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A Most Unpleasant Word

February 3, 2010 – 9:24 pm59 Comments

Photograph by Larry Stillman

By Larry Stillman

It hurts. Israel is increasingly called an apartheid state.

In this opinion piece, I wish to deal with the issue from the ‘inside’, from the perspective of an Australian Jew with an abiding connection and deep concern for the future of Israel as a democracy, and a country that has the potential to become a richly multicultural society.  I believe that Israel has lost its soul and is eroding its democratic foundation, replacing it with something that is difficult to justify as anything close to a democracy.

I distinguish between my position and that of people, including some on the left, and Palestinian nationalists who take an uncompromising ‘Israel be damned position’ and condemn Israel as an inherently exclusionary, racist state, while ignoring the racism and religious intolerance that pervades other countries in the region. I do not ignore the racism and religious intolerance in the region, but nonetheless focus on Israel because that’s my connection, and I don’t expect the other countries to be democracies.

Akiva Eldar, a writer for Haaretz (4 January 2010) argued that

“In Israel … institutional discrimination is meant to preserve the supremacy of a group of Jewish settlers over Palestinian Arabs. As far as discriminatory practices are concerned, it’s hard to find differences between white rule in South Africa and Israeli rule in the territories; for example, separate areas and separate laws for Jews and Palestinians.”

This is an opinion that is also shared by long-time civil rights activists such as Shulamit Aloni, Naomi Chazan, and others who argue that the solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is political, but that Israel has instead developed a culture of permanent militarisation and intolerance. Of course, such opinions are rejected as ‘offensive’, both within and outside Israel, but I can only focus here on why such an opinion is regrettably, on the mark.

The case for supporting the view that Israel has gone down a dangerous supremacist path is based on a human rights perspective: should I distinguish between the values I hold dear for Australia and those that should apply to Israel as a liberal, open and non-discriminatory democracy, even as the argument goes, the state is imperilled by internal and external enemies?

Could we accept such state behaviour in Australia on the grounds of national security, and are we so sure that it would not lead to  abuse of power? And particularly, could security measures like those in Israel (including the Separation Wall, separate roads, different colour ID cards, and separation of families) be accepted as a means of benefitting one group of Australians over another (similar to the way that Israeli policy benefits settlers over Palestinians)? Could we accept ‘Aussies only suburbs’ (shades of Cronulla)? Could we accept collective punishment (Gaza) as a solution to dealing with a minority population in revolt?  Would we still be able to argue that with such laws and practices on the books,  Australia would remain an open democracy unlike non-democracies that surround it?

The fundamental issue for me is that I can’t separate my human rights values and expectations into one set for Australia and another for Israel. I also apply the same standards to other countries, particularly democracies. Consider the following scenario. It is set in Australia and I believe that it is realistic.

Australian policy towards boat people is overlayed with paranoia about security and contamination that far outweighs the real threat posed by the very small number of people who arrive here by boat. Yet we have recently built prisons for refugees and imprisoned their children. Politicians and public officials have abused power, all in our own name. Public hysteria has been whipped up (Children Overboard) and we have jailed a number of people in unclear circumstances (such as the Haneef case) on the grounds that they were terrorist sympathisers.

Frighteningly, it’s clear from a number of surveys that at least 30% of the Australian population sympathise with Tony Abbott’s views on refugees, hold deeply reactionary views on many other things, and given half the chance, they’d  bring back hanging, drawing and quartering twice a week at the MCG.  Persecution of minorities is a part of Australian culture.

Indeed I’d argue we had our own version policy of apartheid, whether by way of legislation or informal practice, for indigenous Australians that carried on until at least the 1970s, coupled with the White Australia Policy. I remember a lecture at Melbourne High in 1970 by the Secretary of the right-wing Australian Natives Association (an old civic organisation) praising the South African regime as a model for this country.  Like Israelis and their defenders who deny anything wrong can ever happen, we also have our deniers of ‘black arm band history’, including a former Prime Minister.

I want to make this claim—if Australia suffered from a severe security problem, far worse than Bali, and enough politicians and troglodytes wanted it, I have no doubt that our government would set up a similar system of social exclusion as has occurred in Israel.  Of course, it would appal me, and I hope many other people would see the evil in institutionalised exclusion as a means of enforcing national security, or religious and ethnic cohesion. It’s not something that I could defend in the name of the nation’s security or even on the grounds of defending democracy.

That’s what’s happening in Israel.

If you care about Israel as a democracy (not just in a formal legal way, but in the way that rights and resources are distributed fairly for all its population groups-which they are not), and as a positive centre for Jewish life, rather than a myopic society living on borrowed time and others’ money, the policies that have developed under the excuse of security have gone on for too long, and the unchecked abuses have gone too far.  The self-talk about ‘existential threats’, or pumping up fear of another Holocaust gets less and less sympathy as the settlers behave more and more like lawless thugs.   You need to oppose what’s happening and realised that the Zionist dream, hijacked by money, power, and crazy nationalist and religious ideologies  has become a nightmare.

Israel does have an option, and that is to stop acting as an occupier and oppressor when the excuse of security has increasingly become an excuse for real estate  and resource theft, the collapse of the rule of law, and  forced movement of populations, called by some, ‘ethnic cleansing’, all in the name of  Jewish majority.  Short of behaving like the old minority regime in South Africa, Israel will have to come to terms with the fact that in future, Jews won’t be the majority population group, and this means that over time, the country’s identity will change.  That’s perhaps the subject of another article: can Israel survive as a multicultural state?  And if such a state can live in peace, does it matter that it is no longer a Jewish state?

If you believe in Israel at all costs; not as a country with human rights and an effective democracy, but rather one based on exclusivism, religious imperatives, nationalism, and an iron fist;  then you have to accept what is happening for what it is commonly known – institutionalised separation, known in Afrikaans as Apartheid, and be prepared to live with it.

For further reading, I recommend this reasonably dispassionate piece in Wikipedia.

Larry Stillman is a member of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society Executive, but is expressing his own and not anyone else’s opinion.

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  • frosh says:

    Hi Larry,

    I can appreciate your passion for justice and fairness, but the use of the word Apartheid to describe the situation in Israel is not only a grossly inaccurate description of the reality, but it also trivialises the injustice that was the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

    Terms like “supremacist” etc also do not correspond with the reality of the situation in Israel

    It is important not to confound terms like race/ethnicity with nationality.For example, where the very serious security situation requires the use of separate roads, this is based around nationality, and not ethnicity. That is, there is no discrimination between Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis in terms of road use.

    Arab Israelis citizens largely enjoy the same rights as Jewish Israeli citizens. Whereas as black South Africans were not even permitted to vote, Arab Israelis serve in the parliament, and some Arab Israelis have even served as cabinet members, and ambassadors to foreign countries. I can’t imagine a black South African serving as the ambassador to Finland during the Apartheid era!

    The situation with the Palestinians (I’m using the term to distinguish them from Arab-Israelis, with whom they share the same ethnicity, but not the same nationality) is different. If Israel were to grant these people citizenship, it would be legally akin to annexing the territories – one can imagine the outcry at this – to say nothing of the fact most of these people reject the existence of the state of Israel. The only viable solution is a two-state solution, but this requires more effort from the Palestinian leadership at building the necessary infrastructure of a state. Sadly, a far too high proportion of the billions of dollars the Palestinian leadership receive in aid goes either to fund terrorism, anti-Semitic propaganda, or is merely stolen for personal use.

  • larry Stillman says:

    Frosh, I’ll only take up one issue for the moment, and that is the difference between the formal legal status of Arab Israelis, and the facts on the ground for the vast majority of people who live a second-class life.   A similar analogy is  life for many African Americans until recent times, when in law, by and large, there was equality, but in practice, there was segregation. Of course, a few managed to escape its worst effects.  The point I am making is that Israel is perhaps going down a path from a largely informal separation to a highly formalized one.
    Of course, you can argue that I am being precious by picking on Israel and not the jerks in the region–but that’s my point.  What is the quality of Israeli democracy today in how it treats and attempts gain the loyalty of its substantial ethnic minority?
    There are also increasing resports of the deliberate targetting of human rights organizations by the police and security establishment.  If harassment of Israelis by the Gashash isn’t reminiscent of police state tactics, and the work of BOSS in Sth Africa or the Stasi I don’t know what is.  http://www.btselem.org/English/Press_Releases/20100202.asp.
    See the very balanced article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_citizens_of_Israel , including citations from the state department.
    Many Jewish and Arab NGOs in Israel would be amazed at your assertion of equality before the law or in the allocation of resources.  http://www.arabhra.org/hra/Pages/Index.aspx.  or http://www.acri.org.il/. Of course, their claims are disputed by others, but the constant press reports and litigation-despised by the right-demonstrate that there is formal and informal discrimination.
    You should in particular, not confuse the status of the Druze or Christians with that of the Muslim majority, or take the success of a few as representative of an entire community.
    But thanks for your comments.
    But as for the issueon roads and the separation based on ethnicity–because that’s what it comes down to, and there  numerous instances in any case, of Israeli Arabs being prevented from connecting with family/business in the west bank on the most spurious of grounds. The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled, for example, that the attempt to set up a ‘Jews’ only road in the west bank was unlawful.  The grounds for the separation had little to do with the security situation today, but more for the economic benefit of settlers–clear discrimination.    It’s also emblematic of a situatin that can only be resolved politically, not militarily.  http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jan/04/world/la-fg-israel-highway4-2010jan04?pg=2

  • Steve Brook says:

    What about “two states for two peoples”? Larry seems to be suggesting one multinational state, but it seems to me that while an utterly worthwhile aim, this does not take into account the actual present mindset of Jews and Palestinians. I am a two-stater, for this aim would not involve too much arm-twisting. It’s more or less where most people are at. One multinational state after a period of two states developing separately…I could live with that idea, though perhaps not live to see the end of it.

