By Rima Najjar
August 31, 2017
Today, we hear a lot about White supremacy but very little about Jewish supremacy, as if the former stands for the latter.
It is true there are more similarities than differences between Jewish supremacy and White supremacy. Both are based on ethnic/nationalist bias and racism. They are both “historically based, institutionally perpetuated system[s] of exploitation and oppression … a web of interlocking, reinforcing institutions: economic, military, legal, educational, religious, and cultural. As a system, racism affects every aspect of life in a country.”
Within Israel and militarily occupied Palestinian lands, Jewish supremacy is sometimes described as White supremacy, as in this headline:
“Israel’s White Supremacy Agenda Targets Other Jews, Arabs, Africans
Palestinians are not the only target for Israel’s animosity and ethno-centric policies.”
This is because, contrary to Zionist myth, Jews don’t all belong to one race. The Jews who created the racist ideology of Zionism (See Zionism = racism) and initially colonized Palestine (Between 1882 and 1903, at least 25,000 Jews arrived in Palestine, financially backed by European Jewish philanthropists, such as Moses Montefiore and Edmond de Rothschild, (see Palestine and the first Zionist Colony) are Ashkenazim, Jews of Eastern European origin.
Ashkenazi Jews are the elite of Israel and they dominate and discriminate against, not only Palestinian Arabs, but also other Jews and ethnicities in Israel.
The situation in the West Bank settlement of Immanuel exposes the deeply complex ethno-religious relations between European Jews and Middle Eastern Jews in Israel. Middle Eastern Jews have for many decades lived as stigmatized citizens of Israel; their traditional Arabic culture and form of Jewish religiosity frequently objects of scorn and prejudice…In spite of the fact that Sephardim comprise a substantial percentage of the Israeli Jewish population, in socio-cultural terms they find themselves in a subservient position vis-à-vis the Ashkenazim.
However, there are two major differences between the two racist ideologies, White supremacy and Jewish supremacy:
1) In so-called “liberal” circles, White supremacy is uniformly reviled, whereas Jewish supremacy, as it manifests itself in Zionism, is not only accepted but fiercely defended even by those Middle Eastern or Arab Jews mentioned above, who have internalized Zionist racism.
2) Jewish supremacy is wrapped up, not only in a secular Zionist ideology, but in a religious one as well, attracting Jews and evangelical Christians from all kinds of backgrounds and ethnicities.
In the wake of Charlottesville, for example, the ADL — Anti-Defamation League reported that it saw 1,000% spike in donations. The ADL is a Jewish supremacist organization, but it can masquerade in the United States as an anti-racist organization. As If Americans Knew reports, ADL “works to maintain the racist status quo in Israel-Palestine, which keeps Palestinians in Israel as third-class citizens and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank & Gaza stateless and without basic civil rights.” It also keeps Palestinian refugees and exiles from returning to their homes and land, an internationally recognized right.
In 1994, while eulogizing Baruch Goldstein, a Brooklyn born Jew who had immigrated to Israel and killed 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers at Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, New York Rabbi Yaacov Perrin said, “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” He was defining the essence of Jewish supremacy that now reigns supreme in all of historic Arab Palestine.
Accepting the concept of Jewish supremacy in Palestine, As Sari Nusseibeh wrote,
would be [among other things]to privilege Judaism above the religions of Christianity and Islam, whose adherents together comprise 55 per cent of the world’s population. Regrettably this is a narrative propagated even by renowned Jewish author and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who, on April 15, 2010, took out full page ads in The New York Times and The Washington Post and claimed that Jerusalem “is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture — and not a single time in the Qur’an”. Now we do not propose to speak for native Palestinian Arab Christians — except to say the that Jerusalem is quite obviously the city of Jesus Christ the Messiah — but as Muslims, we believe that Jerusalem is not the “third holiest city of Islam” as is sometimes claimed, but simply one of Islam’s three holy cities. And, of course, despite what Mr Wiesel seems to believe, Jerusalem is indeed clearly referred to in the Holy Qur’an in Surat al-Isra’ (17:1) …
Zionist Jews in and out of Israel must confront the reality that Jewish supremacy in Israel, as David Lloyd wrote about Americans and White supremacy in the U.S., “is an intrinsic if shameful element in their history and institutions whose consequences have yet to be overcome.”
