Israel, Racism and the Durban Conference

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:

Noah Bassil


9 Responses to Israel, Racism and the Durban Conference

  1. john says:

    The Durban conference was an event and would not have achieved a single thing.

    The UN embarrassed itself and I am proud as an Australian that my government refused to be involved in the farce.

  2. TJ says:

    Criticizing Israel continuously and failing to say a bad word about Ahmadinejad’s speech shows your ignorance and contempt for the world’s only Jewish state. Such one-sided bias in favour a tyrant who continually calls the Holocaust a hoax is appalling for someone with a PhD.

  3. mustafa ramadan says:

    To John & TJ

    Is Israel a Racist State ?
    If you want to defend Israel and prove that it is not a racist state, please cite ten things or actions done by Israel to prove the opposite. You are supposed to start from the creation of Israel in 1948 through committing massacres against the Palestinians and terrorizing them to flee and become refugees all over the world, the Gaza War, up to the emergence and ‘civilized’ declarations of the ‘savior’ PM Netanyahu and his ‘gentle diplomat’ Lieberman.


  4. raffegold says:

    To call Israel a racist state one wold have to prove that the situation is based on race. It is not. It is based on security.

    If this were an apartheid like state then there would be enacted legislation that condemns Muslims simply for being Muslims. There is not. Arab citizens of Israel have the same rights as Jewish citizens. Their vote carries equal weight in an election, they have political representation in the Knesset, they are able to take legal action against the State by appealing to the Supreme Court (Arabs serve on the bench of the Supreme Court) and they serve in the armed forces.

    Israel has granted homosexual Palestinians asylum to stay in Israel because their lives are threatened and they have allowed Sudanese refugees who flee the genocide in Darfur to be resettled in Israel whilst Egyptian border police are known to shoot these refugees.

  5. Noah Bassil says:

    Firstly, Raffe the conflict in Darfur does not constitute a genocide. Events in Darfur are tragic and the toll on the population devastating. the brutality of the Islamist-miltiary government that runs the Sudan, which also comprises tribal militias incorporated into the security apparatus of the state, has been responsible for the humanitarian crisis without any doubt. But this ruling junta have been responsible for equal violence against the southern Sudanese, Nuba, Beja and against the so-called Arabs that have challenged the government. Numerous human rights violations have been perpetrated and the government held to account by the population and the international community, as it should be.

    The representations of events in Darfur, have been incredibly politicized, especially in the US where the Save the Darfur Coalition has made the conflict about the violence of Arabs against helpless Black Africans. The reality is all the actors are Africans, the setting is Africa and the politics which caused the conflict are African politics. Israeli rescue of Darfuri refugees has to be seen in, what I am afraid to say is a very cynical way to look at things, as relating to the post 9/11 politics of Anti-Arabism and Islamophobia (many websites and other information from the Save the Darfur fund does not mention the shared religious background of the insurgents and the government or the fact one of the two “Black Africans” rebel groups is comprised of hard-core Islamists who opposed the north-south peace deal. The conflict in Darfur was spun by the Save the Darfur Coalition, media and politicians in the US into a post-9/11 discourse that served to rally Christian, Jewish and Black Americans together.

    The division is not Jewish/Muslim but Jewish/non-Jewish, many Christian Palestinians suffer from the discrimination of the Israeli state. Have a look at a recent edition of National Geographic for evidence that Christian Palestinians feel the same level of discrimination within the Jewish state as Muslim Palestinians.

    What you demonstrate from your posting is a very one-dimensional view of the world which fails to grasp the complexities of identity and the way that identities are shaped for political purposes.

    Finally, Black Americans serve on the Supreme Court and the law in the US is finally colour-blind but speak to many Black activists, academics of race politics in the US, or the disenfranchised Black population and even with the election of the first half-black President I am sure many would tell you the US still discriminates against the black population. In Australia, the indigenous population face discrimination in numerous ways, yet the laws are plainly non-discriminatory and a number of indigenous Australians have risen to great achievements. Racism is also a complex issue and one that deserves better treatment than you give it.


  6. raffegold says:


    Thank you for your reply.

    Regardless of what we call the current situation in Sudan i’m sure that we can both agree that far too many innocent people have been killed. Whilst it may not be classified as a genocide i’m sure it could easily be labelled massacres, mass killings, mass murder etc.

    Regarding racism in Israel. I’m sure that minorities suffer discrimination within Israel. Just as you pointed out that minorities suffer discrimination in every country in the world. My previous answer should have been far more detailed and I apologise. I don’t believe that racism is such a black and white issue as i’m sure there are shades of grey within every situation.

