Racism in the Palestinian territories

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Various types of discrimination on the basis of religion against Jews, as well as of racism and discrimination against black people on the basis of ethnicity, have existed in the area of what are now the Palestinian territories.


Antisemitism in British Mandatory Palestine

The British Mandate in Palestine period was marked by rising intercommunal tensions between the Zionist Yishuv and rising Palestinian and Arab nationalism. Arab nationalists not only opposed British rule, but the Zionist plan for a Jewish state in Palestine, and some Arabs engaged in violence against Jews, notably during the Arab Revolt. Some historians and other observers have interpreted this opposition as rooted in racism, while others have argued that Arab positions and actions were "political in character, aiming to defend Arab social, economic, and cultural, and political interests. It was not racial in character, and neither did it reflect racial concepts rooted in Islam."[1] Historian Gudrun Krämer argues the "anti-Zionism equals anti-Judaism equals anti-Semitism" interpretation "is itself politically motivated, and must be understood as such."[1] Scholars of both positions agree that European and Nazi antisemitism appeared in Mandate Palestine in the forms of the antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (which was translated into Arabic and published in Cairo in 1925[2]), and the embrace of Nazi antisemitism by Jerusalem Mufti Haj Amin al-Husayni. However, scholars also disagree on the broader impact of the elements of antisemitism, with Jeffrey Herf[3] arguing that it was influential enough to provide seeds for later Islamist movements, and Krämer[4] and René Wildangel[5] arguing that most Palestinians and Arab nationalists distanced themselves from Nazi ideology. Richard Levy notes that, "Original works of Arabic antisemitic literature did not appear until the second half of the twentieth century, after the establishment of the state of Israel and the defeat of Arab armies in 1948, 1956, and 1967."[6]

1920s - 40s

Haj Amin al-Husayni meeting with Adolf Hitler in December 1941

After the British assumed power in the region, Haj Amin al-Husayni was appointed as Mufti of Jerusalem by High Commissioner Herbert Samuel. He was the principal leader of the Arab national movement in Palestine and a popular personality in the Arab world during most of the years of British rule.[7] He met with Hitler and other Nazi officials on various occasions and attempted to coordinate Nazi and Arab policies to solve the "Jewish problem" in Palestine.[8] Due to his role of leadership in Palestine and his association with the Nazi leader, he was sometimes referred to as the "fuhrer of the Arab world".[9] In one of his speeches he said: "Kill the Jews wherever you find them—this pleases Allah."[9]

Zvi Elpeleg, while rehabilitating Haj Amin from other charges,[10] wrote that there is no doubt that the Mufti's hatred was not limited to Zionism, but extended to Jews as such. Amin, according to Elpeleg, knew the fate which awaited Jews, and he was not only delighted that Jews were prevented from emigrating to Palestine, but was very pleased by the Nazis' Final Solution.[11] Benny Morris also argues that the Mufti was deeply anti-Semitic, since he 'explained the Holocaust as owing to the Jews' sabotage of the German war effort in World War I and [their] character: (...) their selfishness, rooted in their belief that they are the chosen people of God."[12] In contrast, Idith Zertal asserts that 'in more correct proportions, [Husayni appeared] as a fanatic nationalist-religious Palestinian leader'.[13]

In the 1930s, wealthy Arab youths, educated in Germany and having witnessed the rise of fascist paramilitary groups, began returning home with the idea of creating an "Arab Nazi Party".[14] In 1935, Jamal al-Husayni established the Palestine Arab Party, the party was used to create the "fascist-style" youth organization, al-Futuwwa; also sometimes called the "Nazi Scouts".[14][15] The organization recruited children and youth, who took the following oath: "Life -- my right; independence -- my aspiration; Arabism -- my country, and there is no room in it for any but Arabs. In this I believe and Allah is my witness."[14][15] The British expressed concern at the situation in Palestine, stating in a report that "the growing youth and scout movements must be regarded as the most probable factors for the disturbance of the peace."[14]

Antisemitism in Palestine

Holocaust denial

According to the US Congress report "Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism"

"In July 1990, the Palestinian Liberation Organization-affiliated Palestinian Red Crescent published an article in its magazine Balsam claiming that Jews concocted, “The lie concerning the gas chambers.” Gradually, throughout the 1990s, Holocaust denial became commonplace in popular media in the Middle East, particularly in the Palestinian Authority."[16]

In August, 2003, senior Hamas official Dr Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi wrote in the Hamas newspaper Al-Risala

It is no longer a secret that the Zionists were behind the Nazis’ murder of many Jews, and agreed to it, with the aim of intimidating them and forcing them to immigrate to Palestine.[17]

