Monday, 8 October 2018

Hundreds of Israelis Demonstrated in Afula Against the Sale of a House to an Arab

This is why Israeli Apartheid is Unique and why John McDonnell’s defence of Zionism and the Israeli state was so wrong

In the wake of Labour's NEC decision on September 4th to endorse the IHRA definition of anti-semitism, Palestine solidarity activists fly posted bus stops in London declaring that Israel is a racist endeavour.
This was immediately denounced by John McDonnell who told BBC’s Politics Live that "It is not the right thing to say. It is against the examples that we set out and linked to the IHRA definitions."
In a further interview with Jewish News McDonnell elaborated on these comments, stating that ‘It is anti-Semitic to oppose a Jewish state, of course it is.’ Israel calls itself a Jewish state but what does that mean?  The demonstrations in Afula last June against the sale of a house to an Arab give us a clue.
As people may be aware, I am currently bringing an action for defamation against the misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism for calling me a ‘notorious anti-Semite’. They are defending this on 4 grounds, one of which, is that “The Claimant lied when he claimed in The Guardian newspaper that the International Definition of Anti-Semitism prevents criticism of Israel.”
Letter from 62 Jewish people criticising the IHRA - handed over to Peter Kyle MP for Hove

In fact what I and the other 61 signatories wrote was somewhat more nuanced, viz. that ‘The new definition has nothing to do with opposing antisemitism, it is merely designed to silence public debate on Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians.”
At first sight the CAA is right. The IHRA states that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic’
The Home Affairs Select Committee, whose Report in October 2016 triggered Theresa May’s acceptance of the IHRA definition also stated that: ‘It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies...’ (paragraph 24)
The key question running through the debate over the IHRA definition of anti-semitism is whether or not the Israeli state is just another liberal democratic state, or whether it is suis generis.
It is my contention that Israel is unlike any other country because it is, uniquely, an ethno-nationalist state. Hitler’s Germany after the 1935 Nuremburg Laws was a state not of its own citizens but the German Volk. Germany claimed that Germans, wherever they lived formed part of the German Volk/nation and this led in 1938 to the crisis over Czechoslovakia and the Sudetenland, where ethnic Germans lived, and in turn to the Munich Agreement.
Likewise Israel claims that it is the nation state, not of its own citizens but all Jews, wherever they live in the world. It has just passed a Jewish Nation State Law to make this explicit. Israel’s definition of itself as a Jewish State is not at all similar to Britain’s definition of itself as a Christian state.  My rights as a Jewish inhabitant of England have no relationship to my religion, if any.  Political and civil rights in the UK are not dependent on one’s religious affiliation. That is because religion in Britain has no relationship to nationality or citizenship.  However in Israel being Jewish is primarily a national/racial question, not simply a matter of religion. 


