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For most Christian Zionists, it is probably irrelevant whether or not the State of Israel is guilty of the crime of Apartheid. This is probably due to their unconditional allegiance to the Zionist State. They care little if Israel is guilty of discrimination against Palestinian Arabs. As far as they are concerned, Arabs in Israel and the Occupied Territories are persona non grata at best. At worst, they are irredeemable reprobates who desire nothing but the destruction of the Jewish people and the thwarting of God’s plan of salvation through Christ (even if they are Christian Arabs in the vast majority of cases).

The only crime the State of Israel can commit, in the eyes of Christian Zionists, is to give land rights and rights of self determination to Arabs. Stopping the dispossession of Arabs in Israel and the Occupied Territories is the only thing that Zionist Israel can do that would warrant a rebuke from the Christian supporters of Zionism.

Getting back to the issue of apartheid in Israel, it is often stated, by supporters of Zionist Israel, that the claim that Israel is guilty of the crime of Apartheid is absurd because anyone with any understanding of South Africa can see that the Zionist State is vastly different from the South Africa of the apartheid era. They argue that if it can be shown that modern Israel is sufficiently differnt from apartheid South Africa, then Israel can not possibly be guilty of the crime of apartheid and hence should not suffer any sanctions.

The error in this arguement falls fundamentally in the direction of the comparison. It is not a matter of how Zionist Israel stacks up against South Africa, but how it stacks up against the definition of the crime of apartheid as described by international law.

As an example, take the case of the infamous Australian serial killer, Ivan Milat. One might object to calling him a serial killer because his number of victims was small in comparison to serial killers like the notorious American murderer, Ted Bundy. So if we compare Milat to Bundy, since Milat is not equivalent to Bundy, then Milat must not be a serial killer. The flaw in this logic is obvious.

Yet this is the very same type of logic used to argue that Israel is not an apartheid state.

Comparisons of Israel to South Africa are interesting, but completely miss the point in answering the case against Israel with respect to its guilt with reference to the crime of apartheid. In some ways Israel is better than South Africa was, and in some ways worse. The comparison is irrelevant. What matters is how Zionist Israel can defend itself against the charge that it is guilty of the crime of apartheid according to the definition given by international law. Not the spurious charge that it is guilty of being identical to South Africa in the era of apartheid in that country.


“A level of racist violence I have never seen”:UCLA professor Robin D G Kelley on Palestine and the BDS movement

Alex Kane interviews UCLA Prof Robin D G Kelley

16 February 2012

If there’s one thing the Palestine solidarity movement and Israel lobbyists can agree on, it’s this: American college campuses remain a potent battleground when it comes to the politics of Israel/Palestine.

One group, the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), certainly recognizes this. And one way to advocate for Palestine on campus is to get professors on board the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Five professors recently back in the U.S. after a USACBI delegation  to Palestine have taken that leap, releasing a statement (published on the Electronic Intifada in full) that describes what they saw in Palestine and that calls on their academic colleagues to join the BDS movement. Mondoweiss caught up with one of the professors on the delegation, UCLA’s Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley, and discussed BDS, the delegation, Kelley’s new project, black Zionism and much more. Kelley is the author of eight books including Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, Race Rebels: Culture Politics and the Black Working Class, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination and 2009′s Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original .

Alex Kane: To begin with, talk about yourself, what you do and what your research focuses on.

Robin Kelley: I am a professor of American history at UCLA, and for the last 25 years really, my work has focused on social movements, the African diaspora, radical change, and–it’s sort of a side issue–but I’ve also written about music. My last book was about [the jazz musician] Thelonious Monk. But my academic work, you know, links up to the political work largely because I got into this business as a historian/scholar, through activism and through recognizing, or experiencing or watching social injustice both locally and globally. I’m a product of the 1980s, and the main critical issues were both domestic, in terms of police brutality, Reagan policies on poverty, rising racism in the United States and global issues–the anti-apartheid movement was formative in my own political awakening, the struggles in Central America, the struggles in post-colonial Africa and the Congo, and Palestine, which brings us full circle. The point I’m trying to make is, the issue of Palestinian self-determination is not a new one. It always sort of rebirths (laughs), but it’s not a new one. And so for people of my generation, the Israel-South Africa nexus, dispossession of Palestinians–even back in the days when people talked seriously about the two-state solution, whatever that is–these were the key questions for anyone politically active in the 1980s.

It’s not an accident that Jesse Jackson, for example, whose presidential campaign in the 80s was really formative as well, that his right-hand man, Jack O’Dell, had led a delegation in the 1970s to meet with PLO members and to go to the West Bank and to meet with Palestinians there when the PLO was in exile. And so, there’s been a long tradition after 1967 of various black liberation movements trying to build a connection to Palestine.

AK: And so that brings us to the second question: talk about the trip you recently took to Palestine, why you went and what you saw.

RK: In 2009, I was invited to join the board of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. And as a board member in USACBI, I did my part in terms of trying to get the word out about supporting and enacting the cultural boycott. The opportunity to travel to the occupied territories came up over the summer through USACBI and through scholars at various universities and Muwatin, which is an independent think tank that focuses on the study and implementation of democracy in Palestine. And so they invited a number of scholars to come, and I jumped at the chance because I always wanted to go and missed other opportunities. So five of us agreed to go in January, and I stayed longer than the rest of the group because I’m actually doing research for another project.

So we go there hosted by Muwatin, and they arranged an incredible visit. I won’t tell you everything we did, because it would take too long. We went to Ramallah, met the president of Birzeit University, we met with other faculty, the founders of PACBI.  We went to East Jerusalem to visit Sheikh Jarrah and some of the families that have been dispossessed from their own homes. We went to Hebron, and visited and talked to Palestinian merchants, and witnessed a level of racist violence that I hadn’t even seen growing up as a black person here in the States (laughs), I have to say, and I’ve been beat by the cops. The level of racist violence from the settlers is kind of astounding. We visited Aida refugee camp just north of Bethlehem, and we went to Bethlehem as well. On my own, I went to Nablus and visited the Balata refugee camp. We also went to Haifa, and we met with a group of Palestinian-Israeli scholars and intellectuals to talk about the boycott.

