Florida Jewish weekly: Israel’s occupation worse than apartheid

J. Zel Lurie writes the following for the South Florida Jewish Journal (via Kibush), Feb. 15 edition:

Military rule of West Bank surpasses South Africa’s apartheid
Abe Foxman, the ADL chieftain should stop crying gevalt over Jimmy Carter’s best-seller Palestine: Peace or Apartheid and start discussing the apartheid issues imposed for almost forty years on the West Bank Palestinians by their military rulers, the Israel army.

Some, but not all, of the humiliating and oppressive military regulations suffered by the Palestinians for almost forty years are the core of Carter’s accusation of apartheid.

Foxman wrote in the New York Times Book Review of January 28:

“Carter’s anti-Israel bias (is) reflected in his offensive and inaccurate use of the term ‘apartheid’.”

Is Carter offensive and inaccurate? No he is not. But he might have found a stronger term because the Israel Army’s regulations exceed the apartheid imposed on the Blacks in South Africa.

Let’s look at the record.

So far as I know, Blacks in South Africa were not forbidden to use the main roads. Palestinians are confined to potholed roads, often unpaved and rutted. When they try to fix the road, an Army jeep appears and, in the name of security, orders the paving be stopped.

Blacks in South Africa had to carry a pass as do the Palestinians. But they did not have to stand for hours in the rain and mud as the Palestinians do every three months to get their passes renewed.

Blacks in South Africa could not reside in white areas. But they could build a home in a Black township without fear of having it demolished. In the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, which were rural villages before Israel annexed them to Jerusalem in 1967, no master plan has been completed in forty years. Therefore it is almost impossible to obtain a building permit and the Palestinians have been forced to build illegally as families expanded.

According to Professor Moshe Amirav, an expert on Jerusalem, Palestinians build between 400 and 500 illegal homes annually and about 100 are knocked down.

“The government`s planning policy is not a secret,” Amirav said. “The goal is to decrease Arab construction in East Jerusalem.”

Blacks in a South African township did not live in fear of a bulldozer showing up at dawn to knock down their house. According to Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights, nine houses were demolished in East Jerusalem in January.

One of them belonged to a paraplegic who was born with paralyzed legs. He had difficulty with the 60 steps in his parent’s home so his father built him a small house with a paved driveway to the front door.

It was demolished two weeks ago and he and his wife and children have returned to the 60 steps in his parents home. Ironically, Israel social security, to which he is entitled as a Jerusalem resident, supports him but they can’t supply him with an accessible home.

Blacks in South Africa could travel freely. No wall was ever built to separate Blacks from Whites. To travel from Nablus to the West Bank capital in Ramallah on a road built by the British used to be an hour’s drive. Today a Palestinian would need several permits and it would take hours passing four or five Army checkpoints. All in the name of security.

Prof. John Dugard, a South African and a former World Court judge, says: “Many aspects of Israel’s occupation surpass those of the apartheid regime.”

Is Carter anti-Israel, as Foxman claims, for attacking Israel’s apartheid policy? Of course not. He is pro-Israel in demanding a change, and so am I. And so are my Israeli children and grandchildren. I am going to Israel on March 20 for my granddaughter’s wedding.

I am in favor of strict security to protect me and my Israeli kin. In the USA more people are examined daily at our airports than in a week at the 540 checkpoints set up by the Israel Army in the West Bank. With nary a complaint in the USA.

We take off our shoes and jackets. We don’t complain because the uniformed inspectors are polite and well-trained. They wear white gloves and they don’t shout at us in a language we don`t understand. The soldiers at the West Bank checkpoints could be as well-trained, if there was a will to do so.

And bulldozing scores of illegally built homes in East Jerusalem, nine in January including the specially-built home of a paraplegic, has nothing to do with security.

This critical column might be called anti-Semitic according to an essay on the website of the American Jewish Committee titled ‘Progressive Jewish Thought and the new Anti-Semitism’ by Prof. Alvin H. Rosenfeld of Indiana University.

Among the “progressive Jews” singled out by Mr. Rosenfeld is the prizewinning playwright Tony Kushner. Mr. Kushner told the New York Times:

“Most Jews like me find this a very painful subject, and are aware of the rise of vicious anti-Semitism around the world. But we feel that it’s morally incumbent upon us to articulate questions and reservations.”

I agree with the Pulitzer prize-winning playwright.

A more in-depth version appears on the Meretz USA weblog.

See our last post on Israel/Palestine. See our last post on Carter’s book.