It’s apartheid, declares an investment banker/CFR member who’s an ‘ardent supporter of Israel’

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I think this is it. An important shift inside the Establishment: Here is Stephen Robert, investment banker and Council on Foreign Relations member and former vice chancellor of Brown University, writing in the Nation in shock and anger about seeing “apartheid on steroids.”

I remember when Charney Bromberg came back from Israel and Palestine a year or so back and used the apartheid word at Columbia University. Well, anyone who sees what’s going on there has to want to resort to that word. And Terry Gross clubbed Jimmy Carter for using that word, on her radio show; and Ian Lustick withdrew from an event that I attended at the University of Pennsylvania because that word was in the headline of the event. And of course Palestinians have been calling it apartheid for a long time; and myself, I tend to use Jim Crow because it’s American and less threatening. Well, kudos to the Nation, they’ve broken a taboo.

(Robert wants the Obama administration to get the two-state solution now. The question is, What’s the chance of that? What’s the governing reality of Israel and Palestine, and how much more of this disgusting oppression must people observe before they walk away talking about human rights and democracy?)

But here’s Robert:

I’ve made five additional visits to Israel since 1962, the last this summer as part of a humanitarian aid trip to East Jerusalem and the West Bank. As a Jew who has been an ardent supporter of Israel since its independence, it pains me to record what I saw there. But it is my love for Israel and for the Jewish people that drives me to speak out at this treacherous time.

What I witnessed in the West Bank—home to about 2.5 million Palestinians and 400,000 Israeli settlers—exceeded my worst expectations.

While the world’s statesmen have dithered, Israel has created a system of apartheid on steroids, a horrifying prison with concrete walls as high as twenty-six feet, topped with body-ravaging coils of razor wire. Spaced along these walls are imposing guard towers that harbor bunkers from which trespassers can be shot by Israeli soldiers. From this physical segregation—one land for Israelis; another, unequal land for Palestinians—flows a torrent of misery, violence and human rights abuses. The West Bank suffers from acute shortages of water, housing, jobs and healthcare. Palestinian children are separated from their parents, denied access to hospitals and stoned and beaten by Jewish settlers. Human rights sanctioned by international law, including the right to health, the prohibition on transferring populations into occupied territoriesand equality before the law are routinely violated….

How can Jews, who have been persecuted for centuries, tolerate this inhumanity? Where is their moral compass? How can this situation be acceptable to Judaism’s spiritual and political leaders? I don’t have that answer; except to say that Israel’s biggest enemy has become itself.


The Arab Spring should make it abundantly clear that the Jewish state is on the wrong side of history. When, exactly, the tipping point will come is not predictable….

With respect to fairness, the Israelis have done very well. Before the 1947 partition, the Jewish community owned only 6 percent of the land and comprised 35 percent of the population. The UN partition awarded them 55 percent of the land. The Palestinians, who had owned 94 percent of the land, were awarded 45 percent in the partition; Jerusalem was to be put under international supervision. After the 1948 war, however, the armistice line allocated Israel 78 percent of the land. Now many in the international community are advocating a return to those borders (with some land swaps) as a pillar of a peace agreement. Israel should be rejoicing under these terms, since they would receive 78 percent of the land available in 1947. An investment banker much of my adult life, I’d take this deal in a heartbeat.

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