Monday, November 27, 2006

Israeli Apartheid Part 2

efore you read this post please read Part 1. It is important to get a full and complete understanding of the similarities and differences of the Israeli Apartheid versus the South African Apartheid. This article will deal with the DIS-similarities of the two, that on!

First of all, what are key differences between South African apartheid and Israel’s policies toward its Palestinian citizens?

I will concede without a fight that in Israel, there is a lack of formalized separation of the kind practiced in apartheid South Africa. Another key difference is that while white South Africans sought to exploit the labour of the nonwhite community under apartheid, Israel has more often sought to displace Palestinians from as much of their land as possible and keep the land for Jewish use.

Land confiscation began in 1948 and has continued ever since. In 1948, approximately 750,000 Palestinians (three-fourths of the Palestinian population) were either forcibly expelled by Israeli troops or fled in fear during the war. Israel bulldozed over 450 Palestinian villages into the ground and took over other freshly 'evacuated' villages for Jewish settlement. Confiscation of private property of Palestinian citizens of Israel continues to this day.

Beginning in 1967, confiscation of Palestinian land extended to the Occupied West Bank and Gaza, and especially Occupied East Jerusalem which is where I am from. In the Occupied Territories, Israel has seized private Palestinian property, built hundreds of illegal Jewish settlements and expelled Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza.

Here's one of the 'technical problems' posed by Israeli friends who have written to me: Is it fair to consider Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza a form of apartheid, when these areas are not 'technically' part of Israel?

Well, in the early years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it might have been unfair to regard its system of military government of the regions as a form of apartheid; discriminatory policies against the Palestinians might have been viewed as a temporary incident of the armed conflict in 1967 and its aftermath.

But Israel has now maintained control over these territories for nearly forty years, a period two-thirds as long as Israel’s entire history as a country (58 years as I write this). Even after the 2005 withdrawal of Jewish settlers from Gaza, Israel continues to control entry and exit of all people and goods and in other ways continues to determine the fate of Gaza Palestinians, I urge you to read my friends blog Raising Yousuf for all the day-today trials. Moreover, Israel has annexed East Jerusalem, and announced its desire to permanently control up to nearly half of the West Bank, possibly including the Jordan Valley. For all intents and purposes, Israel and the Palestinian territories it controls have functioned as one integrated economic and political unit. It is no longer possible to view an occupation of such long duration as a “temporary phenomenon”.

It is in its administration of these territories that Israel exhibits the strongest parallels to apartheid.
  • Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza have even fewer rights and freedoms than those with Israeli citizenship. They have no political voice in Israel, even though Israel effectively rules their lives.
  • Separation and discrimination is most apparent in the two distinct legal systems applicable to Jews and Palestinians – Israeli Jews illegally living in the West Bank are subject only to Israeli laws, and enjoy the right to vote, and the right to travel within Israel and abroad. Palestinians living in the same territory cannot avail themselves of Israeli law, have no right to vote in Israeli elections and can travel freely neither within Israel nor abroad.
Separation and discrimination are also evident in:
  • An extensive road system built by Israel throughout the West Bank that Palestinians are forbidden to use. These Israeli-only roads bisect Palestinian land and impede West Bank Palestinians’ freedom of movement. That's right 'special roads' that Palestinians are not allowed to use.
  • Palestinians in the West Bank often require permission simply to travel from one village to the next, and must pass through numerous Israeli military checkpoints. This is reminiscent of South Africa’s infamous “pass system” which controlled the movement of blacks.
Bishop Desmond Tutu, a South African anti-apartheid leader, described what he saw during a visit to Palestine as "much like what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about."

Israel has begun to confine Palestinians to small, encircled enclaves in the West Bank similar to the infamous “Bantustans” that South Africa created for blacks.
  • Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza do have the right to vote for the Palestinian Authority, but that body has only the trappings of sovereignty – postage stamps, passports, a police force – and lacks real power. The Palestinian Authority has no jurisdiction over Israeli settlers and settlements in the West Bank, borders, airspace, water resources, its population registry and numerous other spheres that regularly fall under government control like tax collection.
  • Although occupied in 1967, East Jerusalem was illegally annexed by Israel. The Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are not citizens of Israel, only "legal residents" who must regularly prove connections to Jerusalem in order to continue to reside there. They face enormous legal obstacles to family unification and unequal access to housing, municipal services and other social benefits. They are treated as the equivalent of "foreign guests in their own country", without the right to vote in national elections.
South African law professor and United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) John Dugard said to the UN General Assembly that “Israel’s conduct in the OPT poses the same kind of challenge to the credibility of international human rights that apartheid did in the 1970’s and 1980’s. There are gross, egregious and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the OPT, committed not by undisciplined and uncontrolled militias but by one of the most disciplined and sophisticated armies in the modern world, directed by a stable and disciplined government.”

