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For Palestinians, Zionism only Means One Thing

By       Message Ramzy Baroud     Permalink
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From Palestine Chronicle

Nakba: when Israel was established, Palestine was erased.
Nakba: when Israel was established, Palestine was erased.
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On 12 December, the British government officially adopted a new definition of anti-Semitism that includes legitimate criticism of Israel.

The definition was adopted earlier in the year by pro-Israeli group IHRA, although it was considered but abandoned by the European anti-racism agency in 2005.

It is a rather dangerous move which will most likely lead to an expanding chasm between British civil society and Britain's political elite.

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Israeli and pro-Israeli groups in the West have always been keen on conflating genuine racism and genuine criticism of the State of Israel, which stands accused of violating scores of United Nations resolutions and of war crimes in the occupied territories, especially in the Gaza Strip.

Adopting the new definition comes on the heels of a manufactured crisis in British politics, in which the Labour party, under Jeremy Corbyn, was falsely accused of being "soft" on anti-Semitism among its members. This "crisis" was engineered by pro-Israeli groups to detract from genuine campaigning among Labour supporters, in order to bind Israel to its international obligations, and end the siege and occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Last October, a cross-party group issued a report that contributed to the confusion of ideas, condemning the use of the word "Zionist" as pejorative, and claiming that such a use "has no place in civil society."

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While efforts to protect Israel from freedom of speech in Britain are still gathering steam, the debate in the United States has been stifled long ago. There is little room for any criticism of Israel in mainstream American media or "polite" society. Effectively, this means that US policy in the Middle East remains beholden only to Israeli interests, the diktats of its powerful pressure and lobby groups.

Following suit, the UK is now adopting that same self-defeating position, an issue which is hardly new. In fact, Friday of last week was an anniversary of great relevance to this very issue.

On 16 December 1991, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 46/86, a single, reticent statement: "The General Assembly decides to revoke the determination contained in its resolution 3379 (XXX) of 10 November 1975."

This was a reversal of an earlier resolution that equated Israel's political ideology, Zionism and racism.

The longer text of the initial resolution, 3379 of 1975, was based on a clear set of principles, including UN resolution 2106 of 1965 that defined racial discrimination as "any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin."

The reversal of that resolution was the outcome of vigorous US lobbying and pressures that lasted for years. In 1991, Israel insisted that it would not join the US-sponsored Madrid peace talks without the disavowal of 3379 first. With the UN being one of the Madrid Talks' sponsors, the US pressure paid its dividends at last, and UN members were obliged to overturn their early verdicts.

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However, equating Zionism with racism is not the only comparison that is often conjured by Israel's critics.

Recently, Ecuadorian envoy to the United Nations, Horacio Sevilla was adamant in his comments before a UN session, marking 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

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Ramzy Baroud is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold (more...)
 

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