‘Constructive engagement’ didn’t work in South Africa, so why are liberal Zionists pushing it for Israel?

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During the 1980s Ronald Reagan’s anti-boycott policy toward South Africa was known as “Constructive Engagement,” which claimed the positive influence of U.S. corporate participation in South Africa would be more effective towards ending apartheid than direct pressure on the regime. Writing in November 1985, MIT Finance professor John E. Parsons articulated a critique of this approach widely held in the anti-apartheid movement saying that failure to divest from apartheid was tantamount to supporting it:

US corporations continue to operate in South Africa because it is profitable. Apartheid makes it very profitable. These corporations pay millions of dollars in taxes which pay for the police, prisons, weapons, and armaments that maintain the apartheid system. They sell the government its armored personnel carriers, its computers and communications technologies. Westinghouse has sold South Africa several licenses for the manufacture of nuclear power facilities.

And every US industrial facility is integrated into the civil defense plans of the South African government…includ[ing] turning over its facilities for military production at the direction of the South African government.

That’s “constructive engagement.”

Perhaps we should try disinvestment.

That same year, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who also supported a “constructive engagement approach”, directly addressed issue of boycotting South Africa in an interview with CBS television. Her argument will seem familiar to anti-BDS arguments today:

I think a policy of sanctions would harm the very people in South Africa you are trying to help…I agree with a policy of trying to influence South Africa by other means. The present Government is moving forward in the direction we wish them to go, faster than any other. Sanctions will harm, not help.

It is now commonly accepted that her view (and Reagan’s, of course) was wrong, both morally and strategically.  Apartheid was hugely profitable then, just as the Israeli occupation of Palestine is immensely profitable now. The United States, Britain and Israel all maintained lucrative economic and military relationships with the Apartheid regime long after the rest of the international community heeded the call to boycott and divest.  Barak Ravid pointed out in Ha’aretz last year that, by 1987, “Israel was the only Western nation that upheld diplomatic ties with South Africa” and was one of the last countries to join the international boycott campaign.

A few years ago, Archbishop Desmond Tutu noted the absurdity of opposing boycotts under the banner of solidarity with the victims of apartheid. Countless universities around the world, which have since honored him with honorary degrees, had previously punished their own faculty members for anti-Apartheid political activities and “refused to divest from South Africa because ‘it will hurt the blacks’ (investing in apartheid South Africa was not seen as a political act; divesting was),” Tutu wrote in South Africa’s Times. “Let this inconsistency please not be the case with support for the Palestinians in their struggle against occupation,” he pleaded.

In her staunch opposition to joining the boycott campaign, Thatcher argued against effectively punishing the culprits of severe discrimination and oppression for fear that such actions would backfire and stem chances for positive change.  In late 1977, for example, Thatcher declared, “In my view, isolation will lead only to an increasingly negative and intransigent attitude in the part of white South Africa.”

These exact sentiments are now echoed in the liberal Zionist community with respect to even the most timid and selective application of BDS.  In March 2012, J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami provided the same reasoning behind his own opposition to the boycott of settlement goods during a conversation with discourse gatekeeper Jeffrey Goldberg: 

I don’t think that it makes any sense to put negative pressure on people whose behavior you hope to change. I think that the way that Israelis will feel comfortable making the compromises and the sacrifices–and Israel as a whole, not just the settlers –is when they really feel that not only American Jews, but the United States, is going to be there for them. I think if you begin to do things that say, ‘We’re not really with you, we’re against you, we’re putting pressure on you,’ I think that causes people to pull more into a shell and pull back…Rather than it making you more inclined to do something, it actually makes you less inclined.
 
…you can’t use boycotts, you can’t threaten aid, you can’t use these kinds of forms of negative pressure. I think you’re right to extrapolate. It is all of a piece that these negative approaches to trying to get people to do something you want them to do, we’ve lumped them all together for four years and said, this doesn’t work.
 
What you need to do, I often call it positive pressure instead of negative pressure. Positive pressure means actually giving people hope and something to believe in again.
Ben-Ami’s “positive pressure” is the new “constructive engagement,” reinforcing the current power dynamics of occupier and occupied, bending over backwards to assuage the bigoted fears of Israeli Jews, fomented and internalized by decades of propaganda and privilege, while ignoring the call of solidarity with the real victims of ethnic, religious and racial oppression.  Just as it was with South African whites, liberal Zionists need to understand that “security” and “peace” doesn’t spring from separation, militarization and mutual concessions by two vastly unequal parties, but rather from the repudiation of ethnocracy in favor of equal rights and the acknowledgement of wrongdoing in order to begin rectification and reconciliation.  Ben-Ami seems to think the occupation will end simply by hugging Jewish Israelis – including settlers – tightly enough.

Beyond this, as I’ve noted in the past, Ben-Ami’s opposition to “negative pressure” only extends to his own tribe; Iranians, of course, don’t get such a compassionate plea for positive reinforcement when it comes to their nuclear program, which doesn’t violate international law, as opposed to Israeli colonization of Palestine, which does.

As per the apartheid analogy, it may also be interesting to note that such a correlation between South Africa and Israel was made by a British Parlimentarian – and one of Thatcher’s fellow Conservatives, no less – back in June 1984. MP Tony Marlow tried to point out the hypocrisy of the liberal Labor party’s outcry over Apartheid and its silence on Israel (the point, no doubt, was supposed to be to get them to shut up about Apartheid, not the other way around.)

 
On the floor of the House of Commons, on June 5, 1984, Marlow wondered, “Is there not something bogus about the hue and cry from the Opposition about the visit of Mr. Botha when not a whisper was raised against the visit of the President of Israel? In moral and physical terms, there is very little to choose between those two regimes.”

Thatcher contested his analogy and affirmed her support for “constructive engagement.”  She confidently stood her ground on the wrong side of history.  Nearly two decades later, liberal Zionists are standing alongside her.

