On Israeli “Apartheid”: A response to Zafar

 

In Judith Levy’s post regarding Secretary Kerry’s use of the word “apartheid” in the Israeli-Palestinian context, Zafar wrote:

Under Apartheid in South Africa the benefit from the  majority of the land and its resources was allocated to one ethnic group at the expense of another – one group had freedom of movement, the other didn’t.  One group basically controlled the other for its own benefit.

Obviously there are many differences between Israel and South Africa, but which part of one group being systematically privileged over another is not true in Israel and the West Bank?  Are the Palestinians evicting Israelis by declaring security zones in (for eg) Tel Aviv and then settling the area, or are the Israelis evicting Palestinians  by declaring security zones in the Galilee and the West Bank and then settling them with Israeli citizens?

Keep in mind, apartheid was not coined as an insult – it was a term used by South Africans to describe their own system.  Like the word hafrada, perhaps?

I would have liked to respond with a comment in the original thread, but I think Zafar’s comment deserves more lengthy treatment.

According to this reasoning, the “apartheid” label is appropriate when one group enjoys systematic privilege at the expense of another. And then, since Israelis have X, and Palestinians are denied it by Israel, Israel is apparently privileged. But a superficial resemblance doesn’t mean things are the same; a dog and a horse may both have four legs, but that doesn’t make them the same animal.

First, unlike blacks in South Africa, the Palestinian Arabs do not face restrictions because of their identity as such. Within Israel proper, Arabs receive full civil rights, serve in parliament, and even serve on the supreme court. There is certainly room for improvement in their social status, but legal equality is the goal — and in most areas, the norm. The reason for restricted movement in the territories is not racial. Rather, it is to protect innocent Israeli lives against enemies who desire their violent death.

The nub of the issue is not “systematic privilege”, but a willingness to live in peaceful coexistence. Arabs live peacefully in Israel; yet Palestinians insist that the West Bank and Gaza (at a minimum) must be Judenrein. They lynch Jews who make a wrong turn; their leadership pays people to murder babies in their cribs; they aim laser-guided missiles at school buses full of children. And the perpetrators enjoy broad and deep support among the PA leadership and the Palestinian polity. Keeping such threats at bay is not any sort of exploitation for Israel’s benefit, nor is it any form of “privilege”; it is self-preservation. That is in no way immoral.

And let’s be clear: the word “Apartheid” is applied to Israel only by its enemies, specifically because of the word’s moral overtones. They use it because it is conjures immediate negative connotations. They use it because it justified sanctions and divestment, which they hope to use as weapons against Israel too. They use it not because it is a neutral descriptor of the situation, but because it is a loaded descriptor. In South Africa, both sides used the term; in the Israeli context, only one side applies it. (And we can leave aside, for the time being, the fact that the term is applied only to Israel, and not any other country.)

Hafradah” is not interchangeable with apartheid, precisely because the Hebrew term is an accurate descriptor. It means “separation”, but with a connotation of “withdrawal” or “disengagement”. It is the name for Ariel Sharon’s plan to uproot Israeli citizens and even the Israeli military presence from among Palestinians, while simultaneously curtailing Palestinian access to Israeli citizens. It is not designed as a system, like apartheid, to be maintained in perpetuity; it is a plan B until such time as Palestinians accept Israel’s existence, and a permanent settlement can be reached.

In practice, the hafradah is more solicitous towards the Palestinians, and international mores, than the alternative. It took Jews off of land they by rights should be able to live in peacefully (just as Arabs live in Israel). In doing so, it enabled more freedom of movement for Palestinians within the West Bank, and reduced Israeli retaliatory violence (and the use of morally more problematic actions, such as home demolitions) against Palestinians.

And make no mistake: Israel implemented the hafradah only because Palestinians repeatedly rejected (as they continue to reject) peaceful coexistence. Israelis ultimately desire to live side-by-side. They had tried to devolve more autonomous control to the Palestinian polity through the Oslo process, but the Palestinians declined to build a responsible governing apparatus. Instead, they used that freedom and control to increase their violence against Israeli civilians. The Oslo process was designed as a one-way ratchet, so when the process was arrested, the West Bank was suspended in a kind of Swiss cheese of areas under Israeli and Palestinian control. This unquestionably leads to difficulties for West Bank Palestinians. (It also led to second-order losses for Israel, as restrictions cut off a reliable source of labor.) But it’s not exploitation or Israeli “privilege”.

