Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ for Israel-Palestine has laid bare, with maps and all, a self-proclaimed ‘vision’, which has been widely seen as amounting to Apartheid. The Bantustan model is visual.
A few days ago, Adalah-NY tweeted:
.@ADL, maybe edit FAQ?
Israel "cannot be compared in any way" to apartheid South Africa which "imposed 'Bantustans,' impoverished autonomous homelands whose borders were designed to exclude economically viable land, upon 12 million black South Africans."https://t.co/KAu6JfxJZ3 pic.twitter.com/YvS1dmuaUH
— Adalah-NY (@AdalahNY) February 2, 2020
Yet that is precisely the comparison that is being made now, and it is an avalanche.
- Chief Palestinian envoy to Britain Husam Zomlot (formerly head of Palestinian mission to US):
“January 28th, 2020, will mark the official legal stamp of approval from the United States for Israel to implement a fully-fledged apatheid system”
- Yousef Munayyer on the pages of The Guardian:
“Palestinians are “offered” a truncated and dismembered archipelago of Bantustans”
- Israeli Human rights org B’tselem says it’s “not peace, Apartheid”, playing a pun on Jimmy Carter’s book title “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”. B’tselem elaborates:
“Palestinians… will be relegated to small, enclosed, isolated enclaves, with no control over their lives as the plan eternalizes the fragmentation of Palestinian space into disconnected slivers of territory in a sea of Israeli control, not unlike the Bantustans of South Africa’s Apartheid regime.”
The Apartheid comparison is something that Israel has tried very hard to avoid. Yet the suggestion has been made by its own leaders. In 2017, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak warned of a “slippery slope” towards Apartheid. Yet the Israeli left did not really have a viable solution to this. If one looks at the 2016 diplomatic plan by Labor leader Isaac Herzog (now head of Jewish Agency), it was all about ‘separation’, not peace. Israeli professor Neve Gordon wrote that “Herzog’s diplomatic plan looks an awful lot like apartheid”:
Looking closely at Labor’s plan, the logic behind it becomes clear: since it is difficult to envision a Palestinian state in the foreseeable future, Israel should no longer be ashamed of putting Palestinians in Bantustans.
Really, Barak’s “slippery slope” is an attempt to deflect the fact that Israel has been enacting this Apartheid for a very long time. The main point made used to deflect the apartheid charge is that the 1967 occupation is ostensibly temporary. The challenge has been how to describe Israeli control as something other than Apartheid, and the Palestinian ‘state’ as something other than Bantustans. But this, in truth, was all that Israel ever had in store for Palestinians.
Barak’s “generous offer” at Camp David in 2000 amounted to Bantustans; Laborite Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin promised the parliament in 1995 that the Oslo Accords were about “less than a [Palestinian] state”. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the possibility a “state minus”. It’s always been about that, at best – Bantustans.
But now, the Trump map for the first time openly suggests this, and it is very visual. Mirror images of Palestinian encalves alongside South African Bantustans under Apartheid are being widely circulated, and as simplistic as these images may be, they do speak a thousand words.
Those who have made the comparison between Israeli policy and Apartheid, have sometimes regarded the Israeli case as worse:
- South African law professor Prof. John Dugard, former special rapporteur for the United Nations on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, had written in a report to the UN General Assembly in 2004 that the Israeli Apartheid regime is “worse than the one that existed in South Africa”. Out of office over a decade later, Dugard regarded the Israeli crimes as “infinitely worse than those committed by the apartheid regime of South Africa.”
- Baleka Mbete, chair of the African National Congress, said in 2012 that the Israeli regime is “far worse than Apartheid South Africa.”
- Israeli writer and journalist (Haaretz contributor) Yitzhak Laor wrote in 2009 that Israel’s Apartheid is not only “worse” but also “more ruthless”.
- Professor Noam Chomsky said in 2014 that it’s “much worse than Apartheid”.
Israelis may somehow be aware, that once you start digging into the Apartheid question, the roots of it lead to Israel’s very inception.
In March 2017, the UN agency ESCWA (Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia), released a report by professors Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley, titled “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid”. The study concluded unequivocally that Israel practices Apartheid policy, and that it has been doing so since its inception. The document only saw official daylight for two days, as Israel and the US pressed to have it shelved, and it was taken down from the UN website. Then US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who called herself the “new sheriff in town”, boasted to an adoring AIPAC audience about that:
“So then they [UN] tested us again. And a ridiculous report came out, the [Richard] Falk [and Virginia Tilley] report. I don’t know who the guy is or what he’s about, but he’s got serious problems…” [massive laughter in audience, including host]. “…goes and compares Israel to an Apartheid state. So the first thing we do is we call the Secretary General and say ‘this is absolutely ridiculous, you have to pull it’. The Secretary General immediately pulled the report and then, the director has now resigned!” [cheers from the crowd and a thumbs up from the host].
Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, has a database of over 65 Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel. The understanding that Palestinian citizens are institutionally discriminated against is central to understanding that the Apartheid question is not just a matter pertaining to the 1967 occupied territories. Nonetheless, even these second-class citizens are being used by Israel-apologists to rebuff the Apartheid claim. Thus, the ADL fact sheet mentioned at the beginning of this post starts out with them:
The treatment of Arabs by the State of Israel cannot be compared in any way to the treatment of the black majority in South Africa under apartheid. There is no Israeli ideology, policy or plan to segregate, persecute or mistreat the Arab population.
Besides the fact that it is not true, it is also a strawman. Because the Palestinian citizens of Israel are only one small part of the Palestinian people, and although they do generally suffer a less harsh fate than those Palestinians who are occupied, besieged, or expelled, they are still a part of that overall picture. Israel is not really a state of all its citizens, as some like to think. It is the Nation State of the Jewish People, and Jews are the only ones with national rights in it, even extra-territorially so.
ADL seeks to rebuff the Apartheid claim with the two-state solution idea:
Moreover, Israel’s acceptance of a two-state solution as the outcome of bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations belies accusations that Israel’s goal is the persecution of Palestinians.
That statement is gathering a lot of dust. And it is quite clear to many at this point, that the Trump alluding to a Palestinian “state” has got nothing to do with a real state. It is only about Bantustans, and it’s about cementing more Apartheid, about consolidating and advancing Israeli gains for the ultimate control of Greater Israel.
The ‘deal of the century’ is not really Trump’s. It’s Zionism’s deal, and it’s arguably been made over a century ago, with the 1917 Balfour Declaration. Trump’s “New Palestine”, while following very old Zionist settler-colonialist designs, is a gown that seeks to dress the old venture with new clothes, ostensibly bought with 50 Billion Dollars. But like in the Hans Christian Andersen tale, the gown is made of nothing, and Israel’s Apartheid comes to march naked, for all to behold.