About Nima Shirazi

Nima Shirazi is co-editor of the Iran, Iraq and Turkey pages for the online magazine Muftah. His political analysis can be found on his blog, WideAsleepinAmerica.com, where this post first appeared. Follow him on Twitter @WideAsleepNima.

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47 Responses

  1. Ecru
    April 15, 2013, 4:06 pm

    ‘Constructive engagement’ didn’t work in South Africa, so why are liberal Zionists pushing it for Israel?

    Because “Liberal” Zionists are only Liberal when Jews benefit either directly or indirectly. They’re not Liberal – they’re Tribal first last and always.

    • Krauss
      April 16, 2013, 12:06 am

      Bingo. We have a winner.

      The only thing I’d quibble with is the ‘benefit’ part. Sure, some of them benefit if they make or think of making aliyah but many are just blindly motivated by race.

      They’re not liberals. End of story. The Apartheid government in SA didn’t have the benefit of having so many ardent supporters in the media or in the higher ranks of the editors.

      • Ecru
        April 16, 2013, 4:58 am

        The reason I said “benefit” is that often these same people who are happy for Palestinians to live with no human rights under the Israeli thumb (which to a Zionist is the Jewish thumb and that Jewish thing’s the important bit) are more than happy to scream about human rights anywhere else. They especially like to do so in the West. How many times have I heard the defence “but Jews were at the forefront of the civil rights movement” which happily ignores the fact that Jews ALSO benefited from those campaigns.

        I know I’m an uber-cynic, but given the majority of the vocal Jewish communities continuing campaign to keep Palestinians from their rights, to demonise Muslims and its present warmongering, I have to doubt that same communities motives in the earlier struggle.

    • miriam6
      April 16, 2013, 3:39 pm

      There is one major problem with the assumptions in this piece.

      International isolation and punitive sanctions contributed very little to the overthrow of Apartheid in South Africa .

      The main EXTERNAL factor that contributed to the fall of Apartheid was the end of the Cold War

      It meant that the perceived threat to Capitalist South Africa presented by the radical Left in all of Africa could then be said to have been neutralized. The white ruling elite knew they could do business with the Conservative, Capitalist economic policy supporting nationalists in the ruling elite of the ANC.

      The main factor in overthrowing Apartheid were the efforts of the black majority themselves.

      Not a bunch of Western Liberals, seeking to give themselves a big self -congratulatory backslap by boycotting South African rugby or refusing to buy fruit produced in South Africa.

      In the struggle to overthrow Apartheid , the ANC had allied itself to the Communist Party, the SACP, whose rhetoric and policies was far more effective in mobilising the black masses than the ANC, with it’s elitist, middle-class nationalism .

      After the ANC itself got into power in 1994, it moved quickly to shrug off it’s left-wing, working-class allies and began a programme of conservative, Free Market economics aimed at it’s political constituency- the middle classes.

      Funnily enough, the ANC set about creating in South Africa , the very Free Market Capitalist Margaret Thatcher loved so much!

      • Donald
        April 16, 2013, 4:28 pm

        There’s probably a lot of truth to that analysis, Miriam. But here’s my question–what lessons from it would you apply to the I/P conflict, if any?

      • Shingo
        April 16, 2013, 5:12 pm

        The main EXTERNAL factor that contributed to the fall of Apartheid was the end of the Cold War

        Wrong. The fall of Apartheid was due to the boycott when western business began pressuring Washington to join the boycott. Once Washington signed off on it, it was a fait accompli.

      • seafoid
        April 16, 2013, 5:27 pm

        “The main EXTERNAL factor that contributed to the fall of Apartheid was the end of the Cold War”

        That was the nail in the coffin, Miriam. If Sanctions are useless,why bother pointing it out? Surely it would then be in your interest to welcome them.

        Sometimes I really wonder what they teach you at hasbara school.

      • thankgodimatheist
        April 16, 2013, 8:36 pm

        “with it’s elitist”
        “shrug off it’s left-wing”
        “at it’s political constituency”
        I’m sure you meant “its”, miriam. Not wanting to be a grammar police but it’s (correct use here) becoming an epidemic and it’s (correct again) frankly irritating.

  2. southernobserver
    April 15, 2013, 5:21 pm

    I believe that they support it primarily _because_ they know that it does not work.

  3. MK_Ultra
    April 15, 2013, 5:29 pm

    While on the subject of BDS, here’s one from the “oh, what a tangled web Zionists weave when the world they try to deceive.”

    Canadian university student union strips funding of anti-Israel group

    link to jta.org

    April 15, 2013

    VANCOUVER (JTA) — The University of Manitoba Students’ Union voted to strip funding and official club status from an anti-Israel group on campus.

    The April 11 vote concerning Students Against Israeli Apartheid, or SAIA, went against legal advice and bucked the trend among other student councils at Canadian universities that in recent months have voted to divest from Israel.

    Following the 19-15 vote, SAIA is prohibited from receiving funding from the student union or using student union facilities for club activities.

    The resolution references the Manitoba Human Rights Code and accuses the club of “discrimination” and “harassment.”

    Prior to the vote, the student union’s attorney issued an opinion reading in part that “the actions of SAIA were well within the grounds of legally protected and acceptable political discourse.” The legal opinion warned that barring the group could expose the student union to legal liability, according to the National Post.

    SAIA has branches on several Canadian campuses and organizes the annual Israel Apartheid Week. Supporters of SAIA have said they will fight the decision by the student union at the Winnipeg university.

    “We are shocked that UMSU would ban Students Against Israeli Apartheid without any evidence or basis for the accusations brought forward in the motion,” said spokeswoman Liz Carlyle in a statement released by the Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid.

    B’nai B’rith Canada hailed the vote as “precedent setting” and called for other universities to follow suit.

    Not all Canadian backers of Israel supported the move. Ezra Levant, a conservative television commentator and outspoken supporter of Israel, condemned SAIA, but warned that the vote set a dangerous precedent on campuses and made the anti-Israel group look like the victim.

