Race and Class: Israel’s Apartheid Reality

Against the Current, No. 94, September/October 2001

Malik Miah

“Not In My Garden,”
a 50-minute documentary on Ramya,
a Palestinian village inside Israel, by VIDEO `48, in Arabic/Hebrew (with English subtitles); $55 Individuals, $100 Institutions and groups; Send check to P.O. Box 41199, Jaffa 61411, Israel. E-Mail: oda@netvision.net.il.

WHILE THE INTIFADA in the occupied territories exposes the myth of Israel as a democratic and civilized society, a sample of how Israel acts towards its own Arabs (Palestinians who are citizens of Israel) is told by an alternative independent film group inside Israel, VIDEO `48, recalling the date of Israel’s formation.

Released a year ago, the documentary has been shown at six international film festivals. Its first U.S. showing was at the Eighth Annual LaborFest, July 5-31, in Berkeley and San Francisco.

I had an opportunity to see the video and hear a presentation by Assaf Adiv, a member of the VIDEO ’48 collective. Adiv is also director of the Workers Advice Center (WAC). WAC seeks to help to protect the rights of Palestinian workers inside Israel. Adiv explained that the video is shown to both Palestinian and Jewish communities.

The video depicts a typical situation in Israel, where Arab citizens of the state are treated as third-class residents. The video describes the conflict between one Arab community, the village of Ramya (in existence since the British Mandate in 1917), with a new town of Carmiel (first formed in 1964 of Jewish settlers). The state gave the settlers the Arabs’ land — on which the Palestinians have lived on as farmers and workers for generations. Today Carmiel is a high tech center.

The power of the video is its contrasting of the Arab families and the Jewish settlers, who received housing and resources as the Arabs were removed from their grazing land and homes. In one scene a Jewish couple speak of the Arabs as happy with their fate because they are less civilized than Jews anyway.

Another interview is with a Jewish immigrant grazing his animals on a hill he had never seen before being asked to come there by the government. The now landless Arabs stand nearby with their goats.

In one scene a Palestinian family lives cramped in a two-room house on the outskirts of their former village while in Carmiel’s town square an Israeli Independence Day celebration promotes the Zionist ideology that this is “our land,” and always will be.

Because the former Arab village Ramya is inside Israel, in the Galilee, the Palestinians are able to use the laws to resist their removal. To be sure, the battle can’t be won. But the video shows that resistance is possible and important. It’s why a group like WAC (made up of Arabs and Jews) exists and is an aid to the overall struggle of Palestinians for freedom.

Only-in-America Mythology

Israel is a racist state, far from what the American Jewish establishment and the media teach us. Assaf told me after a meeting with the San Francisco Central Labor Council how a pro-Israel union official criticized WAC and VIDEO `48 work for being unfair.

Why? Because, she said, the documentary failed to note the “good deeds” of Israel toward Israeli Palestinians — building hospitals, schools and so forth. “Only here,” Assaf said, “can this make-believe-world of Israel ever be talked about. Everyone in Israel knows the truth.”

Assaf also showed a “trailer” at the LaborFest on a fight of foreign-born construction workers. These workers have no rights. But what makes their plight more jarring is the fact that they are in Israel to replace Palestinian workers, who are denied employment for “security” reasons.

The Zionist project is to “cleanse” Israel of Palestinians — not by genocide, but by making it impossible for Arabs to live on their own land.

Is Zionism a racist ideology? After watching this documentary and the trailer, one can only conclude “yes.” The real Israel is a brutal state formed on the blood and land of the Palestinian people. It is not the victim of colonialism and terrorism, but the perpetrator of state terrorism — the criminal.

“Not In My Garden” is a powerful video that should be seen and used by all opponents of racism and supporters of Palestinian rights.

from ATC 94 (September/October 2001)