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Why 'it's not apartheid' arguments fail: Response to NYT op-ed

A New York Times op-ed argues that Israel is not the South African apartheid its author sat in jail to expose. But to make his case, Benjamin Pogrund ignores the heart of what occupation really is.

Palestinian men wait for their documents and belongings to be inspected by the Israeli army at a checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Bethlehem, March 19, 2017. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinian men wait for their documents and belongings to be inspected by the Israeli army at a checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Bethlehem, March 19, 2017. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

In an impassioned New York Times op ed, Benjamin Pogrund lays down the best possible arguments for why Israel is not an apartheid state. He brings out the full arsenal: his personal experience as a South African. His knowledge as a reporter who investigated and exposed the horrors of the system. He even paid the enormous price of jail time. It’s hard to top that level of credibility in dispelling the apartheid claim.

So why don’t his arguments work?

It starts with the author’s purpose. His actual aim is not a dispassionate comparison of apartheid with occupation, but to kick the legs out from under the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) argument. BDS, he writes, rests on the notion that Israel is like the South African apartheid regime, and boycott toppled the latter; break the equivalency and there can be no more BDS. This is what propelled his inquiry, and it taints the entire prospect.

In order to achieve his actual goal, Pogrund cannot just juxtapose the systems and assess them: he must always justify why boycott was right for South Africa but wrong for Israel. In other words, he has his conclusion in advance. If BDS claims that occupation is “worse than apartheid,” his overriding theme is “It’s not as bad.”

This leads him to provide a bizarre partial list of things going wrong in Israel and the West Bank, as if to pre-empt the criticism. But the disturbing silent refrain whispers behind each one. Military regime governing Palestinian life: it’s not as bad as apartheid. Home demolitions, the wall: It’s not as bad — as if relativity is all that matters; as if the awfulness of life under a permanent military regime can be quantified; as if other South Africans who lived under apartheid — black people, including Desmond Tutu — hadn’t pointed to just as many parallels; and as if the absolute fact of a 50-year occupation is not enough to demand that it end.

Pogrund’s “not as bad” theme glides into the next one: “it’s their fault,” even deftly connecting the two concepts. In his telling, Palestinians started the suicide bombings, which led to settlement growth, which led to a second intifada, which led to the security wall. Which is really mostly a fence, “except in populated areas.” He allows that there is an unfortunate land grab element. But it’s not as bad as apartheid.

Palestinians use a ladder to climb over the Israeli separation wall in A-Ram, north of Jerusalem, on their way to Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old city of Jerusalem to attend the second Friday prayer in the fasting month of Ramadan, 19 July 2013. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians use a ladder to climb over the Israeli separation wall in A-Ram, north of Jerusalem, on their way to Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old city of Jerusalem to attend the second Friday prayer in the fasting month of Ramadan, 19 July 2013. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

In reality, in the locations where it counts, the wall is in fact made up of eight-meter high concrete slabs, like upright, oversized graves. It snakes through the Jerusalem hills along a wildly irregular route, slammed down the middle of streets, ruining neighborhoods and livelihoods for whole communities — tens of thousands of people, if not more. From a distance it is a shocking sight, ripping the landscape into two.

I recently met a bright young tech-savvy Palestinian kid. If he were Jewish, he could have been the poster child for “Start Up Israel.” Instead, he waits in a mob at checkpoints “like animals,” mocked by soldiers, getting outraged. Can be there be any clearer formula for disaster? Does he know whether it’s better or worse than apartheid?

Yet the author manages to claim that the fence (as he puts it) “has nothing to do with apartheid-style racial segregation.”

But worse than the conclusion-tailored comparisons is what the author simply leaves out. The absence in his article of the most widespread mechanism of occupation indicates a disqualifying lack of knowledge. It is unclear why Pogrund, who sacrificed his own freedoms to expose the system in South Africa, has not accounted for this fundamental feature of Israel’s military regime.

A hundred and one different permits govern the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank, according to Dr. Yael Berda, a Harvard and Hebrew University scholar speaking on the Tel Aviv Review podcast, which I co-host. Permits are wielded collectively, racially and demographically. There are no permits governing movement for Jews.