    Josh Morry, a student union member, was behind the resolution. He said SAIA’s events were making Jewish students feel uncomfortable.

    “I didn’t have to prove that Israel Apartheid Week has actually incited hatred, but that it is likely to undermine the dignity or self-esteem of students on campus who are Zionists,” Morry told the Jewish Review.

    The University of Manitoba student union’s decision comes after the student council at York University endorsed the boycott movement against Israel several weeks ago. In the fall, the graduate student unions at York, the University of Toronto and Concordia University in Montreal also passed resolutions advocating for a boycott of Israel.

    The University of Manitoba has approximately 28,000 students.

    • Ecru
      April 16, 2013, 4:42 am

      I didn’t have to prove that Israel Apartheid Week has actually incited hatred, but that it is likely to undermine the dignity or self-esteem of students on campus who are Zionists,” Morry told the Jewish Review.

      That is just so sick. So an anti-Nazi group would also be banned because they MIGHT make Nazis feel uncomfortable, no proof just he possibility? Since when are political ideologies protected from criticism? That the thing about Zionists, and their collaborators, they’re fascists through and through – happy to promote bigotry (Islamophobia, calling the entire planet anti-semites) until that bigotry effects Jews. Then suddenly as if by magic, bigotry is “wrong.”

  4. pabelmont
    April 15, 2013, 5:37 pm

    Liberal Zionists are Zionists and — with few exceptions — want to preserve Israel much as it is, without PAIN to Israeli Jews. They don’t much care about PAIN to Palestinians in Israel, in OPTs, in exile. (Think how little liberal Americans “care” about Native American rights. Gives you an idea, and we aere not in any way threatened.) Talk is cheap, and Israel and Israelis have NEVER cared what anyone else said. (Think of all the admonitory UNSC resolutions they’ve ignored.) Talk is a game to them.

    All proponents of Palestinian rights must move for the most severe sanctions possible against Israel aimed (at least) at: [1] removal of all settlers, [2] removal of wall, [3] removal of all settlement buildings (this is big!), [4] ending the siege of Gaza.

    Just because we desire and work for sanctions doesn’t mean we will be successful, doesn’t mean sanctions will begin right away, or be applied uniformly, or be applied immediately. Sanctions if and when they come must come from many countries and will start at different times, follow a trajectory of increasing severity for each participating country, but at a different speed, etc.

    And note that the full spectrum of people desiring and acting for sanctions will include people of many different perceptions of the importance, the direness, the need for severity, etc.

    But if we ask for less than a major push, I think we will fail to show how severe we believe the problem is and how important we believe a solution is.

    So-called Liberal Zionists (that is Zionists who believe in stealing another people’s country, creating a permanent Palestinian diaspora in exile, etc. — but in some other respects have tender consciences) want to prevent action by offering talk (“engagement”). As noted above, talk doesn’t work here. There’s been talk for 45 years. What good has it done? PLO recognized Israel’s “green-line” borders in 1988. 25 years have gone by. Arab League and Saudi plan is more recent, but also fully ignored.

    Israel recognizes only the power of force, of economics, not of talk.

  5. Bumblebye
    April 15, 2013, 5:53 pm

    Way back when I was a little kid and Dad was coming to the end of his time in the Royal Navy, he briefly contemplated joining the South African navy. I was appalled, horrified! and terrified at the thought that I or my siblings would ‘absorb’ and become racist because the people around us would likely be. (I was only 9 or 10)
    At a later period, I became aware that we had various embargoes on providing certain military equipment to SA, and that contracts had to be checked to ensure nothing of the banned kind would ever eventually wind up there.
    However, the difference is that Israel, unlike SA, has wiggled its way into the highest, most secretive crevices of our ‘installations’ (as well as those of the US). I only discovered this recently, when talking to someone who described exactly the kind of people Danaa describes. It frankly scared me that they were in this particular place. How the heck do we fight to ‘bds’ them from these most important places?!

  6. DICKERSON3870
    April 15, 2013, 5:59 pm

    RE: “. . . you can’t use boycotts, you can’t threaten aid, you can’t use these kinds of forms of negative pressure… What you need to do, I often call it positive pressure instead of negative pressure. . . “ ~ Jeremy Ben-Ami

    MY COMMENT: This sounds like an excellent recipe for “carrot stew”*!

    * FROM foreignaffairs.com: “South Africa: Why Constructive Engagement Failed”, By Sanford J. Ungar and Peter Vale, Winter 1985/86

    Article Summary
    Ronald Reagan’s imposition of limited economic sanctions against the South African regime in September was a tacit admission that his policy of “constructive engagement”–encouraging change in the apartheid system through a quiet dialogue with that country’s white minority leaders–had failed. Having been offered many carrots by the United States over a period of four-and-a-half years as incentives to institute meaningful reforms, the South African authorities had simply made a carrot stew and eaten it. Under the combined pressures of the seemingly cataclysmic events in South Africa since September 1984 and the dramatic surge of anti-apartheid protest and political activism in the United States, the Reagan Administration was finally embarrassed into brandishing some small sticks as an element of American policy.
    [We're sorry, but Foreign Affairs does not have the copyright to display this article online.]

    SOURCE – link to foreignaffairs.com

    • DICKERSON3870
      April 15, 2013, 6:16 pm

      P.S. ALSO RE: “. . . you can’t use boycotts, you can’t threaten aid, you can’t use these kinds of forms of negative pressure. . .” ~ Jeremy Ben-Ami

      MY COMMENT: I like Ben-Ami, but this comment by him brings to mind Robert Naiman’s “two state fakers” critique.