So to me what was important wasn’t just passing through checkpoints, it wasn’t just witnessing the day to day oppression, acts of dispossession, the expansion of these settler communities in the hills overlooking and intimidating Palestinian villages. It wasn’t just that. That was a very, very important part of the trip because what it did in some ways made tangible the kind of oppression, the nature of dispossession, that we read about and knew about. We were prepared. What was important equally was our conversations with active members of Palestinian civil society, our conversations with activists who are organizing against the wall, our conversations with scholars at Haifa, at Birzeit and independent intellectuals. Because what it produced for us wasn’t just a fact-finding mission, you know, as these things often are. It wasn’t just, you know, “occu-tourism,” visiting and seeing for yourself. That wasn’t, to me, the key thing. The key thing was the kind of engagement that helped us better understand why the boycott is central, the complications in pushing for boycott, and how can we sharpen our political critique. Because what we came away with is recognizing that this is a kind of joint, collective venture–that we are not advocating on behalf of Palestinians, but partners with Palestinians for the right to self-determination. And the leadership comes from the Palestinian people. So we’re supporting that movement, and recognizing that what’s happening there is not exceptional, but rather part of a larger global process of late colonialism and neoliberalism, and that what happens in Palestine is going to have an impact on the rest of the world.

Two other things were striking about the trip for me, and I’m only speaking for myself, not for the whole delegation. One is, it’s one thing to see day to day oppression, it’s another to see the efforts Israel puts into and invests in normalizing the situation there. I was in East Jerusalem, after the delegation, on my own, and staying at a Palestinian-owned hotel called the Jerusalem Hotel. And basically, in the Arab quarter near Salah ad-Din street and in this [area with] Palestinian markets. And I took a stroll up the hill, and found Jaffa road, and I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was like I was on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, or the Grove in L.A. It was just the strangest thing to see the juxtaposition, of the largely Jewish and tourist center of commerce with all the chains here, Coffee Bean, Yogurt Land, jewellery, clothing, ATMs at every little corner, granite paved roads, and then of course running through the middle of Jaffa street is the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail system. So to recognize that this space is normalized, a Western so-called bureaucratic capitalist space, a space of high consumerism is an eight-minute walk from what is essentially a ghetto in an occupied territory. That, that to me is even more shocking then seeing 20-something year-old Israelis looking through people’s passports and IDs and deciding whether or not you’re a threat. To me, that emphasis on normalization is one of the more dangerous things, because if they succeed in convincing the world that this is not a state of war or occupation but rather this is really the heart of the kind of Western democracy that’s like the rest of the world, the Western world at least–then in some ways that’s how they try and win. And part of what the boycott does is it delegitimizes the claim that this is a normal situation. It’s not a normal situation, it’s a settler-colonial situation, a situation of oppression.

The second thing that blew my mind, and I just wrote about this, is going to the refugee camp, particularly Aida, and seeing the cultural and artistic revolution among young people. Occupation is something that is a political act as well as an ideological and psychological imposition. And there are whole generations of young people, and older people, that will not accept the occupation. They will not accept normalization of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank or the ethnic cleansing taking place. They’re not only creating and documenting a kind of collective memory of Palestinian history, Palestinian struggle, what the impact of the Nakba was on that community, but also I think prefiguring what could be a new society, what could be a post-Zionist society. And to me that’s probably the most dangerous thing. It’s one thing for Israel to use walls, barbed wire and a blacked-out media to keep, to try to normalize Israel by making invisible the dispossession and oppression of Palestinians. It’s another thing to hide what could be a new vision for a different kind of society, a new generation of people who are not accepting a second-class state or second-class citizenship, [saying] we want the nation, we want our nation back, and if you want to be part of it, well we’re happy with that. To me, that’s what’s so exciting about what I see in the refugee camps, what I see in terms of the cultural work being done. This is the third intifada, right before our eyes.

AK: You mentioned this earlier, but I wanted to draw it out more. What sorts of connections do you see between the sort of work you focus on and the current situation in Palestine?

RK: Well, I’m sort of in two minds. One perspective is that if I did nothing but wrote about, you know, Mozart, my investment in the struggle of Palestinians for the right to return, the right to self-determination, the right to full citizenship–these are things that as a human being, I really have no choice, I can’t look away. I can’t pretend that, you know, I want to live in a just, safe, beautiful world and not be concerned about this issue because to me, what Israel constitutes is the most blatant example of existing settler-colonialism in the world right now. And so even if my work had no connection whatsoever, this is something that I think I, and anyone who supports social justice and self-determination, needs to be aware of and involved in.

So, having said that, my own scholarly work has always been shaped by the political investments and political experiences that I’ve had over the years. I’m actually writing a book about a woman named Grace Halsell, who was a white woman born in Texas. She spent much of her late life as a journalist trying to figure out how white supremacy, racism and other forms of domination actually work; how it feels to actually endure that. So in 1969 she wrote a book called Soul Sister, where she passed as a black woman. She darkened her skin and lived as a black woman for about six months and wrote about it. And it wasn’t so much to claim that “I know what it’s like to be a black person,” but really to try to understand the outward and subtle manifestations of racism and sexism. Then she wrote another book called Bessie Yellowhair where she did something similar, where she became a Navajo woman and worked as a domestic for a white family in L.A. and wrote about it. Then she passed as a Mexican immigrant, and crossed the Rio Grande and interviewed other immigrants in the late 1970s, when anti-immigration sentiment was rising, to sort of understand state power and immigration and how it is experienced by every day people.

So this leads us to one of her great masquerades. She decided to go to Israel/Palestine in 1979, and she basically wrote a book called Journey to Jerusalem, where she tries to understand the lives of essentially four people, four groups of people: Palestinian Muslims, Palestinian Christians, Sephardic Jews and the settlers, a settler family. At first she thinks, “this is not political, I’m just trying to tell the story of these three faiths, basically.” And it ends up being a very political book because she’s very critical of Israel. And this was 1980-81, and she was sympathetic to Palestinians. She’s on the Birzeit campus at a time when Israeli forces were shutting down the campus, beating students–she’s witnessing all this. And she is learning Palestinian history, and trying to write a little bit about it before a lot of Israeli historians are kind of discovering al-Nakba. She writes this book, and as a result of that book, her career as a kind of high-level journalist kind-of ends. She’s still liked, but she can’t get contracts the same way.

In the next book, she masquerades as a right-wing Christian fundamentalist and travels with Jerry Falwell’s group, and writes a book about Christian Zionism and the nexus between Israeli nuclear policy–and she’s saying that, you know, the Christian Zionists, the right-wing fundamentalists, are pushing Israel to use its bombs because they believe Armageddon is inevitable and eventually Israel will destroy itself and Christians will take over the holy land. So she writes this book in 1986. And so I’m writing a biography of her, and I’m convinced that everything she experienced–as a white woman being black, being Native American, Mexican–in some ways prepared her for a kind of empathy and identification with the Palestinians when she got there. When she got there, and wrote about what she saw, it changed her life profoundly in ways that being black, Native American or Mexican did not. And she devoted the rest of her life to writing about the Middle East. And she ended up doing a lot of work for Americans for Middle East Understanding, and supporting their work.

There’s a whole set of other writing I want to do. I’m incredibly disturbed by the way AIPAC and Israel is recruiting black students from historically black colleges.

AK: You read my mind–that was my next question.

RK: This is the thing that I’m actually trying to write: this is pretty astounding and yet, there’s a logic to it. I’m actually planning on writing an open letter to the so-called Vanguard Leadership Group, which is the group that has collectively made strong statements against Students for Justice in Palestine, and is basically in the pocket of AIPAC and Israel. In some respects, it’s a very dangerous position, because what AIPAC is doing is using black students as a moral shield to make the case for Israeli impunity, and that AIPAC is finding, and really developing, cultivating, a whole group of black allies as a way to shield Israel so that they can’t be seen as racist.

Now, the disturbing thing about this, you know, is that when you really start to scratch the surface, there’s a very long history of African American support for Zionism, going back to before there was an Israel as a state. The [Marcus] Garvey movement basically adopted Zionism, a certain form of black Zionism as its sort of mantra, and had actually gotten money from Zionists in the early 1920s. When Israel was founded in 1948 as a result of dispossession, you look at the black press, and you see all these folks across the board, black leaders, who were celebrating and supporting, encouraging Israel, because for them, they saw European Jews as themselves a dispossessed people, an oppressed people, who finally found the capacity to build a nation. So for them, it’s a kind-of heroic story that would encourage African Americans–it’s not exactly the same, but really to mobilize in defense of themselves. And that’s how they saw it.

So people like [civil rights leader] A. Philip Randolph sent a congratulatory note to Israel with almost no mention of Palestinian dispossession, of al-Nakba, of refugees. There were some exceptions to the rule, and every once in a while you see letters to the editor, people who would write these small pieces that would say, “well wait a second. What about the Arabs?” And it was Malcolm X, like a lot of the Muslims, who was ahead of the game. Malcolm was like, “wait a second, this is illegal.” I think Malcolm said, “imagine if the Muslims went to Spain and said we want our land back, start kicking people out and say we were here first.”

So there’s that history, and we have to come to terms with that history because in 1967, I believe there was really a sea change where because of the 67 war, because of the connection between that and other struggles for self-determination and national liberation in Africa and elsewhere, a number of black activists in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee said, “wait a second, we support the Palestinians.” And that was a shift in positions, and as a result of that, a lot of the support that SNCC and other organizations got from Jewish groups disappeared. There’s other reasons for that, but that was one of the reasons.

I think that by coming to terms with that history, but also coming to terms with the history in Palestine, that we have to have another sea change. African Americans who claim to be for social justice have no choice but to support the rule of law, to support the Geneva Conventions, to support the right of return, to end what is essentially an apartheid, ethnic state. It’s not sustainable. So, part of what I would like to do politically is to begin to build a conversation in African American circles, with people who were involved in anti-apartheid work in the past, people who are concerned about other places, to really pay attention once again to Palestine. I think that’s a critical point of struggle for our time.

AK: And so obviously you’re a proponent of the academic boycott of Israel. It’s one of the more controversial aspects of the BDS movement and has led to debate within the Palestine solidarity movement. How would you explain your support for the academic boycott?

RK: Well, there’s a couple of things. One of the key arguments against an academic and cultural boycott is that it suppresses academic freedom, and I vehemently disagree with that position. In fact, it’s a struggle for academic freedom, and what I mean by that is that Palestinians, both scholars, intellectuals and school children, do not enjoy academic freedom whatsoever. You have faculty in Gaza who cannot even be in the same room as scholars with West Bank universities like Birzeit and Nablus University. You have scholars who cannot attend international conferences without a permit, and if they do get a permit, part of what Israel does is use those international trips as excuses to block them returning. You have scholars who have been hired by universities in the occupied territories who can’t take the job because they’re denied entry. You have the criminalization of boycott itself, which is to me the most astounding thing, that to talk about, to produce literature about, can hold you liable in a civil court, maybe not the criminal court, meaning you have to pay damages for whatever and boycott is part of freedom of expression. Okay, there’s that.

The boycott itself was never, as Omar Barghouti put very clearly, was never directed at individual Israeli scholars or artists because what we don’t want to do is start to vilify individuals and do a kind of McCarthy test to see whether or not someone is sufficiently progressive or not. But that’s not the point; the point is that it is directed at institutions. The kind of individual collaborations can continue and in fact, we as a part of the boycott, encourage a certain level of collaboration and conversation as a way to build support, and we’re hoping that those Israeli scholars who really believe in academic freedom would support the boycott as well. In many cases, part of what this institutional boycott does is that it identifies and makes visible the role that universities have played in the violation of Palestinian human rights. We’re talking about universities on land that has been expropriated from Palestinians. We’re talking about lands that expand and create illegal colonies in places like Nablus. We’re talking about universities that host not only scholars that play a key role in designing the apartheid system in Israel and have theorized and implemented policies around questions of the so-called demographic threat, but, you know, we’re also talking about universities that have vilified and punished graduate students and faculty for taking anti-Zionist positions that are backed up with scholarship. Ilan Pappe is not there for that very reason, and he’s just one example.

So we’re saying, we want academic freedom, and that’s the whole point of the boycott, to struggle for the right of academic freedom. And finally, you’ve got this problem even outside the universities where, and again I don’t have to go into detail about this because anyone who picks up a book like Saree Makdisi’s Palestine Inside and Out, will see that you have schoolchildren who can’t attend school because of checkpoints and distances created by the apartheid wall. You’ve got the kind of unequal investment in education, let alone the conditions of life where people could be, kids could be detained at age 13. How is this a world of academic freedom, of intellectual freedom? So that’s one reason.

The other thing I think is, there is an effort on the part of those involved with the boycott to open up the discussion about what Israel and Israel’s security state has done to create instability in the region. Israel has kind-of controlled the discourse for so long, about how it’s the only democracy in the Middle East, how it’s a force for stability, when in fact on the contrary, because of dispossession, because of the oppression of Palestinians, it has been a source of instability. It has been a source of instability because it tries to resolve its problems with military build-up. And the largest factor in all of this is the United States of America. We live in a country where millions of dollars a day from the U.S. goes to supporting and propping up Israel. That’s an astounding fact, because without U.S. support, we wouldn’t be dealing with all of this. And to me, as an American citizen, as a U.S. taxpayer, it’s imperative that I take a critical stance against a U.S. foreign policy that puts the whole world in jeopardy, you know, and creates danger for many people. Not only that, but it supports an illegal regime.

