Racism in the Palestinian territories

Racism in the Palestinian territories encompasses all forms and manifestations of racism experienced in The Palestinian Territories, of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, irrespective of the religion, colour, creed, or ethnic origin of the perpetrator and victim, or their citizenship, residency, or visitor status. It may refer to Jewish settler attitudes regarding Palestinians as well as Palestinian attitudes to Jews and the settlement enterprise undertaken in their name.

Accusations of racism and discrimination have been leveled by Palestinians and Israelis against each other. Racism in the Palestinian territories may also be used to refer to prejudice directed at Palestinians of African origin, such as the Afro-Palestinian community. It has been claimed that racism on the part of Palestinians against Jewish people has been displayed in the realms of educational curriculum, official government policy, state media, social media, institutional policies regarding such issues as land and housing sales, and in statements issued by both the Palestinian Authority governing the majority of the West Bank, and Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.[citation needed]

Background

Antisemitism in British Mandatory Palestine

The British Mandate in Palestine period was marked by rising intercommunal tensions between the Zionist Yishuv and rising Palestinian and Arab nationalism.[citation needed] The vast majority of Zionists were reluctant to recognize Palestinian resistance to Jewish immigration as reflecting legitimate concerns, though some Zionist and Yishuv leaders held that Palestinian opposition reflected a genuine reaction to being "invaded".[1] Resistance to the Zionist project of mass immigration by Jews, who to that date had been numerically unimportant compared to the overwhelmingly Muslim population, arose out of feelings of shock at the proposal by the new British authorities to bestow privileges on an exiguous minority of foreigners, and developed into an uncompromising Arab nationalism which expressed itself on several occasions in riots and violence against Jewish immigrants.[2] While some historians have interpreted this opposition as rooted in racism,[citation needed] Gudrun Kramer argues that Arab positions and actions were "political in character, aiming to defend Arab social, economic, and cultural, and political interests. It was not racial in character, and neither did it reflect racial concepts rooted in Islam."[3], and that the idea that one can equate anti-Zionism with anti-Judaism and therefore anti-Semitism "is itself politically motivated, and must be understood as such."[3] The antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was at times cited in Palestinian sources after an Arabic translation was issued in Cairo in 1925.[4][5] After going into exile in 1937 the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husayni sought support from Nazi Germany and during WW2 expressed his opposition to Zionism in anti-Semitic language. Scholars also disagree on the broader impact of the elements of antisemitism, with Jeffrey Herf [6] arguing that it was influential enough to provide seeds for later Islamist movements, and Krämer[7] and René Wildangel[8] arguing that most Palestinians and Arab nationalists distanced themselves from Nazi ideology. Richard Levy notes that, "Original works of Arabic antisemitic literature did not appear until the second half of the twentieth century, after the establishment of the state of Israel and the defeat of Arab armies in 1948, 1956, and 1967."[9]

1920s - 40s

Haj Amin al-Husayni meeting with Adolf Hitler in December 1941

After the British assumed power in the region, Haj Amin al-Husayni was appointed as Mufti of Jerusalem by High Commissioner Herbert Samuel. He was the principal leader of the Arab national movement in Palestine and a popular personality in the Arab world during most of the years of British rule.[10] Two decades later, after the outbreak of WW2, he met with Hitler and other Nazi officials on various occasions and attempted to coordinate Nazi and Arab policies to solve the "Jewish problem" in Palestine.[11]

Zvi Elpeleg, while rehabilitating Haj Amin from other charges,[12] wrote that there is no doubt that the Mufti's hatred was not limited to Zionism, but extended to Jews as such. Amin, according to Elpeleg, knew the fate which awaited Jews, and he was not only delighted that Jews were prevented from emigrating to Palestine, but was very pleased by the Nazis' Final Solution.[13] Benny Morris also argues that the Mufti was deeply anti-Semitic, since he 'explained the Holocaust as owing to the Jews' sabotage of the German war effort in World War I and [their] character: (...) their selfishness, rooted in their belief that they are the chosen people of God."[14] In contrast, Idith Zertal asserts that 'in more correct proportions, [Husayni appeared] as a fanatic nationalist-religious Palestinian leader'.[15]

In the 1930s, wealthy Arab youths, educated in Germany and having witnessed the rise of fascist paramilitary groups, began returning home with the idea of creating an "Arab Nazi Party".[16] In 1935, Jamal al-Husayni established the Palestine Arab Party, the party was used to create the "fascist-style" youth organization, al-Futuwwa; also sometimes called the "Nazi Scouts".[16][17] The organization recruited children and youth, who took the following oath: "Life -- my right; independence -- my aspiration; Arabism -- my country, and there is no room in it for any but Arabs. In this I believe and Allah is my witness."[16][17] The British expressed concern at the situation in Palestine, stating in a report that "the growing youth and scout movements must be regarded as the most probable factors for the disturbance of the peace."[16]