The Racist Nature of Zionism and of the Zionist State of Israel by Israel Shahak

The Racist Nature of Zionism
and of the Zionist State of Israel

written by

Israel Shahak

first published in Hebrew in


(weekly paper of the students in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

republished in English in

The Non-Jew in the Jewish State: A Collection of Documents

edited and prepared by Israel Shahak
pages 131-138

It is my considered opinion that the State of Israel is a racist state in the full meaning of this term: In this state people are discriminated against, in the most permanent and legal way and in the most important areas of life, only because of their origin. This racist discrimination began in Zionism and is carried out today mainly in cooperation with the institutions of the Zionist movement. I will prove this view by quoting facts, laws and regulations which have force in Israel (and which are known really to anybody) and are enforced by the government. I will therefore ignore the racism of the individuals in this article and also the declared or undeclared explanations by which this racism is sometimes "justified").

In the State of Israel, one who is not a Jew is discriminated against, only because he is not a Jew, in these areas of life:

1) The right to live, to dwell or to open a business in the place of one's choice. Most of the land in Israel belongs to or is administered by the Jewish National Fund—JNF—which is a Zionist organization, and operates an admitted racist policy: It forbids non-Jews to dwell on its lands or to open businesses and sometimes even to work, only because they are not Jews! This policy not only enjoys perfect legality here (in contrast to similar discrimination against Jews which is illegal in most countries of the world) but it is supported by all the instruments of Israeli rule. In such a manner many whole towns were legally created in Israel which are, as the phrase goes, "clean of Arabs," or as we should say rather, "clean of Gentiles (goyim)." In other towns, like Upper Nazareth, only one special quarter is "devoted" to the dwelling of Arabs. Any attempt by an Arab to buy or rent a flat from a Jew is opposed openly and legally by all the branches of the government (the Ministry of Housing, municipality etc.) and also illegally by opposition of the local Jewish inhabitants which is not challenged by the Israeli police. I remind you that nobody opposes the sale or rental of a flat in Nazareth if the buyer or the lesee is a Jew; which means according to the racist definition of this word as it is legally employed in Israel, a human being who can prove that his mother, his grandmother, his greatgrandmother and his grandmother of his grandmother were Jewesses. If he can prove this, such an operation becomes all right, all of a sudden and nobody opposes it, neither the government nor the inhabitants. There is an opposition only if the mother of the buyer is not a Jewess. . . .

Another example in the same area can be given if we remember the case of Mr. Muhammad Ma'aruf, an Israeli citizen from the village of Dir-El-Assad, who wanted to open a factory in the town of Carmiel. This was officially prohibited because Carmiel is "out of bounds" to non-Jews, and sure enough, in the end he had to build his factory out of the "pure" boundaries of Carmiel. I want to re-emphasize that there is no limitation whatsoever on any Jew to open a business or to dwell in any place in Israel, and therefore those limitations which operate on the great majority of the Israeli lands constitute a grave racial discrimination. I can dwell or open a business in any place of my choice (of course if I come to an agreement with the previous owner) but only because my mother was a Jewess. An Israeli citizen whose mother was not a Jewess can not enjoy this right. He encounters racist discrimination which he suffers everyday of his life. I also mean to show that:

A) There is no connection between this discrimination and what is called "security:" This limitation is enforced in a racist way against all non-Jews, including those who served in the Israeli Army, or even distinguished themselves in it, or were wounded during their service; or if they are too old to serve, whose sons or other relatives serve in the army. Mr. Ma'aruf is a Druse, and therefore all his family is obliged to serve a compulsory service in the IDF just as Jews are, but he does not have the right given to every Jew to dwell in Carmiel! A Jewish thief or robber or murderer, who has completed his sentence, has the right to dwell in Carmiel. A "goy" (Gentile) a Druze, a Circassian or a Bedouin or a Christian who let us say served in the army, was wounded in his service and is now an invalid—that man has no right to dwell in Carmiel only because he happened to be born to the "incorrect" mother.