These documents determine whether a Palestinian can travel from the West Bank to Jerusalem, from the West Bank to Jordan or to Gaza (permission mostly granted), or from Gaza to the West Bank (hardly ever granted). The permits are bestowed and revoked arbitrarily, designed to confuse subjects rather than address individual security risks.

No reason beyond “security” is ever given when a permit is denied. Berda told Haaretz that “The permit regime is the world’s largest and most developed mechanism for filtering, identifying and restricting the movement of a large civilian population.” Does that make it better or worse than apartheid? Pogrund doesn’t ask – because he doesn’t mention the permits and their impact.

He leaves out how the West Bank is chopped up like townships, into Areas A, B and C, and that the West Bank is almost entirely cut off from Gaza. In fact, the word Gaza, along with its 1.8 million people, doesn’t appear once in his piece.

A Palestinian woman waits to receive food vouchers at an UNRWA distribution center in the Al-Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza, February 2012. According to Israeli human rights group Gisha, some 70 percent of Gazans rely on humanitarian aid. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian woman waits to receive food vouchers at an UNRWA distribution center in the Al-Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza, February 2012. According to Israeli human rights group Gisha, some 70 percent of Gazans rely on humanitarian aid. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Finally, as if unconvinced himself that apartheid and occupation are sufficiently different, Pogrund determines that their intentions differ: Israel, in his opinion, does not intend to build a racial system. Yet this is not how Israel sees it. The country openly and proudly insists on its identity as a Jewish state, with systems in place to privilege Jews above others. I would agree that Israel is not actually an apartheid regime inside the Green Line. But the desire for ethno-national separatism is precisely what drives the policies of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as inequality within.

This reality doesn’t make it into Pogrund’s analysis. It is confounding and frustrating to find someone with a demonstrated commitment to facts and justice attempting to persuade New York Times readers that boycott is bad, by shearing off half the story of what occupation actually is.

The tragic reality is it doesn’t actually matter if Israel is a carbon copy of apartheid’s policies or not. It doesn’t matter whether the mentality is rooted in obsolete racial ideologies, or in the desire to decimate Palestinian statehood. The result is a systemic separation of Arabs from Jews, by education, by opportunity, by land, roads and water and, in the West Bank, by law.

The lived experience of the people in this land show the results: 74 percent of settlers, some five percent of the whole population in the region, say life conditions are good. Just 23 percent of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians — about one-third of the total population — say the same.

As an Israeli, I ask the author: Is this the discussion we want to be having? Should we be splitting hairs and tallying scores to decide whether Israel is practicing apartheid or not? Occupation is bad enough. Let’s end it.

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    1. R5

      You gotta wince at Dahlia’s struggle to talk like the hip young SJWs these days with virtue-signalling nonsense she hasn’t used for most of her adult life. “lived experience”? Like watching an old man use an iPhone. Cringeworthy. But let’s get to the article. Simplest reason that Israel isn’t an apartheid state is that the West Bank NOT ISRAEL. Yeah, there’s an “international law” definition of apartheid. We get it. But under international law, the West Bank is OCCUPIED. You can’t have it both ways. The “state” that’s supposed to be your “apartheid state” does not have valid legal existence over the Green Line. But even IF you want to use the “international law” yardstick pretending the West Bank is Israel, the separation here is based on national allegiance, not race or religion. Every single demographic checkbox you could use to measure discrimination under the relevant standard exists on both sides of the wall. Going FURTHER, since “international law” relies on precedent, you have to acknowledge the INSANE double standard of applying the label to Israel and NEVER ANYONE ELSE in history. Not the peace walls in Northern Ireland, not Indian Reservations, not the aborigines, not the Tamils, not the Dalits, not Roma, JUST ISRAEL. If you properly understand how legal arguments are supposed to work, you’d know that you can’t just pull an abstract phrase out of what’s supposed to be statute and IGNORE the ENTIRE HISTORY of how the law has been applied. Which is why non-lawyers shouldn’t debate this. And just to head off the Diana Buttu fans, the only lawyers who actually make this argument are being intellectually dishonest. Or are fanatics who can’t think straight. They are speaking as activists, not lawyers. Making this argument as a lawyer who actually makes a living off of lawyering where $$$ is at stake would hurt your professional reputation. That is how fundamentally stupid it is.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        @R5:

        What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
        By any other name would smell as sweet;

        Have it your way, R5: it’s not apartheid. It’s just a system in which one population controls the lives of another population, demolishes their homes, steals their land, imprisons them without trial, crushes them with arbitrary permits, uses torture, and denies them free movement. Call it whatever name you want.