  • Eitan says:

    There are indeed a few misleading terms being thrown around here, but I’m not sure that rectifying the mistakes would work against Larry’s main contention.
    Frosh is right to say that terms such as ‘supremacist’ don’t fit. Not because there aren’t thousands of Israelis who believe that Jews are innately superior to non-Jews (see Eli Yishai’s comments on foreign workers, or the recent book, ‘Torat Hamalekh’, published by a prominent West Bank rabbi). But because the term carries associations with a very particular kind of racial hatred.
    ‘Apartheid’, too, is a term that comes from a particular context and carries with it some heavy baggage. In South Africa, as has been rightly pointed out, Apartheid discriminated based on race. And though there is certainly racism in Israel, race is not the sole basis upon which a person’s rights are decided.
    And yet.
    To say that the term ‘Apartheid’ is grossly inaccurate, and that its use in this circumstance trivialises the injustice suffered by the victims of Apartheid in South Africa, misses a crucial point being made by those who would, with a heavy heart, bring the word into play in describing Israel in 2010: The extent to which people are made to suffer by a regime that discriminates against them, and the inability of the suffering population to leave their group and thus gain the rights enjoyed by others.
    Some of the important differences with Apartheid are obvious: the fact that Palestinian citizens of Israel can vote and have freedom of movement, for example, is significant. But there are significant similarities, too: those Palestinians who live in areas ‘controlled’ by the Palestinian Authority are confined to these areas, which are not contiguous, and must suffer humiliating and long waits at Israeli checkpoints even to travel short distances to other Palestinian cities or towns. Often travelling short distances in a normal fashion is impossible, because of roads that are open only for Israeli citizens—such as the 443 highway which, though built on confiscated privately owned Palestinian land, has been closed to Palestinians for almost a decade. The government that ultimately has control over their lives is one that they cannot vote for, vote against, influence or change in any way. That has been true now for over 40 years—long enough that middle aged people cannot remember anything different. To them, these conditions are not a ‘temporary security measure that will end when peace comes.’ They are life.
    That’s in the West Bank.
    In Gaza, meanwhile, Israel (along with Egypt) has created the world’s largest prison, sealed almost hermetically. Gazans cannot leave to study, work, or visit family. Nor can many of them work in Gaza itself, since they have no channel to the outside world—sea, air and land are all closed. Israel permits only what it has defined as the ‘humanitarian minimum’ of goods to enter the Strip—this excludes anything that could kick-start any kind of industry and intentionally keeps the population of 1.5 million poor, and hopeless.
    The situation is complicated: Institutionalised discrimination affects different groups of Palestinians in different ways: those who are citizens of Israel, those in the West Bank, those in East Jerusalem, those in Gaza and those in the Palestinian diaspora each suffer differently, and to varying degrees. No question, Israel and South Africa are two different places. But the degree of the suffering, and its institutionalised nature, are in many cases worse in the Middle East in 2010 than what people suffered under Apartheid. And, importantly, one doesn’t get to choose: If I am born a Gazan, then I don’t have the option of changing to an Israeli citizen and gaining the rights I had previously missed out on, just as a black person in South Africa could not gain the rights granted to whites.
    The problem that I think Larry is trying to put forward is that there is some pretty bad stuff going on in Israel, and that the situation is not just about peace or security or the lack thereof. It is about human rights, and their systematic denial over a long period of time. Painfully, this might soon—or might already have—put Israel in the same league as Apartheid South Africa in many ways. Not identical. Perhaps deserving of a different name. But it’s not really the terminology that matters.

  • We need to make a very important distinction here between Israel’s treatment of its non-Jewish citizens, and between the how it deals with those in the West Bank and Gaza, who are under the rule of the PA and Hamas respectively. The only comparison one can reasonably draw (and I’m not saying it’s a reasonable comparison) between South Africa’s apartheid policy and Israel would be in respect of citizens.

    While they may not share fully equal opportunities or allocation of public resources (and certainly not in the socialist/communist tradition that Larry would like to see), describing it as apartheid is huge stretch, especially as Frosh point out, rights like the vote and government representation are there for all citizens. There are probably few countries in the world where there are not differences in opportunity and resource allocation based on ethnicity and geography.

    As far as the “territories” go, the apartheid argument does not apply at all. Hamas in Gaza is effectively at war with Israel, and separation measures exist largely because Israel is obliged to look after the security of its own citizens above all others. This issue can certainly be debated, but it has little to do with any attempt to label Israel as apartheid.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    We can argue about word definitions, but I’d like to take up David’s point about my alleged socialist/communist leanings.
    No, what I’m talking about is the very common discourse (terrible word) and measurements used by for example, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and other agencies that are then picked up by liberal democratic governments to develop social policies that prevent the emergence of poverty in all its complexity–that’s why we have a progressive tax system (for all its faults), formulae for funding hospitals (more money going where it’s need) and so on. Of course, the Reaganites, Thatcherites and Johnny Howard (to a lesser degree), have tried to pick that apart–with the emergence of terrible inequalities. Trickle down  solutions don’t work for social equality issues, but the Israeli economy has moved down the same path with a widening gap for not just Arabs but many other Jews.   But for Arabs, the ethnic dimension is a key variable that contributes to a second-class status though its incorporation into formal and informal pratice.
    Amartya Sen won the Nobel Prize for writing eloquently the factors that lead to undevelopment and particularly, pointing out that focussing on formal legal equality (stuff on the books), can completely neglect structural inequality which weakens the law : that a person is so socially oppressed that legal equality amounts to very little. the Human Development Index with which he is involved is a fundamental measure of the Quality of Life, and overall, Israel ranks very highly.  http://hdrstats.undp.org. The Makhon Re’ut is involved in this work in Israel, and the Sikkuy report, on top of the  Orr Commission into communal riots in 2000 have reported the degree of structural disadvantage to Arab Citizens of Israel.   Another term that is used is social justice.
    Now, if the separatist trends continue, and government keeps backing them deliberate or by omission, then the A word is hard to avoid.
    None of what I am saying can be labelled  anti-semitic, self-hating, propogandistic etc. It’s the internally documented down-side of the Zionist dream.
    As for cutting off Gaza from this story, you really can’t. The attitude is all connected.
    So back to the issue then, if Israel is like many other countries, why should we care?  I think I don’t need to answer that co-opt question.  :)

  • TheSadducee says:

    “Frighteningly, it’s clear from a number of surveys that at least 30% of the Australian population sympathise with Tony Abbott’s views on refugees, hold deeply reactionary views on many other things, and given half the chance, they’d  bring back hanging, drawing and quartering twice a week at the MCG.  Persecution of minorities is a part of Australian culture.”

    -Oh dear.  Did anyone else find this paragraph ridiculous and how can the author expect people to take him seriously when he writes smears like this about 1 in 3 Australians? 

    What I do find strange about Larry’s views are that he has a deep committment to equal rights, human rights etc which have developed as a result of democratic governance, yet he doesn’t expect the region (i.e. Israel’s neighbours) to adopt that type of governance which would actually benefit their citizenry.  He doesn’t completely ignore the bad stuff going on in the region – but his focus is not on improving the life of Arabs but rather of Jews first – I’m not sure what motivates that sentiment?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Obviously, I was being deliberately ironic, but social science surveys have strong some strong conservative streaks in the country. I am sorry, but I cannot locate the survey I am referring to. And I do argue, as others do, that we have a nasty, xenophobic stream (which is strange, because we are a country of immigrants). Recent history and the support given to John Howard over refugees demonstrates this.   I think you forget how nasty the attitude was to Jewish refugees, and to post-war refugees of all persuasions.

    I don’t quite know where Saducee’s last sentence is going–my point of the article is that this is about Israel with which we have a connection, not about Jordan or the lack of democracy in Egypt and its sort of institutionalised family rule. But I am critical of them, but I don’t expect much to happen.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Larry – suggesting that 1 in 3 Australians would willingly adopt public executions of medieval type as spectacle in a sporting ground is beyond irony – it is plain foolish.  I would also question the contention that persecution of minorities is a part of Australian culture (whatever that is btw).  The rest of the commentary about xenophobia etc is ok though.

    As to the last bit – how can a peace deal be reached without taking into account the attitudes and behaviour of the region?  Couldn’t it also be argued that Israel is losing its democratic values by its association within a sea of despotism – i.e. its keeping up with the Jones’ (or Assads’ or Mubaraks’ if your prefer)?

    I acknowledge your interest with Israel is because of the Jewish link – however don’t non-Jewish folks in the region need your solidarity as much as the Jewish folks?  Or are Jews more important to you than non-Jews?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I in an early comment that I was being ironic with regard to public executions, but if you ran that in the US…people have gone to court for the public right to view executions.  On support for the death penalty in Oz, see http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=6510.   This is one area at least, where politicians on both sides have recognised the dangers of playing hangman.
    Your paragraph two is also a feasible dimension,  and the Kulturkampf in Israel has been studied and observed for a long time.
    Parag  3.  Damned if I do, damned if I don’t is my answer.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I said in an earlier comment that I was being ironic with regard to public executions, but if you ran that in the US…people have gone to court for the public right to view executions.  On support for the death penalty in Oz, see http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=6510.   This is one area at least, where politicians on both sides have recognised the dangers of playing hangman.
    Your paragraph two is also a feasible dimension,  and the Kulturkampf in Israel has been studied and observed for a long time.
    Parag  3.  Damned if I do, damned if I don’t is my answer.
    Due to commitments, I am going to leave responding to posts for some hours or until tomorrow.

