Israel and her Apartheid Character

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Part 1:

The coming Tuesday, 16 March, will be the 7th year since Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist, was killed by an Israeli Army bulldozer while trying to stop the demolition of a Palestinian building in the Rafah refugee camp. A court case brought by her family has begun in Israel. The civil action against the Israeli defence ministry will decide whether damages should be paid for her death in Gaza at the age of 23. Her family has maintained that a full investigation was never carried out. In an interview with the Democracy Now, her family says that Israel may not allow Rachel Corrie’s Palestinian doctor and the witnesses in Gaza to testify for the case. There is strong possibility that the driver who murdered Corrie will also not be allowed to take the witness stand. Well, those of us who have been following the “only” democracy in the Middle East for quite some time are not surprised by such legal stonewalling from the apartheid state.

It was not too long ago that the Israeli government rejected the conclusion of the UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission on the December-January (2008-2009) Gaza conflict.[1] The Goldstone Report accused Israel of violating international humanitarian law, committing "grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of willful killings and willfully causing great suffering to protected persons," and war crimes, possibly even crimes against humanity.[2] The Israeli ambassador to the UN dubbed the report as being "conceived in hate and executed in sin."[3] Imagine what would have been the reaction if the UN fact-finding mission was not headed by a Jewish judge who claims to be an ardent Zionist![4] With a 344-36 vote, the US House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution that urged President Obama and Secretary Clinton to oppose unequivocally any endorsement of the report.[5] Mindful of the Israeli sensitivity and pressure from its powerful Lobby, the Obama Administration dodged the UN debate last November.[6]

This was not the only time that the US government had bailed out the rogue state from being held accountable for its gross violations of human rights and international law. Consider the Jenin massacre of April 2002 when, according to Human Rights Watch, many of the victims were “killed willfully or unlawfully, and in some cases constituted war crimes."[7] Examples highlighted in the Report include the case of 57-year old Kamal Zugheir who was shot and then run over by IDF tanks while in his wheelchair, and that of 37-year old Jamal Fayid, a quadriplegic crushed to death in the rubble of his home after an IDF bulldozer advanced upon it, refusing to allow his family to intervene to remove him. Israel did not allow emergency workers into the Jenin refugee camp after the massacre of Palestinians had ended. On April 19 the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution to send a fact-finding mission to Jenin, which was blocked entry on April 23 by the Israeli government. On May 2, in the face of mounting pressure from the AIPAC that had influenced President Bush, Secretary General Kofi Annan disbanded the U.N. fact-finding team, which had been waiting in Geneva for nearly a week to begin its mission.[8] Later, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution condemning Israel’s military action in Jenin.[9] The USA was one of the four countries that voted against the resolution.

Israel remains the only state in our world that has the unbridled audacity to bite the very hands that feed her. There is nothing that the generous feeder could do to stop such an unthankful conduct. Consider for instance the recent 5-day trip by the US Vice President Joe Biden to Israel to put some life back into the moribund peace process. Since day one the Obama administration has been calling for a total freeze in the settlement activities by the expansionist regime. But does the Netanyahu administration care? No. Earlier this week it approved 1,600 new homes for ultra-Orthodox Jews in East Jerusalem (West Bank), a move considered illegal under international law. The timing for the announcement could not have been any more audacious than this. Biden, a long time supporter of the Zionist state, is embarrassed. “I condemn the decision. …,” he said in a statement. The word came after he had spent the day vowing the United States’ “absolute, total and unvarnished commitment to Israel’s security.”

In his meeting with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday in the West Bank, Biden said, "Yesterday, the decision by the Israeli government to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem undermines that very trust – the trust that we need right now in order to begin as well as produce profitable negotiations." The same day the European Union urged Israel to reverse its housing decision.

Commenting on the Israeli decision, Arab League chief Amr Moussa said, "The insult has reached a point that not a single Arab could accept." He further said, "Israel does not care about anybody, neither the mediator, nor the Palestinians." Not surprisingly, Abbas said that he would not enter indirect talks with Israel.

Last year, the US Congress approved President Obama’s FY2010 budget request for a near-record $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel–”an increase of $225 million in aid to Israel compared with FY2009 budget–”despite the fact that the United States was in its gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression and that there was no chemistry between Obama and Netanyahu when the two met last year. Based on IRS statistics, this amounted to an average of $17.75 for each individual taxpayer in the United States. If you thought that was amazing, consider the fact that the average taxpayer will provide Israel with $19.19 in weapons as his/her contribution towards President Obama’s FY2011 budget request for $3 billion in military aid to Israel. Do you see any penalty for the Zionist state’s rogue mentality, undermining American goals? According to Congressional Research Service, the United States has provided Israel with more than $100 billion in direct military and economic aid since 1949. The U.S. aid to Israel totaled $28.9 billion over the past decade, a sum that dwarfs aid to any other nation and amounts to four times the total gross domestic product of Haiti. Between 2009 and 2018, the United States is scheduled to give Israel–the largest recipient of U.S. aid — $30 billion in military aid.