        Reply to Comment
        • JeffB

          @Bruce

          There is a huge difference between “Area-C is an apartheid state” and “Israel is an apartheid state”. The things you mention don’t happen inside the green line they don’t happen in Area-A, Area-B nor Gaza (those areas have other problems but not the ones you listed). It is important to note though as R5 rightfully mentions that you can’t make the assertion about Area-C without agreeing that Israel is the governing power of Area-C not the occupying power.

          Once that becomes clarified Israel annexes Area-C, extends civil law and citizenship to area-c and the problem is solved.

          Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, Right

        R5: “But under international law, the West Bank is OCCUPIED. You can’t have it both ways.”

        You also can’t have it both ways i.e. if it is occupied then under international law the occupying power is prohibited from colonizing it.

        That’s the reason why this is an apartheid system – the occupying power is abusing its authority to c.o.l.o.n.i.z.e. this occupied territory, and is doing so precisely because this occupier wants to claim this territory for itself.

        I say it is indisputable that Israel has no intention of relinquishing control over any of this territory, and because of that understanding then I have no problem judging Israel’s policies and actions in that light.

        This is apartheid, pure and simple, and it is apartheid precisely because no matter how much the Israelis *say* that this is an occupation they *act* as if they own the joint.

        And they do so precisely because they believe that they own the joint.

        Reply to Comment
        • JeffB

          @Yeah, Right

          Didn’t the Israeli exit from Gaza, as well as the previous exit from the Sinai disprove your theory that Israel is unwilling to exit any of the territory. The area that Israel is settling in is Golan (annexed), Jerusalem (annexed) and area-c (should be annexed). The international community’s refusal to recognize the annexations that have occurred has created the abnormal situation. This is easily fixable.

          Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            JB: “Didn’t the Israeli exit from Gaza, as well as the previous exit from the Sinai disprove your theory that Israel is unwilling to exit any of the territory.”

            Israel has not given up its authority over the Gaza Strip.

            JB: “The area that Israel is settling in is Golan (annexed), Jerusalem (annexed)
            and area-c (should be annexed).”

            It hasn’t “annexed” any of those areas.

            Annexation is a claim to have sovereignty over a territory, whereas Israel has only ever claimed to have extended the jurisdiction of its own domestic laws to those territories.

            As in: Israel claims that it can act “as if” it owns those territories, without going through the intermediate step of claiming that it does now own those territories.

            JB: “The international community’s refusal to recognize the annexations that have occurred has created the abnormal situation.”

            See above: the “abnormal situation” is Israel’s claim that it can treat these territories “as if” it already owns them, without actually proclaiming that it does now own them.

            JB: “This is easily fixable.”

            So when does Israel plan to start “fixing” it?

            Reply to Comment
          • JeffB

            @Yeah Right

            — Israel has not given up its authority over the Gaza Strip.

            It has a blockade in place. You argued it wouldn’t relinquish territory. You also didn’t respond on Sinai.

            –JB: “The area that Israel is settling in is Golan (annexed), Jerusalem (annexed)
            and area-c (should be annexed).”
            YR: It hasn’t “annexed” any of those areas. Annexation is a claim to have sovereignty over a territory, whereas Israel has only ever claimed to have extended the jurisdiction of its own domestic laws to those territories.

            I’m losing you. The entity that has permanent (or long term) legal control of a territory is the sovereign. Clarify the distinction you are making. What can an “extend jurisdiction” government do that a sovereign cannot or visa versa?

            –See above: the “abnormal situation” is Israel’s claim that it can treat these territories “as if” it already owns them, without actually proclaiming that it does now own them.

            I hate to agree with the UN but IMHO things like the Golan law… were claims to owning them. But you’ll explain the distinction above.

            –So when does Israel plan to start “fixing” it?

