25 July 2013
Zionist narrative is imbued with an incessant and feigned amazement at Israel being declared an apartheid state. The complaint is taken up by its staunch defenders and is unchallenged by international organisations such as the UN, whose chastisement of Israel does not incorporate the crippling sanctions bestowed on other nations. Within this culture of impunity, the South African experience and memory of apartheid creates a conspicuous alternative. Regarded as a pariah by most of the international community, apartheid in South Africa was globally challenged and ultimately destroyed. Israel’s apartheid, acknowledged bluntly by former South African Prime Minister Henrik Verwoerd, pointed to the contrast between international outrage at apartheid in South Africa and the lenience with which Israel was treated, despite obvious proof of violations of international law.
‘Why Israel? The Anatomy of Zionist Apartheid – a South African perspective’ is a comprehensive treatise which challenges the meticulously constructed myths supporting Israel’s violations of international law. The initial portrayal of similarities between the South African and Israeli regimes eventually halts, with Israel committing excessive atrocities against the Palestinian population, effectively perfecting the initial apartheid practice. Weaving the historical process in a manner which contributes to the current, dominant narrative, Suraya Dadoo and Firoz Osman have presented an international approach which departs from the South African experience of apartheid, exposing the Zionist government’s excessive collective punishment against Palestinians and its trepidation at the growing activist movement, particularly the BDS movement, which derives inspiration from the South African anti-apartheid movement.
Language and symbolism manipulation have become central to Israel’s security propaganda. The global Zionist lobby – epitomised by AIPAC and supported by the US Congress – is fundamental to controlling and shaping the international debate. Dadoo and Osman shed light upon the South African Zionist lobby, which adopts the AIPAC strategy of eliminating the historical context of the occupation by slandering anti-Zionist activists, intimidating journalists, instigating smear campaigns against activist groups such as Media Review Network and strives to impart Israel’s positive image by offering free trips to Israel to journalists.
From a historical overview of the myths concerning the allegedly barren land, the erroneous interpretation of Jewish nationhood and the foundations of the state of Israel ‘as fulfilment of Jewish scriptures’ and Western guilt in relation to the Holocaust, the book charts the ruthless land dispossession, forced exile and massacres of Palestinian people leading to the loss of self-determination. Massacres were justified as essential to the building of the Jewish state, in Menachem Begin’s own words, ‘The massacres were not only justified but there would not have been a state of Israel without the victory at Deir Yasssin’.
Israel’s justification for its apartheid practices have not been adequately challenged by international leaders and organisations, a fact which portrays international complicity in aiding the Zionist occupation. Israel’s disregard for UN resolutions was earlier expressed by David Ben Gurion, who declared, “After we become a strong force we shall abolish partition and expand [Israel] to the whole of Palestine.” Aided by Western acquiescence and support, Israel obtained the undeserved glorification of ‘the only democracy in the Middle East,’ based upon a selective and biased interpretation of Israel’s political dynamics which is completely disassociated from the reality of apartheid. Worldwide economic and military collaboration with Israel have ensured a growing instability for Palestinians, whose interests are relegated to an afterthought as international governments seek to consolidate ties with the apartheid regime, thus furthering international law violations and upholding Israel’s stale rhetoric of security concerns.
The Likud charter states that ‘The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs.’
The alleged preoccupation with security exposes the difference between dependent politics and armed resistance, namely Fatah and Hamas. The Ramallah based government’s dependence upon economic security has severely exacerbated Palestinians’ options for self-determination, as evidenced during an interview in 2012 when Mahmoud Abbas appeared to relinquish his right to return. “I visited Safed before once … but I want to see Safed. It’s my right to see it but not to live there. I am a refugee, but I am living in Ramallah. I believe that the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the other parts are Israel.” On the other hand Hamas, its insistence upon armed resistance and scepticism regarding peace initiatives have been deconstructed into a symbol of terrorism propelled by anti-Semitism based upon linguistics in the Hamas Charter, a document which has not been referred to since the emergence of the organisation as a political power which led to its distinction between Zionists and Jews.
As the book moves towards the ramifications of international law, the reader has been allowed to grasp the severity of human rights violations committed by the occupying power in a manner which leaves no doubt as to the urgency of establishing accountability. The RToP established that Israel’s rule amounts to an apartheid regime and drew attention to the US, the EU and the UN as accomplices of Israel’s international law violations. Efforts by Palestinians to seek justice abroad are viewed as threatening stances by Israel, which expects its culture of impunity to transcend its fluid borders. Aided by Western and imperial manipulation of justice, Israel’s ally status has proven to be fundamental in ensuring the continuity of its aberrant actions and flagrant international law violations. Israel’s vast propaganda, a concoction of security concerns pertaining to the apartheid state, the encouragement of Islamophobia and the alleged Iranian threat have promoted the myth that Israel is bracing itself to conquer the same concerns of the West. Demography remains a contentious issue with regard to the alleged ‘anti-Semitism’ which, according to author Phyllis Chesler, extends also to the West. “Who or what can loosen the madness that has gripped the world and that threatens to annihilate the Jews and the West?”
Dadoo and Osman have created an invaluable reference illuminating the imperial dynamics of power resisting a just implementation of international law, and activist strategies which are shaping the struggle against Israeli apartheid, thus challenging the intentional apathy exhibited by most world leaders and international organisations. The South African experience of apartheid also serves as a testimony, asserting the obvious but disregarded fact. Unlike the initial apartheid regime Israel is entirely protected by its adherence to security rhetoric endorsed by world leaders who have embraced alienation willingly. As Israel’s allies willingly betray international law, peace remains an ambiguous commodity, thrust into the equation only in relation to the two state solution which fails to address the inescapable reality. Only the dismantling of the apartheid state can facilitate the process of self-determination for Palestinians.
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