  • ariel says:

    Question: What did the blacks in South Africa do to warrant their evil treatment under apartheid?
    Answer: Nothing, other than being black. Hence the evil of apartheid.

    As David W points out Hamas and the PA have launched several wars against Israel and therefore, something must be done to protect Israeli citzens (Jew and non-Jew alike).

    But when armed Palestinian terrorists hide in civilian homes (including those of their own parents) what is Israel to do? Whom do you target for searches? Why don’t Palestinians turn in these people? (The answer is that they’ll be shot, which is precisely the point of what sorts of people we’re dealing with).

    I’ll bet if any of us knew friends or family members in the JDL we’d report them immediately to the police, wouldn’t we?

    Re the Security Barrier:
    Either Palestinians want their own state or they don’t.
    If they do, then I see no problem with having a fence/barrier between the two nations (who are at war).
    Those who compare it to ghettos and the Berlin Wall are being disingenuous. Ghettos and the Berlin Wall were built to pen people IN. The security barrier is there in order to keep undesirables OUT.
    Why is it the Palestinian resident’s G-d given right to enter Israel? It is not my right to enter Indonesia whenever I feel like it nor vice-versa. There are protocols and laws in place to enable an orderly movement of people. If a Palestinian is denied entry into Israel, they should stay home and get a job in the West Bank, where there is plenty of need for building projects and the like. Or go elsewhere to seek their fortune and education.

  • philip mendes says:

    On reading Larry Stillman’s apparent endorsement of the “Israel is apartheid” analogy, I turned to the website of Workers’ Liberty. WL is a Marxist group active in the UK radical left and trade union movement. Unlike most groups on the far Left, they take a two-state rather than anti-Zionist fundamentalist “abolish Israel” position. They have been critiquing the Israeli/South African comparison for more than 30 years, and below is what they wrote on 14 January in an excellent piece called “why left-wing students should not support boycotts of Israel”.
    Unlike Larry Stillman, WL also analyse the political and historical context of this analogy. They have pointed out on numerous occasions in the past that:
    1)    This analogy (and others claiming Zionist-Nazi collaboration etc.) was first proposed by Soviet anti-Jewish propagandists in the mid 1960s before Israel even occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip;
    2)    Its purpose is purely political, to demonize Israel and turn that state and its Jewish supporters worldwide into pariahs.
    3)    It is based on essentialising all Israelis – academics, sportspersons such as Shahar Peer etc – as uniquely evil by virtue of their nationality and ethnicity. It is not based as Larry suggests on critiquing the particular policies of Israel or any other country.
    I do not have any problem with people drawing serious analogies between Israel’s behaviour in the Palestinian Territories, and other international examples. I have suggested in the past that there are some similarities with Indonesia and East Timor, although there are also many differences such as the inconvenient fact for some on the pro-Palestinian Left that the East Timorese resistance never blew up Indonesian children in the discos and pizza parlours of Jakarta. But these are legitimate debates unlike the apartheid analogy. Those who propound the latter demonstrate that they have moved well outside the boundaries of the mainstream Jewish Left.
    Do boycotts work? The Israel-South Africa comparison
    One comparison frequently made by supporters of the boycott is between Israel and apartheid South Africa, against which there was a high-profile and widely-supported international boycott. In fact there is not a lot of evidence that the South African boycott worked. It ran from the early 1960s to 1994, with little effect. What was decisive was the struggles of black workers and poor in the townships, who from the late 1970s became organised, for instance in the multi-racial trade unions. They brought the apartheid regime to its knees, forcing it to hand over to the ANC for fear of something ‘worse’, i.e. a workers’ revolution.
    There were also problems with the boycott as it was constituted – the bourgeois leaders of the ANC, for instance, tried to use it to prevent direct links between the independent trade unions and workers’ organisations in other countries. But, overall, the left was right to support the boycott. Its aim was to make apartheid South Africa stink in the nostrils of world public opinion, and rightly so. Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians also stinks, but the differences are decisive. Israel-Palestine is not South Africa.
    For Marxists, “apartheid” was not simply a term of abuse, but had a definite class content. It was a peculiar social system in which a white caste, intertwined with the capitalist ruling class, denied the black majority elementary political rights in order to enforce their super-exploitation. The answer, short of socialist revolution, was a single state with equal rights for all. For democrats, let alone socialists, there could be absolutely no question of ‘national rights’ for the whites, of collective rights for whites as a group (as distinct from living with individual equal rights after the overthrow of apartheid). The majority of the people in the single state of South Africa supported the boycott. It was therefore right to support it, with whatever criticisms and scepticism.
    The Israelis are not a narrow caste, and Israeli is not an apartheid state, but a nation – one that denies rights to and oppresses the Palestinians, but a nation nonetheless. Iraq, Iran and Turkey are not “apartheid states” because they oppress the Kurds, and Russia is not an “apartheid state” because of its occupation of Chechnya.
    Israel’s social structure is decisively different to that of apartheid South Africa. It is a national entity, not simply a narrow settler-caste. Within Israel, there are Israeli-Jewish-Hebrew speaking capitalists, workers, intermediate layers. The great majority of the working class is ethnically ‘Jewish’, and for the reasons explained above, their view matters. They do not have the right to support the denial of rights to the Palestinians, but they do have the right to want to keep their own national rights. That is why in Palestine, unlike in South Africa, the best immediate settlement from a working-class point of view is two states (with equal rights for everyone in both states, of course).
    We can see why the Palestinian trade unions and others support a boycott. In the desperate situation they face, this is understandable. But we do not agree. The existence of two nations, with two working classes, makes things more complicated.
    In terms of the Arab citizens of Israel, they face discrimination in many areas of life. We oppose and condemn this. But the situation more resembles the racism and discrimination historically faced by black and ethnic minority people in the UK or US than it does apartheid South Africa. Israeli Arabs have formally equal rights, they can vote, there are Arab members of the Knesset. There are Arab members of the Israeli national sports teams which some want to boycott. None of this is to suggest that their situation is anything other than one of a very severely discriminated-against minority facing intense racism, but apartheid is simply not an accurate description.
    Some of the military-administrative techniques of oppression adopted by Israel in its war against the Palestinians resemble those used by the South African regime. But the social and political realities of Israel-Palestine and South Africa are fundamentally dissimilar. Recognising that in no way lessens our hostility to the oppression of the Palestinians; in fact it grounds it in reality.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Phillip, I think it is unfair to associate me with any ‘essentialism’ re Israelis or anti-Zionist fundamentalism. I think my views are known. It’s the politics of occupation and militarization that I don’t agree with.
    Thus, to try and associate me with Soviet anti-antisemitism is below the belt.
    Third, I am not attempting to turn Israelis into pariahs.
    I thought that it was clear that I am not particularly enamored of pointing out the degree to which Israel has set itself up as a state based on  at least two classes of people based on race/ethnicty/religion (a complex issue in itself) , and it pains me to have to come to the view that there is structural inequality.  Perhaps we just don’t have the right term for it yet, and apartheid is the easiest analogy.  So the question is: should this be what the Jewish state exists for?

  • ariel says:

    The only viable solution is two states for two peoples.
    That means that once a Palestinian State is declared, Israeli Arabs would be well advised, for their own comfort of surrounding, to move to that state. Then there will be no discrimination of anyone, by anyone.
    The problem is that the Arabs want their own state with all the benefits of access to the Israeli health and education systems.
    As Robin Williams said, regarding Quebec’s desire to secede from Canada whilst retaining the Canadian dollar as their currency: “It’s like a child who says to his parents ‘I want to move out but I still want money’. F— OFF!!”

  • Steve Brook says:

    Ariel seems to have missed my contribution on Feb.3, outlining why I thought a two-state goal for Israel/Palestine most doable. However there is no evidence for his assertion that the Palestinian state will want to sponge off Israel’s health and education systems. Two states implies “living in normal relations with each other”, and this would include negotiated access to such services. As Israel has shown in Haiti, it is not above helping out other states in trouble.

  • ariel says:

    Steve, you misunderstood me.
    I want 2 states which are completely non-dependent on each other (at least until the trust builds enough).
    At the moment the Palestinians and Arab-Israelis talk about independence, but admit that they enjoy the benefits they get from Israel.

  • z says:

    larry, you’ve touched upon a point that i think is critical here – the tension between the notion of an ethnoparticularist state and a liberal democracy. in short, i don’t believe that you can have a state that defines and constructs itself as jewish and a state that is democratic (in the liberal vein.)
    with respect, i don’t think the zionist dream has been hijacked by the occupation / extremists / settlers / militarised society – i think the zionist dream (structurally/essentially) was always exclusionary and could never have formalised itself into a democratic state. the occupation simply functions to reveal this with a biting acidity.
    i find it variously amusing / telling as to the word “democracy”‘s absence from the declaration of establishment of the state of israel. fundamentally, the declaration invokes the notion of freedom and equality for all of its individual inhabitants, as individuals and nothing more. the declaration is silent on equality for all of its cultures, ethnicities and identities. because there is only one.
    which is why the comparison between two settler colonialist states is so apt. because a white australia is as just (and defensible) as a jewish israel.
    so while i appreciate the identity politics of “inside” and “outside” (and the taboos which go with this), i see no flaw in the position that the jewish state is structurally (fundamentally) exclusionary, illiberal and racist.
    take care

  • SJ says:

    I do not think the apartheid tag is helpful in describing the situation in israel at the moment.

