The World

May 17, 2018

This is apartheid, plain and simple

Supporters of Israel hate the apartheid comparison, but which other government does it most resemble?

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


The recent massacre of Gazan Palestinians by Israeli security forces marks a new stage in the region’s history: the point at which the Israeli government has gone from being in the Likud/”revisionist” heritage, to being an Irgun government.

In the 1920s, the Zionist movement split, as the end of World War I failed to bring a Zionist state. Ze’ev Jabotinsky, an Istanbul-based journalist and activist, scorned the original Zionist vision of a paternalist colonialism, in which native Arabs would be treated like children raised up by Europeans. They will never accept us, Jabotinsky said, so we need to take the land by force, on both sides of the Jordan River, expel or subdue an Arab minority and build an “iron wall”. Ataturk’s creation of modern Turkey out of the Ottoman collapse was one inspiration; Mussolini was another.

That came to pass, and has been the de facto rationale of the state of Israel for some time. But even Jabotinsky had stopped short of claiming Jerusalem, arguing that it should be a Free City, run internationally, given the multiple claims to its sanctity. By the 1930s, even Jabotinsky was being superseded in his militancy by the Irgun, a group of young bloods, who injected into clashes between Arabs and European Jews a new element: precise, targeted terror against random Arab civilians.

The Irgun method became a key feature of the 1948 Zionist uprising, which included dozens of precise and strategic massacres of Palestinian villages, as a way of terrorising the population into departure. Post-creation, the Irgun became part of the political system, first as Herut, then Likud, their terrorist leader Menachem Begin becoming prime minister in 1977. “Both sides of the Jordan” had been abandoned, but the process of absorbing the West Bank via “settlements” began.

This process was transformed when the Soviet bloc collapsed, fundamentalism took off in the US, Israel went from being a social democracy to that of a neoliberal state, and the Israeli political class became riddled with financial corruption. The unity provided by some level of social equality disappeared as literalist Americans fleeing pogroms in Cleveland — and the anomie of US life — filled the settlements, cheek-by-jowl with ex-Soviet Republic Jews, some of whom were genuinely leaving anti-Semitic societies, others of whom were looking for land, and the cheap labour provided by an apartheid society.

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As the secular socialist Zionist vision has come apart, national unity has had to be injected by concrete application — making Arabs take oaths describing Israel as a “Jewish state”, starving Arab Israeli villages of funds, demolitions and confiscations in Palestinian West Jerusalem, destroying Bedouin culture. The ultimate aim is to make Jerusalem a wholly Israeli city. As these policies raise Palestinian protest and resistance, repression becomes more violent, not as a last resort, but as a first option, a way of reproducing that threatened unity.

How much clearer could this be than having a cold-blooded massacre of 60 Palestinians, and the serious wounding of hundreds more, on the occasion of the US embassy being moved to Jerusalem? Israel is a world leader in crowd control, having spun a lucrative human containment industry out of its military control of Palestinian bodies. Had it wanted to control that protest with minimal injury it could have. Its response was an Irgun one: a precise massacre, snipers versus children. The revisionist movement was born in the period of fascism, and to that it has returned.

That is rough on the Palestinians, but of greater significance is what it says about Israel. No state that is really in control escalates its use of external violence unilaterally, without deforming its culture internally. The state terror against the Palestinians is obviously designed to achieve a total subduing of resistance, as are the periodic invasions of Gaza and Lebanon. What happens when it doesn’t, as it won’t? Fresh airstrikes? Carpet bombing? Israel’s supporters hate the apartheid government comparison, but which other government does it most resemble? What is this but Sharpeville redux?

The only difference? Apartheid South Africa was surrounded by sanctions, which ultimately persuaded business to pressure the government to make a transition. Israel is feted and celebrated across the world. For now. Zionism is a flash-frozen version of 19th-century European chauvinism; this is the century when its previous subjects take control of the planet’s future. Any state re-enacting imperialism one massacre at a time has many reasons for doing so, but rationality is not one of them.


Leave a comment

28 thoughts on “This is apartheid, plain and simple

  1. Bobby

    Ah the extreme left. Where using whatever means is necessary to keep the sort of people out of your country who happily voted in a terrorist organisation as their government (which then proceeded to never hold another election) is seen as a bad thing.
    And they wonder why European and Western voters are heading right at a rate of knots.

