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Peter Beinart misses South Africa’s apartheid lesson, Gideon Levy gets it

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Peter Beinart

Peter Beinart

Returning to visit his native South Africa, Peter Beinart writes in Haaretz about the the changes, but misses the point:

The South Africa I visited as a child was a brutal, isolated place… In today’s South Africa, by contrast, multiculturalism is a state religion. The country is awash in tourists and has become a kind of global mascot for the values of equality and reconciliation.

What does this have to have with Israel? Nothing and everything. Israel, as I’ve argued repeatedly, is not an apartheid state. If it were, Ahmed Tibi would be in jail, not in the Knesset. Nor is South Africa’s transformation a model for Israel’s.

Beinart’s liberal Zionist blinders prevent him from seeing clearly: Israel, as a whole and even within the long-erased Green Line, is an Apartheid state, and has been since it expelled the majority of the indigenous population 66 years ago. How can Israel not be an Apartheid state when the majority of its rightful citizens are denied the right to vote in elections, and even the right to live in their homes? Permitting the minority of Palestinians who were not expelled to vote and serve in Parliament doesn’t change the fact that Israel at its founding created a system of ethnic exclusion and rigged elections that meets the international law definition of the Crime of Apartheid.

Beinart’s vision for the future is quite muted and unhopeful, as well it should be for a liberal Zionist clinging to the failed remains of an anachronistic non-solution:

I don’t think a Palestinian state will entirely end the struggle between Palestinians and Jews that has for more than a century bloodied the land between the river and the sea. I don’t know if an Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution will prove as successful as South Africa’s one-state solution

Gideon Levy, an Israeli journalist who has begun to leave behind the old false paradigm and learn the real lessons of South Africa, sees a future far more compelling than his colleague:

An unjust state becomes a just state; discrimination and dispossession are replaced by equality and democracy. The scowling faces tell of South Africa’s backwardness and rising crime, which are serious problems. But they don’t reduce the enormity of the historic achievement and its lesson for Israel: When a country turns from unjust to just, everything else is dwarfed in comparison.

Mandela proved that the dream is realistic, that what seemed like a fantasy only 20 years ago is achievable, and without much bloodshed. He showed that enemies of the past can live together in one country and even have equality; that a new chapter can be opened against all odds….

If there are no two states, there is only one state. If there is one state, then the discourse must change: equal rights for everyone.

The problems are many and complicated, and like them so are the solutions: division into districts, federation, joint or separate governance. But there will be no demographic change here – because the state has long been binational – but rather just a democratic and conscious change. And then the question will arise in full force: Why is it so scary to live in an egalitarian state? Indeed, all other possibilities are much scarier.

Gideon Levy charts path forward that his colleague refuses to see. Returning to Beinart, he writes:

In South Africa, whites and blacks negotiated the terms of a marriage. Israelis and Palestinians, by contrast – at least at this stage of history – must negotiate the terms of a divorce…

White South Africans desperately wanted divorce from blacks, but Mandela and the entire world demanded reconciliation, equality, and marriage, and got it. Will Beinart continue to fight for ethnic supremacy, and bar the doorway, insisting (more or less), “Jewish Majority Israel Now, Jewish Majority Israel Forever!” until the tide of history and equality overtakes him and the rest of the ‘liberal’ Apartheid apologists? No, I don’t think so: within a few years, the moral logic of equality will overtake Beinart, as it has for Levy.

Matthew Taylor

Matthew A. Taylor is co-founder of PeacePower magazine, and author of "The Road to Nonviolent Coexistence in Palestine/Israel," a chapter in the book Nonviolent Coexistence.

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74 Responses

  1. Justpassingby on April 22, 2014, 2:05 pm

    Uh South africa didnt jail black people, they made them live separated just like Israel do in West Bank and Gaza.

    • Krauss on April 22, 2014, 4:26 pm

      Many black South African intellectuals have said that Israel in some ways treats the Palestinians worse than they themselves were treated under Apartheid.

      Apartheid South Africa invested in schools and roads and other public institutions. Not nearly to the same extent as for their white citizens, but it was there.
      Israel, by contrast, bulldozes the villages of Palestinians in the West Bank, steals their land and takes their water.

      And even within green line Israel, Arabs are never really given any real power. Tibi is in the Knesset primarily for a ceremonial role. This is what Shira Robinson wrote about in her book. That Israel is a “liberal settler state” – an oxymoron if there ever was one, but still a useful phrase. There is formal democracy, but in practice no Arab can ever wield any kind of genuine power and every Arab party is banished to the margins, forever.

      Arabs inside Israel can’t have Arab spouses come and marry them inside Israel and so on. Beinart, of course, is completely fine with this.
      So is MJ Rosenberg and other racists.

      • Mayhem on April 22, 2014, 11:46 pm

        @Krauss falsely suggests that Tibi is in the Knesset primarily for a ceremonial role. In fact Tibi was chairing a Knesset debate in his capacity as Deputy Knesset Speaker in a recent outburst in the Knesset
        – see

        Tibi pointed to fellow Arab MK Taleb Abu Arar when the Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper was visiting the Israeli parliament and falsely insinuated that “there was no water or electricity in his village.”
        “The Regavim movement, an NGO watchdog group for Jewish national property rights, later exposed Tibi’s lie when it uploaded video images of Abu Arar’s village and showed his home which includes an air-conditioning unit, satellite TV dish, electric lines and an electric meter.”
        @Krauss, have you also conveniently forgotten about the Arab judge George Karra who headed the panel that convicted Israel’s president Moshe Katsav?

