Apartheid Ehud Barak Israel Jimmy Carter

Ehud Barak finally uses the A-word

Ehud Barak has now joined an illustrious throng of Israelis who are coming to terms with the fact that unless there are dramatic changes in the status quo, Israel will become an apartheid state. When I read about that, I wondered how many demonstrators would have stalked him had he done a book tour and used the A-word three years ago, like Jimmy Carter. Not many, I’d venture to guess.

It seems that the estimable MJ Rosenberg also thought about the peanut farmer:

It’s been three years since Jimmy Carter was demonized as anti-Semitic for writing that if Israel maintained the occupation without giving Palestinians full rights, it would become an apartheid state.

And now Israel’s hawkish Defense Minister — and most highly decorated soldier — agrees.

Speaking at a conference outside Tel Aviv, Barak said, if “millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”

Currently, Israel’s democracy applies only within the pre-’67 lines. The millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories have no democratic rights. Barak is saying that Israel must either get out of the territories or be another apartheid South Africa.

Exactly what President Carter said.

Except when Israel’s Defense Minister says it, he is also saying that Israel cannot defend itself unless it ends the occupation.

That is why supporters of a secure Israel must oppose the occupation. Thanks, Minister Barak. But then it is easier to speak the truth about the occupation in Israel than here in Washington. You don’t have the lobby to deal with.

Commenting on Barak’s remarks, Philip Weiss, on the other hand, says that apartheid “is already here,” joining the even larger throng that makes facile, simplistic analogies when comparing Israel and South Africa.

The Palestinian citizens of Israel confront a society that is closer to the American South in the 1960s, when African Americans did have the same rights as white Americans but had to fight to get those rights enforced. (Of course there are profound differences between the two societies, but I’m trying to find an approximate location for Israeli Arabs on the continuum of oppression.) Moreover, as I’ve noted here before, it is true that the EXPERIENCE of Palestinians under occupation is as bad as anything experienced by South African blacks during the apartheid era. But they are not citizens of the state of Israel (nor do they want to be); they are residents of a territory whose juridical status has yet to be determined. That is an important distinction.

We may soon reach a point when it becomes impossible to change the status of that territory, and then those residents really will be de facto second class citizens. But that hasn’t happened yet. At least I won’t allow myself to believe that it has happened yet.

16 thoughts on “Ehud Barak finally uses the A-word

  1. So when will we know when we have reached that point? When the Israeli Prime Minister plants flags or trees in Ariel and Maaleh Adumim and says “This will always be the Land of Israel!” What? Oh, that’s right. That just happened.

  2. As long as Iran and whoever are shipping arms to the territories…Israel is always going to have a good excuse to occupy.

    Maybe they could downgrade it to “occupation light” with less military presence and more technological surveillance.

  3. Use of apartheid to describe the territories is an attempt to create the same emotional and ultimately political reaction to Israel as to South Africa. In the case of South Africa it worked mainly in Western Europe and the United States because of guilt over colonialism and slavery. Most of those who got so indignant over the fact that blacks didn’t have a vote in South Africa, had absolutely no reaction to the fact that blacks had no meaningful voting rights on nearly the entire continent. But as long as blacks were mistreating other blacks that was okay. Similarly the fact that Arabs lack basic civil rights in nearly the entire Arab world doesn’t bother a lot of people, only that they lack them under Israeli occupation. For many of those encouraging the use of the a-word there is no attempt to distinguish between the territories and Israel proper, despite the fact that Palestinians do have voting rights within Israel. Those wanting us to ignore immigration laws also use apartheid to describe discrimination against illegal aliens. So for those interested in provoking a certain reaction the word can be stretched to fit any number of situations.

  4. “Most of those who got so indignant over the fact that blacks didn’t have a vote in South Africa, had absolutely no reaction to the fact that blacks had no meaningful voting rights on nearly the entire continent. But as long as blacks were mistreating other blacks that was okay. ”

    People say this a lot. In fact, I have no idea how true it is and it sounds rather like the sort of things anti-sanctions people said at the time. My impression is that the same activists who criticized apartheid South Africa would also criticize Mobutu’s Zaire–they would also criticize the civil wars South Africa helped support or instigate in neighboring countries. Americans of a certain stripe don’t like it when the US government supports dictators or thuggish regimes in other countries and South Africa made a particularly easy target, but it wasn’t the only one. And the hope was that a democratic South Africa would act as a leader for democracy in the rest of Africa.
    Similarly, if Israel and the Palestinians ever do reach a fair peace agreement (one state or two), that will probably act as a good example for the rest of the region.

    As for the apartheid analogy, Desmond Tutu evidently thought it was a good one, but what does he know?

  5. Dan Fleshler draws reasonable distinctions in the relevance of apartheid to Israel. Good luck getting anyone to pay attention to that. “Apartheid” as used by anti-Israel people is a hate word. Its use is emotional, not rational – a call to arms. When political retards like Ehud Barak use it as a polemic against the 1967 occupation, they’re clueless to the fact (mentioned by Tom Mitchell above) that Israel proper, in its pre-1967 boundaries, is an “apartheid state” according to many who use that term. If Israel were to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, it’s quite plausible that the “apartheid state” rhetoric would intensify as a result.