    1. Marilyn

      Ah Bobby, you are truly demented, it is Israel that is the terrorist organisation.

      1. Bobby

        Things Palestinians and the hard left don’t protest for.

        The ability to have free and fair elections in Gaza and the West Bank.

    2. old greybearded one

      What the hell are you talking about? You were not thrown out of your homeland by a gang of terrorists, the Palestinians were. They have been robbed, killed and had their land stolen and it continues to be stolen. Israel was established by terrorism, except that if the Israelis did it it can’t be terrorists. This is occupied territory in the West Bank, you are by the way entitled to resist occupation. I have no truck with terrorists, but there are two kinds here. One could almost think of this as genocide, but you cannot use that term where Israel is concerned. Indeed to keep the sort of people out of your country that you stole it from.

      1. bref

        I’m not in the ‘Israel stole the land’ camp, but the Israelis are going to have to change their ways if they ever want peace with their neighbours. There was enormous good will toward them after WWII, but bullets against stones is not a good look and the world is growing weary of it.

        1. Marcus Hicks

          Yet they clearly did. The historical evidence says as much. The UN granted a whopping 53% of Palestine to be the Jewish Mandate, in spite of only 47% of the population being Jewish at the time. Yet they still committed ethnic cleansing at the first possible opportunity, both before & after the UN decision. Of course, the only reason the decision got up was because Stalin saw it as a great way to get Jews out of Russia.

    3. Marcus Hicks

      Ah, the extreme Right. Again Bobby, Israel has been the principle aggressor pretty much from day 1, yet *any* attempts at retaliation-even just protesting-by Palestinians are labelled by Zionist stooges as “terrorism”…..& any denigration of Israel’s policies are automatically labelled as “anti-Semitism” by those self-same stooges.

    4. Marcus Hicks

      Where is your evidence of this “heading Right at a rate of knots”, Bobby? Your beloved Dumpf lost the popular vote in 2016, & has declined in popularity since. May almost got the boot by a relatively newly installed Labour leader. Your beloved Librorts Party almost lost in 2016, & will almost certainly be wiped out at the next election. Labour also won in New Zealand. So do tell us which nations are heading Right as you claim?

    5. Peter Schulz

      Assuming you can count, check the body-count over the last few decades, mate. That should tell you who the terrorists are. Home-made rockets vs the world’s fifth largest industrial war machine. Children vs dug-in snipers. Terror indeed.

  2. Moving to Paraguay

    Yes. Israeli politics is appalling, but how far can you take the Apartheid label? Is there formal separation of Jews and Arabs in everyday life?

    1. Peter Schulz

      Provision of different levels of services for Arab and Jewish neighbourhoods. Different laws for Arabs and Jews. ‘Administrative detention’ (ie imprisonment without trial) for Arabs only. Arab refugees from the Zionist terror campaigns of 1948 have no right of return to the homes that had been theirs for generations, whereas any Jewish person anywhere in the world is free to migrate to Israel (and settle in an illegal Jewish settlement on stole Palestinian land).

    2. Marcus Hicks

      Go visit one of the *many* checkpoints between Israel & West Bank, as well as those on the many bypass roads that connect the dozens of illegal Jewish Settlements. Then you will get to see just how like South African Apartheid Israel’s system is.

      Also, Arab Israelis, though not treated as poorly as black South Africans were, are still treated like second class citizens.

  3. Marcus Hicks

    Try telling that to people who have grown up sucking down Zionist Propaganda all their lives. I suspect their entire knowledge of Mid-East politics is derived from watching the awful movie “Exodus”.

    1. 124C4U

      A good film to see on this subject is “The Promise”, check it out if you get a chance.
      Another event that will show some light on the power of Israel in the land of the freaks and home of the brainless is to go online and read the USS Liberty saga.
      And as an aside remember that the South African apartheid regime was kept in place longer by the active support of Israel.

  4. Ertunc

    What this comment has to do with the article is beyond me. However, regarding the content of the article itself – Guy, I couldn’t agree more. A tragedy which future generations will study with some disbelief, as kids do today regarding Apartheid SA.