The question then arises why so many Jewish liberal Zionists are blind to their own racism against Palestinian Arabs while condemning racism by other groups.
In addressing this conundrum related to the Palestine exception (or Zionist exception) — an exception that involves not only censorship of pro-Palestine speech but also bald-faced, legitimized racism against Palestinian Arabs that extends to Muslims generally – Philip Weiss writes:
I make it a point to hear Rabbi Yehuda Kurtzer speak at J Street and other Jewish spaces. He is a very smart guy and very positive. While he’s too Jewish-communitarian for my taste (the touchstones of his political judgments are Jewish values rather than universalist ones), he’s an idealist who addresses Israel’s crisis. So, I was disturbed to discover on his Facebook page from June a promotion of a visit to rightwing “hilltop” settlements in the Occupied West Bank to get to know those folks better, sponsored by the Shalom Hartman Institute, of which Kurtzer is an executive.
Weiss is justifiably disturbed to hear this from Rabbi Yehuda Kurtzer on three grounds. One is because “those settlements are illegal under international law”. The second is because they are “segregationist” communities, and the third is because of the schizophrenia involved in “condemning and exposing” White nationalism on the one hand, and seeking to understand “the settler movement” (meaning the spread of Jewish Zionist colonization of Palestine to the remaining territory that was partitioned in 1948) on the other.
To me, there is no mystery in the conundrum with which Weiss is concerned.
These liberal American Jews (both religious and secular) don’t know any better because they are committed to Israel as a Jewish state, just as Jews on the right of the political spectrum are.
They see no shame or contradiction in that position because they have swallowed whole the Zionist narrative that defines their identity as Jews, including the inability to see Palestinian Arabs as fellow human beings with fundamental human rights.
So, to me, the problem of Jewish supremacy or nationalism as it manifests itself in Palestine is the fundamental problem of Zionism — it’s immoral racialist and racist premise.
It makes no difference which brand of Zionism got the upper hand in Palestine, whether it is the nationalism of Theodor Hertzl (i.e., as a response to external pressures that were impossible to avoid — meant for Jews “who do not wish or are unable to assimilate”) or the nationalism of Ahad Ha-Am, to whom the possibility of total assimilation of Jews into their host societies was unacceptable, because the Jewish people was morally superior to all other people.
Today we have a situation in which millions of Jews, whether “assimilated” into their countries of origin or not, believe that Israel has a “right” to exist as a Jewish state and that Palestine belongs to Jews worldwide and not to its indigenous inhabitants regardless of religion or ethnicity.
That, to me, is the disturbing element of all Zionists, including the liberal Zionists Weiss addresses. They want Israel to “exist” as a Jewish state on land forcefully usurped and stolen from under the feet of its true owner, the Palestinian people, who continue to suffer as refugees and in exile as well as in Palestine under military occupation and under Apartheid.
Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is disturbing. Jewish supremacy whether rearing its ugly head in West Bank settlements or embodying the very existence of Israel is the nightmare.
A recent survey has found that nearly half of Israeli Jews believe in ethnic cleansing. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin reportedly called the findings a ‘wake-up call for Israeli society’. But what is it that these people should wake up to? The Jewish state was founded on ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs and defends its “existence” by continuing to ethnic cleanse Palestinians. That’s what they should wake up to — the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
The Jewish supremacist state of Israel must come to an end as such. The goal of exposing Israel’s crimes and the immorality of its supporters is to seek transformative justice in Palestine – to de-Zionize.
Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.