Monday, January 30, 2017

Israeli Apartheid

I grew up in South Carolina. Never heard the word apartheid but I lived in an apartheid system.  We simply referred  to it as “our way of life.” We defined it as “separate, but equal.” In reality, we were far more committed to keeping things separate than equal. I went to the better school while the black citizens in my community went to that ol’ fire trap on the south side of town. No matter what we called it, it was an evil system and it took years of external pressure (from the federal government,) and a lot of education to grow out of it. Thank God, the people of conscience rejected apartheid and our “right to exist as a white state.”  

Now, look at South Africa. Apartheid, which means “apart-ness” was sustained by all kinds of legal and emotional justifications.  Keeping blacks in Bantustans was “good for everybody.”  They were inferior human beings that just could not take care of themselves and as long as they provided a supply of cheap labor for the Afrikaners, apartheid worked until the world woke up to the pain inflicted upon millions of weak human beings and its conscience took over. The United Nations regards apartheid as a crime against humanity. Apartheid is now rejected by every civilized nation with the exception of Israel.

Today, Israel is an apartheid state. Of course, Israel rejects the title and prefers to call itself a “democracy” but changing the vocabulary does not change the fact of Israel’s brutal dominance of the occupied territories. Oren Ben-Dor explains:

Israel never officially annexed those areas to Israel (i.e., to ‘pre-1967 Israel’); on the other hand, instead of calling them ‘occupied, it insist on defining them as ‘held’ territories. Israel created this legalistic subterfuge to enable it to claim that articles 47 to 78 of the Geneva Convention that pertain to ‘territories occupied in war’ are not relevant there and to ensure that the state can be selective in the way it applies official Israeli law.[1]

It is amazing that so many people who openly opposed the apartheid system in South Carolina and South Africa are willing to give a pass to Israel.

It’s even called a separation (apartheid) wall. Add to that, hundreds of checkpoints, illegal settlements,  home demolitions, curfews, bombardment of unarmed Gazans, thousands of political prisoners and you have the face of Apartheid Israel.

Thomas Are
January 30, 2017

[1] Ilan Peppe, Israel and South Africa, The Many Faces od Apartheid,  (Zed Books, London, 2015.) p. 78.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Two Letters

Both to the “editor” of the Atlanta Journal/Constitution. One by me and the other by James David. They did NOT publish mine. I was disappointed, but not surprised. I titled it:

John Kerry is being called a backstabber and betrayer because he failed to “protect Israel” against a UN vote declaring settlements illegal.  He did not veto the vote of Britain, France Russia and Egypt who voted with the 14 to 0 in favor of condemning Israel’s five decade long policy of settlements. Israel now subsidizes housing to more than 600,000 “squatters” in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Where in the world did Kerry get the idea that settlements were illegal?  Well, he probably read Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which even Israel is a signatory:

The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

Building settlements in occupied territories is illegal under international law, period.

However, the Journal/Constitution DID publish a letter by my friend James David, a military General with a heart for justice. He titled it: OBAMA RIGHT NOT TO SUPPORT ISRAEL.

President Obama’s decision to abstain and let the latest U.N. Resolution condemning Israeli settlements pass is an early Christmas present. Many of his critics are calling it bad for peace. (“U.S. abstains as U.N. vote blasts Israel,” News, Dec. 24.)

So, I guess Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land, demolishing thousands of Palestinian homes, uprooting their olive orchards, spraying their homes with sewage, the building of an apartheid wall, the construction of thousands of illegal Jewish settlements, and the daily harassment, collective punishment, unnecessary killings of dozens of Palestinian men, women, and children, and the daily human rights abuses on the Palestinian people is good for peace?  

The only criticism that I have on President Obama’s decision to abstain is that I wish he would’ve voted in favor just as all 14 other nations in the UN voted. This unanimous vote should awaken the world.

Both as a military professional and as a private citizen, James David has knowledge of Israel’s abuse of the Palestinians which is seldom reported in the media or expressed by our politicians. His commitment in speaking truth to power is in itself powerful. People of conscience all around the world are grateful for his leadership. I am one of them.

Thomas Are

January 14, 2017