phthisis (phthisis) wrote,

The Case Against Israeli "Apartheid"

Here's an excerpt from a conversation me and guave' Guav are having about an unconstitutional law, Israel and moral clarity. It's interesting in general, but it's more important in that it vets the notion that Israel is comparable to apartheid South Africa. You often hear this claim, and this is my first truly expository attempt to analyze it.

Part I

"I would however, find the comparison to Apartheid South Africa not too far off."

I think the occupation of the West Bank is a necessary security measure. I think it was undertaken as such, and that the settlements are an unfortunate byproduct of that security need, as well as the misguided notion that physical claim to the land would diplomatically strengthen Israel as an occupier.

Regardless of the merits, which we can debate until our dicks fall off, there is no doubt that the occupation compromises the democratic character of the state of Israel. The recent racist marriage law and a casual glance at the B'Tselem web site are examples enough to support that claim.

This phenomenon, as well as Palestinian irredentism and intransigence, leads to apartheid-like measures in the West Bank.

The analogy falls apart, though, because these measures are intimately tied to the security situation in the territories; they wane accordingly when it improves; and they were, and are, directly fostered by ongoing Arab rejection of the state of Israel.

I visited apartheid South Africa. I have not been to Israel or the West Bank, so maybe I'm wrong. But in the aggregate, I don't think Palestinian refugee camps, from what I've seen or read in media, have anything on the shantytowns of South Africa. Their squalor is unfathomable. They are camps filled with outhouse-sized huts fashioned out of corrugated tin and garbage bags. Human waste is in the streets. Stutter-walking past children, end-stage drunks with explosively hemorrhaged eyes cry, fight and kill each other. Babies are raped. The townships are lined up along highways that took the still-functioning blacks into white cities to labor as helots. They have little running water, and barely any electricity. The violent crime and disease rates are stratospheric. They received little press coverage, unlike the territories, and no international funding. Consequently, they had nothing resembling public works or facilities. I don't think the UNRWA, in its current role as the indefinite steward of Palestinian misery, had a sister organization operating in the townships.

There was no security reason for creating the apartheid system. There was no African rejection of the state of South Africa, except perhaps those malleable elements of African culture that didn't conform to a nation-state model. There were no anti-white African depredations to speak of. Almost all crime in South Africa was monochromatic; that is to say, black-on-black. Things are changing, but to my knowledge, that fact mostly remains. The apartheid state was rank colonialism at its historical worst, and there is no counter-narrative to offset that fact.

Excepting Lesotho and the Transkei experiment for simplicity's sake, South Africa was a single polity predicated on a serf economy. As the UN put it accurately, "apartheid was racism made law". Every aspect of black life in South Africa was controlled by Nazi-like regulation, which was handed down by a colonial minority. This colonial minority legally and violently suppressed any criticism of its system. In the Palestinian territories, the opposite is true. Most of the poverty is directly attributable to misrule by the Palestinian Authority, and the PA is the organization that tortures or executes Palestinian dissidents. The IDF suppresses militants, undertakes raids on bomb factories, and occasionally assassinates mass murderers. Surely, mistakes are made, and individuals can do evil. But the IDF is highly scrupulous, and the majority of evidence screams this from the rooftops. It does not suppress political speech when it is speech, and to say so is simply a lie. Anti-Jewish incitement is prolific in Palestinian media, and many Israelis foment against Israeli state policy, in both the territories and Israel.

Palestinians travel into their rich neighbor, Israel, to comprise much of its proletariat, but this is a volitional arrangement commonly mirrored throughout the world. Palestinians can also work for themselves, each other, or other Arabs throughout the Middle East. Black South Africans had no such choices. There is no validity to the notion that the West Bank is a Jewish plutocracy buoyed by the slave labor of Palestinians. It's not even a state, but it would be -- and a majority Palestinian one -- if the Palestinian leadership decided to create it.

I agree with most of what you said. However, I disagree that the boycott is racist.

I concur that, in a vacuum, to boycott a government is not racist. But, there are facts and there is truth, and intoning this does not erase the fact that many people tranfer their anti-Semitic energies, or more common, superimpose their tired Marxist narratives, onto Israel. This is done with great frequency and exaggeration, and it is self-evidently bizarre to pretend that Israel deserves the international outcry it generates. This does not mean that Israel is blameless. As I said, Israel is led to compromise its democratic character by its ongoing military stalemate with the Arab world. When this phenomenon wreaks havoc, it should be protested. But keep things in perspective.

Why do people criticize the concept of a Jewish state, but are a-okay with Saudi Arabia? Sure, they'll say other countries are bad, but do you see Turkey or SA being protested in the streets of San Francisco? Does the UN try to take out hundreds of resolutions against Indonesia? Is Belgium threatening to indict Gadhafi for war crimes? How about Belgium indicts some of the Phalangist militants who actually performed those massacres at Sabra and Shatila? It's like blaming the Jews for Christ's death and not the Romans.

Unbelievable. Why do people criticize The OccupationTM, but don't even know that Syria has taken Lebanon up the ass for nearly as long? Do you think Syria's reasons are of self-defense? FUCKING LEBANESE PEOPLE care more about Israel than Syria. What about Western Sahara? No one knows what Western Sahara even is.

You ask people why they "change the subject" by bringing up this kind of stuff when Israel is criticized. Well, this is why. Do you have any appreciation of how morally broken this all is?

Thomas Friedman is right:

"Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction -- out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East -- is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest."
"If it were a boycott on 'Jewish' goods and products, I would oppose it vehemently."

Then I trust you were outraged by incidents like Oxford Professor Andrew Wilkie's summary rejection of a Jewish Israeli student's application, and Oxford Professor Mona Baker's summary dismissal of two Jewish Israeli academics from her journal staff. These incidents were based on religion and nationality, not personal actions or economic considerations.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded