Obama’s Mandela eulogy — moving, and hypocritical

“My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics, was a protest against apartheid,” President Obama said in his eloquent, moving, and hypocritical eulogy of Nelson Mandela. As a citizen activist Obama opposed apartheid, and today as president he is presiding over billions of dollars in military aid to an Israeli regime that, by any reading of international law, is committing the Crime of Apartheid against the Palestinian people.

“Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” Mandela famously said in 1997, and he favorably characterized the UN’s stance as “recognition that injustice and gross human rights violations were being perpetrated in Palestine” going as far back as 1977. Archbishop Demond Tutu and other South African leaders have equated Israel’s regime to Apartheid or worse, calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

If Obama withheld aid to Israel conditional on Israel respecting international law, human rights, equality, and the relevant U.N. resolutions, his eulogy of Mandela would be delivered by a leader worthy of the stage. As it is, Obama is doing what so many other Presidents have done: co-opting a revolutionary to hide his own shame. It’s reminiscent of those in the U.S. government (including Obama) who glorify Dr. King’s “I have a dream speech” and the movement for racial equality, entirely eliding King’s criticism of the Vietnam War, his strident insistence on nonviolence as the basis for a just society, and his indictment of the U.S. Empire as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”

Perhaps Obama feels he can do no better than he’s done, that he’s tied to the mat by the Israel lobby and any move to confront the Israelis on colonization, human rights violations, and so forth would be political suicide. However, in a second term with no re-election around the corner, could he not at least be as courageous as Bush Senior and condition some of the aid on a change in behavior? As ex-President, freed of political constraints, will he recover the courage he had as a citizen activist, and join today’s struggle against apartheid?

Posted in Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics | Tagged , , , , ,

{ 87 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Hostage says:

    Mandela did a lot more than say injustice was being perpetrated in Palestine. He was unapologetic about his support for the PLO and his condemnation of the government of Israel as an apartheid regime:

    Mandela, by contrast, has not merely accepted help from tyrants, he has praised, endorsed, and flattered them. . . . Of Arafat he says: “We are in the same trench struggling against the same enemy: the twin Tel Aviv and Pretoria regimes, apartheid, racism, colonialism, and neocolonialism. . . . Mandela had only expressed “regret” for the distress his earlier comments might have caused. (Those comments included his remark that “there are many similarities between our struggle and that of the PLO,” and that “if the truth alienates the powerful Jewish community in South Africa, that’s too bad.”)

    link to commentarymagazine.com

    • Dear Hostage,
      In researching this piece I looked around on the internet for a reliable resource indicating Mandela had specifically used the word “apartheid” to describe Israel policies, and was unable to find one, so instead I just quoted his remarks about injustice and human rights violations. Thank you so much for this link to Commentary piece. Unfortunately it’s behind a firewall! I wish this important document was available freely to all.
      With gratitude,
      Matthew

      • Hostage says:

        Dear Hostage,
        In researching this piece I looked around on the internet for a reliable resource indicating Mandela had specifically used the word “apartheid” to describe Israel policies, and was unable to find one, so instead I just quoted his remarks about injustice and human rights violations.

        The fellowship employs hasbara talking points which claim that he never used the term. So it’s always nice to have a citation or link to a third-party verifiable source, like Commentary, that can be used to settle the question.

        • Hi Hostage, have you found/seen any corroborating sources? I paid and downloaded the article in Commentary, and the author fails to cite where he got that quote. Doesn’t mean it’s not true — why would he fabricate such a quote, and it certainly is believable — however, would be nice to get a second reference.

        • matthew, i googled ““We are in the same trench struggling against the same enemy: the twin Tel Aviv and Pretoria regimes, apartheid, racism, colonialism, and neocolonialism.” and this popped up discussing the origin of the quote (s): link to en.wikipedia.org

        • Annie – Yup, found that too, thanks! I’m doing some news archiving digging and will have more to report soon.

        • Hostage says:

          matthew, i googled ““We are in the same trench struggling against the same enemy: the twin Tel Aviv and Pretoria regimes, apartheid, racism, colonialism, and neocolonialism.” and this popped up discussing the origin of the quote (s): link to en.wikipedia.org

          LoL! Please note that Wikipedia’s rules only require publication in a reliable secondary source that’s subject to normal editorial oversight. In this particular instance, there were at least three such sources that confirmed the quote, but it was deleted anyway, i.e. Commentary and the NY Post on June 20th 1990 and Wall Street Journal Europe on June 20th 1990 which were cited in the two books.

          You can still imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge, but it’s ludicrous to suggest that’s a description of Wikipedia’s articles on the I-P conflict. The comment archives at Mondoweiss provide a much more informative background than you’ll ever get from Wikipedia.

        • wiki is a joke. the efforts to bury the quote despite the 3 msm source publications are overwhelming. and who could object to this logic:

          I’m the editor who originally removed the quote from the article. I did so because I simply do not believe the source.

          I simply do not believe the source! if the threshold for every quote was enduring the scrutiny of that one there would be no wikipedia. besides, the quote is right in line with what he was saying in the highly publicized and exposed first interview from that tour, the ted kople interview adam published. and it’s likely he loosened up in following interviews that were not on national tv.

          either way, i fully expect the same gangsters who fabricated quotes a decade after mlk’s death will be back to hijack mandela’s legacy for their own gain in no time.

        • Ellen says:

          Annie, the same gangsters are out in force and did not waste a moment. On the Diane Rheem show this week they equated Mandela with Bergin, Shamir, et. al.