In August 2009, Hamas refused to allow Palestinian children to learn about the Holocaust, which it called "a lie invented by the Zionists" and referred to Holocaust education as a "war crime."[18]

Within the Palestinian leadership

In 1982, Mahmoud Abbas, later to become President of the Palestinian Authority, wrote his doctoral thesis which later became a book, The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism. In the book, Abbas raised doubts that gas chambers were used for extermination of Jews, and suggested that the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust was "less than a million", claiming secret ties between the Nazis and the Zionist movement. He also claimed that the Holocaust was a joint Zionist-Nazi plot, writing "The Zionist movement led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule, in order to arouse the government's hatred of them, to fuel vengeance against them, and to expand the mass extermination."[citation needed] In 2013, Abbas defended his doctoral thesis regarding the relationship between the Zionists and the Nazis before World War II and said he "challenges anyone who can deny that the Zionist movement had ties with the Nazis before World War II."[19]


Hamas ("Islamic Resistance Movement") is the Palestinian Islamist socio-political organization, which won a decisive majority in the Palestinian Parliament in 2006 and currently rules the Gaza strip.

According to academic Esther Webman, antisemitism is not the main tenet of Hamas ideology, although antisemitic rhetoric is frequent and intense in Hamas leaflets. The leaflets generally do not differentiate between Jews and Zionists. In other Hamas publications and in interviews with its leaders attempts at this differentiation have been made.[20]

The Hamas covenant states, "Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious." It continues by claiming that the French revolution, the Russian revolution, colonialism and both world wars were created as a Jewish zionist conspiracy. It also claims the Freemasons and Rotary clubs are Zionist fronts and refers to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an antisemitic text purporting to describe a plan to achieve global domination by the Jewish people.[21]

Hamas legislator and imam, Sheik Yunus al-Astal, said that "suffering by fire is the Jews' destiny in this world and the next". He concluded "Therefore we are sure that the Holocaust is still to come upon the Jews".[22][23] Another Hamas cleric, Yousif al-Zahar said that "Jews are a people who cannot be trusted. They have been traitors to all agreements. Go back to history. Their fate is their vanishing.".[22][23]

In the media and education

In its 2009 report on human rights in the Palestinian territories, the US State Department noted that:

"Rhetoric by Palestinian terrorist groups included expressions of anti-Semitism, as did sermons by many Muslim religious leaders. Most Palestinian religious leaders rejected the right of Israel to exist. Hamas's al-Aqsa television station carried shows for preschoolers extolling hatred of Jews and suicide bombings."[24]

According to the report, International academics had concluded that "the textbooks did not incite violence against Jews"[24]

In its 2004 report on global anti-semitism, the US State Department reported that

"The rhetoric of some Muslim religious leaders at times constituted an incitement to violence or hatred. For example, the television station controlled by the Palestinian Authority broadcast statements by Palestinian political and spiritual leaders that resembled traditional expressions of anti-Semitism."[25]

Use of 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion'

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Ekrima Sa'id Sabri appeared on the Saudi satellite channel Al-Majd on February 20, 2005, commenting on the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. "Anyone who studies The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and specifically the Talmud," he said, "will discover that one of the goals of these Protocols is to cause confusion in the world and to undermine security throughout the world."[26]

In 2005, it was reported that the Palestinian Authority was referring to the Protocols in a textbook for 10th grade students. After media exposure, the PA issued a revised edition of the textbook that does not include references to the Protocols.[27]

Official policies by the Palestinian Authority

The Palestinian Authority has a prohibition based on a 1973 Jordanian law against selling land to Israelis.[28] The law made such sales, which in the case of Israeli settlers are exclusively to Jews, punishable by death. In 1996, the Palestinian Authority's Mufti, Ikremah Sabri, issued a fatwa (religious decree), banning the sale of Arab and Muslim property to Jews. Sabri endorsed the killing of anyone who violated the order.[citation needed] The Palestinian Authority announced it would enforce the law in 1997, and drafted a replacement for it called the Property Law for Foreigners.[29] The Palestinian Authority describes the law as a response to occupation and illegal settlement.[29]

