Thursday, March 14, 2013

Israel: Still Apartheid After All These Years

This week (11/3-17/3/13) is the 9th International Israeli Apartheid Week.

To learn more about the only apartheid state still standing, just click on the 'Israeli apartheid' label below and read why the state of Israel, from the river to the sea, is so designated.

By way of providing a little background, I'm posting here two instructive texts.

The first states a fact that cannot be overstated: the fundamental historical difference between the old South African apartheid model and today's Israeli apartheid is that, whereas South Africa disenfranchised its black majority but kept it in situ as a source of cheap labor, Israel disenfranchised its Arab majority by sending it into exile in 1948. By this means Israel was able to turn what had been a Jewish minority into a Jewish majority, and so pose before a gullible world as a democracy. In fact, only when those exiled Palestinian refugees of 1948 are allowed to return to their homeland, and are there re-enfranchised, can Israel ever become a genuine, inclusive democracy of the kind South Africa is today. In the meantime, if the apartheid boot fits - and it does, beautifully - Israel will just have to wear the odious label:

"Very few Israelis - only right-wing Zionists - will say publicly that they support apartheid, see it as an example, or admire anything about South Africa. 'Liberal' Zionists always try to avoid any association of Zionism with apartheid, despite the obvious similarities. They commonly claim that whereas in South Africa the whites are wrongly oppressing the black majority, in Israel, whatever problems there are stem from the (non-Jewish) minority's refusal to accept the dictates of the (Jewish) majority. What this claim fails to take into account is that, until 1948, Arabs were a majority in Palestine, and turning them into a minority was indeed one aim of Zionism. But when the history of Zionism is examined and remembered, sympathy for apartheid is likely to surface. Thus, a letter to the editor of Haaretz in November 1985 reminds the readers of the history of Zionism: 'Events in South Africa are constantly in the news. President Botha did not want to hand over control to representatives of the majority. Fifty years ago, in 1935, the British High Commissioner wanted to set up a legislative assembly in Palestine. As far as I remember, Jews were allocated 2 seats... and the Arabs 11 [reflecting the respective sizes of the two communities; the British officials were to have 10 seats]... representatives turned the idea down out of hand the day it was submitted. Is it hard to understand President Botha?" (from South Africa & Israel: An Alliance of Desperation in The Israeli Connection: Whom Israel Arms & Why, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, 1987, p 147)

The second contains the unexpurgated views on Israel of apartheid South Africa's leaders and opinion shapers, at a time when the typically faithless Israel began a flirtation with the rest of Africa. Despite this hiccup, the white and the Jewish supremacist states operated as a dream team from 1948 until the fall of South African apartheid in 1994*:

"From 1948 until mid-1961 Nationalist Party spokesmen, the Government and the Afrikaans press were unstinting in their praise of Israel. But suddenly, in July 1961, this harmonious atmosphere was shattered by Israel's decision to expand her diplomatic offensive in Black Africa which had been underway since 1956. Seizing the occasion of the visit to Israel by the President of Upper Volta, the Israeli Government issued a statement terming apartheid 'as disadvantageous to the interests of the non-white majority of the land.' Then in October 1961 Israel voted in the Political Committee of the United Nations to censure a speech by the South African delegate, Mr Eric Louw, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Finally, in November Israel cast its vote in the General Assembly in support of a resolution which deprecated South Africa's policy of apartheid 'as being reprehensible and repugnant to the dignity and rights of peoples and individuals.'

"The response of the South African Government and the Afrikaans press to Israel's 'about-face' was predictably bitter. Die Transvaler asked what the government of Israel would think if, uninvited, South Africa concerned itself with Arab refugees who, for 13 years, 'lived on Israel's borders in the most wretched conditions because they are not allowed to return to their original homes.' In a question difficult to answer in terms of premises accepted by both Afrikaners and Zionists, Die Transvaler asked: 'And is there any real difference between the way that the people of Israel are trying to maintain themselves amid non-Jewish peoples and the way the Afrikaner is trying to remain what he is? The people of Israel base themselves upon the Old Testament to explain why they do not wish to mix with other people: the Afrikaner does this too...'  Mr Louw accused Israel of 'hostility and ingratitude... in view of the fact that the South African government and individual members of the Cabinet have in the past gone out of their way to foster good relations with Israel.' [South African Prime Minister] Dr Verwoerd [1958-1966] lashed out by making the unflattering observation that the Jews 'took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. In that I agree with them, Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.'" (Zionism, South Africa & Apartheid: The Paradoxical Triangle, Richard P. Stevens, 1969, p 24-25)

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