Just yesterday, I wondered to a friend if maybe Benjamin Netanyahu is disrespecting Barack Obama in part because he is black? And lo and behold, David Bromwich wrote today in the Huffington Post:
“Racism as much as fear drives the Israeli policy toward Palestinians. This has always been known. But who now will deny that there is also, in the Israeli distrust and visceral ridicule of Barack Obama, an undercurrent of racism?”
He goes on to point out the parallel between racism against Palestinians by the Israeli settler movement, and racism against blacks by their staunchest supporters in the U.S., the white evangelicals he calls Christian Zionists. It is almost as if, their segregationist fantasies defeated here at home, the religious right is projecting them onto the Holy Land by helping the settler movement to build an apartheid state.
“The operation of Israeli racism against a black American president is powerfully enforced by the settler movement and by its American allies, the Christian Zionists. … Settler racism and Christian Zionist racism (associated with the ‘birther movement’ in the U.S.) converge in a belief in the political and the social superiority of Israeli Jews over Palestinians — a superiority that for the Christian Zionists corresponds (in ways that need no comment) to the natural superiority of American whites to blacks.”
He calls on Americans to become aware of the racist nature of the Israeli settlement project, and its implications for American security interests.
“Will Americans now stop calling the annexation wall — which cuts off West-Bank Israeli colonists from their Palestinian inferiors — ‘the security fence’? It is a wall. Its function is only partly to secure. It is there also to separate, to mark off, and to overawe. … The separation produces…a condition of constant inequality. It seems too weak to call the result ’segregation.’ Ehud Barak, a solid authority one would have thought, has recently called it apartheid, and language that is accurate in the eyes of the defense minister of Israel should be good enough for Americans. …
“The existential threat in the vicinity of Israel is not extermination but expulsion. And Israel is the agent rather than victim of that threat. The project is being carried forward by legalized acts of dispossession, by harassment, by deprivation of useful work, and by the deliberate infliction of misery.”
Fortunately, he feels that Americans are starting to become aware of these ugly truths. Beginning with the war in Gaza, and continuing through the diplomatic crisis surrounding Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, forty years of self-imposed silence in the American media, which have prevented a frank discussion of Israel’s policies, are starting to fray.
“So the door to an honest discussion of Israel and Palestine has been opened wide. Too wide for AIPAC, and all its journalistic outlets, to close with their usual dispatch. We are in possession now of the realistic knowledge that Israel’s policies endanger American troops and American interests; that by creating new terrorists, those policies also threaten the security of the United States. …
“It is one thing to sacrifice yourself for a friend in the cause of justice; another to sacrifice yourself for a friend in the cause of injustice.”