          Shameful, shameful. It was horrible to listen to.

  2. seafoid says:

    Obama is such a fraud .

    link to theguardian.com
    “In the most modest of ways, I was one of those people who tried to answer his call. The first time that I became politically active was during my college years, when I joined a campaign on behalf of divestment, and the effort to end apartheid in South Africa. None of the personal obstacles that I faced as a young man could compare to what the victims of apartheid experienced every day, and I could only imagine the courage that had led Mandela to occupy that prison cell for so many years. But his example helped awaken me to the wider world, and the obligation that we all have to stand up for what is right. Through his choices, Mandela made it clear that we did not have to accept the world as it is – that we could do our part to seek the world as it should be*.”

    * This is why I fellate the Zionist lobby

  3. eljay says:

    >> N.M.: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

    Words of wisdom Zionist Jews and the supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel just can’t seem to comprehend.

  4. And in israeli press today Mandela is called a jew hater.

  5. Too bad Mandela didnt call obama the hypocrite out!

  6. amigo says:

    Nelson Mandela earned his “Noble” peace prize, several times over.
    Obama has yet to open the wrapping.

    ” None of the personal obstacles that I faced as a young man could compare to what the victims of apartheid experienced every day, and I could only imagine the courage that had led Mandela to occupy that prison cell for so many years. But his example helped awaken me to the wider world, and the obligation that we all have to stand up for what is right.”Obama.

    So when are you going to start .

    • seafoid says:

      Peres and Rabin also got Nobel prizes. Such a waste.

      • eGuard says:

        The Nobel committee forgot Ghandi. They didn’t want to make that mistake twice. So, they played safe over sure. You get a prize, you get a prize, you get a prize, you get a prize. Eli Wiesel: there is one under your chair. Peres: up for a second one.

      • EUR1069 says:

        Peres… who in 1975 offered to sell Israeli nukes to South Africa? Yawza!

      • Walid says:

        “Peres and Rabin also got Nobel prizes. Such a waste.”

        A triple waste, seafoid, Arafat was also in on the Oslo that ultimately screwed the Palestinians.

  7. Krauss says:

    Mandela’s now getting critiqued by the Jewish press for calling Israel an Apartheid state:

    http://forward.com/articles/179606/the–sides-of-nelson-mandela/?p=all

    And don’t forget, in 2003, Abe Foxman blasted Mandela because Mandela had the wisdom to attack the Iraq war fearlessly.

    What does this say about the moral corruption that is at the heart of Zionism, or the bigot Abe Foxman who was never a liberal; only a Jewish supremacist? It only reinforces everything we’ve been writing and discussing for years.

    • seafoid says:

      Foxman’s advice to the Ukrainian PM to stop moaning about the famines of the 1930s because the Shoah was special was the ultimate symbol of the moral emptiness at the heart of Zionism.

      Hey China- knock off that remembrance of the Great Leap Forward too. All worship Zionism.

    • yrn says:

      “Mandela calling Israel an Apartheid state:”
      Sources…… you will never find, cause he never ever specifically used the word “apartheid” to describe Israel policies and he had million opportunities to say it if he thought so.
      and if he from all man kind did not say it, who are you to push fabrications.

      • Ecru says:

        @ yrn

        The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.

        Nelson Mandela, December 4th 1997.

        One need not use the express word to express the sentiment sometime context helps. But of course you already knew that.

      • Woody Tanaka says:

        if he did not use that word it is clear that he found the israeli system no less evil than the apartheid system. Furthermore, given all of the other fighters for South African freedom, such as Desmond Tutu, who have specifically used that word, who are you to deny reality?

      • Hostage says:

        “Mandela calling Israel an Apartheid state:”
        Sources…… you will never find, cause he never ever specifically used the word “apartheid” to describe Israel policies and he had million opportunities to say it if he thought so.

        Well that’s simply silly. An article written by a Jewish research fellow at a Zionist institute for Commentary Magazine quoted remarks about the twin apartheid regimes in Tel Aviv and Pretoria during Mandela’s 1990 visit to the USA. Those remarks were picked-up and published in The Jerusalem Post, The New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal at the time, and were never denied by Mandela or his spokesmen.

        • yrn says:

          Hostage
          that’s really silly of you.
          “a Jewish research fellow at a Zionist institute for Commentary Magazine”
          First Suddenly a Zionist Institute is a reliable resource in Mondowiess, give me a break.
          Second, this could be a knock out for all you AntiZio’s, to push your canard Mandela said Israel policy is apartheid…….. and was only published in a few media and forgotten and never used by the usual Propaganda routine mantra.

          And here you got a report from “Pulitzer Prize-Winner Les Payne” (And not an anonymous Jew )in 1990 declares that Arafat said it and not Mandela.

          “PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, one of the few dignitaries here to meet with Nelson Mandela not from a sub-Saharan country, drew special attention from onlookers and special praise from Mandela.
          Asked about Mandela’s remark, Arafat said, “We are in the same trench, struggling against the same enemies against apartheid, racism, colonialism and neo-colonialism. Israel and South Africa are cooperating in everything, and {there is}all kinds of cooperation between the two regimes.”
          link to pqasb.pqarchiver.com

        • yrn, do you plan on recopying the whole debate from wiki for us? And here you got a report from “Pulitzer Prize-Winner Les Payne” (And not an anonymous Jew )in 1990 declares that Arafat said it and not Mandela.

          and as one of the editors here pointed out, another (non anonymous) jew, research scholar and Fellow at AEI, currently a Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Foreign Policy Institute.: link to en.wikipedia.org

          You have overlooked the possibility that it was Mandela and Arafat who used talking points, and simply quoted or paraphrased one another during their public speaking engagements. The October 1990 Commentary Magazine attributes the quote to Mandela, together with several other controversial remarks that were made during a program that aired on New York’s WABC television station. It is not identical to Arafat’s statement that Nableezy cited above. Commentary Magazine does exercise editorial oversight, and the author, Joshua Muravchik, was a research scholar and Fellow at AEI. He is currently a Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Foreign Policy Institute.

