On Tuesday Human Rights Watch accused Israel of the Crime of Apartheid – immediately the Board of Deputies, called it a ‘slur’

On Tuesday Human Rights Watch accused Israel of the Crime of Apartheid – immediately the Board of Deputies, called it a ‘slur’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On Tuesday Human Rights Watch accused Israel of the Crime of Apartheid – immediately the Board of Deputies, called it a ‘slur’

 By saying it is‘the voice of the UK Jewish community’ the Board is associating all Jews with Israeli Apartheid – isn’t that anti-Semitic?

The IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism says that ‘Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel’ is anti-Semitic. It is one of the few examples of anti-Semitism in the IHRA on which we can all agree. Yet what does the BOD do? It defends Israeli Apartheid in the name of all British Jews!

The sheer brass-necked hypocrisy of the Board is staggering. They are deliberately associating Jews with Israel’s crimes in the knowledge that this can result in an increase in anti-Semitic attacks. When people learn of Israel’s wanton murder of Palestinians and the torture of children they naturally become angry. What the Board is doing is providing people with an easy target, British Jews.

Even the Mossad front, the Community Security Trust, which monitors and fiddles the statistics of anti-Semitism on behalf of Israel, admitted in respect of the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2014 that

Antisemitic reactions to this summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas resulted in record levels of antisemitic hate incidents in the UK.

According to their own IHRA definition, the Board must be classified as an anti-Semitic organisation!

When the Labour Party initially refused to adopt the IHRA definition, including its 11 examples, the Board reacted with ‘fury’. It was proof that Labour was overrun with anti-Semitism.

None of this is any surprise. The BOD has support for Israel hardwired into its constitution, clause 3(d) of which states that the

‘Board shall Take such appropriate action as lies within its power to advance Israel’s security, welfare and standing. ’ [the constitution is no longer on the Board’s website but can be found in google cache]

In January Israeli human rights group B’Tselem issued a report A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid’.

Last week, in a 213 page report ‘A Threshold Crossed Human Rights Watch provided detailed evidence of Israel’s apartheid crimes. It argued that Israel was ‘Seeking Maximal Land with Minimal Palestinians’. Under ‘Discriminatory Restrictions on Residency and Nationality’ it showed how 270,000 Palestinians outside the West Bank and Gaza when the territories were captured in 1967 have been denied residence and another ¼ million Palestinians who were abroad ‘too long’ have also had their right of residency revoked. This would not happen if they were Jewish and is prima facie evidence of an apartheid state.

What does the BOD statement say? Does it rebut even one of the numerous examples in the Report? Of course not. The Board had no time to read the Report let alone rebut it. Instead it said that:

The ridiculous ‘apartheid‘ slur in this report is belied by the fact that, as it stands, Israel’s next Government may well rely on the support of Arab parties, voted for by the country’s fully-enfranchised Arab citizens. Israel’s Arab citizens have been appointed as ambassadors, professors, Supreme Court judges, hospital directors, and other key roles throughout Israel’s socio-economic landscape. 

The Board doesn’t refute what HRW said because it knows it is true. Instead it resorts to typical Zionist talking points about a few token Arabs who became ambassadors or professors. 

In fact Arabs are underrepresented in all sectors of Israeli higher education. Despite being 20% of Israel’s population Arabs form 12.1% of undergraduates, 8.2% of MA students and just 4.4% of Ph D students.

Arab students, unlike their Jewish counterparts, don’t receive grants as these are dependent on army service and Arabs don’t serve in the Zionist army. Contrary to the Board’s lies about there being equality between Israeli Palestinians and Jews the former are barred from buying or leasing 80% of Israeli land. Even Israel’s Prime Minister, Netanyahu stated that Israel is a land of its Jewish citizens not all of its citizens.

The Board’s statement is dishonest since no Arab party has ever been part of an Israeli government coalition. Although Arabs are allowed to vote in Israel their representatives are demonised as ‘terrorists’ and excluded from the corridors of power. Hence its use of the phrase ‘Israel’s next Government may well rely on the support of Arab parties.’ The last Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, who did rely on Arab support was assassinated.

The Board’s claim to represent all British Jews is hollow. It barely represents 30% of British Jews since the Orthodox have their own organisation, the 30,000 strong Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations. Nor does it represent the secular 50% of Jews.

In defending Israeli Apartheid on behalf of Britain’s Jews the Board is deliberately risking an increase in anti-Semitism in order to defend the Israeli state. That is the measure of their sincerity when accusing Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left of anti-Semitism.

In an article in Ha’aretz Gideon Levy wrote that

‘There’s no longer any way to challenge the diagnosis of apartheid. Only lying propagandists can claim that Israel is a democracy.

The Report by B’Tselem was largely ignored by the mass media. This time it was different.  Although the New York Times and other papers sought to discredit HRW’s Report they could hardly ignore it.

Even The Guardian, which led the campaign against Corbyn, despite Jonathan Freedland’s desperate attempts to defend Israel, was forced to carry an article Israel is committing the crime of apartheid, rights group says.