    I guess there are two issues:

    First, the position of Israeli Arabs in Israel proper. Certainly there is institutionalised discrimination against Israeli Arabs and certainly they are not granted all the privileges that Jews are (in particular, I think of immigration). I would hardly describe this situation as akin to apartheid. There is of course a deeper issue. Israel sees itself as a Jewish state, not a multi-cultural state of all citizens, as opposed to say Australia and US, which are typically composed of generations of immigrants from different ethnicities. This conception of a state founded on ethnic nationalism of course has a long history dating back to the emergence of European nationalism in the 1800’s where Zionism got a lot of its ideas. The problem with such a model of the state is ensuring that minorities are not marginalised and treated unequally. This I think is the great challenge of being a Jewish state and still ensuring that minority rights are still protected. Some consider this model to be somewhat of an anachronism (I think of Tony Judt’s article a few years ago in the NYRB), but I still think there is space for such a conception of the state.

    Secondly, is the situation in the territories, wherein you have a weird 3 tier legal system essentially. The PA having limited control over major arab population centres, the settlers living under Israeli law and the IDF administering the territories as a whole. With the relationship between the IDF and the settlers intertwined (including often with the government of the day), the settlers too often get their way. Security is too often an excuse to justify the settlers getting their way, this applies not only simply for example to the separate road network (which is actually a product of Oslo, when bypass roads were seen as a way of ensuring settlers did not have to travel through Palestinian towns) but the creation of many of the settlements themselves. A settlement like Beth-El was established on ‘security grounds’ and with IDF assistance managed to prove to the Supreme Court back in the late 1970’s that is was for ‘security” ? Again, I would hardly describe it as apartheid.

    The Israeli/Palestinian conflicts differs fundamentally from the situation in South Africa, in that the I/P conflict is essentially a conflict between two people (roughly of equal populations) fighting over a small piece of land – with partition arguably the most sensible approach. The South African situaton was about a small white minority against an overwhelming black majority (6 million whites against 30-40 million blacks) trying in the  Africaaners case to preserve its ethnic identity by ensuring the black majority had no power – with Apartheid, namely the process of separation being the mechanism to ensure this occurred. Partition was simply not an option. 

  • Steve Brook says:

    Ariel…sorry for getting the wrong end of the stick. It’s all speculation anyway, and we’re discussing possibilities and probabilities. Ideally, I’d like to see Israel “doing a Haiti” with the new Palestinian state. Not particularly apropos…it has been reported that Cuba has three or four times as many medical people in Haiti as Israel. Does this make the Cuban government that much more ethical than the Israeli? Can we expect ANY government not to take PR advantage of such situations?

  • Les Rosenblatt says:

    I’m glad Larry has had the intellectual and psychological pluck to initiate some  discussion on your web-site into these difficult questions and perspectives.

    Definitional categories, comparisons and contrasts are hard enough at the best  of times,  even when it comes to so-called ‘identical twins’ whose behaviours, temperaments, interests, and even appearances can differ remarkably from each during the same time period

    How much more difficult is it to make political historic ethnic religious and national comparisons and distinctions extending over large differences in time and geography between former and present polities, in this case contemporay Israel and the former (pre 1994) apartheid era South Africa?

    And yet when prominent Jewish Israeli politicians and academics and people of the character of Bishop Desmond Tutu, not to mention a whole host of people who’ve been active in the international human rights field for decades across all parts of the globe, all start to discern some alarming correspondences between them (ie Israel and the former apartheid era South Africa) , anyone with an interest in human rights needs to pay attention, if only to demonstrate the non-identity of any such correspondences and to nuance the very real and distinctive differences.

    Chechnyans, Burmese and Karen, Sudanese Darfuris,  Uighurs, Kurds, Afghani Hazaras, Brazilian and Australian indigenous peoples, Iraqi Shia, Egyptian Copts, West Papuans, Fijian Indians, Zhimbabwian Ndebele,  Rwandan Tutsis, Baltic Kosovars, and Sri Lankan Tamils have all experienced the horrors of colonial and post-colonial ethno-religious and nationalist conflicts.

    People concerned with supporting international human rights have very little difficulty agreeing on where and when gross breaches of the post World War 2 international covenant on human rights (which arose out of international revulsion at the revelations of the Nazi Holocaust) have occurred or are  still occurring.

    Whether Israel is breaching the human rights of the peoples under its occupation or the non-Jews within its boundaries seems to me to be the critical issue,  which shouldn’t be confused with whether  it is practising something comparable to pre-1994 apartheid in South Africa.

    I think it is reasonable to expect Israel as a developed wealthy democratically structured polity which identifies with the ‘West” to be held to higher standards than the many of its neighbouring nation states which, although also to be condemned for chronic and  widespread abuses of human rights, do not have the same recent largely west-European  and Atlantic  ‘enlightenment’ history to draw values and support from. 

    I think that national entities founded, sustained, and administered on ethno-religious preferences anywhere in the world are bound to be abusers of their different minorities (and in some cases even, and also, their majorities) and it is the responsibility of peoples of conscience to oppose such oppressive regimes.

    Whether these ‘sovereign nations’ do or don’t specifically administer, restrict, suppress, harass and exploit their minorities in a manner comparable with pre-1994 apartheid south africa may be useful to analyse and certainly interesting to consider, but the main issue is whether Israel wants to live up to standards of behaviour fully within its capabilities as a advanced modern nation-state or continue to invite comparisons, invidious or justified,  with the barbarisms of the past which it claims to abhor.

    Non-Israeli Jews should help guide the Israeli state away from the vertiginous vortex of double standards if they really want to consider themselves as working in the broad tradition of Jewish humanism which so many Jews have worked and died for, and as exemplified, following the Nazi holocaust,  in the global codification of the International Covenant of Human Rights.

  • Michael Brull says:

    Larry Stillman should be commended for writing his article, and Galus Australis should be credited for publishing it.
    I want to take exception to two points by Sensible Jew.
    Firstly, to suggest that settlements are there for reasons of security is a joke. I think it takes a great deal of fanaticism to believe that Israel ensures its own security by putting only Jewish citizens (and civilians at that) of Israel into the occupied Palestinian territories, and 450 000 of them at that. And even if this did promote the security of Israel, that would have absolutely no bearing on whether or not the occupation regime was one of apartheid. By your reasoning, one could defend apartheid in South Africa if it were argued that it kept the whites safe. If someone argued that the pass system “ensured the security of South Africans” during the apartheid era – would that prove South Africa wasn’t discriminating against blacks? I think it’s a mark of how ethnocentric diaspora Zionism has become that someone would suggest Israel isn’t practicing apartheid because the settlements ensure the security of Israeli citizens.
    Secondly, it is also irrelevant to say that there are three tiers of government in the occupied territories. Israel controls the occupied territories. That is all that matters. Saying that there is a puppet pseudo-government in the occupied territories is as unimpressive as the puppet pseudo governments that South Africa tried to set up within the Bantustans. People don’t think about what Apartheid really was. So take a collection of essays from the 70s by anti-Apartheid activists. MB Yengwa wrote:

    “It is now nearly twenty years since the Bantu Authorities Act was passed in 1951, and yet there is not a single bantu Homeland that enjoys genuine independence.
    … this offer for independence was not made out of generosity and good heart on the part of the Whites, but was an attempt to extricate them from the responsibility of granting the Africans fundamental human rights in South Africa.
    …The South African Government still wants segregation or apartheid practised even in the Homelands and also to dominate the Bantustan Governments.
    To illustrate our point, apartheid is practised in the Transkei and it is practised, as in the rest of South Africa to the advantage of the White man. After seven years of “self government” the Transkei has not been given the portfolios of Internal Security, Foreign Affairs and Defence. Clearly, self-government without these key departments is still a hollow sham.”
    Does this sound familiar to anyone?

  • Eitan says:

    Interestingly, the article that Philip Mendes brings is mostly focused on the question of boycott, rather than the question of whether the analogy to Apartheid is a good one. The three main points he raises all either fail to address the substance of the matter, or are simply wrong:
    [1)    This analogy (and others claiming Zionist-Nazi collaboration etc.) was first proposed by Soviet anti-Jewish propagandists in the mid 1960s before Israel even occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip;]
    So what? Does that make it wrong today? Of course, in the mid-60s Palestinian citizens of Israel (most of whom do not self-identify as ‘Israeli Arabs’, a term used mostly by Israeli Jews) did not yet have the rights that they have today: They were still living, as they had since 48, under military rule, which involved a complex system of travel permits, curfews, lack of political freedoms, etc. It only ended in 1966. But forget about that. What difference does it make who used the analogy previously? If it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t, and its prior use is altogether irrelevant.
    [2)    Its purpose is purely political, to demonize Israel and turn that state and its Jewish supporters worldwide into pariahs.]
    Or perhaps to describe reality. Or perhaps to bring about change. Or perhaps because it is accurate. Or perhaps any number of other purposes. Arguing against the ‘purpose’ of the analogy also doesn’t render it invalid. (Nor, of course, does not doing so render it valid)
    [3)    It is based on essentialising all Israelis – academics, sportspersons such as Shahar Peer etc – as uniquely evil by virtue of their nationality and ethnicity. It is not based as Larry suggests on critiquing the particular policies of Israel or any other country.]
    This is just nonsense. Characterising Israeli rule in the occupied territories as apartheid–whether that characterisation is accurate or not–has nothing to do with essentialism and everything to do with describing a system of political rule as deeply immoral. Just as, obviously, calling pre-1994 South Africa an apartheid state does not ‘essentialise’ white South Africans, many of whom supported change.
    Having said all that, I tend to agree with SJ that using the term is unhelpful in describing the current situation. But for somewhat different reasons. Most people who use the term in describing Israel are basically trying to make the claim that the human rights situation as it stands is intolerable, as was the situation in South Africa. Using the term diverts the debate – as it has here – to one about terminology; to a discussion of whether Israel and South Africa are sufficiently similar, or whether the association is a form of ‘demonisation’, rather than one about the results on the ground of Israels policies, on both sides of the green line. Apartheid or not, the systematic denial of Palestinian rights for over 40 years (over 60, depending which rights are under discussion) is a serious moral problem. And the argument that this reality is somehow based on ‘temporary’ security needs also doesn’t hold: Apartheid was instituted in South Africa, officially, in 1948 and ended in 1994 – 46 years. Palestinians have lived under Israeli rule but without Israeli citizenship for 42 years. Regardless of how we explain it to ourselves, the lack of citizenship and its accompanying rights  is not experienced by Palestinians as a temporary security measure. Half a century is not ‘temporary’.

