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Florida paper runs rabbi’s assertion that Israel may have passed ‘point of no return’ to apartheid

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This is trailblazing. Why isn’t the New York Times doing this every day in its op-ed pages? The Sun Sentinel publishes an op-ed by Bruce Warshal, a rabbi long associated with Peace Now and the Florida Jewish community leadership, titled “Peace or Apartheid: Approaching the Point of No Return,” which says that Israel is about to become a pariah state. Remember that when Jimmy Carter made the exact same argument, 7 years ago, he was demolished for it, as Rabbi Warshal says.

Also, note that Warshal gives greater weight to Yuval Diskin’s assessment of the situation than John Kerry’s, and then establishes Diskin’s bona fides by saying that he “directed the targeted killings of Hamas leaders.” That’s how you win points in the liberal Jewish community, by valorizing the Israeli security discourse over a discourse of human rights. Warshal: 

Anyone who reads my columns knows that I am very pessimistic concerning the ability or the will of the current Israeli government to make peace. In Netanyahu’s coalition many key players are on record against a two-state solution…

Deeply buried within my pessimistic soul is a flickering optimism..

If there is to be a two-state solution it has to be now. In his seminal speech in June before the American Jewish Committee Kerry stressed that, “If we do not succeed now, we may not get another chance.” It’s one thing for an American diplomat to say that, but it is even more convincing when Yuval Diskin, the immediate past head of the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security service, comparable to the FBI) comes to the same conclusion…

[Diskin, who] directed the targeted killings of Hamas leaders…. lamented that Netanyahu has lulled the Israeli public into focusing on Iran rather than on the crucial question of peace with the Palestinians.

If in fact we have gone beyond the point of no return, Diskin points to the obvious conclusion that either Israel will become a democratic bi-national state with an Arab majority with the right to vote, or — and his language here is crucial — Israel will be an “ostracized apartheid state.” Yes, he uses the A-word. Remember when President Carter correctly used that word (in reference to the current situation in the West Bank, not Israel proper) he was pilloried by the conservative Jewish establishment as an anti-Semite.

Diskin maintains that “everyone knows what the parameters of settlement will inevitably entail” — A demilitarized Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines with territorial swaps, dismantling of the settlements, a political partition of Jerusalem and “a creative solution regarding sovereignty over the holy sites in the Old City.” Everyone knows, except Netanyahu. At this point he publicly refuses to start negotiations based on the 1967 borders. Let us see if this changes in Washington when negotiations really begin.

The problem with the “everyone knows” solution is that when everyone knows it for 30 years and they don’t effect it, it has likely passed its sell-by date; and the viable Palestinian state has gone the way of the dial phone.

Jimmy Carter warned about this. Here again is Terry Gross in 2006 afflicting Jimmy Carter for arguing that Palestinian conditions merited the term apartheid. Carter said the whole world understands this but the U.S.:

Gross: Let’s start with the title. The title is already getting you in trouble with a lot of people. The title is Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. That’s a very provocative title. Why not call it something neutral like “The Neverending Middle East Crisis, What Each Side Needs to Do.” Did you want to be deliberately provocative with this title?… Are you afraid that by using the word apartheid in the title, that you lose a lot of Israelis and Israel supporters just in the title. I’ll read you a couple of quotes here. [She reads from House speaker Nancy Pelosi:] “It is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based oppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously.” And [Congressman] John Conyers says the use of the word apartheid in the title “against the Jewish people in particular, who have been the victims of the worst discrimination – resulting in death, is offensive and wrong.” So are you concerned that even though you think Israel’s practices are a practice of apartness, that by using the word apartheid you risk alienating just the people who you want to convince?

Carter: What I wanted to do is express a fact that is almost completely avoided and not expressed in the United States but is well-known throughout the rest of the world…. I realized that when I chose this title that it would be provocative [and Carter said he hoped it would spur folks] to find out the facts, none of which have been disputed.

Gross: Alan Dershowitz the lawyer wrote an op-ed about your book and he calls your book one-sided. [Gross reads a Dershowitz quote] “Nor does he explain that Israel’s motivation for holding on to land it captured in a defensive war is the prevention of terrorism. Israel has tried, on several occasions, to exchange land for peace, and what it got instead was terrorism, rockets, and kidnappings launched from the returned land.” So what’s your reaction to Dershowitz’s criticism, that the book is one-sided, you’re not criticizing the Palestinians and you’re not explaining that Israel’s policies are reactions to terrorism? 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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19 Responses

  1. Citizen on August 14, 2013, 12:40 pm

    Israeli regime will continue to operate on the assumption that its all about PR management regarding the Gentile world outside the USA, where Israeli/US PR already has it in the bag re supporting Israel right or wrong because of AIPAC’s power.
    As Phil pointed out, Carter was not even invited to the last DNC although he did more than anyone to keep Israel and Egypt friends for decades.

