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The last colony

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Editor’s note: In the new collection, Apartheid Israel: The Politics of an Analogy, twenty scholars of Africa and its diaspora reflect on the similarities and differences between apartheid-era South Africa and contemporary Israel, with an eye to strengthening and broadening today’s movement for justice in Palestine. Melissa Levin’s essay is an excerpt from that Haymarket publication.

November 1980. The room could be forgiven for its distinctly seventies style. It was hardly into the following decade, and design could still take a deep breath before moving on. It was also small-town South Africa—not known for its capacity to shift with the times. The sunken lounge with its chocolate-brown carpets and heavy cream-and-brown drapes was the adult domain. It was a warm venue, if slightly off-limits to the children.

I must have been nine; always precocious, always delighting in the positive attention of the adults. “Is it,” I asked, “Is it good for us?” The adults paused the conversation to notice me for the first time. They smiled warmly. I smiled proudly back. I had cut to the chase and asked the question that was being skirted—the pivotal question that I’d based on statements I had heard often in the past.

“Yes, my darling, yes, it is good for us.” I breathed deeply, satisfied, that my people were okay in a world that was generally not.

The question was about the outcome of the election in the United States. Ronald Reagan had won against the derisively identified “peanut farmer,” Jimmy Carter. Reagan’s victory ushered in a renaissance for the right wing that would remain secure even, or especially, through the brief interlude of third-way politics in the 1990s, long after he was gone. At the time, Reagan’s victory was deemed “good for us.” “Us” were the survivors of the Holocaust—the children and grandchildren of the slaughtered or near-slaughtered. “Us.” We were the tribe that internalized the message of the Nazis that we were once weak, that we had once walked like lambs to the slaughter; we believed that we had been lulled into a sense of complacency by the liberal emancipation laws of Germany. We were now the “new” Jews who understood that we were despised (always had been, always would be) by the rest of humanity. But we would meet that hatred with a vigilance and determination of reborn Macabees. That’s who Ronald Reagan was good for—those muscular, anti-nebbish, Zionist new Jews in general. And he was very good for the South African new Jews in particular.

The chocolate-brown sunken lounge didn’t survive the twentieth century. But this acute sense of imminent danger was only bolstered by the collapse of apartheid and the post-state twenty-first-century mode of warfare unleashed against the West. Could we be forgiven for this acute sense of danger infecting every which way we see the world? I, too, have inherited the visceral fear of annihilation. There is enough historical evidence of Jews as the perpetual scapegoat to cause some trepidation. This history has been reinforced in everyday confrontations with sometimes subtle and often explicit expressions of anti-Semitism from a variety of sources (including reconstructed and unreconstructed right-wingers and from people I have considered comrades on the left). It is this sense of imminent extinction that perpetuates the nationalist fervor of Israel today. Growing up, I believed that Zionism was the articulation of our deepest longing to return to the land of our ancestors. I thought that this was our only opportunity for Jewish survival.

(Image: Haymarket Books)

(Image: Haymarket Books)

This idea was bound to the myth that Israel was an empty land, waiting for our return. The accompanying yet contradictory myth was that those who were there wanted our death. The portrait of an unpopulated populated landscape was a narrative I easily understood from the other colonial education I was exposed to in 1980s South African history books. But I was never as invested in the South African story as I was in the Israeli one. South Africa, like any other place outside of Israel, could never be trusted as a refuge for Jews. We grew up with a deep sense of unbelonging and longing for places that have been stolen and other places that had been promised. The nostalgia for the shtetl did not translate into demands for its return but for the possibility of an eternal home for the Jews. And life was only possible elsewhere with the insurance policy that Israel represents.

These days, the idea that what is now Israel was unpopulated is held by only the most unread nationalists. But the notion that only Israel’s existence can secure Jewish life on earth remains steadfast. Indeed, this sense of existential crisis leads latter-day Israeli nationalist historians to embrace Israel even at the expense of its indigenous population. Posing his own question, “Is it colonialism?” Ari Shavit responds, “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.” But it is a duck that Shavit is willing to live with because, he argues, there would be no Jews if it weren’t for Israel. For him, the payment in Palestinians is worth it for Jewish survival.

The argument that the existence of Jews everywhere is so intimately tied to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state has cemented a support base the world over. This is what Zionism as a nationalist project cultivated that other settler-colonialisms never had—a “diaspora.” The very idea of a diaspora as a given rather than a construct of political necessity has fueled the ferocity with which Israel is shielded from criticism. It produces an “us” that extends far beyond the (unfixed) boundaries of the state. And while deep divisions mark the polity; while the seculars and Haredis fight each other, and while the right and left schism deepens; while racism is pervasive in the state (including, but not limited to the abduction of Yemeni Jewish children in the early 1950s as a project of Ashkenazi power); while prime ministers are assassinated and everyday politics of venality and corruption threaten the unity of the state, exile’s purity sustains the narrative of the international obligation for a Jewish state to exist. The narrative is steadfast, and no matter what happens, how it happens, why it happens, the default set of assumptions and arguments establishes itself quickly. Only a Pavlovian narrative would be able to answer in the affirmative that the current dispensation in Israel is good for “us,” that the colonization of others is the only way to resolve the historic denigration of the Jews. For that set of assumptions functions to dehumanize Palestinians, and, in turn, to dehumanize the “us.”