As of September 2010, the Palestinian Authority has not formally executed anyone under the law, but numerous land dealers suspected of selling land to Israeli Jews have been extrajudicially killed, some by policemen, in recent decades.[29] At least seven land dealers were killed in 1996.[citation needed] On May 5, 1997, Palestinian Authority announced that the death penalty would be imposed on anyone convicted of ceding "one inch" to Israel.[citation needed] Later that month, two Arab land dealers were killed. A year later, another Palestinian suspected of selling land to Jews was murdered. In October 2004, Palestinians who allegedly sold land to Jews were killed.[30] In April 2006, Muhammad Abu al-Hawa was tortured and murdered in Jericho for allegedly selling an apartment building in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem to Jews. He was buried in Jericho rather than Jerusalem, as the Palestinian Authority's mufti in Jerusalem had banned all Muslims accused of selling land to Jews from being buried there.[31][32] On April 2009, a Palestinian Authority military court sentenced an Arab from Hebron to death by hanging for the "crime" of selling land to Jews in the West Bank.[33] At one such case, an arrest by the PA of Arabs who did sell to Jews, the community of Jewish settlers in Hebron sharply protested, declaring: "We call upon the government to accept the racial hatred prevalent in the PA."[34]

The Palestinian Authority and opponents of such land purchases argue that a prohibition of such land purchases is necessary to prevent the illegal expansion of Israeli settlements, and to avoid the prejudicing negotiations on the status of Palestine and further reductions in Palestinians' freedom of movement.[29] Draft PA legislation described the sale of land to "occupiers" as "national treason."[29] There is a broad international consensus, affirmed by a series of UN Security Council resolutions, that Israeli settlements, and the transfer of Israeli nationals into the West Bank and Gaza, constitute violations of international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention.[35][36][37][38] Article 49(6) of that Convention requires that "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies".[39]

Racism directed towards blacks

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, has been the subject of some viciously racial personal attacks, alongside vociferous criticism of her policies.[40] These included an anti-black racist Cartoon in Palestinian Authority's controlled Press Al Quds. The New York Times reported in 2006

"Her comment that the Israel-Lebanon war represented the “birth pangs of a new Middle East”— coming at a time when television stations were showing images of dead Lebanese children — sparked ridicule and even racist cartoons. A Palestinian newspaper, Al Quds," which "depicted Ms. Rice as pregnant with an armed monkey, and a caption that read, “Rice speaks about the birth of a new Middle East."[41]

The Palestinian media has used racist terms including "black spinster" and "colored dark skin lady."[42][43]

Presence of Israeli settlers and army

A review of Israel's country report conducted by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination stated "The status of the settlements was clearly inconsistent with Article 3 of the Convention, which, as noted in the Committee's General Recommendation XIX, prohibited all forms of racial segregation in all countries. There is a consensus among publicists that the prohibition of racial discrimination, irrespective of territories, is an imperative norm of international law."[44] In Hebron, the Israeli Army has responded to violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians by restricting the latter's freedom of movement in the central city.[45] The Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem charges this policy violates the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and that