            I’d say Israel is fixing it. They are working with Trump to get USA recognition of border changes. It is the UN (and more the USA) that needs to fix it. We need to recognize the annexation of Golan. We need to green light the annexation of Area-C. We need the executive branch to obey the Jerusalem embassy act and recognize all of Jerusalem as being in Israel. Once the US stops talking out of both sides of its mouth then it is the UN’s turn to deal with reality.

            Reply to Comment
        • R5

          @Yeah, Right: your comment doesn’t make sense. There are words strung together but no logical argument.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            ​Yeah Right’s is in fact the only logical and convincing legal argument on this page. And refreshingly free of empty bluster and pseudo-legal obscurantism.

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            r5: “There are words strung together but no logical argument.”

            If you say so.

            The logic seems pretty simple to me:
            a) If this is an occupation then Israel’s colonization of this territory is prohibited,
            b) yet Israel is colonizing this territory in violation of international law.
            c) And BECAUSE Israel is colonizing this territory THEN it must instigate a regime of “separation” of Those Who Are Doing The Colonizing from Those Who Are Supposed To Be Protected From Colonization because….. you know….. colonial expansionism is illegal when the territory being colonized is under your belligerent occupation.

            I’d have some sympathy with your original argument if I thought that Israel was acting in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power – at least then I would be inclined to accept the argument that this occupation is only intended to be temporary.

            But Israel’s colonial enterprise suggest that Israel doesn’t see this as a “temporary” occupation at all.

            Every act of colonization suggests that Israel fully intends its control over this territory to be permanent, and this policy of “separate development” is their way of ensuring that permanence.

            OK. Fine. Its policies should be judged in that light.

            And in that light this policy is, very obviously, a case of “separate development”.

            You do know who coined that phrase, right?

            Reply to Comment
      • Yonatan Falic

        In theory the Bantustans were not the Republic of South Africa, but they were under its complete control

        Reply to Comment
        • R5

          @Yonatan: The Bantustans were never recognized by international law as being outside of SA, while the West Bank is most certainly not Israel by the same standard.

          Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            Yes, funny that – the criteria used to judge the South African system of Bantustans wasn’t
            “what South Africa says”
            but was instead
            “what are South Africa’s intentions”.

            Under the latter criteria it was obvious that the Afrikaners had set up an artificial system to allow one group (the Whites) to maintain a “separation” from the other groups so that the former could be privileged over the latter.

            Funny, but the same yardstick can be applied to Israel’s policies i.e. don’t judge this by
            “what Israel says”
            but instead judge this situation by a consideration of
            “what are Israel’s intentions”.

            By the latter criteria what Israel I attempting is obvious: it is attempting to colonize this territory so that it can keep this territory forever, and that policy of colonial expansionism *ensures* that Israel has to maintain an artificial system to allow one group (the Jews) to maintain a “separation” from the other groups so that the former can slowly, slowly displace the latter.

            Both systems seem pretty reprehensible to me, as both involve racism mixed with a colonial mindset.

            Still, it appears to suit R5 just fine….. must be a tribal thing…..

            Reply to Comment
    2. R5: Dahlia is not stating that the Occupation is Apartheid. Her argument is that the Occupation is bad for Palestinians and that the Jews who live in the Occupied Territories are privileged on ethnic and religious grounds. You don’t have to be lawyer to make this argument.

      Reply to Comment
      • R5

        @JL: You are correct that Dahlia has not stated outright that Israel is an apartheid state. However, she’s using the existing structure of the debate to lead the reader toward the same conclusion: “The tragic reality is it doesn’t actually matter if Israel is a carbon copy of apartheid’s policies or not.” To undermine the idea that there is NOT apartheid, is basically the same as saying there is, when you know that everyone else discussing this treats it as a binary question. This is the rhetorical equivalent of using negative space to display an image. You can still see it, even though there’s nothing there. As you’ve demonstrated, Dahlia’s maintained plausible deniability on the point, which was a careful choice. But you should be clever enough to see the intention.

        Reply to Comment
    3. JeffB

      @Dahlia

      — Is this the discussion we want to be having? Should we be splitting hairs and tallying scores to decide whether Israel is practicing apartheid or not?

      Yes this is the discussion we need to have. The left has been trying to argue that Israelis are guilty of Apartheid under international law and that Israelis individually and Israel collective should be charged with Apartheid and sanctioned. Countries that practice universal jurisdiction could essentially kidnap Israelis toss them in a box and hold them till the day they die or decades over whether this is or is not apartheid. International sanctions of the type required for apartheid could lead to war.