Edward Said has thought about the invidious position of Palestinians in the global imaginary. Palestinians struggle to find a place within a narrative of liberation in part due to the impossibility of being a victim to the ultimate victim. Auschwitz fixes the status of Jews as definitive of the wounded and, in so doing, vanishes the trauma of those who would claim to be injured by them. There are additional ways in which Palestinians’ victimization is discursively refashioned into the perpetual nonvictim of  the perpetual victim. Golda Meir’s refrain about how Israel can never forgive the Palestinians for making them kill their children is often rehearsed as justification for what would otherwise be regarded as the use of brute force. It’s a rather cynical move to steal their land, force them into exile, and suggest that they bear responsibility for their pain. A recent incarnation of this is the “human shield” defense for the massacre of civilians. Even worse is the line from the summer of 2014 that calls on peaceful people the world over to “Stand with Israel. Mourn with Gaza.” No land, no freedom. And those who maintain the landlessness and incarceration even steal their dead. The only way for Palestinians to be viewed as victims is if they suffer at the hands of the fighters. The image of the victim here is the silenced, acquiescent, immobilized, and harmless. The victim does not fight back. The victim does not lob Katyushas into Sderot. That person resides in the domain of co-conspirator in an existential battle of wits. But the ambiguity of victimhood remains the lifeblood of the Israeli state—to be a Jew is to be the ultimate victim in perpetuity and only the nonvictim (but also nonperpetrator) state can shield her from harm.

But there is also another way in which Palestinians are denied their victimhood. Religiosity has played a large part in the colonizing impulse. In South Africa, the Calvinists established a system of capitalist white supremacy that subscribed to the idea that Black people were designed as the biblical “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” Their own version of the promised land divinely endorsed special privileges for the settlers and destined all who were in their way to their ordained hell on earth. While the religious right-wing fundamentalists in Israel and the “diaspora” may be unexceptional in regard to invoking subjugation justified by the heavens, they stand alone in their impulse to obliterating the subjugated. The battle for the so-called land of Israel is denied its politics, its history, its conjunctural determinants and read as a biblical battle. Palestinians in particular and Muslims in general are cast in this script as a contemporary manifestation of biblical foes—much like the crusaders or Nazis have been. In this sense too then, Palestinians can only ever be aggressors.

So every second summer, when Israel “mows the lawn” in Gaza, it can count on its diasporic army to impulsively support its aggression as defensive. That same army turns a blind eye to continuous expropriation of Palestinian land for settlement in the West Bank. Absent Pavlov, this perpetual colonization leaves open three options for Jewish life in that land:

1. A unitary, binational state in Israel/Palestine (increasingly, a two-state solution is rendered impossible by the tactics of the Israeli state); or

2. The expulsion of Palestinians from the land; or

3. The genocide of Palestinians.

And beware the person who suggests that the first option is in the interest of humanity in general and of Jews in particular. For suggesting much less—that “we” ought to consider what “we” would do if we lived our entire lives under occupation—I was recently subjected to vitriol, shaming, name-calling antidemocratic bullying that descended even into the attempt to invoke the perspective of my beloved father, who died not too long ago from a rapacious illness. The invocation of the dead is a tactic familiar to nationalism everywhere. It is obscene in its compulsive repetition of the harm done to them. We can mostly ignore the rantings of those who pit their lives above the lives of others. But what was compelling in numerous hate letters I received (for the “self-hating” imagining of Palestinians as human beings) is the argument that what Palestinians need is a Nelson Mandela.

I have thought hard about what is meant by that. The assumption must have been that I do understand, since there was no explanation forthcoming. But I don’t know for sure. I have worked for Mandela, I have been an activist in the organization that he led, and I was very present as a participant in the early transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa. So it is incredibly compelling for me to understand what that transition has meant to the many adults I shared space with in the brown, sunken lounge.

The obvious response to such a stand-alone, noncontextualized call would be: “Well, there may be dozens of Mandelas languishing in Israeli prisons. Because, recall that Mandela, too, was regarded as a terrorist who was locked away for the whole of his mid-life.” But to deconstruct that further: What do previous apartheid citizens and current Zionists mean when they say we need a Mandela in the Middle East? I think they are not saying the following:

1. We need a Mandela who will fight for freedom for the oppressed masses.

2. We need a Mandela who will fight for freedom against colonial settlers.

3. We need a Mandela who will radicalize the youth movement and build the ANC into a fighting force for change.

4. We need a Mandela who will build a people’s army.

5. We need a Mandela who will stand up in solidarity with the oppressed people of the globe (including the Palestinians).

6. We need a Mandela who will be nurtured by, and in turn help build a revolutionary anticolonial movement.

7. We need a Mandela who will negotiate a unitary, nonracial and democratic state relegating the Bantustan system to the scrap yard of history.

8. We need a Mandela who is eventually released from prison along with his comrades and his organization (and others) unbanned through the combined pressures of internal mobilization (like, for instance, the intifada) and international mobilization (like, for instance, BDS).

I think maybe they do want the Mandela who tentatively birthed the post-colony. And in that cautiousness left so many of its institutions intact. They want the Mandela who stretched out his arms to embrace us all and helped us believe the fiction that apartheid was just about people not being nice to each other. That Mandela who expected nothing from the oppressors and everything from the oppressed, is the one my “interlocutors” want in the Middle East. By insisting on the magnanimity of the oppressed for any kind of conciliation to occur suggests a singular refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of their claims or the illegitimacy of colonial counterclaims.

