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Traces of racial exception: racialising Israeli settler colonialism

April 2, 2019 at 1:10 am

  • Book Author(s): Ronit Lentin
  • Published Date: August 2018
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Paperback: 269 pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-1350032064

In today’s twisted, double-speak in political accusation, some principles stay upheld.  Ronit Lentin, the Trinity College Dublin sociologist, has long specialised in race relations and this book excavates Israel’s racist foundation.  Accordingly, the white Jew of Israel’s collective racism firmly defeats all challenges.

One lode of analysis is theoretical, using the writings of Patrick Wolfe, David Theo Goldberg, and Georgio Agamben, to see how philosophic and economic patterns tug on to racial difference.  In her academic milieu, the author must show academic precedent in the condemnation of the Zionists’ warped legal system.  One might be tempted to move on to their works.

But unless you’re based at a top university, you’ll not be getting stuck into such titles and you have my permission to skip these passages.  Why split hairs over how to phrase an exact definition of ‘settler-colonialism,’ when the audience for this book are already au fait with the injustice?   Fortunately, with this tome, you don’t have to because Prof. Lentin’s got searchlights in multiple tunnels.

Another vein she explores is that of political history and in that she’s got longtime colleagues such as the clear-writing Ilan Pappé to cite as she mines the racism in the coalface of the Israeli heart. Racist raw material is found everywhere, by financial bean counters as well as compilers of legal precedent.  In terms of the Zionist court system, one wonders why it doesn’t tumble from its own wobbly columns.  Hitler’s early ‘Decree for the Protection of the People’ was permanently applied to the right sort of people, allowing discriminatory contradiction to go unchallenged.  This is a lesson that should have been learned from the Jewish Holocaust, but the rightful might of Jewishness has carried the equivalent torch of Nazi Aryan superiority.

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The book insists that race, in policy, has to mean treatment.  In medicine, for instance, Arab Jews, being darker, were abused in the way of Nazi doctor disease inflictions on camp Jews and the Tuskegee Experiment on Black males in Alabama.  One of the racist Israeli doctors was the author’s relative.  In citizenship, another example, the state’s Law of Return was bent in 1991 to allow a million Russian Jews and their non-Jewish relatives, to bump-up the white Israeli demographic.  Unpacking the discipline of the “world’s most moral army,” the IDF is shown to have had organised rape-fests during the Nakba and there is increasing sexual assault amongst even those Jewish women who are in service to the militaristic government today.  And in the geographic, the Zionist state’s way is to simply surround Arab communities on the map, at the edge of every road.

How is racism justified?  Even before the British Mandate, the Arab inhabitants were seen as ‘inferior’ and colonisation of Palestine in need of enlightenment by European and American progress.  And young Israel simply carried on the Mandate Government’s Defence (Emergency) Regulations, which included most of the core corruptions of Jewish Israeli law enforcement when it comes to the local non-Jews, from civilian trials in military courts to efficient house demolitions, to censorship.

The Zionist courts latch onto any justification, including the Balfour Declaration itself, British Mandate edicts, UN Resolution 181 recognising the Israeli state, and even Biblical judgements.  Settlement is considered a quasi-holiness as it redeems the so-called Jewish mission and way of life, mirroring USA patriotism as a kind of religion in itself.

Cunning construction of law aside, there’s always immediate police or military action.  The case of the Umm al-Hiran Bedouin evictions in 2017 involved the wilful shooting of an unarmed and unprotesting community.  Journalists and Knesset Members were barred from the scene.  Two years prior, Al-Araqib village was demolished and the former residents invoiced by the Government for the demolition costs!  What made this action more than just continued ‘ethnic cleansing’ was the revocation of their citizenship as well.  This was a punishment for the Bedouins not having relocated to the wider Middle East or simply died.  Never mind that they were corralled there by the new garrison state after 1948.

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The chapter on gender has to accommodate race and there are perhaps too many issues to present.  One unexpected aspect is the partnership of the Israeli state interest and Palestinian honour-killings, as this, of course, would reduce the latter’s community.  But there are too many temptations for the author, causing a deviation from the racial discrimination path.  The decolonization of Palestine, either by Palestinians or by the latter with Israeli Jews, is a necessary debating point.  Yet the chapter on liberation theory strays from the genuine Jew vs Arab Goy point of the book.

Much of the rotten fruit here was plucked from free, online sources, many of them Zionist.  I hadn’t been aware that “almost all” of the Israeli Palestinians who commented critically on Facebook during the 2014 Gaza massacre were interrogated by state security.  And I somehow missed Netanyahu’s comment on the 2017 racist-fascist demo in Charlottesville, Virginia : “as for you American Jews facing down those Nazis over there – Nazis who hate you Democrat liberals, along with your friends the blacks, the Muslims, the immigrants and the Left – well, you brought this upon yourselves… You’re on your own.”

Or, perhaps your frown will become permanent on reading the 2016 Pew opinion survey results that 48% of Israeli Jews and 59% of their Orthodox want Arabs expelled.  Lentin reminds us that the settlers’ favourite MK, Naftali Bennett, made racists exam answers legitimate.  An Education Minister can do that sort of thing, a balm on so-called ‘settler trauma,’ and get public applause too.

So, one of the benefits of this book is the extensive Internet-gleaned evidence, encouraging you to help yourself.  Consuming a variety of published platforms, Prof. Lentin’s done your shopping for you; if you’re a Palestinian rights anti-racist activist, this is a consumer’s guide that will fill countless carrier-bags of injustice based on racial discrimination.  If this book’s trolley of horrors has a fault, it’s that there’s too many for you to pick, but the Zionists just keep on building shelves on which to stack them.