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Musings on Post-Apartheid Israel

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S Africa
Post-Apartheid South Africa. (Photo: BBC)

After immersing myself in all things Israel/Palestine for the past few years, and working hard for some modicum of justice to be dealt to Palestinians who have suffered so much only to be denied even recognition of their suffering, I have tried to imagine what post-apartheid Israel will look like.

First the good news: the willful ignorance of people refusing to see the oppression against Palestinians is eroding. Zionists are working overtime to make the oppression appear to be a kinder and more tolerable injustice, which I believe accounts for the gaining influence of organizations like J-Street. But those organizations’ insistence on holding on to the main core tenet of the oppression, an ethnically pure state, means that people will sooner or later see through the bankrupt philosophy.

The plight of Palestinians and historical facts, rather than myths, are making their way into main stream discussion. From high school classes, to churches and grocery stores, in media, film, poetry, and literature, the Palestinian side of the story is finally being told.

An example of this reversal from myth to historical fact is found in the work of Waziyatawin, a Dakota scholar and activist. In an earlier book, What does justice look like[1] she uses Herzl’s Jewish state as a model for how justice can be brought to indigenous Americans: just as Jews returned to the land from which they were expelled, so should the Native Americans return to their lands. She has since renounced that model after learning about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and she participated in a Women of Color delegation to Palestine. I consider someone with such impeccable anti-colonialist credentials who had been deceived by the Zionist myths as an example of the former success of those Zionist myth-makers. But their successes are becoming fewer.

It is no longer heresy to talk about any other solution than the (what has always been considered “reasonable”) two-state solution. The one-state solution, a secular democratic state of all its citizens, each with equal rights and responsibilities, is no longer such a wild and crazy idea. In large part, the acceptance of this democratic idea into the discussion is due to international solidarity activism, mainly the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement (and I must give a shout out to an organization in which I am involved, Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign).

I believe that it is a matter of time, and not a long time, that the regime in Israel will fall and there will be a government of all the people in Palestine. What an idea: universal suffrage, a constitution guaranteeing equal rights, representation in parliament, a new national anthem…

At the end of apartheid, international Palestinian solidarity activists will have to bow out. We’re not asked to do more than to use economic and moral pressure to help bring about the end of this oppressive regime. I have no skills that could be useful to a new government or state. My past involvement in this issue gives me no credibility. My work is done.

So what will this new state look like? Does post-apartheid Israel mean a just society with equal rights for all the people of Palestine? A society which respects the human rights of all people? Where racism isn’t tolerated, criminals are brought to justice, and reparations for past injustices are made? What does justice look like?

Post-colonial models

My optimism ends at the certainty that there will be a post-apartheid Israel. After that, the optimism fades as I search for post-colonial models. Apartheid in Israel is often compared to that of the former South Africa, but post-apartheid South Africa has a dubious record.

Less than 10 years after the adoption of the new South African Constitution, the democratic government of South Africa, led by Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress, was confidently declared a success.[2] The 1996 Constitution took precedence over parliament (i.e. the legislators were sworn to uphold the Constitution, not their offices), federal and provincial/local governance was worked out, individual rights were given precedence over nationalities’ rights, and systems of working with traditional group leadership were identified.

But by 2008, Johann Rossouw described the increasing xenophobic and racist violence in South Africa as occurring in a country which was “not yet post-colonial.”[3] The “romantic image of post-apartheid South Africa…was an illusion,” said Rossouw. In many ways there are analogies to be drawn between South Africa and Israel, including the fact that in both countries fiercely nationalistic movements replaced British colonial systems. When the Afrikaners took the reins of government in the early 20th century, they instituted severe oppressive policies against non-Afrikaners, including the apartheid system which began in 1948. This system was not only a method of controlling the colonial subjects, but it also worked to separate those colonial subjects from each other, preventing them from forming alliances which could have helped to overthrow the regime years before its final demise.

The post-Mandela South African government has shown characteristics of many post-colonial African governments: corruption, censorship of the press,[4] government cronies amassing immense wealth at the expense of the majority of the poverty stricken population, neglecting to provide services and infrastructure for those people. Much of this anti-democratic governance may be attributed to economic policies forced upon the new country by the International Monetary Fund (IMF),[5] a new colonialism. This leads to statements by impoverished and unemployed residents of slums, that things were better under apartheid when, for some, at least there were jobs.[6]

The South Africa experience is an imperfect analogy, as all analogies are. South Africa is a country with vast mineral wealth. The victims of apartheid make up about 80 percent of the population and had been exploited for their labor. Israel has few natural resources and the apartheid system there was never for labor exploitation. The very western economic system in Israel may insulate it from falling into the trap of indebtedness to institutions like the IMF, and therefore if there is to be exploitation in post-apartheid Israel, it will come from within the country. This brings me to the second model, and one that seems to me even more apt: post-slavery United States.

Michelle Alexander’s extremely disturbing book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,[7] describes systems of race-based control in the United States. Following the end of slavery, when it was clear that no “40 acres and a mule” would be forthcoming to most former slaves, many newly freed slaves had to resort to returning to indentured servitude to earn enough to feed themselves and their families. Shortly after Reconstruction the system we have come to know as Jim Crow was instituted, stripping African Americans of their recently acquired right to vote and hold elected office and instituting an oppressive system of total control, which rivaled the system of race-based slavery. That system came to an end in the 1960s with the Civil Rights era, but has been replaced by an equally oppressive system of control called the War on Drugs. Cloaked in non-racial terms, drug laws target primarily people of color, meaning huge populations are imprisoned, disenfranchised, impoverished, and left permanently in an under-caste.

