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What are your thoughts on calling Israel an 'Apartheid State'? Is the Barrier an 'Apartheid Wall' or a 'Security Fence'?

I am writing a paper at the moment for presentation in a conference in 12 days and I still can't coherently formulate my argument against Diasporas engaging in dialogue from the position that Israel is an 'Apartheid State'. My thoughts thus far are that while the occupation, the "Matrix of Control" as Jeff Halper calls it, is suffocating and inhibits Palestinian statehood, not to mention breaching human rights and human dignity, using the analogy of apartheid in South Africa obscures the historical context of the I/P conflict. This has two downsides. For one, it undermines historical reasons for the current state of the conflict and obscures legitimate Israeli security concerns, assumes that Israel's reasons for erecting the Barrier were for racist reasons, and in the process attributes the whole of the conflict to skin color or religion over territory and nationalism. Two, it overlooks the specificity of Palestinian suffering, and the use of 'rights discourses' of Apartheid doesn't fully do justice to the totality of the conflict, the refugees, and Israeli Arabs in particular. So what I'm trying to say, I believe, is that on the one hand it downplays certain factors that shouldn't be overlooked while sensationalizing 'Apartheid' as a loaded political term, utilizing its expedience, dehuminizing lives lost over causes overshadowed by the analogy, on the other. I think in the case of Diasporas and dialogue the 'Apartheid' analogy is unhelpful because it doesn't lead to mutual understanding but rather engages the 'Other' in a disposition empty of trust and full of anger and hatred. I don't see how anger and hatred will facilitate a starting point to dialogue. But what do you think?

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Hayyim,

Firts, I guess that we'd all agree that "Civil Wars" are neither civil nor civilised.

Here is the first paragraph from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_war contains:
A civil war is a war between organized groups within a single nation state[1], or, less commonly, between two nations created from a formerly-united nation state[2]. The aim of one side may be to take control of the nation or a region, to achieve independence for a region, or to change government policies[1]. It is high-intensity conflict, often involving regular armed forces, that is sustained, organized and large-scale. Civil wars result in large numbers of casualties and the consumption of large resources. [3]
As usual JC you bring it to the point.

As we have conflict people use language as "non violent" way to express their side and justify their position.

for instance when I talk with Israelis who are against the government all acts are critisized and all Natanyahu is called with many different names. when I talk with Palestinains who support Fatah about Hamas, they call them criminals, and when it is the oposite the Hamas/anti-Fatah call Fatah theives.

language is a battel field, we need to recognize that, language has a grate power, as person like Chomsky knows and many "post modern" thinkers who try to "re-construct" reality by critisizing the other side in lies and crimes.

So Aparthide term (as Holucoust, crimes against humanity, clonialism, terrorism etc.) are used to attack the other side in "non-violent way".

Israel create a wall of seperation, and this is very problematic no matter how you call it, the problem of the use of extreem description is that you create a semantic wall too. using Aparthide, Holucost and all other description to critisize Israel and bring "world public opinion" against it is contra productive in the long term, as it is all never have been and never will be black or white, so the use of black/white categories are failing in reality in the long term and and make us more seperated.

As Israeli I have a lot of critisim of what Israel as a whole is doing, but I know that many of that descriptions are not accurate and make non-israelis mistaken in understanding what Israel is.

The wall will fall, as all separation other walls (beside the chinese wall which is now turis attraction;). There are Israelis who think that if they build a wall and do not see the palestinains tehre will not be a problems and that wrong, we are here to live together in one inclusive futue. other Israelis think that this is opertunity to create a border with Israel interests ... which is wrong to and I hope that Obama effort will help us overcome them. but most israelis seeking peace and can understand that we all need to share and work together for a better future transcending all borders.
And you have another rhetoric as this video which take the seperation wall to some other direction

Respectfully, Basil, your argument falls on weak terms when you replace 'apartheid' with 'segregation.' If it were segregation and not apartheid I doubt people would have a problem with it. The idea that Israel is an 'Apartheid State' implies that the reasons for its policies are racial discrimination, which they're not (primarily, that is). There are legitimate security concerns that have led to the building of the Barrier, and there are likewise ways in which the kind of segregation in the West Bank drastically differs from and is worse than South African apartheid. What I'm trying to get at is that 'apartheid' distorts the specificity of the conflict. In some ways it doesn't say enough, and in others it says too much. Making a comparison is different from calling Israel an 'Apartheid State'. Saying that there are 'forms of apartheid' is different from the label 'Israeli apartheid.' And this isn't just a semantic debate. For instance, saying, as you have, that "ISrael is an apartheid state" and continuing on with a long list of grievances that Israel has committed against the Palestinians has the effect of rendering Palestine passive, without agency. Palestinians and Israelis are both responsible for the current situation, and I think that being duly critical is important. I see many Israelis who are willing to speak out against their government and its policies, but few Palestinians who speak of their government's corruption, breaches of human rights, etc. I am aware of many Israelis who will publicly admit to blame for mistreating the Palestinians after '67, but very few Palestinians who will publicly admit blame for successive wars ('48, '67, '73, or acts of violent resistance) which has, if not caused the Barrier to be constructed, then certainly played a large factor in its construction (if you are aware of any reports or NGOs that publicly criticize Palestinian governments please let me know). One of the problems is the fact of causality and narrativity - that playing the cause and effect game gets no one anywhere and neither does sticking to one narrative. I think the best course of action is to engage in the types of dialogue that we are engaged in right now. But that will also require the admittance that both Jews and Israel, and Palestinians, have a fundamental and inalienable right to self-determination and statehood.

