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PV Vivekanand: Apartheid — the Israeli way
March 30, 2012
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Israel vehemently denies practising apartheid, but, in effect, the Palestinians are denied their social and political rights, let alone any ‘equality’.

When Israel was created in Palestine in 1948, its founders declared loftily that the state was committed to respecting all democratic values, including “complete equality of social and political rights for all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion.” But Israel has never respected that commitment.

Today, for the mainly Muslim Arabs of Israel, those who had no option but to accept Israeli citizenship since they lived in the land where the new state was created, these words are strange. Numbering about 1.4 million, they are treated as “third class” citizens by the Israeli establishment, which represents about 5.8 million Jews.

The conditions of the nearly 2.5 million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank are much worse and similar to those of the blacks in apartheid-era South Africa.

The 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are spared such treatment but that is only because Israelis are not present in the coastal enclave, which, however, remains under a choking Israeli blockade.

By virtue of its occupation of the Palestinian territories, Israel bears the responsibility to treat its residents according to international laws and conventions, but it is doing just the opposite.

Israel vehemently denies practising apartheid, but, in effect, that is what is happening in the occupied territories.

The Palestinians are denied their social and political rights, let alone any “equality.”

They are denied permission to build and free travel across and access to their land. Their communities are cut off from each other with all access roads controlled by Israeli soldiers. They have to suffer physical violence, intimidation and humiliation in the hands of Israeli security forces and armed Jewish settlers who call the West Bank part of the “promised land.” And now the settlers have started stealing Palestinian water by seizing springs in the West Bank and denying Palestinians access to their water sources.

Ahmad Kathrada, a South African who spent 18 years as a political prisoner during the exclusive white rule of his country, says: “Israel’s separate roads, de facto Mixed Marriages Act, trials by military courts, the unfair allocation of resources (particularly water), racist citizenship laws, assigning and denying rights to people on the basis of ethnicity, the destruction of the homes of indigenous people who have lived and worked the land for centuries to make way for newcomers who share a common gene pool with the rulers, the uprooting of olive trees, detention without trial, pass laws, the tiniest pieces of land given to the largest part of the population… I know of no other word for this than apartheid.”

The most telling sign of Israel’s apartheid could be seen on a daily basis at checkpoints in the West Bank where Israeli soldiers spit at them and use extremely abusive language. The Palestinians have no recourse since the Israeli treatment is backed by military might.

If anything, experts say, it would only get worse since Israeli high-school students are far more intolerant than their elders.

If it were to happen anywhere in the West, there will be an outcry. But Israel is given preferential treatment in the West, including the US. Such is the way Israel continues to exploit the world’s “guilt” over the Holocaust.

Despite being aware of what is going one, few dare to point an accusing finger at Israel because it will not be “politically correct.” Those who do are immediately labelled as “anti-Semite.”

“The exclusionary, racist ideology of Zionism, a political offshoot of Judaism which began in the 1890s, has continued to manifest itself in the ethnic cleansing, dispossession, persecution and slow genocide of the indigenous Palestinian people to secure a Jewish supremacist state, and this is continuing up to this present moment in time, funded massively and unwittingly by generally uninformed US taxpayers,” says American film director and producer Wendy Campell, who in 2002 released a documentary titled Truth: Exposing Israeli Apartheid.

Sure enough, Campell was accused of being anti-Jewish and anti-Semite.

American citizens at large are kept misinformed about the Israeli policies because Jews and their Christian fundamentalist allies control the mainstream media in the US. Any journalist or writer who dares to be critical of Israel is immediately sidelined and pushed back.

Every American politician will fall head over heels to please Israel. Such is the power and influence of the pro-Israeli lobby in Washington. Members of the US Congress vie with each other to safeguard Israeli interests even at the expense of US national interests.

Any American president, supposedly the most powerful man in the world, will find himself reduced to the size of a rabbit in front of an elephant when and if he tries to apply pressure on Israel. US President Barack Obama learnt it the hard way when he tried to confront Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over settlement construction in the occupied territories in 2010. Not only did he have to back down but also go out of the way to please the Israeli prime minister because of the massive retaliation he faced from the pro-Israeli political establishment of the US.

Another humiliating moment came when Obama, at a White House press conference in 2011, restated the US policy that the pre-1967 war front lines should be the basis of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Netanyahu stepped up to the microphone and said nothing doing. He went on to lecture the US president on how the 1967 lines were “indefensible.”

Although they might be unaware and not being informed about it, US taxpayers bear a direct responsibility for the injustices inflicted on the Palestinians: Israel thrived and continues to thrive on the back of their country’s all-embracing political, military, diplomatic and economic support. Had it not been for the US support, the world community would have dealt with Israel’s defiance of international legitimacy, laws, code of conduct and conventions.

American Jews should be ashamed that they are subsidising Israel’s apartheid. They should stop behaving as if Jews are still being persecuted around the world and Israel is the only country that treats them right. They should realise that the Palestinians are subject to much worse treatment than Jews around the world suffered. It is simply unacceptable that Israel acts as if the Jewish suffering has given it the right to treat the Palestinians the way it does.

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