        • Those remarks were picked-up and published in The Jerusalem Post, The New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal at the time, and were never denied by Mandela or his spokesmen.

          please don’t bother yrn w/inconvenient little factoids! maybe nobody noticed! maybe nobody asked mandela about such a benign remark.

        • Hostage says:

          “a Jewish research fellow at a Zionist institute for Commentary Magazine”
          First Suddenly a Zionist Institute is a reliable resource in Mondowiess, give me a break.

          His archived articles at Commentary are certainly evidence of what he and the magazine present as the facts to their readers. FYI, I can personally attest to the fact that the magazine is still “selling” that article about Mandela to all comers.

          So, please explain why we should let you Zionist propagandists have it both ways? Your own propaganda organs condemn Mandela for saying it, and then you ignorantly come here and claim there is no evidence.

        • Hostage says:

          Second, this could be a knock out for all you AntiZio’s, to push your canard Mandela said Israel policy is apartheid…….. and was only published in a few media and forgotten and never used by the usual Propaganda routine mantra.

          Who forgot it and never used it? I’ve pointed out that Commentary Magazine is still serving-up and selling copies of the article on the Internet, while portraying it as an historical fact.

          FYI, Commentary was founded in 1945 by the American Jewish Committee and self-identifies as “the flagship of neoconservatism,” . . “consistently engaged with”. . “the future of the Jews, Judaism, and Jewish culture in Israel, the United States, and around the world;” link to commentarymagazine.com

        • Hostage says:

          You have overlooked the possibility that it was Mandela and Arafat who used talking points, and simply quoted or paraphrased one another during their public speaking engagements.

          Yes, the national liberation movements, i.e. the PLO, ANC, and SWAPO, coordinated on grassroots propaganda campaigns for decades and used the same talking points about colonial peoples, racism, self-determination, & etc. to support a common front and solidarity for one another’s efforts.

        • yrn says:

          Hostage

          You Antizio’s would push this Mantra in every comment if Mandela was declaring that Israel’s policy is apartheid.
          All the AntiZio’s world wide scream apartheid every second word….. but the man itself Mandela never even mentioned it once.

          Says something about Mandela, or about you AntiZio’s

        • Hostage says:

          Hostage You Antizio’s would push this Mantra in every comment if Mandela was declaring that Israel’s policy is apartheid. All the AntiZio’s world wide scream apartheid every second word….. but the man itself Mandela never even mentioned it once.

          Correction: Zionist neocons have been selling Mandela’s comments about the twin apartheid regimes in Tel Aviv and Pretoria non-stop since the 1990s and representing them as historical fact. I’m just reminding you Zionist propagandists who claim otherwise that you can’t have it both ways.

        • Ecru says:

          @ yrn

          Mandela never even mentioned it once.

          Desmond Tutu’s mentioned it. What was Mandela the only black person in South Africa or something?

  8. Diane Mason says:

    Sickening to see David Cameron and Barack Obama eulogizing Nelson Mandela on behalf of their respective countries, without acknowledging the leading role that previous British and U.S. governments played in keeping the apartheid regime in power and Nelson Mandela in jail. One day, the leaders of the countries that propped up Zionism will speak about it in the same way. They’ll all become retroactively anti-apartheid, and seamlessly airbrush themselves back onto the right side of history.

  9. OlegR says:

    /Obama opposed apartheid, and today as president he is presiding over billions of dollars in military aid to an Israeli regime that, by any reading of international law, is committing the Crime of Apartheid against the Palestinian people./

    Repeating a lie over and over again does not make it the truth.

    • seafoid says:

      So why do you bother, Oleg? Is it for the money?

    • Citizen says:

      True, Bishop Tutu informed us all that Israel’s system is actually worse than was apartheid South Africa’s.

      • MHughes976 says:

        Quite a few prominent SAfricans from the apartheid era clearly share that view. Yet the message has not got across and Mandela’s shadow somehow seems to obscure it.
        When I tried to estimate Mandela’s view of the West I found his very strong statement of 03 about American atrocities. There seems to be a sort of feeling that he didn’t mean it but was simply trying to correct an overreaction about the horrible nature of 9/11. This feeling allows Obama and Cameron to praise him unreservedly without even the hint of a blush. And maybe he didn’t actually mean it. He never seems to have reverted to that tone or that theme even as some others took it up.
        When I tried to estimate Mandela’s personal view of Palestine, Zionism and all that things became a bit misty, partly because some statements attributed to him are hard to pin down with chapter and verse. I read his Palestine Solidarity Day statement from 97 which duly proclaimed solidarity with the Palestinians – this was maybe his strongest statement and there’s no difficulty with chapter and verse. Yet even then his statement was clearly in 2SS context and could be read as implicitly endorsing Zionism in its 48 form.
        I think that he sympathised with the Palestinians and made no secret of it. On the other hand he had clearly found Jewish people, many of whom were committed Zionists, far more sympathetic all along, on average, than other white people to his own principles. He must have thought, or at least hoped and expected, that the Oslo accords had opened the way to a settlement in Palestine as surely as his own release from prison had opened the way in South Africa. And he was one of nature’s moderates. Many, many parallels with King.
        He should perhaps be the great icon of the worldwide 2SS movement, though I would think that his inability even at the height of his international reputation to move things forward along 2SS lines is an indication that 2SS is hopelessly unrealistic, at least if backed up only by moral, religious and genuinely high-minded sentiments. Those who see 2SS as the only idea compatible with practicality and good sense will disagree with me. Whether John Kerry, a lesser man but speaking for international power, can move things forward we shall see.
        After the 97 statement Mandela became more and more muted as far as I can tell on the subject of Palestine. If he had an opportunity to change the moral balance of world opinion he declined to take it. By receding from earlier rhetoric he salved the conscience of other liberal leaders.