  2. seanmcbride on August 14, 2013, 1:00 pm

    Terry Gross is appalling — more neoconservatism disguised as “liberal Zionism” — which we all know by now is a laughable and ridiculous oxymoron.

    (She also happens to be a fine interviewer on cultural topics that are unrelated to Israel and Zionism.)

    • philweiss on August 14, 2013, 1:48 pm

      Agreed re cultural topics. That’s why I think she’s important. She’s a great smart interviewer, and lost on the Zionism question to Holocaust-borne fears about the Jewish future.

      • seanmcbride on August 14, 2013, 2:09 pm

        I’ve enjoyed many of her shows — and she is especially good at eliciting interesting conversation from musical artists.

      • bpm on August 14, 2013, 2:25 pm

        About ready to agree to the first part, about cultural topics, but then I started wondering. Maybe she is as ignorant about them as she is about Palestine, but we just agree with her about music, art, books, etc., There are so many people like her at NPR when it comes to Palestine. Do they all think that way or are they just afraid?

      • ritzl on August 14, 2013, 3:20 pm

        @bpm Exactly. If she’s so actively biased on Palestine (well beyond just opinionated), it has to be assumed that she is similarly lazy and/or skewed on every other aspect of her work, until and unless some distinctions are made.
        Distinctions like, hypothetically, “I will skew the truth and slant the interview t0 make Israel look good because that’s what I believe needs to be done to help Israel, but that’s the only subject I do that on.”

        Either that or just stop talking about Israel altogether, because the reverse is also true. Her perceived quality on other issues is used to suggest rigor on this issue. That method got me for a while.

        It’s continually amazing to me how much of their very precious cred and reputation people will trade away to puff/obfuscate/lie to make Israel look good. When Israel is shown to be the type of entity it is and has always been (eljay’s adjectives), it takes the lot of them down with it. What a price.

      • RudyM on August 14, 2013, 3:37 pm

        It’s been many years since I’ve listened to her (though maybe I have heard an interview here and there since then), but I remember her being a little overly fawning about anyone remotely bohemian/counter-cultural, and tediously interested in the sex lives of figures in the arts. I had this impression even at the time, when I was closer to having a hero worshiping attitude toward artists and cultural figures (and I started listening to her when her show started, back when I was in junior high or high school). I’m not saying she’s a bad interview, but a bit overrated.

        Later in my life, I used to eat lunch sometimes with one of her interns, and later with the one who replaced her. Both young Jewish women, incidentally. Just sayin’ (re: her hiring practices, not my social life). They didn’t have great things to say about working for her, but that’s another matter.

      • seanmcbride on August 15, 2013, 12:48 pm


        It’s continually amazing to me how much of their very precious cred and reputation people will trade away to puff/obfuscate/lie to make Israel look good. When Israel is shown to be the type of entity it is and has always been (eljay’s adjectives), it takes the lot of them down with it. What a price.

        The situation is much graver than concerns about whether Terry Gross and other NPR personalities like David Brooks will lose their reputations when the Zionist narrative runs its course.

        To the extent that the worldwide Jewish religious establishment has attached its reputation and fate to that of the Israeli government and Zionism, Judaism and “the Jews” may suffer a catastrophic blow if events unfold on their current trajectory.

        I keep trying to sound the alarm on this issue, but with little response — I guess I’m a biblical prophet crying in the wilderness. :)

        (Who knows, I may be yet another false prophet — I always try to remain skeptical about my most ardent intuitions.)

  3. James Canning on August 14, 2013, 2:12 pm

    I continue to applaud Jimmy Carter for the title he chose for his important book.

  4. Citizen on August 14, 2013, 2:54 pm

    Sneh and Lifton propose that Kerry should present both sides “with a made in America ‘take it or leave it’ offer.” The one they outline does not seem to me any different than what the US has voiced approval of all along either de jure or de facto (excluding expanding settlements, which has also been approved de facto all along).