Because this system appears to target only law-breakers, rather than people of a certain race, most people in the U.S. are disinterested in its real effects. People can point to successes in civil rights, like the election of an African American president, to prove that we have overcome racism in this country. We don’t have to examine the statistics showing the enormous disparity in numbers of people (mainly men) of color compared to whites who are incarcerated. People who have been convicted of a felony (and drug crimes are for the most part non-violent offenses) face a lifetime of unemployment, racism, homelessness and often disenfranchisement, and all of this is legal and accepted, because they are perceived to be “bad guys” who deserve what they got.

It is because the racism and oppressive system of control of populations of non-whites can be invisible to most whites, that I believe this is the most likely analogy for what post-apartheid Israel will look like. It may not be a war on drugs that becomes the system of control, but some other non-racial method of maintaining a permanent under-class.


Demographics are the most boring of statistical data if the subject is voting patterns in Wisconsin or migration patterns into urban areas, but it becomes the most racist of terms when the subject is Israel and Palestine. My fingers hesitated as I reached the “g” in “demographics,” giving my brain a chance to find a synonym. But “the underlying rationale for ethnic cleansing” is hardly better.

Israeli society is dominated by the minority Ashkenazi Jewish population (those descended from Eastern Europeans). As of 2006 only 22% of the Jewish population were Ashkenazi Jews, and the rest were Mizrahi[9 PDF] (from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa). Just as white privileged people in the U.S. were able to drive a wedge between poor whites and African Americans by allowing poor whites some measure of superiority over blacks, Israeli society drives a wedge between the Mizrahim and the Palestinians. Ben-Gurion’s disdain for Jews of Middle Eastern origin (he said they were “difficult human material—[their] cultural level is low”)[10] is shared by many Ashkenazi Jews today and the Mizrahim suffer discrimination in housing, education, and employment. They would be natural allies of Palestinians, were it not for the exploitation of this wedge. Mizrahi Jews supported Avigdor Lieberman’s extreme racist Yisrael Beytanu party overwhelmingly in the last elections, which mirrors some poor white Americans’ support of racist candidates.

Among the Jewish population in Israel divisions are exacerbated, as fundamentalist Orthodox Jews discriminate and attack others for not being Jewish enough. The Orthodox Jews have had special privileges since the beginning of the State, where the men don’t work or serve in the military, but receive welfare benefits and subsidized housing. In post-apartheid Israel how willingly would they give up those benefits? How willingly would the rest of the population continue them?

The divide and rule strategy, which served colonialists so well created havoc during post-colonial periods (a recent extreme example being the Rwandan genocide). Palestinians, too, have been divided into many groups, which may never re-coalesce into a single people: there are the Palestinian Israeli citizens, West Bank residents, Gaza residents, refugees within the West Bank and Gaza, refugees in other countries, diaspora Palestinians, and now Hamas supporters and Fatah supporters. At times the various groups have had little respect for one another, and certainly after many years of separation, culture, language and priorities have become differentiated. In a post-apartheid country, even one in which the Palestinian population is approximately the same as the Jewish population,[11] would these differences further divide people or could the population embrace differences? History does not show many examples of the latter.

The birthrate within Israel (not including the occupied territories) is about 3 children per woman, higher than other developed countries.[12 PDF] This is about 3.75 children per Palestinian Israeli woman and 2.97 children per Jewish Israeli woman.[13 PDF] Currently, with Israel’s fear of “losing the demographic war,” Jewish families with many children are encouraged. It is not unreasonable to believe that Palestinians feel the same way. Overpopulation, overcrowding in cities and suburbs, and dwindling resources, will only exacerbate the problems.

Environment and Land

Even well-intentioned post-apartheid players in Israel will come up against physical factors that would destroy hope of justice. These include changes to the landscape, land use, resources, and environment.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) has worked for over a century to build parks over ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages. It uses them as propaganda to promote its “good stewardship of the land”—carbon sinks, green space, the encouragement of wildlife habitat, a quiet spot for (Jewish) Israelis to picnic, etc., and all the while not mentioning the violations of human rights, the massacres, the theft, that take place because of those parks.[14] Justice demands that those parks be returned to the villagers and descendents of those villagers who were expelled. But in post-apartheid Israel, could that happen?

In the last 10 years, the estimated average per capita carbon dioxide emissions by Israelis were 6.9 metric tons per year (compared to 15.1 tons per capita per year for U.S. citizens).[15] With a population of about 8 million,[16] this is more than 55 million metric tons of CO2 per year emitted on average from both Israelis and Palestinians. One acre of forest absorbs approximately 75 metric tons over 20 years.[17] (These numbers are given for rainforests and not arid regions, and may not be equivalent.) Since 1901, the JNF has planted more than 250,000 acres of trees,[18] giving a sequestration rate of 18.8 million metric tons of CO2 in 20 years. In other words, the sequestration rate doesn’t come close to the emission rate. But regardless of the origin of those forests, or the effects of forest fires,[19] there would be a world-wide outcry if the future state tried to cut out its lungs, even to repair a previous injustice. Since the trees planted over ethnically cleansed villages are not native to the region, their presence there has changed the ecology of the land, which is no longer suitable for growing the crops that sustained the former residents.

