Israel's nationalism was never racism

Zionism: Abuse of issue to attack Israel undermined purpose of U.N. conference.

September 08, 2001

ZIONISM is the nationalism that created and sustains the modern state of Israel. It is as open to the charge of exclusionism, of a them-and-us mentality, as are other nationalisms.

Israel, like other nations, maintains a religious identity, which presents problems. It flowed from the suffering of the Jewish people in czarist Russia, and then in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

To equate Zionism with racism is to have no genuine interest in combating racism, a worldwide problem that includes the hostility to Israel as well as the attitudes of some Israelis.

To equate Zionism with racism is to deny the legitimacy of Israel.

And to do that is not to seek peace but war.

The effort to use the United Nations at every opportunity to condemn Israel does not further Palestinian aspirations but does obstruct peace-making.

To equate Zionism with racism undermines any argument that Israel should exercise restraint in coping with terrorism.

If Israel's existence is in peril, there is no point in urging restraint.

Inserting the condemnation of Israeli nationalism in the declaration of the United Nations conference on racism repudiates the Oslo and subsequent accords and the United Nations General Assembly resolution of 1947 creating Israel and Arab Palestine.

Israel is no more above scrutiny than other nations. Its treatment of Israeli Arabs and harsh measures against Palestinians may certainly be criticized.

But to damn Israel as racist in principle or policy while failing to condemn the hate, lies and bombs hurled against Israel is dishonest and hypocritical.

To criticize Israel's responses to terror as excessive is legitimate.

To denounce the responses and not the terror is a back-handed endorsement of terrorism.

The United States for the third time has boycotted a United Nations conference on racism because of the abuse of the conference in the campaign against Israel.

Better the United States had stayed and fought racism and defended its interests.

But the equation of Zionism with racism never had any business in the draft declaration.

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