Vice President Biden said the U.S. is committed to the creation of a "viable" Palestinian state with contiguous territory. What is he going to do now against the rogue state that does not even put a halt to settlement activities? Probably nothing other than swallowing his own vomit! That has been the story of American influence on Israel. Every politician there is afraid of the power of the Jewish lobby and its media! In a New York Times editorial Thursday President Obama is blamed for Israeli actions. Just figure out!

The 6th International Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is currently underway from March 1 to 14 March.[10] The aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement. The friends of Israel are quite uncomfortable with all the publicity surrounding this annual international series of events held in cities and campuses across the globe. Many of them blame President Carter for coining the phrase. However, the similarity is much older.

As noted by the US Campaign to End the Occupation the similarities (shown below) with the erstwhile Apartheid South African regime are unmistakable:[11]

· The South African apartheid regime broke the country into 10 noncontiguous Bantustans made of 13% of the total land, which were to serve as “homelands” for the black population. Israel’s “separation wall/fence” and settlements have broken the Palestinian territories into 12 noncontiguous cantons representing only 12% of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

· Palestinians rely on Israeli-issued “permits” to travel through a system of more than 600 checkpoints within the occupied territories. Israeli refusal to issue permits regularly prevents Palestinians from getting to schools, jobs, and even hospitals. In apartheid South Africa Blacks could be arrested to being outside of Bantustans and townships without government issued “passes.”

· Black people in South Africa could not be citizens, and Colored people were only granted limited citizenship rights. Palestinians in the occupied territories are not citizens of any state, and Palestinian citizens of Israel have different citizenship rights than Israeli Jews. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are not citizens of Israel–instead, they have a partial "residency" status, one that can be taken away by the state if an individual is deemed to "no longer reside" in their city of birth.

· East Jerusalem and the West Bank are splintered by a network of roads leading to illegal Israeli settlements (where residence is open only for Jewish citizens of Israel); these roads can only be used by Israelis, while Palestinians must use older, often unpaved roads.

· Within Israel, Palestinian citizens are discriminated against by a series of laws, policies, and regulations, including restrictions on the right of Palestinians to own land, inequalities in funding of schools and municipalities, inequalities in the land open to development around Arab towns and cities versus Jewish towns and cities, inequalities in the granting of building permits, and citizenship laws that discriminate against Palestinians. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel recently issued a challenge to one of these discriminatory citizenship laws, which bans Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens from gaining Israeli citizenship. (For more information on the discrimination faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel, check out the websites by the Arab Association for Human Rights, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Adalah Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel).

· Citizenship laws also discriminate against Palestinian refugees, who are denied their right of return while Israel grants citizenship to any Jewish person from anywhere in the world.

· Even in language, Israel’s policies toward Palestinians resemble apartheid. The Hebrew word "hafrada," which is used to refer to the Wall and to the policy of "disengagement," means separation (as in "separation barrier"). Apartheid is an Afrikaner word which also means separation.

Part 2:

What will it take to dismantle the Apartheid character of the Zionist State?

In the last 62 years, the state of Israel has transformed itself from a colonial, settler Jewish state to a Zionist expansionist empire, albeit without an emperor, in the heart of the Middle East where through its racist and apartheid policies and programs it has ensured that the only way the indigenous Palestinian people could live there is by relegating upon themselves a third-class status, which is worse than what the Apartheid regime had imposed upon the Black indigenous people of South Africa. That transformation was aided and facilitated by the powerful western states, the Jewish Lobby, their pro-Israeli politicians, donors, sympathizers (thanks to the Holocaust industry and the Hollywood), merchants and promoters of war. The Israeli leaders and its ‘Amen Corner’ within the Capitol Hill have been abusing the U.S. promise to stand by a “secure” Israel as a blank cheque to undermine the stated American aims for the region. Between 1990 and 2010, the number of settlers almost quadrupled from about 78,000 in 1990 to around 300,000. Had it not been for such financial aids, military assistance and strategic cooperation the settler enterprise could not have survived, let alone do its war crimes unchecked and unpunished.

The Middle East is, however, not Israel alone. There is oil, produced in the surrounding Muslim countries, which the USA and other western friends of Israel need. That is where the face of US and EU public diplomacy comes that tries to present itself as a mediator to find an accommodation for the displaced, indigenous Palestinians in the Holy Land. In such negotiations, the United States ends up as “Israel’s lawyer” rather than an honest broker. As noted last month in a NY Times Op/ed column, there is little hope for shifting the domestic constraints and overcoming the overwhelming power of the Jewish Lobby for the Obama administration to deliver on its promise for a viable Palestinian state. With never-ending settlement activities inside the Occupied Territories of East Jerusalem for the last four decades a two-state solution seems an impossible reality. Day by day, inch by inch, the physical space for the second state, Palestine, is disappearing. America has allowed this self-defeating process to advance to near irreversibility. In fact, it has helped fund it.