  2. ritzl on April 22, 2014, 2:35 pm

    “a liberal Zionist clinging to the failed remains of an anachronistic non-solution”

    Woof! :) Double woof!

    What’s Beinart so afraid of (that he writes stuff like, “must seek a divorce”), that Gideon Levy isn’t afraid of (not so much anyway)? What paths of reconciliation are apparent to Levy as an Israeli that are not apparent to Beinart as a foreigner?

    Or is Beinart simply just a small-minded, supremacist pig? Other?

    • eljay on April 22, 2014, 2:55 pm

      >>Peter Beinart:

      In South Africa, whites and blacks negotiated the terms of a marriage. Israelis and Palestinians, by contrast – at least at this stage of history – must negotiate the terms of a divorce.

      A divorce has a better chance than does a marriage of ensuring (“at least at this stage of history”) the continued existence of supremacist “Jewish State”. This is why Beinart – a “liberal” Zio-supremacist – advocates for it.

    • brenda on April 22, 2014, 2:58 pm

      The terms of divorce are being vigorously negotiated by the Palestinian Authority led by Abbas, as we speak. It’s down to the wire, the last several days before Palestine commitment to the peace talks expires. Not much movement on the other side, which is holding out for the status quo. The Palestinians are playing their cards well, they have a backup plan which Israel likes even worse. Interesting rapprochement happening between PA and Hamas, they meet on April 26, just 3 days before D-Day (the day of decision by Palestine, whether to go or stay)

      Palestine wants a divorce. If Israel doesn’t let her walk it’s a binational state they’re both looking at. Palestine is ready for that eventuality, Israel is not. This is an interesting story, I would hate to see you miss it. The Israeli press and al-Monitor are very hot right now.

      also this from al-Monitor:
      Meretz leader justifies Abbas applications to UN treaties

      Read more:

      • ritzl on April 23, 2014, 12:52 am

        Great comment, brenda. Hostage pointed out today that the US is threatening the PA with “repercussions” if they fold. Beyond the belly laugh, that really underscores your point about who is prepared for the next step and who isn’t.

        It’ll be interesting to see how this round of Fatah-Hamas talks go.

        Thanks for the links.

  3. lysias on April 22, 2014, 2:44 pm

    By this logic, South Africa was not an apartheid society before 1970, the date of the legislation that eliminated non-white political representation in South Africa.

  4. seafoid on April 22, 2014, 4:06 pm

    “Under pressure from pro-Palestinian BDS activists, a prominent British photography gallery has canceled the Israeli embassy in London’s co-sponsorship of its exhibit opening Tuesday. The Stills gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland returned the 1,300 British pounds that the embassy had contributed to the show. “

    • Woody Tanaka on April 22, 2014, 5:38 pm

      Good job. This is wonderful. The Israeli government and Israeli people (save those who reject the Zionist ideology and who are fighting for Palestinian liberation) should be made to feel like pariahs everywhere, always, until they do the right thing and liberate the Palestinians.

  5. seafoid on April 22, 2014, 4:09 pm

    “In a press conference earlier in the day with Israeli journalists in Ramallah, Abbas said the renewal of talks must be based on two principles: First, the release of the fourth group of prisoners, as this is a move already committed to by Israel. The 30 prisoners to be released to their homes will include 14 Arabs Israelis. According to Abbas, any new condition such as deporting the prisoners would be considered a breach of the agreement.

    The second principle is immediate discussion on the question of borders, to be conducted over a period of three months. Throughout this period the sides will focus solely on determining the border, and it will be accompanied by a full freeze of settlement construction. Abbas laid down the same conditions in a meeting with Labor and Meretz MKs in Ramallah last week.

    Speaking at a press briefing, [bot] officials said the conditions presented by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “mean that he is not interested in peace,” adding that “a person who wants peace does not present conditions time after time that he knows Israel cannot accept.” “

    • Woody Tanaka on April 22, 2014, 5:37 pm

      “Speaking at a press briefing, [bot] officials said the conditions presented by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “mean that he is not interested in peace,” adding that “a person who wants peace does not present conditions time after time that he knows Israel cannot accept.” “”

      If that’s the metric than by repeatedly asking the Palestinians to deny the Right of Return, something they cannot accept (nor should they), then the Israelis are proving that they are not interested in peace. (As should not come as a suprise to anyone who has paid a lick of attention to this matter…)

  6. giladg on April 22, 2014, 4:57 pm

    There is no Palestinian Mandela. Mandela was a man who insisted on including everyone. The national anthem includes 4 different sections, Afrikaans, English and Zulu and Xhosa. Can you imaging Abbas singing Hativka? Pigs will fly before this happens. Who are you trying to kid. Mandela insisted on sharing. Can you see Abbas declaring his support for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, the holiest site for Jews?
    Not Abbas and not any other Palestinian can be remotely associated with Mandela. The Palestinians are so keen for the world the make some type of comparison between the two conflicts but they have not realized that if they want to really convince anyone they will need to offer up a true Mandela. Don’t hold your breath. And moreover, Shia Islam will never let this happen. They will insure that any Palestinian who even thinks of this will be promptly cut down.

    • brenda on April 22, 2014, 7:37 pm

      you need to get out more, giladg. Here’s something today from The Times of Israel, a publication you are sure to approve of, describing Abbas:

      “Abbas said he “did not want to continue the conflict [with Israel] for eternity, but rather end the conflict in a respectable agreement which will fulfill the minimal Palestinian demands for justice. “Any other agreement,” Abbas warned, “could lead to a new outburst of violence in two years, which we do not want.”

