How much longer before all of us accept it? How many more years of suffering will Palestinians endure before we get it? How many more Palestinian and Israeli lives will perish before the hardest word of them all sinks in?
The word “apartheid” is applied more and more these days when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What it does mostly is make people angry, on both sides of the Jewish political map. Even left-wingers will say something along the lines of “sure, there’s an occupation. But apartheid? Come on. No need to exaggerate.”
I myself am using the word more in my posts here on +972. At first it was difficult for me – comparing Israel to what happened in South Africa seemed far from the truth. But then I got to know the situation better, and become more informed.
This post isn’t about convincing anyone that Israel is an apartheid state. Others can do that much better than me. I’m already convinced that certain policies in the West Bank reek of apartheid. And if this situation continues any longer, the road to a full-apartheid state is inevitable. Is it a more cruel apartheid, a less ugly apartheid, or a similar one to South Africa? Is apartheid in the eyes of the be-occupied? I don’t know.
But hey, people agree there’s an occupation, right? You may laugh, but you shouldn’t take that for granted. I remember growing up here, when using the word “kibush” would get some serious sneers. I use the word “kibush” and not “occupation”, because in Hebrew it is a much more powerful word, as it also means “conquering”. Most people in Israel in the 80’s and 90’s didn’t even use the word. After the signing of the Oslo accords, one could begin to read it more in the papers, but to admit that there is a “kibush”? “No need to exaggerate” is what you might have gotten.
But the word became more and more acceptable, especially on the left, and even on the right. But then came the tipping point, mid 2003, shortly before Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had a stroke, he spoke the word that people thought they would never hear, from on of the founding fathers of the settler movement:
Needless to say, that speech was a shocker. It was also a tipping point for “occupation” usage.
Today, usage of “apartheid,” to me, feels exactly the same as it did back then. It’s a word people hate to use. Refuse to use! Yet they know that there is an element, if not more, of truth to it. Even Ehud Barak knows that.
I wonder, how much longer before all of us accept it? How many more years of suffering will Palestinians endure before we get it? How many more Palestinian and Israeli lives will perish?
Just how long does it take for the hardest word to sink in?