    However what we see time and time again is a constant demonisation of the people and the policies of the State of Israel without either
    a) Putting the situation into context
    b) Examining her neighbours and other countries to see how they would approach a similar situation.

    I hear constantly that Israel is committing these acts against the Palestinians because it has a hatred of Muslims yet suprisingly there is never a mention of the Christian Palestinians who also suffer the same fate as the Muslims.

    Once again, apologies for such a lacklustre answer before.

  7. mustafa ramadan says:

    Diagnostics of Israeli Government & Society

    To all Zionists
    Please read, think and be unbiased if you want to reply.

    Ayoon Wa Azan (A Fascist Government and a Sick Society)
    Fri, 17 July 2009
    Jihad el-Khazen
    Yesterday, I argued about the impossibility of finding peace with the state of Israel as long the fascistic gang is still in power there. I continue today with my analysis, relying on what I read in the Israeli press alone. The latter mirrors the views and thoughts of a sick and paranoid society, which also suffers from a tinge of insanity. An editorial in Yedioth Ahronoth, for instance, criticized the United Nations because of its “bias” against Israel, and because the organization allegedly does not note the human rights abuses in the Arab and Islamic countries, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s suppression of the demonstrations in Iran….

    (Note from blog administrator: Article truncated to avoid copyright violation. To read entire article, go to above website.)

  8. raffegold says:

    Wow all right.

    Let me try and answer all the charges in that blog post.

    The bias of the United Nations does actually play a major role in the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is an organisation that is ultimately meant to safeguard the innocent and to ensure that genocide, ethnic cleansing and massacres do not happen anywhere in the world. They have failed in that goal because of their obsessive focus on Israel. Look at the disgusting UN Human Rights Council. In the first year all of its resolutions were against Israel. This blindness to the plights of billions of people who are suffering in the unnamed regions in the world. Also only Israel is ‘permanently reviewed’ every year by the HRC. No other country has been warranted this ‘special treatment’.

    Consider the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP). A UN body who’s sole aim is to “mend a programme of implementation to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination without external interference, national independence and sovereignty; and to return to their homes and property.” This committee was created in 1975, the same year that the UN introduced their disgusting UNGA Resolution 3379 that Zionism equals racism. Does no other ethnic people; not the Kurds, Roma, Copts, Tibetans to name a few deserve their own UN body to discuss their plight?

    Considering the history of the United Nations it’s not a surprise that Israelis view the UN with suspicion. Despite what this blogger says regarding the ‘price of tea in China’ if the UN is going to be involved in any peace deal in the Middle East then they have to stop this obsessive focus on Israel. I am not, and have never said, that Israel should not be criticised but if you maintain this witch hunt against one single UN member and refuse to condemn or investigate human rights abuses in any other countries then you are not seen as an impartial observer.

    The term ‘Nazism’ was said a number of times in that blog post. That shows the idiocy of the blogger. I am not Avigdor Lieberman’s biggest fan, I have in fact written a lengthy blog post against him and his party that was linked on this website, but to compare him to a Nazi is just disgusting and wrong.

  9. mustafa ramadan says:

    Mon 27-7-09
    Israel Current Leadership & Peace
    Netanyahu 1st 100 days

    We live in an unreal world that has no logic, no morals, and no sense of responsibility. How does the world accept the mere existence of odd leaders like Netanyahu ? This man’s mere presence is an insult to humanity in the 21st century, the century of space channels and mobile phones. Can’t the US and the West replace that arrogant fallacious mendacious neurotic and his foreign minister ??? It’s really a shame that such people are in power and keep lying and insulting mankind.

    Please read about Netanyahu’s psyche and achievement.


    Ayoon Wa Azan (The Enemy of peace, and a Professional Impostor)
    Sun, 26 July 2009

    Jihad el-Khazen
    There is no logical reason to suggest that Benjamin Netanyahu’s second one hundred days as the head of the Israeli government will be better than his first one hundred days as the leader of the known fascistic gang: While he clearly does not have any real policies, he also suffers from paranoia, in addition to being an unstable individual and a political failure. Meanwhile, he easily succumbs to pressure and extortion, and has managed to gather around him a shambolic and incompetent team that has since shocked the senior members of his government.

    I have not come up with the above mentioned qualities on my own. In fact, I have read them in the Israeli press itself, which also means that he is actually much worse than that. …

    [ed: Go to above link to read the remainder of el-Khazen’s article]

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