Land that has been confiscated for roads, houses, and the apartheid wall, is equally unsuitable for farming. With a wildly increasing human population (there and everywhere else), the land will be required and used for other purposes. The vast majority of Palestinians who were stripped of their living as farmers or herders will have to give up the dream of returning to that life for good. Those types of farms will be replaced by factory farms, squeezing the highest yield from the smallest acreage, using high amounts of chemicals and water.[20] Those farms will be owned by the settlers and their descendents; Palestinians will work as laborers on the Jewish-owned farms. Land redistribution ends up badly no matter where it is done or for what reason, and I can’t envision a scenario where land is taken from a settler to give back to the Palestinian who formerly owned it. The Palestinians who have suffered from land and livelihood confiscation, assessments of extraordinary fees, denial of educational opportunities, will not have enough wealth to purchase a farm, even if a Jewish land owner did not have heirs to which to will the land.

With the land being now designated for various purposes, with an increasing population and decreasing resources, and with the divisions among the different Palestinian groups, what are the chances that a significant number of refugees will have the opportunity to return to the country? Unfortunately, I see this also as a very low probability.

I believe that the system of apartheid in Israel will end, but I do not believe that the end will mean justice for Palestinians. So with all this pessimism, why do I continue? Well, for one, I’m desperately hoping someone will read this and point out my basic analytical error. But I’ve thought about this for a long time and don’t believe I’ve made an analytical error. For another, I like to believe that had I lived during slavery in the U.S., even knowing the oppression that African Americans would face at the end of that system, I would have worked to end it. And then I would have worked to end Jim Crow. The end of one struggle is the beginning of the next.[21] So I will continue to work for justice and human rights in Israel/Palestine and continue to hope that somehow an equation can be found which will allow for justice to prevail.


1 Waziyatawin, Ph.D., What Does Justice Look Like? The Struggle for Liberation in Dakota Homeland. St. Paul:Living Justice Press, 2008.
2 Bekker, Simon and Leildé, Anne, “Is Multiculturalism a Workable Policy in South Africa,” International Journal on Multicultural Societies (IJMS), Vol. 5, No. 2, 2003: 119-134.       3 Rossouw, Johann, “South Africa: not yet post-colonial,” Le Monde Diplomatique. Aug. 2008.
4 Achmat, Zackie, Dawes, Nic, and February, Judith “Muzzling the Rainbow Nation,”New York Times, 30 Nov. 2011.
5 Klein, Naomi, The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Metropolitan Books. New York: Knopf Canada, 2007.
6 “Some things were better under apartheid,” BBC News, 29 May 2010.
7 Alexander, Michelle, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press, 2010.
8 Never mind that the 40 acres would not be taken from any white land-owner. If any freed slave had received land it would have been expropriated from Native Americans’ land anyway.
9 “Jews and others, by origin, continent of birth and period of immigration,” [PDF] Central Bureau of Statistics, Government of Israel.
10 Grodzinsky, Yosef, In the Shadow of the Holocaust. Monroe: Common Courage Press, 2004.
11 Palestinian population fast approaching that of Israeli Jews, in vBulletin, 1 Dec. 2011.
12 “Table 3.13 – Fertility rates, by age and religion,” [PDF] Statistical Abstract of Israel, 2011.
13 Ibid.
14 See and the fourth e-book: Greenwashing Apartheid: The Jewish National Fund’s Environmental Cover Up [PDF]
15 “Carbon Dioxide Emissions (CO2), metric tons of CO2 per capita (CDIAC).” Millennium Development Goals Database. United Nations Statistics Division.
16 “Israel population tops 7.8 mn”, European Jewish Press. 8 Jan. 2012.
17 FAQ. World Land Trust.
18 Blumenthal, Max “The forest through the trees: What the Carmel fire reminds us about Israel’s history.” Mondoweiss. 7 Dec. 2010
19 Ibid.
20 Despite the high water wastage for which settlers in the occupied territories are known, Israel has pioneered the field of water re-use in agriculture. Some of this water will be recycled.
21 Thanks to Bob Kosuth for this line!

Sylvia Schwarz

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45 Responses

  1. Krauss on February 8, 2012, 3:04 pm

    Quality intellect, indeed. Very well written.

    This article reminds me of what one of the Palestinian BDS leaders said recently at the Penn BDS Conference. Namely, that just because Apartheid ended did not mean that the legacy of it was ereased. Same thing with the century-long oppression of blacks in America, which is today far lighter than ever before but still a fact of life.

    Ending Apartheid in Israel will be a huge victory; for Jews, Palestinians and everyone who believes in justice and democracy around the world. But as monumental as it will be, it is naïve to think that the day it happens is the end of all injustice.

    Still, I think once the system falls things can only improve. As bad as SA blacks have it today, I think very few would want to go back to the bad old Apartheid days. Life moves on, progresses and improves. Such is the trajectory of life.

    • on February 9, 2012, 1:39 pm

      you remark on how you think South African Blacks think about the “bad old days.”
      Perhaps the victims should be allowed to tell their story.

      In addition, perhaps another analogy should be brought to the fore: The German people paid massive reparations to Jews. Edgar Bronfman demanded and received further reparations payments from other European states. Bronfman leveraged some of that wealth inflow to endow chairs at prestigious American universities, further advantaging Jews.