It’s like, if I were driving the getaway car for a bank robbery, and I know it’s a bank robbery, and I’m still driving the car, then I’m complicit in breaking the law. And what Israel represents in some ways is the breaking of many, many international laws and the Geneva Conventions. The illegality of that regime and its practices and the fact that the U.S. props it up means we really don’t have a choice but to support an academic and cultural boycott to try to end the illegal regime.

When you look at the demands of the boycott, they’re very simple. They’re not complicated: Ending the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the wall, which of course the International Court of Justice said in 2004 was illegal. Second, recognize the fundamental civil and political rights of Arab citizens of Israel, that they should have full
equality. It’s a myth that they do have full equality; they clearly don’t. And three, respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. That’s UN resolution 194. That of course opens up a whole can of worms about, return where? To their property, to their land? Should reparations be paid? Of course. But to return is to remake the nation, and that’s part of the invocation of all of this. The three points are all about respecting the rule of law, and that’s it.

AK: My last question for you is a little more personal. Have you received, or do you anticipate any backlash, from advocates of Israel on your campus or otherwise?

RK: Absolutely. I’m used to backlash. I’m a UCLA PhD, and I’m back at UCLA. When I was at UCLA in 1984, we organized a conference on imperialism, and we invited a PLO representative to come. And the Jewish Defense League showed up and they tried to intimidate us and shut it down, the administration got involved.

So in that sense it’s not new, it’s old, to me at least. I’ve gotten some backlash already, I’ve gotten backlash for just being on the board even when I wasn’t as active as I am now. That backlash is nothing compared to having to walk two or three hours to get to your school which is fifteen minutes away in a place where when you look at the future, it doesn’t look like you even have a nation. My backlash is nothing compared to that. And I’m a tenured faculty, I’m a senior person. There are people who have suffered much greater. There’s a whole list of people who have had lost their jobs and been forced out. That’s just part of the territory. And I think it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

But I know one thing: there’s always strength in numbers, and what we want to do with the academic boycott is to force our colleagues to recognize, if you remain silent, you are complicit. So what are you going to do? You want to be complicit, and have all the perks of your job and have a lot of time to do your work, or do you want to take a stand for justice, and be not just a human, but someone who believes in humanity. It’s a simple question.

I should add one thing, though. I’m very, very fortunate being at UCLA again, because even though UCLA is notorious for attacks on people who are critical of Zionism, I’m also in a department with some wonderful scholars, many of whom are Jewish scholars, some who are actually pro-Zionist, others who are extremely anti-Zionist, but we can have our debates and have our struggles within our department and no one goes crazy over that. I feel protected at UCLA, ironically, in a way because I have colleagues like Gabriel Piterberg, who wrote The Returns of Zionism, which is a powerful book–that book is just astounding. I’ve got people like David Myers, who is the chair of the department, who has written a book called Between Jew and Arab, and even though he is less sympathetic to boycott efforts than others, but he’s someone who really lets our flowers bloom. So, I can’t complain. Some people have it much worse than I do, but in the end I’m very proud to be part of this movement, and very proud to have made the connections I’ve made with a group of Palestinian scholars and intellectuals who I think are just some of the greatest minds on the globe right now. These are people who I think the world of, and I would do anything to support the struggle.

Original Link:

If there is one thing that upsets supporters of Israel more than anything, in my experience, it is the notion that Israel is an Apartheid state. That the preferred identity in Israel is Jewish is undeniable. Jewish people own the state of Israel in a manner that no Arab ever could. If being Jewish in Israel conferred no special advantages to Jewish people over the Arab population, then for what purpose do the Zionists demand that Israel be a Jewish state? If it makes no difference in Israel what ethnicity one is, then why not allow the state of Israel to be non-Jewish, that is a democracy where nationality is conferred to all its citizens regardless of ones ethnicity? Would non-Aboriginal Australians find any problem with Australia being declared an Aboriginal state? Would they fear discrimination if such a situation eventuated? Would their fears be understandable?

The admission by Zionists that Israel is an apartheid state would constitute a total capitulation to the efforts of its enemies to delegitimize the Zionist state. They will fight this accusation to the bitter end, beyond all bounds of reason and argument. The following article appeared on the Mondoweiss website on November 1st 2011.

The law and practice of apartheid in South Africa and Palestine
Oct 31, 2011 11:36 pm | John Dugard

Editor Note: Richard Goldstone has just published a new Op-Ed on the New York Times website titled “Israel and the Apartheid Slander.” This recent article by South African international law expert John Dugard provides an interesting counter argument.

I spent most of my adult life in South Africa opposing apartheid, as an advocate, legal academic and, from 1978-1990, director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies( a research institute engaged in human rights advocacy and litigation). In my work I compared and contrasted apartheid with international human rights standards and advocated a Constitution with a Bill of Rights in a democratic South Africa. Unlike many other South Africans, I was never imprisoned but I was prosecuted, arrested and threatened by the security police. My major book, Human Rights and the South African Legal Order (1978), the most comprehensive account of the law and practice of apartheid, was initially banned.

I had wide experience and knowledge of the three pillars of the apartheid state – racial discrimination, repression and territorial fragmentation. I lead lawyers campaigns against the eviction of black persons from neighborhoods set aside for exclusive white occupation by the Group Areas Act, and against the notorious “pass laws”, which made it an offense for blacks to be in so-called “white areas” without the correct documentation. These campaigns took the form of free legal defense to all those arrested which made the systems unmanageable. Through the Centre for Applied Legal Studies I engaged in legal challenges to the implementation of the security laws and emergency laws, which allowed detention without trial and house arrest – and, in practice, torture. I also challenged the establishment of Bantustans in the courts.

After South Africa became a democracy, I was appointed to a small committee of experts charged with the task of drafting a Bill of Rights for the 1996 South African Constitution.

I visited Israel and the OPT in 1982, 1984, 1988 and 1998 to participate in conferences on issues affecting the region. In 2001 I was appointed as Chair of a Commission of Enquiry established by the Commission on Human Rights to investigate human rights violations during the Second Intifada. In 2001 I was appointed as Special Rapporteur to the Commission on Human Rights (later Human Rights Council) on the human rights situation in the OPT. In this capacity I visited the OPT twice a year and reported to the Commission and the Third Committee of the General Assembly. My mandate expired in 2008. In February 2009 I lead a Fact-Finding Mission established by the League of Arab States to investigate and report on violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the course of Operation Cast Lead.