  • SJ says:


    Firstly – I am not the Sensible Jew – i’ve just used the initials of my name.

    You’ve misread my piece. I agree the settlements do not provide security at all – if anything the opposite – that was exactly my point – they were often created under the pretext of security to legally justify their establishment, even though they were clearly not.

  • Henry Herzog says:

    Michael Brull, to which gibberish are you referring? And  Les Rosenblatt , who could take someone who reckons Iran is developing nuclear weapons to protect itself against that all nasty Israel and that marrying out is refreshing to ones Jewish identity, although there is nothing wrong with it, seriously. I mean, I couldn’t be bothered reading what you say. You are both so full of slogans, predictable jargon and void of any critical analyses.

    Philip Mendes, great response. Keep up the go work.

  • Henry Herzog says:

    For the record, I want peace in the middle east. I want a two state solution. I want  Jerusalem to be shared by both Israel and a future Palestinian state. I want the security fences dismantled and all Israelis out of the west bank and only allowed to live there if granted citizenship by a future Palestinian state, as is the case in Israel. I want all the Arab and Muslim countries in the world to recognize Israel’s right to exist and never threaten her existance again. I want peace and that no Jews or Arabs should die as martyers.

  • Peace says:

    What is interesting is that the actual proposal for the palestinian state by Fayyad establishes  exactly what you are arguing against.
    If the palestinians actually put down their weapons they would probably end up with everything in time but that is not quite what they want. They (many but not all) want to destroy Israel and the Jews as well.
    It is time “liberals” stop blaming social injustice for all the evil in the world. It will always exist despite poverty and injustice – it just feeds off it.  How many terrorists and their supporters come from affluent families?
    It is time palestinians take responsibility for their actions and choices. They always have the choice on how to act.
    Walls exist for a purpose whether they are physical or mental. Some are defensive and some are offensive. Israel’s are clearly defensive while the palestinian’s (religious, mental etc) are essentially offensive.

  • Peace says:

    There is an old Jewish saying from somewhere in the Talmud.
    You can lie for peace but peace should not be a lie.

  • philip mendes says:

    The fundamental problem with Stillman and his followers (I shall call them the Stillmanists/ites for want of a better word) is that they want to apply a term that has a particular political, historical and geographical meaning to a totally different political, historical, geographical and security context. People who use terms such as “apartheid” or “Nazi-like” to describe Israeli policies are not concerned with describing or analysing reality, they are solely concerned with demonising a state and people that they consider to be their enemy.
    If they really wanted to provide an objective, dispassionate overview, they would have to compare Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians both within and beyond the Green Line to the treatment of other minority national and religious groups within the Middle East in order to contextualise their argument. The reason they don’t do this is because they realize the comparison may not support their argument, and then they will have to label every state in the Middle East by these terms which will just leave them looking silly.
    So, for example:
    1)     How do Arab States treat their Jewish population? Most of them ethnically cleansed their previously large Jewish minorities in the decade after the 1948 war. This year, for example, will be the 69th anniversary of the farhud (the tragic events of June 1941 in Baghdad) when over 180 Jews were murdered, several hundred injured, and numerous Jewish properties and religious institutions damaged and looted. None of the Stillmanists/ites have ever written about these issues.
    2)     How do Arab States treat their Palestinian population? With the honourable exception of Jordan, most deny them either equality or citizenship. Many Palestinian refugees are not allowed to work, or to access health care, or to own property. Those anti-Zionist fundamentalists who chant “We are all Hezbollah” at anti-Israel rallies might want to reflect on the fact that the Hezbollah is actually an anti-Palestinian organization which to the best of my knowledge wants to remove all Palestinians from Lebanon. Again none of the Stillmanists/ites have ever written about these issues.

  • Michael Brull says:

    As usual, Mendes avoids serious discussion, preferring name-calling and subject changing. It’s all completely irrelevant. Suppose Mendes was serious, and actually did think a pogrom against Jews in 1941 in Iraq proved Iraqi apartheid. It would obviously have no bearing at all on whether Israel’s occupation regime was one of apartheid.
    Sorry to SJ for the misunderstanding. But then – you haven’t offered any reason at all why you oppose the application of the apartheid term. And saying that partition is simply not an option shows you don’t understand apartheid. That’s exactly what apartheid was based on: the pseudo independent governments of the Bantustans were supposedly self-governing homelands.

  • larry Stillman says:

    4n things  )I can’t be bothered with Phillips labelling me of as the leader of some sort of cult/faction.   I suppose it’s a useful intimidation tool and something that is catchy.
    2)  But I do take exeception to his putting me in the same boat as people using the word Nazi, denying a people and state etc. It’s impossible to conduct a debate if his ontology (that’s the only word I can think of) sets up such Manichean categories.
    On the apartheid issue, however, see this–if Barak is using the A word, then it is a problem.
    Ehud Barak finally uses the A-word

    By Dan Fleshler | February 3, 2010

    Ehud Barak has now joined an illustrious throng of Israelis who are coming to terms with the fact that unless there are dramatic changes in the status quo, Israel will become an apartheid state. When I read about that, I wondered how many demonstrators would have stalked him had he done a book tour and used the A-word three years ago, like Jimmy Carter. Not many, I’d venture to guess.

    It seems that the estimable MJ Rosenberg also thought about the peanut farmer:

    It’s been three years since Jimmy Carter was demonized as anti-Semitic for writing that if Israel maintained the occupation without giving Palestinians full rights, it would become an apartheid state.

    And now Israel’s hawkish Defense Minister — and most highly decorated soldier — agrees.

    Speaking at a conference outside Tel Aviv, Barak said, if “millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”

    Currently, Israel’s democracy applies only within the pre-’67 lines. The millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories have no democratic rights. Barak is saying that Israel must either get out of the territories or be another apartheid South Africa.

    Exactly what President Carter said.

    Except when Israel’s Defense Minister says it, he is also saying that Israel cannot defend itself unless it ends the occupation.

    That is why supporters of a secure Israel must oppose the occupation. Thanks, Minister Barak. But then it is easier to speak the truth about the occupation in Israel than here in Washington. You don’t have the lobby to deal with.

    Commenting on Barak’s remarks, Philip Weiss, on the other hand, says that apartheid “is already here,” joining the even larger throng that makes facile, simplistic analogies when comparing Israel and South Africa.

    The Palestinian citizens of Israel confront a society that is closer to the American South in the 1960s, when African Americans did have the same rights as white Americans but had to fight to get those rights enforced. (Of course there are profound differences between the two societies, but I’m trying to find an approximate location for Israeli Arabs on the continuum of oppression.) Moreover, as I’ve noted here before, it is true that the EXPERIENCE of Palestinians under occupation is as bad as anything experienced by South African blacks during the apartheid era. But they are not citizens of the state of Israel (nor do they want to be); they are residents of a territory whose juridical status has yet to be determined. That is an important distinction.

    We may soon reach a point when it becomes impossible to change the status of that territory, and then those residents really will be de facto second class citizens. But that hasn’t happened yet. At least I won’t allow myself to believe that it has happened yet.
    3) Jews of Arabs lands. Phillip well knows that I regard the persecution of Jews in Arab countries as a disgrace, and his writing on this is an important contribution to the issue. I’ve referred to it in other realms and in fact,  it is  one of weak points of people who are critical on Israel–they are, it appears, often ignorant of this background to many migrants to Israel.
    It’s a motherhood issue, as  is non-democracy and structural racism and discrimination in other countries (look at the so-called Dubai miracle, Egyptian child labour etc –but we don’t expect any more of such countries).
    And throwing me in with anti-Zionists and fundamentalists is again, diversonary to what is a debate this is important to Israelis and Jews abroad.

  • larry Stillman says:

    A further claification, based on looking at Michael Brull’s blog (with whom I disagree on most things).  He has noted this current article and discussion [http://michaelbrull.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/apartheid-israel-at-galus/]
    No, I’m not arguing on the basis of this article for one-state, two-states, or any state in particular. It’s not for me to decide.  I’m not on the negotiating team. I am working through what I see as difficult  challenging ideas, without falling into any essentialist traps of which there are too many, linked to history/relgion/ideology/money/power  (sorry, I know, a lot of people don’t like the thoughtof serious thought as distinct from sloganeering).  That’s not anti-Zionism/Israelism/being a friend of terror or anything like that. It’s called thinking.
    It’s the quality of the outcome that I am concerned with.  I will take this up in another article.

