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Why Zionism has always been a racist ideology

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Labour’s Shadow Justice Minister Richard Burgon expressed regret this week for having stated in a speech some years ago that Zionism is the “enemy of peace”. He should not have apologised. His 2014 comments were a simple matter of historical fact, and he should have stood by them.

Liberal and “left” Zionists argue that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s increasingly far-right government is a “corruption” of the so-called Zionist dream. This vision represents an egalitarian haven for the world’s oppressed Jewish peoples, we are told.

This is an ahistorical fantasy.

The movement to create a “Jewish state” in Palestine – a country overwhelmingly non-Jewish – was, from its very inception, an exclusionary, racist project. From its earliest days, Zionism was imbued with the same racist attitudes of other European settler-colonial movements. The liberal Zionist conception of equality within Palestine, in reality, excludes Palestinian Arabs, the indigenous people of the land. Such willful blindness is a common feature of colonial movements.

As the renowned Palestinian scholar Nur Masalha explained decades ago his masterful study “Expulsion of the Palestinians”, the Zionist movement, in fact, understood that there were actually people already living in Palestine. However, they chose not to see them as full human beings worthy of rights equal to Jewish settlers.

Masalha wrote that early Zionist Israel Zangwill’s infamous slogan “a land without a people for a people without a land” was not intended as a literal demographic assessment. Zionists “did not mean that there were no people in Palestine, but that there were no people worth considering within the framework of the notions of European supremacy that then held........

© Middle East Monitor