Whilst disliking criticism of being racist Zionism’s new “Jewish nation-state” law, passed on 19 July in the Israeli parliament (the Knesset), declares Israel an exclusively Jewish state. The law, passed by 62-55 with two abstentions, specifies that “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people” and claims the unique right to exercise self-determination in the Israeli state.

By Margaret McAdam and Martin Ralph

Furthermore, Hebrew is declared the official state language and Jerusalem, “completed and united”, is claimed as the capital of Israel.

The state will be open for Jewish immigration and the ingathering of exiles whilst at the same time taking the view that Jewish settlements are a “national value” whose establishment and consolidation will be promoted.

Robert Fisk reported in the Independent 23 August that, “Plans were now advanced…for a further 1,000 “homes” in Jewish “settlements” – still the word we must use for such acts of land theft – and final approval had been given for another 382. Today, 600,000 Jewish Israelis live in about 140 colonies constructed on land belonging to another people, the Palestinians, either in the West Bank or east Jerusalem.” [1]

The new law signals a renewal of settlement expansion (as continued since the ethnic cleansing in 1948) thus indicating an intensification of the policy of Palestinian genocide and apartheid.

The 2018 law comes in the wake of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, validated by the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

This provoked a wave of protests in the heavily besieged enclave of Gaza. Palestinians were protesting this move, for the right to return to the land they have been displaced from and calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza.

These protests were brutally suppressed by the Israeli forces with more than 160 Palestinians killed and more than 18,000 injured.

Further annexation of the occupied West Bank is also very likely. Israeli political scientist Galia Golan of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv said that, “Everyone understands what this law is … It enshrines the Jewish majority as dominant and ruling without protection of the rights of anyone else.” [2]

The extremity of the new law even divided Netanyahu’s controlling party, the right wing Likud.

The president of Israel (who plays a symbolic role) opposed the law and declared that he would sign the measure in Arabic as a form of protest. The Israeli division is about how to maintain an apartheid regime: one favouring rule through a democratic disguise, the other being openly racist against all Arab people.

The new law institutionalises the status of the country’s 20% Arab population as second-class citizens.

This 1.4 million population already live in the most peripheral regions of Israel, are employed in casual jobs and earn less than the Jewish population.

This law adds to over 60 Israeli laws that are discriminatory (www.adalah.org/en). Adalah says, “These laws limit the rights of Palestinians in all areas of life, from citizenship rights to the right to political participation, land and housing rights, education rights, cultural and language rights, religious rights, and due process rights during detention. Some of the laws also discriminate against other groups such as gays, non-religious Jews, and Palestinian refugees.”

It would also “silence a public discussion [in the UK] of what happened in Palestine and to the Palestinians in 1948, when the majority of its people were forcibly expelled”, as cautioned by 107 Black, Asian, trade union (including the UVW, IWGB and UCU and PCS Black members) and other minority ethnicities (BAME) groups in the UK (ourhistory-ourplace.co.uk.)

Israel silences the Labour Party

The Israeli government and UK Zionists aim to police any criticism of its colonial-settler state nature with the help of its trade union and Labour allies to stop any fundamental opposition.

The attack on Jeremy Corbyn is part of this, and has led to the Labour Party National Executive committee adopting the full definition with examples, from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

It is an attempt to stop the growing international support in unions and social movements for the rights of Palestinians and to end, stigmatise and ‘criminalise’ any condemnation of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

It is also an attempt to control criticism of Israel’s increasing military role outside of Israel. Security and defense measures for the G20 Summit in Argentina in November 2018 will cost a third of the 3 billion pesos budget dedicated to the G20. The Argentine government will hand over control of security directly to the USA, Britain, Germany, France and Israel (which is not part the G20).

More than forty Jewish groups worldwide oppose equating anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel and “urge our governments, municipalities, universities and other institutions to reject the IHRA definition.” They point out that organisations that support Palestinian rights in general and BDS in particular, are being targeted. [3]

Union bureaucracy support for IHRA

Union leaders who have called for the IHRA definition and all examples it lists include:

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, he is concerned about the possibility of losing Labour votes.

This view is supported by general secretaries Paddy Lillis, USDAW and Tim Roche, GMB.

These trade-union leaders want to throw the fight for Palestinian rights into the dust-bin and make a deal with Zionism to win votes.