      SEE: “Flotilla 3.0: Redeeming Obama’s Palestine Speech with Gaza’s Ark”, By Robert Naiman, truth-out.org, 3/25/13

      [EXCERPT] . . . Bibi doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; Bibi’s government doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; AIPAC doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; and Congress – which defers to AIPAC – doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state. Of course, many of them mouth the words – not Bibi’s government, they don’t even do that – but those who mouth the words oppose any practical measure that would help bring an independent Palestinian state into existence. They’re “two state fakers.” Settlement freeze? Impossible. UN membership for Palestine? Can’t be done. No, according to the two state fakers, the only option on the menu in the restaurant for the Palestinians is to return to negotiations without a settlement freeze, negotiations that for 20 years have brought more land confiscation, more settlements, more restrictions on Palestinian movement and commerce, more oppression. And so, Obama was saying, my hands are tied. Don’t look at me. . .
      . . . So, …the question boils down to this: Can we engage the multitude in civil society initiatives to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine . . . ?
      A compelling effort to do this is a project called Gaza’s Ark.
      Gaza’s Ark is a logical next step to follow the Gaza freedom flotillas, and some of the folks who helped organize previous flotillas are helping to put it in place. Unlike the flotillas, Gaza’s Ark isn’t going to sail into Gaza. It’s going to sail out from Gaza, carrying Palestinian exports. . .
      . . . Gaza’s Ark is starting a campaign to support Gaza’s economy by encouraging people to buy Gaza’s exports: “trade not aid,” as they say. It’s a “procott.” Don’t support the blockade? Put your money where your mouth is.
      I claim that by supporting Gaza’s Ark, you can support a civil society initiative to oppose the occupation without giving up any evenings. Put your money where your mouth is. Buy Palestinian goods from Gaza. If the Israeli government tries to stop you, then they’re interfering with your commerce.
      I claim that by supporting Gaza’s Ark, you can support a civil society initiative to oppose the occupation without giving up any evenings. You can sign up [I.E. SIGN THE PETITION] here. – link to gazaark.org

      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to truth-out.org

    • DICKERSON3870
      April 15, 2013, 6:40 pm

      P.P.S. ALSO RE: “. . . you can’t use boycotts, you can’t threaten aid, you can’t use these kinds of forms of negative pressure. I think you’re right to extrapolate. . .” ~ Jeremy Ben-Ami

      AN EXTRAPOLATION, OF SORTS: “Listen, I know Amy has a serious problem with alchohol and drug addiction, but we can’t possibly “pressure” her about going into rehab. If we pressure her, she might very well freak; and then she would crave the alcohol and drugs even more.” ~ close friend of Amy’s

      FROM WIKIPEDIA [Enabling]:

      [EXCERPT] . . . In a negative sense, enabling is . . . used in the context of problematic behavior, to signify dysfunctional approaches that are intended to help but in fact may perpetuate a problem.[1][2] A common theme of enabling in this latter sense is that third parties take responsibility, blame, or make accommodations for a person’s harmful conduct (often with the best of intentions, or from fear or insecurity which inhibits action). The practical effect is that the person himself or herself does not have to do so, and is shielded from awareness of the harm it may do, and the need or pressure to change. It is a major environmental cause of addiction.[3]
      A common example of enabling can be observed in the relationship between the alcoholic/addict and a codependent spouse. The spouse believes incorrectly that he or she is helping the alcoholic by calling into work for them, making excuses that prevent others from holding them accountable, and generally cleaning up the mess that occurs in the wake of their impaired judgment.[citation needed] In reality what the spouse is doing is hurting, not helping. Enabling prevents psychological growth in the person being enabled and can contribute to negative symptoms in the enabler.*
      One of the primary purposes of a formal Family Intervention with alcoholics/addicts is to help the family cease their enabling behaviors. . .

      SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

      * “Down, down, down we [the U.S.] go into the deep, dark abyss; hand in hand with Israel.”

      • DICKERSON3870
        April 15, 2013, 6:52 pm

        ● P.P.P.S. ALSO RE: “. . . you can’t use boycotts, you can’t threaten aid, you can’t use these kinds of forms of negative pressure. . .” ~ Jeremy Ben-Ami

        ● JACLYN FRIEDMAN (from “It’s Time for Some Israel Real Talk”):

        [EXCERPT] . . . I love Israel. As an American Jew, the dream of Israel has held me in thrall since I was a small child. The day I wept at the Wailing Wall was one of the most transcendent and emotional of my life. But loving someone doesn’t mean helping them do whatever destructive thing they want. Call that enabling or co-dependence, but it’s not love. I love Israel like I’d love a drunk friend who wants their car keys. . .

        SOURCE – link to prospect.org

        ● ALSO SEE: “How Israel Is Like an Alcoholic Mother”, by Megan McArdle, The Atlantic, 3/22/12

        [EXCERPT] . . . What is it Alex Portnoy overhears his mother say to her friends, apropos of the lengths she has to go to to get him to eat? “I have to stand over him with a knife!”
        To be a bit more serious for a moment, though, Chesterton famously quipped: “My country, right or wrong is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying: “My mother, drunk or sober.” Well, yes, but she is your mother, drunk or sober, right? Similarly, it is your country, whether your country is right or wrong. The question is what that entails. If your mother is a drunk, and begs for another drink, are you obliged to give it to her? Presumably not.
        But are you obliged to devote yourself to getting her to dry out? That, it seems to me is the real heart of the question. I think many of Beinart’s critics — like Jeffrey Goldberg — would say: that’s exactly how they think about Israel and the settlements. They are against them. . . They think they were and are a grave and historic mistake…
        . . . So they are doing what they can to convince their mother to check herself in and dry out. But she’s their mother. If it takes her a long time to convince, they’ll keep trying. If she slips a drink on the sly, they’ll try to hide the liquor better, but they’ll forgive her. [In other words, they will act as "enablers". ~ J.L.D.] And, whatever she does, they certainly aren’t going to call the cops on her, and give the neighbors (who never liked her, even have tried to get her evicted) the satisfaction of seeing her humiliated by her own son in public. After all, she’s their mother. [Let's call this "constructive engagement"! ~ J.L.D.]
        Well, talk to a few children of alcoholics, and you’ll discover that “my mother, drunk or sober” is not always a tenable proposition. Sometimes, for some people, the sense of obligation to one’s mother is trumped by a sense of obligation to oneself, and to protect oneself from her disease. And that, in a nutshell, is what Beinart is saying. She may be my mother, yes, but if she keeps carrying on, I don’t care what the neighbors say, and I don’t care if she never speaks to me again afterward: I’m going to call the cops on her. . .

        ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to theatlantic.com

  7. MLE
    April 15, 2013, 6:16 pm

    Because its their cause so they are blinded from reality. Of course the right path is unappealing to them- because it requires that they make serious concessions. My Zionist family members love to complain that there is no one on the Palestinian side to negotiate with- but they don’t want someone to negotiate with them, they want someone to submit to all their demands. If I bring up hunger strikers or non violent protests then they say its just a publicity stunt- but non violent protest is all about publicity stunts. Ghandi and MLK were the biggest publicity hounds ever. Not to mention that their opponents either cast them as deadly “subversives” or foolish and frivolous. Those in the conflict don’t see the magnitude of what they did till after the smoke dies down. So yes, it’s right to dismiss jstreet until they really start digging into the uncomfortable truths of the occupation. Until then, it’s just an organization that’s meant to be a stoploss from Jewish youth support of Israel.

  8. ivri
    April 15, 2013, 6:40 pm

    That`s because while apartheid is a good propaganda catch-phrase the analogy to Israel does not apply. In S. Africa a small minority used others as laborers and personal servants – in effect living off their work. The latter is an irrelevancy in Israel and as for relative population sizes, the Jews in Israel (indeed even in the extended are of Israel plus the West-Bank) are anything but a small minority

    • Cliff
      April 16, 2013, 3:41 am

      The fact that there are more Jews than there were Whites is IRRELEVANT.

      The point is discrimination with one group ruling over another group.

      Israel’s control over the Palestinian population is far more sophisticated than SA apartheid.

      Not to mention SA anti-apartheid activists have said that Israeli Apartheid is worse.

    • Shingo
      April 16, 2013, 3:59 am

      That`s because while apartheid is a good propaganda catch-phrase the analogy to Israel does not apply.

      Hasbra fail. The crime of apartheid does not have to mimic apartheid South Africa to be apartheid. Nevertheless, the arcvhitect of South Africa’s apartheid, Prime Minister, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, said in 1961 that:

      “The Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. Israel like South Africa, is an apartheid state”
      (Rand Daily Mail, 23 Novemeber 1961).

      So there you have the God Father of apartheid in South Africa actually admiring Israel’s version.

      Your lame argument also falls apart on the very basis that Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert have both predicted that Israel would become an officially apartheid state in the absence of a two state solution. That stands as a frank admission that Israel is apartheid already even in their eyes.

      I might also add that John Vorster of South Africa, racist to the core, was imprisoned by the Brits after the war for his Nazi collaboration, but 30 years later, when PM of apartheid SA, was given a warm reception on a visit to Israel.

    • Hostage
      April 16, 2013, 8:07 am

      That`s because while apartheid is a good propaganda catch-phrase the analogy to Israel does not apply.

      Sorry to shatter your illusions, but there are only a few of the constituent acts of apartheid listed in Article II of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid that the government of Israel doesn’t commit on an on-going and routine basis. link to www1.umn.edu

      While ” similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa” are included in a non-exhaustive list of “inhuman acts” that constitute “apartheid”, no similarity to the Union of South Africa is specifically mentioned or required.

      The ICJ cited instances of most of the constituent acts in its findings of fact under the headings of violations of Israel’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Ever since the late 1990s, the panels of elected legal experts that monitor the prohibition of apartheid contained in Article 3 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination have cited concern over Israel’s non-compliance. So we aren’t talking about any analogy. Israel practices the real thing.

  9. RJL
    April 15, 2013, 7:41 pm

    Has this author actually lived in SA, and knows firsthand what real apartheid is? On many counts, the occupation of the West Bank is NOT apartheid at all, as unpleasant, or worse, it may be. Secondly, reconciliation DID work, inside SA. There were years of productive discussion between ANC leaders and the then white government, as cornerstones were laid for a peaceful transition. Most relevant, the ANC, to their credit, NEVER promoted hatred of whites, never pushed to seize white businesses or farms, made it clear they didn’t want a white exodus from SA, and those few black agitators who may have sought revenge were few and very sidelined. In either Palestinian area, the opposite is true. Until the editors, and some hostile readers, of MDW recognize the vast difference between what actually occurred in SA (let’s just say I have many friends and relatives from SA, some who still live there) and what transpires now in Gaza and the West Bank regarding attitudes towards Jews, it would be far more intelligent to admit the alleged similarities are baseless. One thing is clear, for both situations: nothing happens until both sides hold serious talks. The PA is quite empowered to do so, but declines for many reasons. Their good “friends” in the world, like Mondoweiss, do all the work for them!

    • Cliff
      April 16, 2013, 3:25 am

      LOL

      ‘promoted hatred of Whites’

      Trying to make Hamas unique? Who cares what they promoted. Blacks didn’t love Whites for lording over them and killing them and discriminating them.

      No one need ‘promote’ hate when you and your actions speak louder than words.

      This is like the hasbara meme from Golda Meir – “when Palestinians love their children more than they hate us”.

      No, they hate you because you steal their homeland and kill their family and friends. You make them live in squalid conditions while you hog all the water.

      And PLENTY of South African anti-apartheid activists have spoken out against Israeli apartheid.

      They’ve said it was WORSE.

      And it is.

      It is because Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs are equal in numbers but Jews LORD OVER the non-Jews.

    • Shingo
      April 16, 2013, 4:06 am

      Has this author actually lived in SA, and knows firsthand what real apartheid is?

      Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, Israel’s prime minister who was considered the architect of apartheid clearly has and he said as early as 1961 that:

      “The Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. Israel like South Africa, is an apartheid state”

      Desmond Tutu, who not only lived in South Africa, but suffered under apartheid, says Israel is worse than apartheid.

      On all counts, the occupation of the West Bank is WORSE than apartheid.

      Most relevant, the ANC, to their credit, NEVER promoted hatred of whites

      What idiocy!! The ANC were considered a terrorist organization. Of course they hated their oppressors, just like the Palestinians do.

      never pushed to seize white businesses or farms, made it clear they didn’t want a white exodus from SA, and those few black agitators who may have sought revenge were few and very sidelined. In either Palestinian area, the opposite is true.

      Those are all blatant lies that you couldn’t prove even if you were asked to. You should be banned from this forum for spreading such BS.

      You obviously haven’y got a clue what you are talking about, which is why no one takes you seriously.

      BTW, Hatred is definitely fostered in Israel and the Israelis are the ones stealing land, property and Palestinians businesses and livelihoods, not to mention expelling them. You;re obviously projecting.

      • Talkback
        April 16, 2013, 11:33 am

        Shingo says: “Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, Israel’s prime minister …”

        Well, not exactly Israel’s prime minister, but … LOL.

    • Hostage
      April 16, 2013, 8:27 am

      On many counts, the occupation of the West Bank is NOT apartheid at all

      It only takes one count to incur individual criminal responsibility under the applicable law. So:

      1) Grab a copy of Article II of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid; link to www1.umn.edu
      and
      2) Follow along as the ICJ and scores of UN fact finding missions recite examples of all the constituent acts listed therein, and other inhuman acts including violation of:
      *the right to adequate supplies of food and water;
      *the right to work;
      *the right to education;
      *the right to health;
      *the right to freedom of movement and residence.

      The findings also included the creation of Jewish-only settlements; the displacement of Palestinians; the creation of isolated Palestinian enclaves (i.e. Bantustanization); excessive expropriation of Palestinian land; home demolitions; and the establishment of an illegal separation wall and an illegal administrative regime in violation of the Palestinian right of national self-determination.
      See paras 132-134 of the advisory opinion link to icj-cij.org and Chapter 10 of the Written Statement submitted by Palestine link to icj-cij.org

    • Shingo
      April 16, 2013, 8:38 am

      what transpires now in Gaza and the West Bank regarding attitudes towards Jews, it would be far more intelligent to admit the alleged similarities are baseless.

      From the six former chiefs of Israel’s Shin Bet in interviews given during the documentary, the Gatekpeepers:

      “We are making lives unbearable,” says Carmi Gillon

      and

      “We have become cruel,” says Avraham Shalom

      and

      “You can’t make peace using military means,” says Avi Dichter

      and

      ‘There’s something unnatural about it.’ What’s unnatural is the power you have … to take their lives in an instant.” — Yuval Disin

      and this

      Another crisis, the hijacking of “Bus 300″ in 1984, ended with two Palestinian militants being beaten to death in the custody of the Shin Bet. Shalom, who was in charge at the time, is initially reluctant to discuss it, saying he does not remember the details of the episode which eventually forced his resignation.

      Then, chillingly, he says: “They were almost dead. So I said: ‘Hit them again and finish it.’ I think he took a rock and smashed their heads in.” It was, he admits, “a lynching”, but adds: “In the war against terror, forget about morality.” –Avraham Shalom
      link to guardian.co.uk

      And in spite of this, all you can do is expect the Palestinians to love their tormentors. What kind of mental illness does it take to expect the victims of this violence, cruelty and brutality to love those who display such hatred towards them? How do you achieve such heights of narcissism?

    • Donald
      April 16, 2013, 8:50 am

      RJL, you sorta forgot some things. There was black-on-black civil war in South Africa in the townships, fought in vicious brutal fashion between the Inkatha party (with secret support from the government) and youths in the ANC. You remember necklacing, right? Or how Winnie Mandela endorsed it? Did you know the ANC tortured prisoners in its camps in Namibia? You’re trying to make some sharp distinction between an allegedly morally perfect resistance movement in SA and the Palestinian resistance movement, but real life tends to be messier than propaganda tries to make it. The pro-apartheid supporters in the 80’s made exactly the sorts of arguments Israel supporters make now and they had plenty of violence to point to when they did.

      I don’t have time, but there are some other similarities between then and now–for instance, that support for Inkatha echoes the divide and rule strategy the Israelis and the US have used against the Palestinians.

    • talknic
      April 16, 2013, 9:58 am

      RJL “On many counts, the occupation of the West Bank is NOT apartheid at all, as unpleasant, or worse, it may be.”

      “many” but not on all accounts. BTW even a little apartheid is sill apartheid and a little bit of BS is still BS.

      “One thing is clear, for both situations: nothing happens until both sides hold serious talks.”

      Why? Israel is in breach of the law. It has hundreds of resolutions reminding it of the law and UN Charter. If Israel upheld the law, there are numerous issues that would not have to be discussed. So ” nothing happens until both sides hold serious talks” is BS. Israel could adhere to the law, as required.

      There’d be no illegal settlements, no uprooted Palestinian trees, no talks on borders, no refugee problem, no discrimination in the muddle of Israeli Civil Law and the Laws of Occupation outside of Israel. You never know, it could lead to circumstances where folk are very very likely to get along. It hasn’t been tried in 65 years.

      Having talks can mean only one thing. The Palestinians agreeing to forgo legal rights so Israel can keep what it has no legal right to at the moment

      While Israel has the precious US veto vote in the UNSC, it’s the only path out of the legal quagmire the Jewish State has created for itself. Without, the consequences of its illegal actions could find Israel without any clothes on and facing decades of financial hardship

      “The PA is quite empowered to do so, but declines for many reasons. “

      In front of the WORLD! At the UN! and again almost word for word in 2012

      Even in negotiations, the Palestinians are under no obligation to forgo any of their legal rights.

