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Goldstone’s major error: By looking for South Africa, he missed Israel’s own brand of apartheid

Israel/Palestine
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Ben White, author of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide, responds to Richard Goldstone’s recent New York Times Op-Ed:

There are numerous problems with Goldstone’s piece, but I want to highlight two important errors. First, Goldstone – like others who attack the applicability of the term “apartheid” – wants to focus on differences between the old regime in South Africa and what is happening in Israel/Palestine. Note that he does this even while observing that apartheid “can have broader meaning”, and acknowledging its inclusion in the 1998 Rome Statute.

As South African legal scholar John Dugard wrote in his foreword to my book Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide, no one is saying the two situations “are exactly the same”. Rather, there are “certain similarities” as well as “differences”: “It is Israel’s own version of a system that has been universally condemned”.

Goldstone would appear not to have read studies by the likes of South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council and others, who conclude that Israel is practicing a form of apartheid. The term has been used by the likes of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Jimmy Carter, and Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem.

Goldstone’s second major error is to omit core Israeli policies, particularly relating to the mass expulsions of 1948 and the subsequent land regime built on expropriation and ethno-religious discrimination. By law, Palestinian refugees are forbidden from returning, their property confiscated – the act of dispossession that enabled a Jewish majority to be created in the first place.

As an advisor on Arab affairs to PM Menachem Begin put it: “If we needed this land, we confiscated it from the Arabs. We had to create a Jewish state in this country, and we did”. Within the “Green Line”, the average Arab community had lost between 65 and 75 per cent of its land by the mid-1970s. Across Israel, hundreds of Jewish communities permit or deny entry according to “social suitability”. Goldstone’s claim that there is merely “de facto separation” rings hollow.

Successive Israeli governments have pursued policies of “Judaisation” in areas of the country where it is deemed there are “too many” non-Jews, i.e. Palestinian citizens. The current Housing Minister has called it a “national duty” to “prevent the spread” of Palestinians. In the Negev, there is a plan to forcibly relocate some 30,000 Bedouin citizens, a population group President Shimon Peres described as a “demographic threat“. A racialised discourse about birth rates is commonplace: In 1998, the mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, told reporters that “it’s a matter of concern when the non-Jewish population rises a lot faster than the Jewish population”.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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8 Responses

  1. BillM
    November 2, 2011, 2:31 pm

    Paul Pillar over at the National Interest calls Goldstone out:

    http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/apartheid-then-now-6115

    “And if the one word fits—as it certainly does in this instance—it will be used, and appropriately so.”

    Goldstone’s piece may be having some blowback, forcing observers who would prefer not to delve into the terminology to take sides. Any honest observer is going to conclude, as did Pillar, that the term fits.

  2. stevelaudig
    November 2, 2011, 4:55 pm

    Israeli supported Apartheid 1.0 while developing Apartheid 2.0. Netanyahu has morphed into Milosevic in the course of the double barrel Apartheid Religio-ethnic cleansing.

  3. pabelmont
    November 2, 2011, 7:56 pm

    A perceptive friend, who follows I/P but less cl;osely than I, read the Goldstone essay in NYT and said it read as if he had a gun to his head.

    Well, we all remember the bar mitzva. Defenders of Zion will attack anyone it will seem to help them to attack, Goldstone, Iran, etc.

  4. DBG
    November 2, 2011, 9:52 pm

    Ben White is the hack to end all hacks. You guys know how to pick em here :) LOL!

  5. thetumta
    November 2, 2011, 11:07 pm

    Why are you still chattering about Goldstone? You got played(so did I). Move on.
    Hej!

  6. kalithea
    November 3, 2011, 1:41 am

    What does everyone expect from a ZIONIST? Integrity, honesty, decency and compassion don’t exist in the Zionist dictionary.

    He’s loathesome. When he got chosen for that committee investigating war crimes against Gaza; my instincts told me he’d eff up everything. And when the report came out, for a moment I thought, wow, is it possible that a Zionist can be impartial after all??

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I was right about him from day one. Leopards don’t change their spots!

  7. Shmuel
    November 3, 2011, 3:15 am

    Goldstone’s second major error is to omit core Israeli policies, particularly relating to the mass expulsions of 1948 and the subsequent land regime built on expropriation and ethno-religious discrimination. By law, Palestinian refugees are forbidden from returning, their property confiscated – the act of dispossession that enabled a Jewish majority to be created in the first place.

    In other words, having successfully completed the first stage of apartheid – creating a Jewish majority and setting the mechanisms of Jewish domination in motion – Israel moved on to the second, less blatant and less draconian, pseudo-democratic, “maintenance” stage of apartheid.

    Justice Goldstone is right that Israeli policies of discrimination differ from those of South African Apartheid. The Israeli system has been far more successful.

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