    I must be a simpleton because I don’t see how the US can, in good conscience, and given the just and even-handed values the US pretends to uphold, support a pigmy state for the Palestinians people. I see the US role here as no different than what Truman stood up for, that is, he justified what he did to legally stamp Israel because Jews were a strong domestic base, while “Arabs,” were not. More significant, the Zionists gave him the money and media boast for his whistle stop campaign when he was already counted out by the POTUS horse race connoisseurs. Nothing at all has changed, except now, both main political parties vie to brag who loves Israel more, no matter what Israel does.

    This leads me to believe Netanyahu knows exactly what he’s doing because the Zionist lobby is way more wealthy and more powerful today than it was in 1948.

    What’s happening here is that the Zionist Jews have already won, unless
    and the whole world will allow this, if only they will decide to keep what they have, including all the key settlements–the sticking point is that really hard core Zionist want it all and even the whore US WH and Congress find it hard to support that.

  5. Citizen on August 14, 2013, 3:08 pm

    Continuing: Call it ultimate Chutzpah. It will result in prosaic Karma. Those living fifty years from now will understand. And the usual course of world history will continue, with no lessons learned in this arena.

  6. seafoid on August 14, 2013, 4:42 pm

    The bots fought dirty with Carter over his book and then did precisely nothing. Which is why apartheid is back on the agenda.

  7. piotr on August 14, 2013, 6:01 pm

    I think that internally in Israel. there is not a chance for supporting two state solution in a form that would be acceptable for Palestinians. The simple structural reason is that if you do not follow some line that was already defined, be it 1947 or 1967 there is no place to stop. A Jewish Israeli patriot will always ask for “more”, and leave it to external pressure to provide a benchmark of what is possible.

    This is a fairly consistent and understandable attitude (if not laudable), hence the ball is in USA. If there is no political will to figure out a solution and impose it, thee will be no solution. “Extracting position papers from both sides”, the latest success of Kerry’s mission is a good approach for finding reasons to issue passing grades to highschoolers or college students in the courses that they do not like and nobody really needs. But it is not something that may work in the adult world.

    The most recent example is the conflict between supporters of Morsi and of the junta in Egypt. USA sent an ambassador and two senators, EU sent a number of envoys and we witness a series of massacres. Realistically, one could offer some compromise agreement and powerful inducements to follow it, with a large political cost, both sides complaining and accusing, or watch the developing disaster with some modicum of deniability.

    The best that may happen is that the 9-month process of “peace negotiations” will be so clearly absurd that American public AND politicians will get disgusted and decide to change behavior. Perhaps a long shot.

  8. Nevada Ned on August 14, 2013, 7:20 pm


    Thanks for this article.

    One important dissent: You wrote

    Remember that when Jimmy Carter made the exact same argument, 7
    years ago, he was demolished for it, as Rabbi Warshal says.

    I think it’s more accurate to say that “the usual cast of characters TRIED to demolish Jimmy Carter, but they failed.”

  9. Hostage on August 14, 2013, 8:15 pm

    Diskin points to the obvious conclusion that either Israel will become a democratic bi-national state with an Arab majority with the right to vote, or — and his language here is crucial — Israel will be an “ostracized apartheid state.”

    Israel already is an apartheid state. It just faces the prospect of becoming more of a pariah state. I think Diskin is being honest. We usually aren’t even on the same page when we talk about a two state solution with an Israeli official. To the Zionists we’re are only talking about a choice between one or two states (petty or grand apartheid), but never about one or two states with equal rights for religious and ethnic minorities.

    What I wanted to do is express a fact that is almost completely avoided and not expressed in the United States but is well-known throughout the rest of the world.

    That’s correct. The Arab League, OIC, and non-aligned States in the UN have been publicly complaining for the record about flagrant examples of Israeli apartheid since the 1960s, and backing up their claims with solid evidence.

    By the time Carter wrote his book, the Palestinians and half a dozen other states had accused Israel of committing nearly every constituent act of apartheid in written submissions to the ICJ. The Court had included them all in its findings of fact, and noted the responsibility of third party heads of state to bring those Israeli practices to an end. Sadly enough, only former President Carter has been honest enough to mention the subject, and even he denies and trivializes the problems on the Israeli side of the Green Line..

    • Talkback on August 15, 2013, 9:49 am

      Hostage says: “Israel already is an apartheid state.”

