Stop Apartheid!

OK, that title got you reading, so what I really mean is “Stop (with the) Apartheid (rhetoric already)!”. This morning I counter-demonstrated against a group protesting against Israel, and they had “Apartheid” boldly on display. Now, I admit I can be a stickler for words (I am, after all, an author and blogger), maybe even a little OC about them at times. But my thing with “apartheid” is not nitpicking. This is strategic rhetoric designed to invalidate Israel as a Jewish state.

This morning’s demonstration was triggered by a meeting here between some New Mexico and Israeli business and high-tech people to discuss cooperation in water and energy conservation. One of the protesters had a bright orange sign that said “Don’t do business with Israeli Apartheid!” so I asked him what “Apartheid” meant. He said he didn’t know; he was just holding up the sign. I said that “Israeli Apartheid” was a lie and asked why he was holding up a sign with a lie. He said, “That’s the sign they gave me.”

Another demonstrator said that Israeli was guilty of apartheid because they did targeted assassinations (against Hamas military leaders in Gaza). I tried to explain that Hamas had declared and demonstrated itself to be at war with Israel, and this was a military strategy, which doesn’t have anything to do with apartheid.

Now, to be fair, I did speak with another young guy who was a bit more knowledgeable. His bottom line revealed the ugly truth about the apartheid rhetoric: Israel is apartheid simply because it’s a Jewish state. Simply because it claims to be the national homeland of the Jewish people, it’s racist, apartheid and all the rest. Every state on the planet, this guy was implying, should be a pluralistic, secular, church-and-state separated set-up like the USA. I did ask him why it’s OK for President Obama (along with most others) to refer to “the Islamic Republic of Iran,” but it’s not fair for there to be a Jewish state of Israel, but I didn’t get much response.

“Apartheid” casts the Jewish people in the land of Israel as colonialists, as a powerful, European-backed minority oppressing a native population. Never mind that there have always been Jews in the land of Israel (as even the protesters admitted this morning), or that Jews have been the majority population in the whole city of Jerusalem since the 1860s, long before there was any thought of West Jerusalem and East Jerusalem, or that the Arab population west of the Jordan mushroomed after the Jewish population started to grow.

The apartheid rhetoric invalidates any kind of Jewish state as wrong because it’s Jewish. From this perspective, Israel could solve all its problems and atone for all its shortcomings, and that wouldn’t solve a thing.

For me that’s a good reason to stand up, even out on the streets, in support of Israel as Israel – the national homeland of the Jewish people.


9 thoughts on “Stop Apartheid!”

      1. Shalom David. You’re writing from Israel, so I’d give your perspective extra weight, but do we really want to invoke a UN resolution here? Durban III is sponsored by (and held at) the UN, so you’re telling them to remember that the UN already backed Israel as a Jewish state. I agree that the whole point of Durban is to delegitimize Israel precisely because it’s a Jewish state. (It’s OK to have Islamic states, of course, but not a Jewish state!) But Israel’s legitimacy doesn’t depend on UN action one way or the other. Also, if we invoke the 1947 support for a Jewish state, then why not the likely 2011 recognition of a Palestinian state?

    1. Hi Jon,

      The organizers of the Durban demonstration probably have lots of suggestions, but the thing that strikes me the most is the HYPOCRISY. Durban III is supposedly a human rights conference. At its last meeting, in ’09 I believe, Ahmadinejad was the keynote speaker, and he’ll be back this year too. Major sponsors are states like Libya, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc., all paragons of human rights. So, I’d have a sign about hypocrisy. Maybe one in support of Israel as the only stable democracy in the Middle East.

  1. Russ,
    I don’t have a problem with a Palestinian state. The two state solution was accepted in 1937 known then as the Peel Commission by the leadership of the developing Jewish nation. Then in 1948 we adopted the UN partition plan for a two state solution. Today most Israel leaders are in agreement with this concept. Statehood is not the problem. recognizing Israel and stopping the violence is.

    The other side of the argument could be that if the participants of Durban want a UN support for a Pal state then they must also recognize the UN support for a Jewish one.

    Of course these days practically no one cares one way or the other what the UN decides. Netanyahu said to day on Israeli news that he was not concerned at all that the UN decides. “You can get anything passed in the UN these days,” he said.

    I tend to agree. Facts on the ground will determine the outcome of all this, not more lame attempts by Arab nations opposed to a Jewish state to destroy us. If history is any indication, this push for Pal statehood will surely backfire and only work to even further establish Israel’s presence in the Land probably by some surprising turn of events.

    I remember how last year there was tremendous pressure on Israel to enter negotiations with Syria. Europe and even the US were threatening sanctions if Israel continued to refuse to discuss the Golan Heights. How odd such a idea sounds today!

    1. Thanks David–I agree that the big issue is recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and a genuine two-state solution would be compatible with that. You make a good point: “If the participants of Durban want a UN support for a Pal state then they must also recognize the UN support for a Jewish one.” Good logic, but isn’t the goal of much pro-Palestinian rhetoric and activity ONE state, not two? One state in which the Jews have been largely driven out or marginalized.

  2. I do not think anyone is against a Jewish state. But one cannot remove people from their land (palestinians in this case), take their homes, send them in camps in other countries like Lebanon by the millions, and treat them like stray dogs. You guys can say whatever you want, but you cannot fool the world any longer. You are doing to the Palestinians what others have done to you in the past or worse – that is for decades now. And as what it was done to you as a nation was wrong, so it is wrong what you do the the Palestinians. Stop now the wrong path you are taking and built you country on peace. Keep going the way you are going now, and you might lose everything: the Arab revolution might mark the begining of your end. And this is not what I want or what the rest of the world wants. The world just wants you to stop treating Palestinians as your slaves and start treating them with respect. And help some of them to change from wild animals back to humans. After all, you caused some of them to change from people into wild animals: people with no hope, no dreams, no wishes. After all, why would one put a bomb-jacket on and blow oneself? Because one does not have anything to live for. And this is your fault. And stop denying it.

    1. Citizen, you lost me–and your own credibility—with your opening line: “I do not think anyone is against a Jewish state.” The Palestinian Authority is against a Jewish State, at least according to their own documents. Hamas is clearly against a Jewish state, as is every country in the region, except for Egypt and Jordan, which signed peace treaties with Israel. And, as you imply, who knows how long those will last? But despite this, I’m allowing your comment to post because it illustrates the kind of misinformation that Israel struggles against. Yes, Israel’s policy is often harsh and difficult for Palestinians, including those who are innocent of any actions against Israel. But, no, Israel does not treat Palestinians the way Jews have been treated in recent European history, and to claim that it does reveals either historical ignorance or latent anti-Semitism. If some Palestinians commit atrocities because they have nothing to live for, as you claim, why did their leaders not accept the generous offers for peace that Israel made as recently as 2000 and even 2008? They weren’t perfect, perhaps, but they certainly would have given desperate people something to live for, if that’s what they really wanted. Instead, the greatest obstacle to peace has always been the one you don’t believe exists—unbending opposition to Israel as a Jewish state.

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