        • I agree. I think people are deluding themselves somewhat when they claim Mandela as a great friend of Palestine. I’ve no doubt he was sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, and I’m willing to bet that in private he saw a definite parallel to Apartheid, but he never came out and said so unequivocally, nor did he ever really lend his voice to the struggle for justice in Palestine in the way that Tutu did. It’s a shame really, as he had a moral authority unmatched anywhere in the world.

          I don’t know if his reticence was due to his not wanting to alienate Western leaders – though this didn’t stop him from speaking out assertively against Iraq – or if he simply felt the Palestine situation was too big a headache for him to get involved in. Or perhaps it was, as you suggest, due to the important role played by Jewish South Africans in the struggle against Apartheid. Then again, given that many of them were anti-Zionist, there’s no reason Mandela shouldn’t be too. Either way, unfortunately Mandela was not quite the advocate for Palestine which some people would like to think he was.

        • Hostage says:

          but he never came out and said so unequivocally

          Except that Commentary Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and the Jerusalem Post each carried reports which claim that he did exactly that during his 1990 visit to the United States.

        • Fair enough, but that was before he became a ‘global superstar’, so to speak. The fact is that during the many years when Mandela had world leaders beating a path to his door, he did not go out of his way to promote the cause of Palestine. He may have had good reasons for this, but at the end of the dya, he could have, but he did not.

        • Hostage says:

          Fair enough, but that was before he became a ‘global superstar’, so to speak. The fact is that during the many years when Mandela had world leaders beating a path to his door, he did not go out of his way to promote the cause of Palestine.

          Mandela only served one term that ended in 1999. He was president during the five years when the Oslo Accords were truly in effect. His ANC party has used its public institutions to call for an ICJ advisory opinion on the question of Israeli apartheid, published an assessment of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law, titled “Occupation, Colonialism, and Apartheid?,” and actively pointed out that the ICC has jurisdiction over crimes committed by its citizens during Operation Cast Lead.

        • JeffB says:

          If I had to guess I’d say it was Mandela’s generosity in victory. Mandela worked very hard day in day out to make sure that his country didn’t become Rhodesia / Zimbabwe. Anti-Zionist rhetoric has a long consistent history of encouraging street anti-Semitism. Mandela wanted to keep Jews onboard.

          Also remember that Mandela in the early days had a right wing Afrikaner terrorist organization (the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging) which was friendly to Israel. If he were attacking Israel, Israel could start arming Israeli friendly anti-government forces as a way of exerting pressure.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “Repeating a lie over and over again does not make it the truth.”

      LMAO. I don’t know about anybody else, but if the question of truth comes down to believing Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu on the one hand, or some Russian squatter one stolen Palestinian land, on the other, I know who I am favoring

  10. Rusty Pipes says:

    I can only hope that re-connecting with the idealistic young man will give the President the backbone to confront Apartheid in Israel/Palestine.

  11. seafoid says:

    Obama not the only hypocrite in town ”

    link to theguardian.com
    “Death of a colossus,” was the headline in yesterday’s Daily Mail, who marked his 1990 release with “The violent homecoming”. “Violence and death disfigured the release of Nelson Mandela yesterday …” began that take on history.”

  12. I’m a little surprised at the number of people willing to call out Obama as a “hypocrite”.

    Taking on the Lobby and putting our relationship with Israel on a less obsequious basis is an arduous task…sort of like turning around an aircraft carrier. I’m pleased with the way Obama handled the interim deal with Iran. He kept Bibi pretty much out of the loop until a deal was close to final and peace momentum was building.

    The yapping by the banshee birds (Jennifer Rubin) and not so wise owls (Krauthammer) is becoming self-defeating.

    http://www.wednesdayswars.com

    • Tom, I too am extremely grateful for how President Obama is handling the Iran situation. Thus far, he’s been quite politically astute, managing to thread the needle of striking a workable deal (so far) with Iran and sidelining Netanyahu’s demands for a military strike. However, this does not excuse him backing down (for example) on opposing Israeli settlements, as he has done since the days of the Cairo speech. Put another way, one right does not right another wrong. If Obama’s plan is to first complete a final diplomatic deal with Iran (to remove that from the global agenda, if not Israel’s) and THEN focus on pressuring Israel as he appeared ready to do early in his term, then he’ll be a more ingenious politician than I’ve given him credit for. However, I’m not holding my breath; I think in the wake of the Israel Lobby’s full court press he’s given up on taking any kind of righteous stance against Israel’s colonial occupation/apartheid, if he ever intended to.

      • NickJOCW says:

        Mathew, I have a hunch you are on target with Iran being first on Obama’s long-term plan but Iran needs further rehabilitation to tip the balance with Israel, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that moves into gear in January with the Syrian conference in Geneva. There must be constant discussions going on in the background that only a handful are aware of and if something positive does come out of it much will be due to Iran. Obama will claim credit, of course, but everyone will know where the impetus really came from, including Netanyahu.

