On Friday, United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres asked a UN agency to remove a report from its web site that accused Israel of the crime of apartheid. The report has since been removed from the site, although the executive summary is still there. Rima Khalaf, the head of the agency (the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)) resigned in protest.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
The report is certainly explosive. Written by Virginia Tilley and Richard Falk, two scholars who are strong supporters of a single, democratic state in all of Mandatory Palestine (and are generally also seen as anti-Zionist, a label I don’t know if either embraces, but which I doubt would particularly bother either of them), it basically makes the case that not only the occupation, but Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state is incompatible with international law and creates an apartheid regime. No doubt, the Secretary-General, knowing the already hostile environment the UN faces on Capitol Hill and in the White House, did not relish the idea of giving such an enormous boost to that hostility which is already threatening to cut off a major source of UN funding.
I am not going to offer an analysis of the report here. One reason is that while I have read through it, I need to examine it more thoroughly. But I can say a few things about the report.
- I clearly do not agree with many of the report’s conclusions and recommendations, and have issues with some of the methodology as well.
- That being said, the report makes more than a few points that I find either valid or, at the very least, troubling enough that a serious discussion about them is not only warranted, but crucial.
- Disagreeing with the report’s conclusions, methodology, or evidence is not a valid reason to simply mute the report.
- The question of whether any state can be both democratic and also a state of only one ethnic/religious/racial group of people is one that bears on a great many conflicts in the world today, as well as on the very definition of democracy. On that basis alone, it needs to be discussed. In the specific case of Israel, it has obvious and practical ramifications. For those who believe Israel can be a Jewish and democratic state, it must be acknowledged that those two things must necessarily exist in tension. As such, we cannot avoid either an open discussion to figure out how a Jewish democracy works or an open and civilized debate with those who believe it is not possible for state to be both Jewish and democratic.
My report for Inter Press Service on the row that has erupted over John Kerry’s use of the word “apartheid” to describe one possible future for Israel.
One of the greatest and most repulsive of tactics employed by repressive regimes and bigoted ideologues is the co-opting of the
Mandela’s image on a bad held by a San Francisco protester against Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2009.
[Photo courtesy of Steve Rhodes, published under a Creative Commons license]
legacies of great figures in the fight for justice and freedom. It never fails to happen, and it is never anything less than morally reprehensible. Not surprisingly, there has been plenty of it since Nelson Mandela’s passing, and equally unsurprising, Israel has been among the leaders in this practice.
Now, let me be clear, Israel is not unique in this regard. Indeed, the lunatic right wing in the United States which has been so influential in destroying US politics and the US economy, which has led the US into disastrous wars that have wreaked havoc on the globe but which, thankfully, is at least losing the social battles in the United States has raised this practice almost to an art form. Consider the recent statement of GOP congressional candidate from Illinois, Ian Bayne, comparing the anti-LGBT, racist and …well, the list of bigotries is too long, statements of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson to the actions of none other than Rosa Parks:
“In December 1955, Rosa Parks took a stand against an unjust societal persecution of black people, and in December 2013, Robertson took a stand against persecution of Christians…What Parks did was courageous. What Mr. Robertson did was courageous too.” Continue reading
This review was published by Inter Press Service, under the title, “How Israel Sank into the Quagmire of Apartheid“
WASHINGTON, Dec 20 2013 (IPS) – When one writes a book about Israel, one must expect that it will be analysed not for its quality but for its ideological bent.
The critique will generally be based on whether or not the work is “balanced,” which usually means whether the reviewer feels their own point of view was given a fair hearing in the book. On this basis, Max Blumenthal’s new book, “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel”, was doomed to failure before it was ever published.
But that expectation, which seems so especially prevalent for any book about Israel, is bound to fail because Blumenthal’s book is not an attempt to ask what Israel is. Rather, it is an effort by a journalist to answer the question of why Israel is what it is today.
The bulk of Blumenthal’s research was done simply by being in Israel and talking to the people there. He offers us a series of snapshots that don’t reveal new and hidden facts about the issues that made headlines in Israel, and often beyond, during his four years of research for this book.
Rather, they sum up and coalesce into a picture of an Israel drifting increasingly to the right, descending into fascism and with an opposition that is increasingly being boxed in and weakened. Continue reading
This piece originally appeared at LobeLog. That site has a wealth of foreign policy analysis, much of which you won’t find elsewhere and which you will find indispensable. Please check it out.
It is clear that US citizens need to start asking what exactly we are supporting in Israel. The general belief and political rhetoric tell us that the US is, through military aid and diplomatic support, protecting Israel’s very existence, that is, the lives of millions of Jews
Shimon Peres, Bill Clinton and Barbara Streisand at Peres’ 90th birthday celebration
whose history is so full of episodes where we were the victims of violence, ethnic cleansing and even genocide. But in recent years, the story of Israel as a Jewish state has been dictated by demographics and questions of apartheid. So when we support Israel, are we protecting a long-besieged minority and a US ally or are we supporting the kinds of discrimination that are anathema to most of the world?
A disturbing answer to this question was provided by former US President Bill Clinton in his remarks at the celebration of Israeli President Shimon Peres’ 90th birthday: “Is it really okay with you if Israel has a majority of its people living within your territory who are not now, and never will be, allowed to vote?” Clinton asked. “If it is, can you say with a straight face that you’ll be a democracy? If you let them vote, can you live with not being a Jewish state? And if you can’t live with one of those things, then you are left with trying to cobble together some theory of a two-state solution.”
Clinton’s words are a rather clear summation of both the US and Israeli approach to the Israeli occupation, at least among those who are desperately clinging to the long-dead Oslo Process. Those words carry some shocking modes of thought; they also demonstrate very clearly why Israel has gotten more intransigent and the United States ever more feckless over the years.
A small group of Israelis put this video together. Says it so well…
Obama thank you for supporting our Apartheid state
The head of the Yesha Council has stated the obvious–the settlers have won. In this week’s piece at Souciant, I examine his op-ed and its implications. Ultimately, until progressives, leftists and liberals can find some common ground to work together, there will be no solution until a cataclysmic event decides it. The right is marching steadfastly toward institutional apartheid, and if the left doesn’t get its act together, they will shift the terms of the discourse and the politics yet again, to everyone’s detriment.