Israeli Apartheid Week

This week is third international Israeli Apartheid Week, aimed at drawing attention to the atrocious conditions in which Palestinians are forced to live by the Israeli state. On my campus at UC Berkeley, there was a mock “checkpoint” drawn up in the center plaza where students wishing to cross could breathe a hint of what Palestinians are forced to go through daily, only without, as their flyer put it, real guns, real swearing, real abuse, or the hours-long wait which are the norm. (here!!! and  here and  here and here and here!!!)

There was some counterpropaganda by proIsrael supporters, which I took a look at to compare. It was a very polished looking miniflyer with mock book cover: Apartheid for dummies. On the back, the flyer states that:

Today, some people are trying to equate the democratic, multicultural state of Israel with the despicable racial policies of the former South African regime. There is no reasonable basis to this comparison…Israel is one of the world’s freest, most democratic countries…Accusing Israel of “apartheid” is not merely the false history of ignorant people. It is a deliberate effort to undercut the moral legitimacy of Israel’s existence. The use of the term “apartheid” negates intellectual and empirical discussion that might  reasonably occur about the policies of the Israeli government.

What an interesting take on things, I thought to myself. Only “ignorant people,” it claims, would ever equate South African apartheid with Israeli policies, and to do so would be in the interest of obliterating “reasonable discussion.”

So I went through a mental list of those public figures who have equated South African apartheid to Israeli policies, and submit them below for comparison with the charge that claims of apartheid could only come from “ignorant people” trying to avoid “reasonable discussion:”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu (who is South African and who sat on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission there after the apartheid regime finally fell, and who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984)

I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians…suffering like us… (video here)

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has accused Israel of practising apartheid in its policies towards the Palestinians.(The Guardian here)

The Nobel peace laureate said he was “very deeply distressed” by a visit to the Holy Land, adding that “it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa”.(BBC here)

John Dugard, who is an expert on South Africa and has served as judge on the International Court of High Justice:

So, Israel is in occupation. But over the past 40 years, we’ve seen the addition of two other elements. That is colonialism and apartheid…it’s important to stress that apartheid is not only illegal in South Africa itself but it’s also been declared to be unlawful in international law….the crime of apartheid is seen as a species of crime against humanity. So it’s quite clear that apartheid is unlawful under international law. Israel, of course, argues that its policies do not constitute apartheid….Well, how does Israel feature in respect of “grand apartheid”? Are there Bantustans in the West Bank? And I think the answer to this question is yesAnd it’s quite clear that the Israeli government would like to see the Palestinian Authority as a kind of Bantustan puppet regime.…You’ll recall that the apartheid regime was vilified internationally in the United States, in the West and throughout the world. States subjected the apartheid regime to sanctions. The United Nations was active. It also imposed limited sanctions on South Africa. The international community took the view that apartheid was an illegal regime and everything should be done to get rid of it. Whereas we know that in the case of Israel, although there are serious and manifest violations of international law, no action is taken by western states or by the international community. We all know the reason. I might suppose in the States you would say ultimately the strength of AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] and the evangelical lobby, but I think, in the West, generally it’s feelings of Holocaust guilt, as if the Palestinians were responsible for the Holocaust rather than the Europeans. And so, we see a double standard being applied in respect of Israel. (here)

(or video here)

Jimmy Carter (former US president) is unequivocal on this:

There is no doubt that within the Occupied Territories (Palestinian land) that there is a horrendous example of apartheid…one of the worst examples of human rights deprivation that I know.(video here)

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