        • NickJOCW says:

          Matthew, sorry to misplace one of your Ts, still better than an I. I doubt Obama wrote that eulogy, it’s a formal contribution to a quasi-religious event not a political one. A leader has to put his own nation and people above all else whatever. Oddly, Ben Gurion said that to me in 1971 and I have never forgotten it. It’s what he thought he had been doing all his life.

        • Sumud says:

          Can’t remember which guest but listening to one of Scott Horton’s (ex-Antiwar Radio) recent interviews I got the impression that a reversal of policy on Syria is on the cards.

        • NickJOCW, all good. Whether or not Obama wrote the words, he spoke them, and thus he’s accountable for them. Interesting that you knew Ben Gurion, did he ever comment to you about his desire to expel the Arabs, plan Dalet, or anything else related to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine?

      • JeffB says:

        Obama ran in 2008 on a diplomatic rapprochement with Iran as a core foreign policy goal. Getting a better relationship with Iran allows for things like playing Iran off against Saudi Arabia or not having to depend on Pakistan to deploy American forces in Afghanistan.

        He’s never expressed much interest in Israeli settlements. I don’t think he likes them but unlike Iran he wasn’t willing to battle the right (and his own party) over Israeli policy in and of itself. He’s perfectly willing to oppose Netanyahu on Iran because he really cares about Iranian policy.

  13. Sibiriak says:

    As a citizen activist Obama opposed apartheid, and today as president he is presiding over billions of dollars in military aid to an Israeli regime that, by any reading of international law, is committing the Crime of Apartheid against the Palestinian people.

    That sentence demonstrates why it is important not to hesitate in tagging Israel with the word “apartheid”.

    • Hostage says:

      That sentence demonstrates why it is important not to hesitate in tagging Israel with the word “apartheid”.

      A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. That sentence would read just as well this way:

      As a citizen activist Obama opposed racial or ethnic persecution, and today as president he is presiding over billions of dollars in military aid to an Israeli regime that, by any reading of international law, is committing the Crime of Persecution against the Palestinian people.
      • Sibiriak says:

        Hostage:

        That sentence would read just as well this way:

        As a citizen activist Obama opposed racial or ethnic persecution, and today as president he is presiding over billions of dollars in military aid to an Israeli regime that, by any reading of international law, is committing the Crime of Persecution against the Palestinian people.

        With all due respect, your rewritten sentence sounds awkward, toned-down, and lacks the rhetorical and ideological punch of the original. Why?

        1) With the death of Mandela, the putrid stench of the word “Apartheid” is all over the airwaves and all through cyberspace. The idea is to take advantage of that and spread the apartheid-stench over Israel as well. The word “persecution” fails in that regard.

        2) The word “apartheid” immediately brings to mind a specific historical situation which have been judged to be evil, and specific emotive images. The word “persecution” doesn’t bring any specific historical situations or specific images to mind. It’s far more vague. What kind of persecution? How bad? How widespread?

        3) The word “apartheid” brigns to mind an entire entrenched system, its repressive apparatus, and the long struggle for freedom from that oppressive system. History has taught the world that entire system of apartheid had to be brought down, by a just revolt from within and BDS from without, etc.

        The word “persecution” on the other hand, doesn’t bring to mind any identifiable type of systemic persecution, nor does it suggest that an uncompromising internal and external struggle will be needed to bring down an entire system. Perhaps the persecution against the Palestinians people is not a systemic response, but just an over-reaction to Palestinian “terror”–who knows? Perhaps the “persecution” could be corrected without a major anti-systemic struggle–who knows? The phrase certainly doesn’t tell us.

        4) The word “apartheid” brings to mind not only a repressive system, and images of specific evil acts, but also a reprehensible racist ideology underlying the repressive system. The word “persecution” brings to mind no such specific, reprehensible ideology, leaving entirely open the question of motivation for the unspecified acts of persecution.

        (Google “Crime of Apartheid” and “Crime of Persecution” and you’ll get ten times the hits on the former as the latter. “Crime of Persecution” is a particularly rare expression, severely detracting from its rhetorical power.)

        • Hostage says:

          With all due respect, your rewritten sentence sounds awkward, toned-down, and lacks the rhetorical and ideological punch of the original. Why?

          I usually have a good reason to say the things that I do. I would ask why you are ignoring official UN reports, endorsed by the General Assembly, regarding the Crime of Persecution and talking rhetorical nonsense about the punch carried by charges of apartheid? Persecution is a Crime against Humanity. It has the same or greater gravity, and upon conviction, carries a severe sentence.

          FYI, the majority of persons tried and convicted of crimes by the ICTY were charged with the Crime of Persecution, i.e. more than 40 convictions. Even the most notorious perpetrators of South Africa’s apartheid era were granted amnesty. No one has ever been charged and convicted of the international crime of apartheid. So it is you who are watering down the charges by employing a crime that many governments refuse to prosecute.

          The UN member states adopt resolutions every year which spell out the fact that Israel is systematically violating the fundamental human rights of the Palestinians and plundering their natural resources in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Jurists and legal scholars, like Judge Goldstone and Christine Chinkins, have submitted official reports to the US government and other members of the UN HRC, which have advised that a Court could reasonably conclude that Israel is guilty of the Crime of Persecution:

          75. Finally, the Mission considered whether the series of acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of sustenance, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their access a court of law and an effective remedy, could amount to persecution, a crime against humanity. From the facts available to it, the Mission is of the view that some of the actions of the Government of Israel might justify a competent court finding that crimes against humanity have been committed.

