Moves like apartheid and sounds like apartheid then it is apartheid. A new report from a UN body says Israel ticks all the boxes to qualify as an apartheid state.
The proper ‘white’ way to refer to these darker-skinned people is ‘terrorists’ or ‘antisemites’. Where Israel and Palestine are seen as antithetical it is not possible to talk with interest or sympathy about Palestinians without risking a charge of antisemitism. But those who make the charge don’t themselves believe it. Anti-Muslim prejudice is evidentially a much more widespread phenomenon.
It might seem the effect of the new Regulation Act, allowing the seizure of Palestinian land, makes no difference. Most demolitions are justified by saying the owners had no building permission. There is a difference. Judges do not challenge the latter excuse, they may rule that private ownership of land cannot be transgressed by the state. Mustafa Barghouti demands international action.
The separation of people into discrete groups does not happen naturally in today’s world. It is done by the state using force and an immense bureaucracy. This is apartheid. Mike Cushman argues that the Israeli state is clearly enforcing rigid separations between Arab Palestinians and Israeli Jews. But he would be guilty of antisemitism under the IHRA ‘examples’ e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.
Lawyer John Dugard won high praise for his legal work on South African apartheid. When he began a forensic study of Israel’s racial divisions, and found they amounted to apartheid, he was denounced as antisemitic and persona non grata in many places. That didn’t change his judgment but it did help understand why Richard Goldstone, the Jewish South African judge who retracted his more critical findings for the UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission on the 2009 Gaza War. He was assailed by, or ostracised from, his Jewish community.
The word is from South Africa, Afrikaans for separateness. This book of essays on apartheid in S. Africa and Israel looks at what’s like and unlike. S.Africa’s regime failed because it needed the black labour which it also wanted to banish to bantustans. Israel uses Palestinian labour but imports most from Asian countries. S. Africa passed laws making apartheid compulsory. Israel uses its bureaucracy to present a facade of democracy.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent actions have brought to an end 50 years of Israeli deception about the temporariness of the settlement enterprise – Yitzhak Laor, Ha’aretz
And Ban Ki-moon wades in at the UN: “Let me be absolutely clear: settlements are illegal under international law. The occupation, stifling and oppressive, must end.”
Oren Yiftachel writes that the means used to control Palestinians is no longer occupation but apartheid. This is an arguable point given the role the military plays in policing the West Bank, checkpoints, home demolitions and running courts to prosecute and sentence any form of Palestinian resistance. But with the oPt divided into cantons, separated by settlements and their roads, maybe ‘apartheid’ does better describe that means of control.
The Chief Rabbi of a section of Commonwealth Orthodox Jews pronounces that he knows the term ‘apartheid’ cannot be used about Israel because he comes from S. Africa. Diana Neslen, like quite a few of our signatories, is also from South Africa and disagrees. Apart from that, the term apartheid now describes more forms of dividing society than existed in S. Africa.
Thanks to Lee Jones we have the pleasure of posting his chapter from a forthcoming book. In it he examines the different function of BDS demands in S. Africa and Palestine. In brief, Palestinians lack an effective leadership, an intellectual analysis of Israel’s economy and the ability to mobilise the masses.
Last Sunday a few, then a lot of, Israeli Jewish passengers on an Aegean flight from Athens to Israel demanded that two Palestinians be removed from the flight. The captain refused – but to end the stand-off the Palestinians left the flight with dignity – and no doubt the familiar humiliation and anger.
Ma’an reports that a group of settlers is demanding that Palestinians be banned from ‘settlers” roads, presumably forcing Palestinians in the oPt to use what are in effect dirt tracks – or not travel at all. Because of the knife attacks, more and more measures are being taken to wall Palestinians in.
The visit by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to South Africa has enjoyed maximum publicity for the joint declaration of opposition to apartheid policies. The Israeli foreign ministry is ‘furious’. Covertly, the US tried to establish relations with Hamas in 2012 via South African agents – an Al Jazeera story from earlier this year.
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