Shimon Gapso, an Israeli mayor of Upper Nazareth, recently said that Upper Nazareth is a Jewish city and “will be Jewish forever.” In response to this, and in consideration of anti-Arab statements Gapso allegedly made in the past (and, say, his opposition to the establishment of Arab schools in his city), Israeli civil rights groups called on the attorney general to investigate Gapso’s racism.
Now, he has written an Op-Ed in the Haaretz newspaper to answer his detractors. To prove he’s not a racist, he reminds us that the Bible is racist.
Yes — I’m not afraid to say it out loud, to write it and add my signature, or declare it in front of the cameras: Upper Nazareth is a Jewish city and it’s important that it remains so. If that makes me a racist, then I’m a proud offshoot of a glorious dynasty of “racists” that started with the “Covenant of the Pieces” [that God made with Abraham, recounted in Genesis 15:1–15] and the explicitly racist promise: “To your seed I have given this land” [Genesis 15:38].
When the Jewish people were about to return to their homeland after a long journey from slavery in Egypt, where they were enslaved for racist reasons, the God of Israel told Moses how to act upon conquering the land: he must cleanse the land of its current inhabitants. “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you allow to remain… as I thought to do to them, so will I do to you” [Numbers 33:55–56].
Clearly Gapso is trying to say that his comments are no different than what you can find in the Torah – and obviously that doesn’t contain any racism – so he’s free and clear. But this strategy doesn’t exactly do the trick because, ahem, there is tons of racism contained in the Old Testament.
Gapso then takes to sarcasm regarding Israel’s national founding:
Since then, racially pure kibbutzim without a single Arab member and an army that protects a certain racial strain have been established, as have political parties that proudly bear racist names such as “Habayit Hayehudi” — “the Jewish home.” Even our racist national anthem ignores the existence of the Arab minority — in other words, the people Ben-Gurion did not manage to expel in the 1948 war. If not for all that “racism,” it’s doubtful we could live here, and doubtful that we could live at all.
Really, does he think this is helping his case?
To say that you want a state or city “for the Jewish people” but then deny race has anything to do with it strikes me as strange. And then to point to a religious text filled with racism and genocide as a justification of race-based states – that’s even stranger.
As The Times of Israel reported in February, Alon Liel, a former Israeli Foreign Ministry director-general and ex-ambassador to South Africa, believes Israel currently qualifies as an apartheid state.
“In the situation that exists today, until a Palestinian state is created, we are actually one state. This joint state — in the hope that the status quo is temporary — is an apartheid state,” Liel said recently in Jerusalem.
This is not a fringe view. An Israeli survey conducted last year found that most Israeli Jews support the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formally annexes the West Bank and a majority explicitly favor systematic discrimination against Israeli Arabs.