I should also add that my arguments are not well formulated yet (hence the question) and that in many cases I play the devil's advocate here. I realize the difference in political structures and societies and Palestinian reluctance to speak out against the PA or the PLO, lack of resources, etc. I only make the point because placing all the blame on Israel is commonplace but irresponsible. Being duly and critical fairly across the board is important if people are to engage in dialogue.
You are a breath of fresh air here, Matt..
Thanks Paul. I appreciate that.
Luc wrote "Jews proclaim themselves as a race,"

The Nazis (and other racists) as well as some under-informed proclaim Jews to be race. Jews make NO such claims.

We have discussed this before. Please stop repeating fantasies.

Most Jews have genetic markers that are generally common only among Semitic people. So do most Palestinian Arabs. Jews are NOT a (pure) race. Jews are a People, The Jewish People. The Jewish People simply really just share a common heritage and culture. Only accepted authorities of The Jewish People can decide who is and who is not a member of The Jewish People.

Luc may not like that. But that is a fact for The Jewish People.
Yes, jews and palestinian arabs are closest relatives. Only thing which separates them is religion.
Whilst I agree with what you wrote Mika, I do not think that that is the whole and relevant story.

Religious Faith is only one characteristic/attribute/aspect/facet of The Jewish People and of the The Palestinian People.

Genetically I too think that "jews and palestinian arabs are closest relatives".

I think that:
  1. Jews have self-identified as The Jewish People with a unique and documented and ever-evolving and consistent culture for at least 2,500 years. The Religious Faith is only one characteristic/attribute/aspect/facet of the culture of The Jewish People which has been based in and on the traditional Land of Israel for over 2,500 years.
  2. Palestinian People have only recently self-identified as The Palestinian People. Their common characteristic/attribute/aspect/facet is residency in a non-Jewish land of Palestine which is most probably no more than 40 to 100 years old.

Please note that I am not commenting on the validity or justice of the self-perceptions.

And TODAY we have to deal with what is now and NOT what was some time ago.
Luc

Some of your claims seem bizarre to me. More than half of the Jews of today are NOT from Europe. Many are from Africa, the middle and near East and Asia.

Are you telling us that those evil and very able Jooosse have conspired spontaneously and mysteriously to create an essentially common culture over vast distances many, many hundreds of years ago without communication technology? Jewish Carrier pigeons? Thought transference? G-d power? Jooose thingy? The mind boggles...
Hey Luc - fair crack of the whip. I believe those participating in this discussion should be aware of the narratives of both the Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinians continue to feel comfortable as the eternal victims (refugee camps after 61 years) not totally dissimilar to Jewish victimhood of the past 2000 years (prior to 1948 a stateless people). Going to the present .It is difficult for the Palestinian leadership in Gaza to acknowledge the Jewish State of Israel and to denounce violence as a means of attaining political objectives. However without that happening its claim to govern in the best interests of its constituency is nothing but hot air. Its extremely simplistic to blame all the travails of the Palestinians exclusively on the Israeli occupation. The reality of now is that Israel is the powerful entity and unless the leadership of Hamas wants to condemn more generations to a miserable existence it must not only use the language of peace rather than the language of victimhood and hatred but be more proactive in creating an environment harmonious to peace - e.g. scarce resources should be allocated to the basics of life for its population - health,water, education,employment - instead of arms which compared to the arsenal of the Israelis, pales into absolute insignificance. This would thereby send a powerful message to the rest of the world that the Palestinians are fair dinkum about peace. The obvious consequence of this would be the unprecedented and immense international pressure that would be exerted on the Israeli government to make and deliver practical compromises leading to Palestinian statehood (refer the Geneva protocol). As far as the wall is concerned, I do believe that it is a separation wall and has improved security for the Israelis and should continue to be called such. As previously stated, the word "apartheid" implies a government policy based on "racism". I do not believe for one minute that Israelis are any more or less racist than Palestinians or any other tribe for that matter. I, like Paul ,do not base the above on any belief that "true justice" or "fairness"if there is any such thing can be achieved.
Yes it is religion which is ( in my view) a main dividing point between us. But allow me to say that surely, this was never the original 'Divine Intention" of God that Muslim & Jews be divided [for religious reasons]. As a former Torah-scholar (advanced Rabbincal studies) and a current M.E. & Islamic scholar, I think that the mis-understanding of our own, and the other's religion, is what contributed the very most, way back at the near beginning of Islam.

But then I claim to be a Sufi ( at least I'm suppossed to be one ) and I see things differently. In fact I don't believe in a lasting, nor true, M.E. peace based on mutually compromising nationalistic goals: " 2 States for 2 peoples". Instead I think a religious (preferably called a spiritual ) reconcilliation would achieve greater long-term results.
For permanent results as a 'futurist' I'm certain no 2 State solution will allow mankind to solve the real-life crises now facing the earth; certainly settling Mars and going beyond the solar system will be made more difficult for those who cling to narrow out-dated nationalistic politics. I prefer a "one - country - for - us all " over this Zionist farce of a "Jewish state" ( A State of Jews" is more accurate)

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