America’s hysterical reaction against the inclusion of Zionism and slavery reparations at the forth-coming UN Conference on Racism, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, is a wake-up call to the rest of the world. Bullying tactics including threats of boycott and withholding of funds, used by the Bush administration to shield Israel from critics in Durban is a vulgar display of arrogance.
These tantrums by the world’s only surviving superpower, whenever the Jewish state’s dismal human rights records are being probed, are irritating. Indeed it is a tragic commentary on the inability of the United States to rid itself of the suffocating embrace of Zionist lobbies. America’s aggressive stance is a reflection of the tyranny emanating from the White House that seeks to dictate global affairs.
South African NGO’s are correct in opposing this blackmail. Their argument that it would be irresponsible to censor the issue of Zionism from the agenda, is valid and worthy of being taken note of by President Mbeki. South Africa, since the dawn of democracy in 1994 has every moral, political and social right to confront the demon of racism, whether in the form of India’s Dalit issue, or Israel’s Zionism.
When then is it about Zionism which makes the Israeli regime so nervous and the Americans so imperial?
Maybe a perspective from the darling of contemporary Western liberals, Salman Rushdie, will shed some light on the problem. His sombre observation is that any kind of critique of Zionism instantly attracts a charge of anti-Semitism. Does this not explain why the Palestinian narrative is hardly known and barely in existence? It certainly gives a clue as to why people, particularly in the West, who opposed apartheid in South Africa, did not utter a word about Israel’s practise of apartheid.
Writers and intellectuals, who refused to visit South Africa in observance of the cultural boycott, found no difficulty in travelling to Israel, completely ignoring Zionist atrocities against the Palestinians. Groups like the Jewish Defence League (JDL) and American-Israeli Public Affairs Community (AIPAC) know only too well the reasons for the successful campaigns waged on American campuses against investments in South Africa: It’s deplorable racial policy of Apartheid!
Similarly the understanding of Zionism will reveal Israel as a racist, settler colonial regime. This they fear will lead to raised political consciousness, which ultimately will result in a sustained policy of economic sanctions and a cultural boycott. In all likelihood, when facts unfold and reveal that Zionism has been responsible for the sad plight of the Palestinians and Israel’s occupation policies are subsidised by massive American aid, demands on the US to suspend such support will be made.
If the World Conference Against Racism succumbs to American-Israeli pressure, it will confirm that freedom of speech is allowed except in the case of matters concerning Israel. Knowledge is to be valued in itself except if it damages Israel’s rationale, and hence, its security. Human rights violations are to be condemned, except when they are committed by Israel. Racism and racial purity doctrines are inexcusable evils, except when Israel practises them against Arabs to preserve what Zionist like to call the “Jewish character” of the state.
Dr Uri Davis, a prominent Israeli academic who has written extensively on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict makes the following insightful observation in his book` Israel an Apartheid State’: ” The official hegemonic ideological value system in the state of Israel is Zionism and the key legal distinction in Zionist legislation in Israel is between ‘Jew’ versus ‘non-Jew’ The introduction of this key distinction into the foundation of Israeli law is, however, accomplished as part of a two-tier structure. It is this two-tier structure which has preserved the veil over Israeli apartheid legislationé”
Davis explains that the first tier, level at which the key distinction between `Jew’ and ‘non-Jew’ is rendered openly and explicitly, is in the Constitutions and Articles of Association of all the institutions of the Zionist movement and the World Zionist Organisation, the Jewish Agency for the Land of Israel and the Jewish National Fund.
Thus, the constitution of the Jewish Agency stipulates: ” land is to be acquired as Jewish property and the title of the lands acquired is to be taken in the name of the JNF to the end that the same shall be held the alienable property of the Jewish people. The agency shall promote agricultural colonisation based on Jewish labour é”
Zionism, as a modern political creed is characterised by three basic qualities: settler colonialism, expansionism and racism. The World Conference Against Racism will defeat its noble objectives if it fails to subject this racist philosophy to a critical evaluation. Above all, such failure will be a victory for bigotry for it will sanction continuous cultivation of deception, ignorance and myths.
(Mr. Iqbal Jasarat is Chairman of the Media Review Network, which is an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa.)