Another one of the disputed ideas is Palestinians calling Israel’s “security barrier” the “apartheid wall”. This wall, which physically dwarfs the former Berlin wall, secures Israel’s control over confiscated Palestinian land and separates Palestinian communities from each other. Special regulations require Palestinians to obtain permits even to approach the wall in some areas, while Jewish people are able to enter these same areas unrestricted.

If the sole purpose of building the wall had been to provide security for Israelis, it would have been built along the internationally recognized 1967 border (the “Green Line”); instead, it has been built on Palestinian land and in some instances right through the middle of Palestinian towns. Its additional result is to maximize Israeli control over Palestinian land, thus guaranteeing Jewish demographic predominance within areas of Jerusalem and the West Bank that Israel hopes to retain.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that the wall is illegal and must be dismantled, and ordered Israel to compensate Palestinians damaged by the wall's construction. It also called upon third-party states to ensure Israel's compliance with the judgment.

The world opposed South Africa’s racist government and imposed sanctions on it (except for Israel, which maintained a close relationship with apartheid South Africa). Much of the world deplores Israel’s institutionalized discrimination. The U.S. government is aware of Israel’s record of discrimination, as its State Department reports demonstrate (see Part 1). But U.S. political leaders, to date, have not required Israel – for example, by placing conditions on economic or military aid – to abandon its discriminatory policies against Palestinians.

I believe this - Jewish nation in Palestine - 'experiment' has been a dismal failure and we need to admit that in order to move forward. The amount of money and energy spent to keep the people of Palestine (Jews, Muslims, Christians) apart can be better used. The 10's of millions dollars spent should be used to integrate the two populations through social programs, education and whatever other means possible and not to keep them apart.

The two state solution is NOT a solution. Opening the door to understanding between the European Jewish refugees (and their descendants) and the indigenous population of Palestine is the only solution.

Stand with me for a FREE and re-United Palestine.


Dandoon said...

Very well written and analyzed. I've always had reservations about a two-state solution, and now I can clearly say after reading this that the idea of a united state really seems like the best thing to do. You've combined some excellent information and facts here.

The Raccoon said...

Heyya Abu-Issa.

It is a very nice analysis... but incorrect and misleading since it ignored some key facts.

Let me start with "indigenous population of Palestine". These would be Jews and a small number of non-Jews currently living in modern-day Israel and PA (such as Edomites). The very designation of our land as "Palestine", in fact, is an insult invented by the Romans - to call our land by the name of Israelites' ancestral enemies, the Philistines.

The Arabs living in "Palestine" were very unhappy with Jews returning home... be it from Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Persia, India or wherever we lived in diaspora. The only home of Jews was, is and will be Israel. Every centimeter of this land is soaked in Jewish blood, tears and sweat - continously, from 4000 years ago and until today.

Arabs living in the territory occupied by Israel in 1967 (from Egypt and Trans-Jordan, both of which renounced the territory) are not Israelis. They never were and never wanted to be. In fact, they have usually reacted to Israel and Jews with anything other than violence... same as most of the Arabs living in Israel proper.

The territory occupied by Israel in 1967, by the way, was part of what COULD have been the home of Arabs living in the British Mandate of Palestine. Alas, this suggestion was denied in 1947... the aforementioned Arabs preferred to kill the Jews and take the whole pie. Didn't work out.

East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel, and the Trans-Jordanian Arabs living there were offered Israeli citizenship. They refused. So Israel gave them more or less all the rights of a citizen minus the right to vote.

Basically, PA Arabs are a hostile population living on land which is not Israel but is held by Israel and not wanted by any other state. At first, Israel pretty much left them alone while providing for their basic needs. But as these Arabs became more and more violent, more and more stringent measures were required to prevent them from murdering Israelis. Enter checkpoints. Enter separate roads. Enter "discriminatory policies" and more of these.

And enter the separation barrier, which has been proven to be extremely effective in stopping murderous terrorists from infiltrating Israel (85% + of the hundreds of monthly attempts are stopped by the barrier). Were it built along the Green Line, a lot of Jews would be left outside. They would die. Regardless of whether it was right or not to build the settlements in the first place, leaving them to die is NOT right.

What can I say... PA Arabs have proven time and time again that they want Israel to be destroyed and for all the Jews to die. Just check out the PA anthem. Just check out the manifesto of every single powerful organization in PA.

So... "Free and re-United Palestine"?

I don't think so. I will not live in a state which was named solely to humiliate me. I will not live as a dhimmi. I will not allow my people to be slaughtered. And I will never, ever abandon my people's right to self-determination.

Let Arabs have yet another state on the ancestral lands of my forefathers. They are there already. Although I have some suspicions about PA Arab's capability of governing a state, and even though the whole "Palestinian" identity was invented as a weapon to kill me and my people... let them have it.

But the sheer greed and hatred which drives the Arab world to try and destroy Israel by all means - to take away my homeland, once again - is something I will never accept.

Abu-Issa said...

How very elitist of you...nice.