      The left needs to stop throwing around these terms lightly. Apartheid is a serious charge. If you are going to use the word then you have to defend the word. “Stuff I don’t like” and “crime X and statute Y carrying a penalty of Z” are not the same thing.

      Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, Right

        JEFFB: “The left needs to stop throwing around these terms lightly. Apartheid is a serious charge. If you are going to use the word then you have to defend the word.”

        The short version: Israeli apologists want it both ways.

        They have no problem arguing that Israel is free to act as-if it owns this territory, and when people point out how despicable those actions are then an Israeli apologist simply shrugs his shoulders and says “it’s not Israeli territory”.

        Nice trick, but crudely done.

        If this is occupied territory then Israel’s colonial expansionism is a despicable violation of international humanitarian law.

        If this isn’t occupied territory then Israel’s colonial expansionism is a despicable violation of the human rights of the Palestinians.

        Either way, the Israeli policy is to treat the Israeli colonists as superior to – and separate from – the Palestinians who are being subjugated for the benefit of those colonists.

        And Israel’s “settlement enterprise” is colonial expansionism, which means that Israel is deliberately and knowingly expanding the state into this territory by the simple means of inserting its citizens into this territory.

        It can’t do that *and* expect the rest of the world not to note the consequence: two systems, one a privileged system for the colonists, and one an oppressive system for the dispossessed.

        And it is deliberately engineered to be a two-tiered system, and it is clearly intended to be permanent.

        Or, in a word: apartheid.

        The cap fits, Jeff. The least you can do is wear it proudly.

        Reply to Comment
        • JeffB

          @Yeah Right

          Or another word is a transitional period while territory is being brought under a legal system. Many of the USA states went through transitional periods before becoming states fully under USA law. For example Utah had a formal theocracy while it was 1/2 in and 1/2 out of the USA (the territory of Utah). Once it wanted to become the state of Utah those things were cleaned up.

          Reply to Comment
          • Eliza

            Oh dear….so Area C is not occupied Palestinian territory but may now fall temporally into an apartheid definition but only if you don’t see the current arrangement as being a mere ‘transitional period’ while it is brought under the legal system.

            Presumably you mean that if and when Israeli civil law is extended to Area C all will be well and Area C sorta becomes formally part of Israel. At least you are honest, if not completely straight forward in your advocacy for Israeli unilateral annexation of Area C. This certainly explains the Israeli denial of building permits to non-Jews within Area C and encouragement for non-Jews to internally transfer to Areas A and B.

            I am just waiting for you to proudly proclaim Areas A and B as constituting a Palestinian entity of some sort – you know the ‘something less than a State’ or the ‘State minus’ routinely referenced by the Israeli political elite. End of the problem – except it wouldn’t be. Bantustans without viability or sovereignty will not be accepted by the Palestinians or the international community. Nor can Israel indefinitely brush aside Gaza, the rights of Palestinian refugees or the Jim Crow regime within Israel Proper. Just ain’t going to happen.

            Reply to Comment
    4. John

      at least nobody here’s saying the occupation doesn’t exist. also wise not to bring up ‘eretz yisrael’ as justification.

      Reply to Comment
    5. carmen

      Saying “it’s not as bad” as apartheid south africa is an odd way to defend the indefensible. BDS is working, in the way it was meant to, nonviolently. I would imagine 10 years ago, maybe even 5 years ago, this op ed would never have been written. Why now? Why write what is happening in israel isn’t ‘as bad’? You aren’t helping your cause Mr. Pogrund. I’m guessing he will retract his entire statement and insist that israel is a shining beacon of ‘democracy’ in a ‘very rough neighborhood’ (yikes that’s ridiculous, but it’s ol’ blue hair’s favorite lines to throw at western audiences who are as xenophobic as he is).

      “As an Israeli, I ask the author: Is this the discussion we want to be having? Should we be splitting hairs and tallying scores to decide whether Israel is practicing apartheid or not? Occupation is bad enough. Let’s end it.” Yes, lets. To continue this conversation is a distraction and a complete waste of time. End the occupation already. Great article Dahlia.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Bernie X

      “The result is a systemic separation of Arabs from Jews, by education, by opportunity, by land, roads and water and, in the West Bank, by law.”

