Apartheid in Israel – a creation of Labour Zionism not Likud
Apartheid in Israel – a creation of Labour Zionism not Likud
A demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah, Feb. 2011. Reuters
A good article that appeared in Ha’aretz a few years ago on the development of Apartheid in Israel. I have only one disagreement. Apartheid didn’t start in 1967 with the
conquest of the Territories (W Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights) but in 1948 with the
expulsion of ¾ million Palestinian refugees and the massacre of hundreds if not
It began with the military rule that lasted
18 years until 1966. It began with the Histadrut,
Israel’s ‘trade union’ and also its second largest employer, which didn’t even
admit Arabs as members until 1959. It
began with the reservation of 93% of Israel’s land for the sole use of Jews. In short all the instruments of Apartheid had
long been laid. The golden age of Zionism
is a myth. The Agricultural Settlement
Law of 1 August 1967, described by the Minister who introduced it as intended
to remove the ‘cancer’ of Arabs sub-leasing and working on Jewish National Fund
lands, some 93% of the land in Israel.
member Uri Avnery stated: “This law is going to expel Arab cultivators from the
land that was formerly theirs and was handed over to the Jews.”
Jewish land, labour and produce (i.e. the boycott
of Arab labour, produce and removal of Arabs from ‘Jewish land) was the product
of Labour Zionism not Revisionism/Likud.
Israeli racism, whose natural ‘hothouse’ is
the colonialist project in the territories, has long since spilled over into
Israeli society and has been legitimized in the series of laws recently passed
in the Knesset.
Daniel Blatman Apr 04, 2011
It has been 60 years since the apartheid
state was established in South Africa. In March 1951, a few years after the
racist National Party came to power, racial segregation was anchored in law. As
was common in other countries that adopted racist laws in the 20th century,
those in South Africa were accompanied by “laundered” explanations.
Hitler declared after the Nuremberg Race
Laws were passed in 1935 that they would create a suitable basis for a separate
but worthy existence for Jews in Germany alongside German society. The race
laws in South Africa established that people of different colors cannot exist
when mixed with each other – only in separate, protected spaces.
The tsunami of racist laws passed by the
Knesset in recent months is also being explained by reasoned and worthy
arguments: the right of small communities to preserve their own character (the
Acceptance Committees Law ); the state’s right to prevent hostile use of the
funds it allocates to education and culture (the Nakba Law ); and the right to
deny citizenship to persons convicted of espionage or treason (the Citizenship
Law ). But I believe that as in other historical instances, the aim of this
legislation is the gradual establishment of an apartheid state in Israel, and
the future separation on a racial basis of Jews and non-Jews.
An apartheid state is not created in the
blink of an eye. What was created in Germany in 1935 was the outcome of a long
and sometimes violent debate, which had been ongoing since the middle of the
19th century, about the place of Jews in modern Germany and Europe. Indeed, the
desire to isolate and distance the Jews from society – legally and socially –
was part of the belief system of anti-Semites in Europe for decades before
Hitler came into power.
In this respect the Nazi regime, along with
other regimes that passed racial separation laws (among them those in Romania,
Hungary, Italy and Vichy France in 1940 ), only anchored in legislation a
reality that had already been enthusiastically received by the populace. Of
course, when such laws were enacted, the regimes involved did not support or
imagine that at the end of the road, a “final solution” was waiting
in its Nazi format. However, once the seeds were sown, no one was able to
figure out what fruit they would bear.
The historical background of the Israeli
apartheid state-in-the-making that is emerging before our eyes should be sought
in 1967. It is part of a process that has been going on for about 44 years:
What started as rule over another people has gradually ripened – especially
since the latter part of the 1970s – into a colonialism that is nurturing a
regime of oppression and discrimination with regard to the Palestinian
population. It is robbing that population of its land and of its basic civil
rights, and is encouraging a minority group (the settlers ) to develop a crude,
violent attitude toward the Arabs in the territories. This was exactly the
reality that, after many years, led to the establishment of the apartheid state
in South Africa.
In her book “The Origins of
Totalitarianism,” Hannah Arendt draws a sharp picture of the process of
the development of the society of racial segregation in South Africa, from the
start of the Dutch Boer colonialist settlement there. Assumption of racial superiority
– the subordination of the black population – was the only way the
“whites” could adjust to life in the midst of that race. The
nurturance of feelings of racial supremacy, to which were added the belief in
cultural superiority and the justification for economic exploitation – these
are what, in a decades-long process, gave rise to the need to anchor this
situation in proper legislation.
Thus, the dehumanization of the blacks, who
at the start of the colonization period were perceived as no more than enhanced
work animals, led to the establishment of a regime of racial separation 60
years ago in South Africa, which for decades left tens of millions of black
people mired in a situation of harsh poverty, exploitation and atrophy.
It is not hard to identify this sort of
worldview developing – with respect to Arabs – among widening circles of
settlers in the territories and among their supporters within the (pre-Six Day
War ) Green Line. It also has quite a number of supporters in the Knesset, even
if they will not admit this outright.
Israeli racism, whose natural
“hothouse” is the colonialist project in the territories, has long
since spilled over into Israeli society and has been legitimized in the series
of laws recently passed in the Knesset. Only people who avoid looking at the
broad historical context of such a process are still able to believe it is
possible to stop the emergence of an Israeli apartheid state without getting
rid of the colonialist-racist grip on the territories.
Prof. Blatman is a Holocaust researcher and
head of the Institute for Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of