      “In his largely conciliatory appeal to the Israeli public in which he quoted former Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion, Abbas said he did not seek to isolate Israel in the international arena through unilateral bids to join UN treaties and agreements, but rather reach an honorable peace agreement establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

      “We do not want to isolate Israel, nor do we want to alienate it from its immediate surroundings. We want to end a painful episode in the history of our nations and turn a new leaf.”

      “Regardless of the outcome of negotiations, Abbas insisted, Palestinians would not stop security coordination with Israel “as long as I’m around.”

      “I do not consider security coordination with Israel to be shameful,” Abbas said, referring to statements by Hamas officials claiming exactly that. “I consider this coordination obligatory. It is obligatory whether or not negotiations exist, whether they succeed or whether they fail.”

      He also condemned the recent killing of Israeli police officer Baruch Mizrachi on April 14.

      “This is a mistake and a crime. Sixty Palestinians were also killed, that’s a mistake and a crime. We hope it will not repeat itself.”

      Read more: Abbas says talks can continue if settlement building stops | The Times of Israel
      Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

      I think you are going to see Israel living in peace sometime soon, giladg. And Abbas having the same Nobel Prize as Mandela.

      • giladg on April 23, 2014, 12:43 am

        So Brenda, after your diatribe, show us one item in your list above that has anything to do with sharing? Mandela was all about sharing. Abbas is all about taking. If you want to invoke the Sth African model, then you don’t leave out the most important element that allowed the reconciliation to happen. Abbas will need to accept and take into account Jewish history and heritage. Mandela took into account the history and heritage of the Whites so Sth Africa. The Palestinians want to forget the mistakes of the Arab world when they went to war with Israel on multiple occasions, as if they never happened.

      • brenda on April 23, 2014, 10:24 am

        People conveniently forget that Mandela was a terrorist before he became a man of peace. As president of South Africa he established the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, binding up the wounds and preventing a relapse into violent retribution for the many wrongs done by white supremacists to blacks during apartheid. If you wouldn’t mind going back to read the excerpt from The Times of Israel you will notice that Abbas in on the same path as Mandela, even though Abbas never was a terrorist.

        I believe it was you who delivered a “diatribe”, giladg. I merely reported the news.

      • giladg on April 23, 2014, 1:26 pm

        brenda, what you are saying does not make sense. The reconciliation committee in Sth Africa convened after the transfer of power. Mandela was already President. Abbas has to come forward now, and say the right things followed up with action. And he is not going to do either. He is not willing to share. He has already said that no Israeli can live in the heartland of the Jewish story, which is the West Bank. This is total denial of Jewish history and heritage. Don’t buy in the lies and propaganda brenda.

      • brenda on April 23, 2014, 2:21 pm

        giladg, I’m afraid you have been outfoxed. Israel is not calling the shots anymore. This will go to the UN unless Israel folds. Abbas has played his hand perfectly. Not only with what he is saying now, but in all the years that he has forcefully maintained a non-violent, non-retributive policy in the face of the most outrageous Israeli incitement.

        You were the one who brought up Mandela, not me.

      • RoHa on April 23, 2014, 9:08 pm

        “This is total denial of Jewish history and heritage.”

        I have asked you before to present your arguments based on Jewish history and heritage. Since this is clearly important to you, I am sure you will do so eventually.

    • a blah chick on April 22, 2014, 7:56 pm

      So after Israel takes their country from them, destroys villages, lies about war crimes, denies Palestinians equality with Jews, you expect them to demonstrate THEIR good faith by singing Zionist anthems?

      Your attitude reminds me of the slaveowner who, after she had her slaves disciplined, demanded that they kiss the whip afterward.

      • giladg on April 23, 2014, 1:36 am

        Go read the Torah blah chick. Go read the Bible, and then come and tell us that it is “their country”. Don’t let the facts get in the way. You need to figure out in your mind how to go from “their” to “share”.

      • pabelmont on April 23, 2014, 9:12 am

        giladg: See my comment, far below, about the danger of relying on a “bible” (the Torah will do nicely, of course, and is the principal example here) to justify present-day crimes.

      • eljay on April 23, 2014, 9:16 am

        >> Don’t let the facts get in the way.

        Words Zio-supremacists live by.

      • Woody Tanaka on April 23, 2014, 10:32 am

        “Go read the Torah… Go read the Bible, and then come and tell us that it is “their country”.”

        Read them both. It’s their country. Ancient fairy tales and myths are irrelvant to the question or, at best, trivia. They don’t change the fact that it is their country.

      • giladg on April 23, 2014, 1:27 pm

        Woody, do you say the same thing about the Quran?

      • MHughes976 on April 23, 2014, 4:04 pm

        I have a religious commitment to the Bible, being an active Christian, but I do not think that specific political rights should be determined by religious prescription but by ethical principles common to all: such principles exist, I think. I also think, for what it’s worth, that I follow the Bible here.
        Moreover, if you want to study history scientifically (which is the only hope for getting your account fully accepted) then you have to let the record be questioned, that being a principle of scientific enquiry. Some will come to the conclusions robustly expressed by Woody.
        If you both accept the Biblical story of the Israelite Conquest as more or less true and also accept normal ethical principles you could not think that the heirs of the conquerors, who did not act in accordance with those principles, had a permanent ethical claim, based on that very story, to exclusive rights in the place in question. It’s somewhat similar with the later story down to the Maccabees.
        If you think at the level of theology that in ancient days God made an exceptional decree setting normal principles aside for a time then it’s important that exceptional circumstances do not last for ever and that God’s purpose could only have been for the good of all humanity in the end, Palestinians included.

