Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Since it IS Apartheid, what should we do? Part 1

A few times I have mentioned the very active Israel Palestine Forum. Recently there have been a number of comments posted on the topic Palestine: Occupation not Apartheid. I have argued that it is apartheid.

One of the members of the forum has made a number of comments generally disagreeing with the use of that word and has objected to my opinion that the path to peace begins by being right (as in going to court and getting a judgment of verdict against the Government of Israel and then having the appropriate body enforce the decision.)

I intend to post excerpts of my comments there to this Blog. Here is the first.

Quote from X
Hafrada means seperation which is what a two-state solution is driving for. The way I see it, we should have this seperation (two states) side by side, until we can have one state that will include all it's citizens with equal rights for ALL. For the near future this seems to be the way to go. Are we going that way? I can't talk for the Palestinians but my government will have to take this view into account at least on election day. ....Without going into the political view of "Apartheide" I would say that bringing it up will not help in getting to that Two-state solotuion. Question again.... What is more important? Going for a solution or being right in an argument?

hi X

I agree that the two state solution is driving to separation. You and I agree that the goal is for all citizens to be treated equally. But you say that the solution is to leave it the way it is for now.

The problem with that is that one party, the Government of Israel, exercises complete dominion and control over, and treats the "other", Palestinians, differently because of the accident of birth. In addition the Government of Israel continues to demolish houses, uproot olive trees, take land, build walls and separate roads. Finally the Government of Israel has developed the Matrix of Control leaving the Palestinians in small cantons in the West Bank surrrounded on all sides by Government of Israel controlled land.

This is not just separation. It is Apartheid. And as some have said, worse Apartheid than in South Africa.

There is another reason to use the word "apartheid" other than that the facts fit the definition and it is responsive to this comment of yours:

Quote from X
Question again.... What is more important? Going for a solution or being right in an argument

The answer is that looking at the situation from a legal perspective - the solution is the result of being right.

Someone manufactures something defectively and a family member is injured, you sue and the solution is a financial judgment.

Someone intentionally strikes you and hurts you, the solution is to have the person tried and sent to jail.

Someone threatens you with bodily harm, you go to court and the solution is to have a restraining order issued against the person.

The solution is being right.

In 1973, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid which entered into force in July 1976. By February 2002, it had been acceded to or ratified by 101 states.

The entire convention can be found at

Article I states
The States Parties to the present Convention declare that apartheid is a crime against humanity and that inhuman acts resulting from the policies and practices of apartheid and similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination, as defined in article II of the Convention, are crimes violating the principles of international law, in particular the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and constituting a serious threat to international peace and security. The States Parties to the present Convention declare criminal those organizations, institutions and individuals committing the crime of apartheid.

Article II says in part
For the purpose of the present Convention, the term "the crime of apartheid", which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa, shall apply to the following inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them: ..... (ii) By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Again, X, the present situation is one where there are NOT equal rights for all and that cannot be justified.

Not only are there NOT equal rights but the treatment of the Palestinians amounts to Apartheid.

The angry reaction of the Government of Israel to the use of the word "apartheid" should be ignored because the initial goal is not to ask the Government of Israel to end the policies and practices it has been unwilling to end for 40 years.

The situation needs to be referred to as apartheid because it is a crime according to the principles of international law.

(This is NOT a "political" view of Apartheid but a legal one.)

The appeal needs to be made to other countries and other international legal bodies with the goal of having either a moral or a legal judgment, with the solution being the Government of Israel ending the apartheid and ending the occupation.

So, we do not have to choose between a solution and being right - the solution follows from being right.


PS I have one question I would like to pose to ALL readers of this message. Forget for the moment that the Government of Israel and The Israel Lobby will get angry if you use the word "apartheid". Is there anyone who has read the messages on this topic, looked at the International Convention on ..... Apartheid and read other materials who would like to present an argument that the situation of the Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is NOT Apartheid?

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