      Shouldn’t Jews in Israel AND Jews in the United States who supported the dispossession of Palestinians be required to pay equally generous reparations to the Palestinians who were dispossessed and made to work for “slave wages” for so many years?

      goose? gander?

      Should Jews who ‘waged’ dispossession of Palestinian Arabs be required to pay hefty reparations to Palestinians, to make them equal on their own land?

      Isn’t that what “equal justice under the law” means?

  2. rpickar on February 8, 2012, 3:36 pm


    Thank you for this article, it touches upon questions that I’ve been asking for nearly two years now, since I fully understood the Apartheid situation.

    You asked about reading this and finding a basic analytical error. I find a lot that I agree with, including that income inequality will continue in a post-apartheid Israel/Palestine.

    I don’t agree with using arguments about global warming and CO2 as having a bearing on the JNF forests and resettlement. Global warming is a global, broad, fuzzy, indistinct, messy, and long-term issue that tends to get trumped by pressing economic needs. If there is a breakthrough in the political climate to resettle Palestinians, I think that global warming will take a back seat and that those forests will be fair game.

    The returning refugees themselves will be a potent labor force to built houses, communities, and create settlement. A final point, is that technology has greatly lowered the cost of education for *motivated* students. The return of the refugees to Israel/Palestine will be a dramatic, deeply moving event that will create an atmosphere of very high motivation to build the new post-apartheid state.

  3. lysias on February 8, 2012, 4:00 pm

    Post-independence Ireland gave equal political and legal rights to Protestants (who had formerly been the ruling Ascendancy) and allowed them to maintain their dominant economic position. A lot of the Irish Protestants left, largely because they felt uncomfortable living in a situation where they no longer had the political power that they had had for centuries, but many stayed on, and many are still there.

    And Ireland today, despite its economic problems, is a decent state for both Catholics and Protestants.

  4. dimadok on February 8, 2012, 4:31 pm

    A few basic misconceptions about the Israelis statistics:
    Ashkenazi vs Mizrahi-47.5% vs 50.2
    former Soviet Union Jews 20.9% of total Jewish population.
    “The growth rate of the Arab population in Israel is 2.6%, while the growth rate of the Jewish population in Israel is 1.7%. The growth rate of both the Jewish and Arab population has slowed from 3.8% in 1999 to 2.6% in 2008 for Arab and 2.7% to 1.7% for the Jewish population. The fastest growing segment of population are Arab Muslims with the latest growth rate of 2.8% for 2008”

    Your musings are very much stretched to provide some resemblance to the South Africa situation, which Israel is definitely not. Also the assumptions that Mizrahi Jews will unite with Palestinians against “white” Ashkenazi elite are so imaginative that I do not where to start from.
    Perhaps the good start would be from the stories the Mizrahi Jews descendants have heard from their grandparents and parents, about how they were expelled from their countries and stripped of everything.

    • annie on February 8, 2012, 5:25 pm

      The fastest growing segment of population are Arab Muslims with the latest growth rate of 2.8% for 2008″

      faster than the haredi? i doubt it.

      Your musings are very much stretched to provide some resemblance to the South Africa situation

      you mean the crime of apartheid?

      On 30 November 1973, the United Nations General Assembly opened for signature and ratification the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.[1] It defined the crime of apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”

      yep, sounds like israel to me.

      • seafoid on February 9, 2012, 9:58 am


        This presentation has the definitive stats.

        Slide 6

        2005-2009 Haredi growth rate of 4.2% per annum versus 3.1% for ’48 Palestinians and 1.6% for educated Jews

        Slide 5 is also very interesting

        Project the trends out for 20 years and Israel will be either national socialist or bankrupt or maybe even both similtaneously.

    • Woody Tanaka on February 8, 2012, 6:47 pm

      “Your musings are very much stretched to provide some resemblance to the South Africa situation, which Israel is definitely not.”

      No, it’s worse. On many grounds.

      • seafoid on February 9, 2012, 11:24 am

        Mostly on Palestinian ground , Woody.

    • on February 9, 2012, 2:01 pm

      I wonder why Lourdes Garcia- Navarro did not include these sociological facts of life about tensions between Mizrahi Jews and Ashkenazi Jews in Israel, in her NPR piece the other day — Jews With Ties To Iran And Israel Feel Conflicted

      “Some 250,000 people of Persian descent live in Israel, and that migration continues. But Iran still has the second-largest community of Jews in the Middle East, and the two communities are close, says Aaron Yacoubi, Naheet’s husband.”

      That statistic –250,000 people of Persian descent– is suspect in several ways; one of those ways involves a discussion here, that asked questions about relations between Jews in the Persian empire and Jews in Jerusalem/Roman empire at the time of Jesus.

      The other, bare-faced question that Garcia-Navarro’s statistic raises is one of mathematics and reproduction rates. According to this source , there were about 80,000 Jews in Iran in 1979. About 25,000 Jews remain in Iran today. Of the 55,000 who left Iran after 1979, 70% migrated to the United States. With non-Jewish Iranian immigrants to US, they formed the semi-sovereign state of Tehrangeles. (Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has not leaked plans to bomb the non-Jewish Iranian section of Los Angeles. Yet. Maybe after the presidential election.)
      That means that 16,500 Iranian Jews made aliyeh to Israel after 1979. And now they are 250,000. That’s means the Iranian Jewish population doubled every 7 or 8 years. Some women, those Iranian Jews.