The most controversial part of hafradah among Israelis was the full Israeli civilian and military withdrawal from Gaza. Note that Israel gave the Gazans not only full control of the territory but also valuable economic infrastructure. Who had the benefit of “privilege” at the expense of the other in this instance? Yet the Gazans responded by deliberately destroying the economic infrastructure Israel left behind, in a self-injuring gesture of hostility, and commenced rocket fire against civilian Israeli targets.

Where is the morality in providing the same opportunity to Arabs in the West Bank, as Kerry would have Israel do? Why should declining to do so be considered some sort of Israeli exploitation of Palestinians? And most importantly: Why should Jewish survival be considered a “privilege”?

There are 86 comments.

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  1. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Very well spoken SoS. I doubt if he read my post regarding Perry, by Paula Sterns, she doesn’t mince words.

    • #1
  2. Judith Levy, Ed. Contributor
    Judith Levy, Ed.
    @judithlevy

    SoS, thank you for this post.

    • #2
  3. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Very nice rebuttal to a misinformed accusation.

    To say that one group “controlled the other for its own benefit” is utterly false. In fact, Israelis invest in economic development and provide much-needed employment for West Bank Palestinians. Israel is proactively laying the groundwork for peaceful relations. If the Palestinian people can find a way to cast off their political leaders and join the free world, their lives would begin to improve almost immediately.

    • #3
  4. user_891102 Member
    user_891102
    @DannyAlexander

    Excellent, superlative post.

    I think Kay of MT may have pointed to this latest Caroline Glick essay in the other thread, but as a matter of context, it bears a repeat reference in this thread (IMHO):

    http://carolineglick.com/john-kerrys-jewish-best-friends/

    • #4
  5. user_891102 Member
    user_891102
    @DannyAlexander

    Also a repeat reference from the other thread (my own reference, in this case), but again (IMHO), I think that this essay by Alan Dershowitz bears another read given the context:

    http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/1742/bishop-tutu-is-no-saint-when-it-comes-to-jews

    • #5
  6. user_891102 Member
    user_891102
    @DannyAlexander

    One last URL, I promise!…

    Worthwhile visiting this site and searching on the word “apartheid” for enlightening articles:

    http://jcpa.org/

    • #6
  7. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    If the Palestinians in Gaza would give up on destroying Israel and focus on economic development is there any reason why they couldn’t make productive use of their 40 miles of Mediterranean coastline to build a prosperous resort industry?

    • #7
  8. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I love the Jewish people and do not see any equivalence between their actions and that of those that would kill them, but apartheid is an accurate term for what has been their policy on the West Bank. The most breathtakingly candid comment I have ever heard in political discourse was when Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was leaving office [‘m paraphrasing] …Of course we were embezzling the American foreign aid to build roads and infrastructure for our illegal settlements so we could claim Judea and Samara forever… This has been the constant, consistent policy of Israel and it’s legal and “illegal” outposts – none of which are dismantled or tampered with – and it’s low grade building of new settlements at just the level American public opinion will bear. I agree this is a tiny injustice in comparison to the Arab and Palestinian crimes, but it is one that infers culpability on America for acquiescing in it.

    • #8
  9. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Wonderful post, SoS

    • #9
  10. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Petty Boozswha:
    The most breathtakingly candid comment I have ever heard in political discourse was when Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was leaving office [‘m paraphrasing] …Of course we were embezzling the American foreign aid to build roads and infrastructure for our illegal settlements so we could claim Judea and Samara forever…

    You heard this with your own 2 ears? Would that have been in 1984 or 1992? Just where did you hear him say this, and is it recorded anywhere? And you know for a fact “This has been the constant, consistent policy of Israel…”
    How about a reference to the truth of this.

    • #10
  11. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    Not listed in his Wikipedia biography, but yes I heard it with my own two ears. Shamir was notorious for telling the unvarnished truth and PC considerations be damned, this was one of those instances.

