With all the ruckus around Kerry’s Apartheid gaffe and his pathetic apology, one would think that his statement attests to radical anti-Semitism or at least an anti-Zionist sentiment. As a matter of fact, the logic and vocabulary of Kerry’s statement is shared by no other than Naftali Bennett – head of Israel’s religious and far right-winged party.
In a 2012 ad, featured in his YouTube page and titled “Naftali Bennett’s stability initiative”, the narrator calls for the partial annexation of the West Bank to Israel and for allowing the Palestinians “self-rule” (though not a state) over what is left. This plan also entails granting Israeli citizenship to those Palestinians living in the would-be annexed territory and building overpasses between the islets of Palestinian self-rule which the plan would create.
The video (above) claims that this plan, although not utopian, will “greatly improve the situation.” What is wrong with the situation today? According to the video (1:27), if Israel does nothing then the arena is left open for Palestinian initiatives such as Boycott Divestment and Sanctions. (Notice that even Bennett believes BDS is not a form of anti-Semitism but rather a logical political strategy derived from Israel’s politics.) Then the video goes on to tell us (2:47) that this plan will “take the wind out of the sails of those who accuse us (Israelis) of being an Apartheid state.”
One logical conclusion from this last statement is that if the current legal status of the West Bank and its residents does not change, then the claims of Israel being an Apartheid state will have merit. Even right-wing politicians such as Bennett understand that as many differences one can find between post-1967 Israel and Apartheid South-Africa, the analogy between the two regimes will be reasonable so long as Israel holds within its sovereign territories a population which has no access to equal citizenship due to it being of non-Jewish faith and/or ethnicity.
The video also proves that the comparability of Apartheid South Africa with Israel is something that one can suggest and not have to ward off accusations of being an anti-Semite or even an anti-Zionist. What would be interesting to ask both pre-apology Kerry and 2012 Bennett is why they think Israel “might” become an Apartheid state versus it being an Apartheid state now? Really, why?