  5. tree on February 8, 2012, 5:34 pm

    Perhaps the good start would be from the stories the Mizrahi Jews descendants have heard from their grandparents and parents, about how they were expelled from their countries and stripped of everything.

    I just finished reading Rachel Shabi’s “We look Like the Enemy”, about the discrimination against Mizrahi Jews in Israel, and the Ashkenazi elite’s attempts to de-Arabize them. You might want to read it as well, dimadok. She was born in Israel to Iraqi Jewish parents, moved to England as a child and returned to Israel as an adult to write on this issue. Her book confirms that what you repeated above is merely the Israeli approved national myth, which bears little to no relationship to what actually happened.

  6. wondering jew on February 8, 2012, 5:54 pm

    Two misstated nonfacts. The percentage of Ashkenazi Jews in Israel is higher than 22%. That figure might be factual if one considers Ashkenazi Jews born in Israel as Middle Eastern Jews.

    Second- Mizrachi Jews did not vote overwhelmingly for Lieberman’s party. Their other choices- the Likud party and the Shas party, might not thrill you either, but there is little doubt that Lieberman’s party received less than half the Mizrachi Jewish vote.

    • Chaos4700 on February 9, 2012, 12:37 am

      It’s just that all the parties you mention pretty much walk in lockstep on pretty much any policy that matters outside of the Israeli citizenry (i.e. the Occupation and the vast apparatus that is responsible for it — i.e. the so-called “Jewish state.”)

  7. ToivoS on February 8, 2012, 7:16 pm

    This is fun conjecture. Imagine how victory will look. I think it would take many years to see Palestinians and Misrahi entering into political alliance because of common economic situations and some cultural similarities. Look to the American south — to this day the white working and lower classes remain in opposition to their African-American counterparts. I would venture a guess that the first Palestinian-Jewish alliance will be between Hamas and a party like Shas. They share a hatred of modernity, promiscuity, critical analysis and both support oppression of women. They will unify to oppose the secular forces. On a more positive note, there should be a more robust alliance between the secular groups on the left from both camps.

  8. seafoid on February 9, 2012, 8:38 am

    Isr/Palestine will need economic justice. That will mean affirmative action.
    Israel could become an economic centre for the region but that would need guts and honesty. The question is how much damage Zionism has done to the future of the Jewish presence in the region. I wonder if many Israelis won’t just give up. They have dug themselves a very deep hole .

    Peak oil will change everything anyway. The Israeli economy is based on the Western empire of the OECD nations and once the oil goes that’s in big trouble. The Palestinians will have less trouble adapting.

    • Bumblebye on February 9, 2012, 9:13 am

      Definitely not “affirmative action”.
      Reparations and preferential treatment of Palestinian business in order to redress multi decades of deliberate harm on both sides of the Green Line. Enforcement of those judgments that have been made against Israel ordering financial reparations, etc.

      • seafoid on February 9, 2012, 10:00 am

        Reparations won’t do much for the landless refugees. Affirmative action will be needed whatever else is decided. Gaza has a decent education system and these people will need jobs and that will mean quotas.

        Reparations will bankrupt Israel. That’s why they are pushing on with Yesha and talking about ethnic cleansing as the only “just” solution to the palestinian issue

      • kalithea on February 10, 2012, 12:07 pm

        There is no justice without reparations. Israelis must first allow for the return of the refugees, especially those living in abject poverty, in slums, camps and ghettos in surrounding Arab countries. Those people are living in dire conditions for decades. And some of those countries can’t even provide for their own impoverished citizens. How can anyone with any conscience allow this injustice to continue? This is paramount in repairing the injustice.

        Secondly, these people must be given a home. I don’t care if Israels are forced by law to vacate some settlements to do it! Then they can be given community plots and greenhouses; I’m sure something can be worked out. And finally, they must benefit from some monetary compensation or subsidies.

        These people have been wronged and deprived of so much. It’s unconscionable not to do right by them.

  9. seafoid on February 9, 2012, 11:40 am

    To be honest I don’t think Israel is going to be able to manage the post apartheid transition very well. There are so many dependent Haredim AND Israel is responsible for 60 years of pauperisation of the people of Gaza and the other refugees and 43 of the people of the West Bank including East Jerusalem (all off balance sheet) and they can’t even now arrange a distribution of wealth that keeps poor Jewish kids from hunger.

    Israel needs capable brains working on this and instead it is all headless chicken Iran the sky is falling down BS

    • Blake on February 10, 2012, 9:36 am

      If you look at what happened in South Africa they may not have any choice.

  10. Blake on February 10, 2012, 9:35 am

    What a great article. In an ideal world this is what Palestine would look like. Thank you Ms Schwarz.

    • kalithea on February 10, 2012, 12:12 pm

      Why is this article “great”? I don’t think it’s great; I think it’s an excuse to bury one’s head in the sand of hopelessness even if it means Palestinians will continue to be denied their rights or be massively cleansed and expelled by Israelis in a fit of mass hysteria, and this kind of talk, this blatant, disingenuous rationalized “despair” and fearmongering is just the ticket to incite them to do it.

