An article recently published in Le Monde presents evidence of a very disturbing increase in the racist demagoguery in Israeli politics and a trend of state-sanctioned racist violence against Israeli Arabs. It seems from the evidence provided in the article that Israel is rapidly transforming from a racist state into a racist society. When the two converge, that is institutional racism and popular racism, there is far greater potential for mass race-based violence to break out, as studies of genocide, ethnic cleansing and apartheid show.
It is little wonder Israel boycotted Durban II. But, the reason the Australian government gave was very unconvincing, citing concerns that Israel was singled out for special mention, giving no explanation for why this was a problem. While, I certainly agree that contemporary racism is not restricted to Israel (I wrote an earlier post about the increase of anti-African racism in Egypt) the institutionalized racism in Israel is qualitatively different than anywhere else in the world. It was for this reason and no other that Israel was “singled out” by those that framed the Durban conference. The claims that raising the issue of racism in Israel is anti-Semitic is a smokescreen as the organizers had widely stated that all forms of racism are equally deplorable, including Antisemitism. I do not believe that anyone involved in the struggle against racism condones Antisemitism in any form, but this does not mean remaining vigilant against Antisemitism. But criticizing Israel for the state-policies that make the lives of non-Jewish Arab citizens of Israel different from Israeli-Jews is not anti-Semitic, just anti-racist. The fight against racism is universal but his does not mean that we cannot shine a brighter light of scrutiny on specific cases of racism, such as that occurring in Israel.
The article can be found at:http://mondediplo.com/2009/05/04israel