      You could have fooled me. As I’m typing, there is an Arab man in my kitchen helping my wife clean house for Pesach. He’s being paid $125.

      Reply to Comment
      • carmen

        WFD. It’s a jewish holiday. Instead of sitting on your ass posting here while your wife’s cleaning, why don’t you save her $125 and help her clean? Thanks for the joke gramps.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bernie X

          Why don’t you drop your price to $10 for the holidays?

          Reply to Comment
    7. R5

      BDS isn’t working. It is has succeeded in creating an anti-Semitic cultural climate in universities and the arts, but Israel’s economy and especially investment in its export-driven sectors is thriving. Consumers and investors have looked at BDS and disregarded it. If you think having Roger Waters and some artists on your side is enough to claim victory, then Bibi is also perfectly happy. Actually he is perhaps more happy, since BDS has given the Israeli right a new but completely impotent boogeyman to use in its messaging. Well done.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Nothing new here from Pogrund. He’s been writing these “Israel is not apartheid” pieces in that other media bastion of liberal Zionism, the Guardian, for years. By the way, it should require more than a dismissive single line to deal with the issue of whether Israel is an apartheid state inside its recognised borders. There are lots of reasons to view Israel as an apartheid state, outside the occupied territories. But prima facie evidence is supplied by one fact alone: Israel has two citizenship laws, assigning different citizenship rights based on one’s ethnicity (Jew or Arab). Given that citizenship is the most fundamental right a state has to offer, the onus to prove Israel is not an apartheid state should fall on those who deny it.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bernie X

        Ahh..Jonathan Cook, the British ex-pat living in self imposed exile in Nazareth with his Arab Christian wife. What a happy fellow, writing to remind us how unfair the Jewish State is.

        Jonathan writes anti-Israel fodder for the National, the newspaper of the UAE, United Arab Emirates.
        The UAE is such a paragon of human rights.
        https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2016/country-chapters/united-arab-emirates

        But you’ll never catch Jonathan criticizing his rich Arab paymasters.

        What a hypocritical lick spittle he is.

        Reply to Comment
    9. Firentis

      You are completely right. We shouldn’t be bothering with having this conversation because it is incredibly and mindlessly stupid. We should be entirely ignoring the people that make this comparison and when forced to simply point out that they are completely insane.

      We should then proceed to point out that the Palestinian leadership can solve the entire problem with the simple and effective step of accepting the principle of two states for two peoples. Instead the Palestinians are busy teaching their children to hate Jews and to strive to destroy Israel while pushing the narrative internationally that they are innocent victims of “apartheid”. If they want peace, there will be peace. Until then there is and will be war. Their choice. Their pain. And I couldn’t care less about their self-imposed pain.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Average American

      Here’s the problem with Israel and The Land of Israel. They are undefined. They have no borders. They are literally limitless. If you say you are “for” them then you are agreeing to unlimited expansion of them. Where does Arab Land start? The borders of the current Arab states don’t even exist on the zionist map. Lebanon, Syria, half of Iraq, Jordan, a quarter of Saudi Arabia, Egypt to the Nile, it’s ALL The Land of Israel. And who’s to stop expansion beyond that? You’re “for” Israel, aren’t you? If you want to compare a Jewish Empire to other empires in history, so we’re not singling out Israel, then do that. That’s the scale and intent of zionism. West Bank and Golan are just a preview.

      Reply to Comment
      • JeffB

        @Average American

        — The borders of the current Arab states don’t even exist on the zionist map. Lebanon, Syria, half of Iraq, Jordan, a quarter of Saudi Arabia, Egypt to the Nile, it’s ALL The Land of Israel.

        Where are you getting that? The absolute maximum anyone elected I know of discusses is Mandate Palestine + the small sliver of Golan taken in 1967. No one (I’ll exclude a few nuts not in any power) is pushing for anything east of the Jordan river or south of the Negev. I will say there was some discussion of extending North to the Litani but that’s an extreme position and only about 10% of Lebanon not all of it. What you are talking about is well beyond the maximum under discussion.

