Saturday, October 13, 2012

Israel and Jim Crow

Increasingly, more people are beginning to speak out for the rights of Palestinians for justice against Israel's occupation of Palestine, its illegal settlements, its disregard of UN resolutions, and separation wall, among other injustices. Increasingly, more people are speaking out against Israel's apartheid policies and practices, which segregate people according to race. Arabs are prohibited from living in Jewish-only buildings and Jewish-only neighbourhoods--and settlements--going to Jewish-only schools and driving on roads closed to Palestinians. These separatist policies, which clearly expose the hypocrisy of Israel as a democracy, extend beyond the Palestinians to include the Bedouin as well as African migrant workers and refugees to Israel.

Angela Davis compares Israeli's segregation policies with the previous Jim Crow laws of the US. Jim Crow was more than just racist laws of segregation but a whole way of life. Davis recently stated at the 2012 Russell Tribunal on Palestine that

We here in the U.S. should be especially conscious of the similarities between historical Jim Crow practices and contemporary regimes of segregation in Occupied Palestine. 

Today I read an article by Heidi-Jane Esakov, a Jewish South African of Lithuanian origin who once supported Zionism but who came to realize her complicity in supporting the dispossession of indigenous Bedouin and Palestinians through seemingly benevolent acts like donating money to plant trees to green Israel. 

Esakov's critical reflection on her changing role as a Jewish person is heartening. Rather than angry defensiveness of Israel no matter what, she not only has learned to see her complicity in once supporting land confiscation and population displacement, but also to talk about that in public and expose Israeli injustice.   

Israel has undertaken the Prawer Plan whose aim is to remove and expel 30,000 Bedouin from the Negev Desert so an "environmental forest" and new homes for Jewish Israelis can be built. The Bedouin villages, like Palestinian villages since 1948, are being razed to the ground. Removed. Obliterated from history so that a  new history can be encoded on top.

The Bedouin people of Al-Arakb have been displaced and removed from their village 39 times! Although their village has been in place for hundreds of years, it was recently once again expunged from the landscape by the Israeli government so that they can built a Jewish-only settlement on top of its ground.
In the short (under 2 min) clip above, Sherine Tadros, through the example of the city of Lod (Lydda in Arabic), explains the segregation of Arab citizens in Israeli cities. I was shocked to learn that the Israelis have also built a separation wall around the Palestinian quarter of Lod. Confined behind the 3 metre high concrete wall, the Palestinian residents of Lod get no services like lighting or garbage collection. And as a Palestinian resident of Lod in the clip explains, the Israelis truck their garbage to the Arab area and dump it there.     

To make the Jewish city of Lod, the Arab city of Lydda was cleansed of Arabs in 1948. Along with orders to shoot anyone seen on the streets, the people expelled were forced to walk out of the city and didn't even know where they should go. On top of their terror and fear, it was Ramadan and many died of thirst along the way. The history of the expulsion of the Arab residents of Lydda by the Israeli army in July 1948 is a difficult read.    

I am sure that many Jewish residents of Lod don't even know that they live inside houses of Palestinians who were expelled by force. I am sure many Jewish residents of Lod don't even know the violent history of their city and the sadness, suffering, and grief inflicted on Palestinians. Like many Canadians, they are ignorant of the injustices and violence that occurred in making their country. Like many Canadians, I am sure many Israelis are not only ignorant of the continuing legacies of injustice that continue while they enjoy privileges denied to Others, but also blame the victims and disparage them. 


Merche Pallarés said...

As always, wonderful, true and very sad report. Hugs, M.

northshorewoman said...

Are more people in Spain becoming familiar with the injustices of Israel?

Btw, one of my friends recently went to Spain and was telling me about visiting the amazing Alhambra Mosque. It sounds like a very interesting living history.

Merche Pallarés said...

Israel is never in the news, Taina... And, yes, the Alhambra in Granada is absolutely fascinating (one of the world's seven wonders) Worth more than one visit. Knowing your historical interest, especially in the Muslim world, you would love it! Hugs again, M.