Human rights Opinion

'Criminal practices': Israel's cruel apartheid against Palestinians

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Israel's apartheid against the Palestinian people is a crime against humanity and a system that is leaving the nation's global reputation in tatters, writes Bilal Cleland.

ANTI-SEMITISM has been a feature of European society for centuries.

Jewish thinkers in the 19th Century debated what course of action could be taken to deal with it. Assimilation, reduced religiosity and strict orthodox adherence were all considered. A tiny minority saw nationalism as the answer.

Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, lacked interest in Judaism or Jewish culture but was acutely aware of the hatred towards Jews.

In his 1896 pamphlet, The Jewish State, Herzl envisions the Jewish homeland as ‘a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilisation as opposed to barbarism’.

In 1897, he convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel and established the World Zionist Organization (WZO). Palestine was decided upon as Eretz Israel.

The Zionist movement, even before the British mandate changed into Israel, wanted the maximum amount of land and the minimum number of Arabs.

The Zionist leader Leo Motzkin once stated

“Our thought is that the colonisation of Palestine has to go in two directions: Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel and the resettlement of the Arabs of Eretz Israel in areas outside the country.”

Herzl was aware that this homeland meant the colonisation of an existing population.

Rima Najjar, formerly of Al-Quds University, reported that in 1902, Herzl wrote to Cecil Rhodes, a White supremacist imperialist, requesting support for the project:

‘It doesn’t involve Africa, but a piece of Asia Minor; not Englishmen but Jews… How, then, do I happen to turn to you since this is an out-of-the-way matter for you? How indeed? Because it is something colonial. I want you to… put the stamp of your authority on the Zionist plan.’

Herzl did not see his utopian dream as a religiously intolerant state.  

On Avoiding Theocracy in a Jewish State, Herzl writes:

‘Shall we end by having a theocracy? No, indeed. Faith unites us, knowledge gives us freedom. We shall therefore prevent any theocratic tendencies from coming to the fore on the part of our priesthood.’

Yoav Litvin, an Israeli-American doctor of psychology/neuroscience, in an opinion piece for Al Jazeera, denounced the concept:

Zionism is a racist and settler colonialist movement, which opportunistically coopts aspects of Judaism in an attempt to justify its criminal practices of apartheid and genocide of Indigenous Palestinians. White supremacy is dominant within Israeli society, which privileges white-skinned Ashkenazi Jews at the expense of dark-skinned African Jews, Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews as well as African refugees. African/Bblack Jewish communities are often denied recognition by Israeli authorities with some members even deported.

The Israeli State has become a nightmare compared to the inclusive Utopia described by Herzl.

New depths have been reached given that former UK PM Tony Blair has been asked to develop a plan for the relocation of refugees from Gaza, reported by Israeli Channel 12 news.

Experimenting in the Occupied Territories

Just as the new fascist states in the 1930s used the Spanish Civil War to test weapons and techniques, including on Guernica, Israel appears to be using strange weapons and over-the-top big bombs on the civilian population of Gaza.

Dump bombs, unguided and used to flatten buildings, make up about half of the bombs used.

U.S. bunker buster bombs, designed to blow up caves in Afghanistan or tunnels in Gaza, are being employed in built-up civilian areas.

Use of white phosphorus bombs among civilians is occurring according to Human Rights Watch.

Some unidentified burning weapon is also being used, according to Al Jazeera:

‘Dr Ahmed Mokhallalati (Al Shifa Hospital) said these weren’t phosphorus burns, “but a combination of some kind of incendiary bomb wave and other components”, feeding into claims that Israel also uses war to test unknown weapons.’

The Palestinian Laboratory

Antony Loewenstein, in The Palestinian Laboratory, has exposed the brutal face of the Israeli State and its exploitation of the Occupied Territories.

He quotes Jeff Halper, author of War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification, who explains that the occupation of Palestine is no financial burden but is in fact ‘an invaluable testing ground for new equipment on behalf of a global military hegemon serving other militaries across the globe’.

The arms and security industry is central to Israel’s economic development.

Surveillance technology, including smartphone penetration, is a major earner.

The Pegasus technology, developed to spy on Palestinians, has been used enthusiastically by the Modi Hindu extremist regime as well as the oppressive Saudi regime and the UAE. Dissidents are targeted.

Israeli drones, equipped to monitor Palestinians and African refugees, allow the EU to monitor the Mediterranean without being caught up in rescuer missions.

The border surveillance industrial complex was estimated to be worth around US$68 billion (AU$100.7 billion) by 2025.

Defence exports rose 55% in the two years prior to 2021 and cybersecurity firms raised US$8.8 billion (AU$13.3 billion) in 2021.

That same year, Israeli cyber companies took 40% of the world’s funding.

Regimes that might hate their own Jewish populations, but which admire the ethno-nationalism and the abilities displayed in keeping Palestinians under control, are lucrative customers.

The White Rhodesian regime and the apartheid South African regime were included, as was the Pinochet regime in Chile.

In the 1970s, there was talk of Israel supplying South Africa with nuclear ability.

Israel is also busy in social media, exerting maximum influence on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook appointed a former adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to look after Jewish and Israeli matters but no Palestinian is there.

Staff at Google and Amazon in 2021 objected to working for Project Nimbus, ‘a $1.2 billion contract to provide cloud services to the Israeli Government’.

WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, does not take action against hate groups of violent  Israeli colonists.

Future developments

Climate warming, which will cause disruption and mass population movement, will feed the defence and security industries so dear to Israel.

Smart border fences, border surveillance, drones and facial recognition will become even more important and they can all be tested in the Palestinian laboratory.

However, the future may not be so favourable to Israel.

The old slur of anti-Semitism used against anyone daring to criticise Israel or support Palestinian rights is declining in effectiveness, especially since the Warsaw Ghetto style of attack upon Gaza, killing over 21,000 people mainly women and children, by the end of 2023.

Loewenstein concludes with a hopeful indication.

He quotes the Responsible Investor website, which in 2022 claimed that 67% of investment managers thought that human rights would become mainstream like climate change in investment considerations:

‘Israel and its supporters must make a choice between their commitment to Zionism and adherence to liberal values.’

World opinion is important, as McDonalds and Starbucks are discovering and Israel will soon find out.

The status of a pariah state is not only embarrassing, it can be very costly.

Bilal Cleland is a retired secondary teacher and was Secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Chairman of the Muslim Welfare Board Victoria and Secretary of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. You can follow Bilal on Twitter @BilalCleland.

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