  11. patm on February 10, 2012, 10:03 am

    Yes, thank you, Sylvia Schwarz, for this informative essay and for all your years of work on behalf of the Palestinians.

  12. seafoid on February 10, 2012, 10:19 am

    2 things will need to happen in Israeli Jewish society when it all falls apart.

    Firstly the Holocaust will have to be dealt with. It is not an excuse for regional destruction.

    “Nonetheless, when push comes to shove, when all the other options have been exhausted, when there is no other avenue left, when it’s yes or no, do or die, kill or be killed – then I think that most Israelis and Jews, including myself, will support a military attack. And the only way to prevent such a risky and dangerous development is to stop the Iranian nuclear problem dead in its tracks, and to stop it now. Otherwise, in all likelihood, with grave doubts and terrible misgivings, the planes, will be dispatched, the missiles will be launched, the troops will be landed and the bombs will then explode. Because the phrase “Never Again”, however grossly misused and cynically manipulated throughout the years, was actually meant for this very moment.”

    Secondly Jews are going to have to realise that this “Chosen people” shtick is metaphorical and has no bearing on real life . AIPAC is a crowd of mediocrities. The Palestinians have been held hostage for 3 generations because of Shoddy iron age thinking that has a hold on modern day Israel man. The reconstruction of the temple is a mental construct. The Aqsa mosque will not be destroyed so don’t even think about it.
    Jews are valued members of global humanity . But that’s it. They aren’t worth WW3.

  13. American on February 10, 2012, 11:12 am

    Everyone practices BDS..each in their own way. Hooray.

    Rock musician Cat Power cancels Israel show, citing Israeli …‎
    Washington Post – 2 hours ago
    JERUSALEM — American musician Cat Power has canceled her show in Israel, joining a list of artists shunning the country over its conflict with the

    Turks torpedo Israel Navy participation in NATO op‎
    Jerusalem Post – 5 hours ago
    By YAAKOV KATZ AND HERB KEINON 02/10/2012 05:39 Exclusive: Ankara prevents first instance of active Israeli participation in one of Western military

    ‘Anonymous’ hacker group threatens ‘reign of terror’ against Israel‎
    Haaretz – 9 hours ago
    Group uploads video blaming Israel for committing ‘crimes against humanity,’ and criticizes its treatment of Palestinians.

    • annie on February 10, 2012, 11:17 am

      american, just drafted the catpower news. not sure with the lull, when/if it will get posted. awesome news. and awesome wapo is covering it. people of conscience don’t like apartheid.

      wow, just checked out your last haaretz link and video attached from the hackers. have you watched it? the comments on youtube are freaky. so far only 1,830 views but there are 1,501 comments.

      Anonymous Message To The State of Israel

      • American on February 10, 2012, 12:12 pm

        annie….here’s another goodie to brighten your day. Assault charges filed against the AIPAC’er by Rae Abileah.

        AIPAC Member Assailant of Peaceful Demonstrator During Netanyahu’s Speech to the U.S. Congress

        By CODEPINK

        A recent response to a subpoena from the United States Capitol Police has revealed the main assailant of a peaceful demonstrator who was physically attacked and injured on May 24, 2011, to be Stanley Anthony Shulster, allegedly a member of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). According to the lawsuit, Mr. Shulster, a retired lawyer, admitted to assaulting Rae Abileah, a member of CODEPINK, in the House of Representatives while she protested the Israeli occupation of Palestine during the speech by Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel.
        The Capitol Police issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Shulster for this attack.

        Mr. Shulster’s biography on the Jackson County, Oregon Republican Women website identifies him as “an Unpaid Lobbyist,” and a “Volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces Medical Unit and a member of AIPAC.” The bio states:
        “At the last AIPAC meeting in May of 2011 Stan was present to hear the
        stirring address that Prime Minister Netanyahu gave to Congress and he
        grabbed the woman who heckled the Prime Minister while he was speaking.”

        Rabbi Shmuley Boteach also attested to the assault when he wrote in his
        blog, “The elderly gentleman to my right, whom I had been talking to just before the speech started, pulled the flag out of her hands, cupped his hands over her mouth, and assisted in subduing her.” Additional witnesses have been identified by the U.S. Capitol Police.

        According to the complaint, Mr. Shulster grabbed the banner held by Ms.
        Abileah, used his hand to attempt to gag and suffocate Ms. Abileah, and
        yanked her head back, injuring her neck. As a result of the attack, Ms.
        Abileah sustained a neck strain, swollen neck and muscle strain, and has
        since suffered from frequent head and neck aches as well as emotional

        Ms. Abileah is a 29-year-old American Jew of Israeli descent, who works as the Co-Director of CODEPINK, a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice organization that seeks to end U.S. wars and the U.S. funded occupation of Palestine.

        “I was shocked that the biography of the person who attacked me would brag about his use of violence. This lawless behavior echoes the routine actions of the Israeli government and military in carrying out violent acts daily against the Palestinian people.

        I am hopeful that my filing suit will be a clear signal to those who attempt to silence peaceful protesters, that they will be held accountable for their illegal actions,” said Ms. Abileah.

      • patm on February 10, 2012, 12:29 pm

        Terrific news, Citizen. Let’s hope Stanley Anthony Shulster is brought to justice quickly and punished for his unlawful behaviour.