B) This racist discrimination is not connected with anything described by as "left" and "right" or "hawks" and "doves," inside the Zionist movement. On the contrary. The two most racist blocks in Israel are the "socialists" and the "National Religious," and the holy alliance between them is based on their common support of racism. For example: When the Sebastia "settlement" (demonstration) was carried out (by the right wingers) the activists of "MOKED" 2 made a demonstration of their own before the farm belonging general (reserve) Arik Sharon, protesting the fact that he employs Arabs!

I am a strong opponent of the policy and the deeds of General Sharon, but I consider that (the writer) Amos Oz who had specially "distinguished" himself in the employment of that accusation, is in this case the more dangerous racist, and that it is the full right of Sharon to hire workers for his farm without any distinction of race, religion or nationality.

C) The worst racists in Israel in this respect are the kibbutzim members, and the most despicable in their racism among them are the members of the "Hashomer Hatzair" kibbutzim, for they are adding a great deal of hypocrisy to their racism.3 An Israeli citizen who is not a Jew cannot be accepted as a member in any kibbutz, even in cases where a daughter of a kibbutz falls in love with one of its hired non-Jewish workers.

D) Any discriminations of that kind, if they are inflicted on Jews in other countries, encounter—and rightly so—the shout of "Anti-Semitism!" But what is the difference? What is the difference between the prohibition inflicted on a Jew to dwell in Saudia Arabia because he is a Jew, and the prohibition inflicted on a non-Jew to dwell in Carmiel because he is a non-Jew? What is the difference between the continuous struggle to open clubs or neighbourhoods in the USA, which refuse to accept Jews and the continuous struggle to prevent non-Jews to enter whole cities in Israel for the purpose of dwelling there, or even for the purpose of merely opening a business? The difference is that the Zionists here in Israel and the anti-Semites there are really fighting on the same side of the fence. The Zionist State of Israel does here exactly the same thing that the anti-Semites attempt—usually without success—to do in other countries. I shall now describe more briefly some of the other forms of discrimination:

2) The "Salvation of the Land," that concept which is pushed into the brains of all the Jewish pupils in Israel from the kindergarten on. What is this? The meaning of this term is that according to the teaching of Israeli Ministry of Education, a land which was "saved"—was to a Jewish ownership. A land which has not yet been "saved" belongs as yet to human beings who were born of non-Jewish mothers, and one has to "save" it. Messengers of the JNF, who enjoy the most forceful support the Israeli government and especially of its "security arms," are employed continually in "saving" land both in Israel and in the conquered territories, and in changing it into an additional area of racism.

The best and the newest example is Rafiah Approaches. I do not want to discuss here the problems of the "fair" or "unfair" compensations for the Arabs who were expelled from that area, or the problem of "Jewish work" or "Arab work" in that area. (The debate on those questions I leave to hyprocrites of MAPAM and MOKED). I want only to ask a simple human question: Do the people who lived in that area until a few years ago enjoy the right to dwell in the new racist town of Yamit?4 Has an Israeli Arab the right to settle in Yamit? The open and the official Israeli answer is: No! Only Jews enjoy the right to live in the new racist town of Yamit, and in the other settlements established near it. The reasons for that step do not interest me. Maybe the Tsars of Russia had a good reason when they have prohibited Jews from dwelling outside the area of the "Pale" only because they were Jews. But this was racism! Similarly what is done now in Rafiah Approaches and similar acts of "salvation of land" in any other area, in Israel or in the conquered territories constitute a similar act of racism.

I want to emphasize that this is a racism which tends to infinity so as the Zionists are concerned: To the "salvation" of all the lands in the Land of Israel, and therefore to the expulsion of all non-Jews from the land which was "saved" by such manner.

