Let’s hear from three pro-Israel voices about whether there’s apartheid in the West Bank.
Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is being assailed for legitimizing harsh criticisms of Israel by using the A-word. Livni is actually the latest Israeli politician to warn that Israel faces an apartheid future. +972 picks up the Jerusalem Post:
“[T] the time has come for [young people who worry about energy policy] to ask, to what kind of state do they want to leave the gas reserves? To a Jewish democratic Israel? Or to a binational Arab state? Or to an apartheid state? It is impossible to deal with economic issues and to ignore the important diplomatic issues related to two states for two peoples.”
Back to the future: Nine years ago, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in The New Yorker that it’s temporarily apartheid on the West Bank:
A de-facto apartheid already exists in the West Bank. Inside the borders of Israel proper, Arabs and Jews are judged by the same set of laws in the same courtrooms; across the Green Line, Jews live under Israeli civil law as well, but their Arab neighbors-people who live, in some cases, just yards away-fall under a different, and substantially undemocratic, set of laws, administered by the Israeli Army. The system is neither as elaborate nor as pervasive as South African apartheid, and it is, officially, temporary. It is nevertheless a form of apartheid, because two different ethnic groups living in the same territory are judged by two separate sets of laws.
Over the weekend at Aspen, Goldberg told Ahmed Shihab-Eldin of Huffpo that it’s still temporarily apartheid:
In the West Bank it’s provisionally apartheid. I don’t disagree with you on that… Why begins the smell of apartheid– is the following. You have a city like Hebron… And you have Jewish settlers in there who live on a certain block, right… who vote in Israel… You have Arabs who live literally next door… and they live under military occupation, and they don’t get to choose their leaders. And so if you make that kind of situation permanent– it’s all provisional now, because the status of the West Bank has not been decided right… And this is the choice obviously facing Israel… If you decide that this… is the permanent arrangement and these Arabs are always going to be under your control, that they’re not going to have the vote, then you got to call it what it is. I mean Jim Crow, you call it Apartheid, whatever, but my hope obviously is… that it’s not too late, and since the status of the West Bank is actually not settled, that Israel will pull itself back from that precipice.
Let’s check back with Goldberg in nine years.
Back to the future again. Here is Terry Gross on Fresh Air in 2006 lashing Jimmy Carter for using the word “apartheid” in his book title, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Long delicious excerpt. Notice how she concedes there might be a “practice of apartness.” Notice how she brings in Alan Dershowitz as sober counsel:
Gross: Let’s start with the title. The title is already getting you in trouble with a lot of people. The title is Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. That’s a very provocative title. Why not call it something neutral like “The Neverending Middle East Crisis, What Each Side Needs to Do.” Did you want to be deliberately provocative with this title?
Carter: Well, when you write your book about the Middle East, you can use that….
Gross: Yeah. I’m working on that now. (laughing)
[Carter then explains that within the occupied territories there is an element of apartheid. "Deep within the West Bank there has been developed a system of apartheid that in many ways is more oppressive than was the system of apartheid in South Africa... The highways are prohibited to be used by Palestinians... [And in Gaza] There couldn’t be a worse case of apartness or apartheid anywhere in the world.”]
Gross: Are you afraid that by using the word apartheid in the title, that you lose a lot of Israelis and Israel supporters just in the title. I’ll read you a couple of quotes here. [She reads from House speaker Nancy Pelosi:] “It is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based oppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously.” And [Congressman] John Conyers says the use of the word apartheid in the title “against the Jewish people in particular, who have been the victims of the worst discrimination – resulting in death, is offensive and wrong.” So are you concerned that even though you think Israel’s practices are a practice of apartness, that by using the word apartheid you risk alienating just the people who you want to convince?
Carter: What I wanted to do is express a fact that is almost completely avoided and not expressed in the United States but is well-known throughout the rest of the world…. I realized that when I chose this title that it would be provocative [and Carter said he hoped it would spur folks] to find out the facts, none of which have been disputed.
Gross: Alan Dershowitz the lawyer wrote an op-ed about your book and he calls your book one-sided. [Gross reads a Dershowitz quote] “Nor does he explain that Israel’s motivation for holding on to land it captured in a defensive war is the prevention of terrorism. Israel has tried, on several occasions, to exchange land for peace, and what it got instead was terrorism, rockets, and kidnappings launched from the returned land.” So what’s your reaction to Dershowitz’s criticism, that the book is one-sided, you’re not criticizing the Palestinians and you’re not explaining that Israel’s policies are reactions to terrorism?
The most emphatic declarations of apartheid by American Jews include those of two liberal Zionists. First, Charney Bromberg’s concession:
cross the Green Line and you will see so many of the accoutrements that the South Africans placed to control their — what they believed to be their hostile population. Roads for whites only. Roads controlled at every pass. Roads controlled by fences and guards
And Stephen Robert’s statement in the Nation: “Apartheid on Steroids.” Shouldn’t Terry Gross amend her remarks?