Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Israeli Apartheid: Visible from Space

Israeli apartheid may be visible from space, but not, it seems, down here on the ground in Abbottoir.

Despite the ms media currently being awash with references to the late, unlamented, and thoroughly vile South African brat, you'll find not a whisper about its even more evil twin, Israeli apartheid, such is the terror in our newsrooms at the prospect of a visit by the Zionist thought police.

And yet, those of conscience, familiar with both, couldn't help but notice that the two came from the same stock. One such, the South African anti-apartheid activist and associate of ANC leader Oliver Tambo, Ronald Segal (1932-2008), made the following observations as long ago as 1973:

"A second insight of the Arab case is the similarity between Israel and white South Africa. After all, the pioneers of white settlement in South Africa were refugees, too; from Catholic power and intolerance in Europe. And the subsequent history of the Afrikaners was long informed by the resistance to British imperial ambitions. The cause of the Jewish state has enjoyed support from the same sort of liberal opinion in the West that rose to the defence of the Boer republics at the turn of the century.

"The unique identity of the Afrikaner nation is now undeniable. And the cry of the Afrikaners - that they have nowhere else to go; that no reasonable refuge offers itself; that they are engaged in their conflict with Africans for no less than their very survival as a people, after centuries of separate existence - is not without its resemblance to the profile of Israeli nationalism. (Which is one reason why, for all the recent past of organized and even institutionalized anti-Semitism among them, the Afrikaners regard Israelis today with a kind of kinship.)

"And just how different has been the treatment of Arabs under their control by the Israelis from the treatment of Africans by white South Africa? Under the wrappings, many of the goods are the same. Land has been expropriated under various pretexts from Arabs who did not flee, and at times of relative peace; with compensation long delayed and, when finally paid, far below real value. And this plundering has been extended even to Druze land; though the Druzes have never been considered a significant security risk and are, indeed, permitted to serve in the Israeli armed forces.

"Whatever the security excuse, the Israeli Defence Laws have operated to treat Arab citizens quite differently from Jewish ones, with restrictions on movement, curfews, detention or banishment, and the confiscation or destruction of property. And though military rule within Israel proper has receded since the Six Day War, the occupied territories are administered on the basis of economic but not political integration. Some 40 to 50 thousand workers from these territories have already been sucked into the Israeli economy, in an effective relationship not so remote from that between white South Africa and the Bantustans. Indeed, many Israelis see in what would be a virtual Bantustan a solution to the problem of the West Bank: whose overt political autonomy would be in pawn to an inescapable economic subservience.

"Certainly, as the Israeli authorities have been quick to declare, such workers earn more in Israel than they would in the territories themselves, let alone almost anywhere else in the Arab world. But this argument is, after all, rather like the conventional apology of apartheid: that Africans in general earn much more in South Africa than they do elsewhere on the continent, and that the borders must be controlled to prevent illegal immigrants from coming to enjoy the notorious discrimination of racial policy. Yet even given the accuracy of the South African government contention, what matters, of course, is not the difference between black earnings in South Africa and black earnings elsewhere, but the difference between the earnings of blacks and the earnings of whites within the same country. Similarly, what matters in an assessment of Israeli society is that in general Arab labour from the occupied territories earns substantially less than does Jewish labour: not because, as in South Africa, the state explicitly requires it, but because there is, in institutionalized Jewish labour organization, a form of pressure on employers not possessed by migrant Arab labour.

"And the parallel with white South Africa is taken further. Israel is essentially a Jewish state, and Jewishness has been made an essentially biological phenomenon. By the Law of Return, 1950, Israeli citizenship is all but automatically conferred on any Jew who arrives and asks for it.And a decision was recently taken to confer Israeli citizenship on Jews still living abroad who choose to claim it. On the other hand, to become a Jew, it is not enough to fulfil certain residential and other civil requirements customary in other countries. It is not enough even to be born in the Jewish state. A Jew is someone born of a Jewish mother. (Whose Jerusalem?, pp 13-15)

Of course, there was an occasion, though only one that I can recall, when both branches of the Australian corporate press uncharacteristically lapsed into plain talk and used the 'a' word to describe Israel.  

Then the shit really hit the fan. (See my posts Consensus At Last (7/5/12) & Down the Memory Hole (10/5/12).)

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