  • Henry Herzog says:

    The comparisons that Mr. Brull makes remind me of the joke about the guy who murders his parents and asks for mercy because he is an orphan.

    Because Israel is a democracy and allows free speech and is more liberal than its Arab neighbours, it has to have higher standards than its neighbours. So what Rosenblatt is saying is that because  Arabs are  socially inferior, they deserve special dispensation. Sounds a tad racist don’t you think Mr. Rosenblatt.

  • TheSadducee says:

    “I am working through what I see as difficult  challenging ideas, without falling into any essentialist traps of which there are too many, linked to history/relgion/ideology/money/power  (sorry, I know, a lot of people don’t like the thoughtof serious thought as distinct from sloganeering).  That’s not anti-Zionism/Israelism/being a friend of terror or anything like that. It’s called thinking.”

    – says the guy who falls back on a feeble defence of irony to explain his ridiculous assertion that 1 in 3 Australians would like to see people publicly executed by hanging, drawing & quartering in the MCG if given half a chance…deep thinking indeed.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I suggest you read Jonathan Swift, if you do not understand the use of irony and satire.

  • TheSadducee says:

    I would suggest you read the Hamas Charter if you do not understand the difficulties faced by Israel in dealing with the democratically elected government of the Palestinians. 

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I beg to differ on this approach. Consider this viewpoint. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1123063.html
    Israeli governments have avoided dealing with Hamas not because they fear that engaging the organization might not produce a peace agreement, but because they know they could not manipulate Hamas the way they have been able to manipulate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas – namely, by using content-less peace talks as a fig leaf for the continued expansion of the settlement enterprise. Israeli governments have latched onto Abbas as their peace partner of choice not because of his “moderation” – his conditions for a peace agreement are not much different from those of Hamas (after all, Hamas has agreed to allow Abbas to conduct peace talks on behalf of a unity government) – but because negotiations with Abbas shield them from the need to deal with Hamas while at the same time enabling them to claim that he is incapable of delivering popular support for the compromises he needs to make. It is a classic case of having your cake and eating it too.
    And read the rest of the article.
    There’s much other reporting that there are sorts of nuances, that if given 1/2 the opportunity, would result in something positive. Mind you, I hold Hamas as accountable to the Goldstone report as the Israeli Army.

  • Steve Brook says:

    Dear Mr. Sadducee, I have no illusions about having a civilized conversation with people who believe the “Protocols of Zion”, from which their Covenant quotes, is a valid, authentic historical document. It would be difficult, but not quite impossible, like trying to convince a severely deluded pysch. patient that he is not Julius Caesar. BUT, a big but, there are more organizations than Hamas in the Palestinian community, just as Israel has more representatives than Likud.

  • frosh says:


    Some years ago, at the height of the so-called 2nd Intifada, I was in Haifa.  I played some water polo with a bunch of Arab guys in their 20s (a mix of Christians and Muslims – more so in the ethnic sense, rather than the religious sense – since they were all keen on post-match drinking  of alcohol).   Although they had little interest in talking politics (they had far more interest in partying), I managed to turn the conversation that way, because I wanted to find out what some real Israeli Arabs felt about the State of Israel, as opposed to some faceless respondents in a Betselem report etc.

    I was expecting to hear tales of being discriminated against and woe.  Boy was I suprised! The consensus was that they were happy with life in the Israeli state.  A few of them were small businessmen, and their interest was building their businesses in an environment with a stable and democratic rule of law.  They recognised that Israel was the only state in the Middle East that offered them this.  They had no interest in the so-called  Intifada, and were certainly did not want any part of a Palestinian run state.

    Larry, nothing you have written has convinced me that you are not severely trivialising the term Apartheid.


  • larry Stillman says:

    Frosh, we all have experiences like this.
    Mine? Arab students being kicked out of  a dorm because Jews (that is Israelis) did not want to live in the same building at Hebrew Univ.  They had not done anything wrong & they seemed like nice guys: they were just new students.
    Another: going to a rally in- Um el Fahm in 1976  where houses built without  permit (because they could not access any other land), were bulldozed.  No wonder Um el Fahm has become a hotbed of radicalism & Palestinian nationalism. You can’t claim it’s all invented. There are deep resentments, and Israel has made a mess of gaining the trust and  support of its national ‘minorities’ (a literal translation of miytum/me’utim le’umim)
    But of course I am amazed (and I suppose proud) to see well-educated happy Arab Israelis, a high court judge, diplomats, and the rest, and of course, somewhat amused that Omar Bargouti, a leader in the sanctions movement has been studying for a Master’s degree at Tel Aviv Univ. I suppose he recognises that it has a quality philosophy department, but says his choice is just a personal matter.  But also, in the same way I might feel proud of sucessful Israeli Arabs, I don’t want to fall in to the trap of being proud of ‘our Negroes’, something that was very common in the US-as long as didn’t cross a certain line, it was ok. It’s all to easy to be the colonizer and be proud of ‘our Negroes’ ‘our Arabs’ or ‘our Aboriginals’.
    Statistics and practice demonstrate widespread inequality  in Israel that can only be explained as discriminatory. I don’t like it.  I said at the start the A word hurts, and I’m not saying it’s the right word. It’s no use denying that something is very rotten.
    Call it something else if you  want ‘structural inequality’ and try to justify as it being ok in a democracy. That’s the problem for Israel.Have a look at the case for believing that there is structural discrimination  at http://www.acri.org.il/eng/.
    I’m saying that with increasingly separatist ideology, essentialist dreams and practices that are all ‘legal’ (the Afrikaners also loved the law–watch District 9 and the petty bureaucrat), all justified in the name of security,  and a resentful population who are also born there, what do we call it –the Old South?  a real democracy, or a very qualified form of  democracy? If we can say that Australia has behaved in a racist way, why can’t we say the same of Israel?   If you are a liberal Zionist or a post-Zionist (I know I am going to get pummelled now), what goes on is a complete contradiction with what you believe that society could be.  —
    If you want to know about more to the challenges to democractic society in Israel, then look at the Israel Democracy Index, available through http://www.idi.org.il which has semi-official status and sponsorship by the President of Israel.
    The report also notes that Israeli Arabs have a high rate of detachment from politics (which might explain Frosh’s experience)–perhaps the pain of engagement is too high. Only about 1/3 feel pride in being Israeli.    And, very substantial proportions of the population believe that there is discrimination against Arabs.  But a lot of people want them kicked out.  It all makes fascinating and disturbing reading, particularly with the immigration of people from the former SovietUnion and a transference of particular ways of thinking into an Israeli setting  (and I put it to you–should their rights exceed those of an Israeli Arab?)
    To quote one part of the summary, “Israeli society …continues to be characterized by
    deep  cleavages,  by  a  lack  of  trust,  and  by reservations  about  the  implementation  of
    equal  rights  for  all  citizens.”  I suppose that the fault line in the argument is it is all incidental, or is it inherent to the society?
    We could have got some informed information.  Given that Naomi Chazan has had the rug pulled under her by the JCCV, it’s doubtful that we will hear from any advocate of a ‘loyal but critical’ position, unless other support is forthcoming.
    The real scandal is that this decision was made on the basis of a dirt campaign against her was  made by the fascist ImTirzu movement  http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1090681.html,, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1147783.html and the leaders ‘down under’ take this  stuff , it appears, as reasonably informative.

  • frosh says:

    Hi Larry,

    It’s interesting you mention statistics, but not any specifc ones. Here is a statistic or two that I have read: On some basic measures of quality of life – such as literacy rates and infant mortality – Israeli Arabs have superior figures to any other country in the Middle East. I do not doubt that they face discrimination, as is regrettably the case for minority groups in most countries, but this discrimination faced by Israeli Arabs is not at all comparable to what Blacks faced in Apartheid South Africa.

    As for the situation with Naomi Chazan, while this is an unrelated issue, we at Galus believe this is well worth investigation – we hope to have something on this in the near future.

