Oren states that Palestinians and Jews “choose to live apart” from one another and that to attempt to brand the “complex” historical situation in the West Bank as apartheid is an effort to delegitimize Jews that is reminiscent of the Holocaust.
The vast majority of settlers and Palestinians choose to live apart because of cultural and historical differences, not segregation, though thousands of them do work side by side. The separate roads were created in response to terrorist attacks — not to segregate Palestinians but to save Jewish lives. And Israeli roads are used by Israeli Jews and Arabs alike…
The complex historical part:
The West Bank represents a complex historical, humanitarian and security situation that six Israeli prime ministers from both the left and right have tried to resolve. Unfortunately, Palestinian leaders turned down Israeli offers of statehood in 2000 and 2008, and have now abandoned peace talks in favor of reunification with Hamas. They aspire to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza from which all Jews have been expelled. That is truly apartheid…
The Holocaust bit:
We Jews remember how each attempt to obliterate us, whether in the Inquisition or during the Holocaust, was preceded by a campaign to delegitimize us. People who practice apartheid are easily considered illegitimate.
Scott Roth notes that Oren’s argument about people choosing to live apart deserves a place in the “Hall of Fame of Galactic Mendacity.”
And recall that Saul Friedlander said that when rightwing Jews are using the Nazi analogy all the time, why should leftwingers be barred from stating that Israel reminds them of Nazi Germany?
But let’s go to Makdisi’s piece. It is far more specific and concrete about the different laws and conditions for Palestinians and Jews. And the UCLA professor and author begins with my favorite example, the bar on intermarriage.
It is not legally possible in Israel for a Jewish citizen to marry a non-Jewish citizen. And a web of laws, regulations and military orders governing what kind of people can live in which particular spaces makes mixed marriages within the occupied territories, or across the pre-1967 border between Israel and the occupied territories, all but impossible.
And so it goes in all domains of life, from birth to death: a systematic, vigilantly policed separation of the two populations and utter contempt for the principle of equality. One group — stripped of property and rights, expelled, humiliated, punished, demolished, imprisoned and at times driven to the edge of starvation (down to the meticulously calculated last calorie) — has withered. The other group — its freedom of movement and of development not merely unrestricted but actively encouraged — has flourished, and its religious and cultural symbols adorn the regalia of the state and are emblazoned on the state flag.
The question is not whether the term “apartheid” applies here. It is why it should cause such an outcry when it is used.