There were many other conversations from the chocolate-brown sunken lounge that I recall—the demonization of the ANC fighters, the “why are we singled out when everyone is racist” talk, the “Blacks have so many other countries to go to” talk, the conversation about how awful the rest of Africa is and how much better off Blacks in South Africa are. Currently, the perspectives that reject the analogy of Israel–apartheid misrecognize not only the colonial project in Palestine, but also the character of South African apartheid itself. Ethiopian Jews are often paraded as evidence that Israel is not an apartheid state. Or the outspoken collaborator will speak to the vicious character of Palestinian liberation organizations. These may rather be evidence of the significant reversal for the decolonization project in South Africa. Parading Blacks whom we hold hands with and who speak on our behalf says nothing about institutions of racism and settler-colonialism that dispossess people of land, curtail their freedoms, actively endeavor to underdevelop them, and seek to redefine and limit their cultural horizons.

So is it apartheid? A little bit, but not quite. It is settler-colonial. Of that, the historical record is clear. But it is characteristically settler-colonial in a post–Cold War, postcolonial world. It is the last direct colony—a twenty-first-century aberration of a twentieth-century form of governmentality. It finds itself justified by a formidable global arms industry, its war economy holding it tightly together. It has cultivated a distinct hatred for the Other that apartheid South Africa never needed to produce. It has made nonsectarian, nonracial organizing an impossibility, in a way that could only be a wet dream of the South African white supremacists but unfeasible for its pragmatists. In that case, the colonized were disposable, but not in their entirety. This is where Israel departs from the apartheid South African experience and probably resembles more the colonization of places like Australia and the early colonization of the Cape.

Of course, settler colonies themselves have historically been produced for multiple reasons, an important one being how to dispense with Europe’s own disposable people without resorting to the unhappy extreme of extermination.

And Jews, we must acknowledge, have been rendered by Europe as superfluous of a special type. The unfortunate response of Zionism to the trauma of the Shoah is that it replicates the very forms of being that sustain the modern European state’s incapacity to accommodate life for too long. The terms of the oppressors become rearticulated as our terms. Some place like Zion, after all, was the solution before the final one: before Wannsee, there was expulsion. We use their solutions in an attempt to secure our own right to be in the world. It is a fool’s endeavor. Because as they produced us, so we will and must produce an Other. Someday, this conflict too will end.

And when it’s all over, my dear, dear reader,
on which benches will we have to sit,
those of us who shouted “Death to the Arabs!”
and those who claimed they “didn’t know”?
—Aharon Shabtai, “Nostalgia”

Melissa Levin

Melissa Levin is a teacher, researcher and writer. Her work focuses primarily on the place of memory in building communal solidarities. She has worked for, among others, the African National Congress. Part of her role was to write speeches for Nelson Mandela.

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41 Responses

  1. pabelmont on December 11, 2015, 11:52 am

    And when it’s all over, my dear, dear reader, on which benches will we have to sit, those of us who shouted “Death to the Arabs!” and those who claimed they “didn’t know”? —Aharon Shabtai, “Nostalgia”

    What this poem means, to me, is that Israelis feel so above it all, so safe, so guaranteed, so morally impervious (like Trump!) that they can ignore all the world’s feelings of decency and say, publicly and often, “Death to Arabs” and also with no sense that this directly echoes the philosophy and the broken glass and broken spirits of Krystallnacht.

    Mr Trump proves, if proof were needed, that it is not only the Zionists who are a people chosen to be morally impervious. But it is an ugly world, nowadays, and the Zionists are definitely playing their part in making and keeping it that way.

    • gingershot on December 11, 2015, 2:17 pm

      ‘Israelis feel so above it all, so safe, so guaranteed, so morally impervious (like Trump!) that they can ignore all the world’s feelings of decency and say, publicly and often, “Death to Arabs” ‘

      The Feelgood Bully only stops bullying when it STOPS feeling good or when the gun is wrenched from their cold fingers –

      The answer is shame, unending shame, as Germany since WWII – deep, wide, American shame of ALL Zionism (particulary Hillary’s flavor) and ALL Diaspora Jews who are not part of the solution and still part of the abusiveness – this is the cure for this narcissistic/sadomasochisitic impunity — then STOPPING the Feelgood Bully Zionism cold

      Zionism is a dead man walking:
      1- Iran Nuclear Deal 7/15
      2- Coming UN Sec Co Resolution against Israel supported/abstained by the US (Rivlin with Obama and Lapid at Saban both said it’s inevitable and on the way)
      3- The Successfully Advancing ICC case(s) against Apartheid

      Apartheid is a done deal – now it’s taking out Hillary and the REST of the Israeli Lobby in the US

      There IS no ‘Israeli Lobby’ of post Apartheid 1P1V1S

  2. msmoore on December 11, 2015, 3:20 pm

    “So is it apartheid? A little bit, but not quite.”

    But for this remark, an excellent essay.

    I have recently read statements by Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu among others to the effect that Israeli apartheid is far worse than the original, South African version.

  3. diasp0ra on December 11, 2015, 5:02 pm

    The arguments used by Israelis against boycotting Israel are so incredibly similar to those used by the white South Africans a few decades ago. It’s really quite something, this obliviousness would be entertaining if it wasn’t so destructive.

