Defence minister Ya’alon announced a plan to make bus segregation absolute and required by law. PM Netanyahu, very aware of the symbolism of bus apartheid in his alma mater, the USA, has over-ruled him. This will not change the long-established practice of different bus lines for Palestinians and settlers in the West Bank. The settlers will be disappointed at not getting apartheid legally enforced.
Apartheid has become the preferred term for some critics of Israel as the best label for Israeli/Palestinian relations. Irene Calis disagrees. Whereas white South Africans needed, and still need, black people as cheap labour, Zionist containment of Palestinians is merely an unfortunate by-product of creating a Jews-only state.
The proposed amendment to Israel’s Basic Law, defining the country as ‘the national homeland of the Jewish people’, instead of ‘a Jewish and democratic state’ rips through the claim of ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’. The new law doesn’t define Palestinians as 2nd class citizens; it defines them as not belonging at all – while all Jews, wherever they now live, are imaginary citizens of the country. The law is based on a delusion.
Under Netanyahu, Israel launched another lethal onslaught on the people of Gaza, rejected strenuous American efforts to broker a peace deal with the PA, expanded settlements and responded to unrest with increasing violence. Kerry’s prediction that this will lead to apartheid and isolation is coming true writes Tony Karon.
MK Ze’ev Elkin is pushing a new bill which will supersede all other laws on what sort of state Israel is and who its citizens are. Not only does it define Israel as ‘the Jewish state for Jewish people’ it also promotes discrimination against non-Jews and the development of separate land and communities for Jews – i.e. apartheid.
Access to buses for Palestinians travelling to Israel for work has long been segregated because of separate checkpoints. Now defence minister Ya’alon has ordered that Palestinians travelling home have to go on separate lines. He cites security of course. But his highly symbolic decision appeases settlers – and enrages Americans.
In 2011, the Knesset passed an Admissions Committees Law allowing such local groups to be set up with the authority to decide on who should not be allowed to live in their community. This week, the Supreme Court ruled this lawful, thus making apartheid neighbourhoods and towns official. Excluding Palestinians is the main aim, but the religious could exclude the secular, ashkenazi the sephardi etc thus making concrete the many rifts in Israeli society.
Prof. Zeev Sternhell, an authority of the rise of fascism in France, defines fascism as a rejection of, an assault on, enlightenment values. In the regime’s treatment of the Palestinians and of Jewish dissidents, in the submission of intellectuals to government orders and the blind following of the masses, Prof. Sternhell sees signs of fascism, and certainly the end of Zionism as he understood it.
This week the long-running argument about the morality, efficacy and limits of boycotting Israeli products as a means of pressing for change from the outside hit the headlines. London’s Tricycle theatre did not want to accept the Israeli state-funding for the Jewish Film Festival which it hosts. Although the theatre offered to make up the funding itself, the JFF rejected the offer on grounds of principle.
The extraordinary Desmond Tutu has developed an understanding of forgiveness which is vigorous, liberating, and founded on the idea of justice. Naming Israel an apartheid state and divesting from its machines of oppression are thus steps towards his Christian idea of what liberation, forgiveness and reconciliation mean.
A word has been coined to step forward from the arguments about whether the governance of the Palestinians is apartheid, S. Africa-style, colonialism, European-style or occupation, war-time style. An editorial in the Abu Dhabi-owned The National calls it Occupartheid to name the unique means of dispossessing Palestinians.
I want the majority of the land with the minimum of Palestinians on it says Danny Danon. Government policies are moving in the right direction – but not fast or completely enough. With the failure of the peace-talks, the brakes are off. It’s straight out of the South African playbook
There has been more reaction in the US to John Kerry’s use of the word ‘apartheid’, and his apology for that use, than there has been to the failure of the peace talks. Josh Rogin says he was ‘damn right’ to have taped the speech. John Cassidy (Kerry was wrong), and Ben White (he was right to defy the thought police), comment.
Two writers from +972, one from Haaretz take up the debate on whether ‘apartheid’ is the correct name for Israel’s form of rule over non-Jews. In Israel, the separation is less absolute than it was in S.Africa; in the oPt the Palestinians are wholly alien, never to have their national political identity put into effect. Even colonialism – in which the ruled were thought to be in training for nationhood – is too kind a word. And occupation, as has been ruled, is assumed to be temporary. Lost for words?
The absence of any realistic ‘peace process’ may be a vacuum which pulls in any moving body, such as John Kerry. Or Kerry may be ‘addicted’ to the process, as Foreign Policy’s Aaron David Miller suggests. Or the Peace Process is emptied of all meaning because for Israelis the only peace is unconditional Palestinian surrender as Zeev Sternhell argues. Israeli supremacy will rule.
This is a very clear and useful publication from the law faculty at Birzeit university specifying the laws which Israel is (and is not) breaking in maintaining its rule over Palestinians. It argues that ‘occupation’ is the wrong term for Israeli rule (there are circumstances in which occupation may be, at least, not unlawful). More accurate is ‘settler colonialism’ which was outlawed in 1960 when the UN adopted the Declaration on Granting Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. Too late for the indigenous Australians and Americans.
This is the first of two Op-Ed pages which the NY Times has given this weekend (Feb 1-2) to the opposition to Israel’s exceptional colonial rule and the weakness of the Israeli government’s position which cries ‘delegitimisation’, while building more housing and checkpoints on Palestinian land. The critic is Hirsh Goodman, ‘Liberal Zionist’ South African who at first decries the label apartheid for Israel. If it is intended to ‘balance’ Omar Barghouti (below), it fails.
The death of Nelson Mandela brought to the forefront the Palestinians’ identification with him and his identity as the leader of a battle against an apartheid state. Despite many protestations, and differences, that label is going to stick.
For some time, South Africans resented the use of their word, apartheid (Afrikaans for separation), as a description of any other system. The oppression and exploitation of black Africans by a white minority seemed exceptional in its brutal, lethal, total oppression. In two articles, Ran Greenstein, Israeli Jewish South African, looks at what makes the Israeli and S.African systems of ethnic segregation different – and alike.
At the Proms, Nigel Kennedy and his jazz-infused playing of Vivaldi with the Palestine Strings and his Orchestra of Life delighted a packed Albert Hall. As he said, “giving equality and getting rid of apartheid gives a beautiful chance for amazing things to happen.” Except that in the BBC’s edited recording for TV he doesn’t say that. For all the BBC’s words about getting a new, less stuffy audience for the Proms, it doesn’t like it when that happens.