    • #11
  12. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Petty Boozswha:

    I love the Jewish people and do not see any equivalence between their actions and that of those that would kill them, but apartheid is an accurate term for what has been their policy on the West Bank. The most breathtakingly candid comment I have ever heard in political discourse was when Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was leaving office [‘m paraphrasing] …Of course we were embezzling the American foreign aid to build roads and infrastructure for our illegal settlements so we could claim Judea and Samara forever… This has been the constant, consistent policy of Israel and it’s legal and “illegal” outposts – none of which are dismantled or tampered with – and it’s low grade building of new settlements at just the level American public opinion will bear. I agree this is a tiny injustice in comparison to the Arab and Palestinian crimes, but it is one that infers culpability on America for acquiescing in it.

     Even if one stipulates that these statements are accurate, how does such a situation resemble apartheid?

    • #12
  13. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    If you cannot back up this statement and the truth of his actions of embezzling American money, then it is nothing more than gossip. I have spent the last hour reading about this man, and nowhere is even such a thing suggested let alone recorded.

    • #13
  14. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Excellent rebuttal!

    • #14
  15. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I said I was paraphrasing, he did not use the word embezzle – he said something like reappropriate or somesuch – but the meaning of his words were unambiguous. He was an honest man and did not flinch from the truth. I am surprised that the Israel haters have not made more of this comment and that it does not at least pop up on a google search of their websites, but I did not dream it up.

    • #15
  16. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    The Israeli right wing, which apparently has a veto over the opinions or stated desires of the majority, has devised a way to make the West Bank ungovernable to any future Palestinian entity by strategic confiscations of  hilltops and roadways for Jewish settlement. That is the definition of apartheid in practice. This is a reply to rico, my last posting was a reply to Kay of MT – I hate this new 2.0 where you cannot follow the thread.

    • #16
  17. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Petty Boozswha: The most breathtakingly candid comment I have ever heard in political discourse was when Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was leaving office [‘m paraphrasing]

     
    I don’t doubt that Shamir said something similar (though it’s unlikely he called any Israeli activity “illegal”). That said, a lot has happened since Shamir was Prime Minister in 1991: The Oslo process, concessions under Ehud Barak, Netanyahu in his first term, Hamas’s bombing campaign and Sharon’s war to dismantle them, the Al-Aqsa Intifada, the building of the separation wall, the Gaza disengagement and Hamas’s election there, numerous prisoner releases, Arafat’s fall, the Karine-A, Hamas’s missile campaign, Operation Cast Lead, the Mavi Marmara…. that’s just off the top of my head (apologies for not providing links, but Wikipedia’s search is pretty good).

    You wouldn’t characterize current US-Iraqi relations on the basis of a statement by GHWB in 1991, or current Russian-Ukranian relations on the basis of a Gorbachev statement from that time either. So even if you accept Shamir’s characterization (a tendentious one), it would still be wise to re-evaluate based on current realities.

    • #17
  18. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Petty Boozswha: The Israeli right wing, which apparently has a veto over the opinions or stated desires of the majority, has devised a way to make the West Bank ungovernable to any future Palestinian entity by strategic confiscations of hilltops and roadways for Jewish settlement.

     That may have been true in the 1970s and even 1980s, but is most definitely not the case today. Governments right, left, and center have been pretty ruthless about nixing any new settlement activity, and have even made it difficult for settlers to add homes within existing (gated) communities in response to family growth or new demand (what Israel calls “natural growth”).  Governments since 1993 — both right and left — have adopted the “two-state solution” as their policy, and breaking up contiguous Palestinian settlement would make that policy unworkable. They don’t want all the West Bank, and they don’t want isolated Jewish settlement.

    • #18
  19. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    Son of Spengler – I agree with everything you said, but the fact remains that the broad outlines of what Shamir discussed is still the basis of Israeli policy. The issue of prisoner releases is especially abhorrent to me – the willingness of the political class to put child murderers back in circulation if it takes pressure off of dismantling what even they admit are illegal outposts just baffles me.

