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Ilan Pappe on Israel, Palestine and antisemitism

Historians in the News
tags: Israel, Palestine, Ilan Pappe, antisemitism



Question:  The International Holocaust Memorial Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitsm includes an example that says that “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour” could be antisemitic. What is your response to this?

Ilan Pappe: There are two clear issues that are undeniable.

The first is that the Zionist movement from the moment it set foot in Palestine adopted a racist vision towards the native Palestinian population. It acted upon it by having as much of the country as possible with as few of the native Palestinians as possible.

The second is that the political regime in Israel since its inception in 1948, through its basic laws, policies and practices, is a racist regime.

This racism has manifested itself in different ways throughout the years, as the circumstances dictate. It is also exercised differently towards the various Palestinian groups that are either under direct or indirect rule of Israel. For example, its racism is more stated in the West Bank than in the Galilee.

The Zionist movement is a settler colonial movement. These movements were created by Europeans that escaped the continent for existential reasons.

When they encountered a native population the logic that informed them was to remove those natives as the main obstacle for creating a new homeland.Such an act meant the dehumanisation of the native.

In the case of Zionism, it was first manifested in a strategy that tried to convince the British governors of Palestine to view transfer of the Palestinians as part of a solution.

Failing that, the Zionists carried out a programme of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians in 1948. It then dealt with the Palestinian minority inside Israel through a harsh military rule that robbed them of any basic rights.

After the Six Day War in 1967Israel imposed this inhuman occupation on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip which it occupied.

At the same time it created a more subtle—until recently—Apartheid system discriminating against the Palestinian citizens in Israel through laws, practices and policies. This discrimination was based on the fact that the Palestinian citizens were not Jews, hence this is a racist reality.

So the oppression of the Palestinians is the outcome of an ideology and not a policy of this or that government. ...

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