The Washington Post seems to be incapable of preventing its opinion writers from making racist statements about Palestinians and Africans in columns about the demography of Israel.
In yesterday’s Post, Ruth Marcus published a column from Tel Aviv entitled, “Israel confronts a flood of African refugees,” in which she laments the current anti-African pogroms in Israel, but also gives credence to Zionist worries that, without forcibly and explicitly engineering population demographics, Israel may very well cease to be a majority-Jewish state. Marcus opens by painting a picture of an impoverished South Tel Aviv neighborhood with a large migrant community as “seedy” and resembling “another country,” due to her observation that there is “trash spilling out of dumpsters,” there are “peddlers hawking batteries and blue jeans from sidewalk mats,” and most importantly, that “nearly every person is African.”
Marcus also describes the growing numbers of Sudanese and Eritrean refugees and migrant workers in Israel as “a flood” which has “created a serious social problem.” Marcus continues:
Israel faces a demographic threat to the Jewish state from its fast-growing Arab population, even without a deluge of African refugees with no religious ties or political loyalties to the country. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that “60,000 infiltrators are liable to become 600,000 and lead to the eradication of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”
That birth-rates of an indigenous population present such a terrifying “threat” to a super-militarized, settler-colonial, ethnic-cleansing, apartheid state should be enough to be make it perfectly clear just how important equality, human rights and “democracy” are to the “Jewish State.” Ali Abunimah of The Electronic Intifada has already pointed out the clear racism and bigotry present in Marcus’ words (emphasis in original):
Not one mainstream commentator in the US has dared argue that white supremacy in the United States faces a “demographic threat” from Latinos because California and Texas have become “majority-minority” states, or had truck with the notion that the US faces “eradication as a white and democratic state” just because most babies now born in the US are non-white.
Beyond that, Marcus’ choice of terminology, namely her use of “flood” and “deluge,” is reminiscent of language used by her Post colleague, right-wing commentator Jennifer Rubin, who has described the inalienable Palestinian Right of Return as “the demand to flood Israel with the children and grandchildren of Arabs who fled during the war of aggression on the infant Jewish state.”
Historical revisionism aside (the tired Zionist tale of Palestinians fleeing at the behest of their “leaders” after poor little nascent Israel was savagely attacked by hordes of bloodthirsty Arabs for simply declaring independence has long been debunked – anyone who repeats this absurdity is being willfully dishonest), and taking Rubin’s unbridled racism and hatefulness for granted, the use of the word “flood” by both Rubin and Marcus is instructive and revealing.
Not only does a “flood” conjure images of inhuman waves of invasion and destruction (ironic, to say the least, considering the entire history of Israel is that of invasion, settler-colonialism, aggressive territorial expansion, deliberate ethnic cleansing, and the destruction of Palestinian history and culture), but it is also unoriginal.
In late November 1935, Adolph Hitler gave an exclusive interview to Hugh Baillie, president of the United Press, which was featured in the New York World-Telegram. In his attempt to justify the recent passing of the ‘Nuremberg Legislation’, including the racist ‘Reich Citizenship Law’ and ‘Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor’, Hitler stated, “This legislation is not anti-Jewish, but pro-German. The rights of Germans are thereby to be protected against destructive Jewish influences.” He then continued (emphasis added),
The Jews, who formed less than one per cent of the population, tried to monopolize the cultural leadership of the people and flooded the intellectual professions, such as, for example, jurisprudence and medicine. The influence of this intellectual Jewish class in Germany had everywhere a disintegrating effect. For this reason in order to bar the spread of this process of disintegration it became essential to take steps to establish a clear and clean separation between the two races.
(Interview quoted in N.H. Baynes, The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, Oxford University Press, 1942, Volume I, pp.732)
The supposed threat of “flooding” a pure population with such unsavory and dangerous types as “Jewish intellectuals” (if you’re a Nazi), Palestinian “children and grandchildren” (if you’re a proud ethnosupremacist like Rubin), or African refugees (if you’re an oh-so-concerned Liberal Zionist like Marcus) is clearly common to racist and discriminatory ideologies that rely on the perception of eternal victimization and subsequent need for demographic engineering in order to preserve righteous purity, privilege and dominance.
Marcus rightly condemns the racist rhetoric of “Knesset member Miri Regev of Netanyahu’s Likud Party [who] termed the Africans a ‘cancer in our body'” and notes that “although she later apologized, a poll found 52 percent of Jewish Israelis agreeing with that ugly sentiment.”
Yet that very same “ugly sentiment” has been a staple of Israeli terminology for years when it comes to the presence of indigenous Palestinians within Israel itself – yes, the “demographic” and “existential” threat that both Marcus and Rubin fear.
In August 2002, then-IDF chief Moshe Ya’alon also described Palestinians as an “existential threat” and a “cancer” during an interview with Ha’aretz‘s Ari Shavit entitled “The enemy within.” Ya’alon said that the “solution” to such “cancerous manifestations” in the West Bank and Gaza is a combination of “amputation” and “chemotherapy.”
A couple of years later, right-wing Israeli politician/Golan Heights colonist Effi Eitam was also interviewed by Ha’aretz and declared, “I say that the Israeli Arabs are a time bomb underneath the whole democratic system in Israel. The state of Israel now faces an existential threat that has the character of an elusive threat; and the nature of elusive threats is they resemble cancer.”
Note, again, that the cancerous, existential threat to Israeli “democracy” is Palestinian babies being born in their ancestral homeland. That same year, Eitam – who has defended the lethal use of Palestinian civilians as human shields by the IDF as “very moral” and routinely calls for the aggressive ethnic cleansing of even more (ideally all) Palestinians from the entirety of historic Palestine – revealed his own prescription for Israel’s policy toward Palestinians: “We will have to kill them all,” he said.
Such sentiments are so similar to Nazi ideology as to be virtually indistinguishable. Both Ya’alon and Eitam’s statements echo Hitler’s assertion that “The Jews are a cancer on the breast of Germany,” while Netanyahu’s warning that a growing African population will eventually lead to the “eradication of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” quoted in Marcus’ op-ed, resembles what Adolph Hitler told a crowd in Salzburg in August 1920. He said that, for Germany to “recover its health…the Jewish spirit” must be “eradicated,” and continued:
Don’t be misled into thinking you can fight a disease without killing the carrier, without destroying the bacillus. Don’t think you can fight racial tuberculosis without taking care to rid the nation of the carrier of that racial tuberculosis. This Jewish contamination will not subside, this poisoning of the nation will not end, until the carrier himself, the Jew, has been banished from our midst.
That a minority community – whether indigenous or immigrant – should be considered a deluge, a cancer or a threat to the desired demographic make-up of a state reveals far more about those who feel threatened than it does about that demonized and dehumanized community.
When will The Washington Post insist its columnists refrain from using such racist rhetoric?