    1. Rais

      I visited South Africa a couple of years after their first democratic election. It was surprisingly normal. Some of the whites have left now but many remain and most of them are still quite prosperous. I’ve read that many young Israelis have left Israel so a single state solution there could become more likely as US enthusiasm for supporting the vindictive little state fades. I know some Palestinians and could imagine what must by now be a Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean accepting those Israelis who are prepared to stay in a combined state. Those who don’t want that kind of state would probably find safe homes in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

  5. cairns50

    TY the best article I have read so far explaining just how we have got to this latest round of the murders of innocent people

  6. Greybeard

    Well said. Thank you.

  7. James O'Neill

    I was lecturing at the University of Bergen in the 1970s and a friend in the History Department told me that in his view there would never be peace in Israel/Palestine as long as a Jewish State occupied what was regarded by the non-Jewish population as “the sacred soil of Islam.” I didn’t agree at the time, thinking that a “two -state solution was both possible and desirable. The events of the succeeding 40+years have persuaded me I was wrong. The only feasible solution is a secular singular state, and that is not going to happen. Israel will continue its ghastly progress to a completely fascist apartheid state, protected by the US veto and the support of moral and intellectual cowards such as infest Parliament House in Canberra.
    Expect many more such massacres.

  8. Arky

    “but which other government does it most resemble?”

    The USA circa Kent State? Also any number of brutal governments which kill protesters and are deservedly condemned for it.

    To read this article would be to think that the defining feature of apartheid is killing protesters. The apartheid comparison is an intentionally offensive bit of trolling, and helps no-one, which in a nutshell is something both sides of this conflict and their supporters excel at and is the reason there is no peace. Everyone is far too interested in offending and killing the other side, and not in actual peace

    For example, a one-sided history of the creation of Israel which only mentions 1948 as a “Zionist uprising” and which doesn’t mention the combined forces of Arab countries trying to literally kill the nascent Jewish state and the Jews, is merely meant to advance a “poor sainted Palestinians who never did anything wrong / evil Jews plotting to wipe out Palestinians from the very beginning” narrative, the narrative which ends with the Hamas conclusion that the Jews should be driven into the sea. There are many equivalent writers who would write an equally bad narrative which ignores Israeli brutality and Israeli settlements and the plight of Palestinians who lived on this land before 1948, but they aren’t here on Crikey to criticise.

    Ask yourself – do you want peace or do you want to ride a moral high horse and tell people how bad they are and win the “who started it” fight? Most pundits seem far more interested in the latter than actually finding a route to the former.

    1. Marcus Hicks

      You really need to re-read the history books, Arky. The Zionists began their purge of Arab Mandate Palestine back in 1947, whereas the Arab Nations didn’t retaliate to this ethnic cleansing until almost a full year later. That’s nearly 12 months of dealing with hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Refugees flooding across their borders. If anything, I’d say the Arab States showed great restraint.

      Likewise, ever since the Oslo Accords, Palestinian Groups have done their level best to rein in acts of violence against Israel proper, & have changed significantly softened their more strident anti-Israel positions (read up on the history of Hamas, though, & you’ll find the organisation was initially created by Israel, to take support away from the PLO. Talk about blow-back). All the Palestinians have gotten in return is a more accelerated settlement construction program in The West Bank.

    2. Peter Schulz

      There can never be peace without justice – which is why the world took on Hitler, who (like Israel) wanted peace (after he had grabbed other people’s land).

  9. parrick

    Last year on a visit to Israel on my way out of Ben Gurion airport, I took the time to read the wall posters celebrating the 120th anniversary of Zionism. Rundle is right, this Israeli Government is not Zionist. Zionism has a deeply humanitarian core, one of equality and egalitarianism. It’s a far cry from the open fascism of the current Israeli government. Much is made in the 120 metre presentation of the inclusion and humanity of the Zionist message. The journey isn’t over until everyone is free.
    What a shame the Zionists were shouldered aside by the fascists.

  10. Luckyduck

    I am very impressed with the articles in Crikey about the Palestinian massacre on the day the US embassy was opened in Jerusalem. This massacre and dispossession has gone for far too long. Unfortunately, as mentioned in the article sanctions will not be applied. US and the US Jews are supporting the ruthless Israel government. As long as this support is there Israel will get worse and worse. There is no incentive for them to negotiate. I just hate this uneven playing field.

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