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Hafradah v apartheid, the story continues

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Hannah Schwarzschild responds to the debate she helped start over the use of the word "hafradah," which is Hebrew for separation, instead of "apartheid" to characterize Israel’s occupation.

So let me respond quickly, since I seem to be getting attacked from left, right and center for having brought up this old idea in a conversation about the difficulties of using the A-word (such as scheduled speakers dropping out of teach-ins at the last minute). First, this was not my idea (I don’t know who first suggested it, but it sure wasn’t me: I don’t speak Hebrew and wouldn’t know a geder hafradah if I pole vaulted over one.) I re-raised the "hafradah" idea last weekend only to illustrate that we have an option to use the Israelis’ own language against them in strategic moments when the "Apartheid" terminology is diverting the conversation unhelpfully (have you ever gotten stuck in a conversation with a Marxist pedagogue who wants to differentiate, quite correctly, the Afrikaaner use of labor from the Zionist one?). That’s not an "own goal," that’s how minds get opened and hypocrites get exposed.

For what it’s worth, I use the A-word all the time, and have battled for the right to use it in organizations where some feared it would alienate liberal Zionists who write big checks. But keeping "hafradah" in our collective back pocket as a way to explain to unbelievers that racial/ethnic segregation is official Israeli policy can be a useful thing — I’m not sure why anyone thinks it’s an either/or.

Can’t we all just get along?

About Hannah Schwarzschild

Jewish feminist anti-Zionist activist and kvetch

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