      • Woody Tanaka on April 23, 2014, 4:31 pm

        “Woody, do you say the same thing about the Quran?”

        Of course. Religious texts are interesting, historical and cultural touchstones but have absolutely no legitmate place in deciding political questions.

    • pjdude on April 22, 2014, 9:02 pm

      Asking a Palestinian to accept hativka as his or her national anthem would be the same as asking a Jew to accept Horst- weasel- lied as his. Why would a song basically excluding all none jews from the history of Palestine be appropriate as a national anthem?

    • RoHa on April 22, 2014, 9:17 pm

      “The national anthem includes 4 different sections, Afrikaans, English and Zulu and Xhosa. Can you imaging Abbas singing Hativka?”

      I can imagine Abbas singing a national anthem for a unified Palestinian that has sections in Hebrew.

      “Can you see Abbas declaring his support for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, the holiest site for Jews?”

      After a just settlement is reached, yes, I am sure he would.

      • RoHa on April 22, 2014, 10:36 pm

        That should be “a national anthem for a unified Palestine”.

    • Woody Tanaka on April 22, 2014, 9:59 pm

      “Can you imaging Abbas singing Hativka?”

      LMAO. yeah, expecting the Palestinian to sing your bigot song is like calling on the Warsaw Ghetto Jews to happily sing the Horst Wessel Song. So I guess you”ll have to draft a non-racist anthem. I know, calling on Zionists to not be bigots??? When pigs fly…

      “Mandela insisted on sharing. Can you see Abbas declaring his support for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount,”

      Mandela insisted that the two races shared power in the country. He never sought that the oppressed be required to give their property to the oppressor as you do here.

      That land belings to the Muslims and Jews have no right there whatsoever except if its sole and only legitimate owners – the Muslims – permit it. Perhaps if the Jews restored all of the land you stole from the Palestinians — every house, every field, every building, every cent’s worth — you confess to your crimes and you show contrition and beg their forgiveness, then perhaps they’ll let you on their property. Otherwise go pray at your Wall.

      But if you aren’t prepared to restore their property and confess your crimes and ask forgiveness, why should they give you anything? Especially considering your barbarism in luquidating the Morrocan quarter?

    • talknic on April 22, 2014, 10:28 pm

      giladg “Mandela was a man who insisted on including everyone. The national anthem includes 4 different sections, Afrikaans, English and Zulu and Xhosa.”

      For Sth Africans in Sth Africa

      ” Can you imaging Abbas singing Hativka?”

      Why? He’s not Israeli or Jewish you stupid stupid person

      • giladg on April 23, 2014, 1:31 am

        So talknic, why don’t you just admit it. You and Abbas are not interested in the basic and core facts that drive the Jewish people. You and Abbas are simply extremists who are only interested in distorting history.

      • talknic on April 23, 2014, 9:46 am

        @ giladg “You and Abbas are simply extremists who are only interested in distorting history”

        If you could quote the history I’ve allegedly distorted you might have a point.

        Making a false accusations only reveals you as an abusive person who’s willing to break the basic tenets of Judaism…. you must be very proud

      • giladg on April 23, 2014, 1:31 pm

        Yes talknic, “Die Stem”, which was the Afrikaner anthem, is part of the new Sth Arican anthem. Mandela sang it. Sth Africans sing it every day. Mandela made sure that the White Sth African saw him do it. Mandela said everything needed to be shared. He knew what reconciliation meant. Abbas does not have a clue. The Arabs have no intentions of sharing. “Jews out” is their slogan. There are some things, like the Temple Mount, that will need to be shared. Now go call on Abbas to show the Mandela in him. Don’t bother because the comparison between the two should never have been made in the first place.

      • Woody Tanaka on April 23, 2014, 4:50 pm

        “There are some things, like the Temple Mount, that will need to be shared. ”

        Al Haram ash Sharif is Muslim and the Jews have no more right to worship there, against the wishes of the Muslims, simply because a Jewish Temple used to be there than the Eastern Orthodox have a right to hold Chrsitian services at Hagia Sophia against the wishes of the Turkish Government because it used to be a Cathedral or Muslims do to worship at Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady in Cordoba, Spain, against the wishes of the Catholic Church because it used to be a mosque.

      • eljay on April 23, 2014, 10:10 am

        >> You and Abbas are not interested in the basic and core facts that drive the Jewish people.

        Some of “the Jewish people” are driven by a desire for justice, accountability, equality and morality.

        Others are driven by a desire for a supremacist “Jewish State” of (Greater) Israel in Palestine. They’re aware of the basic and core facts of 60+ years of terrorism, oppression, ethnic cleansing, land theft, occupation, colonization, destruction, torture and murder. And when they’re not busy deflecting attention from those facts, they’re (proudly) defending and/or justifying them.

      • eljay on April 23, 2014, 2:07 pm

        >> giladg: Yes talknic, “Die Stem”, which was the Afrikaner anthem, is part of the new Sth Arican anthem.

        Here, according to Wiki, is the South African national anthem. The third stanza is the Afrikaans section:

        God bless Africa
        Let its (Africa’s) horn be raised,
        Listen also to our prayers,
        Lord bless us, we are the family of it (Africa).

        Lord bless our nation,
        Stop wars and sufferings,
        Save it, save our nation,
        The nation of South Africa — South Africa.

        From the blue of our heavens,
        From the depths of our seas,
        Over our everlasting mountains,
        Where the cliffs give answer,

        Sounds the call to come together,
        And united we shall stand,
        Let us live and strive for freedom
        In South Africa our land.

        It seems pretty inclusive, even the Afrikaans part. No wonder Mr. Mandela had no objection to singing it!