    • #19
  20. Elephas Americanus Member
    Elephas Americanus
    @ElephasAmericanus

    Arabs started wars with Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973. Israel won all of those wars. Historically, the winning side of a war kept territories gained from the losing side – especially when the winner was not the aggressor. (Hence the difference to Russia and Crimea, Iraq and Kuwait, etc.) That’s why Königsberg is now Kaliningrad, why Danzig is now Gdańsk, why Karafuto is now Sakhalin. I don’t see any difference in demands for Israel to give up land than in the howls from the Aztlán crowd for the American Southwest to be returned to Mexico, in Bolivia’s whining for the coast it lost to Chile, or in the bellyaching of Argentina and Spain for the Falklands and Gibraltar, respectively.

    The Arabs tried to destroy Israel not once but three times, and the Arabs lost not once but three times. The land Israel has is as much theirs as California is America’s. End of discussion. (And, frankly, the Palestinians are lucky as Israel hasn’t completely purged them from the territory it won.) Middle East peace can only begin when the Arabs finally realize they lost three wars they started – and act like it.

    • #20
  21. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Petty Boozswha:

    The Israeli right wing, which apparently has a veto over the opinions or stated desires of the majority, has devised a way to make the West Bank ungovernable to any future Palestinian entity by strategic confiscations of hilltops and roadways for Jewish settlement. That is the definition of apartheid in practice. This is a reply to rico, my last posting was a reply to Kay of MT – I hate this new 2.0 where you cannot follow the thread.

    First, issues of territory and settlements would be negotiated between the parties if the Palestinians were interested in a two state solution. Current policies are an outgrowth of Palestinian intransigence.
    Second, I don’t think issues of territory and settlements can define the term “apartheid” as commonly understood, no matter how unjust the policy is believed to be.

    • #21
  22. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Petty Boozswha:

    I love the Jewish people and do not see any equivalence between their actions and that of those that would kill them, but apartheid is an accurate term for what has been their policy on the West Bank.  

    The West Bank is occupied territory. When Israel is accused of being an apartheid state, it is Israel proper that its critics usually have in mind. It is Israel proper about which John Kerry was hypothesizing.

    I wonder if America’s occupation of Japan after WWII could be described as an apartheid state, since the Japanese were not treated the same as the occupying force? I wonder if China’s occupation of Tibet could be described that way? I don’t know why Israel’s occupation of territory that it gained in war is the only one in history that gets the epithet of “apartheid” from its critics.

    To the Palestinians:  Don’t like the occupation? Make peace.

    • #22
  23. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Yawn. More patently dishonest or stupid comparisons to apartheid era South Africa. Thanks for responding forcefully, SoS, to which I can only add, that people dumb enough to make this comparison are cordially invited to take me in a time machine to apartheid era South Africa and show me the luxury shopping enjoyed by township residents :
    http://www.worldtribune.com/2013/01/07/palestinian-officials-not-shy-about-shopping-for-luxuries-in-israel/

    and their BMW dealerships:  
    http://www.frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/worlds-largest-open-air-concentration-camp-in-gaza-has-too-many-cars/

    • #23
  24. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Howellis:

    I wonder if America’s occupation of Japan after WWII could be described as an apartheid state, since the Japanese were not treated the same as the occupying force? I wonder if China’s occupation of Tibet could be described that way? I don’t know why Israel’s occupation of territory that it gained in war is the only one in history that gets the epithet of “apartheid” from its critics.

    To the Palestinians: Don’t like the occupation? Make peace.

     You really want to put Israel in the same league as China? That doesn’t really help. If you want to compare it to American lead occupations of Japan and Germany I think you also get into trouble. America didn’t build settlements on Japanese  or German lands, with the idea of future annexation. I think that is the real issue in the West Bank. Israel’s policy of putting up settlers and defending them serves as a form  annexation of the territory it took control over in 1968. That seems to me to be the problem  regardless of whether it is or isn’t apartheid.   