In that respect, Zionism is worse than the Apartheid regime of South Africa. That regime has "divided" the country and has forbidden the whites to buy land in a "black" area (the Bantustans) and the blacks to buy land in a "white" area. Zionism wants to "save" as much land as it can without any limit at all, in all areas of the "Land of Israel," and it turns the land it "saves" into one big Apartheid area, in which human beings who were born from non-Jewish mothers have no right to live. I see no difference whether the Apartheid-area was created by confiscation or by purchase. The most important fact is that it exists. Again the "moderate" Zionists were and are the worst in this respect. The testimony of the historian Walter Laquer (a Zionist himself.) in his book "The History of Zionism" (Shoken, 1974, in Hebrew) is correct: " A.D. Gordon5 opposed violence on principle and justified self-defence only under the most extreme conditions, but he and his comrades desired that every single tree or plant in the Jewish Fatherland will be planted only by (Jewish) pioneers" (Ibid, p. 178). This means that he desired an absolute Apartheid and a complete expulsion of "non-Jews" from the "Jewish Fatherland," but without a loss of blood. I, on the contrary, do not oppose violence always, but I oppose Apartheid on principle and I do not care how it was carried.

3) The right to work. I will begin here from two quotations. Under the title of "The Israeli settlement authorities are taking action against the leasing of lands to Arabs," Ma'ariv (7/3/75) tells the following racist story: "The Ministry of Agriculture and the Settlement Department of the Jewish Agency have recently launched a vehement campaign to eradicate the plague of land-leasing and orchard leasing to Bedouins and Arab farmers in the Western Galilee. The Director of the Galilee area for the Jewish Agency, Mr. Aharon Nahmani said that his office sent a circular notice to all settlements, in which they are warned that the leasing of national lands for cultivation by Arab share-croppers, as well as renting of the orchards for picking amd marketing by Arabs contradicts the law and the regulations of the settlement authorities and the settlement movements. The management of the Galilee area enjoins the settlements to abstain from this practice, and stresses that last year already, the department pressed legal charges against settlements which did not abstain." (All emphases mine).

Pay attention please: Because I am a Jew, I am allowed to lease orchards for picking or marketing, but an Arab, only because he is an Arab, is forbidden this? The Ministry of Agriculture of the State of Israel together with the (Zionist) Settlement Authorities will persecute and prosecute the Jewish settlements, for doing actions which are completely legal when done between Jews and Jews and become a grave offence when done between Jews and Arabs! And truly enough the settlements were punished. But since in this country "the settlements" are a holy cow, because they are racist, a special privilege was granted to those offenders who "broke the law" something not granted to Yehoshua Peretz6: They were not brought to court, on the accusation of this most horrible "crime " of absence of racism, but made "a deal" and bought themselves off by giving "donations" to a mysterious fund! And so tells us Al-Hamishmar (7/21/75 ) the end of this story : "The Ministry of Agriculture mentions a number of agricultural settlements which were "caught" breaking the law and leasing their lands for cultivation, or for the picking of their crop. Since they committed that offence for the first time they were not fined but were obliged to give donations in money to a special fund which stands to be established in the near future, and the aims of which have not yet been defined." The sum of the "donations"—750,000 IL! And the paper tells us further that "if a settlement is caught once again leasing lands, all form of state support will be interrupted. That settlement will not receive water-allotments, will not obtain credit, and will not enjoy development loans."(Ibid.)

Even so the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture takes care that the racism will be observed! And not in vain this racist struggle against the human right of Arabs (Israeli citizens, by the way) to work and to gain honestly their means of life, was opened by the declaration of the Minister of Agriculture A. Uzan that "the domination of Jewish agriculture by Arab workers is a cancer in our body." Surely enough the minister treats those human beings as if they were cancer! Is there a worse racism than this? Do you imagine a French minister comparing the Jewish textile-merchants in France to "a cancer" and "dealing" with them by similar ways?

4) The right to equality. The right of a citizen to enjoy a government which deals with each citizen according to fixed non-racist criteria.

The Israeli Ministry of Housing consists of two parts. Its main part as we see in the Rafiah Approaches is carrying out a racist policy for the benefit of the Jews alone. Apart of it it has also a special unit called "department for the housing of minorities," which is worthy of its name: It deals only with "non-Jews." Here in Jerusalem, for example, at the same time when the Ministry of Housing builds flats for Jews only inside Jerusalem, the "department for the housing of minorities" does the reverse: It "thins-out" (what a word to use officially about human beings!) Moslems and transfers them out of Jerusalem. In a similar manner "Populating Galilee" and "Judaization of Galilee" are one and the same thing: It is not the population of Israel which is invited to settle in Galilee! An Arab from the "Little Triangle" will neither be invited nor allowed to participate in that racist plan. The racist State of Israel has no human policy of housing, as it exists in varying manners both in the USSR or the USA and Britain. The State of Israel does not even pretend to care for housing for a human being because he is a human being, for a poor family or one that has many children, because decent housing is a human need. No! The State of Israel because of its Zionist aims, such as the "Judaization of the Galilee" is carrying out two contradictory sets of policies at the same time: One of maximum care for Jews and the other of discrimination and oppression of the "non-Jews."

