Friday, March 23, 2012

This Duck is an Apartheid Duck

Israel is an apartheid state. Here, on the ground, there is no denying it. It's indisputable. Often, instead of trying to argue with the facts, Israelis or Zionists try to argue over technicalities by using convoluted logic: "Don't call it apartheid! That was in South Africa. This isn't South Africa, therefore it's not apartheid." Well, no. It still is apartheid. It's just Israeli apartheid, not South African apartheid.

In fact, if you talk to people who lived under apartheid in South Africa, there is a recurring theme to their opinion on Israel:

"I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about."
 - Archbishop Desmond Tutu  
"Israel came to resemble more and more apartheid South Africa at its zenith -- even surpassing its brutality, house demolitions, removal of communities, targeted assassinations, massacres, imprisonment and torture of its opponents, collective punishment and the aggression against neighbouring states."
 - Former South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils. 
"But what is interesting is that every black South African that I've spoken to who has visited the Palestinian territory has been horrified and has said without hesitation that the system that applies in Palestine is worse."
 - Professor John Dugard, Former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Occupied Palestine.  
"...we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians."
-Nelson Mandela
"When I come here and see the situation [in the Palestinian territories], I find that what is happening here is 10 times worse than what I had experienced in South Africa. This is Apartheid."
 - Arun Gandhi 
"As someone who lived in apartheid South Africa and who has visited Palestine I say with confidence that Israel is an apartheid state. In fact, I believe that some of Israel's actions make the actions of South Africa's apartheid regime appear pale by comparison."
 - Willie Madisha, in a letter supporting CUPE Ontario's resolution. 
"They support Zionism, a version of global racist domination and apartheid based on the doctrine that Jews are superior to Arabs and therefore have a right to oppress them and occupy their country."
 - Current COSATU President, Sidumo Dlamini.
"It is worse, not in the sense that apartheid was not an absolutely terrifying system in South Africa, but in the ways in which the Israelis have taken the apartheid system and perfected it, so to speak; sharpened it. For instance, we had the Bantustans and we had the Group Areas Act and we had the separate schools and all of that but I don’t think it ever even entered the mind of any apartheid planner to design a town in such a way that there is a physical wall that separates people and that that wall denotes your freedom of movement, your freedom of economic gain, of employment, and at the same time is a tool of intimidation and dehumanisation. We carried passes as the Palestinians have their ID documents but that did not mean that we could not go from one place in the city to another place in the city. The judicial system was absolutely skewed of course, all the judges in their judgements sought to protect white privilege and power and so forth, and we had a series of what they called “hanging judges” in those days, but they did not go far as to openly, blatantly have two separate justice systems as they do for Palestinians [who are tried in Israeli military courts] and Israelis [who are tried in civil, not military courts]. So in many ways the Israeli system is worse. ... 
Another thing that makes it even worse is that when we fought our battles, even if it took us a long time, we could in the end muster and mobilise international solidarity on a scale that enabled us to be more successful in our struggle. The Palestinians cannot do that. The whole international community almost conspires against them. ... 
Palestinians are mocked in a way that South Africans were not. In a sense, the UN tried in our case to follow up on its resolutions to isolate the apartheid regime. Here, now, they make resolutions against Israel one after the other and I don't detect even a sense of shame that they know there is not going to be any follow up." 
- Reverend Allan Boesak

"Don’t patronize us! We lived apartheid, we suffered apartheid, we know what apartheid is, we recognise apartheid when we see it. And when we see Israel, we see a regime that practices apartheid." 

Now, the point of this is not to de-legitimize South African struggle by saying that this one is "worse." It doesn't MATTER which is worse, because both are unjust and painful. Both go against the spirit of Christ. As a follower of Jesus, I cannot sit back and remain silent in the face of injustice and dehumanization. I am called to love my neighbor, and I cannot do that if I am ignoring my neighbor's cries for help. If your neighbor was drowning, you would not just sit back and watch her die because you didn't feel like getting wet. 

The title of this blog post was inspired by an article with the same name, written by Yousef Munayyer. I encourage you to read the whole thing, because it articulates the situation much better than I could. Here's a quote from the article that really struck me:

Apartheid, like genocide, has an internationally recognized legal definition. For genocide, the definition was institutionalized in the aftermath of World War II. Obviously genocides differ with respect to policies, severity, and method: compare the Rwandan genocide and the Nazi Holocaust, for example. But few would argue that what happened in Rwanda was not genocide because it looks different from other genocides.

And given the definition of Apartheid, Israel’s domination of the Palestinians fits the bill. 
The 1998 Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court defines Apartheid as actions or policies “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.

As Munayyer so bluntly put it: "If it walks like a duck, if looks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, what is it? It’s a duck. This duck is an Apartheid duck." 

1 comment:

  1. powerful post meredith. thank you for all the perspective you give in your blogging. Im deep into the book "the Lemon tree" and its fascinating. wondering if you've heard of it or read it or how close you think it is to the reality of history that you're witnessing there. love and prayers!!