See also


  1. ^ a b Krämer, Gudrun (2008). A history of Palestine: from the Ottoman conquest to the founding of the state of Israel. Princeton University Press. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-691-11897-0.
  2. ^ Levy, Richard S. (2005). Antisemitism: A historical encyclopedia of prejudice and persecution. 2. ABC-CLIO. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-85109-439-4.
  3. ^ Herf, Jeffrey (2009-11-24). Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-14579-3.
  4. ^ Krämer, Gudrun (2008). A history of Palestine: from the Ottoman conquest to the founding of the state of Israel. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-11897-0.
  5. ^ Wildangel, René (July 2007). Zwischen Achse und Mandatsmacht: Palästina und der Nationalsozialismus. Schwarz. ISBN 978-3-87997-640-9.Nordbruch, Götz. "Palestine and National Socialism: Correcting the Picture". Qantara.de - Dialogue with the Islamic World. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  6. ^ Levy, Richard S. (2005). Antisemitism: A historical encyclopedia of prejudice and persecution. 2. ABC-CLIO. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-85109-439-4.
  7. ^ The Mufti of Jerusalem: Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni and the Palestinian National Movement, Studies of the Middle East Institute, Philip Mattar, Columbia University Press, 1992, p. 13
  8. ^ The Israel-Arab reader: a documentary history of the Middle East conflict by Walter Laqueur, Barry M. Rubin 2001, p. 51
  9. ^ a b Dalin, D.G.; Rothmann, J.F.; Dershowitz, A.M. (2009). Icon of Evil: Hitler's Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 9781412810777. Retrieved March 27, 2015.[page needed]
  10. ^ Eric Rouleau, Qui était le mufti de Jérusalem ? (Who was the Mufti of Jerusalem ?), Le Monde diplomatique, August 1994.
  11. ^ Zvi Elpeleg, Conclusion of the chapter Involvement in the destruction of the Jews, The Grand Mufti, 1993, p.72
  12. ^ 1948, Benny Morris, Yale University Press, 2008, pages 21-22 [1]
  13. ^ Idith Zertal, Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood, 2005, p. 102.
  14. ^ a b c d Armies of the young: child soldiers in war and terrorism, The Rutgers series in childhood studies, David M. Rosen, Rutgers University Press, 2005, page 106 [2]
  15. ^ a b Righteous victims: a history of the Zionist-Arab conflict, 1881–2001, Benny Morris, Knopf [3]
  16. ^ "United States Department of State | Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism: A Report Provided to the United States Congress" (PDF). 11 March 2008. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  17. ^ "David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies: Welcome". wymaninstitute.org. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  18. ^ "Hamas rips U.N. for teaching the Holocaust." Archived 2009-09-04 at the Wayback Machine JTA. 31 August 2009. 31 August 2009.
  19. ^ "Abbas: Israel agreed to let refugees into West Bank from Syria". Ma'am News Agency. 23 January 2013.
  20. ^ Webman, Esther. Anti-semitic Motifs in the Ideology of Hizballah and Hamas, Project for the study of Anti-semitism, Tel Aviv University, 1994, p. 22. ISBN 965-222-592-4
  21. ^ "The Avalon Project : Hamas Covenant 1988 articles 22 and 32". avalon.law.yale.edu. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  22. ^ a b "Hamas ratchets up its rhetoric against Jews". Herald Tribune. Retrieved November 21, 2008.
  23. ^ a b Erlanger, Steven (April 1, 2008). "In Gaza, Hamas's Insults to Jews Complicate Peace". New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2008.
  24. ^ a b "2009 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories". State.gov. Archived from the original on March 15, 2010. Retrieved August 21, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help) See section "Societal Abuses and Discrimination"
  25. ^ "Report on Global Anti-Semitism". State.gov. January 5, 2005. Retrieved August 21, 2010. See section "Occupied Territories"
  26. ^ The anti-Jewish lie that refuses to die by Steve Boggan, The Times, March 2, 2005
  27. ^ Analysis and Evaluation of the New Palestinian Curriculum; Reviewing Palestinian Textbooks and Tolerance Education Program Grades 5 & 10 by Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) Submitted to: The Public Affairs Office US Consulate General Jerusalem, July 2006
  28. ^ Roger Kaplan & Adrian Karatnycky (1998). Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties, 1997-1998. Transaction Publishers. p. 577. ISBN 0-7658-0476-X.
  29. ^ a b c d e Abu Toameh, Khaled (2010-09-20). "PA affirms death penalty for land sales to Israelis". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
  30. ^ http://fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1097136933331[permanent dead link]
  31. ^ http://fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1143498851964&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull[permanent dead link]
  32. ^ http://fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1143498874080&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter[permanent dead link]
  33. ^ "JPost | French-language news from Israel, the Middle East & the Jewish World". Archived from the original on 2013-07-04. Retrieved March 27, 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  34. ^ "Jordan, PA arrest 2 Palestinians for selling Hebron house to Jews - Israel News | Haaretz". haaretz.com. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  35. ^ "Jewish settlers in West Bank building curb protest". BBC. 2009-12-09. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
  36. ^ Emma Playfair (Ed.) (1992). International Law and the Administration of Occupied Territories. USA: Oxford University Press. p. 396. ISBN 0-19-825297-8.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  37. ^ Cecilia Albin (2001). Justice and Fairness in International Negotiation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 150. ISBN 0-521-79725-X.
  38. ^ Mark Gibney; Stanlislaw Frankowski (1999). Judicial Protection of Human Rights: Myth or Reality?. Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood. p. 72. ISBN 0-275-96011-0.
  39. ^ Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
  40. ^ Karon, Tony (26 July 2006). "Condi in Diplomatic Disneyland". Time. Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  41. ^ New York Times, "Rice’s Hurdles on Middle East Begin at Home", by Helena Cooper, August 10, 2006 [4]
  42. ^ Jerusalem Post, August 2, 2006, "Palestinian anti-Rice feeling peaks with monkey cartoon", Khaled Abu Toameh [5][6][permanent dead link]
  43. ^ "Condi’s Cartoon, Wasn’t That Freedom of the Press Too!" Arab news, August 5, 2006 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2010-08-21. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  44. ^ See CERD/C/SR.1250, 9 March 1998
  45. ^ "In H2, where 800 Jewish settlers live among roughly 30,000 Palestinians, the Palestinian population's movements remain heavily restricted. Shuhada Street, the principal thoroughfare, is well-paved thanks to multimillion-dollar renovations funded by the United States, but empty of Palestinian pedestrians and Palestinian vehicles." Zacharia, Janine (2010-03-08). "Letter from the West Bank: In Hebron, renovation of holy site sets off strife". Washington Post. Retrieved March 29, 2010.
  46. ^ B'Tselem, Ghost Town: Israel’s Separation Policy and Forced Eviction of Palestinians from the Center of Hebron, May 2007.