        Reply to Comment
        • R5

          @JeffB: This one is another freak. Avoid.

          Reply to Comment
          • Average American

            Peace to you R5.

            Reply to Comment
        • Average American

          Hey, it’s possible for even me to learn something here! How then would you square the Torah’s “from the Nile to the Euphrates” Land of Israel with the Likud’s revisionist “mandate” Land of Israel? Is the vision to stop at the mandate and be satisfied? Or is it planned steps, first Israel as we know it today, then the mandate, then from the Nile to the Euphrates?

          Reply to Comment
          • JeffB

            @Average American

            — How then would you square the Torah’s “from the Nile to the Euphrates” Land of Israel with the Likud’s revisionist “mandate” Land of Israel?

            Jews and Muslims have essentially the same interpretation of that. That promise is made to Abraham that his descendants would rule from the Nile to the Euphrates. Since Muslims interpret themselves as being sons of Ishmael they see this prophecy as fulfilled. It has nothing to do with the borders of Israel.

            Reply to Comment
    11. Ben

      R5: “West Bank NOT ISRAEL…The “state” that’s supposed to be your “apartheid state” does not have valid legal existence over the Green Line….Which is why non-lawyers shouldn’t debate this…

      A facile argument: ‘It’s not technically a “state” so it’s not an “apartheid state” so it’s not apartheid.’

      No, we are not going to leave it to the crafting of facile, arcanely narrow briefs for the occupation. The genuine reality, both legal and human, and in terms of plain common sense, is entirely on Dahlia Scheindlin’s side. And Yeah Right refuted the arguments to the contrary. No valid legal existence over the green line? Tell that to the denizens of the separation regime (apartheid in Afrikaans) who if they are members of the Israeli Jewish population transferred in enjoy Israeli law but if they are indigenous Palestinian do not. For fifty years. Who if they are Israeli enjoy all sorts of Israeli state services and protections but if they are Palestinian do not, to say the least. Tell that to the residents of Susiya who had an Israeli High Court judge living a few kilometer away in an illegal settlement rule against them. The list goes on and on. What exists is a very real legal separation regime. It’s apartheid effectively. No amount of pseudo-legal obfuscation obscures this human fact. And the “not as bad as” argument is demolished by Scheindlin.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Ben

      JeffB: ‘There is a huge difference between “Area-C is an apartheid state” and “Israel is an apartheid state”…’

      These statements have a touching fairy tale naïveté about how the apartheid entity comprising Israel and the territories it occupies really works. Israel wants to have it both ways. It wants to say that the territories are separate and not Israel when it is convenient to say so, and for purposes of applying arbitrary military rulings to Palestinians but not settlers, but in all its economic and political actions and statements it insists there is no difference between Ariel and Tel Aviv. No one is fooled. The occupation is a seamless, unrelenting military, police, legal and administrative apparatus, a very sinister one, both for carrying out the occupation and for obscuring its true purposes, and yes, it effectively forms a kind of apartheid state no matter what nitpicking you want to engage in about how it differs from the historical ur-example of South African apartheid.
      And btw, JeffB, Israel’s effective control over and suppression of areas A and B far exceed what you blithely account for. Not to mention East Jerusalem.

      Scheindlin gets it right.

      Reply to Comment
      • JeffB

        @Ben

        East Jerusalem the Palestinians also live under Israeli law so there is no separate law regime.
        Area-A and Area-B there no Jews so no apartheid.
        Only Area-C has Jews and two law regimes.

        That’s not recognizing Area-C as occupied. It is just noting that the apartheid conditions only apply to a portion of the territory, the rest of the territory fail to meet the most basic criteria.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          It’s amazing how you do this. It’s like conceptual sausage. No JeffB, East Jerusalem Arab residents do not receive even remotely equal treatment to Jews. Legal or otherwise. WTF are you kidding? No JeffB, Israeli settlers and troops intrude into A and B all the time. And confine it. No JeffB, C is occupied. No JeffB, the system comprising Israel plus the territories it occupies is one large meticulous, seamless military, police, prison, legal, economic, and administrative regime of separation and oppression. You impress me as massively ignorant and superficial, smug in your ignorance. A know-nothing American running around spreading arrant nonsense as if he were actually teaching anyone anything. I have yet to see you say one thing that is not hopelessly confused or obfuscating. Not one!