      • annie on February 10, 2012, 12:48 pm

        american, not sure if i would classify this as a ‘goodie’ but it’s certainly holds entertainment value. it’s almost unfathomable that it could be true or representative of this particular sect as a whole ..but here it is:
        For members of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Gur sect, sex is a sin

      • American on February 10, 2012, 12:58 pm


        “For members of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Gur sect, sex is a sin”
        lol…wonder how they intend to keep the faith going? artifical insemination?

      • patm on February 10, 2012, 1:05 pm

        Is the term ‘wackadoodle’ applicable to members of the Gur sect?

      • Shmuel on February 10, 2012, 1:31 pm

        not sure if i would classify this as a ‘goodie’ but it’s certainly holds entertainment value.

        Why “entertainment value”, Annie? There are both profound and disturbing elements in the philosophical system espoused by the Hasidic sect of Ger/Gur. It’s certainly not the first (or last) spiritual movement to pursue a path to enlightenment or communion with the divine that strives to overcome physical desire in general and sexual desire in particular.

        I suggest reading the original article on the subject:

      • Shmuel on February 10, 2012, 1:47 pm

        Is the term ‘wackadoodle’ applicable to members of the Gur sect?

        Is it applicable to Catholics or Buddhists? Viewing sex as an impediment to attaining higher levels of spirituality is hardly an original idea.

      • patm on February 10, 2012, 2:13 pm

        “Is it applicable to Catholics or Buddhists?”

        No. Catholics and Buddhists who view sex as an impediment to attaining higher levels of spirituality are generally unmarried priests and monks.

      • Shmuel on February 10, 2012, 2:25 pm

        Catholics and Buddhists who view sex as an impediment to attaining higher levels of spirituality are generally unmarried priests and monks.

        Complete celibacy is not permitted in Jewish law. The Gerers have thus adopted a form of partial celibacy – stretching the limits of the law (the tension between sexual obligation and devotional abstinence dates way back). Why is that any more “wackadoodle” than complete celibacy?

      • patm on February 10, 2012, 3:51 pm

        Why is [a form of partial celibacy] any more “wackadoodle” than complete celibacy?

        Both are unnatural practices and in that sense both could be said to be “wackadoodle”. With Catholics and Buddhists the rule is that only one person is affected by the celibacy. It is true that this rule is broken on occasion and then it is usually children who are harmed. With the Gerers two people are affected by the celibacy. The woman has no choice in the matter. So to my mind, this makes the Gerers’ celibacy practice more “wackadoodle”.

      • Shmuel on February 10, 2012, 4:33 pm


        All sorts of things are “unnatural”, but humans do ’em anyway, and sometimes they are even laudable. Regarding the different roles assigned to men and women (and the women are certainly subservient), that is also hardly unique to Gerer Hasidim. As for choice, neither men nor women have much of a choice – perhaps contrary to monastic practices in other religions, but there is something to be said for not distinguishing between laity and a select group of monastics.

        I’m not really interested in defending Gerer beliefs per se. I think they are wrong and even dangerous on many different levels, but they are not especially silly as belief systems go, and have their own beauty and profundity.

      • tree on February 10, 2012, 4:44 pm

        Official Catholicism is against contraception , believing that sex should only be for the purpose of bearing children. Therefore I think you can safely say that Catholicism promotes a kind of partial celibacy on the part of its adherents. It doesn’t necessarily do that very effectively these days, though.

        I’m reminded of the Shakers, an early English/American Christian religious sect, that believed in complete celibacy for all its followers, which eventually led to its demise. “Wackadoodle” I suppose, on that account, and on account of their “shaking”, but they also espoused gender equality and many other laudatory beliefs. And they made great furniture. ;-)

      • rpickar on February 10, 2012, 5:05 pm


        Very glad you brought up the Shakers, because they serve as an extreme example of beliefs and habits that perpetuate the global Jewish demographic problem .

        General discouragement and/or ban on prostelyzation.
        Purely matrilineal descent.
        Great challenges to conversion to Judaism.

        Jews aren’t as far out as the Shakers, but they are *half-way* to being as far out as the Shakers, and this creates the problems.

        It’s also fair to say that Judaism isnt truly global, in the sense that Protestantism and Catholicism, and Islam are. If Ashkenazi Jews don’t feel comfortable with other racial groups, in terms of conversion, , then how can Judaism be global?

      • patm on February 10, 2012, 5:30 pm

        …, but they are not especially silly as belief systems go, and have their own beauty and profundity.

        Perhaps so, Shmuel. But as far as I know they are bigoted racists who want nothing to do with the Palestinians. Is this not part of their belief system? I confess I’ve not got over learning what the word ‘shiksa’ means.

      • Shmuel on February 10, 2012, 5:56 pm

        as far as I know they are bigoted racists who want nothing to do with the Palestinians.

        As I said, I have no interest in defending Gerer beliefs per se. I just don’t find them particularly entertaining or nuts – particularly their attitudes to sex, which were the subject of the Haaretz article that started this discussion.

    • kalithea on February 10, 2012, 12:18 pm

      God bless Anonymous. This is in fact the attitude that must be adopted with Israel if anything is to change. Enough with the pandering, the coddling and pimping excuses to protect these criminals! Anonymous get it.

      • patm on February 10, 2012, 12:54 pm

        Anonymous gets it.

        They sure do Kalithea. I wonder how difficult they can make life for the Israeli government. We shall see.