      I might add: It has been since it keeps Palestinian refugees segregated and denationalized to maintain a regime dominated by a Jewish minority.

  10. seafoid on August 15, 2013, 10:54 am

    If you think I’m a racist, then Israel is a racist state

    Upper Nazareth’s mayor answers detractors who say his reelection campaign calling for the mixed city to be ‘Jewish forever’ is racist.

    Over the past few days, many people have been calling me a racist. Sometimes they also call me a Nazi, a bully or even Hitler. One need only look at the comments on Haaretz’s website to put me before a firing squad. What’s my crime? What act of bullying did I commit? I made a clear and unequivocal statement that Upper Nazareth was a Jewish city.

    Yes — I’m not afraid to say it out loud, to write it and add my signature, or declare it in front of the cameras: Upper Nazareth is a Jewish city and it’s important that it remains so. If that makes me a racist, then I’m a proud offshoot of a glorious dynasty of “racists” that started with the “Covenant of the Pieces” [that God made with Abraham, recounted in Genesis 15:1–15] and the explicitly racist promise: “To your seed I have given this land” [Genesis 15:38].

    When the Jewish people were about to return to their homeland after a long journey from slavery in Egypt, where they were enslaved for racist reasons, the God of Israel told Moses how to act upon conquering the land: he must cleanse the land of its current inhabitants. “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you allow to remain… as I thought to do to them, so will I do to you” [Numbers 33:55–56].

    God gave them an explicit warning. Yes, the racist Joshua conquered the land in a racist manner. More than 3,000 years later, the Jewish people stood bruised and bleeding on the threshold of their land, seeking once again to take possession of it from the wild tribes that had seized the land in its absence. And then, an outbreak of racism flooded the country.

    The racist Theodor Herzl wrote “Der Judenstaat” (“The Jewish State,” not “The State of All Its Citizens”). Lord Balfour recommended the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Arlosoroff, Moshe Sharett and other racists established the Jewish Agency, and the racist UN decided to establish a Jewish state — in other words, a state for Jews. The racist Ben-Gurion announced the establishment of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel, and during the War of Independence even made sure to bring in hundreds of thousands of Jews and drive out hundreds of thousands of Arabs who had been living here — all to enable it to be founded with the desired racist character.

    Since then, racially pure kibbutzim without a single Arab member and an army that protects a certain racial strain have been established, as have political parties that proudly bear racist names such as “Habayit Hayehudi” — “the Jewish home.” Even our racist national anthem ignores the existence of the Arab minority — in other words, the people Ben-Gurion did not manage to expel in the 1948 war. If not for all that “racism,” it’s doubtful we could live here, and doubtful that we could live at all.
    In these times of hypocrisy and bleeding-heart sanctimoniousness, of the proliferation of flaky types who are disconnected from reality, in the relative security that causes us to forget the dangers we face, we can sit in north Tel Aviv, and cry “racism” to seem enlightened and good-hearted in our own eyes. We can be shocked at a mayor who prefers that his city, which is right next to the largest Arab city in Israel, retain a Jewish majority and not be swallowed up in the Arab area that surrounds it. There will not be a single Jew in the future Palestinian state, but that’s all right. That isn’t racism.

    Upper Nazareth is a Jewish city. Fewer than one-fifth of its inhabitants are Arab citizens, and they enjoy full municipal and national rights. Many of them are friends of mine, and I like and respect many of them. I could wish that Jews were treated the way the Arabs of Upper Nazareth are — not only those Jews who lived in Europe of times past, but also those who live in the Arab countries of today. If that were the case, perhaps we of Upper Nazareth would have no need to be “racists.”
    The writer is the mayor of Upper Nazareth. “

  11. MHughes976 on August 15, 2013, 12:26 pm

    I suppose that this might be the beginning of an interesting theory about hereditary and racial rather than human rights. I wonder if that theory could completely prohibit discrimination against Jewish people in certain situations.

    • MHughes976 on August 15, 2013, 2:11 pm

      Replying to myself – Zionism is based on the denial that universal human rights apply in all circumstances (or maybe with some minor exceptions) regardless of race. That is just why I disagree with Zionism and consider it a moral mistake and why I don’t think it was a noble idea that took a wrong turn somewhere. Those who take the ‘wrong turn’ view need, if they take pity on me, either to redefine Zionism or to explain why the idea of universal human rights is mistaken. I don’t see how Z, if redefined to avoid this problem, can justify what has been done in its name.

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