    Donald says he has no doubt how true it is that South Africa was treated with an egregious double standard. I’m old enough to remember that rhetoric. It’s twue, it’s twue! Israel and apartheid South Africa share a lot in common. Both are/were perceived as “white oppressing colored” and as a result are/were subject to ridiculously disproportionate vilification by many in Western Europe and (to a lesser extent) in America. It has more to do with Western attitudes towards the West (“whites”) than with anything Israel or South Africa actually did, whatever one may think of apartheid or the 1967 occupation. So really Israel and South Africa are not treated by a double standard at all; it’s a single standard.

  6. Donald,
    Tell me how many functioning democracies were there north of the Orange and Limpopo rivers and south of the Mediterrenean between 1970 and 1990?

  7. If Barak is supposedly concerned about the “A”-word-why did he join a Likud government as a junior party? I wouldn’t pay any attention to anything that man says–he is a big, fat zero as a politician. His own party despises him. The only reason he said that was to find favor in the eyes of some Leftist-“progressives”. Don’t forget that he ran the war that Goldstone got so excited about…where was all his concern about looking good in the eyes of the world’s “progressives” then?

  8. I find it quite amusing when Israeli Leftists go around whining, like Olmert and Livni did, saying that it is a vital interest of Israel to create a Palestinian state as soon as possible, or like what Barak said about the “A”-word. All they are doing is making sure the Arabs have no incentive to reach a peace agreement with Israel. What is the Arab goal? To have Israel dissolve itself without them making any concessions (remember what happened to Sadat when he did that?). This includes a multi-front war that involves terrorism; endless, fruitless negotiations and an ongoing offensive in the international community to delegitimize Israel. When Barak goes around babbling about the “A”-word, he is essentially telling the Arabs that their international offensive is working and they should keep up the pressure. Why should the Arabs make any concessions for peace in such a climate? Unless of course, Livni, Barak and Olmert secretly agree with me and they are simply moving the Arabs into the position of being the rejectionists (I find it hard to credit them with that much intelligence). Of course, even if they are doing that it is still demoralizing to Israelis to keep hearing their leaders harping on the fact that we are supposedly “doomed” if we don’t give in.
    Netanyahu’s current grovelling requests that Abbas deign to begin negotations is just as bad. Why doesn’t he say “If you don’t want to talk, fine, we will continue to settle Jews in our historic homeland of Judea/Samaria”. Out in the open.
    Intersesting enough, Avigdor Lieberman in the Foreign Ministry is making some clear statements that haven’t been heard for decades…but then Bibi is giving the opposite message. I don’t understand why the current gov’t is giving such mixed signals…I think they will only end up antagonizing the side that ultimately feels betrayed by this bizarre policy.
    The only way real peace can be obtained is for Israel to tell the Arabs clearly and loudly…we have returned to our ancient homeland never to leave, we will not make any territorial or political concessions. If you want to improve the lives of the Arabs in these regions, you come to us with suggestions how we can do this…but we will not capitulate. Period.

  9. Don wrote (re: South African apartheid): “In fact, I have no idea how true it is and it sounds rather like the sort of things anti-sanctions people said at the time.”

    I supported sanctions back then and would support them again if there were still apartheid today. But goddamn…haven’t you ever heard of necklacing? Kids as young as 12 were recruited into rogue armies and executed by the opposition.

    Nelson Mandela divorced his wife in part because of her involvement in those kinds of atrocities.

    This shouldn’t deflect from the evil of apartheid…but likewise–apartheid shouldn’t deflect from the evil behavior of various black factions.

  10. Wow, it’s great to see those old apartheid apologetics again. Brings back fond memories of the 80s. Seriously, its amazing how many defenses of Israel these days read like the old defenses of white South Africa, with a search and replace “look at those horrible Arab states, why don’t you ever talk about them” for “look at those horrible black-ruled African states, why don’t you ever talk about them.”

  11. Yes, Suzanne, I’ve heard of necklacing. What of it? You also know that Inkatha (the darling of Western conservatives) was also guilty of atrocities and was secretly working with the apartheid government? Who said that the ANC was free of sin? The ANC also tortured people in its camps in Namibia.

    Yes, Tom, democracies were few and far between in Africa then. But you said that very few people cared about that. Bull. I remember the period too. The people supporting apartheid South Africa made that argument. But of course people who were leading the charge against apartheid knew damn well there were many other human rights abusers–as it happens, many of them were also linked to either South Africa or the US or both.
    Savimbi was the darling of American conservatives. Renamo was (surprisingly) condemned by the Reagan Administration, but was the darling of other conservatives, including Robert Dole. Between Renamo and Unita South Africa was supporting some of the biggest killers on the continent. Mobutu was our guy in Zaire–I don’t recall anyone denying his crimes.

  12. As for the apartheid analogy, it’s made because of the similarity of the effects on the victims, not because the rationalizations of the perpetrators are the same. (Though Tony Karon has written a few things about the friendly feelings between apartheid South Africa and Israel.) In some parallel universe where Israel never allowed a single settlement to take root, they might conceivably still be in military occupation of the West Bank. The apartheid analogy wouldn’t be so apt in that case.

  13. “The Palestinian citizens of Israel confront a society that is closer to the American South in the 1960s, when African Americans did have the same rights as white Americans but had to fight to get those rights enforced.”

    Is that so? Has there been a refutation of all the evidence compiled to the contrary, for example in Uri Davis’ books, which describe disparate legal treatment of Jews and non-Jews in immigration, citizenship, real property rights, and other areas?

    There’s a brief summary of the apartheid character of Zionism by Uzzi Ornan, here: http://www.mail-archive.com/islamcity@yahoogroups.com/msg04125.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.