Israel is an ethnocracy, a state created to give full rights only to Israeli Jews, at the expense of the indigenous people, Palestinian Arabs. Israel has only existed since 1948 and, like Australia, is a White/European colonial settler state.

Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire until World War 1, with a population of Arabs, mostly Muslims, but also Christians and Jews, living together peacefully in cities, towns and villages. The British invaded and took control of the area after the war. During the war in 1916, in the Balfour Declaration, the British government had made a controversial secret promise to Zionists (the small Jewish nationalist movement that believed Jews must live separately from others) that Palestine would become a ‘national home’ for the Jewish people, Israel. Israel was to be created on Palestinian land, against the wishes of the local people, with the support of British imperialism. Few Jews supported Zionism at this time.

Only small numbers of Jews lived in Palestine until mass European Jewish Zionist migration began in the 1920s. As indigenous Palestinians came to understand the intentions of the colonists to set up their own state in Palestine, resistance against British occupation and Zionist colonisation began. Jewish migration accelerated in the 1930s as Hitler’s terror against Jews began, culminating in the mass murder of the Holocaust/Shoah during World War 2.

After World War 2 the Zionists formed militias and fought the British and the Palestinians to try to gain control of all of Palestine. In 1947 the new (very White) United Nations decided to partition Palestine into a Jewish state and a Palestinian Arab state, with Jerusalem to be a shared holy city. The Zionists wanted as much land as possible with as few Palestinians as possible to create their new state. Palestinians resisted the partition plan, as they had never agreed to a Jewish state colonising their homeland.

When the British left in 1948 the Jewish militias were better organised and more experienced and had better weapons than the Palestinians and other Arabs. The Israelis took control of 78% of Palestine and expelled 700,000 Palestinians from their towns and villages using terror and the threat of terror. Thus the birth of Israel in 1948 was simultaneously the Nakba (catastrophe) for Palestinians, who suddenly mostly became refugees. Little did these Palestinians realise that the new Israeli state would never allow them to return home.

Between 1948 and 1967 the West Bank was controlled by Jordan, and Gaza was controlled by Egypt (together only 22% of Palestine). In 1967 Israel again went to war and occupied these areas too, expelling another 300,000 Palestinians. Those who remained have been living under military occupation by the Israeli state since 1967.

The fundamental discrimination in Palestine/Israel is that any Jewish person from anywhere in the world can freely live in and immediately become a citizen of Israel, yet Palestinians are forced to live as refugees and Israel forbids them the right to return to their ancestral villages and towns. Palestinians continue to insist on their right to return, a legal right established by UN resolution 194 in 1948.

Israel has been found to have created an apartheid system in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Jerusalem, and has systematically moved Israeli ‘settlers’ (colonists) into the Palestinian Territories to expand its territory and control, a war crime.

Successive Israeli governments have refused to grant equal human rights to Palestinians inside Israel – there are 65 laws and regulations that discriminate against Palestinians/non-Jews – and have only allowed very limited municipal government in the area illegally controlled by its military.

The Israeli state both refuses to allow a Palestinian state to exist and refuses to grant equal rights to Palestinians. There has never been a Palestinian state that controls its own borders, has its own army, or its own currency. Since 2000, Israeli occupation forces have killed nearly ten thousand Palestinians.

Not all Jewish people are Zionists or support the racist and exclusionary policies of Israel. In the USA Jewish Voice for Peace has 50,000 members who support an end to the discrimination suffered by Palestinians and support the use of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to increase pressure on the Israeli state to negotiate to end these human rights crimes and for a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

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