Gwynne Dyer: The essence of apartheid in Israel

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      Hillary Clinton would never have used the word when she was U.S. Secretary of State, because she still has presidential ambitions. John Kerry, the current Secretary of State, has no further ambitions in that direction, which may be why he dared to use the words apartheid and Israel in the same sentence. Or maybe he just didn’t realize that the world would hear about it.

      Kerry spoke last week to a group of high-ranking officials from the U.S., Europe, and Japan known as the Trilateral Commission about the failure of his year-long attempt to revive the “peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinians.

      Somebody at the meeting secretly recorded his comments, which were published by the Daily Beast on Monday, and suddenly he was in very hot water.

      What he said was that the long-sought “two-state solution” was the only real alternative to a “unitary” Israeli-ruled state that included all the territory between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Seaand ruled over millions of Palestinians in the territories that have been under Israeli military occupation since 1967.

      Those Palestinians, most of whom cannot remember a time when they did not live under Israeli control, have no political rights within Israel. The two-state solution, under negotiation off and on for the past 20 years, would give them a state of their own, but most people had despaired some time ago of getting Israel to agree to an independent Palestine.

      Kerry had not, so he was surprised and disappointed when his efforts came to naught. That was why he blurted out the truth that American politicians are never supposed to acknowledge. He said that without the two-state solution, “a unitary [Israeli] state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class [Palestinian] citizens—or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.”

      It was clumsily phrased, but the basic idea is common in both Israeli and Palestinian political discourse. Even if Israel never formally annexes the occupied territories, it has been building Jewish settlements all over them for decades, and the Palestinian inhabitants are effectively controlled by the Israeli government.

      If this situation continues indefinitely, and the Palestinians must live out their lives as mere residents without no political rights, then they are in the same position as the black South Africans who lived all their lives under white rule without citizenship or the vote. That was the very essence of apartheid.

      Alternatively, of course, Israel might grant them citizenship and the vote: that’s what happened when apartheid ended in South Africa in 1994. But there are already a great many Palestinians living under Israeli rule, and their higher birth rate would make them a majority in in that “unitary” Israel in less than a generation.

      That might or might not be a state where Jews were happy to live, but it would definitely no longer be a Jewish state.

      That’s all Kerry was saying: if you don’t accept the two-state solution then willy-nilly you get the one-state solution, in one of two flavours—an apartheid state in which the great majority of the actual citizens are Jews and the Palestinians have no voice in how they are ruled, or a more broadly defined state in which everybody is a citizen but Jews are no longer the majority.

      Many Israel senior politicians who favour the two-state solution, including former prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, have made exactly this point, even using that same inflammatory word, apartheid, to underline the gravity of the choice.

      Senior Palestinian politicians talk about it all the time. But senior American politicians are not allowed to talk like that about Israel.

      State Department officials tried to defend their boss’s comments for a few hours, but as the firestorm of protest by American Zionist organizations grew the Obama administration realised that Kerry had to be forced to apologise for speaking the truth. The story that they took him down into the White House basement and beat him with rubber hoses is probably untrue, but on Tuesday he recanted his heresy.

      “I do not believe,” Kerry said, “nor have I ever stated, publicly or privately, that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one.”

      Well, of course not. It’s not an apartheid state now because the non-citizen status of the Palestinians for the past 47 years is technically only temporary, pending the creation of their own state.

      And Israel has no intention of ever meeting the technical definition of an apartheid state, either, because that would be a public-relations disaster. However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems convinced that he can avoid that outcome simply by hanging on to the occupied territories indefinitely but never formally annexing them, and many Israelis agree with him.

      They might even be right, but John Kerry doesn’t think so. Or at least, he didn’t until his own people worked him over a bit.

      Gwynne Dyer is an independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.


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      May 1, 2014 at 3:10am

      Everything Mr. Dyers writes is true, but I don't think it's a complete truth. Nation building (or maybe renovation in this context) has a practical as well as a philosophical component.

      On the philosophical component, this article is perfectly correct. The philosophical component is important. It's includes things like laws and constitutions which can then be weighed and analyzed. You can ask questions like "Is Israel's body of law democratic? Is it racist?"

