I started this post as an overview of racism and segregation in Israel but as I browsed through my files one name kept staring back at me: Shimon Gapso. So I will tackle the bigger issue of racism in a later post and right now I will focus on this one man.
Who is Gapso?
To start with he is mayor of Upper Nazareth- which is adjacent to the ancient town of Nazareth….as in ‘Jesus of Nazareth’-THAT Nazareth. Gapso is well known for banning Christmas trees from schools and public spaces even though there are a number of Arab Christians who live in ‘his’ city. Yes you read that correctly, he banned seemingly innocuous Christmas trees. We are not talking about separation of church and state here don’t forget- Jewish religious symbols are allowed- just not non-Jewish.
Let’s move on from Gaspo’s religious rants and look at what really defines him: bigotry and apartheid.
Gaspo has openly stated his desire to cleanse Arabs from Upper Nazareth and ship them to Gaza.
“If it was in my hands, I would evacuate from this city its residents the haters of Israel whose rightful place is in Gaza.”
(Written by Gapso dated 16.11.12 and addressed to The Minister of Interior, Mr. Eli Yishai, with the subject listed as: Declaring “Nazareth” as a hostile city to the State of Israel)
It seems common for Israeli government officials to ship the ‘undesirables’ here to Gaza- after all that is what they do with prisoners. If a prisoner goes on hunger-strike in an Israeli prison it is en vogue to send them to the maximum security prison they have made of Gaza.
Gapso declared himself in 2010 to be
“all for a democratic Upper Nazareth, but first of all a Jewish one… Just as Ben-Gurion and Peres said in the 1950s that the Galilee must be Jewish, we say the same about Nazareth Illit. The primary goal is to put the brakes on the demographic deterioration.”
Isn’t it nice he refers to population growth of Arabs to be a deterioration?
It seems Gapso is just warming up with his racist rants and policies. Last year he made local headlines when he refused to allow an Arab school to be built in Upper Nazareth. (Yes- schools ARE segregated- Jewish and Arab-but it’s not apartheid right?) Of the 52,000 residents of Upper Nazareth approximately 1/5th are Arab. Because there is no Arab school, 1,900 Arab children travel outside of the city to go to school. Can we take a minute to reflect on that? Arab children are NOT allowed to go to school in Upper Nazareth because there are no Arab schools. They must leave their town in order to be educated. If you are not stunned by this I beg you to research Brown v. Board of Education. It was THE landmark case on education segregation in America and was brought to court in 1953.
Name a SINGLE ‘democratic’ country that does that. Or better yet- name a single ‘best-friends forever with the US’ country other than Israel that gets $6.5 MILLION in aid each day. But I bet you didn’t see this on the CBS Evening News did you?
Just when you think Gapso has reached the bottom he comes out with an article in Haaretz – Israel’s daily newspaper- entitled “If you think I’m a racist, then Israel is a racist state”. In the article he mocks the claims of racism against him with *gems* like this:
“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.”
Later on in the article he waxes poetic at the ethnic cleansing of over 700,000 Palestinians in 1948 and praises ‘racial purity’.
” 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.”
So is Gapso a religious extremist, a racist or just a nut-job? Well considering he admits to not keeping the Torah Commandments except for one- I would say two out of three. “I do not keep the 613 Mitzvot (Torah commandments), but there is one mitzvah I fulfill with all of my strength, this is the mitzvah to settle the Land.” (Source: Upper Nazareth Newsletter).