At first sight the CAA is right. The IHRA states that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic’.  
The Home Affairs Select Committee, whose Report in October 2016 triggered Theresa May’s acceptance of the IHRA definition also stated that: ‘It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies...’ (paragraph 24)
The key question running through the debate over the IHRA definition of anti-semitism is whether or not the Israeli state is just another liberal democratic state, or whether it is suis generis.
It is my contention that Israel is unlike any other country because it is, uniquely, an ethno-nationalist state. Hitler’s Germany after the 1935 Nuremburg Laws was likewise a state not of its own citizens but the German Volk. Germany claimed that Germans, wherever they lived formed part of the German Volk/nation and this led in 1938 to the crisis over Czechoslovakia and the Sudetenland, where ethnic Germans lived, and in turn to the Munich Agreement.
 Israel claims that it is the nation state, not of its own citizens but all Jews, wherever they live in the world. It has just passed a Jewish Nation State Law to make this explicit. Israel’s definition of itself as a Jewish State is not at all similar to Britain’s definition of itself as a Christian state.  My rights as a Jewish inhabitant of England have no relationship to my religion, if any.  Political and civil rights in the UK are not dependent on one’s religious affiliation. That is because religion in Britain is distinct from nationality or citizenship.  However in Israel being Jewish is primarily a national/racial question, not simply a matter of religion.
This was demonstrated most clearly in Afula, a Jewish-only city of around 50,000 in northern Israel, in June of this year. Afula’s Jewish residents were outraged that a property in the town had been sold to an Arab. This was a carbon copy of a similar demonstration in 2015 when many of the successful bidders for building plots were found to be Arabs. The protestors demanded the cancellation of the whole bidding process and the Nazareth District Court was happy to oblige. Similar protests and actions have been held in other towns. 
In 2011 in Safed the Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, a paid state official, issued an edict forbidding Jews to rent property to Arabs. Eliyahu’s edict was supported by dozens of rabbis. To this day he remains a salaried official of the Israeli state.
All Western states are racist but Israel is uniquely so. Racism and segregation form the core of its identity as a Jewish state. Racism is not simply a policy that can be changed but inherent to Israeli society. Another word for it is Zionism.  
If I want to rent a property in the UK my religion is irrelevant. I would not expect a landlord or letting agent to even ask me what my religious identity is but in Israel religion is crucial in determining whether someone is part of the volk, the national community. It is written on everyone’s ID car.
demonstration by far Right Israelis
Israel is a ‘Jewish state’ or more accurately a state of the Jewish nation. What Israel is not is a state of its own citizens. Recent attempts to even debate such a proposal in the Knesset were blocked.  Knesset Council Bans Bill to Define Israel as State for All Its Citizens
Uniquely in the modern world, the Israeli state owns and controls 93% of Israeli land which is reserved for the use of the ‘Jewish people.’ The Jewish National Fund, a para-state organisation set up by the JNF Law 1953 ensures that access to that land is barred to the 20% of Israeli citizens who are Palestinians. 
The JNF is quite open about the fact that it should not be obliged to allocate lands in its possession to non-Jews.... Whoever seeks to prevent the allocation of JNF lands solely to Jews must confront the assertions of these laws’ referring to three land laws passed in 1960-61 which gave the JNF and the Israeli Land Administration joint responsibility for administering Israeli state land.
Israeli Arabs are confined to 3% of the land.  Not one new Arab town or village has been created in Israel since its formation 70 year ago despite a more than 10 fold increase in their population. This contrasts with hundreds of new Jewish towns and communities.
In Israel land is segregated in the same way as it was in Apartheid South Africa.  The only difference is that Israel sees no need to pass a Group Areas Act relying on a series of opaque laws, regulations and administrative practices instead.
Being Jewish in Israel means having very real and significant privileges. A Jewish state means that you constantly worry about the ‘demographic threat’ that the Arabs pose. In Expert confirms Jews and Arabs nearing population parity Aron Heller wrote that ‘Israel will be faced with a daunting choice between becoming a binational state or one in which Arabs and other minorities do not have equal rights.’
That is why Israel constantly encourages Jewish immigration at the same time as it takes steps to minimise the Arab population.  Politics in Israel are ethnicised at every level and in every sphere of civil and social life.  The 20% of the population that are Palestinians are not represented at any level in the government, the senior civil service or the judiciary. It means segregation in most areas of life including education and housing. It also results in government supported campaigns against miscegenation, sexual relations between Jews and Arabs that are reminiscent of the Nuremberg Laws (Israel's vile anti-miscegenation squads).
What is particularly shocking is not only that McDonnell has so little historical or political awareness but that he is prepared to jettison the Palestinians for the sake of a pact with the devil, in the form of the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement.
The idea of religious states died out with the French Revolution. Nationality became a function of residence in a certain territory not religion.  In the words of Count Clermont-Tonnerre, a Deputy in the French Constituent Assembly, "Jews should be denied everything as a nation, but granted everything as individuals…." Tonnerre’s words represented the views of 18th-century rationalists and French revolutionaries toward Judaism and the Jewish question. That was why Zionism, like the Jewish Orthodoxy, hated Emancipation and the French Revolution (alongside Hitler and European fascism).
Signs in Nazi Germany saying 'Jews not welcome here'
In Israel being Jewish signifies one’s race and nation not simply religion. The idea that Jews form a separate nation and thus Jewish self-determination, which the IHRA refers to, is an anti-semitic argument that implies that Jews aren’t members of the nations amongst whom they  live.
There is also no right to a Protestant or Catholic or Islamic state.  A simple understanding of the fight for democratic rights and the works of people like Thomas Paine and JS Mill eludes McDonnell. It is a sign of the intellectual poverty of debate in the Labour Party that people actually buy into the argument that Jews only have one state in the world.  No religion should have any state.
There are those that argue that there are Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. This is true but they are not ethno nationalist states.  In both countries being a Muslim is not a privilege.  On the contrary Islam is used to justify the regime’s tyranny and oppression of Muslims.
It needs emphasising that Israel is not just another Western state. Israel is unique in not having its own nationality. Jews are a separate nationality to that of Arabs and there are about 130 nationalities in Israel of which only one, Jewish, confers rights.
Israel is a state that was founded on the basis of Jewish racial supremacy. When the Supreme Court ruled in Ka’adan that the State could not discriminate against Arabs by refusing to sell them State land, the response of the Knesset was to pass in 2011 an Acceptance to Communities Law which allowed communities of less than 500 people to set up Admission Committees which screened potential residents on ethnic or other grounds such as colour. 
Imagine if, in Britain, someone who was Jewish was told that they could not purchase land because it was owned by the Christian National Fund.  There would be an uproar but that is the situation in Israel in respect of Arabs.
McDonnell’s desire to appease the Labour Right is worrying. First he suggested that Margaret Hodge’s abuse of Jeremy Corbyn should not be made the subject of a disciplinary investigation despite having said nothing about the disciplinary proceedings against Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Ken Livingstone and myself. Then McDonnell called for full support for the IHRA and now he is denouncing activists for saying that Israel is a racist rotweiller that guards over Western interests in the Middle East.
Those who think that this will not have any effect on McDonnell as Labour Chancellor should think again. McDonnell has begun travelling the same road that his famous predecessor, Sir Stafford Cripps, took.  Cripps started off on Labour’s far-left, got expelled and ended up as Attlee’s Chancellor and the enforcer of austerity.
Foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy. If McDonnell bends the knee to the Zionists now then he is he going to doff his cap to American foreign policy and the ‘special relationship’ later. We can only imagine what McDonnell’s response will be when faced with a hostile banking sector and a run on the pound. If he can’t criticise Margaret Hodge’s vile attack on Jeremy Corbyn and support the mandatory reselection of Labour MPs then it is to be feared that McDonnell will end up as another Dennis Healey
If Jeremy Corbyn fell under the proverbial bus McDonnell would immediately be a target. When it seemed that Corbyn might be overthrown stories began to appear in the press concentrating on McDonnell’s past such as sponsoring an Early Day Motion supporting the International Jewish Anti-zionist Network.
If McDonnell really thinks that Israel is no different from any other western state then he should look at the following articles on Afula. 
Tony Greenstein

