Zionism is not merely the statement of nationalism but, in its conception and execution, a form of western colonialism that views Palestinians as an inferior people and treats them as disposable
Apartheid South Africa and Israel caused the main discussions in the previous two world anti-racism conferences - 1978 and 1983. South Africa has since been liberated and anti-racism activists around the world are demanding Israel be discussed at the Durban anti-racism conference.
Why this clamour from activists, scholars and international civil society? Because Zionism is racism and Israel - Zionism in practice - is an apartheid state.
"There is no such thing as a Palestinian people." - Golda Meir.
"There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighbouring countries ... all of them; not one village, not one tribe, should be left." - Joseph Weitz, 1967.
"The only good Arab is a dead Arab When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches." - Rafael Eitan, Likud, 1981.
"It is forbidden to be merciful to them ... Evil ones, damnable ones. May the Holy Name visit retribution on the Arabs' heads, and cause their seed to be lost, and annihilate them ..." - Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Shas, 2001.
Israeli Minister of the Interior Eli Yesha's response to Yosef: "They reflected the overall state of thinking of the Israeli Jewish society."
Clearly, Zionism is a theory of ethnic cleansing and racism. It's not just Jewish nationalism as often argued. It was created as political nationalism in the heart of Europe to grab land belonging to people far away. And it carried the European ideological view of non-Europeans as insignificant.
On the basis of this view, apartheid Israel developed an elaborate system of discriminatory policies and laws to subjugate the natives.
One of the world's most discriminatory practices is Israel's policy of "redeeming" the land by placing ownership exclusively in Jewish hands. Israel Shahak wrote: "The land which has been redeemed is the land which has passed from non-Jewish to Jewish ownership ... The land which belongs to non-Jews is, on the contrary, considered to be unredeemed."
The notion that land possessed by the other remains "unredeemed" is the worst kind of national chauvinism. Racism?
Israel's Law of Return is another racist law. By it the state must accommodate any Jews from anywhere in the world that might, at any time, migrate to Israel. If four-million Jews suddenly emigrate to Israel/Palestine, the Israeli government will accommodate them. In contrast, four-million Palestinians that were dispossessed of their land and forced into exile when Israel was formed have no right of return because - in Ehud Barak's words - it would be "national suicide".
National suicide when the returnees are Palestinians wanting to return to the land of their birth but not when the immigrants are foreign Jews? Racism? (How foreigners to a land can "return" to it is itself amazing.)
How many nations in the world today openly boast of segregation? A Barak campaign billboard in 1999 proclaimed: "Peace Through Separation: Us Here Them Over There." Racism?
Israeli apologists make much of "Israeli Arabs" (Palestinians within the 1948 borders) being "allowed" to vote. Yet they exist as third-class Israeli citizens. They are discriminated against for housing, education, social services, welfare benefits and employment. Electricity, sewerage, roads and water are provided free to Israeli households while many Palestinian communities in Israel still do not have adequate services.
But this cannot compare to the discrimination in West Bank and Gaza. Sixty percent of West Bank land is "owned" by Israelis in settlements regarded as illegal by international law. In Gaza 6 000 settlers own 42 % of the land. An Israeli settler in Gaza consumes 2 000m3 of water while a Palestinian is allowed only 120m3! Racism?
Israeli inhabitants are required to carry identity cards. Shahak says these can list the official nationality of a person - Jewish, Arab, Druze ... - but not Israeli. When left-wing Israelis applied for identity cards identifying them as Israeli or Israeli-Jew, the Interior Ministry rejected their requests. A "democracy" that requires citizens' identity cards stipulating ethno-religious identity without mentioning nationality? Racism?
"I believe Zionism is racism," said Rabee' Sahyoun, "because I am a Palestinian, and without recognising the colonialist component in Zionism, I cannot explain its racist character, a Western movement uprooting the native peoples of Palestine: Muslim, Christian, Jew, Samaritan alike ... I believe Zionism is racism because it fails to admit that the minority indigenous Jewish community in Palestine that lived there for the past 2 000 years was an indistinguishable people from its Christian and Muslim Palestinian brethren, and that the leader of the Jewish community of the Jewish quarter of Old Jerusalem, Rabbi Lamram Blau, stood on the side of his Palestinian brothers and sisters being exiled in 1948."
Six decades ago the world watched as Jews were humiliated, despised, projected as unworthy of respect, dignity or legal protection and faced state terrorism. By the end of the Holocaust, the world said "Never again!" Today the world watches as Palestinians are humiliated, despised, projected as unworthy of respect, dignity or legal protection and face state terrorism. Again?
"It is extraordinary," said Lord Yehudi Menuhin, "how nothing ever dies completely. Even the evil which prevailed yesterday in Nazi Germany is gaining ground in that country [Israel] today."