  • larry Stillman says:

    Frosh, we seem to be going around in circles.
    Standard of living is  not just hard stats, e.g. infant mortality, but how people actual conduct their lives and have the capacity to exercise rights as citizens–this is what the Nobel prize-winner Amartya Sen calls ‘capabilities’ (I am simplifying this), and this has understanding of freedom has become an internationally recognized key way of analyzing the state of freedom in different countries.    I am quoting Wikipedia for convenience,  here–
    “The approach emphasizes functional capabilities (“substantive freedoms”, such as the ability to live to old age, engage in economic transactions, or participate in political activities); these are construed in terms of the substantive freedoms people have reason to value, instead of utility (happiness, desire-fulfilment or choice) or access to resources (income, commodities, assets). Poverty is understood as capability-deprivation. It is noteworthy that the emphasis is not only on how human beings actually function but on their having the capability, which is a practical choice, to function in important ways if they so wish. Someone could be deprived of such capabilities in many ways, e.g. by ignorance, government oppression, lack of financial resources, or false consciousness.”
    A good academic summary is found at Vizard, P. (2001). Economic Theory, Freedom and Human Rights: The Work of Amartya Sen. ODI Briefing Papers, November 2001. Oxford, UK, Overseas Development Institute which can be found online, but Sen’s magnum opus is Sen, A. K. (2001). Development as freedom. Oxford, Oxford University Press which can be glanced at through Google Books. The introduction provides an overview to this approach. There is no reason why this approach can’t be applied to critique the current situation in Israel.
    Thus, I’d argue that the capability of Arab Israelis is limited relatively to Israeli Jews.  Since Israel is their country, their situation shouldn’t be compared to eg. Egypt.
    Furthermore, in  the same way that it was almost certainly claimed that American ‘Negroes’ during slavery or up to the 1960s lived far better than brethren in other countries, for Israeli Arabs,  their legal and other treatment make them internally, second class despite the exceptions.  Its a familiar problem with people who feel colonized and patronised.    The civilizing French certainly found that out in Algeria.  If Israelis, including Barak, are starting to use the A world in recognition of a real problem, then that problem is undeniable.  To keep on claiming that Israel is an exception because of God, history, or destiny is well,  out of touch with the reality when one population moves in on another.
    There is also concern that if the far right had its own way, the situation would certainly resemble if not South Africa, a pretty terrible place.  I am looking for more nuance here. I am not saying it is  exactly like South Africa, but it is showing disturbing signs of a permanent, legislated separation of peoples into deliberately unequal populations. Some would claim it has always been like that.   I don’t make that claim, but rather, this is the outcome of a policy of occupation and colonization on top of a Zionism that never really came to  terms with the historical rights and presence of another people.
    Where I differ, I think, with anti-Zionists/Israel people is that I recognise that  population movements are part of history, and we see the effects in particular, in places like the Balkans.  Jews came to Palestine  (some would say back to Palestine) for all sorts of reasons, and have met resistance ever since. The solution has to be compromise, and I wish this for both Israeli Jew, Israeli Palestinians and Palestinians in the Territories, as well as the Palestinian Diaspora.  It also means moving down the path of reconciliation (as has happened in a number of countries, though the path has been tough.   This will also require comprises on the part of Diaspora Jews Diaspora Palestinians for the sake of peace.   The other great factor is whether or not the US will keep bankrolling Israeli.
    This of course is explosive stuff, and I’d like to write  about it on another occasion.
    The Naomi Chazan issue is well worth taking up. Certainly what leaves me very concerned is the apparent reluctance of the  Union of Progressive Judaism to do anything that powermakers in the ‘establishment’ don’t approve of.   This appears to be an enormous difference with the more courageous stance of Reform Judaism in the US with respect to supporting differeing opinions on the situation, instead of falling for extreme right-wing pressure groups such as Im Tirzu who must have some friends in Melbourne who have the right phone numbers to ring in their lobbying.

  • Eitan says:

    It’s true that Arab citizens of Israel face discrimination, and it is also true that that discrimination doesn’t resemble what black people faced in apartheid south africa. Some have suggested a parallel to blacks in America before the civil rights movement. I actually think a better parallel is to Jews in many European countries in the 1800s, after emancipation but when antisemitism was still deeply entrenched in the wider culture, resulting in a situation in which even those Jews who tried their hardest to totally assimilate were not able to do so (though, formally, they had equal rights). Their Jewishness, in and of itself, prevented them from being considered full participants in the national identity of their countries, whose national identities couldn’t accommodate Jewishness. That’s a reason that so very many Jews in, say, Germany, converted to Christianity in the 1800s – it was a way of becoming fully German, impossible for someone who was still identified as a Jew.
    Arab citizens of Israel, too, by virtue of their cultural, linguistic and religious differences, are not seen as fully Israeli, even though formally they have equal rights (well, mostly). Nor can they see themselves that way when Israel has been defined as a Jewish state with Jewish symbols, based on Jewish nationalism (Zionism) and Israeliness as a nationality that is Jewish in content. There are some who have ‘made it’, who speak accentless Hebrew, avoid politics, and try to integrate into wider Israeli society. But even for them, discrimination – at the political, institutional and social levels – remains a huge barrier to full equality.
    Just before the Israeli elections last year, I heard Tzipi Livni speak to a group of Israeli university students. Responding to a question from an Arab student in the crowd, she explained to him that she views his rights as an individual as being sacrosanct, but that ‘the national solution for you is not in Israel, it’s in a Palestinian state.’ When even so-called ‘centrist’ political leaders see citizens’ true ‘belonging’ to the national identity as dependent on being part of the majority’s ethnicity, there is, in my opinion, a serious problem.

  • frosh says:


    If one examines Australia (or any other Western country with a Jewish population large enough to allow for statistical analysis), you will almost certainly find that Jews have higher objective standards of living standards (yes, things like literacy rates and infant mortalitly) than the national average, an most probably Jews will also have higher objective standards of living standards than any other ethnic group.

    It’s quite extraordinary that you would expect this situation not to be present in Israel.

  • frosh says:


    It’s an interesting comparison you make – it’s certainly far closer than the Apartheid comparison.

    Nevertheless, I note a few key differences, both in the situation faced by the respective minorities, as well as historical context

    1) Arab-Israelis do not face a regulal calendar of pogroms.

    2) I never heard of an Arab-Israeli who had to convert to Judaism to join a professional association, or the Israeli Olympic team for that matter.

    2) European genitles were not surrounded by an array of hostile Jewish countries that were in a state of war with.  Likewise, there was never a Jewish “intifada” in Europe – nor was their a rejection of the existence of the European states etc etc


    Most minorities living in genuine nation-states face a level of discrimination.  Since I have only ever lived in one genuine nation-state, Japan, I shall use that as my example:

    Minorities in Japan face numerous discriminatory aspects that Arabs in Israel do not face.  For example, under normal circumstances, a non-Japanese, can never obtain citizenship or the vote, even if they have been living in Japan all their lives.

    Besides various state discrimination, non-Japanese routinely face informal prejudice – and this aspect is very similar to the kind of prejudice Israeli-Arabs face (albeit with a different historical context)  As an example of this, many Japanese landlords will not rent an apartment to a non-Japanese.

    Despite all this, I have never heard of Japan described as an Apartheid state, and I have never heard of Japan being targetted by the kind of boycotts Israel faces.

    No, such absurd comparisons are normally only reserved for Israel.


  • Henry Herzog says:

    Larry, how do you to get to known the reasons why Israel won’t engage with Hamas? Who told you all this stuff about Israel not being able to manipulate Hamas like they have Abbas and so they only want to deal with Abbas because all Israel wants to do is expand and take over the west bank? Hamas does not control the west bank, only Gaza and Israel does not want Gaza.
    I am sure you are a well informed person and all, and some of the stuff you say about Israel bulldozing Palestinian homes may indeed be true, but you don’t give us the whole story. You do yourself a disservice by picking out bits of information that suits your argument and make up or put your own interpretation to the rest.

  • Eitan says:


    Thanks for your response. You are right, of course, that the situations aren’t identical. Ultimately, the most similar case to the situation of Arab citizens of Israel is, well, Arab citizens in Israel.  And as I said above, I think that there are some very serious injustices that should be discussed and need to be addressed, regardless of which term or comparison or whatever is used. When the terminological/comparative discussion takes over the conversation from the reality on the ground and what’s wrong with it, well, that’s a big shame. Still, perhaps hypocritically, I do want to defend my comparison. To respond to your points:

    1. You’re right. Arabs in Israel don’t face a regular calendar of pogroms. Neither did Jews in unified Germany, in the period immediately following emancipation in the mid-19th century. You could argue that there had been pogroms in Germany’s relatively recent past. That would be true, and is relevant. So is Israel’s destruction of hundreds of Arab villages after independence.  But of course the historical circumstances aren’t identical; none ever are. My comparison was more broadly about mentality and social reality than about historical background and context.

    [2) I never heard of an Arab-Israeli who had to convert to Judaism to join a professional association, or the Israeli Olympic team for that matter. ]

    True. On the other hand, there are forms of discrimination that are more-or-less unique to Israel: for example, ‘entrance committees’ that legally have the power to reject new residents from moving to a moshav on the basis of their being Arab; difficulties that arise in acquiring land, because much ‘public’ land is owned by the JNF which won’t sell to Arabs; immigration laws that allow a non-Jew with a Jewish grandparent to gain automatic citizenship, whilst a Palestinian citizen of Israel, if she or he marries a Palestinian from the territories, cannot gain citizenship for their spouse. 

    [3) European genitles were not surrounded by an array of hostile Jewish countries that were in a state of war with.  Likewise, there was never a Jewish “intifada” in Europe – nor was their a rejection of the existence of the European states etc etc ]

    Since the discrimination under discussion has nothing to do with security, I actually don’t view this as relevant.  I will note that there has not been an ‘intifada’ of Israeli citizens. 

    I find your comparison to Japan interesting. It is certainly true that Israel is not the only country in the world that discriminates systematically against its minorities.


    Your use of the term ‘genuine nation-state’ is loaded and problematic. There are different forms of nationalism – some more liberal and others more ethnic or conservative. Limiting ‘genuine’ nation-states to those that practise some of the most extreme forms of ethnic nationalism implies an ideological position that I (and perhaps you also) don’t accept.

    In short: Some forms of nationalism – the ethnic varieties – view national identity as preceding the state, and view the state as belonging to one particular nation. Others who live there, though they may have rights and even citizenship, cannot be members in the fullest sense (even if born in the country), since they don’t belong to the dominant national group. 

    Other, more liberal forms of nationalism, see the state as preceding a national identity. In this conception of nationalism, just by becoming a citizen, there is a national identity that you are joining (even if you simultaneously retain other/s that differentiate you from your co-citizens). An immigrant to the US, for example, becomes an American. They may also be, say, Brazilian, or Indonesian, or Tibetan, or whatever. But they, and certainly their kids, are full members of the American ‘nation’, regardless of their heritage.