From my first visit to Israel/OPT I was struck by the similarities between apartheid in South Africa and the practices and policies of Israel in the OPT. These similarities became more obvious as I became better informed about the situation. As Special Rapporteur I deliberately refrained from making such comparisons until 2005 as I feared that such comparisons would prevent many governments in the West from taking my reports seriously. However, after 2005 I decided that I could not in good conscience refrain from making such comparisons.

Of course the two regimes are very different. Apartheid South Africa was a state that practiced discrimination and repression against its own people. Israel is an occupying power that controls a foreign territory and its people under a regime recognized by international humanitarian law. But in practice there is little difference. Both regimes were/are characterized by discrimination, repression and territorial fragmentation. The main difference is that the apartheid regime was more honest. The law of apartheid was openly legislated in Parliament and was clear for all to see, whereas the law governing Palestinians in the OPT is largely contained in obscure military decrees and inherited emergency regulations that are virtually inaccessible.

In my work as Commissioner and Special Rapporteur I saw every aspect of the occupation of the OPT. I witnessed the humiliating check points, which reminded me of the implementation of the pass laws (but worse), separate roads (unknown in apartheid South Africa) and the administrative demolition of houses, which reminded me of the demolition of houses in “black areas” set aside for exclusive white occupation. I visited Jenin in 2003 shortly after it had been devastated by the IDF. I spoke to families whose houses had been raided, and vandalized by the IDF; I spoke to young and old who had been tortured by the IDF; and I visited hospitals to see those who had been wounded by the IDF. I saw and, on occasion, visited settlements; I saw most of the Wall and spoke to farmers whose lands had been seized for the construction of the Wall; and I traveled through the Jordan Valley viewing destroyed Bedouin camps and check points designed to serve the interests of the settlers.

A final comment based on my personal experience. There was an altruistic element to the apartheid regime, albeit motivated by the ideology of separate development, which aimed to make the Bantustans viable states. Although not in law obliged to do so, it built schools, hospitals and roads for black South Africans. It established industries in the Bantustans to provide employment for blacks. Israel even fails to do this for Palestinians. Although in law it is obliged to cater for the material needs of the occupied people, it leaves this all to foreign donors and international agencies. Israel practices the worst kind of colonialism in the OPT. Land and water are exploited by an aggressive settler community that has no interest in the welfare of the Palestinian people – with the blessing of the state of Israel.

John Dugard is a South African international lawyer who headed the Centre for Applied Legal Studies in Johannesburg during the Apartheid era. In 1995 he assisted in the drafting of the Bill of Rights in the South African Constitution. For seven years he was Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to the UN Human Rights Council and Commission on Human Rights. This article originally appeared in the Autumn 2011 issue of Al-Majdal.

It is a brave (or stupid) person that gets up and claims that something, or someone, is not anti-Semitic when Jewish people have already declared it, or them, to be so. You would think that if Jewish people have declared something, or someone, to be not anti-Semitic, then a reasonable response would be, who are we to disagree with them? Surely Jewish people would be pretty reasonable judges as to what is or isn’t anti-Semitic in nature?. To say that there were any Jewish people who endorsed the actions of the Nazis during Kristallnacht would be ludicrous. Nazi attitudes to Jews were utterly based in a brutal racist ideology. No  Jewish person would have endorsed them.

Then what are we to make of the tens of thousands of Jewish people, both inside Israel and in the Diaspora, who have endorsed the BDS campaign, if that campaign is based in an anti-Semitism that Andrew Bolt tells us is analogous to the pogroms of the Nazis in the 30’s in Germany? Are these Jewish people (many of them Holocaust survivors) mad?

And what do we make of South Africans who judge that Israel is an Apartheid state? Surely their testimony should have as much veracity as the Jewish peoples testimony relating to who or what is anti-Semitic and who or what is not? With that in mind I have decided to post this article from the Mondoweiss website on 6/08/2011.

South African student bodies declare, ‘We recognise apartheid when we see it’
Aug 06, 2011 09:40 am | annie

An Israeli mission to South African campuses is expected to arrive on August 11. Palestinian students have written to South African colleagues asking them to challenge and boycott the Israeli delegation. Three South African student bodies– the South African Union of Students, the South African Student Congress, and the Young Communist League of South Africa issued the following statement at a joint press conference yesterday at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The groups included South Africa’s oldest and most representative student bodies. 

                                JOINT STUDENT STATEMENT

There is no doubt, Israel is an Apartheid state; There is only one word, boycott!

We, students and youth of a post Apartheid South Africa, who bear the scars of a racist history and who continue to fight for complete liberation, have a duty and responsibility to stand in solidarity with those facing oppression worldwide. Israeli apartheid is one such form of oppression.

Israeli media boast that a mission of 150 Israeli propagandists will be sent to universities in 5 countries to fix Israel’s “serious image problems”. The Israeli mission will begin on South African campuses on the 11th of August, with a delegation that includes at least two aides from the Israeli parliament. A delegation member was clear about the intention of their trip: “We have to create some doubt in their [South African students’] minds.”

Don’t patronize us! We lived apartheid, we suffered apartheid, we know what apartheid is, we recognise apartheid when we see it. And when we see Israel, we see a regime that practices apartheid. Israel’s image needs no changing; its policies do! We urge Israeli students to instead join the growing and inspiring internal resistance to their regime, particularly the boycott from within movement, rather than waste time and money on these propaganda trips to deceive us Black students, South Africans have no need for these Muldergate-like trips.
A “major focus” of the Israeli trip will be the University of Johannesburg (UJ). On 1st April 2011 UJ’s Senate, with the full backing of UJ’s Student Representative Council, terminated its institutional relationship with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University. Indeed, UJ set an academic boycott of Israel precedent that all other South African and international universities can follow.

Following UJ’s decision, and in response to a letter sent to us by Palestinian students, we urge all SRCs, student groups and other youth structures to strategize and implement a boycott of Israel and its campaigns. We declare that all SA campuses must be Apartheid-Israel free zones.

As with the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, international solidarity is key in overcoming Israeli Apartheid. In Nelson Mandela’s words: ‘It behoves all South Africans, erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice….we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’


A. On Education

1. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has had disastrous effects on access to education for Palestinians. Palestinian students face poverty, harassment and humiliation as a result of Israeli policy and actions.

2. Israel mounted direct attacks on Palestinian education, including the complete closures of two Palestinian universities in 2003 and the targeting and bombing of more than 60 primary and secondary schools during the Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2009.
3. Israel’s assault on the education of Palestinians is illegal under international law. The right to education is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments.

4. The Israeli blockade of Gaza has had a detrimental impact on students. Gaza’s electricity supply is controlled by Israel and shut-down for several hours most days, making it difficult for students to study. Moreover, the blockade means insufficient quantities of educational equipment, such as paper, desks and books, reach students.