          Reply to Comment
          • JeffB

            @Ben

            Your reading comprehension is weak so sorry if I don’t take your insults to heart.

            — East Jerusalem Arab residents do not receive even remotely equal treatment to Jews. Legal or otherwise.

            Of course they do. They are entitled to full citizenship under Israeli law (I’ll agree there has been a suspension recently which is problematic).

            — No JeffB, Israeli settlers and troops intrude into A and B all the time. And confine it.

            Israeli settlers do not intrude into Area A and B. Troops do that’s perfectly fine under an occupation. Again you have to argue for apartheid not just occupation

            — No JeffB, C is occupied.

            Is Israel acting like a country that has a short term military interest in Area-C with no designs on long term governing? That’s what you are asserting when you are asserting it is occupied. Leftists just don’t know what the word means.

            — The system comprising Israel plus the territories it occupies is one large meticulous, seamless military, police, prison, legal, economic, and administrative regime of separation and oppression.

            That’s nonsense. It couldn’t be seamless otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about a variety of systems with defined geographical boundaries.

            As for your constant rudeness what was your comment to R5 about knowing I’m rattling you?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Regarding your four contentions:

            — Simply false, misleading, and blithely contemptuous of the daily reality of life for East Jerusalem Palestinians.

            — Illustrative of your blithe assumption that you know more than you think you know. See Goldman’s comments of March 23rd. Including but not limited to:
            “Jews can move freely anywhere in the West Bank. The white-font-on-red-background signs forbidding Jews entrance to Area A are posted by the Israeli Army — not by the PA. But as anyone who travels around the West Bank knows, those signs are routinely ignored and the policy is not enforced.”

            — This is confused. See Yeah Right’s analysis. Israel says one thing and does another. It’s both an illegal occupation and a colonizing enterprise. There is no “contradiction” here.

            — Precisely the point. Which flies by you. These systems stop and start all over the place precisely and meticulously based on ethnicity and the capricious arbitrary whims of the occupying/colonizing settlers and the authorities, who design it to be arbitrary and opaque on purpose. It’s a remarkably sinister system, JeffB. I don’t use that term lightly. That’s apartheid. See Yeah Right’s analysis above to put to rest any objections to the contrary.

            Reply to Comment
    13. JeffB

      @Jonathan Cook

      Puerto Rico is a formal colony. Yet: 45% of the colony wants to remain a colony, 45% wants to be annexed, 10% wants independence. That’s very different from colonies where the colonial system isn’t popular. A great deal of the distinctions in Israeli law (again within the green line) between Israeli Arabs and Jews are popular with both peoples. I’d like to see them removed but I also respect self determination. So for example bring Israeli Arabs into the secular Jewish school system might be very unpopular wth Arabs but ends a lot of the separate but equal treatment you are complaining about.

      Within the Green line you have discrimination. States discriminate between classes of people without that being apartheid as a matter of law. Your country for example discriminates between men and women; between the mentally fit and the unfit; between children and adults. You also discriminate on mutable characteristics people who have the right to operate an airplane and those that don’t. That doesn’t make the UK an Apartheid state.

      Certainly Israel should end discrimination in housing, discrimination in the workplace. The discrimination regarding national service should end. But those things fall far far short of apartheid. That sort of criticism is overly harsh and uncharitable.

      Reply to Comment
      • i_like_ike52

        Actually, “progressives” are all for discrimination on the basis of race. We are seeing a sort of “neo-Apartheid” being advocated by the “progressives” in which everyone must be classified by race, race is constantly on everyone’s mind and everyone’s contacts with other people have race as a major factor in creating relationships and judging other people, and that different races are given special privileges. Note how so many Jewish “progressive” are constantly talking about “white privilege” or “Jewish privilege” and discussions about whether Jews are white. Hendryk Vervoerd, one of the main architects of the South Africa Apartheid system would feel right at home with modern American “progressives”.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          “race is constantly on everyone’s mind and everyone’s contacts with other people have race as a major factor in creating relationships and judging other people, and that different races are given special privileges.”

          It takes a special kind of chutzpah for a champion of the settlers to pontificate like this. Wow.

          Reply to Comment
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