Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Israelis Fighting Israeli Apartheid

By Tony Karon

"I’ve never imagined a simple equation between the non-racial democracy for which we fought (and which we won) in South Africa and achieving a unitary state democratic solution for Israel and the Palestinians. Indeed, I’ll admit to being anything but dogmatic on just how that conflict is to be solved. While in principle, I’d certainly prefer a unitary democratic state with full democratic equality for all its citizens, I can see the considerable differences between our situation and the one in Israel/Palestine that render a single state solution exceedingly difficult. At the same time, I can also see that Israel’s systematic territorial expansion may already have rendered a Palestinian state unviable. (For more on this issue, listen to Ali Abunimah and Akiva Eldar debate the unitary vs. two-state solution on Canadian radio.)

But what’s clear enough is that for the past 40 years, there has been only one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and that state has been Israel. And Israel has been an apartheid state: Like South Africa, it’s a democracy ruled by law for one group of people, and a military-colonial regime for another. Those who complain about it the use of “apartheid” to describe Israeli policies are either in deep denial, or else argue, as many liberals do, that the term is not helpful because it is provocative or “demonizes” the Israelis. This, too, though, is an evasion: The purpose of using the term is precisely to draw attention to the fact that Israel is routinely engaged in practices long deemed abhorrent by the international community, but because of Israel’s claim to represent the Jewish people and because of our history of suffering, this reality is simply overlooked, excused, or ignored. So, yes, using the word “apartheid” to describe what Israel is doing in the West Bank is meant to make people feel uncomfortable over what Israel is doing, and to recognize that condoning it is the moral equivalent of condoning apartheid. Clearly, that’s why Israeli human rights advocates routinely use the term......"

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