    I don’t even think they realize how similar they are. And as you said, when they wish for a Palestinian Mandela they wish for the neutered representation of Mandela in western media, not the Mandela who had military training and founded the armed wing of the ANC and planned attacks against Apartheid targets.

    This also happened to leaders like MLK who were appropriated, softened, neutered and turned into a symbol of “kumbaya”, completely overriding their original message and radical politics that defied the system.

    A further point that I feel is often ignored, is that what is meant under Apartheid is often misunderstood or misrepresented.

    Apartheid, according to the Rome statute is: “means inhumane acts of a character similar to those referred to in paragraph 1, committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

    When people hear the term Apartheid they immediately jump to the South African case. It needs to be understood that the situation in Palestine does not need to mirror the one in South Africa to be an Apartheid situation.

    The Rome statute definition describes Israel to a T.

  4. dbroncos on December 11, 2015, 6:47 pm

    The Zionist goal is a thoroughly purified Jewish state and a thoroughly subjugated and destroyed Palestinian nation. I think Levin essentially makes this point when she says Israeli colonization more closely resembles the colonization of Australia than it does SA apartheid. Zionists want the Palestinian people to disappear, mostly, and for those who remain to become ghostly symbols of a defeated and forgotten people, like their ruined villages, like the native peoples of Australia or North America for that matter.

  5. annie on December 11, 2015, 7:51 pm

    Absent Pavlov, this perpetual colonization leaves open three options for Jewish life in that land:

    1. A unitary, binational state in Israel/Palestine (increasingly, a two-state solution is rendered impossible by the tactics of the Israeli state); or

    2. The expulsion of Palestinians from the land; or

    3. The genocide of Palestinians.

    yes, those are the 3 options for “jewish life”. but if we’re going to be examining options and putting “The expulsion of Palestinians” and ” The genocide of Palestinians” on a list, a more balanced perspective would examine all possible options resulting from the Jewish colonization project — for Jewish life and Palestinian life. Those would have to included:

    4. The expulsion of Jews from the land; or

    5. The genocide of Jews

    excellent article btw.

    • mcohen. on December 12, 2015, 1:08 am

      Annie Robbins
      December 11, 2015, 7:51 pm says

      4. The expulsion of Jews from the land; or

      5. The genocide of Jews

      excellent article btw.

      annie you left out no.6 and 7

      6.The expulsion of christians from the land; or

      7.The genocide of christians (armenians by turkey)

      your so called balanced perspective squeaks a little considering that the roman catholic church owns a big chunk of land in israel.

      colonialism needs 2 things……a more powerful country and a land that is colonised by citizens of that country

      the turks colonised israel for 400 years,and lost it all to britain,and then jews returned to israel in numbers from all over the world

      returned not colonised

      you can spin it any old way but empires will come and ago but jews will always return to israel

      having said that the issue of fundamental human rights in israel needs to be addressed in much the same way that those rights are addressed in any other country.those rights are always in a state of change worldwide ,israel is no different

      the fact that odeh,an israeli citizen, is in america ,talking about black civil rights just adds more spice to the pot of stew

      you know ….the pot of stew that is mentioned in the biblical story of jacob and esau and the concept of birthright

      great story….love a good vegan lentil stew …..btw imho wbit

      “…When Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished; and Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.’ Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ Esau said, ‘Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?’ And Jacob said, ‘First swear to me”; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.” (Genesis 25:29-34).

      • annie on December 12, 2015, 1:24 am

        annie you left out no.6 and 7

        6.The expulsion of christians from the land; or

        7.The genocide of christians (armenians by turkey)

        i don’t think i left them out. they’re either palestinian or messianic jews. so they’re covered. i didn’t divide by religion – i meant relating to the jewish nation, not their religion. my ptv is not informed so much by religion.

      • diasp0ra on December 12, 2015, 8:51 am

        “returned not colonised”

        That’s an interesting way to see it.

        So a bunch of fresh off the boat Europeans who hadn’t been in Palestine for more than few decades, erecting a racist system based on an ideology that calls for the expulsion of the natives with ideas of racial superiority isn’t colonialism now?

        Parts of their immigration was literally funded by the Jewish COLONIAL fund. They weren’t shy about it until it went out of style in Europe and they had to come up with other reasons other than straight up colonialism.

      • Mooser on December 12, 2015, 1:04 pm

        “mcohen”, you’ve brought back the ellipses! Hooray! Now you sound like yourself again. The ellipses provide insinuation and disconnection. And you need them both, badly.

        Oh, BTW “the roman catholic church owns a big chunk of land in israel.”

        You got a cite for that “big chunk” of “land in Israel? I’d love to know just where it is.

      • Mooser on December 12, 2015, 5:39 pm

        “you know ….the pot of stew that is mentioned in the biblical story of jacob and esau and the concept of birthright”

        Oh, that pot of stew. Yes, I saw what you put in it, so don’t try to serve it here! It’s only good for squelching in, now.

      • rosross on December 12, 2015, 10:58 pm

        @Annie Robins,

        How can you leave out religion?

        To be Jewish is to be a member of the Jewish religion.

        You do not change race or nationality if you covert to Judaism or drop the religion and all religions or convert to another religion.

        My ancestors dropped Judaism and none of their descendants are Jewish. Those siblings who did not drop the religion have descendants who are Jewish.

        Being Jewish is a religion. You may be non-practising, or lapsed, but if you call yourself Jewish you are holding yourself as a part of the Jewish religion.

