Sunday, October 04 2015

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MEMO to the Editor

Israel and apartheid

Dear Editor,

Re: Israel has many injustices. But it is not an apartheid state

It is irrelevant what we call it (Israel has many injustice. But it is not an apartheid state, 22 May), but the simple fact is that Israel is driving Palestinians off the land on which they and their forefathers have lived for centuries. Ilan Pappé calls it "ethnic cleansing", and it is hard to argue with him given the evidence from 1948 to the present day. How will Israel's 20 per cent non-Jewish citizens fit into a "Jewish State"? At a stroke of a legislator's pen they will be second-class citizens, which certainly smacks of apartheid in all but name.

It was fitting that Benjamin Pogrund's "anti-apartheid Israel" article appeared at the same time as reports that Israel's deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, declared, "This land is ours. All of it is ours." This is classic Zionism: all of the land of Palestine with as few Palestinians on it as possible. Hence, the ethnic cleansing, land grabs, withdrawal of Jerusalem residence rights and the brutal paraphernalia of occupation and colonisation intended to make life so miserable for Palestinians that they will leave voluntarily. When there are no more Palestinians left in the occupied West Bank, or maybe just enough to keep the West satisfied that Israel isn't quite so bad after all, the state will turn on Israel's non-Jewish citizens. It's already happening, despite Pogrund's apologetics. According to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a victim of South African apartheid (unlike Mr Pogrund who would have enjoyed all the privileges of being white when he was there), what the Palestinians are experiencing is worse than what the "non-whites" went through.

"Why is Israel the only country in the world whose very right to existence is challenged in this way?" Pogrund asks. Because it is the only country in the world today which is colonising someone else's land and insists on its own "exceptionalism", making it free to treat with contempt the laws and conventions that the rest of the civilised world lives by. Apartheid or not, it's totally unacceptable.

Ibrahim Hewitt
Senior Editor,
Middle East Monitor

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