Hundreds of Israelis Demonstrate Against Home Sale to Arab Family

Former mayor joined protest: 'the residents of Afula don't want a mixed city, but rather a Jewish city, and it's their right. This is not racism'
Ha’aretz Jun 14, 2018

About 150 residents of the northern city of Afula demonstrated on Wednesday afternoon against the sale of a house to an Arab family. Protesters waved Israeli flags and carried signs condemning the sale and the homeowners who sold their house to Arabs, one of which read: "Traitors against the Jews will get no rest."
Former Afula Mayor Avi
It's what used to be called Apartheid
Protesters raised Israeli flags and shouted slogans against the sale of the house in the city's Yizrael neighborhood. Chairman of Joint Arab List Ayman Odeh wrote in response to the protest:
“It is not a surprise that in a country that has founded 700 towns for Jews and not even one for Arabs, the idea that Arabs should be pushed aside does not shock citizens. And still, it is more than a little worrying to see how our hope for living together is crumbling due to hatred and racism fueled by the government.”
Member of Knesset Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) added that
racism ethnic superiority have become a legitimate reality under this right-wing government. This protest should rock the political system and keep up at night all those who care about equality and human dignity.”
Ayelet Shaked of Jewish Home and ardent advocate of  annexing the West Bank
A notice calling on residents to turn out for the demonstration made reference to “the sale of homes to those who are undesirable in the neighbourhood” and went on to say: “One transaction has already been carried out and everything needs to be done to cancel it and to put a stop to this phenomenon from the beginning. Friends, now is the time to come together. All Jews are responsible for one another! Today it's us, tomorrow, it's you.”
In response to the Afula protest, the Coalition Against Racism organization called for a halt to efforts by “those inciting the public against the possibility of living together.” The phenomenon will not stop without “clear responses by courageous public figures and political leaders,” the organization said, adding: “Now is the time for the voice of the sane majority in Afula, both politicians and the wider public, to be heard.”
About two years ago, Afula residents held a number of demonstrations objecting to a bidding process for lots in a residential neighborhood of the city in which all 43 successful bidders were Arab. Approval of the bids was rescinded by the Nazareth District Court after the court found that some of the successful bidders had engaged in improper coordination of their bids and that the minimum bid provisions were vague and misleading.
Jews not welcome - another Nazi practice imported into Israel
Half of Jewish Israelis say they wouldn’t want an Arab as a neighbor. In March, Kfar Vradim’s local council head Sivan Yehieli ordered to halt bids for selling building plots of land in his community, after 50 percent of the winners so far turned out to be Arabs. In a letter he disseminated among the community’s residents he promised that “no more land would be sold until an appropriate solution was found to ensure our ability to maintain our communal life and the special character of Kfar Vradim."
The so-called nation-state bill passed the first of three Knesset calls in May in a version that has a clause allowing the establishment of communities for Jews only. Clause 7b of this bill specifically states that “the state can allow a community composed of people of the same faith or nationality to maintain an exclusive community.”
Umm al Hiran - a village demolished in January 2017 to make way for Jewsh settlers
Protests against Arab families moving into Jewish cities are a reminder that until everyone is free to choose where they want to live, the Israeli regime will remain segregationist and racist at its core.
+972 Magazine, Suhad Bishara 21 June 2018