        Drop Judaism completely and no longer refer to yourself as Jewish and you are not Jewish.

        There can no more be an atheist or secular Jew than there can be an atheist or secular Christian, Moslem, Hindu etc. Atheists hold to no religion and reject any concept of God.

        If you hold to a religion but do not practice it you are still aligned to that religion. Hence, lapsed or non-practising Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants etc., fall into the same category.

        Without the religion of Judaism there would be no Jews. The first Jew like the first Moslem, Christian, Hindu was of course a convert! Ergo, of course it is about religion.

      • on December 13, 2015, 9:09 am

        Interesting comment Ross, perhaps Tova could share her opinion on this with regards to Judaism in particular. As for my opinion, I think to simply group together all sort of religions and judge them based on each other is too simplistic of an approach. For example, you mentioned Hinduism in the same breath along with Christianity and Islam, even though these are so fundamentally different expect from being classified under the term ‘religion’.

        Hinduism is not even the indigenous term for itself, unlike Islam or Judaism or Christianity to a certain extent. It is label put onto a wide range of beliefs and practices among an extremely diverse set of peoples by different foreign outgroups to separate themselves from the native population of the Indian subcontinent. Theoretically, you can be both a Hindu and some other religion at the same time, as long as there are no conflicting theology.

        Islam is more about written laws and code of conduct for every practice in life from cradle to grave. Hinduism is more concerned about philosophical and spiritual nature of life, along with various indigenous cultural practices in complement. I am not really well-verse in the tenets of Christianity, but I believe it is far less rigid in its laws and practical aspects of worship compared to Islam.

        Hence, I don’t see why Judaism has to be similar or follow the same theological reasoning of the other religions you mentioned, considering how fundamentally dissimilar those religions are relative to each other.

    • can of worms on December 12, 2015, 8:33 am

      @ “1. A unitary, binational state in Israel/Palestine”
      Binational? Why do you presume Palestinians should prefer a binational state over a national democratic republic – you know, with liberty, justice, deghettoization, compensation, and miscegenation for all?

      • diasp0ra on December 12, 2015, 9:02 am


        That can still be achieved under a Binational framework. I imagine that a Binational state would need to be the first step as it would guarantee the rights of both Palestinians and Israelis, a Uni-national state based only on votes could lead to tensions and one side lording over the other. A regime where both peoples are actively sharing the rule 50/50 might be the best starting position.

      • can of worms on December 12, 2015, 10:03 am

        @ diaspura
        In the first place, my point really was that in the arc of the options presented, Levin omitted a democratic republic. That’s telling in itself. What it tells me, and what I keep seeing on all sides, is fear of desegregation. And because there’s fear of desegregation among liberals and radicals I keep hounding it, I smell that that is where the system is weak.

        In the second place, how often have we heard of initial intermediary “steps” that are supposed to pave the way to something better later, only it somehow never arrives. On the contrary. You have to start off with utmost precision.

        @ “…could lead to tensions and one side lording over the other.” Have no mistake, tensions will remain in place, inflicting their harm, long after the apartheid apparatuses themselves have ceased to exist. Obviously there can be no 1SS w/o economic redistribution, compensation for the victims, financial benefits facilitating the return of refugees, transitions in the educational system and cultural institutions, and affirmative action. We can’t repeat the mistakes of South Africa–USA.

      • rosross on December 12, 2015, 11:11 pm

        Binational is ridiculous and undemocratic. The fact is the Israelis are colonists in Palestine. Every nation founded through colonisation has had to share the land with equal rights for all.

        Israel’s bad luck, like South Africa’s is that the indigenous are greater in number. But the colonists knew that when they took the land.

        There is only one reason why the one-state solution has not already come to pass and that is because Israel was founded on religious bigotry, just as South Africa was established on racial bigotry. The Israelis consider non-Jews to be inferior and in the case of the indigenous Palestinians, sub-human, and they want to remain in control because they believe they are superior. So did white South Africans but life and justice do not work like that.

        There is no place for bigotry, religious or racial and certainly no place for apartheid.

        Israelis cannot dictate to the Palestinians anything beyond one democratic state shared equally by indigenous and coloniser alike.

      • diasp0ra on December 13, 2015, 3:21 am


        I think there is a misunderstanding of the term Bi-National. It can have many configurations. It can be Bi-National and still be democratic, such as Belgium. It can even be Tri-National and still be democratic, such as Switzerland.

        I suppose the argument is, why Palestinians should have to do that in the first place, but that is a different argument. At the end of the day, no matter what history occurred, in a one state solution the Israeli Jews of today will become our co-citizens tomorrow, and their fears need to be addressed to make a transition possible. I’m not saying we coddle and cater to them specifically, but they are also going to be half the society. They cannot be brute forced into it if we want a stable society.

        People are calling more and more often for a one state solution, but very few actually have a concrete idea of how it would work, what mechanisms would it have, how power will be shared. This is my current Masters research. I’m not saying I support a Bi-National approach, I’m just saying that it is possible to do that and be democratic. There would still be elections and votes, but there could be committees voted by both “nationalities” per a new constitution to vote on certain decisions to make sure the tyranny of the majority never happens.

