Israeli Racism – by Stephen Lendman
Merriam-Webster defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” It was the basis of South African apartheid and Nazi “master race” superiority above others, especially Jews.
Israel has no constitution. Basic Laws substitute, including statutes affirming exclusive rights for Jews. One is the right of return, granting them automatic citizenship. Goyim are denigrated and not wanted, especially Arabs. David Ben-Gurion once said:
“This is not only a Jewish state, where the majority of the inhabitants are Jews, but a state for all Jews, wherever they are, and for every Jew who wants to be here….This right is inherent in being a Jew.” It applies to no one else.
Israel’s Law of Citizenship or Nationality Law establishes rules so stringent against non-Jews that many Palestinians in 1948 were denied citizenship, despite family roots going back generations or longer.
On May 5, 2007, Professor Joseph Maddad’s Palestine Remembered.com article headlined, “Israel’s Right to Be Racist,” discussed a “New anti-Semitism,” saying:
“Anti-Semitism is no longer the hatred of and discrimination against Jews as a religious or ethnic group; in the age of Zionism, we are told, anti-Semitism has metamorphosed into something that is more insidious. Today, Israel and its Western defenders insist genocidal anti-Semitism consists mainly of any attempt to take away and to refuse to uphold the absolute right of Israel to be a Jewish racist state.”
Israel will do anything to convince Arabs why it deserves to be racist, he said. It also makes peace provisional on “Palestinians ‘recogniz(ing) its right to exist’ as a racist state,” meaning, at best, they’ll be tolerated as lesser beings provided they accept inferiority and remain submissive, relinquishing all rights in return for nothing.
By any standard, racism, xenophobia, and supremacism notions are abhorrent. They have no place in civil societies, especially ones claiming democratic credentials. Tolerance is the very essence of democracy, accepting beliefs other than our own. Gandhi once said:
“A democracy prejudiced, ignorant, superstitious, will land itself in chaos and may be self-destroyed….The truest test of democracy is in the ability of anyone to act as he likes, so long as he does not injure the life or property of anyone else….If we want to cultivate a true spirit of democracy, we cannot afford to be intolerant. Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause.” Democracy is “impossible until power is shared by all.”
Indoctrinating Israeli Children to Hate
“You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” was a memorable Rogers and Hammerstein song from their 1949 musical, “South Pacific,” saying:
“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. From year to year, it’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear…. You’ve got to be taught to be afraid of people whose eyes are oddly made, and people whose skin is a different shade. You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late. Before you are six or seven or eight. To hate all the people your relatives hate. You’ve got to be carefully taught!”
Tel Aviv University’s Professor Daniel Bar-Tal studied dozens of elementary, middle, and high school texts on grammar, Hebrew literature, history, geography and citizenship. They justify Israel’s right to wage humanitarian wars against Arabs who won’t accept or acknowledge exclusive Jewish rights, saying:
“The early textbooks tended to describe acts of Arabs as hostile, deviant, cruel, immoral, unfair, with the intention to hurt Jews and to annihilate the State of Israel. Within this frame of reference, Arabs were delegitimized by the use of such labels as ‘robbers,’ ‘bloodthirsty,’ and ‘killers,’ adding that little positive revision occurred through the years with mischaracterizations like tribal, vengeful, exotic, poor, sick, dirty, noisy, colored, and “they burn, murder, destroy, and are easily inflamed.”
At the same time, Jews are called industrious, brave, and determined to handle difficulties of “improving the country in ways they believe the Arabs are incapable of.” Moreover, “(t)his attitude served to justify the return of the Jews, implying that they care enough about the country to turn the swamps and deserts into blossoming farmland; this effectively delegitimizes the Arab claim to the same land.”
Vilifying Arabs in Israeli Textbooks
Israeli children are well taught. In the Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ) winter 2007 edition, Ismael Abu-Saad headlined his article, “The portrayal of Arabs in textbooks in the Jewish school system in Israel,” saying:
Approved Jewish textbooks use three primary themes to portray them:
— orientalism as a politically loaded, derogatory characterization of eastern as opposed to a superior Western (occidental) culture;
— “the Zionist mission to build a Jewish nation-state in Palestine….; and
— “an Israeli-Jewish frame of mind determined by a victim or siege mentality.”
