Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso
Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Over the past few days, many people have been calling me a racist. Sometimes they also call me a Nazi, a bully or even Hitler. One need only look at the comments on Haaretz’s website to put me before a firing squad. What’s my crime? What act of bullying did I commit? I made a clear and unequivocal statement that Upper Nazareth was a Jewish city.

Yes — I’m not afraid to say it out loud, to write it and add my signature, or declare it in front of the cameras: Upper Nazareth is a Jewish city and it’s important that it remains so. If that makes me a racist, then I’m a proud offshoot of a glorious dynasty of “racists” that started with the “Covenant of the Pieces” [that God made with Abraham, recounted in Genesis 15:1–15] and the explicitly racist promise: “To your seed I have given this land” [Genesis 15:38].

When the Jewish people were about to return to their homeland after a long journey from slavery in Egypt, where they were enslaved for racist reasons, the God of Israel told Moses how to act upon conquering the land: he must cleanse the land of its current inhabitants. “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you allow to remain... as I thought to do to them, so will I do to you” [Numbers 33:55–56].

God gave them an explicit warning. Yes, the racist Joshua conquered the land in a racist manner. More than 3,000 years later, the Jewish people stood bruised and bleeding on the threshold of their land, seeking once again to take possession of it from the wild tribes that had seized the land in its absence. And then, an outbreak of racism flooded the country.

The racist Theodor Herzl wrote "Der Judenstaat" (“The Jewish State,” not “The State of All Its Citizens”). Lord Balfour recommended the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Arlosoroff, Moshe Sharett and other racists established the Jewish Agency, and the racist UN decided to establish a Jewish state — in other words, a state for Jews. The racist Ben-Gurion announced the establishment of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel, and during the War of Independence even made sure to bring in hundreds of thousands of Jews and drive out hundreds of thousands of Arabs who had been living here — all to enable it to be founded with the desired racist character.

Since then, racially pure kibbutzim without a single Arab member and an army that protects a certain racial strain have been established, as have political parties that proudly bear racist names such as “Habayit Hayehudi” — “the Jewish home.” Even our racist national anthem ignores the existence of the Arab minority — in other words, the people Ben-Gurion did not manage to expel in the 1948 war. If not for all that “racism,” it’s doubtful we could live here, and doubtful that we could live at all.

In these times of hypocrisy and bleeding-heart sanctimoniousness, of the proliferation of flaky types who are disconnected from reality, in the relative security that causes us to forget the dangers we face, we can sit in north Tel Aviv, and cry “racism” to seem enlightened and good-hearted in our own eyes. We can be shocked at a mayor who prefers that his city, which is right next to the largest Arab city in Israel, retain a Jewish majority and not be swallowed up in the Arab area that surrounds it. There will not be a single Jew in the future Palestinian state, but that’s all right. That isn’t racism.

Upper Nazareth is a Jewish city. Fewer than one-fifth of its inhabitants are Arab citizens, and they enjoy full municipal and national rights. Many of them are friends of mine, and I like and respect many of them. I could wish that Jews were treated the way the Arabs of Upper Nazareth are — not only those Jews who lived in Europe of times past, but also those who live in the Arab countries of today. If that were the case, perhaps we of Upper Nazareth would have no need to be “racists.”

The writer is the mayor of Upper Nazareth.