It was announced this week that Israel is to launch a ‘Palestinian Only’ bus service. This is just the latest in a broad sweep of racial policies which have reduced Arabs, Palestinians and Africans living in Israel to sub-citizens. Today’s article outlines these policies demonstrating that Israel is unquestionably a fascist state.
The Segregated Bus Service
On December 1st 1955, African American Rosa Parks sparked the Bus Boycott in Montgomery, Alabama by refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, as mandated by the rules of racial segregation at the time. The Jim Crow Laws carved up the public spaces into white and non white areas; non whites could not drink from the same water fountains, use the same bathrooms, or enter public libraries, schools, swimming pools or universities. Not only did this make non whites second class citizens on a daily basis, but it sought to consolidate white power structures by literally barring entry to them by non whites. Funding for non white education, health and other services was a pittance in comparison to that spent on ‘white’ facilities and so the future generations were set to replicate the racial imbalance of power. While racial inequality persists in the US, the idea of a racially segregated bus service has been consigned to the dustbin of history.
Meanwhile in Israel, today, a series of bus lines from the West Bank into central Israel will have separate lines for Jews and Arabs. The Afikim Company will today start running these ‘Palestinian Only’ buses, ferrying Palestinian labour between the West Bank and Israel to stop Palestinians riding the regular buses. This comes after Israeli police repeatedly ordering Arabs and Palestinians from buses at the request of Israeli settlers who viewed them as a security risk. Rather than challenge this racism, the state is enforcing it. This is a continuation, rather than an aberration, in Israel’s Fascist society.
Forced Sterilisation of Ethiopian Women
The Ethiopian Jews are perhaps Israel’s best kept secret. The state which defines itself as a safe haven for the world’s Jews has a decidedly frosty reception for Jews which happen to be black. Whilst facing heinous anti-Semitism in the post Haile Salessie Ethiopia (2,500 were killed, 7000 made homeless) Ethiopian Jews sought sanctuary is Israel. Instead, during the 1980’s and 1990’s thousands spent years and hundreds died in transit camps outside Israel while the state procrastinated over its welcome policy for these black Jews. When Israel finally started to let some in, they were thrown into an eye watering bureaucracy of what Israel’s Haaretz newspaper describes as ‘repressive, racist and paternalistic policies’. This involves going through state run ‘absorption centres’ which manage every inch of their lives in Israel. The immigrant is tied to the state; overseen and controlled through these absorption centres which dictate where they live, where they can work, where their children can be educated, and other crucial elements of their lives. It was at these absorption centres that Ethiopian women were given contraceptive injections, without their knowledge, in state efforts to prevent the procreation of black Jews in Israel.
Suspicions were first raised five years ago by the Feminist movement in Israel, and more recently by investigative journalist Gal Gabay as part of the Vacuum documentary series. Gabay interviewed over thirty women as part of a study in a sudden dramatic birth rate decline in the Ethiopian immigrant community. It became clear that gynaecologist were using the Depo-Provera contraceptive on Ethiopian immigrant women without their consent. Women were either told they were receiving harmless inoculations, or their consent was procured through forced and coercion.
One of the Ethiopian women interviewed is quoted as saying: “They [medical staff] told us they are inoculations. We took it every three months. We said we didn’t want to.”
When these allegations were first made, the Israeli state responded with contemptuous denials but has now been forced through overwhelming evidence to admit the disgraceful practise. Israel has for years run an immigration policy which involved the secret and compulsory sterilization of women of colour.
In questioning why a nation founded in the blood and horror of the holocaust would employ such as policy of eugenics, one must look only to the comments of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who also holds the Health Portfolio. Speaking on Ethiopian immigration last year, he claimed it would “threaten our existence as a Jewish and democratic state”.
It would seem Israel does not need any external agitator to threaten its democracy; it is doing a consummate job of destroying any pretence of democracy all on its own. By using unlawful sterilisation as an immigration policy, Israel is a Fascist state.
Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem reports that as of January 2013 more than 4,500 Palestinians are in the custody of the Israeli Security services. Israeli authorities routinely employ Administrative Detention of Palestinians. These orders, issued by military courts, can and do hand down indefinite detention, without charge and without trial, subject to a six monthly internal review.
This means any Palestinian can, through a signature on a piece of paper have their arrest and permanent imprisonment made lawful without ever having a charge put against them, a single shred of evidence shared in any kind of court or a right to reply.
These injustices frequently drive Palestinian detainees to engage in hunger strikes in order to raise awareness of their plight in the international community. The UKs Guardian Newspaper recently published in full, an article by Samer Issawi, a Palestinian prisoner who has been on hunger strike for over 200 days. It makes sobering reading.
A state which dictates a citizen’s right to equality before the law based on their racial grouping, can justifiably be described as Fascist. Palestinian people do not have equality before the law in the Israeli state.
Race Riots, Hate Crimes and Lynchings
This climate of state sponsored racism (Israeli politicians now refer to African immigrants as ‘Infiltrators’) has filtered through into the body politic and the blood of Israeli society. ‘Price Tagging’, the local term for acts of random violence against Palestinians, has been broadened to describe a general trend toward racial assaults across Israel. Not surprisingly, there has been a stunning escalation of late in racial violence on non Jewish citizens, particularly by teenage and young Israelis.