      • can of worms on December 13, 2015, 7:49 am

        Wow. Sounds like an amazing subject. I, for one, would sure be interested in reading about how a binational state is going to present a solution to Zionism, when Zionism is defined as a political framework which doubly separates Palestinians from resources , and separates “Jews” from Palestinians. As far as I can see, the binational state is a way of conceding the first while maintaining the second (some access to resources is conceded, but physical and ‘cultural’ separation is ensured.) The idea just doesn’t make sense. Formal “democracy” aside, how would knowledge production take place when the very institutions of learning and culture are separated? What kind of knowledge production would you have, when the very borders of knowledge are defined? When its movement is minimized?

      • diasp0ra on December 13, 2015, 9:14 am


        This is one model among different ones being discussed. It’s not the end all be all of models. The study is to take every model and see their strengths and weaknesses and see how the public reacts to them. I’m not making any conclusions, and I’m not going to give my opinion on something I’m still researching.

        I’m just saying that there are models out there like Switzerland where multiple “nationalities” exist within one political unit and it is still democratic while maintaining some communal autonomy.

        Whatever the case, Zionism needs to go. I’m not advocating separate but equal. Zionism is colonialism, and there is no place for that kind of thinking in a unitary state. IMO a one state can only be properly achieved through the destruction of Zionism. Your example, education, for instance could be handled on the federal level, there are so many tweaks and methods to combat so many issues, it’s not a unified system but a highly flexible one. That’s why I’m holding judgement until I study it more and see more models from history.

      • gamal on December 13, 2015, 10:30 am

        “Islam is more about written laws and code of conduct for every practice in life from cradle to grave.”

        if you are a Muadudite fundamentalist or a google phoney Muslim perhaps, “written laws” it is impossible that you are a Muslim tell me pray where are these “Laws” written?

        it is written

        in this kind of situation our code stipulates that i invite you to pog mo tuches,

      • on December 13, 2015, 11:10 am

        The entirety of Islamic teachings and commandments are straight from the Quran and the Hadith. Both are accessed through writings exclusively after the death of Prophet Muhammad. It is even said the content of the Quran will be preserved as it was sent to the Prophet for all eternity in the Quran itself. How exactly would this be possible if it not by writing? Do you have a voice recording of the Prophet’s sermon and preaches?

        Or are you just disagreeing for disagreement sake, Gamal?

      • Mooser on December 13, 2015, 11:53 am

        “That’s why I’m holding judgement until I study it more and see more models from history.”

        A bi- or tri-national state? Why, if it didn’t exist, somebody would have to invent it! Perhaps it will be a “healthy invalid”

      • diasp0ra on December 13, 2015, 12:54 pm


        Not sure what you mean with your comment exactly, but Belgium and Switzerland are good examples that are worth studying. To be frank, I’m not a fan of Bi-Nationalism and would prefer a Uni-National state but I’m keeping my mind open until I know enough about each in detail to make a well informed decision.

      • Mooser on December 13, 2015, 1:05 pm

        “but I’m keeping my mind open until I know enough about each in detail to make a well informed decision.”

        That, to me, is a testimony to your generosity, and willingness to see the best in people.

      • Mooser on December 13, 2015, 1:07 pm

        ” Do you have a voice recording of the Prophet’s sermon and preaches? “

        Awww, our own little Mullah lays down the law for Muslims. And, come to think of it, everybody else, too. “a4tech” is strictly ecumenical that way. He’ll tell anybody their business. I bet he doesn’t know the salve trade.

      • gamal on December 13, 2015, 2:15 pm

        “The entirety of Islamic teachings and commandments are straight from the Quran and the Hadith.”

        the Quran and hadith are the “entirety” of Islamic teachings? “commandments are straight from the Quran and the hadith” how many commandments are there? they are just there really in the text, cool Usul ul fiqh must be doddle then, it’s in the book.

        ok you’ve heard of the hadith and Quran, ya Sheikh, but tell me where are these books of law? and how are they used? by whom are they used and how, just reciting the rules.

        “I am not really well-verse in the tenets of Christianity, but I believe it is far less rigid in its laws and practical aspects of worship compared to Islam”

        I think you will find that that is unadulterated nonsense, if you channel an average ignorant westerner you probably get the same nonsensical statement, with apologies to the ignorant and average, westerners aint getting no apologies from me.

        Law is not in the Quran or the hadith, you think you just going to pick up the Quran and get

        now you want to talk to me because you are so ignorant that you think you can defend

        “Islam is more about written laws and code of conduct for every practice in life from cradle to grave.”


        “The entirety of Islamic teachings and commandments are straight from the Quran and the Hadith.”

        so where are these laws and codes etc recorded? in the Quran and Hadith, idiot! your unfamiliarity with all this shows.

        “Both are accessed through writings exclusively after the death of Prophet Muhammad”

        ? which writings? the fact that the word Fiqh is unknown to you, is indicative of your being a google Muslim.

        what from a legal point of view is interesting about Shafi’is writings, exclusively after Muhammads death?

        you use laws and codes, since laws are I guess Sharia (they are not) what are these codes? do they have name?

        who is empowered to enforce these rigid laws in the Quran and Hadith? rigid laws without enforcement?

        would you say in history Islamic Law has shown itself rigid?

        whats the difference between shari’ayya and sharia?

        these flexible Christian laws were presumably rigidified when they were the Kanun? (Kanunanized)

        Like a child you confidently spout nonsense,

        “It is even said the content of the Quran will be preserved as it was sent to the Prophet for all eternity in the Quran itself” where? same place we are told not to mate with foreigners?

        when was the Quran created? if you give the wrong answer I wont ransom you from Christians, should you fall into their hands?

        ok you do know that the scholars were not really impressed with the notion of the right unadulterated scripture, because the problem is in interpretation, Muslims have been trying to add and subtract ayat from the mushaf from very early on.

