“My Zionism”: Israel’s latest failed PR stunt | Israel-Palestinian conflict

“My Zionism”: Israel’s latest failed PR stunt | Israel-Palestinian conflict


On June 1, the Israeli Army Reserve Lieutenant Ashag Alaro of Ethiopian Jewish descent posted a video on Instagram with the title “My Zionism”. In the nearly three-minute clip, Alaro accused those who believed that Zionism was an “imperialist ideology” to “actively” delete “Brown and the history of black Jews.”

She claimed that this stance ignored “our story, struggle and survival” and ignored “the Zionist cause has already [sic] Built a safe home for Jews like us.” She explained that opposition to Zionism “is especially harmful because people know that when your history is thrown aside, when your hero is not remembered The feeling of staying. “

If you think the video is a harmless statement and one of the black Jewish women is sharing her feelings, especially considering the final “peace” message, then you will be forgiven. But this video seems to be part of Israel’s public relations campaign, trying to repair its image after the latest round of brutal violence against the Palestinians has sparked worldwide outrage.

Israeli government officials and military personnel-including Mohammad Kabiya, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, who reposted a video defending the Israeli army-and various supporters of Israel are actively challenging the growing West on social media. Pro-Palestinian sentiment.

Alaro’s video seems to be specifically aimed at narratives that contrast the Palestinian struggle against Israeli colonialism with the struggles of other indigenous and oppressed peoples facing colonial and neo-colonial forces.

It attempts to end the debate about Israeli settler colonialism through a mixed language of guilt and emotion, which puts Alaro’s “life experience” before Palestinian reality.

She opposed the elimination of black and brown Jewish communities by aligning herself with a political ideology based on the elimination of the Palestinian people. She mentioned that Ethiopian Jews immigrated to Israel when facing anti-Semitic persecution to actively portray Zionism, but did not mention that Jewish immigration led to mass deportations, deaths and systematic oppression of Palestinians. She seems to be justifying the cruel conquest of the whole nation, because it is supposed to bring relief to another nation.

Araro relies on lazy identity politics, and it imagines a hierarchy of persecution. She often used the term “white” to challenge arguments against Zionism and created the illusion that criticism of the Israeli settler colonization project led white activists to oppose the black version of Zionism.

The fact is that even the “safe home” provided by Zionism for Ethiopian Jews is fragile at best. A brief review of the facts confirms the view she is trying to oppose: Israel is a European, settler-colonized country, and therefore a racist country—even for its Ethiopian Jewish citizens.

Since the 1980s, more than 80,000 Ethiopian Jews have been brought to Israel in state-sponsored operations to save them from famine and conflict. Although their “Jewish identity” has been recognized by the Israeli religious authorities, they continue to be questioned because the community faces widespread racism from Israeli institutions and society as a whole.

On July 2, 2019, Israeli police shot and protested against 18-year-old Ethiopian Solomon Tekah in Tel Aviv. A protester stood opposite a policeman [File: Reuters/Corinna Kern]

For example, in the 1990s, the Israeli National Blood Bank was found to destroy Ethiopians’ blood donations because they feared that as Africans, they were carrying HIV. In the 2000s and early 2010s, Israeli authorities injected contraceptives into Ethiopian Jewish women without their knowledge or full consent. Some people in the transit camp were even threatened that if they did not receive the injection, they would be denied entry into Israel. Others think it is a medicine to prevent diseases.

Today, Ethiopian Jews continue to be discriminated against in education, employment and housing, and suffer high levels of poverty.

As a marginalized community, Ethiopian Jews and other people of African descent in Israel often face police brutality. In recent years, two young Ethiopian Jewish men, 19-year-old Solomon Tekah and 24-year-old Yehuda Biadga, have been killed, triggering a “black man’s life is also a fate” protest in Israel.

This is the end of the “safe home” that Ethiopian Jews gained when they entered the Israeli border. However, Israel, a country founded on ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, systematically depriving and oppressing them, is there really any surprise in adopting such racist practices against black Jews?

Araro’s discourse of identity elevates her personal experience above the evidence of conquering others, but fails to realize that no form of oppression exists in isolation.

Different repulsive structures are interconnected and mutually reinforcing. Ethiopian Jews find themselves at the bottom of Israeli society, but have the right to participate in the occupation and deprivation of Palestinians. The settler colonial state of Israel is responsible for these two realities.

On May 5, 2021, Israeli police arrested a Palestinian protester in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Occupied East Jerusalem to protest the deportation of Palestinian families from their homes [File: REeuters/Ammar Awad]

Although Israeli supporters like Alaro try to deny the existence of oppressive systems that affect people of color in the same society and around the world, many people have been making these connections. This is why solidarity with the Palestinian cause has increased in recent years.

For example, when the “Black people’s fate” demonstrations swept the world last summer and raised awareness of the oppression faced by blacks, activists in the United States and Europe actively worked to show the connection between the West’s racist treatment of blacks and colonial occupation. . Palestinians in the Middle East. The collective actions of this period have injected confidence into people, and they need to speak up in the face of defamation campaigns and institutional silence.

Similarly, the tenacity and heroic struggle of the Palestinian people spurred action and prompted countless activists to retake the public space and demand an end to the institutional complicity with Israeli colonial projects.

This is why the recent Israeli attacks on Muslims and Christian worshippers in Jerusalem, the intensified movement to forcibly deport Palestinian Jerusalemites from their homes, and the recent bombing of besieged civilians in Gaza have caused such a strong international response.

Governments failed to take action, but as hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets, people around the world expressed their anger and united in support of Palestine’s struggle for liberation.

Dockers refused to handle Israeli goods in Italy, South Africa and the United States, and passed numerous BDS motions in the workplace. Even public figures and celebrities who were considered unlikely to comment on such a topic expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Faced with a growing wave of resistance and solidarity, Israel is “waking up” the platform to fight for legitimacy, which it may have seen as a threat. Because it has even lost its most mainstream and freest middle ground, it is desperately trying plastic surgery.

The problem with Israel, however, is that it mainly interprets this issue as a battle to control the public narrative — through suppression of Palestinian freedom of speech or a well-planned public image as a savior. It cannot understand — and may not be able to deal with it — that the political order on which Israel’s legitimacy and support depend is under severe pressure all over the world.

With the massive mobilization of the oppressed and exploited, the empty language of representation, experience, and diversity is swept away, and the Zionist Project is trying to mobilize these tools to justify its continued oppression of the Palestinian people.

Smooth videos, well-crafted scripts and a lot of historical omissions will not be reversed. Token Black, Arabs or LGBTQ faces will not make the world more accepting of apartheid. They will only further expose the hypocrisy of the Israeli state and encourage those who fight back.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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