          – Executive Summary of the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, A/HRC/12/48, 23 September 2009 link to unispal.un.org

          The historical record is pretty clear. If you want to start a political debate, charge someone with apartheid. If you want to put someone in jail, you should charge them with persecution instead.

        • Hostage says:

          1) With the death of Mandela, the putrid stench of the word “Apartheid” is all over the airwaves and all through cyberspace. The idea is to take advantage of that and spread the apartheid-stench over Israel as well.

          Where is the advantage in using a dubious term that even our own commentators admit is an imperfect or bad analogy? Here is Amira Hass saying as much:

          What do those who say “Israeli Apartheid” mean?

          They definitely don’t mean the official and popular biological racism that ruled South Africa.

          – What does ‘Israeli Apartheid’ mean, anyway? link to haaretz.com

          That’s the sound bite Dick and Jane will be spoon-fed here in the USA.

        • Sibiriak says:

          Hostage:

          I would ask why you are ignoring official UN reports, endorsed by the General Assembly, regarding the Crime of Persecution…

          We are on two different wavelengths. I’m talking about the rhetorical/propaganda value of the word “apartheid”, while you are fixated on its legal value.

        • Shmuel says:

          Here is Amira Hass saying as much

          Actually, Amira Hass concludes that there is apartheid in Israel (and not only in the OT!), which may not be exactly the same as the SA version, but shares the same essence: separate development, inequality, segregation, etc. In the article “What does ‘Israeli Apartheid’ mean, anyway?” she does not reject the term, but simply explains what it means in the Israeli context.

        • Sibiriak says:

          Hostage:

          Where is the advantage in using a dubious term that even our own commentators admit is an imperfect or bad analogy? Here is Amira Hass saying as much:

          What do those who say “Israeli Apartheid” mean?

          They definitely don’t mean the official and popular biological racism that ruled South Africa.

          And the rest of the Hass article goes on to explain why the term “apartheid” DOES apply to Israel:

          [Amira Hass]:Those who say “Israeli Apartheid” refer to the philosophy of “separate development” that was prevalent in the old South Africa. This was the euphemism used for the principle of inequality, the deliberate segregation of populations, a prohibition on “mixing” and the displacement of non-whites from lands and resources for their exploitation by the masters of the land.

          Even though here things are shrouded by “security concerns,” with references to Auschwitz and heaven-decreed real estate, OUR REALITY IS GOVERNED BY THE SAME PHILOSOPHY, backed by laws and force of arms.

          What, for instance?

          There are two legal systems in place on the West Bank, a civilian one for Jews and a military one for Palestinians. There are two separate infrastructures there as well, including roads, electricity and water. The superior and expanding one is for Jews while the inferior and shrinking one is for the Palestinians.

          There are local pockets, similar to the Bantustans in South Africa, in which the Palestinians have limited self-rule. There is a system of travel restrictions and permits in place since 1991, just when such a system was abolished in South Africa.

          DOES THAT MEAN APARTHEID EXISTS ONLY ON THE WEST BANK?

          NOT AT ALL, IT EXISTS ACROSS THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, from the sea to the Jordan River. It prevails in this one territory in which two peoples live, ruled by one government which is elected by one people, but which determines the future and fate of both. Palestinian towns and villages suffocate because of deliberately restrictive planning in Israel, just as they do in the West Bank.

          But Palestinians who are Israeli citizens participate in electing the government, unlike in South Africa?

          That’s true. The two situations are similar, not identical. ETC. [emphasis added]

        • Hostage says:

          We are on two different wavelengths. I’m talking about the rhetorical/propaganda value of the word “apartheid”, while you are fixated on its legal value.

          It has no political value, unless you want to engage in endless debates about “the apartheid analogy”. Those have never generated any mass response from the public.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          Being without access to this article, I wonder what Hass means by this statement:

          ” What do those who say ‘Israeli Apartheid’ mean?

          “They definitely don’t mean the official and popular biological racism that ruled South Africa.”

          I think this is fairly close to the case in israel, except that there is a religious bigotry grafted on the ethnic bigotry. I agree that they are not identical, but are close enough that their differences are trivial, and on the important considerations, non-existent.

        • Hostage says:

          Actually, Amira Hass concludes that there is apartheid in Israel (and not only in the OT!), which may not be exactly the same as the SA version, but shares the same essence: separate development, inequality, segregation, etc.

          Israeli propagandists have always seized upon and employed the portion of the definition of the crime of apartheid which stipulates that it “shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa” in order to exonerate Israel. The Haas piece simply provides them with more ammunition to debate. She explains from the very outset that people who talk about Israeli apartheid definitely don’t mean the official kind that existed in South Africa.

          It doesn’t help that she concludes there is such a thing as Israeli apartheid, since she doesn’t make it clear that it is also the criminal kind. In the end, Dick and Jane are only going to hear more talking points about the appropriateness of “the apartheid analogy”.

        • Hostage says:

          In the article “What does ‘Israeli Apartheid’ mean, anyway?” she does not reject the term

          No, but she robs the term of its primary meaning (and the only possible difference between apartheid and persecution) when she explains at the very outset that people who use it definitely don’t mean the official kind that was based upon popular biological racism, which governed South Africa.

          Again, it’s just a lot easier to say that Israel is persecuting Palestinians, and that the systematic way they are going about it, constitutes a crime against humanity.

