Israel: Nurturing racism

This is part of a wider pattern whereby the Holocaust is evoked to justify a Jewish-Israeli sense of victimhood, along with a concomitant belief that might is right.  In this, it creates the justification for the sustained, cruel and unrelenting targeting of Palestinians.   

And then Israel puts a gun in their children’s hands.

As Haim Bresheeth-Zabner describes in his important book ‘An army like no other’: ‘…military training does not start at eighteen but at the age of fourteen, when high school kids join the Gadna (acronym for Youth Battalions) and start preparing for army life’.

Given the wrap-around indoctrination of Israel’s children, is it any surprise that state-sponsored, and state-acquiesced provocations against Palestinians are there in plain sight as witnessed, for example, on Israeli Flag Day the annual event that attracts many younger Israelis. As CNN reports, ‘Crowds waving Israeli flags set off from Damascus Gate — the main entry to the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City — dancing and chanting “the nation of Israel lives” and “death to Arabs.’

And ‘death to the Arabs’ is what Israel almost daily enacts as it, seemingly as a matter of course, unleashes live fire against Palestinians.  In this area at least, they do not discriminate: they fire at children, women and men. 

A State of illusion

Any state founded on an ethno-nationalist or ethno-religious ideology, in Israel’s case the inscribed constitutional commitment to Jewish supremacism, must be, by its nature, discriminatory towards those who fall outside the approved categories of race, religion, or ethnicity.

And yet Israel itself is riven with fundamental internal tensions within its self-defined Jewish world.  Having an enemy that all can agree on – Palestinians – is functional. It helps hold together a society that has strong fissiparous tendencies at various intersections: religious/secular; liberal religious/orthodox religious/ultra-orthodox religious; Mizrachi Jews/Ashkenazi Jews, to name but a few.

Absent the racist foundation, absent the required enemy, the Israeli state could well untangle, adrift between its no longer functional reference points. Knowing this, intellectually and intuitively, the bulk of Jewish Israelis cultivate a willed sightlessness, a willed deafness, burying beyond sight and sound any ethical intimations that may disturb their equanimity.

The discriminatory, morally reprehensible project that is Zionist Israel, viewed in its own terms, conceives that is has no choice but to ramp up, to deepen and make impregnable its dominance over those it wishes not to see, wishes not to be there: Palestinians. Israel has thus cultivated, has handed itself over, to an assortment of racist and religious bigots, fierce and unrelenting in their pursuit of a fortified, Jewish supremacist, lagger state. This is reflected in social surveys and polls that put far right, and racist politicians in the lead, particularly among the younger generation. Ha’aretz reports that ‘The data from the election survey among young voters, which were recently publicized on the Friday evening…leave no room for doubt. Among voters aged 18 to 22, 70 percent define themselves as center-right or right-wing; 46 percent are all-out right-wing. For the sake of comparison, only 10 percent describe themselves as left-wing.’

Into its racist maw Israel has consumed its own young, 18 – 22-year-olds, an age cohort most usually associated with progress, thereby extinguishing the possibility of a better, more just future. Currently, therefore, Israel has not the internal resources – political, ethical, religious – to unshackle itself from its own supremacist notions.  

Samud – Steadfastness

In contrast to the willed sightlessness and deafness of Israel, is the Palestinian response to Israel’s destruction of their homes and villages, during the Nakba and in every subsequent decade.

Israel builds, landscapes and plants over the now destroyed Palestinian habitats.  And in what amounts to acts of sacrilege, anoints the sites of dispossession with Hebrew names.

Yet those unseen habitats still rumble and will not be quietened.  That unquietness is embodied in Palestinians’ consistent, cross-generational demand to return to lands and properties stolen from them by the colonising Zionist state. There has been no diminution – it is a constant – in Palestinians’ demand to return. notwithstanding the daily brutalities Israel visits upon them, and has done for some seventy-four years.

But return, they will.




[1] The invention of the land of Israel, Shlomo Sand, published by Verso

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