In Abusive Israeli Policies Constitute Crimes of Apartheid Persecution HRW levelled 3 main charges that together constitute irrefutable proof of apartheid:

1.    An intent to maintain domination by one racial group over another.

2.    A context of systematic oppression by the dominant group over the marginalized group.

3.    Inhumane acts.

The statement accused the Israeli government of an

overarching policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians and grave abuses committed against Palestinians living in the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem.

The report, “A Threshold Crossed” goes on to say that

the present-day reality (is) of a single authority, the Israeli government, ruling primarily over the area between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, populated by two groups of roughly equal size, and methodologically privileging Jewish Israelis while repressing Palestinians, most severely in the occupied territory.

This analysis is similar to that of B’Tselem earlier this year:

In the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the Israeli regime implements laws, practices and state violence designed to cement the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians. A key method in pursuing this goal is engineering space differently for each group.

For years we have been warned that Israel is fast approaching the point of no return. That it will become an apartheid state. For liberal Zionists this time never came. It was always 5 minutes to midnight. The reality is that Israel always been an apartheid state. It’s just that it has taken groups like HRW a long time to accept this. Kenneth Roth, HRW’s Executive Director stated that

“This detailed study shows that Israeli authorities have already turned that corner and today are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

HRW say that

The crime against humanity of persecution, as defined under the Rome Statute and customary international law, consists of severe deprivation of fundamental rights of a racial, ethnic, or other group with discriminatory intent.

In particular,

the elements of the crimes come together in the occupied territory, as part of a single Israeli government policy. That policy is to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territory. It is coupled in the occupied territory with systematic oppression and inhumane acts against Palestinians living there.

This could not be clearer. What is the response of the Israeli government? HRW’s Report was “preposterous and false”. It accused them of having a “long-standing anti-Israeli agenda” and carrying out an ongoing campaign “with no connection to facts or reality on the ground”.

HRW accused the Israeli state of seeking to

mitigate what they have openly described as a “demographic threat” from Palestinians. In Jerusalem, for example, the government’s plan for the municipality, including both the west and occupied east parts of the city, sets the goal of “maintaining a solid Jewish majority in the city” and even specifies the demographic ratios it hopes to maintain.

How can this be other than racist? If in Britain the government declared that it wanted to dilute the number of Jews in Golders Green, by reserving housing for non-Jews there would be an uproar. Yet what would be anti-Semitic in Britain is accepted without batting an eye lid in Israel. That the BOD seeks to defend this demonstrates that it is a racist organisation. It was the stupidity of Corbyn and McDonnell in not calling their bluff that led to their defeat.

What is quite remarkable about the HRW report, just like that of Btselem before it, is that they don’t hesitate to call out the racism against Israel’s Palestinian citizens which includes:

laws that allow hundreds of small Jewish towns to effectively exclude Palestinians and budgets that allocate only a fraction of resources to Palestinian schools as compared to those that serve Jewish Israeli children.

HRW accuses Israel of committing a range of abuses against Palestinians. These include:

sweeping movement restrictions in the form of the Gaza closure and a permit regime, confiscation of more than a third of the land in the West Bank, harsh conditions in parts of the West Bank that led to the forcible transfer of thousands of Palestinians out of their homes, denial of residency rights to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and their relatives, and the suspension of basic civil rights to millions of Palestinians.

The excuse for all this is ‘security’. Security means that the Israeli army turns Palestinian (never Jewish) land into firing zones and then later it hands it over to Jewish settlers. HRW go on to say that

Even when security forms part of the motivation, it no more justifies apartheid and persecution than it would excessive force or torture

Roth goes on to say that.

“These policies, which grant Jewish Israelis the same rights and privileges wherever they live and discriminate against Palestinians to varying degrees wherever they live, reflect a policy to privilege one people at the expense of another.”

HRW goes on to call for countries to

‘condition arms sales and military and security assistance to Israel on Israeli authorities taking concrete and verifiable steps toward ending their commission of these crimes.’

Those who argue for a 2 state solution are contributing to Israel’s apartheid regime by creating the illusion that Israel’s presence is temporary. As HRW accept ‘the oppression of Palestinians has reached a threshold and a permanence that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution,”

A new Opinion Poll by B’tselem shows that 45% of the population of Palestine/Greater Israel, including 25% of Israel’s Jewish population, accept the fact that Israel is now an apartheid society.

What should we do? PSC has been describing Israel for years as an Apartheid State but it has met with minimal impact. Why? Because they deliberately refuse to come out and say that they oppose the existence of Israel as a Jewish supremacist state. 

Today one of the talking points of the Zionists is that Israel is the ‘only Jewish state in the world.’ Our answer should be that that is one too many. We should oppose any religious ethno-nationalist state. Religious states like Pakistan or Ulster tend, almost by definition, to be racist states because they privilege those of their inhabitants who are of a particular religion.

Just as American Jews rightly reject the idea that the United States is a Christian country, valuing the separation of church and state, so Israel too should become a secular, democratic not a Jewish state.  Pro-Palestinian organisations need to be crystal clear about this.

Tony Greenstein

 

 

 

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