B. On Israeli Apartheid

5. Several of our senior leaders have compared Israel to Apartheid South Africa, including Comrades Kgalema Mothlantle, Blade Nzimande, Zwelinzima Vavi, Rob Davies, Jeremy Cronin, Ahmed Kathrada, Winnie Mandela, Ronnie Kasrils, Denis Goldberg, the late Kader Asmal and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

6. Both the former and current United Nations Special Rapporteurs for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories have requested that Israel be investigated for the crime of apartheid.

7. In an official report commissioned by the South African government in 2009, the Human Sciences Research Council confirmed that Israel, by its policies and practices, is guilty of the crime of apartheid.

8. In November 2010, South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation called upon the Israeli government “to cease their activities that are reminiscent of apartheid forced removals…”

C. On Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

8. Palestinian civil society, including student groups, have called for a policy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel until it abides by international law.

9. This call has the endorsement of the largest and most representative coalition of civil and political society in Palestine. The call also has the support of a growing number of progressive Israeli groups.

10. In 2010, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Professor Richard Falk, said: “It is politically and morally appropriate, as well as legally correct, to accord maximum support to the BDS campaign.”

11. COSATU, South Africa’s largest trade union federation was one of the first unions to endorse the BDS call. Subsequently, numerous other international trade unions have also adopted a pro-BDS position.

12. Several international groups have began to advance the BDS call in the cultural, consumer, sports, economic and academic spheres. Earlier this year the largest student union in Europe, the ULU, passed a motion in support of BDS.”

South African Union of Students, South African Student Congress and the Young Communist League of South Africa

* SASCO is South Africa’s oldest and largest student organization.

** The SA Union of Students (SAUS) comprises all South African university Student Representative Councils and is the most representative student union in the country.

*** The Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL) has local branches at all South African universities


Professor Naomi Chazan is the President of the New Israel Fund (NIF) and a former member of the Israeli Knesset (on behalf of the center-left Meretz party). She is a remarkable and courageous woman and has openly criticised the Israeli government concerning Palestinian rights. The day after Operation Cast Lead was initiated by the I.D.F., Professor Chazan signed a petition demanding the immediate end to the attack on Gaza. She has been the victim of vicious smear campaigns by the extreme right wing in  Israel. She has recently spoken in Australia about the BDS campaign and has disappointed many activists with here rejection of the BDS movement.

Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian woman and a spokesperson for Australians for Palestine. Her response to the criticisms of BDS made by Professor Chazan appeared on the Mondoweiss website on July 12th 2011.

A Palestinian woman’s response to Israel’s Naomi Chazan on BDS

by Samah Sabawi

Naomi Chazan, the President of the New Israel Fund (NIF) gave a talk in Marrickville, New South Wales, during her recent Australian tour offering a critique of the Palestinian Civil Society call for Boycotts Divestments and Sanctions  (BDS) against Israel.

Although she presented herself as a veteran Israeli peace activist, Chazan’s mission here in Australia was ostensibly to promote NIF.  This is important because everything she said about BDS must be understood within the context of her mission – to gather funds and support and to convince Jews in Australia of the need to continue to invest in Israel through NIF.  This clear conflict of interest makes Chazan’s criticism of BDS far less credible.

Chazan named six reasons why she believed BDS was harmful.

BDS is not effective because Israel has a very strong economy: South Africa’s economy was also booming when the boycott movement against that regime began in the late 1950s.  Decades later the movement succeeded in bringing down the South African apartheid regime.

Many Israeli leaders, including Ehud Barak, Ben-Eliezer, Shimon Peres and others, have already stated that BDS is a “strategic threat;” what they mean of course is that it is a serious threat to Israel’s system of occupation, legalized racial discrimination (conforming to the UN definition of apartheid) and denial of refugee rights. We only need to look at the millions of dollars the Israeli lobby groups in Western nations including Australia are spending in efforts to “sabotage” the movement to know that it is indeed effective.  The fact that Chazan focused so much on BDS in her Marrickville talk confirms this.

There is other evidence of BDS’s effectiveness.

The Deutsche Bahn withdrawal from the Israeli rail project connecting Tel Aviv with Jerusalem has been a watershed for the movement.  It was the first time that a German government-owned company withdrew from an Israeli project over concerns of violation of international law. The French company Veolia’s loss of billions of dollars worth of contracts because of its involvement in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail project also points to the impressive success of BDS campaigning, especially in Europe.

The fast growing list of superstars and prominent music bands heeding the boycott of Israel makes Tel Aviv look very similar to the South African resort of Sun City under apartheid. That city was a key target for the cultural boycott then.

The University of Johannesburg’s severance of ties with Ben Gurion University over the latter’s complicity in violating Palestinian rights is the most concrete victory to date for the academic boycott campaign. And, there has been sweeping trade union support for BDS in the UK, Brazil, Ireland, South Africa, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Belgium, India, Turkey, and elsewhere.

BDS undermines the existence of the state of Israel: The demands are clear – full equality in Israel for the Palestinian citizens of the state, an end to occupation and a fulfilment of Israel’s obligation towards the refugees. If these demands threaten to bring an end to Israel’s “existence, we have to ask what does this really say about Israel?

A state that is truly democratic and built on the foundations of justice and equality would not be threatened by demands of equality and an end to occupation.  Boycotts did not bring an end to South Africa’s existence, they did not destroy it, and they certainly did not “delegitimize” whites:  they only destroyed South Africa’s system of injustice, inequality and racial discrimination.

BDS is actually “a code word for one state solution” which defies the right of Israelis and Jews to self-determination: BDS does not aim for either a one or two state solution, but for Palestinian rights.  One of those rights is for Palestinians to be free in their own land without the yoke of Israeli occupation and system of racial discrimination.  Whether that is in one  state for both peoples or two sovereign, democratic states side by side has yet to be decided. The movement is consistently neutral on this, regardless of the diverse personal political views held by its various spokespeople.

BDS is counter-productive because it entrenches the victim mentality of those in Israel who believe the whole world is against them which inevitably strengthens the right wing in Israel while weakening the left: Right now, the fanatical right is taking over the entire Israeli society, but once boycotts begin hurting Israel’s carefully nurtured public image, dissenting voices will become much more vocal, as happened in South Africa. Then, the current consensus in support of apartheid and colonial rule will crack.

BDS is against academic freedom and singles out Israeli academics: Chazan is purposely misleading in this regard. As any relatively well-informed observer must know after seven years of the Palestinian academic boycott campaign and hundreds of articles written on it, the academic boycott is institutional in nature and has therefore never targeted individual Israeli academics.  BDS has consistently been directed at academic institutions because of their persistent and grave complicity in planning, implementing and justifying Israel’s violations of international law.

