By Paul Larudee
On Sunday, January 20, 2013, the “progressive” Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a short editorial titled “‘Judaization’ is racism”.[i]
Before you get your hopes up, let me tell you that the editorial is a criticism of Shimon Gapso, the Jewish mayor of Upper Nazareth, a community intended to diminish the Arab character of Nazareth, the largest Palestinian Arab city inside what most of the world recognizes as Israel.
Founded in 1957, Upper Nazareth was given priority for development and expansion as part of a campaign by Yitzhak Rabin. The impetus was a trip that Rabin made to the Galilee in 1975. At one point he found himself in the Carmel valley. Looking around, he saw nothing but Palestinian farms and villages. “Am I in Israel or in Syria?” he uttered, whereupon he lent his weight to the mission to “judaize the Galilee”. Upper Nazareth is one of the Jewish communities that became an important of that mission. It was intended to limit the growth of Nazareth and ultimately marginalize or displace it.
Ironically, however, the “Jewish character” of Upper Nazareth is itself being compromised, as Palestinians from Nazareth find that there is no longer enough room in the older city to accommodate their growing population. In response, the mayor of Upper Nazareth has tried to make the city as unfriendly as possible to its non-Jewish residents, including opposition to Arabic language schools in the town and a much-publicized ban on Christmas trees. (Most of the Palestinians in Upper Nazareth are Christian.) The Haaretz editorial is a criticism of the “benighted racist position that sees the presence of Arabs in the Galilee or anywhere else as a national threat.”
Nice words, but is not the entire Zionist project one of “judaization”? Is that not how its founders conceived it? Is not Israel itself the product of “judaization”? What is different about Upper Nazareth? What about the expulsion of the Bedouin in the Naqab (“Negev”)? Is the confiscation and demolition of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem not merely an extension of the ethnic cleansing of 1948? How are the orders to evacuate and obliterate eight villages in the hills south of al-Khalil (“Hebron”) not consistent with the aims of Zionism?
If Haaretz wishes to oppose judaization, why not start with the judaization of 1948? Let them insist upon inviting all Palestinians back to their homes. Let them demand elimination of an immigration policy that is for Jews only. Let them call upon the Custodian for Absentee Property – who is responsible for the more than 80% of Israel that was confiscated from Palestinians in 1948 – to welcome the absentees back and return their property to them, with payment for damages and compensation for 65 years of unauthorized usage. Let them oppose a policy of separate states for Arabs and Jews (forgetting that many are both or neither).
Judaization is just another word for Zionism. And yes, it’s racism.