainly be quoted and I should be denounced by the all-powerful Jewish Agency." (Quoted in From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism & the Palestine Problem Until 1948, edited by Walid Khalidi, 1971, pp 233-234)

The second comes from Sir Ronald Storrs, the British Governor of Jerusalem from 1918 to 1926:

"When, early in 1918, a lady, unlike the stage Woman of Destiny in that she was neither tall, dark nor thin, was ushered, with an expression of equal good humour and resolution, into my office I immediately realized that a new planet had swum into my ken. Miss Annie Landau had been throughout the War exiled in Alexandria from her beloved Evelina de Rothschild Girls' School, and demanded to return to it immediately. To my miserable pleading that her school was in use as a Military Hospital she opposed a steely insistence: and very few minutes had elapsed before I had leased her the vast empty building known as the Abyssinian Palace. Miss Landau rapidly became very much more than the Headmistress of the best Jewish Girls' School in Palestine. She was more British than the English, flying the Union Jack continually as well as exclusively so soon as that was permitted. She was more Jewish than the Zionists - no answer from her telephone on the Sabbath, even by the servants. She had been friendly with Turks and Arabs before the War; so that her generous hospitality was for many years almost the only neutral ground upon which British officials, ardent Zionists, Moslem Beys and Christian Effendis could meet on terms of mutual conviviality. Only once was her social ascendency challenged, and then by her own community. The occasion arose from a concert I arranged late in 1918 to provide funds for the Jerusalem School of Music. I had impressed upon its director, the accomplished violinist Tchaikov, that as neither the School nor the audience were exclusively Jewish he should at the conclusion confine himself to the first 6 bars of God Save the King; a condition he promised to observe. As he advanced to the front of the platform, we rose, when what was my consternation to hear not that confident, basic melody but the Smetanaesque melancholy of the Zionist National Anthem. After a bar or so (Tchaikov casting upon me the agonized glance of one succumbing to force majeure) the Chief Administrator asked me hoarsely 'What's that?' and when I answered 'Ha Tiqvah', asked again 'What's that?' 'Zionist National Anthem'. He sat down sharply, and was of course followed by all his officers and, with reckless British courage (but in an evil hour for herself), by Miss Annie Landau. She was forthwith pilloried as a traitress to the Cause, though there was no immediately apparent means of punishing her. The Zealots' opportunity came with her first Ball, which they announced that no self-respecting Jew could possibly attend. All my sympathies were with Miss Landau, as a friend, as a hostess, as public benefactress number one; but I was powerless to lighten her natural despair at being boycotted by her own people. On the evening of the dance 3 Jewish fathers waited upon me in the Governorate. They had called to enquire whether I wished them to attend the dance, and seemed disappointed at my refusal to give them a direct injunction. The unhappy men had been undermined by treachery in their own homes: their wives and daughters had bought new frocks, and had every intention of using them. When 4 hours later I contemplated the line of patriots, some resentful, some defiant, all duly following up the staircase in the triumph of the daughters of Israel, my satisfaction was tinged with sympathy for men and brothers, as I realized that in one relation of life there is indeed neither Jew nor Gentile." (Orientations, 1939, pp 434-435)

[*See my 24/5/10 post Second-Class Citizen Khaled.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


The concept of apartheid was developed by the descendants of 17th Century Dutch settlers in South Africa, though small elements of French Huguenots and German settlers also formed part of the white male dominated Afrikaner grouping in South Africa.

The British regime in South Africa tolerated the principle of racial discrimination during the 19th Century and effectively handed over total control of South Africa to the National Party – dominated by the Afrikaners – in 1948.

A big difference between Israel and South Africa in 1948 was that the Afrikaners needed the black African population, as the African work force was essential to providing the largely unskilled labour in the farming and mining sectors of the economy.

In Palestine, by contrast, the events of the Nakba resulted in half of the indigenous Palestinians being driven out of Palestine. It is evident that if they had thought they could get away with it, the Zionists would have driven all Palestinians out of Palestine.

There are two major differences between the situation in Palestine and South Africa:-
1. The Afrikaners needed indigenous labour; without it, they were unable to achieve the levels of economic prosperity they sought. By contrast, the Zionists did not want any indigenous labour; their preference was to develop their own labour sources from elsewhere around the world, through mainly Jewish sources.
2. The Afrikaners sought separation between whites and non-whites on racial grounds. While this was applicable in the early stages of the Zionist takeover of Palestine, latterly the principle of separation is determined by religion. The Zionists have equal detestation for Muslim, Christian or any other non-Judaic religionists.

Former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu – after visiting Palestine-Israel – said that the situation was worse than that which he had witnessed in apartheid South Africa.

Having lived in Zambia, Rhodesia and South Africa between 1970 and 1975, I can vouch for the fact that Desmond Tutu is absolutely right. What is being experienced in Palestine-Israel is distinctly different to what I observed in South Africa.

At heart, the Zionist project is what they say it is: a Jewish state.

This means that discrimination is not based upon racial or ethnic characteristics, though Zionists remain influenced by racial prejudice, as we recently saw over the enforced sterilisation of Ethiopian Jewish women. Having said that, the current Miss Israel beauty contest winner is a young black Jewish woman, originally from Ethiopia.

Clearly, skin tone is not a determinant factor where the Zionists are concerned, even if most of the leading Ashkenazi are lighter skin-coloured than other Israelis.

Zionists are driven by religious discrimination. If all Palestinians converted to Judaism overnight, this might change matters for the better – but this is wholly unlikely to happen.

In answer to the original question, “Is Israel an apartheid state?” my answer is “No”.

At least, not in the same way as apartheid was practiced in South Africa. We need a new concept to describe the situation in Israel today; one which is not based on race or ethnicity but which is based upon religious discrimination and religious cleansing.

The Zionist project is designed to religiously-cleanse all other religions out of Palestine.

We can see this as a legacy of their shtetl history. They will not stop until they have turned the whole of “Eretz Israel” (from the Nile to the Euphrates?) into a self-imposed mono-religious ghetto, based on just one religious belief: Judaism.