Illustrative photo of demonstration by far-right Israelis. (Activestills.org)
The protest comes just a few months after Sivan Yehieli, the head of the Kfar Vradim Municipal Council, announced that his pastoral town must maintain its Zionist-Jewish character after 58 Arab citizens won bids to build their homes in the town.
Let’s make one thing clear: 150 protesters are not an aberration in Israel. They were simply expressing overtly the racist segregation upon which Israel’s land regime was founded. This is precisely how military rule over Israel’s Arab citizens – in effect from 1949 until 1966 – functioned: “cleansing” vast swaths of land in order to settle Jews and to ensure reserves of land that would continue to exclusively serve Israeli Jews.
This “cleansing” process was implemented, among other ways, via the construction of hundreds of new Jewish towns and communities, as well as through the establishment of admissions committees in kibbutzim, moshavim, and other communities.
Yehieli faithfully represents the Israeli planning authorities’ policy aimed at demographically re-engineering the country. He represents an Israeli legal system that refused to allow the implementation of its own decision to allow the internally-displaced Palestinian residents of Iqrit and Bir’im to return to their villages, that gave the green light to the Admissions Committees Law, and that allows the state to uproot the residents of Umm al-Hiran in order to replace them with Jewish citizens – just like during and immediately following the Nakba. And we can expect much more of the same.
Bedouin women collect their belongings from the ruins of their demolished homes in the village of Umm al-Hiran, Negev desert, January 18, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Much of the criticism leveled at the racism of Afula’s residents focuses on the lack of development in Arab communities, which results in the necessity of young Arab citizens to seek housing solutions in nearby Jewish towns.
The Supreme Court ruled that Arabs cannot be barred from 'Jewish' towns and communities
The decision of Israel's Supreme Court in Ka'adan has effectively been overturned by the Knesset and by the Supreme Court itself
This thinking prevents envisioning a situation in which an Arab citizen of Israel has the right to choose where she/he wants to live simply because it suits her/him to live there. It buys into the paradigm of a discriminatory, racist, and apartheid-like land regime that forces them to find a circumstantial explanation for the phenomenon, rather than simply calling it by its name: racism and segregation.
Imagine a scenario in which the Israeli government takes unprecedented steps to allocate land for the development of Arab communities. Imagine that it begins developing Arab communities of all kinds — cities, villages, and agricultural communities — while also ensuring the development of industrial and commercial zones in accordance with the principles of distributive and restorative justice.
But yet, even in this scenario, it remains the right of every Arab citizen to decide where he or she wants to live — be it Kfar Vradim, Tel Aviv, or Afula.
As long as Israeli state authorities cannot or will not imagine the country’s land as open to all, we cannot talk about justice or constitutional rights. The Israeli regime will remain segregationist and racist at its core. Segregated living will remain racist, even under the guise of “separate but equal.”
Imagine protesters demonstrating against Jews buying homes in a Christian town in Europe. Israelis would declare them racists and anti-Semites, and Israel’s prime minister would surely remark that it reminds him of the dark days leading up to the Holocaust. Inside Israel, however, an almost identical scene is framed by Afula’s former mayor Avi Elkabetz as such: “The residents of Afula do not want a mixed city. They want a Jewish city — and this is their right. This isn’t racism.”
Thus racism in Israel magically becomes the “legitimate right” of the Jewish citizen.
Attorney Suhad Bishara is the Director of the Land and Planning Rights Unit, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. This article was first published in Hebrew on Haokets. Read it here.

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