        .” How exactly would this be possible if it not by writing? Do you have a voice recording of the Prophet’s sermon and preaches?”

        what writing the Quran and Hadith?

        who said that the first ground of Islam is Tawba and the second Muru’a, the 68th is Ghurbat, dont tell the Zio’s and the 96th is Dahshat, then Mushada not one mention of law,

        but in those days they did not have google to support their faith.

      • Mooser on December 13, 2015, 3:21 pm

        “but in those days they did not have google to support their faith.”

        “gamal”, mon ami, you should take a look at “tech” on the rules for slavery.

      • gamal on December 13, 2015, 10:26 pm

        “It is even said the content of the Quran will be preserved as it was sent to the Prophet for all eternity in the Quran itself”

        i asked where, hajant you better answer?

        wasnt even a trick question, your google Islam is pretty weak, try the banu bing,

      • on December 14, 2015, 2:33 am

        Gamal, with all due respect the points you put forward are something to be discussed among learned scholars, which I am certainly not.

        However, what is opinion on this particular verse?

        انا نحن نزلنا الذكر وانا له لحافظون

        Sura Al-Hijr Verse No. 9

        Translation by MUHSIN KHAN

        Verily We: It is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Quran) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).

        Translation by SAHIH INTERNATIONAL

        Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.

        Surely this allude to the literal writings of the Quran, through which God’s words are relayed to us?

      • gamal on December 14, 2015, 11:33 am

        yes a4 well done, no need to shout I know which translation you are using, on that site you might find it interesting to check the other translations available.

        and I wouldn’t characterize it as you do, the Ismailis after all pioneered turning the Quran into a gnostic mystery whose interpretation bore no relationship to the expedient meaning whatsoever, the “Sunnis” and the Ithna ashari Shi’i joined forces to resist the wild charisma of the Ismaili Imams, but as a non-Muslim or Muslim you have every right to interpret as you wish.

  6. MaxNarr on December 12, 2015, 4:05 am

    You defame the true heroes that fought against apartheid when you accuse Israel of this. Know full well that Israeli Arabs have equal rights and serve in the highest post while in PA controlled ramallah it is illegal to sell a house to a Jew. Your apartheid comparison is immoral and corrupts the memory of the true crimes of apartheid in south Africa.

    • rosross on December 12, 2015, 11:44 pm

      @Max Narr,

      Non-Jewish Israelis, do not have equal rights and they are not Arabs, they are of Palestinian descent, but they are Israeli citizens and they should not be discriminated against.

      Non-Jewish Israelis do not have the same political rights and would not be allowed to reach the highest political office.

      Non-Jewish Israelis also cannot work outside of Israel (although beyond the UN mandate there are actually no borders for Israel so what is Israel and what is Occupied Palestine needs to be defined) and return;

      they cannot bring spouses, children, parents to live with them;

      they cannot build on to their homes without permission;

      they cannot move into Jew-only areas to live;

      and they receive inferior health services and education.

      All of which is apartheid.

      As to Ramallah in Occupied Palestine, the controlling entity is the Israeli Government and the military force it uses to maintain occupation of Palestine beyond UN mandated Israeli borders.

      It would be funny if it were not so tragic – in Ramallah the PA won’t let people sell property to Jews but throughout Occupied Palestine, Jewish Israelis simply get the military to go in and take the home, tossing the Palestinians into the street.

    • diasp0ra on December 13, 2015, 4:03 am


      There are over 50 discriminatory laws against Palestinians living inside Israel. Most Palestinians in Israel live in poverty. Some African Americans also served in the US congress during Jim Crow, that doesn’t mean that the country wasn’t racist as all hell and discriminatory against them. No Palestinian inside Israel has ever held a ministerial position with any consequence or been part of the government with any responsibility.

      Furthermore, Ramallah is Israeli controlled. It’s PA administered, there is a difference. The PA will have the same fate as Bophuthatswana.

      The Rome Statute of Apartheid: “inhumane acts of a character similar to those referred to in paragraph 1, committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” Fits Israel perfectly.

      Plus, many anti-Apartheid activist veterans have said the situation in Palestine is worse than Apartheid in South Africa. Or are you going to claim knowledge more than Tutu, Kathrada, etc?

      They must have been paid off by your infamous “Palestine Lobby” eh?

  7. Ossinev on December 12, 2015, 1:55 pm

    “You defame the true heroes that fought against apartheid”. That would be the ANC then = a guerrilla organisation accused of being “terrorists”fighting state brutality, discrimination and ghettoization.

    A bit like the PLO/Fatah/Hamas.

    You need counselling – specifically to help you distinguish between your posterior and your elbow.

    • annie on December 12, 2015, 6:56 pm

      You defame the true heroes that fought against apartheid

      ossinev – this reminds me of an old hasbara video someone informed me about which i finally posted here in the comment section once, and perhaps in a front page story. it was about this well known hasbara specialist who used to teach at the hasbara fellowship. and it was a workshop (in south africa as i recall) sometime in the early stages of israel being called out as an israeli state around 10 years ago. and one of the young SA jewish students raised his hand and asked about these charges of apartheid and how they would counter them. and the guy (the hasbara specialist) answers him by saying ‘tell him it defames the true heroes that fought against apartheid’. so that line was likely made up by the hasbara specialist, no true hero of SA apartheid would ever claim they were defamed by the comparison — and never has.