        • Sibiriak says:

          Hostage:

          It has no political value, unless you want to engage in endless debates about “the apartheid analogy”.

          If there is an “endless debate” about whether Israel is an apartheid state or not, then that debate has been “framed” very much in favor of anti-Zionism.

          That’s the idea– re-frame the debate and discredit the so-far effective meme “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East”.

          The apartheid analogy has proven to be quite effective in that regard. Why do you think Zionists get so enraged when the term is employed?

        • Shmuel says:

          True, Hass’ frame of reference is not specifically legal, but she does assert that the apartheid practised in Israel is comparable (“similar but not identical”) to the policy of apartheid practised in South Africa, for example:

          Those who say “Israeli Apartheid” refer to the philosophy of “separate development” that was prevalent in the old South Africa. This was the euphemism used for the principle of inequality, the deliberate segregation of populations, a prohibition on “mixing” and the displacement of non-whites from lands and resources for their exploitation by the masters of the land. Even though here things are shrouded by “security concerns,” with references to Auschwitz and heaven-decreed real estate, our reality is governed by the same philosophy, backed by laws and force of arms.

        • Shmuel says:

          We could dissect every line of Hass’ article, but the bottom line is that she explains why the term apartheid offers an appropriate description of the system in force in Israel and the OT (something that her paper’s unsigned editorials have begun doing as well – at least regarding the OT). This is significant in the court of public opinion. If legal experts prefer to pursue the crime of persecution in real courtrooms, more power to them.

        • Hostage says:

          True, Hass’ frame of reference is not specifically legal, but she does assert that the apartheid practised in Israel is comparable (“similar but not identical”) to the policy of . . .

          I don’t see the point of discussing whether the “philosophy” as Haas describes it is similar or identical to other examples. It’s an empty intellectual exercise. “Persecution” means the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, or other grounds which are universally recognized as impermissible. That’s exactly what Israeli Apartheid is, whether its like South Africa or not.

        • Hostage says:

          This is significant in the court of public opinion. If legal experts prefer to pursue the crime of persecution in real courtrooms, more power to them.

          Court rooms aren’t the only place where action is being taken. I was explaining why activists ought to cite the allegations about the crime of persecution contained in official UN reports.

          Amira Haas is not a very significant factor in the court of public opinion in North America. Apartheid Week and debates here about the appropriateness of the apartheid analogy have resulted in votes to ban such activities on campus as a form of hate speech. See Students Against Israeli Apartheid group banned by University of Manitoba Students’ Union, link to winnipegsun.com

        • Shmuel says:

          Amira Haas is not a very significant factor in the court of public opinion in North America.

          Sadly, very little discourse in favour of Palestinian rights is “a very significant factor in the court of public opinion in North America”. That doesn’t mean we should stop trying to change, influence and mobilise that opinion in a variety of ways. Personally, I think the apartheid analogy is a potentially effective one (to the extent that anything is effective). You disagree.

          Apartheid Week is not the only thing Israel’s supporters have tried to ban as hate speech, and if what we say and do must take into account the self-serving inferences of “Israeli apologists” (“as practised in SA”, “territories” or “the territories”, “population transfer as in WWII, etc.), we might as well just shut up.

        • Hostage says:

          That doesn’t mean we should stop trying to change, influence and mobilise that opinion in a variety of ways. Personally, I think the apartheid analogy is a potentially effective one (to the extent that anything is effective). You disagree.

          Because you are repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Here in America hate crimes are usually considered misdemeanors, not crimes against humanity. When the US voted against the apartheid convention our Ambassador explained that the government did not accept the idea that apartheid could be made into a crime against humanity in that fashion. The bottom line is that the parties concern with the real crime of apartheid agreed to let bygones be bygones.

          On the other hand the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, like the ICTY and ICC, defined crimes against humanity as “murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation…or persecution on political, racial, or religious grounds.

          So far as I’m concerned, everyone who cares to can engage in endless debates over the appropriateness of the apartheid analogy. I explained to Sibiriak that his statements would work just as well if persecution were substituted for references to apartheid – and that the analogy wouldn’t be a distracting topic for conversation in that event. He’s the one who took exception to that idea and acted as if persecution was a lesser offense. In fact, at least 12 people have been hanged for the crime of persecution, and more than 40 have been sentenced to prison for that offense.

        • Shmuel says:

          Here in America hate crimes are usually considered misdemeanors, not crimes against humanity.

          You’ve lost me. Were we talking about the crime of apartheid itself, or calling something apartheid?

          I explained to Sibiriak that his statements would work just as well if persecution were substituted for references to apartheid

          Among the great jurisprudentially unwashed? Don’t bet on it — no matter how many people have been convicted or executed for that crime. Ordinary people don’t have such information at the tips of their fingers or their consciousness. “Apartheid” they know (or think they know); “persecution” means everything and nothing to them.

        • Hostage says:

          You’ve lost me. Were we talking about the crime of apartheid itself, or calling something apartheid?

          I’m talking about using agreed upon terminology. The US Ambassador who voted against the UN resolution containing The Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid explained that our government does not consider apartheid to be a crime, or a crime against humanity. I believe that was still one of the US objections when it voted against adopting the text of the Rome Statute.

          On the other hand, the US government was instrumental in drafting the Nuremberg Charter and in getting the UN to study and apply the principles of international law it contained, including the crimes of aggression and persecution. I’m pointing out that the General Assembly and officials on UN fact finding missions have determined that Israel’s continued occupation of Arab territories in violation of UN resolutions amounts to aggression and that its treatment of the inhabitants could reasonably be construed as persecution.

