Footnotes: If you can’t write without sounding racist, then you probably are a racist

Things are a bit busy here, so I’ve been bad about getting the rest of the One State / Two State posts out on time. But I couldn’t resist doing a quick commentary on what has to be the most absurd op-ed I read this week (and, given the articles published every day in this country, that is saying a lot).

Today, Ynet published an op-ed in defense of Nazareth Illit mayor Shimon Gapso. Gapso is a rabid racist who has refused to allow a single Arab school, mosque, or cemetery to open in his city (20% of whose residents are Arab); expressed support for plans that seek to get rid of the city’s non-Jewish residents; and has publicly lamented missing opportunities to kill more Palestinian Citizens of Israel.  He is currently running a reelection campaign on the promise to make Upper Nazareth “Jewish forever.” Gapso also published this amazing and amazingly accurate op-ed last week in Haaretz entitled “If you think I’m racist, then Israel is a racist state,” in which he correctly situates his own policies in the longer history of racist Zionist policies. But that is for another day.

Today, Smadar Shir published an op-ed in support of Gapso which simply needs to be read to be believed. It begins by situating (explaining? excusing? parodying?) the mayor’s “Jewish forever” call:

Shimon Gapso wants to preserve the Jewish character of his city, Nazareth Illit, which was built next to the Arab Nazareth. He toured southern Tel Aviv, which is adjacent to Arab Jaffa, and saw with his own eyes that there is not a trace left in it of Jewish character. Or perhaps Israeli character? White character? How do we say it in an enlightened country without being suspected of damned racism?

Here’s a hint: if you can’t find a way of saying it without sounding like a damned racist, it probably means that you are a damned racist. You can’t yearn for your pure Jewish-Israeli-White neighborhood and be ‘enlightened’ any more than Paula Dean can wax nostalgic for the plantation life and be considered ‘enlightened.’ You, ma’am, are a racist.

Shir does, however, admit that Gapso may have made a few misteps along the way. Unfortunately, those missteps have nothing to do with the content of his ideas:

In Israel you may do – you mustn’t talk. Because when you talk about the right vision it sounds bad, and the bleeding hearts immediately attack you and declare you a hooligan, a Nazi and even Hitler. Prepare the guillotine. He will be beheaded in the square of the town whose future he fears for.

Yes. Ethnic cleansing does “sound bad.” When you say it aloud, you get called a racist. The argument here appears to be that you shouldn’t talk about racist things in public, you should just go ahead an do racist things. Because democracy can go fuck itself.

Incredibly, Shir goes on to say:

Every person is entitled to choose not only his place of residence, but also his neighbors, and that’s not arrogance.

Unless, of course, they are Palestinian living beyond the Green Line. Then they get where they can live dictated to them by the Israeli army. Or if you are a non-Jewish citizen of Israel. Then you get told where you can and cannot live as well. But why should they enter in Shir’s thoughts?

Anyway, the rest of the op-ed ends with a confusing and ill-formed screed against alleged discrimination by Arabs. Honestly, it is so vague and badly written it is hard to know precisely what she is talking about. Regardless, it is at best off-topic.

If you can’t write an op-ed that doesn’t sound racist even to your own ears, maybe you should stop and reconsider.


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