Israel is an apartheid state and that is why they are losing legitimacy.

Before Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) even began members of the Ontario Legislature and the Canadian Parliament are falling all over each other to denounce it. I can't remember another time when elected legislators formally denounced a student activity like this.  Perhaps during the 1950's when McCarthyism was rampant but that was before my time.

Last week the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed a resolution denouncing Israel Apartheid Week submitted by PC Peter Shure who said calling Israel an apartheid state was "close to hate speech."  While there were only 30 MPP's in the Legislature at the time, NDP MPP Cheri di Novo was one of them and spoke in favour of the resolution.  This week a Conservative MP is introducing a resolution calling IAW anti-Semitic.

Before I deal with why these unprecedented attacks are taking place, I'd like to share with you a great talk I heard last night at Ryerson from Na'eem Jeena: , a leading activist and academic from South Africa who works for Palestinian solidarity.  He told us that South African apartheid had three pillars of apartheid and Israel shares all three.

1. Different rights for different races  In the case of Israel, it is different rights for Jews and for non-Jews.  For example the law of return of 1950 says Jews can return to Israel and be given citizenship even if they have no links to the country other than mythical biblical ones; whereas Palestinians cannot return even if their parents or grandparents lived there.

2.  Separation of so-called racial groups into different geographical areas.  Even within the borders of Israel, 93 percent of land is reserved as a national land trust or Jewish National Fund land is for the exclusive use of Jews.  The 20 percent of the population that is Palestinians living in Israel have to share access to the 7 percent of private land that is left.   The Israeli Supreme Court has made a number of decisions that Palestinians cannot live on Jewish lands.  There are not only residential areas that are banned to Palestinians but there are separate roads for Jews and Palestinians.  That was never true in South Africa even in times of crisis.  Moreover Palestinians have less access to water than Jews living nearby

Finally the movement of Palestinians is severely restricted much more so than were blacks in South Africa.  The famous pass laws in South Africa meant that Blacks had to show government issued passes to move around but Palestinians are even more restricted by walls and checkpoints  and if they live in the Gaza Strip can't leave at all.

3. Security and Repression Matrix of Laws and Security. There was serious repression in the Black townships but there were never tanks or planes buzzing overhead like there is in West Bank.  Israeli military violence against Palestinian communities.  says Jena,  is far worse than anything suffered by Blacks in South Africa during apartheid.

If Israel is becoming a pariah in the world it is not because of anti-Semitism, it is because they are practicing a form of apartheid even more egregious than that practiced in South Africa.  Others have compiled comments from some of the most respected leaders of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa who see what Israel is doing as apartheid.  There is a reason why the BDS is strongest in South African.  People there recognize apartheid when they see it.

Finally the UN Convention on Apartheid condemns the crime of apartheid that refers to a series of inhuman acts—including murder, torture, arbitrary arrest, illegal imprisonment, exploitation, marginalization, and persecution—committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining the domination of one racial group by another.  If the shoe fits.

So why are politicians including some from the NDP setting a student activity like IAW in their sites?  An all party coalition of parliamentarians has been holding hearings on what they call the "new anti-semitism," by which they mean criticism of Israel.  They heard from every University President who appeared before them that there is no rise of anti-semitism on their campuses and yet the false rumours of such a rise persist because of the equation of criticism of Israel with anti-semitism. ">Israel is beginning to see that the non-violent anti-apartheid and BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is a greater threat to their power than the any military threat. In Israel and Palestine, they are moving to arrest non-violent activists who are leading the movement there. And they are using all their economic and political power to push friendly governments to move against these protests. But there is a problem. It's called democracy and freedom of speech.  However much you might disagree that Israel practices apartheid, you cannot shut down a discussion of the issue or a demonstration or disinvestment campaign  against Israel because freedom of speech is a fundamental democratic right in most Western countries. In Canada,  the only way to shut down the movement is to vilify it as hateful or anti-semitic. That is what our parliamentarians are now trying to do. 

