Just a few bad apples or a rotten orchard? Introducing the weekly racism roundup.

Later today, the inaugural post of a (hopefully) weekly feature entitled “Wednesday Weekly Racism Roundup” will go live. The idea is to try an chronicle the worst stories of racism in Israel from the past week. Before launching this feature, however, I want to say a word as to why I am doing this.

Whenever one brings up incidents of racism the response from defenders of Israel, inevitably, is that the incident is not representative of the country as a whole. (For a particularly crass, not to mention racist, example of this check out this gem from Ynet, though Twitter followers of mine will know that liberal Zionist apologists often use the line as well).

The exact relationship between Zionism, the state of Israel, and racism is something that will no doubt be the subject of many, many future posts on this blog. In the meantime, though, this weekly chronicle will try to demonstrate four related points:

  • The racist incidents in question are not isolatedIf I can successfully post multiple stories highlighting the most egregious racism each and every week – stories whose narrative content will largely repeat itself over and over again with different names and places – we need to stop pretending that these are isolated incidents and start talking about systemic features.

  • The racism of the state and the racist attacks of its citizens are deeply intertwined. This is not to claim that the state actively encourages or supports the brutal attacks on Palestinians we’ve seen recently in Israel’s principle cities or the attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank we’ve seen for quite a while now. Rather, it is to claim that the policies of the state and the extreme acts of racism we see stem from the same root causes, share a similar outlook on the present, and move towards a common end.
  • Contrary to how most of the media discusses the issue, the racism in Israel against Palestinians,  against African refugees,  against migrant workers, and even against non-Ashkenazi Jews are not distinct phenomena. As the weeks go on, we will see patterns emerge in the chronicle: talking points, technologies, and tactics cross boundaries and reemerge anew to be used in discriminatory acts against new populations.

  • As a corollary, the racism that goes on in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is not distinct from the racism that goes on within the pre-1967 Green Line. Again, this should emerge from seeing how racist ideologies and practices travel across boundaries.

As should be obvious by now, this means that to read any individual story or even any individual week in isolation misses the point. These stories may be shocking but they are, unfortunately, not atypical. I hope to continue writing posts analyzing the causes, meanings, and consequences of this situation.  But from now on, every Wednesday (inshallah) there will be a simple listing of that week’s exemplars of a broader pattern. From this series I hope that this simple point will become obvious: far from being a few bad apples, the whole damn orchard is rotten.


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