  8. JLewisDickerson on December 12, 2015, 7:28 pm

    RE: that awesome photo of the Kibbutznikiyot trio

    The Royal Teens – Short Shorts

    Carmine D’Amico, guitar, age 12-13 playing with the Royal Teens. Bob Gaudio, piano, Tommy Austin Drums. No bass. Joey Francovilla later became vocalist, with Frank Coppola tenor sax. Leo Rogers, Manager

  9. just on December 13, 2015, 12:38 pm

    “Israel Is Already a Binational State, and Has Been for a Long Time …

    … The terror, shock, repulsion and resistance the one-state idea stirs in every Zionist Israeli are understandable emotions. They are the traces left by 120 years of Zionism and 120 years of fighting the Palestinian people, with all the fears, hatred, ideology, propaganda and brainwashing. Moreover, contemporary precedents, from the Balkans to Northern Ireland, do not bode well. The one-state solution is the darkest of demons, which will lead to the mother of all disasters: the return of Palestinian refugees. Intifadas, wars, terror, tyranny, civil war and Armageddon pale before the terror that the idea of a binational democracy strikes in the Israeli heart. Return is the absolute apocalypse.

    That’s how it is when the members of the neighboring nation are regarded as nonhuman. That’s how it is when you live in the shadow of a trauma that someone makes sure to cultivate, magnify and distort its impact. As a result, a binational state is seen as an invitation to suicide. With that kind of start, any change in mind-set is a long way off. This Israel will never freely accept the Palestinians as citizens with equal rights. And we can trust the prime minister to do his part: Last week, in response to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s doomsday-weapon warnings, Benjamin Netanyahu firmly declared, “Israel will not be a binational state.”

    If the premier says Israel won’t be a binational state, then of course it won’t be. There’s just one small detail, from the realm of facts: For more than 48 years now, Israel is already a binational state. There’s no other way to describe it: a state that governs two nations is binational. Nor is there any indication that this situation is about to change. And so, the campaign of fearmongering collapses like a house of cards. It turns out that the disaster is already here and it’s not the end of the world. In Basel, Theodor Herzl founded the Jewish state; 70 years later, in 1967, it came to an end and became a binational state. For most of its history, then, Israel has been a binational state. The terrible demon is the reality.

    And perhaps the devil is not so terrible? In the cruelest, most unjust situation that can be imagined — in which a binational Israel maintains an apartheid regime in the territories and a regime that discriminates against its Arab citizens — the horrific prophecies have not come true. There is no civil war, no Yugoslav-style massacres. Every few years there’s an uprising, every few years there’s a small war. Israel lives by the sword; it’s not the end of the world, certainly not in its own eyes. So how much worse could it be if the binationalism were also to become democratic? And why can’t the state’s Jewish character, whatever that means, be preserved in a binational democracy, alongside the national character of the second nation?

    Proponents of the single-state solution are trying to put forward a crazy proposition: the establishment of a just regime, an egalitarian democracy for everyone, not only the Jews. That’s the entire story, the whole catastrophe. The background to this is another development that is increasingly gaining recognition in Israel and beyond: the futility of the alternative. True, there are still people who amuse themselves with the two-state idea, whether out of inertia or a desire to be misleading so as to preserve the status quo. And there are people who think it’s possible to establish a Palestinian state and to let justice reign beyond the 1967 borders, without evacuating all of the settlements and without resolving the refugee problem. That is insane. There has never been an Israeli government that believed in that solution: The proof is that no one ever seriously stopped building the settlements, whose entire purpose is to preclude such an option.

    The road is long and hard, but the debate must begin to shift now, at least for the few who want to live in a more just state. They must stop proclaiming “two states” and “Jewish state,” and begin talking reality. And the reality is that the binational state has been here for a long time. The task now is to make it just. That is much less frightening and dangerous than any other scenario.

    read more:

    Thank you, Gideon Levy!

    That’s all folks.

    • diasp0ra on December 13, 2015, 3:58 pm

      I couldn’t agree more.

      You will notice that calls for one state have been becoming louder and louder.

      Support for the two state solution is witnessing some of its greatest setbacks since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993. It has been argued by many that we are experiencing a paradigm shift (In the Kuhnian sense) from a two state based resolution to a one state based resolution. Supporters for a one state based resolution can be found in both Palestinian and Israeli society (albeit with differing understandings), fluctuating between 30 to 35 percent of the population.

      This is a remarkably high number considering such a solution has not been advocated by any mainstream leaders of either society -quite the opposite- and is still considered taboo to bring up seriously in any official capacity on the world stage.

      We’re tumbling in that direction though, and it’s only going to get louder and louder. You reap what you sow, can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  10. MaxNarr on December 13, 2015, 8:30 pm

    Oh interesting no room for the Jewish state in this proposition. How immoral.

    • eljay on December 14, 2015, 7:18 am

      || MaxNarr: Oh interesting no room for the Jewish state in this proposition. How immoral. ||

      Any supremacist state – including a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” – is immoral. The supremacists who support supremacist states – including Zio-supremacists who support a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” – are immoral.

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