Back in the 1960s, a distant relative of mine, a Sabra (the term for a Jewish person born in Israel) visited London. I was discussing with him the film Exodus, which I had recently seen. I was surprised when he advised me not to have too romantic a view of Israel, because it was much changed from the land of hope established in 1948. He said that many Israelis were racist towards the Palestinian Israelis and particularly towards the black Jews who had come to Israel from the horn of Africa, from such countries as Ethiopia. He expressed his fear that public opinion would support government moves towards apartheid policies along the lines of the apartheid regime in South Africa, which was often in the news at that time.
Over the 60 to 70 years since that time, racism has become much worse in Israel and is now enshrined in government policy.
At the end of the British Mandate in 1948, the founding document of Israel, the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel, said:
The State of Israel will devote itself to the development of this country for the benefit of all its people.
It will be founded on the principles of Freedom, justice and peace.
It will grant full, equal social and political rights to all its citizens regardless of differences of religious faith, race or sex.
Seventy years later, this inspiring document has been totally betrayed.
In 2021, the Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem, described Israel as “an apartheid state, increasing its oppression of Palestinians, who make up 20 per cent of the population.
B’Tselem dismisses the notion that Israel is a democracy. Five million Palestinians are under military occupation and their situation has worsened with the implementation, since 2018, of Israel’s Nation State Basic Law, affirming that “national rights in Israel belong only to the Jewish people.” This law, which has received global condemnation, represents the very worst manifestation of Zionism. The law permits institutional discrimination in land management and development, housing, citizenship, language and culture. It further depresses the second-class status of Palestinians.
This law, coupled with the encouragement of illegal settlement policies, mark a further step towards the displacement of all Palestinians and the construction of a Jewish-only state.
Since 1948, Israel has taken over 90 per cent of the land encompassed by the so-called Green Line, the pre-1967 border set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbouring countries after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
Since 1967, Israel has expanded into the West Bank of the River Jordan, expelling Palestinians, demolishing their homes and destroying their communal buildings and farms, building more than 280 settlements which are illegal under international law. Thus 600,000 Jewish Israeli citizens have displaced Palestinians, many of them into refugee camps all over over the Middle East.
Backed by the USA, Israel is aiming at a Jewish-only state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. This policy is an amalgam of apartheid and colonialism. It is the most egregious land-grab since the sovietisation of the Baltic states and the lebensraum policies of Nazi Germany.