Friday, July 16, 2010

Howes: Apartheid? No Way!

In a previous post (Zionism Red in Tooth & Claw, 8/5/10), I drew attention to an advertisement in the Australian Jewish News for the Jewish National Fund's AGM, featuring the following extraordinary words: "UNION CHIEF WHO SAID: 'I'm proud our nation helped to kill Hamas Terrorist in Dubai'... come to hear outspoken Paul Howes."

Paul Howes is, of course, much more than a mere union chief: in addition to being national secretary of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and vice-president of the ACTU, he's the founder of the anti-BDS/pro-Israel front group, Trade Unions Linking Israel & Palestine (TULIP), a Murdoch columnist, and a member of the Labor cabal which engineered the overthrow of former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

So what exactly did Howes have to say at the JNF AGM? We don't know whether or not he led off with 3 cheers for Mossad, as per the above advertisement, but the AJN does quote him as being "resolutely opposed to BDS because it is part of a campaign to delegitimise Israel and suggest it is a rogue state," and refusing to "accept comparisons between Israel and apartheid in South Africa." (Union boss slams boycotts, 11/6/10)

With regard to the latter, Howes was reported as saying: "'In South Africa, there was legislation and constitutional provisions that denied the humanity of one section of its own people, which barred them by law from jobs, education and health services and denied them the right to participate in free and open elections. None of this is true for Israel's minority communities'... He conceded, though, that in some circumstances, there is a certain bias against Israeli Arabs by Israeli Jews. 'But unlike apartheid South Africa, this bias is not built [legislated] in the political system to deny the right to vote for instance - and Israeli Arabs can agitate for democratic change and have their voices heard in the free media of Israel'."

Howes is here reprising the propaganda patter of Israeli-'Palestinian' and Jerusalem Post 'journalist' Khaled Abu Toameh, a recent lobby-sponsored visitor to these shores: The good news is that Israel is not an apartheid state. The bad news is that there is discrimination inside Israel. (See my 24/5/10 post Second-Class Citizen Khaled)

The punters at the JNF AGM would have lapped it up, of course, but Howes, like Abu T, has it completely wrong. Israel is indeed an apartheid state, and precisely because it legislates the division between Jews and non-Jews. To cite my words in Second-Class Khaled: "Our most reliable guide to Israel's apartheid legislation is Israeli scholar and activist, Uri Davis. In his invaluable treatise, Apartheid Israel (2003), Davis points out that apartheid is a political system where racism is regulated through acts of parliament, and shows that, in Israel's case, the main body of Israeli law, via its incorporation of the exclusivist constitutional stipulations of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish Agency (JA) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF), incorporates a distinction between Jew and non-Jew. Although the Israeli Knesset is formally accountable to all its citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, in the key areas of immigration, settlement and land development, the Knesset has passed laws ceding state sovereignty to, and vesting its responsibilities with, the WZO, the JA and the JNF, which are constitutionally committed to serving and promoting the interests of Jews and Jews only. In Davis' analysis, this legal deception has given rise to a veiled, but no less real, apartheid, which ensures, for example, that 93% of pre-1967 Israel is retained for cultivation, development and settlement by, and for, Jews only."

Telling a JNF audience that Israel is not an apartheid state would be a bit like telling an AWU audience that Australia is not a capitalist state.

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