Eleven years ago Jimmy Carter had the temerity to put the word “apartheid” in the subtitle of his book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, and he paid the price. The former president was drubbed out of the Democratic Party, and Wolf Blitzer and Terry Gross questioned him harshly for the word choice on major media.
But the grass roots and human-rights community worked hard to counter that resistance: the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (now renamed the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights) made a commitment ten years ago to use the word apartheid because it described the dual system of law they had witnessed. “Our goal is to delegitimize Israel’s right to commit apartheid,” Phyllis Bennis said then.
Today we see the word cropping up more and more in mainstream coverage of the legal arrangements inside Israel and Palestine.
Peace Now used the a-word today, in a report on a new administrative order issued by the Israeli military to govern the Jewish settlers in Hebron. The Israeli human rights group refers to the “apartheid system” in the city:
Today, August 31st, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced that the Head of the Central Command, Major General Roni Numa, signed a military order establishing a municipal services administration for the Jewish settlers in Hebron….
Peace Now: “By granting an official status to the Hebron settlers, the Israeli government is formalizing the apartheid system in the city. This step, which happened immediately following the announcement on the evacuation of the settlers who took over a house in Hebron, is another illustration of the policy of compensating the most extreme settlers for their illegal actions.”
Also this week, Avi Issacharoff, an Israeli journalist and screenwriter, was quoted by David Remnick in The New Yorker, and he was blunt about apartheid:
“The Israeli public just wants to bury the Palestinians beyond the wall, to be on defense and to live their lives on their own. But how long can that last? I don’t know. But I know that we are heading toward a catastrophe. Either we’re ending the Zionist dream—ending our status as a Jewish democratic state—or we will become one state for two peoples. Sooner or later, the status quo will explode. It won’t hold. Either the Palestinians will explode or the international community will explode and say ‘No more apartheid’ and they will sit on our necks.”
This follows on the use of the apartheid label by Jodi Rudoren, the former Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, in an interview with Australian journalist John Lyons for a book. She said the term apartheid was appropriate to describe Palestinian status in Israel. Not that she ever said so in the New York Times. That is verboten.
Of course these voices are Israeli/Jewish voices, operating under the old Jimmy Carter rule, It’s fine for me to talk trash about my family, but it’s not OK for you to do so. Charney Bromberg called it apartheid seven years ago under those rules. Jewish leader Stephen Robert called it “apartheid on steroids” under those rules six years ago in the Nation.
They in turn were licensed by the several Israeli leaders who have warned that apartheid is just around the corner. Though I’m still waiting on J Street to tell us the truth about what it’s seen over there.
Of course when non-Jews, say a United Nations body, dare to call it apartheid, all hell breaks loose. The U.N. was forced to retract its report. A year ago Black Lives Matter used the word “apartheid” and they were savaged in the Jewish press for doing so; though BLM didn’t budge.
And how long is it before Palestinians themselves are granted the right by the mainstream to call apartheid apartheid? You would think that we should grant the highest authority in such matters to the persecuted; as the world did in the pogrom era.
P.S. This isn’t mainstream, but it’s consciousness raising. A “Birthright” bus of young Jews, likely from North America, is interrupted by a justice-loving Israeli who tells them not to believe the Israeli propaganda, they should go visit Hebron and see “the apartheid state.” Some of those kids are listening.
— ronnie barkan (@ronnie_barkan) August 31, 2017
Thanks to Allison Deger and Ofer Neiman.