The Tel Aviv Race Riots
Tel Aviv is one of the most liberal, multi cultural areas of Israel. Yet in May last year, thousands of protesters were addressed by politicians from mainstream political parties in outrage at 60,000 asylum seekers arriving in Israel in recent years.
Miri Regev, a member of the ruling Likud party told the crowds that asylum seekers are a “cancer in our body,” and promised to do everything “in order to bring them back to where they belong”.
Danny Danon, who heads a lobby group which seeks to deal with the issue of illegal immigration, said the only solution to the problem would be to “begin talking about expulsion”.
“We must expel the infiltrators from Israel. We should not be afraid to say the words ‘expulsion now’,” he was reported as saying.
“Southern Tel Aviv has become the country’s garbage can. I’d suggest to all those bleeding hearts who speak out against me to take a few dozen infiltrators and house them in their neighbourhoods. Let them see them every day; let their children try to play in the playgrounds they’re in.
Yesterday, a woman called me. Two Sudanese men chased her in the alleyways of Jerusalem. It could have ended in rape. Did you know that there are a lot of women in Tel Aviv who have been raped but are afraid to complain so that they don’t get stigmatised as Aids carriers?”
This racist crowd, sufficiently whipped up by the politicians then proceeded to go on a rampage of racially motivated violence. Dozens of African immigrants were injured. Witnesses reported seeing men and women being beaten in the streets, whilst properties and shops were also attacked. This riot is hauntingly reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s Kristallnacht, where Jews were attacked in the streets, and their businesses were destroyed in an orgy of hate-fuelled violence sanctioned by the state. It was fascist then and it is fascist now.
Racially Motivated Assaults
There has been a spate of racially motivated attacks on Palestinians and African immigrants to Israel in recent months.
A group of young Jewish women attacked Palestinian woman Hana Amtir at a light rail station (pictured above), pulling off her hijab and punching her in the face. It was sheer luck that artist Dorit Jordan Dotan happened to be nearby to bear witness and photograph the assault as it happened. She told police officers she and a male friend were waiting for a train at the Kiryat Moshe station when, without provocation, a young Jewish woman began attacking an Arab woman who was also at the station. The perpetrator, said Jordan Dotan, was soon joined by other young women. She said several passengers and bystanders – including a security officer working for the city – looked on apathetically and did not intervene.
This is not an isolated incident.
During the religious festival of Purim, on February 24th a group of some 20 Jewish Israeli teens between 15 and 17 mobbed and beat Palestinian cleaner Hassan Ausruf in Tel Aviv whilst shouting racist slogans at him. Describing the vicious assault Ausruf said:
“Suddenly a large group came over; they yelled at me ‘You’re an Arab. You want a state? Is that what you want?'” the Israeli news site Ynet quoted him as saying.
These are two stories among many across Israel in recent months of vicious assaults perpetrated on non Jewish citizens whilst passers by simply look the other way.
As disturbing as these other attacks were, there was a special kind of horror reserved for the attempted lynching of several Palestinian teenagers in Zion Square in Jerusalem. Dozens of Jewish teenagers launched an unprovoked attack on three Palestinian teens last August. Eye witnesses reported seeing one of the Palestinian teens repeatedly kicked by the mob even once he was crumpled on the ground, whilst their peers chanted racist slogans. Meanwhile dozens of Israelis in the square looked on without lifting a finger. Haaretz places the blame for this rise in teenage mob violence against Palestinians and Africans squarely on the state racism.
“The suspected perpetrators are children and teens. They absorbed their hatred of Arabs from their environment: perhaps at home, certainly from the educational and political systems. When incitement against Arabs has become politically correct, when rabbis urge the public to treat Arabs in a racist manner and aren’t fired from their posts, when the Knesset passes legislation over which a nationalist and racist flag waves, when the education minister extols Jewish supremacy over the Palestinians in Hebron, it’s impossible to complain solely about those teens, who translated all this into the language of violence.
The brother of one of the suspects tried to justify this lawlessness by saying the victims had “started up with Jewish girls” – and it’s clear he had heard such “accusations” more than once from Knesset members and rabbis. These, and others before them over the years, also bear responsibility.”
The Elephant in the Room
I have deliberately excluded the Occupation of Gaza and the West Bank from this story. I have written extensively on the matter if you have any questions about my position. I have excluded it because I want to show, without entering the tit for tat debate about the egregious Occupation itself, that Israel with or without Occupation is a Fascist state. I do however see the legitimisation of the Occupation as a causal factor in this endemic racism and willingness by the State to enforce its racism through fascist state policies. It is time we call a spade a spade with Israel, it is a racist and a Fascist state and it is on enlightened citizens within and without Israel to stand united, whatever their cultural heritage, for the just and equal treatment of Israel’s citizens. Israel cannot be allowed to justify being the Fascists of today, because some of her citizens were victims of the Fascists of yesterday. Surely, no greater memorial could be made to the victims of Fascist Germany, than to stamp out Fascism, wherever it exists.
B’Tselem – this Israeli human rights organisation does an inspirational job in researching the dark underbelly of the state and challenging it in the press, in the streets and in the courts.
International Jewish Anti Zionist Network – Jews across the world who are opposed to the ideology of Zionism and the violence of the Israeli state.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign – learn about the occupation and find ways of supporting its swift end.