        Let’s see what the Israeli national athem (again, according to Wiki) looks like by comparison:

        As long as in the heart, within,
        A Jewish soul still yearns,
        And onward, towards the ends of the east,
        An eye still gazes toward Zion;

        Our hope is not yet lost,
        The hope of two thousand years,
        To be a free people in our land,
        The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

        Aside from the line “To be a free people in our land”, there’s nothing much there for the non-Jew. I wonder if giladgeee thinks Mr. Abbas should sing about his Jewish soul or the land of Zion.

      • pjdude on April 23, 2014, 6:30 pm

        That’s rich from the guy calling mythology history. You and yours have repeated lied and distorted history. Zionists are against historical facts as they are a threat to their ability to conquer

      • talknic on April 23, 2014, 2:12 pm

        @ giladg ““Die Stem”, which was the Afrikaner anthem, is part of the new Sth Arican anthem. Mandela sang it. Sth Africans sing it every day.”

        Uh huh. Sth Africans in Sth Africa.

        “Mandela said everything needed to be shared. He knew what reconciliation meant. “

        For Sth Africans in Sth Africa.

        “Abbas does not have a clue”

        He appears to know he’s not Israeli or in Israel. A point that seems to have escaped you.

      • lysias on April 23, 2014, 2:45 pm

        The present anthem of South Africa includes four lines from Die Stem, which do not strike me as offensive at all: Uit die blou van onse hemel,/ Uit die diepte van ons see,/ Oor ons ewige gebergtes,/ Waar die kranse antwoord gee (Translation: From the blue of our heavens,/ From the depths of our seas,/ Over our everlasting mountains,/ Where the cliffs give answer).

        Meanwhile, it’s hard to see how you could extract an inoffensive part of Hatikvah, which is translated: As long as in the heart, within,/ A Jewish (יְהוּדִי) soul still yearns,/ And onward, towards the ends of the east,/
        An eye still gazes toward Zion (לְצִיּוֹן);/ Our hope is not yet lost,/ The hope of two thousand years,/ To be a free people in our land (בְּאַרְצֵנוּ),/ The land of Zion and Jerusalem (אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם).

      • tree on April 23, 2014, 3:43 pm

        Exactly. lysias. The four lines chosen from Die Stem for the new anthem can be seen as inclusive. Sadly, there is nothing in Hatikva that could be used as part of an inclusive national anthem. It speaks only of Jews as Israelis.

        As for the new South African anthem, the inclusiveness is shown by the use of the different languages, Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English. None of the stanzas included in the anthem are exclusionary, or speak of just one ethnicity, and the final English stanza was written specifically to include all groups together as South Africans:
        ” Sounds the call to come together,
        And united we shall stand,
        Let us live and strive for freedom
        In South Africa our land.”

        This “point” of gilad’s was no doubt made in order to smear the Palestinians but all it really does is shine a light on the inability of many Israeli Jews to understand the true meaning of inclusivity, otherwise they wouldn’t demand it of others when they’ve so far been incapable of exhibiting it themselves.

      • RoHa on April 23, 2014, 8:52 pm

        “I wonder if giladgeee thinks Mr. Abbas should sing about his Jewish soul or the land of Zion.”

        Perhaps they could add another verse listing the various grades of soul

        and their relationship to Zion.

    • puppies on April 22, 2014, 11:57 pm

      @gigglad – Foolish, aren’t we? Mandela was a chief of the ANC, the armed resistance organization to White supremacist rule. It’s because he fought hard, thousands of his comrades died fighting the racist rule and eliminating as many as they could of the bastards that they could win and afford to offer equality to all. Ask Ronnie Kasrils, “biologically” a Litvak.
      So this is the first I hear you asking for equality. If you want it, destroy the “Jewish state”, fight the Zionists first, as hard as you can. Relax later.

    • ritzl on April 23, 2014, 5:28 am

      @giladg- Typically, you cite the inclusive languages, and then erroneously equate that to exclusive words/meaning.

      Would Abbas sing an inclusive anthem with a verse in Hebrew, no doubt. Would he sing an anthem (in Hebrew or otherwise) that was self-subordinating, most likely not.

      You all, through your insistence in these matters, are becoming a parody of yourselves.

      • bintbiba on April 23, 2014, 10:10 am

        giladg….. still digging !!!!

  7. on April 22, 2014, 5:36 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS ! Matthew, this is a magnificent article pointing out the irrational nature Beinart’s arguments in clear contrast. So many Zionists follow the plot right up to the end of the discussion and then veer off into irrational limbo. AJ Rosenberg is one and Norman Finkelstein is another as well as Beinart. Thank you for lauding Gideon Levy. His articles in Haaretz are a light in the wilderness.

  8. DaveS on April 22, 2014, 6:16 pm

    When I read Beinart’s article, I focused on the good rather than the bad. I thought there was great value in his remembrance of the excuses and rationales for apartheid that he heard as a child, and how obviously applicable they are to Israel’s excuses for denying Palestinian rights. That portion of Beinart’s essay is not reprinted here, and while I read it on my phone, I can’t get to it on the computer. It is well worth reading.

    True, Beinart continues to irritate in his willingness to compromise his liberal principles by embracing a political system that denies full equality so that he can sleep better at night knowing that if the Nazis resurface, he and his kids have a place to flee. But this essay, and indeed much of his book, contain very impressive analyses that should not be discarded because of his ultimate conclusion. Indeed, Judis’s book about Truman is somewhat similar; Phil accurately describes it as anti-Zionist while Judis himself wants to see Israel continue as a Jewish State.