      Meanwhile, Israel is still obliged to the law. Talks or no talks.

    • tree
      April 16, 2013, 1:25 pm

      … the ANC, to their credit, NEVER promoted hatred of whites, never pushed to seize white businesses or farms, made it clear they didn’t want a white exodus from SA, and those few black agitators who may have sought revenge were few and very sidelined. In either Palestinian area, the opposite is true.

      Your last line is correct, but you have the protagonists backwards. Zionist Jews in Israel have for decades promoted hatred of Palestinians and all Arabs, even to the point of stigmatizing those Israeli Jews who trace their ancestry back to other Arab countries. They not only “pushed” to seize Palestinian lands and businesses but have done so for over 60 years, and not only “made it clear” they wanted a Palestinian exodus but used violent means to create such an exodus. So why do you continually excuse such behavior when its Israeli Jews who are the responsible for injustice in this case? Why are you ascribing behavior to the Palestinians that are in fact the behaviors of Israeli Jews?

  10. Donald
    April 15, 2013, 8:07 pm

    “Beyond this, as I’ve noted in the past, Ben-Ami’s opposition to “negative pressure” only extends to his own tribe; Iranians, of course, don’t get such a compassionate plea for positive reinforcement ”

    A pretty common attitude with many self-described liberals and not just on Israel–they are all for harsh sanctions that hurt innocent people in places like Iran, but can’t conceive why anyone would want to sanction the US or Israel, given that innocent people would be hurt. Some innocent people count more than others, obviously. You can assassinate alleged bad guys with drones if they are foreigners–if they are American war criminals you just sigh and accept that we need to look forward and not back. We can’t even have official investigations into their crimes. Unless it’s a whistleblower like Bradley Manning–then you throw the book at them.

    American liberals, or many of them, are a pretty sorry lot on human rights issues.

  11. RoHa
    April 15, 2013, 9:58 pm

    “MP Tony Marlow tried to point out the hypocrisy of the liberal Labor party’s outcry over Apartheid and its silence on Israel (the point, no doubt, was supposed to be to get them to shut up about Apartheid, not the other way around.)”

    I remember Tony Marlow. He was a genuine supporter of the Palestinians.

  12. Sumud
    April 16, 2013, 1:02 am

    ‘Constructive engagement’ didn’t work in South Africa, so why are liberal Zionists pushing it for Israel?

    Mostly, denial and panic.

    They know that what I call Israel’s Great Gamble of 1967 – that they could repeat the success of the late 40s Nakba and the consequent land-grab – has failed. They never counted on Palestinians re-asserting their identity after 1967, and likewise they vastly underestimated Palestinian sumud.

    In years to come 1967 will be seen as Israel’s catastrophic strategic blunder, in that with the occupation and subsequent settlements Israel sowed the seeds of it’s own eventual destruction. Withdrawal from the settlements is a practical impossibility now, and the liberal zionists are finally getting it through their thick skulls that the defacto single apartheid state Israel has made in mandate Palestine is not sustainable.

    In the immortal words of Bill Hunter in Muriel’s Wedding (oh yeah, the bible too):

    You reap what you sow.

    Zionists, liberal and other, have no-one to blame but themselves.

    • Shingo
      April 16, 2013, 4:40 am

      Mostly, denial and panic.

      Stonewalling too. Like Witty, they all insist that the 2SS brokered by the US is the only solution that will work, even though it has been a repeated failure.

  13. gingershot
    April 16, 2013, 8:04 am

    “Ben-Ami seems to think the occupation will end simply by hugging Jewish Israelis – including settlers – tightly enough”

    Jeremy Ben-Ami plays the same ‘Dennis Ross game’ that all Zionists would have us play – that it’s always that the world doesn’t love Israel enough or shower it with enough gifts. The answer is to always reward the Israeli – no matter what he does – because that is the way to his heart

    Meanwhile the Israelis are laughing all the way to the bank where they deposit the fresh funds into more settlements and thinking how brilliant they are as they live in a world where apparently everyone else is their complete and utter sucker

  14. James Canning
    April 16, 2013, 3:48 pm

    A good deal of pressure was put on the government of Burma (Myanmar), and the reforms implemented in recent years have spurred economic development in that country.

  15. RJL
    April 16, 2013, 11:04 pm

    Not one person here lived in SA, while many close relatives of mine, and countless friends, have, and some still do. Sorry, I followed SA politics for many more years than some of you have been around. Bishop Tutu has always sided with the Palestinians, which doesn’t necessarily make him objective, and he really doesn’t see Israel from any factual perspective, only the rather subjective Palestinian view. Further, NOT ONE talk back mentions the incessant, disgusting anti-Jewish, not merely anti-Israel, propaganda promoted daily, in the press, TV, schools, sermons, summer camp, etc. throughout the W.Bank, even more so in Gaza. There is NO such public aspect of anti-Palestinian views in Israel, other than privately held conversations, and the reports of what some Palestinians do to Jews, and say about Jews, is enough to generate anti-arab sentiments among Jews. I.E.-their behavior is a scourge on themselves, without any further ado. To be fair to all Palestinians, a sizable minority don’t believe in this violence against Jews, as the pollster Shikaki has demonstrated over many years of asking pointed, clear questions. But the majority clearly condone the violence, want to get rid of the Jews of Israel, and you crazies ignore this, pretend none of this exists? What pretend world do you occupy?

    • Shingo
      April 17, 2013, 3:18 am

      Not one person here lived in SA, while many close relatives of mine, and countless friends, have, and some still do.

      My mother and her family came from South Africa and I still have family there. Her immediate family members was practically driven out of SA because they were persecuted. They are not black African, but dark enough to be persecuted and they insisted on befriending black Africans. And unlike you, I have been there many times.

      Sorry, I clearly am far more familiar with SA than you.