Chazan’s claims that Israeli academics are progressive and opposed to the occupation have absolutely no foundation.   In 2008, a petition drafted by four Jewish-Israeli academics calling on the Israeli army to allow access at checkpoints to Palestinian academics and students to reach their educational institutions was distributed to all 9,000 Israeli academics in the hope that most would sign this minimal expression of respect for academic freedom: only 407 out of 9,000 academic actually did so.

BDS singles Israel out:  This criticism is so often tendered that one has to ask whether Chazan and others posing it want more action on other causes or silence on the Palestinian cause.  In any case, people are rising up against tyrannical regimes and seeking change in just about every Arab state in “Israel’s neighbourhood.” Some of these governments are now being subject to international sanctions, so why not Israel which has for decades defied the UN and violated international law?

An equally important question to ask here is why not advocate for Palestinian rights? Indeed, why are Palestinians being singled out as the only people who cannot be championed? We can speak out for all other issues, so it is tendentious to suggest that speaking up for Palestinian rights singles Israel out unfairly.

The principled Israeli left camp which respects equal rights for all, the UN-sanctioned rights of Palestinian refugees, and an end to colonial oppression should – and indeed does — invest its time challenging its government’s apartheid policies and oppression of the Palestinians rather than criticising the Palestinian non-violent resistance model that encompasses BDS.

Chazan’s efforts to undermine BDS need to be seen in context.  At the end of the day, Chazan will go home to Israel where she is a privileged Jewish citizen with all her rights intact.  She is part of and an enabler of the establishment that denies Palestinians their basic rights and freedoms, and as such, she is not in a position to be dictating to the Palestinians their methods of struggle or acting as gatekeeper for the international solidarity movements, preaching to them what is allowed and what is not in standing with the Palestinians.  As in every human struggle for freedom, justice and equality, that right is the prerogative of those who live behind the walls, hindered by checkpoints and held captive to siege and military oppression.
Samah Sabawi is the Public Advocate of the Australian advocacy group

Even the Israeli Media shows more balance.

The second flotilla is on its way to Gaza to provide humanitarian aid and help start a real process to end the illegal siege of Gaza, but you would be excused for not knowing it if you only read the mainstream Australian media.  Four brave Australian human rights workers, SYLVIA HALE – former Greens MP, VIVIENNE PORZSOLT from Jews Against the Occupation, MICHAEL COLEMAN – social worker and youth activist and NICK WALLWORK – graduate student are on the Gaza Flotilla. What is most shocking to me is that an article on the 4 Australians printed in Haaeretz is far more balanced and reasonable than the bigoted tirade that appeared in The Australian on June 24th by Arsen Ostrovsky. Apart from the usual Zionist nonsense that the flotilla is designed to legitimize Hamas and that there is no crisis in Gaza and that the blockade is totally legal, Ostrovsky has nothing interesting to say. See below how the Israeli media dealt with the issue.

29 June 2011

by Amira Hass

GREECE – This is not the first time that  Sylvia Hale, 69, has been asked why she is so active for the Palestinian  cause. What about the discrimination against the Aborigines in her own country, Australia, for example? Hale, a former Green Party parliamentarian who is still active in the party, immediately responded: “Undoubtedly, Australia has a very racist history. Aborigines were given the right to vote only in 1967. But whoever asks us ‘what about the Aborigines,’ are not the ones who are interested in their rights, and not the ones fighting for those rights. They are using this as a diversionary tactic for evading the debate over Israel’s policy, or to delegitimize criticism of Israel.”

And yes, for anyone who is interested: She was and remains involved in other struggles. She has rallied against the initiative to limit the rights of the Aborigines, fought the discriminatory attitude toward refugees in Australia and opposed the policy of stopping boat refugees. Prior to entering parliament, she hid two refugees in her home so that they
would not be arrested.

This week Hale and three of her compatriots will climb on board the Tahrir, the Canadian ship that is participating in the flotilla to the Gaza Strip. She and her Australian colleagues traveled the greatest distance of all the participants. Their flight lasted 48 hours, including the stops in various airports.

Hale and her friend, Vivienne Porzsolt, also 69, give the impression of being typical Western tourists, middle class, middle aged, staying at the hotel where the passengers of the Tahrir have gathered.

In Greece there is a general strike, demonstrations and tear gas in Athens, but the tourists are oblivious:  They walk around and catch the rays. Perhaps the tourists wonder who  these people are, as they go from one meeting to another, from the  dining room to the lobby, and then to the corner where the Internet is  available. These tourists have not caught any
sunshine during the past five days.

Porzsolt has also been involved in social struggles in New Zealand, where she was born, and in Australia, where she now lives. In her CV of activism she includes protesting against the war in Vietnam, and apartheid in South Africa, and involvement in the feminist movement.

Activism against Israel’s occupation is a given for Porzsolt, as it is for Hale. From this point of view they are characteristic of most of the voyagers on the Tahrir, and especially those aged 40 and up. Social and political activists for many years, for whom this sort of activity is as natural as going to work or establishing a family. For the two of them, activism for Palestinian rights is part of a general outlook they hold as Western citizens, with the privileges that this gives them.

But Porzsolt’s involvement also stems  directly from being Jewish, she says. “My activism against the Israeli  occupation is linked to my Jewish-secular background, the values of  equality and morality in the home of my parents [who were] natives of  Prague who managed to escape from it immediately following the Nazi  occupation in March, 1939. During the 1990s the Jewish element in my  life became stronger and I became more interested in the  Israeli-Palestinian issue. Because Israel considers itself the country  that represents all the Jews of the world, my participation in this  voyage is my way of declaring that Israel is not acting on my behalf.”

“There are situations a person cannot avoid being aware of and cannot pretend they do not exist. And this is the case of the situation in Gaza,” Hale says.

She visited the Gaza Strip with a delegation of Australian unions. The pictures of the children at the hospital at  Khan Yunis, full of bombings and tanks, continue to haunt her and remind  her of her granddaughter.

“We went to see the tunnels and the airport.  It had already been completely destroyed. I saw people with carts with donkeys, going through the rubble to find construction materials. The next day I read that the army had fired into that area. What is especially shocking in this situation is that lack of proportionality in the means Israel is utilizing, and the collective
punishment that it regularly applies.”

Porzsolt visited the Gaza Strip more than a decade ago. She visited Israel and the West Bank several times, and participated in demonstrations at Sheikh Jarrah (in East Jerusalem) and Bili’in (in the West Bank ). “In my visit to Israel I discovered that the Israeli and Palestinian movements against the occupation are weak and need outside support,’ she said.