    • DaveS on April 23, 2014, 2:41 pm

      Here is an excerpt from Beinart that I find so impressive:

      When members of one racial, religious or ethnic group grant themselves due process, the right to vote, and the right to free movement while denying those same freedoms to members of another racial, religious or ethnic group (as Israelis do in the West Bank), the people in power develop myriad, often complicated, sometimes ingenious, justifications.

      White South Africans said black South African culture was pathological. Blacks, I was told again and again in my youth, were disposed to terrifying acts of violence. Just look at the necklacings occurring in the townships. Black South Africans had no tradition of democracy. Just look at the dictatorships dominating the rest of the continent. Black South Africans were bitterly divided: Just look at the way members of Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress and Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Inkatha Freedom Party butchered each other. The black South African struggle was a Trojan Horse for dictatorships waging war against the West: Just look at the Soviet Union’s support for the ANC. Black South Africans were an invented people. They had only migrated to the country from central Africa a few centuries ago.

      I heard these arguments from well-educated, well-meaning people, some of whom I loved. And in their particulars, the arguments weren’t all wrong. . . And yet, ultimately, it was all beside the point. Denying people the basic rights necessary for a decent life because they are of a certain race, ethnicity or religion is wrong. Period.

      Where I disagree with Beinart is that his liberal Zionism leads him to believe that the system of Jewish privilege can survive as long as the victims of that privilege are allowed to have what he considers decent lives. The ANC, however, did not demand an amelioration of particularly awful conditions, but equality, pure and simple. Beinart does not allow for true equality between Jews and Palestinians, because he knows that would spell the end of the Jewish State concept.

      Still, the passage I quote is a brilliant dismantling of numerous justifications for apartheid that have virtually exact analogies in hasbara, and should not be overlooked.

  9. a blah chick on April 22, 2014, 6:48 pm

    Beinart: “Israel, as I’ve argued repeatedly, is not an apartheid state. If it were, Ahmed Tibi would be in jail, not in the Knesset.”

    Well, they’ve raised the threshold for election to the Knesset so they might not have to put up with him much longer.

  10. Kay24 on April 22, 2014, 11:36 pm

    I used to enjoy reading Peter Beinart’s article, but it seems he has gone over to the dark side! I guess those lavish trips sponsored by the Jewish Federation, must elicit a sense of intense loyalty and devotion, to all young Jews. Israel right or wrong, mostly wrong.

    • puppies on April 23, 2014, 4:39 am

      @Kay24 – What do you mean, gone over to the dark side? Was brought up a Zionist, always was a Zionist, never stopped being a Zionist. Meaning a racial supremacist claiming a fake nation and the sovereignty over other people’s land, Palestine, cleansed of its owners and inhabitants the Palestinians. Never stopped being one.
      And no, there is no other definition and there are no decent Zionists.

    • pabelmont on April 23, 2014, 9:19 am

      Kay24: Beinart has not gone over to the dark side. He has never come in from the cold in the first place. He is trapped in Zionism. He is conflicted by liberalism, which conflicts with Zionism. He wants a deus ex machina to descend onto this stage of history and make everything all right (meaning, for him, to preserve a racist Israel). We must not forget that religion — and social conditioning, its cousin — are powerful forces, in this case for evil. By contrast, liberalism is a weak reed.

  11. Rosebud on April 22, 2014, 11:47 pm

    Of course, if/when that threshold is raised and Ahmed Tibi is no longer in the Knesset, Beinart’s denials of Israeli apartheid will continue.

  12. Citizen on April 23, 2014, 1:26 am

    Just for some context, here’s a quicky appraisal article on S Africa now and then, Mandela’s factual legacy:

    Additionally, I saw an HBO documentary on S Africa today; what was clear is that the new generation of younger folks of every color take their freedom as a given, are very open to everything, demand less corruption and more opportunity from those in power.

  13. wondering jew on April 23, 2014, 1:45 am

    At this moment of Netanyahu Gideon Levy is closer to a reality that is at hand, because no miracle peace treaty needs to be pulled out of a hat, merely a miracle rapprochement and that merely suggests a change of heart rather than a change of regime. I think the leap of Gideon Levy to his current position is far easier than the anticipated leap of Beinart which is imagined by Matthew Taylor. Purely on the basis of Beinart’s American identity, he cannot accomplish the leap of Gideon Levy in the same way- different Zionism different mindset different outcome. And though Beinart is on the medium to far left of the really cares every day about Israel part of the American Jewish community, he is in the middle of the American Jewish community and so he sees his leadership role differently than Levy who is gadfly and not model for Israelis.

    • seafoid on April 23, 2014, 3:13 am
      • annie on April 23, 2014, 3:46 am

        seafoid, from your link..funny

        Abbas’s comments follow reports at the weekend that he was considering dismantling the Palestinian Authority if talks ended by the 29 April deadline without an extension.

        That prompted US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki to warn that move would have “grave implications” for US relations with the Palestinian Authority, including financial support.

        grave implications? obviously if the PA is disbanded the US can’t have relations with it. that’s kind of a no brainer, isn’t it? sorta like if someone files for divorce and the partner claims it will have grave implications for the marriage…that’s the whole point of divorce!

      • wondering jew on April 23, 2014, 3:56 am

        Abbas is also the head of the PLO which would continue to exist even after it handed the keys over to Israel. the PLO’s relationship with the US predates Oslo and would continue on, so that is the inferred relationship rather than with the defunct PA.

      • seafoid on April 23, 2014, 4:46 am

        Haaretz ed.

