@box text intr = The United States government's threat to boycott the UN-organised World Conference Against Racism, being held in South Africa from August 31, raises the question why the self-proclaimed "land of the free" would want to avoid a discussion about racism.
Along with conference discussions on the issue of reparations paid to Africa from countries that benefited from slavery, one of the major issues of contention for the US is a discussion about Zionism, and whether or not it constitutes racism.
Zionism is a particular form of nationalism based on Judaism and Jewish claims to Palestine. The Zionists see theirs as a political movement for Jewish "national" self-determination.
But for the Arab inhabitants of Palestine, the foundation of an exclusive state for Jews, based upon the Zionist outlook, meant ethnic cleansing to get rid of them.
Theodore Herzl, the ideological founder of Zionism, envisioned that, in order to achieve their goal, the Zionists would either have to convince the rulers of Palestine that an independent Jewish state would be a benefit to them or they'd need the help of an imperialist power. The latter option became possible when Britain signed the Balfour Declaration in 1917.
The outlook of the Zionist state was openly racist from the beginning. Herzl believed that Israel "would be the advanced post of civilisation against barbarism".
The Zionist vision of Israel has never been one of Jews living alongside Arabs in Palestine. Rather, it is one of apartheid, of an anti-Arab, exclusively Jewish state on Arab land.
For a minority to take control of the majority of land in Palestine, the Zionists realised they would have to be able to forcefully quell any resistance by the indigenous population.
Israeli society is one based on segregation, a system implanted firmly into the Israeli legal system and constitution. The physical movement of Palestinians is restricted through immigration checks between towns and villages, while Jews are free to move about all of Israeli ruled territory.
Palestinian Arabs living in Israel and the occupied territories are denied access to basic services, citizenship, military service and trade union representation. While services such as water, sewerage, healthcare, schooling and housing are generally granted free to Jews, these services are either denied to Palestinians or they are excessively charged for their use.
If this is not racism, then nothing is.
From the beginning Israel has had the political, economic and military backing of the US, along with other imperialist powers, to make this possible. Without such backing it is questionable that the state of Israel would have been able to survive.
The US government is not keen to have the causes, or the consequences, of such full-scale support for Israel come under scrutiny at a world racism conference.
For a country that was built on the stolen land, slavery and genocide, a country riven with racial divisions and internal oppression, a country whose corporations and military exploit racism and its many legacies for profit, to now threaten not to attend a global conference against racism obviously means that its rulers fear even a discussion of the issues, let alone action on them.