What troubled her most is the extreme situation in Gaza, “an enormous prison under the sky. The strong sense that there is something wrong in every sense of the word.”

During the past year they worked to raise $50,000 for the purchase of Tahrir and to fund the flotilla. The fund raising in Australia was a good way to raise awareness of the blockade on Gaza, they say.

But they are not deluding themselves about the speed with which changes occur. The struggle against “White Australia,” the policy which limited the immigration of non-Whites to the continent, lasted some 70 years before being cancelled in 1973.

The Australian,  hang your head in shame!
Craig Nielsen


Zionist Apartheid and the Unconditional Embrace of God

Recently I asked a (Christian) man in his later years, who believes in the idea of unconditional support for Israel, whether or not Christians should have openly opposed and protested against Apartheid in South Africa. To my initial surprise, he answered that Christians should not have bothered, it was irrelevant, “just preach the Gospel”. Quickly I remembered that the Pentecostal Church in South Africa, staunchly Christian Zionist in its doctrines, had very little to say about Apartheid in that country that was negative. My attitude of surprise started to drift towards one of frustration and then resignation over the state of the understanding of social justice issues amongst many conservative Christians. A month or two ago, Glen Beck, a well known media personality and Religious Right advocate in the U.S., advised Christians in America to abandon their church congregation if it was even starting to display an interest in social justice issues.

With regard to the issue of Apartheid and Israel, I was deeply affected when I found out that both Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, men who have had extensive experience living under a system of Apartheid in their homeland, have declared, upon visiting Israel and the Occupied Territories, that the policies of the Zionist State of Israel towards the Palestinian Arab population are examples of Apartheid. Documentation of the discrimination experienced by Arabs in Israel and the Occupied Territories is vast to say the least. For anyone wishing to read a very accessible guide to this issue, I recommend Ben White’s Israeli Apartheid: A Beginners Guide.

The most obvious symbol of this Apartheid regime is the “Separation Barrier” in the West Bank. Supporters of Israel are quick to demand that the decision to build the wall was forced upon Israel by the behaviour of the Palestinians, the suicide bombers in particular. They point to the fact that the suicide bombings have stopped since the wall’s construction as justification for the wall’s existence. The wall is fundamentally a security issue for Israelis. The lack of security felt by most Israelis that persists to this day is also evidence that the wall has also not brought any feelings of reconciliation between Arab and Jew in Israel either.

The claim that the wall is for security reasons requires deeper analysis. While regrettable, it is perfectly reasonable for someone to erect a barrier between themselves and a second party with whom they simply can not get along with to the point of violent confrontation. Everyone has a right to protect themselves. This is not the issue. We can easily imagine a scenario whereby two neighbours involved in a bitter dispute, that has led to violence,agree to erect a wall along the boundary line that divides the property of both parties. But when that wall, erected by the most powerful party in the dispute, is created in such a way that it invades into the very territory of the other neighbour, thereby including members of the family of this alleged foe on the side of the fence containing the property of the party that built the wall, we have to wonder about whether the wall has been erected as a pretense for something else.

Further to this, if the neighbour who built the fence also pays members of his own family to go and live on the other side of the fence on the property of those whom he say he feels unsafe from, then our confidence that the wall was made for security reasons crumbles. This scenario in fact mirrors that situation in Israel-Palestine today. Over 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank live on the “Israel side” of the Wall and Israel offers lucrative incentives for Jewish people to live on the other side of the barrier. The barrier separates Arab from Arab, puts allegedly “dangerous Arabs” on the Israel side of the wall and the government of Israel actively encourages Jews to live amongst these “hateful Palestinians”. I simply do not believe the justification given for the barrier by the supporters of Zionism in Israel. I think many Israelis find it equally hard to justify but somehow the insecurity they generally feel outweighs common sense. Ilan Baruch, the Israeli diplomat who recently resigned because he could no longer justify the policies of the current Israeli government regarding the occupation of the West Bank, is very much in the minority.

It is also well known that since the separation barrier is only 58% complete, it is relatively easy for Palestinians in the West Bank to travel to Israel illegally. The use of suicide bombers was thankfully repudiated by Hamas in 2006. This was far more due to a change in strategy than the existence of the wall. It seems that Hamas has seen that is far more profitable to Islamisize the citizens of Gaza than involve them in suicide bombing. The separation barrier is part of a strategy which includes the illegal settlements, checkpoints and Israeli only highways (all of which violate international law) which seek to further marginalise and oppress the Palestinian people, provoking them to further frustration and unfortunately even to the point of violence in a minority of instances.

Israel is a Zionist State, a state owned by Jews for Jews, as defined by the State of Israel. Whereas most governments are chosen by the people, in the case of Israel, the people are chosen by the government. Israel is a state for Jewish people in a way that it can never be for non-Jews. Israel may be able to afford a measure of human rights for Arabs but it can never afford equal rights between Arab and Jew in Israel. In the Occupied Territories, the situation has been described as “Apartheid on steroids”.

In 1989, The Israeli Supreme Court made a ruling about candidates and parties running for election in Israel. It ruled that the Central Elections Committee may prevent a candidates’ list from participating in elections if its objectives or actions, expressly or by implication endorse the negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people. What this means is that for anyone to participate in Israel’s “democracy” one must renounce the idea that Israel should be a democracy, that is, a state for all its people. The notion that any state that is a democracy should of necessity be a state for all its people, is commonly accepted as the minimal requirement for a state to be declared democratic. If an Islamic state is deemed intrinsically to be undemocratic, then so must a Jewish State.

The state sanctioned inequality of rights between Jew and Arab in Palestine inevitable leads to oppression of the less privileged.

I can not help but be reminded of the demands of the Torah.

Ex 22:21 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.

Eze 47:21 “You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel.
Eze 47:22 You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.
Eze 47:23 In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance,” declares the Sovereign LORD.

God’s intention in the land of Israel was for equality between Jew and non-Jew in accordance with the truth that God’s love and concern is for all people’s of the world. Whereas the Holocaust of Pharaoh was used as a means ( in scripture) to encourage Jews to specifically ensure that non-Jews in Israel were not oppressed, the Holocaust of the Nazis is used by the Zionists as a means to ensure that Jews do not suffer a similar fate in the future (a noble goal) but in a manner that ignores the oppression of non-Jews that is an inevitable consequence of the Zionist answer to the Jewish question.

In the end, the Torah’s authority will outlast the dogmas of Zionism however well intentioned they may seem at the moment to the supporters of Israel.

Craig Nielsen

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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May 2023