  14. kalithea on February 10, 2012, 12:35 pm

    Unlike many, I find the attitude demonstrated in this article to be ENABLING of Zionists and Zionism.

    There are many Palestinians living in shacks, ghettos, slums, camps in neighboring Arab countries dreaming of their homeland for decades and that dream has been passed on to the children of these slums and camps. It’s their last hope and what keeps them going!! This article gives Zionists an excuse to escape justice and responsibility!

    I DON’T CARE IF THOSE IDIOTS FROM MOLDOVA AND OTHER EASTERN BLOC COUNTRIES AND NEW JERSEY HAVE TO PACK IT IN, VACATE SETTLEMENTS, AND GET THE HELL OFF PALESTINIAN LAND in order for Palestinians living in abject misery to finally find justice and reclaim what is rightfully theirs!! Those OCCUPIERS are nothing more than THIEVES AND BULLIES!

    SO DON’T GIMME THIS PATHETIC, WHINY EXCUSE ALLUDING TO THE U.S. DRUG WAR AND WHAT NOT! If you want to do something constructive in that regard VOTE RON PAUL, because he’s the only person that sees that injustice for what it is: pure racism against African Americans.

    As far as the Palestinians are concerned, quit with the doomsday scenarios that offer only excuses for Zionists to do nothing and keep piling on oppression and offer no SOLUTIONS for Palestinians!

    We all know what the solution is and I touched on it here: the WEST BANK MUST BE VACATED, PERIOD, whether in a two-state or one state. We all know this deep down! JUSTICE CANNOT AND WILL NOT BE DENIED.

    Zionists WILL PAY THE PIPER. Either through self-fulling prophesy and self-destruction or hard justice. The crime will be vindicated one way or another! And I’M PRAYING for that day!

  15. Danaa on February 10, 2012, 6:35 pm

    I think this article by Sylvia is a good start, though I may quibble with some of the demographic statistics quoted. Like the 22% ashkenazi; there are currently over 15% Haredi alone in Israel, the majority of which are, in fact, Ashkenazi in origin; the rest cannot possibly be only 7% unless one discounts the Russians and a few other groups. So in the interest of precision, the statistics cited needs to be modified with caveats.

    I share Sylvia’s pessimism as indeed there’s no post-colonial model that includes a devout religious element as is the case in Israel. The Haredi alone are estimated to reach 25% in as little as decade (In the primary schools in Israel, a majority is already part of the religious system, whether state, orthodox or ultra-orthodox). She did not touch much on what that means since the Jewish orthodox and ultra-orthodox are, in fact, one of the most intolerant religious populations to be found anywhere in the world. Yes, we all know about the haredi, but rarely do we hear about the deeply intolerant and bigoted attitudes towards non-Jews that are held by even the “mere” orthodox (in which I encompass most Mizrahi), or, for that matter, the “merely” observant. The form this intolerance takes is, unfortunately, endemic to Middle-Eastern versionof Judaism (which is why I – and others – sometimes prefer to refer to it as “Judeanism”). The type of bigotry of which I speak (which uis shared by all too many of the secular) fundamentally regards Arabs as inferior, not because of skin color or ethnicity or religion, but simply because they are not Jewish. No amount of education or secularization can make them “Jewish”. To most Israelis, Arabs (even post colonialism) will at best be seen as a modern version of Midianites – a lower caste of humans, well suited to certain types of labor. Perhaps some may be “tolerated” when they rise above the assigned station, but not as part of a social melting pot.

    As Sylvia says, this sounds Jim Crow like (again, in a hypothetical post-colonial world), except that, IMO, it’ll unfortunately be closer to the Indian caste system, whence the original dwellers of the land were relegated to the ranks of “untouchables”.

    So, does it mean the “one-state” is hopeless? well, not really because there will be so many other factors that will have to enter for such a situation to prevail that we can’t possibly envision what it might look like.

    As one little example, I believe that as israel slides towards theocracy (which it will, most assuredly), the number of the seculars who will leave israel will rise, linearly first 9as it is now), then quadratically. I think I know a little about what it’s like to be among the secular Ashkenazi in Israel, and I doubt the good denizens of the “globalized, multi-cultural” Tel Aviv will put up with increasingly significant religious excursions into their midst. I predict that the ultra-secular will gang together – and will even try mightily to get over that little “distaste” – to reach out to the secular palestinians, in a desperate effort to beef up their shrinking relative numbers. But as the realization dawns that all they can hope for are ever decreasing enclaves of “liberalism” (Israel version thereof), more and more will start looking outside the country. First, the younger technocrats (who are already escaping by simply not returning), and then the not so young, then the relatives. This trend alone will greatly affect the israel that will be left behind, as well as the levels of support Israel will continue to command from world Jewry. It will also affect israel economically and it’s hard to not conjure up some rather unappealing scenarios of how that will all play out.

    I will not try to speculate on the palestinian side of this multi-variate equation, since I am not sure where to even begin, given what I think (fear) is likely to happen long before we get to any “one state”. My concern at the moment is how to best stand with them and how to counter some of those dire scenarios I see coming. I do, however, wish I could see through to some decent outcomes and am deeply troubled by the fact that I can’t. Maybe someone else knows better how to see through the fog and can unravel a potentially positive outlook for us. Like the author of this post, it doesn’t seem I can, at least not yet.

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