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Potential US presidential candidate accuses ‘racist’ Israel of committing ‘genocide’

Democratic US Presidential hopeful and former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK) speaks during a presidential candidates forum of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) 2007 Public Policy Conference 3 October 3, 2007 in Washington, DC. [Alex Wong/Getty Images]
Democratic US Presidential hopeful and former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK) speaks during a presidential candidates forum of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) 2007 Public Policy Conference 3 October 3, 2007 in Washington, DC. [Alex Wong/Getty Images]

A veteran US politician who has announced his candidacy for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination for 2020 has described Israel as a “racist state” which is committing “genocide” against the Palestinians. The remarks were made on Twitter by 88 year old former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel.

“The bloodshed in Palestine and Israel will not cease until the fundamentally unjust existing structure is jettisoned,” said Gravel. His message appears to be a response to the ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel. He called on the US to end its “support” for Israel, describing the Zionist state as a “right-wing racist regime” that is “committed to annexation and gradual ethnic cleansing.” Gravel ended by insisting that a “binational state with equal rights for all” would be the best way to end the conflict.

In a separate tweet published a day later, the veteran politician denounced a tweet by one of his followers who claimed that, “There is no Palestine”. He condemned the remark as a form of “linguistic genocide” rooted in the “racist ideology of Meir Kahane”, a far-right orthodox Rabbi who founded the “Jewish Defence League”, which was listed as a right-wing terrorist group. Describing Israel as an “evil government”, Gravel encouraged people to read the works of Orthodox Jewish intellectual and polymath Yeshayahu Leibowitz and not to “sacrifice your morals and faith to support an evil government.”

Leibowitz cautioned against Israeli militarism. Commenting on the 1953 massacre of Palestinians in the village of Qibya by the notorious Israeli commando Unit 101, he said: “We have to ask ourselves, where this youth of ours emerged from; young people who had no mental inhibitions about committing this atrocity? What inner motivation for such acts could have been at work here? This youth is not a mob but the product of Zionist, humanist social education.”

The Israel Prize nominee warned that the state of Israel and Zionism had become more sacred than Jewish humanist values and controversially went on to describe Israeli conduct in the occupied Palestinian territories as “Judeo-Nazi” in nature.

READ: Palestine campaign to highlight racist Israel narratives

A profile of Gravel and his campaign team in the Forward magazine claims that he is “close to qualifying for next month’s Democratic debates by hitting the party’s benchmarks – 65,000 individual donors by June 12, or hitting at least 1 per cent in three major polls.”

One of Gravel’s campaign team is Jewish teenager David Oks. Judaism, he believes, has been “used to serve a project of very soft ethnic cleansing.” Commenting on Gravel’s position on Palestine, Oks added: “It’s important to Gravel because he’s always sympathised with oppressed people all over the world.”

He went on to explain his personal views. “For me, it’s important because I’ve seen Judaism, something I care very deeply about, become deformed into this monstrous justification for the Bibi Netanyahu government, and I think that if Israel continues doing these really atrocious things in Gaza and the West Bank, then global Jewry are going to be indelibly haunted by them.”

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