The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, recently reported back on her visit to Palestine/Israel — and the conclusions are no surprise for anyone familiar with Israeli apartheid.
Rolnik writes that “Israel’s land and planning regime has discriminated against certain groups on the basis of their ethnic origin,” noting Israel’s “frontiers of dispossession” where the state implements “a strategy of Judaisation and control of the territory.”
For her use of the term “Judaization,” Rolink earned the drummed-up outrage of right-wing pressure group NGO Monitor, which screamed “anti-Semitism” and demanded her resignation. Claiming the term “originated with Arab rejectionists” and is “promoted by fringe [NGOs]”, the group called Judaization “an anti-Jewish racist term which suggests that the presence of Jews is alien and unacceptable”.
One person who will have been worried to read NGO Monitor’s press release is Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who can only hope that the lobby groups’ keen body of researchers never alight on his own declaration that “the focus for today is to Judaize the Negev and the Galilee”.
Joking aside, NGO Monitor’s ridiculous reaction is either disingenuous or ignorant, since the term ‘Judaization’ is common currency for Israeli academics and politicians to refer to policies aimed at boosting the Jewish population in areas deemed to have ‘too high’ a proportion of Palestinians.
These policies of land confiscation and settlement are not new. As Professor Hillel Cohen, of the Hebrew University, put it, “the project of ‘Judaizing the Galilee’ commenced when the state was founded and has continued in various guises to the present day”.
Another Israeli academic, Dr Haim Yacobi of Ben-Gurion University, has written how “the Judaization project is driven by the Zionist premise that Israel is a territory and a state that ‘belongs’ to, and only to, the Jewish people.”
Like Danny Ayalon, other Israeli public officials speak of this ‘demographic’ struggle – such as Rabbi Dov Lior’s call for the public to act to “Judaize“ the town of Nazareth Illit, or the local council head who said, “We want to Judaize the Wadi Ara area…The state wants to put this place in order so that the Arabs won’t rear their heads.”
Thus those who try and say “Judaization” suggests the “presence of Jews is alien and unacceptable” have got it half right, but suffer from that classic Zionist problem: projection.