        • Shmuel says:

          Hostage,

          Is this a change of heart/strategy on your part? I seem to recall many comments of yours defending the use of the term apartheid in reference to Israel.

        • Donald says:

          “I explained to Sibiriak that his statements would work just as well if persecution were substituted for references to apartheid – and that the analogy wouldn’t be a distracting topic for conversation in that event. He’s the one who took exception to that idea and acted as if persecution was a lesser offense. In fact, at least 12 people have been hanged for the crime of persecution, and more than 40 have been sentenced to prison for that offense.”

          I have to defer to you on the legal meanings and implications of the term “persecution” , but as far as distraction is concerned, if the pro-Palestinian activists all started using the term “persecution”, then the pro-Israel side would whine and complain and deny in exactly the same way they do with respect to “apartheid”.

        • Hostage says:

          Hostage,

          Is this a change of heart/strategy on your part? I seem to recall many comments of yours defending the use of the term apartheid in reference to Israel.

          No, not really. I’ve repeatedly pointed out that Israel isn’t a state party to any of the international conventions on the crime of apartheid. I’ve noted that even when the Palestinian government filed a written submission with the ICJ explaining that Israeli policies and practices amount to apartheid and satisfied the necessary elements of the criminal offense – including the legal test employed by the Court in the Namibia case – it all went completely unnoticed by the general public and solidarity activists. It also failed to result in a specific ICJ finding on the issue of apartheid or its legal consequences.

          I’ve always thought that long drawn-out discussions about the differences and similarities between South Africa and Israel, i.e. “the apartheid analogy,” is one of the greatest wastes of time since the invention of Microsoft Power Point. It’s time that could be better spent describing the situation in more precise terms, like systematic and illegal acts of aggression, persecution, annexation, population transfer, deportation, excessive destruction and expropriation, & etc.

        • Hostage says:

          if the pro-Palestinian activists all started using the term “persecution”, then the pro-Israel side would whine and complain and deny in exactly the same way they do with respect to “apartheid”.

          I’ve noted elsewhere that the definition of the crime of persecution is more of a black letter law. It’s the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, or other impermissible grounds.

          There isn’t any stipulation, like “shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa”, that can still be found in the convention employed by more than 60 states.

        • Shmuel says:

          if the pro-Palestinian activists all started using the term “persecution”, then the pro-Israel side would whine and complain and deny in exactly the same way they do with respect to “apartheid”

          Of course they would, and they might even have better luck making the “singling Israel out” argument stick (‘Persecution?* But everybody does that!’). I agree that time should not be wasted arguing over the aptness of the apartheid analogy. So why are we doing just that?

          *Popular rather than legal understanding of the word.

        • Hostage says:

          if the pro-Palestinian activists all started using the term “persecution”, then the pro-Israel side would whine and complain and deny in exactly the same way they do with respect to “apartheid”

          Of course they would, and they might even have better luck making the “singling Israel out” argument stick

          Once again, comparisons to South Africa or any other situation are irrelevant in deciding whether persecution exists – and I wish you luck in trying to claim that everybody is perpetrating the crime of persecution.

          In any event, the ICJ has already specifically stated that, with the exception of its own citizens, Israel systematically and deliberately violates the fundamental human rights of the population of the Palestinian territory in ways that international law does not permit. It cited reports from the Secretary General, UN fact finding missions, and Special Rapporteurs to that effect and could have just as easily cited reports in the public domain from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and host of other NGOs.

        • Hostage says:

          *Popular rather than legal understanding of the word.

          The ambiguity of the popular definition of apartheid is the very thing that sparks the debate. I don’t think that public perception of persecution is a problem, when the British Prime Minister and many other officials have stated publicly that Gaza cannot remain an open air prison or concentration camp. Even the most Israeli-friendly President, Bush Jr. called on Israel to stop what he termed the “daily humiliation” of Palestinian Arabs.

          Seriously, unless you read the comment section here at Mondoweiss, you’d probably never know that the PLO Negotiations Support Unit (NSU) filed a written brief with the ICJ that contained an entire chapter devoted to Israeli policies and practices of apartheid. Judge Higgins noted that the request for the advisory opinion was obviously modeled on the one employed in the Namibian apartheid case.

          Activists and a Palestinian lawyers, who had formerly worked in the NSU, seemingly went out of their way to pretend that wasn’t happening. Diana Bhutto wrote articles and delivered deadpan statements during interviews suggesting the PLO leadership should abandon their course of action and adopt an anti-apartheid campaign – when that’s what they were already doing! It’s hard to take the issue seriously when there is that level of cognitive dissonance. About the only thing that opponents of Israeli policy do agree upon is that many elements of it do amount to persecution.

        • Sibiriak says:

          Hostage:

          .. the government did not accept the idea that apartheid could be made into a crime against humanity in that fashion.

          Btw, was “communism” ever made into a crime against humanity in that fashion?

  14. Sibiriak says:

    Hostage:

    In the end, Dick and Jane are only going to hear more talking points about the appropriateness of “the apartheid analogy”.

    And in the end, Dick and Jane are going to associate Israel with “apartheid”, not “democracy”, and the word “apartheid” is already irrevocably super-charged with negative value, despite disgreement about it’s exact meaning and applicability.

  15. Hostage says:

    And in the end, Dick and Jane are going to associate Israel with “apartheid”, not “democracy”

    No they just get angry and tune you out, or worse, they try to get you banned. All they remember is our side admits that Israeli apartheid is definitely not like the official one based upon biological racism that ruled in South Africa.