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A conservative defense for Apartheid & colonialism

Some stuff you have to read with your own eyes in order to believe it. Prof. Richard Landes, who writes a pro-Israeli conservative blog named Augene Stables, is making what seems like a comparative case for Israeli colonialism.

Answering a reader’s question regarding the legality of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Landes writes:

Indeed, in the history of settling conquered areas, including the record of Islamic conquerors, Israeli behavior in the West Bank as been exceptionally mild and constructive. All the indicators of quality of life are higher there than any of the surrounding Arab states. And all this was accomplished with comparatively little violence from the conquering settlers (the norm is harsh violence from conquerors; the action of the most extreme settlers is peanuts in comparison)

Yes, it’s the old “our blacks are better off than in their own countries” argument – making a surprise comeback into Western political thinking. And yes, Israeli occupation might be “better” than the colonization of Australia or the Armenian genocide, but this is hardly a reason to support it, no?

But even if you do accept the twisted logic according to which one crime legitimize another, supposedly milder one, Landes, like most Neo-Cons, is still avoiding the heart of the matter when it comes to the occupied territories: the existence of two populations on the same territorial unit (Jews and Arabs), one having full citizen rights and the other very partial ones.

Recently, I had a conversation with rightwing Israeli writer Ben-Dror Yemini in which he referred to the situation in the West Bank as “Apartheid-land”. We discussed the application of this specific term, and Yemini even claimed to have used it in public as well, but I couldn’t find any reference to that. Anyway, while I didn’t agree with most of his conclusions – Yemini supports evacuation of settlements but keeping the IDF’s presence in the West Bank – his analysis was pretty honest. When dealing with the legitimacy of the settlements, the policy of separation and the lack of rights is the real issue that needs to be addressed. Unlike Yemini, Landes prefers not to see the elephant in the room.

For a more detailed discussion of the Israeli interpretation to the legal status of the West Bank and Jewish settlements in it, check out this post.

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    1. United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Man

      There is no question that the colonisation of Palestine that began in 1920 and continues with the settlements in stolen lands in the areas invaded after 1967 is more gentle than what happened in the Americas in the 1500s or in Tasmania after 1780s.

      But what the ultra conservatives in the U.S. don’t really want to accept is that that after San Francisco Conference and the establishment of the United Nations there was an agreement between States – freely entered into that there would be norms of international behaviour and that there would be lessons learned from the horrors of the past.

      i.e. a red line was drawn between the past and the idea of a rules-based future.

      The problem with the endless violations of U.N.S.C. resolutions since 1948 by the Israeli state, and the race-based treatment of subjects of the Israeli state in West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and Golan (yes Gaza is under sovereign air and sea and land control of Israel) is that it undermines progress toward a rules-based international system.

      It is true the conservatives in the U.S. don’t care too much at all about international law today.

      But the U.S. will in the next generation or two because the relative rise of Brazil, India, Turkey, Russia, China, Korea etc. means that in an increasingly multi polar world it will in fact become of greater interest to the U.S. for international cooperation based on the idea of international norms and cooperation.

      It does seem that no Israeli government will in fact withdraw from West Bank and Old Jerusalem to permit the establishment of a Palestinian state.

      The problem for Israel in the next couple of generations might be that the basis of its membership to the community of nations in 1947 was that it was predicated on the Palestinians also being able to establish a sovereign state in part of a shared Land – that in turn came out of the Balfour Declaration and the 1920 British Mandate – the legality of the Jewish national home was that it not prejudice the existing Christian and Muslim Palestinian population’s national rights.

      Who can be sure whether the ultra conservatives in the U.S. will in one or two generations from now be prepared to align against the rest of the world in favour of the apartheid system? I don’t think it is reasonable to be confident about that.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Freddy

      So Sheizaf agrees that Landes has the facts right, but goes on to pillory him for telling the truth.

      And all the nonsense about “Colonisation”, “Race-based”, and “Stolen lands” is nothing but anti-Jewish hate speech.

      And after viewing the Chinese behavior toward Tibet, we are supposed to believe that precedents in international law will protect other countries from a then-dominant China.

      Reply to Comment
    3. @Freddy: where did I say I agree with Landes?

      Reply to Comment
    4. China joined the UN with Tibet as an integral part of it

      Freddy, are you saying that Palestinian Christians from Beit Jella and Ramallah are able to go and live in these settlements? Just sign up, and in you go!!!! They are race-based settlements on land outside of the internationally recognised borders of the state of Israel. No one recognises any legality whatsoever about these settlements.

      In contrast, when the People’s Republic of China took up its seat in the UNSC in the 1970s it was accepted by all states that Tibet was part of China. The leaders in Taipei, Taiwan, who held the UNSC seat on behalf of China from 1950 until the 1970s, also spoke on behalf of all of China, including Tibet. All UN states accept that, it is part and parcel of China’s membership of the U.N.

      That is very different to the situation for the Israeli state – its membership is based on a 1947 UN idea – a quid pro quo – both nations with a claim to the land having the right to establish a national state within the Land. Freddy, I think you need to do a bit of reading yo!

      Reply to Comment