Zionism is equal to racism - that has been the recognized fact around the world until, of course, Zionist leaders in the world were able to lobby powerful states to rescind the UN General Assembly Resolution on this important issue. Now it is almost a taboo in the West to say anything negative about Zionism, let alone equating it with racism. Forgotten there in the current discourse is that political Zionism from its very inception in the late 19th century to this very date has been all about colonial enterprise and as such, had always an apartheid character.
But hard facts cannot be hidden for too long. Thus, once in a while the world is shaken up by ugly racism that flares up in Israel.
A violent display of racism by extreme nationalist supporters of Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem coupled with recent Ethiopian Israeli protests against discrimination has moved racist attitudes towards dark-skinned Jews and Israeli Palestinians up the Israeli government's agenda. Beitar fans in Belgium waved flags of the outlawed racist Kach party founded by racist (assassinated) Rabbi Meir Kahane and threw flares and smoke guns on to the pitch as well as a missile that hit a goalkeeper during their club's Europa League qualifier against Charleloi SC. The Israeli fans were welcomed in the stadium by neo-Nazi supporters of Charleroi with swastikas. Israeli prime minister Netanyahu is upset about the damaging impact of such overt racism displayed by hardcore fans and wants to stop Israel's negative image. "We will not allow them to besmirch the club's entire fan base or harm the country's image," Netanyahu said.
In an editorial liberal newspaper Haaretz warned that "the problem is not Israel's image in the world, but the overt racism that is fuelled by exactly those same officials who are now condemning it.
Netanyahu and (culture and sports minister Miri) Regev are preaching to others what they themselves do not practice. With their racist remarks ('The Arabs are flocking to the polling stations'), their conduct (threatening the funding of Arab cultural institutions) and their antidemocratic legislation - which is so typical of the government they head - they legitimize the phenomenon called Beitar Jerusalem," Haaretz said.
As noted in a recent article by James Dorsey of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper was referring to Mr. Netanyahu's fear-mongering during the May election in which he warned that strong Palestinian participation threatened the outcome of the vote.
"Founded by the revanchist wing of the Zionist movement with strong links to the right-wing nationalist Jewish underground in pre-state Palestine, Beitar has long been a darling of the Israeli right that counted nationalist leaders, including Mr. Netanyahu, among its supporters. The only club to have consistently refused to hire a Palestinian in a country in which Palestinians ranks among its top players, Beitar has maintained its racist stance despite repeatedly being penalized by the Israel Football Association (IFA)," Dorsey writes.
The combustible mix of Israel's image being on the line as a result of the violence of Beitar fans as well as the protests against discrimination against dark-skinned Israelis has once again put Israeli racism in the spotlight. True to its apartheid character, the State of Israel has tried to hide such hideous characters from public view or scrutiny - always building a myth around its so-called superior morality, which it is deeply devoid of. But now that ugly fact is once again out and Israel cannot ignore a dark side of its society and culture.
Its highly racist leaders like Netanyahu, Regev and others cannot expect everyone to be fooled by their sweet talks while conducting acts which go against the very spirit of democracy, diversity, equality and human fraternity.