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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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"Apartheid" means "separateness" and was a word coined by the Afrikaners (i.e. more or less Dutch speaking white minority in South Africa) for their political system, which was supposed to mean that White people and Black people (and indeed, each of a number of different varieties of Black people, as well as (ex- British) Indians, as well as Chinese, as well as everyone who was unfortunate enough to be a mixture and who was just called Coloured) each had a different cultural identity. The theory said that they *could not* live together in harmony; they were *forbidden* by law to intermarry; they had different busses, different schools, different hospitals ... Somehow the white people had all the money and owned the factories, farms, ... while the black people were poor labourers and many were migrant workers. And it was the white people who invented the word "apartheid" and imposed the system by force on everyone else.

Now in Palestine there is a fence built by the Israeli's exactly where they themselves decided to put it and which seems very well arranged to serve security (and other) interests of Jewish people living inside, while making it almost impossible for Palestinians to visit their relatives, carry on their daily lives, and so on and so forth.

The people who put it up say that it is purely for security, it is purely temporary, and so on... but for the people who live on the wrong side of it, it no doubt feels rather different.

People who call this apartheid are drawing a parallel, and referring not just to the fence but to a whole lot more besides; of course at best it is a huge over-simplification, the parallel is not perfect; no such parallel is perfect. Is it useful? It expresses the feelings of those who experience the situation like the Black South Africans experienced Apartheid, and it expresses the feelings of some of those who look at things from a distance (with empathy for both sides!!!) and who try to understand, and try not to blame. There is a region where people of different ethnic/religious/cultural identity somehow have come to be living together, one of those groups is more strong than the others, and it imposes its will on everyone clearly to the disadvantage of the others and certainly without consulting the others.

Is it useful to call it "apartheid"? [I mean, is it useful to use the word in public, or on MEpeace.org?]. Is it useful to call what happened to Armenians a "genocide"? It depends on your aims.

What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet...

We need to understand. Understand the history, understand the feelings. I think that quite a few people who use the word "apartheid" in the present context do it out of "good faith"; not out of ignorance, not out of personal political motives, or whatever. They are sending a message to the Israeli's which the Israeli's have to accept, whether they like the word or not. I think one shouldn't attack people for using the word as such, but one should try to understand why they use it. In public debate it is sometimes necessary to exaggerate so that people wake up and take notice...
Hi everybody

for the original question my answer is not ... Israel is not an apartheid state but it is a stupid state. and for stupidity we pay.
Israel became from a creator of situations to a reactor .
I was born after 1967 and since I remember myself every body around me knew what peace will look like one day.. two states solution according to the international law in the pre 1967 borders . the problem is every time we starting to do something about it some one either in the right wing in Israel or in the Palestinian side tells us how the Palestinian dream is not for a two states but actually to go "back" to Tel aviv and Haifa and chase all the Zionists in to the sea. and we instead of acting like an adult county we going in to our hysteria mode and build walls and check points and basically hiding from the world.

every body knows today that during the 1948 independence war there was some relocation or ethnic cleansing or what not... so what? every country in history is dealing with the same issues . the way adult countries deal with it especially after they recognize the issue is very simple ... with bureaucracy.
Israel long time ago should have recognized officially that in 1948 there was some ethnic cleansing of the palestinians. and offer the right of return to these Palestinians. same way that Poland for example is doing today with Jews of france with Algerians and so on.

for example my family had to escape Poland during ww2 the Nazis took all of their properties and their ID it was all gone. so in theory I could apply for a polish visa but I would have to show some documents that are long gone .
Israel could do the same thing in theory give a right of return for the palestinians but then like any other adult country burn it under bureaucracy. for example only palestinians with a solid proof that they owned property in Israel and can show it could return . that alone already minimise the number by about 90% , and it is a legitimate request. the another factor could be connection to a terror organization ... that another huge amount of chunk of palestinians that could not apply for an Israeli passport. at the end Israel could take in a small number of palestinians and give then the right of return like any other country in the world does.
even kadafi offer the libyan Jews a right of return know that not sane Jew ever would like to go back there

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