How hard is it for you to understand that the indigenous population of "the region known as Palestine" have the same roots that European Jews claim to have whether they be Jew, Christian or Muslim....2000 thousand years have passed my friend!! Lots of stuff has happened since...Jews became Christian...Christians and Jews became Muslim...the land was conquered multiple times by Persians, Europeans and Arabs.

"Time and tide wait for no man." as Robert Frost said.

Moving on to your points:

Yes, I know Palestine was given it's name by the Romans 2000 years ago as an insult to Jews and has held that name in it's various forms for those 2000 years. To say Palestine's indigenous population was Jewish and a few other non-Jews is idiotic. In the late 1800's the Jewish population of Palestine was just 5%, even in 1948, at the birth of the "Jewish nation", Jews made up only 33% of the Palestinian population, so who's being misleading?

Yes, there were a lot of upset Palestinians when European Jews started arriving. At first it was over basic necessities like jobs that they were afraid to loose, then when they started buying up land from right underneath them that became a greater issue. When it became clear in the late '20's that those immigrating Jews were intent on creating a nation for Jews in Palestine...this is when things went terribly wrong!

How do you think the population of California will react to the news that all of those immigrating Mexicans, Central and South Americans are intent on creating a "Spanish nation" in California?? Same thing.

Had European Jews arrived in Palestine to genuinely live in harmony with other Palestinians and to integrate themselves back into the culture it could have been very different. If they had worked to quell the fears of the indeginous population regarding their arrival en masse, rather than inflame those fears, it could have been different. But the fact of the matter was that those immigrating European Jews never intended to live amongst the indeginous population but wanted to live 'apart' from them in a Jewish nation.

What I am proposing is what should have been done in the first place. The Holy land is Holy to 3 of the worlds great religions...not just one.

Keep in mind that in a FREE and re-United Palestine 50% of the population will be Jewish about 45% Muslim and 5% Christian. Sounds like a true democracy in waiting to me and NOT dhimmi-hood.

Raccoon, your anger filled comment shows what people who genuinely want peace in Palestine are up against...

I hope you are able to find peace brother.


The Raccoon said...

Heyya Abu-Issa

Sorry if my comment seemed angry. It wasn't meant to be, but I was pissed off about something entirely different (namely the horrible incompetence of Israeli leaders), and it has apparently influenced my words.

First of all, let's deal with the common problem of who is a Jew. Judaism is both a religion and an ethnicity. Ethnically, I am a Jew. But I am an atheist. This doesn't make me any less Jewish, and Israel is still my national home, and has always been for me and all my ancestors throughout the ages. Even in the diaspora, for 2000 years, every Jew yearned to return home. Ever heard the expression "next year in Jerusalem"?

And of course Jews returning to their homeland wanted self-rule. It's reasonable to expect after 2000 years of constant persecution. They kept constant contact with their brethren in our occupied homeland - they knew that it's the same shit. Pogroms. Oppression. Poll-tax. They wanted to be free of all of this, in the land of their ancestors.

Your example with California is misleading. The assorted South Americans do not have Califronia as their only spiritual centers. Their lives have not been focused solely on California for 2000 years in exile. They were not continuously slaughtered and oppressed for being Californians... including by the people occupying California. Paints a slightly different picture, doesn't it?

And "integrate themselves back into the culture"? The culture of the conquering Arab tribes is not our culture. Our culture did not survive for as long as it did to just be discarded in order to accomodate yet another occupier. We did not do it for the Assyrians, nor the Babylonians, nor the Greeks, nor the Romans, Ptolemites, Selucids, Amayyads or anyone else. We did not relinquish it for the various oppressors we lived under, be they European or African or Arab. Sorry, but the Arab culture is not our culture. From the Jewish POV, it's just another conquering nation squatting on our land.

Your vision of a free and united Palestine is totally unrealistic. Jews were ALWAYS oppressed under the yoke of others, with the exception of Indians and, for a brief period, Yemenites. The events of the recent century outline the future of any non-independent Jewish population nicely: slavery and extermination. Will not pass.

Oh... please note that there is not ONE free Arab/Muslim democracy. The chances do not look good at all.

And it is Jerusalem that is holy to 3 different religions. For all I care, Jerusalem can be an independent state populated by religious fanatics. Kind of like Vatican, only with constant internal violence and perpetually in flames. I don't really care as long as I can visit it whenever I want. I am not a Cohen, Jerusalem is only a spiritual place for me.

Again this word, "Palestine". It's an insult. It's like calling Arabia "Ragheadland". Would you like to live in a land named so by your enemies just to insult you? After they tried destroying your people, scattered them all over the world, took everything your people ever had?

Somehow, I doubt it.

"Raccoon, your anger filled comment shows what people who genuinely want peace in Palestine are up against..."

Not really. I don't blow myself up in malls. I don't attack people, and I don't kill people. I am just a Raccoon wanting to live securely in the land of my ancestors - my only home.

Thanks, you too. We're more likely to find nuclear annihilation, though.