Zionists believe Palestine belongs exclusively to Jews, based on biblical notions of being its original inhabitants despite the illogic and falseness of that premise. Nonetheless, Israeli textbooks teach about a “land without people for a people without land,” that Jews arrived and made the desert bloom, and God promised Israel solely to Jews.
Hebrew University’s Eli Podeh describes “a tradition of depicting Jewish history as an uninterrupted record of anti-Semitism and persecution.” Moreover, Arabs are portrayed as violent. As a result, dehumanization, denigration, and Israeli force against them are legitimized. So is teaching children hate in textbooks, starting when they’re too young to understand how their minds are being manipulated.
Israel’s Ministry of Education sets curricula guidelines and content, reflecting Jewish ethnocentrism and superiority toward Arab society and culture. As conflicts erupted, they were called the enemy the way Yoram Bar-Gal described as a:
“negative homogeneous mob that threatens, assaults, destroys, eradicates, burns and shoots. (They’re) haters of Israel, who strive to annihilate the most precious symbols of Zionism: vineyards, orange groves, orchards and forests. Arabs (are) viewed as ungrateful. (Zionism) brought progress to the area and helped to overcome the desolation, and thus helped to advance” Arabs as well as Jews. Instead of being thankful, “they respond with destruction and ruin.”
From establishment in 1948, Jewish textbooks taught these notions, portraying Arabs negatively, saying they’re illegal intruders having no place on Jewish land. “The ‘mythologizing’ of the historical curriculum perpetuates the image of the Arab, and the Palestinian Arab in particular, as an ahistorical, irrational enemy.”
It’s been “instrumental in explicitly and implicitly constructing racist and threatening stereotypes and a one-sided historical narrative that (through education) is internalized in the Jewish Israeli psyche” from a very young age.
Truth and balance are totally absent. Arabs are vilified for not being Jews, a superior people. Logic and tolerance aren’t parts of the equation. In November 2001, an unnamed Netanya Jewish newspaper wrote about an elementary school celebration under the headline, “Arabs are used to killing.” Textbooks and children’s literature are filled with stories about violent, dirty, cruel, and ignorant Arabs wanting to harm Jews. They vilify and dehumanize them as thieves, murderers, robbers, spies, arsonists, criminals, terrorists, kidnappers, and the “cruel enemy.”
Dozens of books use delegitimizing labels, including inhuman, war lovers, monsters, bloodthirsty, dogs, wolves of prey and vipers. Kids are taught this. How can they know it’s hateful and false, so they internalize and act on these ideas later as adults.
One characterization portrayed Bedouins as “primitive being(s), at home in the untamed natural setting of the fearsome desert. (They’re) exotic figure(s), full of mystery, intrigue, impulsive violence and instinctive survival.”
Noted Israeli literary figures, like Amos Oz, write this way. In his 1965 “Nomads and the Viper,” he described how Bedouin nomads brought devastation to a kibbutz, including foot-and-mouth disease, destruction of cultivated fields, and theft. He dramatized the chasm separating lawful agricultural settlers and primitive Bedouins, and that trying to cross it would be dangerous or fatal. In other words, associating with Arabs risks contaminating Jews.
Abu-Saad concluded saying:
“One can only question whether the currently delegitimizing, discriminatory and antagonistic stance of the state of Israel vis-a-vis its Palestinian Arab citizens is indeed, in the long-term interest of the State, whose ideology and mythology notwithstanding, is in fact a multi-ethnic state, with an indigenous minority that makes up nearly one-fifth of the population.”
Israel’s curriculum must change. Hate must be expunged. Arabs must be allowed to represent themselves and their culture rather than accept false dehumanization and vilification characterizations for not being Jews. A 17-year old Jerusalem high school student, Daniel Banvolegyi, once said:
“Our books basically tell us that everything the Jews do is fine and legitimate and Arabs are wrong and violent and are trying to exterminate us. We are accustomed to hearing the same thing, only one side of the story. They teach us that Israel became a state in 1948 and that the Arabs started a war. They don’t mention what happened to the Arabs. They never mention anything about refugees or Arabs having to leave their towns and homes.”
Claims of Incitement and Hate in Palestinian Textbooks
In November 2001, Professor Nathan J. Brown’s Adam Institute “Democracy, History, and the Contest over the Palestinian Curriculum,” explained:
“(T)he Palestinian curriculum is not a war curriculum; while highly nationalistic, it does not incite hatred, violence, and anti-Semitism. It cannot be described as a ‘peace curriculum’ either, but the charges against it are often wildly exaggerated or inaccurate….”
First generation 1994 National Education textbooks said practically nothing about Israel, and, with few exceptions, weren’t pejorative. Beginning in 2000, second generation books touched sensitive areas but not with the stridency that critics claim.
Virtually all incitement charges stem from the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, claiming to “encourage the development and fostering of peaceful relations” through tolerance and mutual respect. In fact, its real purpose is attacking the Palestinian Authority (PA) while ignoring incendiary Israeli texts. It’s also linked to extremist, racist Israeli groups, advocating settlement expansions, land theft, dispossessions, hate-mongering, and violence.
A June 2004 Israel/Palestinian Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) report titled, “Analysis and Evaluation of the New Palestinian Curriculum” concluded that:
“There is….no indication of hatred of the Western Judeo-Christian tradition or the values associated with it.” In fact, “the textbooks promote an environment of open-mindedness, rational thinking, modernization, critical reflection and dialogue.” They also “promote civil activity, commitment, responsibility, solidarity, respecting others’ feelings, respecting and helping people with disabilities, and….reinforce students’ understanding of the values of civil society such as respecting human dignity; religious, social, cultural, racial, ethnic, and political pluralism; personal, social and moral responsibility; transparency and accountability.”
Palestinian enmity stems from occupation harshness, including denial of peace, self-determination, freedom, equity and justice, and other basic rights. Yet textbook-expressed anger is moderate compared to Palestinian suffering and vilification teachings. The differences are stark.
A Final Comment
It’s a short leap from demonizing to calls for extermination. Yet extremist pro-settler rabbis advocate it, according to a January 2011 article in the Orthodox Fountains of Salvation. It suggests Israel will create death camps to solve its Palestinian problem, eliminating them like Amalek or Amalekites, code for Palestinians and other perceived Jewish enemies. The offending paragraph states:
“It will be interesting to see whether (the politically correct rabbis) leave the assembly of the Amalekites in extermination camps to others, or whether they will declare that wiping (them out) is no longer (historically) relevant. Only time will tell….”
Right-wing Orthodox rabbis are behind this publication, founded by the former Safed chief rabbi, whose son currently holds the position and who circulated the above material. Also involved is Ramat Gan’s chief rabbi as well as Rabbi Avinar, suspected of abusing a woman who sought his spiritual advice. Each holds paid government sinecures, showing the link between official zealotry and their own, extremist enough to call for genocide.
Another note: On January 18 from the West Bank, Russian President Dmity Medvedev joined a growing list of countries endorsing a Palestinian state with an East Jerusalem capital. However, he stopped short of official recognition, saying Moscow recognized independence in 1988 and wasn’t changing the former Soviet Union’s position.
To date, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, France, Norway, Guyana, and now Russia recognized, will recognize, or endorsed Palestinian statehood. Though largely symbolic, it shows growing unease with Israel’s occupation, harder than ever to justify the more opposition builds globally. It’s just a matter of time before justifying it no longer is possible as Edward Said suggested in a July 13, 2001 article, titled “Israel Sharpens Its Axe,” saying:
As “long as there is a military occupation of Palestine by Israel, there can never be peace. Occupation with tanks, soldiers, checkpoints and settlements is violence” that becomes harder to justify as more people understand. Their numbers and anger grow daily.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.