    I think that ethnic nationalism is highly morally problematic and very difficult to ethically defend. It is also not the only ‘genuine’ form of nationalism, nor are ethnic nation-states the only ‘genuine nation-states’. That’s no less (and no more) true regarding Israel than anywhere else.

    Finally, you’re right that Japan is never described as an Apartheid state. But I don’t know of anyone, today, who argues that Israel is an Apartheid state based on the situation of Arab citizens. Those who do, do so because of the situation in the occupied territories, which is, as I’m sure you know, vastly different.

  • TheSadducee says:

    “BUT, a big but, there are more organizations than Hamas in the Palestinian community, just as Israel has more representatives than Likud.”

    Steve – sure there are.  However Hamas are the democratically elected Government of the Palestinian people – so Israel could speak to the opposition and ask them to negotiate a peace deal but the opposition have no authority and little legitimacy – after all, Larry and Michael Brull say here that the PA are actively manipulated by the Israelis into achieving nothing and/or are useless.  And that is the commentary from privileged middle class white guys in Australia – imagine what the locals say!

    And, I don’t know how people forget this – but Hamas has the guns!  Good luck asking the opposition movements to sort it out while they are armed and willing to use them – particularly to violently quash opposition eg. like they have done in Gaza.  
    Have a look at Lebanon – the elected Government and armed forces and opposition groups couldn’t even stop Hezbollah from dragging the entire country into a destructive war (2006) due to their deluded policies.  Do you seriously expect the other factions in Palestinian society to be able to do better when they are in a far less stable situation? 

  • Steve Brook says:

    That Hamas has guns is not news. But how many tanks, planes or battleships? In this wildly skewed situation, Palestinians have been dying violently at around twenty times the rate as Israelis. If you were Palestinian, Mr. Sadducee, I think you’d be resentful too. If you were of a certain cast of mind, you might even support organizations like Hamas, which at least are trying to fight back. You would fail to see the wider picture, in which two adversaries, one much stronger than the other are at odds over one piece of real estate. You’d be so angry that you wouldn’t realize that “armed struggle” is un-humane, counter-productive and utterly inappropriate in your real situation.

    Now, if you were wearing Israeli shoes…

  • TheSadducee says:


    My ancestors who lived in the shtetls of Eastern Europe didn’t get such resentment from pogroms, public discrimination, brutality and violence that they resorted to violence to solve their problems.  I’d follow their example then and now if I was Palestinian. 

    But hey – don’t let these inconvenient facts get in the way of your assumptions of what others would do in your moralising diatribes…


  • Steve Brook says:

    Another moralizing diatribe. My ancestors came from the same shtetls, Mr. Sadducee. They fought back against pogroms by joining the Zionists, the Bund, the Bolsheviks and anyone else who opposed antisemitic oppression. The Palestinian Arabs have a completely different history. That many of them have mistakenly chosen “armed struggle” as a means of overcoming their own plight is a major tragedy. But let’s compare apples with apples!

  • I suggest, to redirect discussion into the merits and demerits of the A word and the crisis of civil rights in Israel, to read this eloquent piece by a former Australian,  Nathan Cerny now in Jerusalem, to the actions of Danny Lamm and others to pull the rug from under Naomi Chazan’s visit to Melbourne.

  • Zoe says:

    Larry thanks – read the article – these aims are what I would hope anyone with a sense of morality and consideration of their fellow would want to support.

  • Ari says:

    In 1967 Israel followed international law and established a civil administration of occupied territory in the West Bank and Gaza strip and this is the source of the differences in treatment.  Until the demands of the United Nations resolutions are fulfilled – that is that peace and security for Israel are assured – Israel is under no obligation to withdraw its forces.  Since Israel was not the aggressor in that war and had a causus belli it also does not need to withdraw completely from all occupied territory in any case.  In an emergency war situation the civil administration can take measures to ensure the safety of its citizens.  If Larry has an issue due to unequal treatment then he should take the case up with the Geneva Conventions, the Palestinians(BTW  who would he like Israel to hand over the territories to – a defunct corrupt PA who would turn it over to Hamas or Hamas or Iran or ??) or plain common sense. 

  • Henry Herzog says:

    Ari, Israel’s enemy in 1967 was Jordon and since then the two countries have a peace deal. Although Palestinian terrorism must not be allowed and Israel has the right to protect it’s civilians, the Palestinians are hardly an existentialist threat to Israel, however the continuation of the conflict may become one.

  • TheSadducee says:


    I somewhat disagree – the Palestinians are a potential threat to Israel’s existence – if they insist on the right of return of all refugees to Israel proper then the demographic balance would be so affected as to permanently modify Israel. 

    As I noted earlier to Larry this is an issue which is the killer of all potential deals – no Palestinian leadership will sign a peace deal which excludes this particular interpretation because they would not survive the retaliation by the refugees and militant factions which would oppose anything less.  Similarly, the Arab League/Saudi Initiative refers to the matter as well but deliberately leaves it to the Palestinians to decide how they want to enact the right of return. 

    They have presented existential threats to Jordan as well, but were violently suppressed – longer term they may again present a significant threat to that country based on their demographic majority. 

    The only solution is to build the wall on the Green Line and possibly transfer some additional land in the north/north east to the Palestinians, remove the settlements back into Israel and leave Gaza/WB/East Jerusalem/Golan/Sheb’aa Farms to their own devices – i.e. complete separation.  In the meantime build up a relationship with the EU and write off the rest of the ME – I suspect that they will never accept Israel fully anyways – and longer term they really have very little to provide Israel which is of any benefit.

  • Henry Herzog says:

    The Sadducee,

    I agree, the right of return would, indeed, kill Israel. That is why it is such a complicated conflict, and the sooner it is resolved the better.

  • frosh says:

    Hi Larry,

    Here is a Palestinian columnist who disagrees with you.  

    A quote:

    THE WORD apartheid does not really apply accurately to the Palestinian-Israel conflict. The word occupation does. But the rejectionists no longer like the word occupation. Apartheid symbolizes the creation of one state, while occupation fuels the movement to create two.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Hello Anthony, if you read my article carefully, you will see that I had been weighing all the pros and cons, and I argue that if you want to support what’s going on and will get worse into the future, then you have to take the consequences and accept the label apartheid.
    However, I was at an Australians for Palestine forum last night in which all the speakers, bar one, made cogent arguments for using such a term, and it kept bugging me. (I also found some other stuff way over the top, but I want to leave that aside for another moment).
    But I blogged last night, some further thoughts on why Apartheid is not a politically useful term.   I’d much rather say the current occupation is cruel evil and corrupting, disgusting, and all the rest. Of course, there will be those who object to even that description which points to the issue that it isn’t so much the name, but the fact on the ground that cause the anger (or denial)
    But on the A-word, I’d encourage you and others to read my entire post (http://www.ajds.org.au/node/156), but here is one bit

    Thus, how politically expedient is the use of the A-word in developing productive dialogue and action to come to an agreement with Israelis and less rejection amongst Diaspora Jewish), for a settlement based on at least 1967 borders? As Chomsky has suggested, there’s a big difference between feel-good politics and good politics. My view is that those throwing around the A-word are shooting themselves in the foot, much as it makes for good publicity and protests for people looking for a cause in broader cultural wars against oppression, globalization etc. It also completely alienates most people in the international Jewish community who have, like it or not, a connection to Israel. It would be far better to just call the regime brutal, oppressive and racist, without associating it with a South African ideology that was a hop step and a jump away from Nazism….

    In South Africa, the anti-Apartheid movement reached out to all communities with a vision of a new, non-racial South Africa. But in the case of Israel=Apartheid, there  is not an attempt to say to Israelis (and diaspora Jews) that in fact, the system which oppresses Palestinians is one which they should join in to oppose, in partnership, so that both sides are ‘liberated’.

    Of course, it may be claimed that it is not the responsibility of Palestinians to liberate their oppressors, but that was the brilliance of the struggle in South Africa–it did incorporate all people, oppressors, and members of the oppressor community, and eventually it went through a process of reconciliation.

    As Ray Hanina suggests in the article you have referenced, the labelling just makes things worse and is a strategic failure in reaching out to Jews who are appalled by Israeli behaviour, but don’t like the apparent group stigmatization. It also offers the political right an opportunity to attack the left on all fronts/causers.
    I’d also say that has reached a point where it is time that the ‘what ifs’ should stop, and people on both sides of the debate in Melbourne need to get together and discuss the political options. I think that there are enough intelligent and polite people that this could happen. In any case it will break down a lot of stereotypes.
    The question for me is visioning in fact, is it possible to build trust between communities in whatever state arrangement occur?  Can we stop whining about our particular vicitimhood and envisage what might be?
    Are Israelis and Palestinians going to lay down the sword in the spirit of reconciliation (the great example being, for all its current faults, South Africa)?  Thus, in particular, is there enough common ground that will overcome the cries of extremists at both ends?  Will diasporas of both sides be able to give up some of their nostrums (I will write a post I hope in the near future about this)?  At a day to day level? Would an Jew share an apartment with a Palestinian (and vice versa). Or are we doomed, as in so many parts of the world, to have separate confessional communities walking on eggshells?
    [If anyone is wondering why they can’t comment on my piece at the AJDS site it is because of my lack of advanced skills–to restrict comments on only one or two pieces, rather than a whole class (node class).  AJDS would appreciate technical assistance, but false passports are not part of the deal ]


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