In the wake of the recent IHRA debate in Labour, left-wingers are scrambling for answers to long-neglected questions around the Israel-Palestine situation. Why do supporters of Palestine insist on calling Israel a racist state? How did the conflict begin? Has the injustice inflicted on Palestinians come about in the decades since Israel’s birth, or was it always inherent in Israel’s nature?
rs21’s new pamphlet, Israel: the making of a racist state, is a timely and succinct resource that answers those questions. Historian Neil Rogall traces the birth of the Israeli state, from the onset of small-scale Jewish migration to Palestine through to the establishment of the Israeli state in the military conflict of the late 1940s.
Included in this narrative is a detailed look at the assorted political ideas which together became known as Zionism, an ideology proposing a Jewish state in Palestine as a solution to the escalating persecution of Jews in Europe. Also documented is the all-important role of Britain – Palestine’s imperial ruler after World War One – in facilitating this project and savagely repressing any resistance from the indigenous Palestinians. The overview culminates by looking at the Nakba (“catastrophe” of 1948), when the nascent Israeli state’s military forces expelled some 700,000 Palestinian Arabs from their land – “village by village, town by town”, as the author puts it. The author also rebuts many of the Israeli propaganda claims that are still widely circulated today about the state’s founding – most notably, that this mass displacement of Arabs was an accident of war rather than conscious ethnic cleansing, or that 1948 represented a struggle for Jewish survival against Arab aggression.
The pamphlet will be an invaluable resource for socialists arguing for solidarity with Palestine in the face of recent campaigns – waged by the right wing of the Labour Party and encouraged by the mainstream press – to delegitimise any fundamental opposition to Israel’s system of ethnic exclusion and discrimination.
As the foreword puts it:
“These facts matter because Israel’s founding set the pattern for its politics in the decades to come; preserving the Jewish ethnic predominance in Palestine established in 1948 has been the central obsession of Israeli government policy in the decades since. Grasping Israel’s origins is essential to understanding why Israel is necessarily a racist state.”
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