“Inbuilt”: Zionism, Gaza, and Genocide

by | Jan 15, 2024 | PEWG blog

But transfer was inevitable and inbuilt into Zionism – because it sought
to transform a land which was ‘Arab’ into a ‘Jewish’ state and a Jewish
state could not have arisen without a major displacement of Arab population; and because this aim automatically produced resistance among the Arabs which, in turn, persuaded the Yishuv’s leaders that a hostile Arab majority or large minority could not remain in place if a Jewish state was to arise or safely endure.

Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 60

On a frigid night, December 5, 2023, Joe Biden visited Boston to raise money for his re-election campaign. The president was received by a large group of citizens who protested in unconditional support for Israel and, by extension, its genocidal actions against the Palestinians. 

In Washington, on the same day as Biden’s visit, the House of Representatives passed a resolution explicitly equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, and defining many common pro-Palestinian slogans like “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” as anti-Semitic. 

This is a blatant attack on freedom of speech, and signifies a dangerous step toward the criminalization of legitimate political dissent. 

As a Boston local living near many universities, I have been disappointed to see local student leaders threatened with strong disciplinary sanctions, just as students were threatened during the Vietnam anti-war protests. 

_._

“I know firsthand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels with my beloved South Africa are truly painful,” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 2014).

Indeed, the current situation in Palestine is reminiscent of South African apartheid, though in many ways, incomparably worse. Nevertheless, despite their differences, the Zionist movement bears an important resemblance to the Afrikaner movement: it is a social system rooted in colonial, racist, and totalitarian practice. 

In the West Bank, while broad democratic freedoms are extended to Israeli Jews, Arabs Israelis face, on one level, overwhelming political, legal, and economic discrimination in apartheid-like form and, on another, the daily humiliation and incursions of a brutal and prolonged military occupation. In Gaza, the situation has reached the level of genocidal proportions. As of writing, South Africa is before the International Court of Justice, engaged in a legal proceeding against Israel accusing it of “subject[ing] the Palestinians in Gaza to genocidal acts.” 

This is the true face of Zionism: repopulating stolen land, expelling its indigenous inhabitants through humiliation, indiscriminate force, and destroying all access to the basic necessities of life. As much was suggested by the UN Secretary General , who stated that this ‘wave of violence,’ as it is cynically referred to in the press, “does not come out of nowhere,” but “is born of a long-standing conflict, with 56 years of occupation and no political end in sight.”

In Gaza, according to latest UN data, there are at least 22,835 fatalities, with approximately two-thirds of those being women and children. Additionally, there are thousands of Palestinian political prisoners being held without due process, only a handful of hospitals partially functioning, and the threat of famine looming large as the result of draconian Israeli restrictions.  

These crimes are well-documented by leading figures and institutions in international law and human rights:

Human Rights Watch: “Since 1948, Israel has established a regime of racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people primarily in the domains of nationality and land. In the immediate aftermath of the Nakba, Israel adopted a series of laws, policies, and practices, which sealed the dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian people, systematically denying the return of Palestinian refugees and other Palestinians who were abroad at the time of the war. At the same time, Israel imposed a system of institutionalized racial discrimination over Palestinians who remained on the land, many of whom had been internally displaced. Such Israeli laws have constituted the legal architecture of Israeli apartheid that continues to be imposed on the Palestinian people today.” 

Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), described the IDF’s relentless bombardments of the Gaza Strip as “shocking” and the unfolding human tragedy as “unbearable.” Lazzarini highlighted the dire situation in Gaza, where approximately one million people were displaced from north to south over three weeks, in stating that “no place is safe in Gaza.”

Such conditions have prompted rights-groups, like Amnesty International, to call for “End[ing] all U.S. support for the Israeli government’s rights violations and crimes against humanity against Palestinians, particularly the illegal campaign of forced displacement through home demolitions, evictions and settlement expansion in occupied East Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories.

In Boston, we received Biden in the manner he deserved: with powerful, spirited, and determined protest. Nor he, nor his administration, promote peace; instead, they relish war, squandering billions of dollars on instruments of death that could be used for humanitarian efforts and real democracy promotion.

Israel is engaging in wanton terrorism and racism: to state this is not to entertain anti-Semitism, nor is it to deny the Jewish faith, ethnicity, culture, or nation. Jews and Israelis are deserving of the same rights and dignity as everyone else. But Israel, as a State, does not represent all Jews, nor does it contain only Jews. Jews are not a problem, but the prevailing ideology of Zionism is; and it is Zionism that we see unfolding in Gaza today.

Just as we cannot overlook the crimes committed in other historical instances of apartheid and genocide, we cannot overlook the crimes committed in Gaza today.  As members of Boston DSA, we have the political and moral obligation educate, organize, and mobilize against all forms of oppression: it is undeniable that such obligations apply to the case of genocide and, therefore, Israel’s assault on Gaza.