Friday, January 17, 2014

Apartheid in Israel? Hardly. By Seth M. Siegel.

Apartheid in Israel? Hardly. By Seth M. Seigel. Los Angeles Times, January 12, 2014.

For Israel’s Arabs It Is Not Apartheid. By Khaled Abu Toameh. Gatestone Institute, March 9, 2010.

A Jewish (therefore apartheid?) State. By Mark Lewis. Middle East Piece.


Knowing full well that Israel would exist as a Jewish state and even intending for it be so, the United Nations voted to create it. And yet, we still have to address complaints like freelance journalist Sherri Muzher’s: “How could anyone claim that Israel is not a racist state? It is even called the Jewish state of Israel.” A country being designated as Jewish is no more evidence of apartheid or racism than membership in the Arab League is evidence of apartheid or racism for any of its 22 member states, none of whom Muzher expresses any condemnation toward.
Muzher continues complaining that Israel “is a state for one religion,” apparently unaware of the Muslims, Christians, Bahais, Buddhists, Druze, and Hindus who freely practice religion there, and that “Unlike the United Kingdom, Greece, and Norway, Israel has no state religion . . .” Consistent with her previous hypocrisy of condemning the Jewish state as racist while giving 22 Arab states passes, she has nothing whatever to say about any of the 57 countries in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, or Catholic countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, and Venezuela, or Buddhist countries like Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, or Protestant countries like Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Liberia, and Norway, or even Hindu Nepal.
Nor does she, or like-minded complainants, seem to have a problem with the central role of race and religion in the pan-Arab and pan-Islamic ideologies punctuating Middle East politics. Why should the one, lone, Jewish country in the world be the focal point of so much racial controversy when other countries with names like the United Arab Emirates, Syrian Arab Republic, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Arab Republic of Egypt, Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, or the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan exist with impunity?
Just as hypocritical, though slightly more juvenile, comes the complaint that Israel’s flag embodies the state’s racism with its Jewish Star of David as the sole image. Presumably, the Jewish insignia exists not as a symbol of national pride, but to chase off gentiles similar to the effects of a crucifix on vampires. But neither Joseph Massad with Al-Ahram or the folks over at the Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid seem to be bothered by religious symbology elsewhere.
Their respective complaints (to pick but two examples among the critics who see fit to even refer to such a trivial grievance) are that “Israeli racism . . . manifests in its flag . . .” and that the “Israeli flag discriminates.” Even a cameo appearance of Egypt’s flag featuring the Golden Eagle of Saladin, Iran’s which has “Allahu Akbar” inscribed 22 times along with the Muslim proclamation “Laa ilaha ila Allah” and Muslim symbolism, or Iraq’s with “Allahu Akbar” in giant letters, or Saudi Arabia’s huge scimitar which represents the sword of jihad with the Muslim proclamation of faith hovering above, would have made for a more balanced critique. Any of the 12 flags with embroidered Islamic crescent moons would have been worth a mention as well. Or how about the dozens of flags proudly displaying the Christian cross in various sizes? Again, why is it that only when the lone Jewish state follows standard international practice does it become outrageous and deserving of condemnation?
All double standards aside, there should be nothing remarkable that a Jewish state caters to Jewish culture much like Arab states cater toward Arab culture, China caters towards Chinese, or Greece caters to Greeks. Contrary to the implication, one need not be a Jew to enjoy Israeli citizenship. Israel’s Proclamation of Independence enshrined “the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants” as well as ensuring the “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture . . .”

Racism: When Will We Face the Facts. By Sherri Muzher. Serendipity, [September 2001].

For Jews Only: Racism Inside Israel. Phyllis Bennis interviewed by Max Elbaum. ColorLines, December 15, 2000. Also here.

Is a two-state arrangement really fair and based on justice? By Phyllis Bennis. End the Occupation.


In the real world, historical injustices sometimes become permanent. They do not become just or fair because time passes or power consolidates, but some parts of them do remain. The massive historical injustice that led to the dispossession and near-extermination of Native Americans in the first three hundred years of what would become the United States is no less unjust now. But how that continuing injustice can be addressed did in fact change. In the year 1702 it might have been possible to legitimately advocate sending the European colonists back to Europe and returning all the land to the Native Americans; three hundred years later that is not possible. Combinations of national recognition, economic reparations, affirmative action, protection of remaining tribal-held lands, and more are the new demands of Native Americans.
Certainly the Palestinian case is different. At the beginning of the 21st century al-Nakba, the catastrophe, in which Palestinians lost their land was just over fifty years past. Many Palestinians, now in their sixties, seventies or eighties, remember fleeing their homes and still hold the keys to the door they long imagined re-entering. It is not something familiar only through history books or dusty engravings. However, history has moved much faster in the last half a century than in the many years before it. With the shifts of the twentieth century, Israel has been consolidated as a vibrant, highly technologically advanced, powerfully armed western-oriented society under the absolute protection of the United States.

Israel’s right to be racist. By Joseph Massad. Al Ahram Weekly, March 15-21, 2007.

Zionism and Israel Are Anti-Semitic. By Joseph Massad. NJBR, June 2, 2013. With related articles and video.