Len McLuskey, General Secretary Unite the Union, appealed to the leadership of the Jewish community to abandon their hostility and engage in dialogue, but also said that Labour should now adopt all eleven IHRA examples as not having done so was “insensitive”.

In a statement, 28 August, Palestinian trade unions, mass organisations and networks representing the majority in Palestinian civil society, called on the British Labour party, trade unions, city councils, universities and civil society at large to reject the IHRA’s false, anti-Palestinian definition of antisemitism. (Published on Opendemocracy.)

Their statement included “Any use by public bodies of the IHRA examples on antisemitism that either inhibits discussion relating to our dispossession by ethnic cleansing, when Israel was established, or attempts to silence public discussions on current or past practices of [Israeli] settler colonialism, apartheid, racism and discrimination, and the ongoing violent military occupation, directly contravenes core rights. First, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, who remain protected by international laws and conventions; and second, the rights of all those British citizens who stand by our side, in the solidarity of a common humanity.”

Palestinian rights means having the right to fight against Israel’s colonial and military policies because the creation of the state of Israel and its continuation as a Zionist endeavour means the racial oppression of the Palestinians.

But unfortunately Corbyn retreated, under Zionist pressure, from Labour’s antisemitism statement stating that, “… people in the past had been ‘wrong’ to suggest Zionism is racism.”

In the same article, he says that there are Zionists who have been honourable proponents in our movement. [4]

Ilan Pappe, the well-known Israeli historian dismisses the idea that all Jews in Britain support Israel, or that they are all represented by the organisations attacking Corbyn.

Effective fight against Zionism

The Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian is gaining ground and has established itself internationally including with progressive Jews. It has become the most effective campaign for Palestinian struggle and viciously attacked by Zionists.

BDS recognises Palestinian rights and calls for Israel’s accountability over gross human rights violations. It is supported in parliaments, city councils, universities, trade unions, cultural institutions, among artists and bands, and 40 Jewish social justice organizations recognise that BDS has a proven commitment to “fighting antisemitism and all forms of racism and bigotry.”

Socialist Party

The Socialist Party believe a two-state solution will resolve the problem of Zionism, however the theory that underpins this position is confused from beginning to end and is a retreat from the historic Palestinian fight for a single democratic and secular state.

Now, considering the Jewish nation-state law, this perspective is a betrayal of the Palestinians.

The SP have made no demands of Corbyn to fight but they are critical of his silence –the reality is that Corbyn is not silent but is retreating; and in spite of all this they have made no criticism of Zionism in their lengthy article.

Zionism – a political movement

Leila Farsakh, University of Massachusetts in Boston, writing in 2011:

“Since the collapse of the Oslo peace process in 2000 and the eruption that same year of the Al-Aqsa intifada, the prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict have grown increasingly bleak. The doubling of the Israeli settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem between 1993 and 2009 to over 494,000 settlers, the construction of a 709 kilometre separation wall that cuts into Palestinian land in the West Bank and once completed would incorporate 11.5% of it into Israel, and the institutionalisation of more than 99 Israeli checkpoints that cut Palestinian areas into over 12 disconnected geographic areas, have killed the prospects for any viable sovereign Palestinian state.” [5]

Farsakh argues that the only way forward is a single secular democratic state of Palestine. Zionism is a political movement whose central aim is to expel all the Palestinian people from their land using racist ideology.

Accepting the whole IHRA definition means accepting the Jewish nation-state law and the ultimate Zionist goal of a single Jewish state in the region.

The International Socialist League believe that Israel is an apartheid state and the Jewish nation-state law strengthens Israel and its racist and settler laws.

We urge all union members to oppose the new law, its expansionist policies and to support the Palestinian struggle.

The ISL support the Palestinian struggle for a single secular, democratic, non-racist state where Jews and Palestinian peoples can live in peace; and fully support Palestinian resistance against Zionist attacks

Notes:

¹www.independent.co.uk/voices/israel-settlement-

expansion-1000-new-homes-palestinian-land-robert-fisk-wheres-the-outrage-a8504471.html

²New Statesman “It’s a disgrace: Israel’s Nation State law leaves liberal democracy behind.” Ben Lynfield 24 July

³ jewishvoiceforpeace.org/first-ever-40-jewish-groups-worldwide-oppose-equating-antisemitism-with-criticism-of-israel/

4www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-labour-party-antisemitism-jewish-people-ihra-margaret-hodge-row-israel-a8476711.html

5www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mei/mei/2011/000 00065/00000001/art00004