I am Jewish and have been working one and off for Palestinian rights for many years, as have many other Jews who feel a special responsibility to speak out against injustices committed by Israel.   During that time, I have rarely experienced any anti-semitism.  In the IAW organizing, I have experienced none. If Israel is losing legitimacy in the world, it is because of what their government is doing to the Palestinians, not because of anti-semitism. >This attempt to shut down criticism of Israel is the most frightening assault on freedom of speech I have ever seen in this country.  Whether or not you think Israel Apartheid Week is the best name for this week of discussion supporting Palestinian rights, please write your MP and your MPP and tell them you think it is wrong for Parliamentarians to denounce this kind of educational activity.

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Really Apartheid?

Dear Judy
With all due respect, please learn your facts before you accuse Israel of being an apartheid state, and do not just hate on Israel because it is a country of Jews.
The three pillars which you talked about are missing some very key pieces of information which you so conveniently decided to leave out.

1. Firstly let us properly understand the Law of return and put it into proper context. The Law of return states that any Jew may come to Israel and become a citizen without undergoing the full application process which other applicants must go through. This is no different from a country like Japan where only ethnic Japanese are eligible for automatic citizenship. This means that there are ethnic minorities (Koreans, Chinese) born and raised in Japan, who speak nothing but Japanese that are still not Japanese citizens. Is that not unfair too?

Nonetheless there is good reason for the Law of Return. The Law of Return embodies a major purpose of the state of Israel, which is to provide a safe haven for Jews from every country and to make possible the restoration of the Jewish people. The need for such a haven is evident when looking at the prominent theme of persecution throughout Jewish history. From the expulsion of Jews from Israel to Babylon, to the Spanish Inquisition from 1233- 1492, to the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, to the Blood Libels in 1775 and 1840 to the most recent Holocaust when every country in the world closed its doors to Jews fleeing Nazi persecution (For the complete list of Jewish persecution go to http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/HistoryJewishPersecution/). Throughout Jewish history the Jews have been persecuted and have had no place to live, thrive and call their own like almost every other religion that I know of.

Abolishing the Law of Return, would destroy the purpose of Israel as a national home for the Jews. Israel's immigration policy is not racist or separatist. In common with many other countries, it gives precedence to its own “absent nationals.”

2) Your point about the separation of racial groups into different geographical areas is also bogus. No land has been reserved for Jews exclusively. Muslims and Christians and who ever else lives in Israel are allowed to live where ever they want so long as they are Israeli Citizens.

3) You are right that there were never “tanks or planes buzzing overhead like there is in West Bank”, but as I recall the Blacks never shot rockets at innocent white South Africans, or try killing innocent people by blowing themselves up. More than 6,000 rockets have fallen on Israel's cities and now that Hamas has acquired long-range missiles, more than 900,000 civilians are in danger. If that is not a legitimate reason to amp up security I do not know what is. However, please correct me if I am mistaken.

Your claim that Israel does not allow ‘Palestinians’ to return to Israel is also factually incorrect. ‘Palestinians’ if that is what you are calling the neither Jewish nor Christian people who live in and around the area of Israel, are allowed to immigrate to Israel by applying for citizenship the same way anyone else would.

My final reason for believing that Israel is not an apartheid state is because of the fact that non-Jews enjoy the same rights as Jews. “Both Arabs and Druze hold seats in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Every Knesset, since the founding of the State in 1948, has had Arab and Druze members. All transactions in the Knesset are simultaneously translated into Arabic, and Arab members may address the Knesset in Arabic”. “There is, however, one difference between the "rights" of Arabs and Jews in Israel. Israeli and Druze men are required to do three years of military service and then serve one month every year until they are 50. Arabs are exempted from military duty and are not required to perform any compensating civilian service. Since the surrounding Arab states are the avowed enemies of Israel and dedicated to its destruction (there is "peace" with Egypt and Jordan), this exemption is granted by the Israeli government to its Arab citizens, so as to spare them conflicts of loyalty and conscience.”