    • #24
  25. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    V: the comparison is America’s settlement of California not Japan. (Sheesh, why is this so difficult to understand the argument here?)
    These are not difficult things to understand. There are simply lies and murder to support the one side and moderation and defensive actions on the Israeli side. It’s been said many times before, I know, but Pakistan now contains the Indus River from which the word Hindu and Indian come. And also, Pakistan has been fairly assiduous in making this partitioned Pakistan Hindu-free (can someone give me a German term for this, please). It happened in the same era (late 40s), by the English — and yet, no one even seems to notice.
    Other than the hard left’s control of the western media, what can possibly explain these differences? Why is it so hard to make simple, obvious arguments and not have the other side: 1) restate them in a fair way and 2) engage in the actual argument. I am so sick of this stupid back and forth — it is kept alive by the leftists only — just like the Soviets kept the Troubles in Ireland alive way past their sell-by date.

    • #25
  26. user_891102 Member
    user_891102
    @DannyAlexander

    #16 Petty Boozswhas

    “Strategic confiscations” of hilltops were indeed strategic, for a number of reasons.
    I’ll try suggesting a few here, but this list is by no means exhaustive.

    1) Nobody lived on many to most of the hilltops — i.e., there were few to zero prior Arab settlements on them (Arabs lived in valley locales), albeit in a number of cases there was a history of livestock grazing on the hillsides.

    2) For the military security of “Central” Israel (i.e., the Gush Dan/Dan Valley region and other districts making up the greater Tel Aviv area, within the 1949 Armistice Lines), the IDF’s taking and holding the mountainous ridge-line in Samaria was and frankly will always remain a justifiable and necessary “strategic confiscation;” LBJ’s JCS under Wheeler produced its own independent-assessment map of Israel’s security requirements post-Six Day War that validated the wisdom of these seizures.

    3) At the tactical local level of the civilian Jewish settlements within Samaria and Judea, locating on hilltops was/is a security imperative as well.

    4) All Israel has historically been a “settlement enterprise” — why not include the historic Jewish heartland (seized lawfully in war)?

    • #26
  27. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Larry: the term would be “Hindurein”.

    • #27
  28. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    Hartmann von Aue:

    Larry: the term would be “Hindurein”.

     Sounds about right — thanks, Hartmann. I’ll try and use it from now on.

    • #28
  29. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Valiuth:

    You really want to put Israel in the same league as China? That doesn’t really help. If you want to compare it to American lead occupations of Japan and Germany I think you also get into trouble. America didn’t build settlements on Japanese or German lands, with the idea of future annexation. I think that is the real issue in the West Bank. Israel’s policy of putting up settlers and defending them serves as a form annexation of the territory it took control over in 1968. That seems to me to be the problem regardless of whether it is or isn’t apartheid.

    My point is not to compare Israel to China, but simply to point out that occupations have occurred for all kinds of reasons, some as the justifiable consequence of defensive wars, some as the result of unjustified invasion. Only one (Israel) gets the epithet “apartheid,” though its occupation was the result of a justified war of survival.   

    I don’t see how settlements create apartheid. Annexation doesn’t create it. Is apartheid an apt description of the US territories of American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and (once upon a time) Texas?

    • #29
  30. user_891102 Member
    user_891102
    @DannyAlexander

    #19 Petty Boozswha

    Agreed it was wrenching, wrong, and unwise to release murderous Palestinian terrorist butchers from Israel’s prisons.
    However, the issue hinges on Israel’s political independence and sovereignty.

    As a sovereign nation, Israel is (or should be) empowered to make its own decisions as to what it will do with prisoners convicted/incarcerated for acts of terror, not least with those prisoners who are citizens of the State of Israel.

    Similarly, operating in deemed sovereign Israeli territory (including the eternal Jewish capital), Israel is empowered to decide on the timing and nature of construction activity.

    Regardless, the PLO and the Obama Administration have sought to strip Israel of such sovereign powers in both categories.

    In particular, the PLO has sought to force Israel to release security/terror prisoners who hold Israeli citizenship.
    The import behind this is that the PLO seeks standing as the lone sovereign power over all *Arabs* between the Jordan and the sea, dismissing Israel’s jurisdiction over its own Israeli Arab citizens.

    In the latest episode, Israel chose to exercise sovereign decision-making over both categories — the prisoners released were *not* Israeli citizens.
    Abbas, however, kept pushing for release of Israeli Arab prisoners.

    Poof.

    • #30

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