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.
A strong article by Jonathan Cook on ‘apartheid by any other name’ is followed by articles, photos and diagrams which strongly suggest no other name is needed. If the very infrastructure, let alone services and amenities, are divided on ethnic lines, ethnic superiority (Israeli) is being physically constructed. Why the world that was outraged by S.African apartheid should remain so muted on Israel’s version is an urgent question.
Palestinians are dispersed, support from Arabs has dwindled as their uprisings take centre stage, neither the PA nor 2-state negotiations can deliver full citizenship. Rather, argues Ghada Karmi, Israel/Palestine is already one state, albeit an apartheid one. Palestinians should junk the PA and demand full equal rights in the one state.
Every infringement of the freedom of Palestinians is enforced by Israeli agencies in the name of security. Israeli security. A party of visitors from American universities sees instead policies to humiliate Palestinians and force them into the slow restricted lanes which an apartheid state demands. Freedom of movement is a universal right.
There is a fond belief among Israelis and Liberal Zionists that the unacceptable policies of Israel – occupation, unjust imprisonment, ethnic discrimination – have been created by a minority of zealots. But it’s the ordinary architects, construction workers, lawyers, not to mention the ‘defence’ industry – whose USP is Israelis’ experience of operating systems of control – which make occupation and settlements possible says Haggai Matar.
If the South African model is followed and the distinct qualities of Israeli apartheid not recognised, Palestinians will not develop effective means of gaining their freedom says Samer Abdelnour. He cites such defining issues as Israel’s massive military production, subsidies from the US, the fact it does not depend on Palestinian labour, the sophisticated physical and bureaucratic paraphernalia of occupation and its foreign lobbies.
It may seem ridiculous to be discussing whether, ideally, Israelis and Palestinians should live together in one state or two. It’s pie in the sky while the occupation intensifies. But the idea of what could succeed colonialist Israel is vital in providing something to work for, and work on, to overcome the inertia, go beyond mere resistance , however vital that is. Which means the debate on one secular democratic state, a binational or a federal state or two states has to continue. Here Uri Avnery returns to his argument for two states. Like his critics, he says it depends on what models you generalise from.
Zvi Bar’el writes: “The nakba terrifies Israel. We cannot forgive the Arabs for exiling themselves from Palestine, for destroying their own villages, for becoming refugees and for causing the cleansing of the War of Independence. Neither can we forgive them for the fact that many of them remained in Israel, destroying its aspiration to be a pure Jewish state, not only a state for Jews… We may one day have “peaceful coexistence” with the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza. With the Arabs of Israel, it will take much more. We need sincere reconciliation.”
The Palestinian town of Nazareth is, in terms of amenities and facilities, ‘a village with work camps’ says Sami Abu Shehadeh. The Israeli districts in which Palestinians live are sharply marked off from Jewish ones by poorer amenities, services and infrastructure. But Palestinians in Israel do not get the outside attention of those in the oPt.
In our last pre-election posting we offer a selection of comments on how social democrats are too weak and divided to prevent a victory for the ultra-right. All the articles suggest neither Israelis nor Palestinians have embraced active political participation; there is not an article outside Israel which views more years of a Netanyahu government with anything other than dismay.