        “Releasing the prisoners is completely unconnected to the fundamental discussion on the future relations between Israel and Palestine. Presenting it as a new condition is misleading, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has clarified. At the same time, defining Israel’s borders should not depend on other agreements. Delineating the borders will clearly demarcate the settlements that will be part of Israel, pave the way to setting Jerusalem’s borders, grant the Palestinians the territorial framework of their state, limit the Israeli messianic dream and pour real content into the two-state idea.
        A discussion and agreement on the borders issue would not infringe on the principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” because the parties can stipulate that any agreement on the borders will be subject to a comprehensive arrangement.

        Abbas’ statement is far from being a display of rejectionism. But the deep frustration over the absence of progress in the talks, and Israel’s rejection of the Palestinian demands, could lead Abbas to dismantle the Palestinian Authority and hand the keys over to Israel.

        This, not the possibility of another intifada, is the threat underlying the negotiations’ failure – placing direct operative responsibility for the territories on Israel. In addition to the massive financial burden and the security hurdles of direct occupation, it would turn Israel into a target for international sanctions.

        Abbas’ demands are reasonable and will constitute a test to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s seriousness.”

      • Walid on April 23, 2014, 9:39 am

        With Mustafa Barghouti and a Fatah delegation from the WB present, Haniyeh in Gaza is now announcing that Hamas and and Fatah have kissed and made up and is giving the schedule of the coming elections. I wonder if this has anything to do with the April 29th deadline.

      • Walid on April 23, 2014, 10:10 am

        More on the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, Azzam al-Ahmad, senior Fatah member said that from here on, the WB and Gaza would be speaking with one voice with Israel. He said that the last 6 meetings with the Israeli negotiators, the last one being last night, the Palestinians are still waiting for a reaction to their new demands about future borders and to the Palestinians categorical refusal of a Jewish state and no answer is coming from Israel yet and they have to conclude that Netanyahu does not want peace. Al-Ahmad stressed that the Palestinian position is still the 67 border, East Jerusalem and the RoR of the refugees.

        Mustafa Barghouti mentioned how Netanyahu is always complaining that he has no one to talk to when Fatah and Hamas are in disagreement and still complaining when they are in agreement because he feels they are ganging up on him.

      • annie on April 23, 2014, 8:03 pm

        so that is the inferred relationship rather than with the defunct PA.

        yonah, there was no inference made only an explicit statement regarding “US relations with the Palestinian Authority”. maybe Psaki or the reporter made a mistake.

        i’m not really clear what palestine has to lose by damaging their relations with israel’s lawyer the US. it’s just dealing w/more zionists. palestine should dump the US and if they are bent on having a middle broker use some neutral country. the US has nothing to offer palestinians.

      • ritzl on April 23, 2014, 4:06 am


      • brenda on April 23, 2014, 7:49 am

        “… if someone files for divorce and the partner claims it will have grave implications for the marriage… ”

        Annie, it takes a woman’s clear simplistic view to cut through the crap rhetoric flooding the arena.

      • piotr on April 23, 2014, 9:56 pm

        It reminds me a report of a parliamentary commission in United Kingdom that after 20 (or 100?) pages concluded that a fox hunt can be detrimental to the welfare of the fox.

        Lapid is relatively easy to understand. It puzzled me how people claim secular outlooks and then they prattle about 3500 years of history, or about the prophets being spotted on that or the other hill. The other day he quoted a paradox that he attributed to “16-th century philosopher Zeno”, which was not the first time he showed himself to be an idiot.

      • ritzl on April 23, 2014, 4:04 am

        It’s amazing that ruling Israel, despite all the protests from poor Jewish-Israelis over that last few years, can’t see past the implications of continuing the status quo. AMAZING.

        The issues for poor Jewish-Israelis will only become more acute if Israel is forced to assume its own Occupation costs (the way it’s heading, imo), and they will look for political allies. Those allies will be other disadvantaged Israelis, i.e. Palestinian-Israelis and/or Occupied Palestinians.

        Israel is a relatively high GINI country, so class divisions and political affinities may become more pronounced than ethnic ones.

  14. Patrick on April 23, 2014, 4:04 am

    Beinart’s insistence that Israel is not an Apartheid State is really just a piece of sophistry. Yes, if one makes a distinction between Israel within the Green Line and the Occupied Territories, and defines Israel to be only the former, then that ‘Israel’ does fall short of being an Apartheid State. It is merely a Jim Crow State.

    But this distinction is formal and artificial. Israel is, in fact, much more than just the entity within the Green Line. It is also the entity that has spread pervasively into the Territories where it has imposed a bone fide Apartheid regime. Because Beinart maintains (against all evidence) that the occupation and the settlements are somehow reversible, that Israel hasn’t formally annexed the territories, then it can escape the Apartheid label. But even if this were the case, it doesn’t change the reality that is experienced every day in the Territories where an Apartheid system has been entrenched by the state of Israel. Sure, this regime doesn’t extend within the Green Line. So what?

    • seafoid on April 23, 2014, 4:36 am

      “Israel, as I’ve argued repeatedly, is not an apartheid state. If it were, Ahmed Tibi would be in jail, not in the Knesset.”

      Sheikh Yassin is dead . Barghouti is in prison. Jews have their own roads.
      Triangulation is so hard with facts.

  15. piotr on April 23, 2014, 8:31 am

    I grew up in Poland, and I left in 1980. Some people would argue that at that time Poland was not Communist because I got a passport. Some would be merely surprised “So how could you get a passport when your country was Communist”?

