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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”?