The Zionists and the friends of Israel, inside and outside the apartheid state, ignore the simple truth that past persecution of the Jews cannot be a license to subjugate another people, the Palestinians. Through their devious ploys and sinister plans, let alone savagery and war crimes, the Zionists have managed to hijack and tarnish Judaism — the religion of the great prophets of the Bible. Outside a hardcore band of Christian Zionists, there are very few sympathizers today for the Zionist state. Little do these cheerleaders realize that Israel’s own misguided policies are to blame for an erosion of public sympathy! Some of the Israeli veterans of the operation against Palestinian enclaves are also getting tired of being used as killing machines. In their testimony, cited in a booklet by the organization “Breaking the Silence” and quoted in the Goldstone Report, these veterans said that the rules of engagement included directives like “"if you see any signs of movement at all, you shoot.”[12]

When the civilized world cries out foul about the despicable treatment of the Palestinians inside the Occupied Territories, esp. the genocide in Gaza, Israeli leaders equate activities of the Hamas to the Nazis in Germany.[13] It is doubtful that any historian of stature would buy that comparison between Hamas and the Nazis, or between the London Blitz and the Qassam rockets on Sderot. In the Blitz, 400 German bombers and 600 fighter planes killed 43,000 people and destroyed more than a million homes. Hamas’ Qassams, perhaps the most primitive weapon in the world today, have killed 18 people in eight years. Whom are the Zionists fooling? And if we can compare Hamas to the horrific Nazi killing machine, why shouldn’t others compare the Nazis’ behavior to that of Israeli soldiers that killed thousands of Palestinian civilians?

How long can the Israeli leaders and their partners-in-crime blackmail the guilt-ridden western world? How long can they count on the support received from the financially-troubled West? As I write, some 15 million Americans are still without job, hundreds of schools are closing down for lack of funding, and millions don’t have basic healthcare. And yet, the contribution from my state of Pennsylvania alone towards military aid to Israel in the FY2009-2018 is $1.275 billion. This tax-money could have been spent instead for needed domestic programs, such as, to provide 15,483 households per year with affordable housing grants, or provide 21,167 job seekers per year w/green jobs training, or provide 37,702 children per year w/early reading education, or provide 1,032,659 people per year w/primary health care.[14] It won’t be too long that ordinary Americans would wake up to realize how their hard-earned tax money is spent to finance a foreign government that has indirectly contributed to their troubles and demand a change from their elected representatives.

Many honorable Jewish Americans are tired of the dehumanizing policy of the Israeli state and are providing alternative choices for leadership and lobby, let alone taking leading roles calling for divestment from Israel to end occupation. They know that a two-state solution can only come about if Israel withdraws to the pre-1967 border.

Israelis must recognize that if they are against a viable Palestinian state living side by side then there will be one state between the river and the sea and very soon there will be more Palestinian Arabs in it than Jews. What then will become of the Zionist dream? Will they prefer that alternative? As children and grandchildren of ghetto-living European Jewry they ought to know that a democracy reserved for privileged citizens while all others are denied individual and national rights and kept behind checkpoints, barbed wire fences and separation walls manned by Israel’s military, is not democracy. That is why the current status quo is no solution, and will only weaken the very foundation of the Zionist state. It’s time for President Obama to ask such tough questions in public and demand of Israel that it work in practice to share the land rather than divide and rule it.

In the 1980s the Pretoria regime caved under the overwhelming weight of economic sanctions that were imposed from outside. These sanctions eventually forced the regime to change its apartheid character and become a democracy that it is today. In a Financial Times column, Henry Siegman wrote, “Prospects for such international action may serve as the only remaining inducement for Israel to accept a two-state solution. Not only its legitimacy but its survival as a Jewish and democratic state depends on it.”[15] (Feb. 23, 2010) Will Israel need such a push to change her characteristics? Or, will it self-correct its inhuman ways before such sanctions are imposed from the civilized world?

Notes:

[1] http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1122612.html; http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1115418.html

[2] http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf

[3] http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1125890.html

[4] http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion/476734/the_goldstone_report_on_gaza

[5] http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1125593.html

[6] http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1125986.html

[7] Human Rights Watch World Report, 2003, Human Rights Watch, p. 460.

[8] http://articles.latimes.com/2002/may/01/world/fg-un1

[9] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1974389.stm

[10] For more information on IAW, see: http://apartheidweek.org/

[11] http://endtheoccupationblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/richard-cohen-says-its-not-apartheid.html

[12] http://www.shovrimshtika.org/news_item_e.asp?id=30

[13] No less demagogic was Netanyahu’s attack on the Iranian regime. “They shoot demonstrators there,” he protested vehemently, as if they don’t do that in Bil’in, Na’alin and other occupied territories against the Palestinian demonstrators.

[14] http://www.aidtoisrael.org/

[15] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/48a4a5e6-20b2-11df-9775-00144feab49a.html?nclick_check=1

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