On Israel’s ‘Right to Exist’ and on Racism

By Denis G. Rancourt

Surely the Israeli government would agree that the right of a nation state to exist is a question of international law. 

Under international law, no other country has ever demanded or been granted that another nation state be forced to officially recognize the claimant nation’s “right to exist”, under the threat of military reprisal no less. 

But since this is an original and unresolved question of international law and since Israel has forcefully put it on the table, it is relevant to examine whether Israel is following established principles of international law, such as the Geneva Conventions for example, or foreign country assassinations and kidnappings, or international waters commando attacks of civilian ships, etc.

These specific questions of international law are not complicated. The laws and international treaties are written in clear language, and Israel’s actions are also clear. Global civil society (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Red Cross, etc.) and all independent international law experts that I have heard or read are unanimous in the answer.

Indeed, the absurd “right to exist” posturing of Israel deserves to be ridiculed.

Did Nazi Germany have a “right to exist”? Germany exists today and its criminal behaviour of the past has been stopped. It has no nuclear weapons and its security arises from its respect for international law and for its neighbours. Its internal security arises from respecting human rights. I wish the same for Israel. The right of return is a human right.

No country has the right to extort a statement of “right to exist” from any other country.

Every country has a right to its opinions and official positions about the legal and historic legitimacies of other states. What matters are actions and crimes and these matter in proportion to their magnitudes – the numbers matter, not the rhetoric.

No country has a recognized God-given or otherwise right to exist, only responsibilities under international law and moral responsibilities.

Persons have absolute rights not to be forcibly displaced, occupied, collectively punished by arbitrary sanctions, murdered, etc. – this includes Palestinians and Israelis, all persons. States are criminal states to the extent and to the degree that they violate persons’ rights – the numbers matter.

To compare home-built rocket attacks on desert land to military onslaughts on cities and national infrastructures is a grotesque charade to justify mass murder and collective punishment. 

The numbers matter. The numbers result from a large power asymmetry and this asymmetry (in both power and suffering) is the FIRST reality of the illegal Palestinian occupation. A language that does not start with this reality is one which masks and condones state criminality.

Likewise, the religious fanaticism and racism of many Israelis does not matter. What matters are the physical crimes being committed (in the name of “security”) that must be stopped.

World powers and influential organizations and civil society need to become rhetoric and racism insensitive in order to clearly see and gauge the actual physical crimes and to stop them, as the surest way to security for all (and to reduce cultural racism).

Commentators, lobbyists and service intellectuals who emphasize the rhetoric and societal racism of the oppressed work for the oppressor. Let us not have a competition about which side is most racist. Criminal racism is not rhetoric or vehement emotional reaction or hate – it is killing brown people. Leave opinion racism alone. Stop criminal acts. Focus. The cart needs to be put back behind the horse.

Israel needs to be stopped, for the greater safety of the most people – including Israelis. 

And the US and Canada need to be stopped in their support of Israel state crimes. The Israel lobby needs to be stopped for the same reasons, exposed and stopped, on campuses, in governments, everywhere.

Security first!

– Denis G. Rancourt was a tenured and full professor of physics at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He practiced several areas of science which were funded by a national agency and ran an internationally recognized laboratory. He published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals. He developed popular activism courses and was an outspoken critic of the university administration and a defender of student and Palestinian rights. He was fired for his dissidence in 2009 by a president who is a staunch supporter of Israeli policy. This article was contributed to PalestineChronicle.com.

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