    Israel is not an Apartheid state like platypus is not a mammal because the female lays eggs and has to tits (baby platypus has to lick the mother breast). The precise reasoning goes like that (1) Apartheid is a kind of regime that can be subjected to boycotts, sanctions and divestment (2) Israel is so adorable that could not be possibly subjected to boycotts, sanctions etc. This is a solid argument, but it still requires a proof of adorability. Here a Zionist interlocutor regains his verve (argument 2 requires somewhat whiny voice) and makes a list:

    cancer cured

    cell phones invented

    very good philharmonic orchestra

    rambunctious democracy

    An Arab can be a doctor! (and the appropriate ministry makes regulations to prevent unmarried Jewish girls to work on the same shift in the hospital)

    the chicks! (as long as they do not date Arabs, but thankfully, the government works on it)

    windowsills tell history (a particularly cute argument from particularly cute Natalie Portman, see “the chicks!” above)

    and it goes on an on for hours without stopping.

    • pabelmont on April 23, 2014, 9:39 am

      piotr: I love your proofs of adorability, just as I live your entire invention of Israel cannot be apartheid because it is adorable. (Did you forget the pinkwashing? — but don’t ask any orthodoxers.)

      Israeli hasbara is really a replay of the “Picture of Dorian Gray”, a portrait/reality dichotomy wherein (as I remember it) the portrait ages with the real person’s debauchery whereas the real person continues to look young and innocent. despite his indecent life. When he later destroys the (horrible-looking) painting, his body changes and now it is himself that looks horrible, debauched.

      With BDS and so forth educating the world, Israel is beginning to look (to the general public) as debauched (and non-adorable) as it in fact is.

      Well, Israel points to its good-looking inventions (we’re awfully nice to LGBTers, cancer cures, cell phones, hummos, felafel, democracy, sliced bread) but its detractors can only see its bad-looking inventions (apartheid-Israeli-style, settler-colonialism in the age of post-colonialism, the endless occupation, the endless violation of international law “as of right”, the “price-tag” pogroms, the over-the-top military attacks on Gaza, Lebanon,

      I think the cute and adorable parts of Israel are perhaps a bit over rated, possibly because I learned about felafel and hummos and zatar from my Palestinian [left in 1944] wife. But I’d be glad to celebrate all of them (even hummos-as-Israeli-invention) if only they’d throw the other baggage overboard.

    • brenda on April 23, 2014, 12:05 pm

      piotr, this is brilliant! I love it when someone elucidates an important piece of propaganda. I can tell you from long experience of hasbara fighting on the commentary of mainstream media political threads, “adorable” is stock-in-trade. Adorable Israel is an essential component of the hasbara playbook.

      I knew there was something fishy about this stuff, but it is so hard to fight against — but brilliant on their side don’t you think? Right wing government has important liberal credentials, deal with it. Leave us in peace while we complete our ethnic cleansing.

  16. pabelmont on April 23, 2014, 9:03 am

    Levy: “But they [some problems] don’t reduce the enormity of the historic achievement and its lesson for Israel: When a country turns from unjust to just, everything else is dwarfed in comparison.”

    Let’s quibble: there is/was “enormity” here and there (Israel and S. Africa), viz., the enormity of the crimes and injustices of apartheid. But there is also, in S. Africa’s case, enormousness (not enormity) of progress in human rights, societal development, reconciliation, justice.

    I don’t know if God ever told the Boers (speaking through their Dutch Reformed ministers, if so) that they had a right to perpetually oppress the indigenous (black) people of S. Africa. Doubtless some ministers quoted God at great length with that import.

    Be that as it may, we know for sure that many teachers of Jewish religion tell Israel that God granted Jews a right perpetually to oppress (or replace) the indigenous (Palestinian) people of Palestine.

    I guess there is much trouble whenever people with guns take the words of fictive bibles — in ancient times created and back-dated out of whole cloth to solve social problems of the day — as “truth” especially when those words purport to quote God. (Our news media serve that purpose today, but seldom purport to speak for God.)

    Kinda hard to see how we’re going to have a freely chosen and voluntarily adopted reconciliation when the number of Israeli Jews who justify their violence by God’s Word is growing and their power in the Israeli State becoming overpowering.

  17. brenda on April 23, 2014, 11:17 am

    Getting back to Matthew Taylor’s article (which I apologize for disrupting with Breaking News) — the language used by Peter Beinart, “Israelis and Palestinians – at least at this stage of history – must negotiate the terms of a divorce” is resonant of language first used by up-and-coming Israeli politician Yair Lapid. Lapid’s voice strident over the past few months; “we must separate from the Palestinians” (ie. for our own good) Lapid leads influential Yesh Atid party in the Netanyahu governing coalition, he is also Finance Minister — he was one of the first to raise the alarm on the harm boycotts will wreak on the Israeli economy. His party is described in the Wikipedia article as “the center of Israeli society, the secular middle class”

    Secular or not, Lapid still carries fundamentalist views about The Land of Israel. And I would think that Beinart et al also hold some of these views:

    “Al-Monitor: Do you believe that Bibi [Netanyahu] entered the negotiations wholeheartedly and willingly?

    Lapid: I don’t think any of us entered these negotiations wholeheartedly and willingly. Obviously, it tears us up inside. You want to reach an arrangement so that we can part ways with the Palestinians, but any such arrangement comes with a cost that we would rather not pay if we could avoid it. “Two states for two peoples” may be nothing more than a sentence, but behind that sentence lies the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from their homes and from a place that for me, with my family history — I come from a home that aligned with the nationalist camp — is really part of our homeland. I can tell you which prophet walked on which hill. In that sense, everyone is uneasy about it. But we have to do it so that we can separate from the Palestinians.”

    Read more:

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