      But, the practical component is essential too. Egypt recently spent a long time discussing & debating their constitution. It was seen as the most important political process of a generation and there was a lot of commentary about how Islamic, Democratic it was going to be. How this things could work together, etc. Their constitution had been been suspended for 45 years under military emergency rule.

      Their democratic Islamic government was overturned in a coup shortly after the constitutional discussion were taking place. Lebanon has been playing complicated versions of these games for 50 years. The practical reality of power, political culture & institutions can make a joke of the philosophical/constitutional debate.

      The Israeli right has a patented tactic. Respond to claims like this with counterattack, listing the crimes of their adversaries. This is cynical partisanship, but it isn't without a core of truth. 2 cores, in my opinion.

      The first core is the Palestinian and greeter arab counterclaims. Until recently Arabs and Palestinians' position is that there shouldn't be an Israel. Jews should go away or be driven away and The One state should be a Palestinian one. That is still the official position of the majority of Arab States and depending on how you define it, about half of Palestinians. That is, the status of So, the outcome of this conflict has always had a zero sum dynamic to it. Israel has never officially annexed the West Bank or Gaza. Palestinians have never made an official distinction between Gaza and Tel Aviv, both are Occupied Palestine.

      Western mediators and the Israelis left have for 30 years been mock debating with a make believe Palestinain position. One that Palestinians might be sold on, but it is not the current position.

      The second core is the practical state of political culture in the greeter Arab World. Dysfunctional doesn't cover it. The only stable orders are

      I Chandler

      May 1, 2014 at 8:05am

      “peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinians. Somebody at the meeting secretly recorded his comments, which were published by the Daily Beast"

      Somebody must have broke the Chatham House Rule or Mike Hayden's friends didn't like the remarks.
      The trouble with Michael Hayden is that he probably leaked remarks selectively.
      V. Stiviano is more trustworthy and would not leave out the juicy parts:

      Stiviano's tape might have identified others that might have attended the meeting:
      T.Blair rejected Kerry's false choice and described a Third Way that lets the dogs vote.
      The Third Way might require a group of high-ranking officials like B. Obama, D.Sterling B. Mulroney and A. Scalia (after retirement) draft a new Israeli constitution for a United Israel:

      Barack will be able to afford a library and a ball team - he might even get to play - if Sterling lets him. Mike Hayden might suggest that the NED can help rig elections using online voting or ask for S. Balmer help with tried and true E-voting machines:
      B. Mulroney might have stated that he is not interested in the project,as the El Al airline has already been privatized - Mulroney will keep selling pasta machines. A. Scalia might have shared his ideas on suppressing the Palestinian vote. Or not voting at all...see - Palestinian National Authority's last election.

      The tape might also have helped to identify others absent from the meeting:
      Arafat and Castro could not make it - both had a bad case of indigestion (polonium).
      They might have had some ideas:

      I Chandler

      May 1, 2014 at 8:27am

      A unitary state would need use a new constitution. Confessionalism might end the apartheid:
      An Israeli President, a Palestinian Prime Minister and a Christian Speaker.


      May 1, 2014 at 11:27am

      Excellent points I Chandler.

      Yes last week Racists defending Sterling were all abuzz over the meme that the conversation was 'private'.

      I am hoping that whatever passes itself off as Media sees this as a 'break' in the quarantine and rather than condescendingly TELL the public not worry about THEIR elected leaders meeting in obscure expensive hotels under high security having secret meetings with globalist banksters, they will start recording things like the Trilateral Commission or the Billyburger Ho'downs or the Grove or any of the bull sessions conducted by members of the Fellowship and PROVE we have nothing to worry about in these private discussions.

      Although I Chandler, here a paranoid thought...Did the Repukes do it to move Bundy and Sterling off the media pages or to 'foreshadow' the inevitable fallout from Sterling's 'extended' comments (media censored of course) that not only makes a strong case that Sterling's racism is firmly rooted in Zionism, but basically underscores the point that it's not that hard to believe that if an American Jew has this attitude in Democrat America, former lifetime achiever of the NACCP (har har) about Israel, then the accusation of apartheid isn't that farfetched.