In the same manner the health is dealt with: When it was considered suitable to honor the MAPAM man Abdul Aziz Zu'abi, he was nominated to be "the Deputy Minister of Health of the minorities," heading a department of the (Israeli) Ministry of Health with a similar name. Human health is not recognized as such in Israel and this because of racist Zionist reasons. Only a separate health of a body of a Jew, and another sort of health of a body of a non-Jew are allowed to exist. This is the reason that "the trustee" of the tribe of Mikhman El-Khujirat (Bedouin in Galilee who serve in the army) Mr. Hussein Qassem Mustafa, has complained recently that his tribe "has no right" to receive immunizations from the Ministry of Health. If a separate department is allowed to exist for "the health of the minorities" such a situation must develop. Yediot Aharonot 10/10/75. Article by Shulamit Aloni, M.K.).

The housing and the health in Israel are not of course the only examples. In almost every area of life in the State of Israel there exists a similar racist separation between "Jews" and "non-Jews," a separation that necessarily causes discrimination. I am quite prepared to bring further examples if other opportunities will be given me. Here I want to finish with two chief conclusions:

A) I do not wish to debate any justifications for that racist policy. The most important fact is that it exists. Therefore the first step consists in admitting the truth: The State of Israel is a racist state, and its racism is a necessary consequence of the racism of the Zionist movement. Facts are facts. After this we can debate, if we wish to do so, why such a racism is "forbidden" against the Jews and becomes a good deed when it is carried out by the Jews.

B) I do know the fact that the State of Israel is not the only racist state, and similarly the Zionist organization is not the only racist organization. I know for example that the paragraph six of the 1968 Palestinian Covenant can be considered also as a racist declaration and I have said so many times to Palestinian-Arab audiences in neutral countries. Usually I encounter a great deal of sympathetic understanding. But justice begins at home. The primary duty of all citizens of Israel, and also of all those Jews in the Diaspora who define themselves as the "supporters of Israel" is to struggle against the racism and the discrimination which Zionism has established in the State of Israel, and which is directed against all the non-Jews who live in it. Such a struggle, which necessarily begins with the explanation of the racist character of Zionism and the State of Israel and the condemnation of their racism is neither anti-Jewish nor anti-Semitic, just as in the similar condemnation of the racism of the Tsarist-Russia, there was no hate of Russians. Only a state which will abolish inside itself all the forms of racism, beginning with those that it enforces itself, can, afterwards, operate a policy which will bring all of us to a stable peace. Such peace can only be one in which people will not be discriminated against for reason of their origin, neither in their right to dwell nor in their right to work nor in any other area of their lives, but whatever government that will exist, will treat everyone in a manner in which human beings deserve to be treated.

back to top


1. The article was written by invitation of the editors, in the framework of the debate on Zionism. Some parts of the original article were cut. Those are included in the English version and indicated by square brackets.

2. A Zionist-"socialistic" party supposedly left of the Alignment.

3. Those kibbutzim belong to the MAPAM party, and are loud in their declarations of "socialism," "care for Arabs" etc.

4. Situated in that area.

5. One of the founders of the Zionist "socialism." Supposedly a moderate, in reality an anti-Arab racist.

6. A worker leader from Ashdod. A Jew from Morocco.

Web Editor's Note
This document has been edited slightly to conform to American stylistic, punctuation and hypertext conventions. The brackets Professor Shahak mentions in note 1 have been removed for ease of reading. Awkwardness of style has also been addressed throughout this document. These changes are minimal and in no way distort the original intention of the author.

This document is best viewed with 1024x768 pixel screen area.

Reprinted in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Alabaster's Archive
Alabaster's Archive