      Bishop Tutu has always sided with the Palestinians, which doesn’t necessarily make him objective…

      Yes dufus, that’s the point. Tutu sides with the Palestinians because as a victim of apartheid himself, he knows what apartheid looks like and despises the injustice perpetrated by the Israelis. I cannot imagine a more lame and hypocritical argument – after all, are you suggesting that because you side with Israel that you should also be dismissed for lacking objectivity?
      Of course, you haven’t even bothered to address the comments from the former South African Prime Minister and architect of apartheid, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd.

      NOT ONE talk back mentions the incessant, disgusting anti-Jewish, not merely anti-Israel, propaganda promoted daily, in the press, TV, schools, sermons, summer camp..

      You have absolutely no leg to stand on with this argument, seeing as you repeatedly ignore the incessant, disgusting anti-Arab propaganda promoted daily in the press, TV, schools, sermons, and summer camp.

      There is NO such public aspect of anti-Palestinian views in Israel, other than privately held conversations

      Wrong again. It appears you know even less about Israel than you so South Africa.

      Here are just a few examples.

      1. White Shirts in Jerusalem cry ‘Butcher the Arabs’
      link to mondoweiss.net
      2. Israelis Celebrate “Death to the Arabs” After the Attack on Aid Flotilla to Gaza
      link to youtu.be

      3. ‘Death to Arabs’ sprayed on Jaffa graves; Molotov cocktail hurled at synagogue – Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper
      link to haaretz.com
      4. Video: Israeli fans chant “Death to the Arabs” and a Jewish player feels “loved” by his Palestinian team
      link to electronicintifada.net
      5. Bat Yam rally: Death to Jewish women who date Arabs – Israel News, Ynetnews
      link to ynetnews.com

      6. Hundreds of soccer fans crowd Jerusalem mall: ‘Death to Arabs!’
      link to mondoweiss.net

      Do you consider this behavior a scourge on themselves, without any further ado? Probably not, because you ascribe to the very ideology that breeds this violent hatred and racism.

      BTW. The latest poll shoes that the majority of Palestinians do not endorse violence, even though they have a moral right to resort to violent resistance.
      link to haaretz.com

      So it seems that it is YOU that occupies not only Palestinian territory, but an alternate reality.

    • Shingo
      April 17, 2013, 4:10 am

      Sorry, I followed SA politics for many more years than some of you have been around.

      Sorry, but South Africans who live there, disagree with you.

      South African groups launch ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ at Jo’burg memorial to apartheid
      link to mondoweiss.net

      Israel’s apartheid is worse than South Africa’s
      link to haaretz.com

      Reality is that Israel is an apartheid state
      link to dailytarheel.com

      Israel Apartheid Week and Abraham’s Tent
      link to jpost.com

      ISRAEL IS NO DIFFERENT FROM APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA
      link to bdssouthafrica.com

    • Donald
      April 18, 2013, 3:15 pm

      “Not one person here lived in SA, while many close relatives of mine, and countless friends, have, and some still do. Sorry, I followed SA politics for many more years than some of you have been around. Bishop Tutu has always sided with the Palestinians, which doesn’t necessarily make him objective, and he really doesn’t see Israel from any factual perspective, only the rather subjective Palestinian view”

      And that’s the last you say about South Africa. You didn’t respond to a single point any of us made. The “rather subjective Palestinian view” was hilarious, btw.
      Coming from you, that means precisely nothing. Shingo and others have replied to your other points.

      • Hostage
        April 19, 2013, 12:54 pm

        Bishop Tutu has always sided with the Palestinians, which doesn’t necessarily make him objective, and he really doesn’t see Israel from any factual perspective, only the rather subjective Palestinian view”

        Correction: Archbishop Tutu was selected to serve on a UN fact finding mission, which specifically required that he document and record any evidence presented by Israel.

        The government of Israel reacted like a bunch of preschoolers and refused to even let Tutu enter the country. That is the regular policy and practice of the State of Israel which violates the country’s UN Charter obligations under Articles 2(5) and 104:

        All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, . . . The Organization shall enjoy in the territory of each of its Members such legal capacity as may be necessary for the exercise of its functions and the fulfilment of its purposes.

        * link to yale.edu
        * link to yale.edu

        See also “Article VI Experts on Missions for the United Nations” in the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (page 7 of 12): link to un.org

        So the government of Israel is responsible for any inability to see things from its twisted perspective.

      • James Canning
        April 20, 2013, 1:59 pm

        Great post, Hostage.

  16. Shingo
    April 17, 2013, 4:48 am

    I think that causes people to pull more into a shell and pull back…Rather than it making you more inclined to do something, it actually makes you less inclined.

    What makes these argument from so called “liberal” Zionists all the more cynical is that they are usually the same who advocate for sanctions against Iran.

    If Ben-Ami is so adamant that sanctions make those on the receiving end less inclined to cooperate, what does he hope to sanctions will achieve with Iran?

  17. mcohen
    April 17, 2013, 8:17 am

    Shingo says:
    April 17, 2013 at 4:10 am

    “Sorry, but South Africans who live there, disagree with you.”

    remember this from 1994-i was there
    the best part comes at the end -truly prophetic

  18. pulaski
    April 18, 2013, 2:53 pm

    I’ve lived in South Africa (mostly in the western Cape but also for a time in KwaZulu-Natal) post-apartheid and been an avid student of its history for much longer. And RJL is full of it. No hatred of the oppressor? “One settler, one bullet.” And Donald is right-on with the similiarities between the Nationalists use of Inkatha as a divide-and-conquer strategy and Israel’s fostering of factions in Palestine. Of course there are differences between SA and Palestine, but the ways in which they are different are not flattering to the Israelis.

    Thinking about the recent use of the word “traitor”, I’m reminded of a powerful book that deals with some folks whose relatives I know personally. Rian Malan’s My Traitor’s Heart. It was written in the darkest days of the late 80s when many best guesses were that SA would end up in flames.

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