I just have one last question for you Judy. The next time the world turns against the Jews and Jews are being killed left right and center where will you go? When the world turns you away because of the religion you were born in to, where is the only place that will take you in?
Israel. Israel (and maybe the Dominican Republic) are the only places that will want you. Just look at WWII.

Thanks!! There's something

Thanks!!
There's something that may be unknow... In Argentina, they just pronounce a 6 months jail sentence for Juan Carlos Beica, a man from the left wing who wrote about sionism... He's been told that he was antisemist... Sorry for my english, mejor escribo en espanol, ojala se entienda, el fenomeno del antisemitismo y su giro semantico es mundial...

"freedom of speech is a

"freedom of speech is a fundamental democratic right in most Western countries."

Who are you kidding? In just about every country in the West people are in jail for speech. There is no free speech in the West and that's why it is in trouble.

Excellent Article

That was brilliant. You are courageous and correct. :)

Canadian parliament resolution

Dear Judy thank you for alerting me to the resolution in your parliament..I sent the following to
Message Sent: You have successfully sent a message to us, Dr Vacy Vlazna. If appropriate to your message, we will get back to you shortly. You submitted the following information:

* Name: Dr Vacy Vlazna
* Email: vacy@aapt.net.au
* Phone:
* Home address: Australia
* Reason: A problem I would like help with.

Message:

Dear Ms Di Novo It is of concern that a Canadian member of parliament is unable to discern what constitutes an apartheid state especially one as blatant and brutal as Israel which causes tremendous suffering to innocent Palestinian families. Voting for the resolution which denounced Israeli Apartheid Week was a deeply shameful act.

—Dr Vacy Vlazna

Time Stamp:
Form Submitted: Friday, March 5th, 2010 at 9:54 pm

is security not at all important?

Judy,
I agree with you on 90% of the points but I wonder one thing: when Israel's occupation's main supporters argue about the walls and checkpoints that they are for security purposes, and when they show that the number of suicide bombers in Israel have decreased, how do you respond to this point short of ignoring it? Do you believe that all security issues come as a result of the Israeli occupation? Do you believe that 1967 borders are sufficient for most Palestinians - if they are, is there not a minority of extremists who are yet unhappy with the 1948 borders or the entire existence of Israel and are willing to resort to violence to prove their point? My question is a tactic pragmatic one: to win the argument for one and moreso to actually solve the problem and bring peace and justice to the region, does the left not need to address these points, to meet the pro-Israel, Zionist discourse on its own terms to subvert and propose alternatives to its world view? Otherwise is this not a pushing and shoving match where both sides are speaking past each other, a mirror of the Israeli and Palestinian narratives that often fail to incorporate each other?

Good article -- thank you --

Good article -- thank you -- but with a few typos and one factual error: the PC MPP was not "Peter Shure" but Peter Shurman.

Israeli apartheid

Regarding Israel's apartheid regime within its pre-1967 war borders:

Ronnie Kasrils, minister for intelligence in the
current South African government:
"The Palestinian minority in Israel has for decades
been denied basic equality in health, education,
housing and land possession, solely because it is not
Jewish. The fact that this minority is allowed to vote
hardly redresses the rampant injustice in all other
basic human rights. They are excluded from the very
definition of the "Jewish state", and have virtually
no influence on the laws, or political, social and
economic policies. Hence, their similarity to the
black South Africans [under apartheid]." (The
Guardian, 25 May 2005)

Very good article Judy. Have

Very good article Judy. Have you read Mike Marqusee's If I Am Not For Myself: Journey of an anti-Zionist Jew? Its excellent; especially chapters 2 and 11. I'm occasionally in touch with Mike (thanks to a mutual friend in South Africa) and I'll send him your article.
Thanks.

Paul

Thanks & a small typo

Tanks for the clear and principled artical. The typo may reflect the medium. I think it should be "in their sightes" not "sites".

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