      (go look...and then ask yourself...why was this part omitted in virtually every North America news report on the is it that all those independently run publication presumably in a competitive market all agreed to ignore that part? Not one tempting by clickbait?)


      May 2, 2014 at 6:05am

      Duck Test:
      If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

      Alan Doud

      May 2, 2014 at 7:08am

      Apartheid applies to race segregation and since the Jews cross racial lines there is absolutely no truth in his statement or the suggestion by the writer. This article is another typical abuse of media and attempt to wiggle out of a prejudiced statement.

      Gerald Montague

      May 2, 2014 at 10:42am

      Israel is, by definition, an apartheid state.

      Every defender of ‘The Jewish State’ claims Israel cannot possibly be an apartheid state because the group THEY identify as ‘Palestinians’ has exactly the same rights as every other citizen, inside the original boundaries that purportedly define 'Israel'. By drawing that very distinction among the citizenry, they affirm the existence of a 'we' vs. 'they' dichotomy, inside the borders Israel refuses to accept.

      By design, within Israel's whimsically-defined boundaries, the ethnic cleansing operations conducted by the Jewish terror groups (e.g. Irgun, Haganah, Lehi, the Stern Gang, etc.) who later morphed into the nice ‘n legal IDF, ensured less than 20% of the population was not Jewish. Consistent with this original design, immigration and marriage policies ensure the Jewish population maintains this 4:1 majority in perpetuity, guaranteeing the non-Jewish population can NEVER wield any real political power in a ‘representational democracy’.

      Clearly this constitutes " institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime", per the definition of 'the crime of apartheid', under Article 7 of The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

      When they are not celebrating the miraculously unadulterated DNA shared by Jews from Ethiopia, Brooklyn and Eastern Europe, desperate hasbarists will outlandishly claim Israel's discrimination is not based on race. Be it on the basis of religion, ethnicity, or whatever it is that enables them to distinguish the Palestinian citizen from the overwhelming majority, the apartheid label sticks. Any claim to the contrary is naught but petty sophistry.


      Gerald Montague

      May 2, 2014 at 12:05pm

      For independent verification of the 1979 NY Times content quoted below, go to google and search for the headline (no quotes) 'Catastrophic thinking: Did Ben-Gurion try to rewrite history?'. The May 16. 2013 article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz explains how Israel's first PM hid Israel's ethnic cleansing operations in Palestine using a massive propaganda campaign that is now unraveling. And Israel-firsters in the West have the unmitigated gall to sling bogus allegations of anti-Semitism with wild abandon!

      Excerpt from "Israel Bars Rabin From Relating '48 Eviction of Arabs", by David K. Shipler, NY Times Oct. 23, 1979.

      "A censorship board composed of five Cabinet members prohibited former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin from including in his memoirs a first-person account of the expulsion of 50,000 Palestinians civilians from their homes near Tel Aviv during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war...

      A copy of [Rabin's] manuscript was provided to the New York Times by Peretz Kidron, who translated the book from Hebrew to English...the manuscript continues.

      "The population of Lod did not leave willingly. There was no way of avoiding the use of force and warning shots in order to make the inhabitants march the 10 to 15 miles to the point where they met up with the legion…

      Mr. Rabin’s account … described “a calculated Israeli policy“ to drive Arab residents from their homes, … many elderly people and small children died in the over-powering heat during the forced march…

      Many left in panic after the Israeli massacre at the village of Deir Yassin outside Jerusalem… There, contingents of the extremist Stern gang and Irgun attacked the village and lined men, women and children up against walls and shot them, according to Red Cross and British documentation.”

      Nigel Pitkow

      May 2, 2014 at 2:24pm

      Some folks can use the word 'apartheid', and some folks cannot.

      "As long as in this territory west of the Jordan river there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic," Barak said. "If this bloc of millions of ­Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state."
      -- Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Minister, Feb. 2010


      May 3, 2014 at 7:11am

      Great article, imo.