- Written by Chris McGreal Chris McGreal
- Published: 30 December 2021 30 December 2021
Desmond Tutu at a press conference in Geneva after Israel blocked his UN mission to Beit Hanun in 2006. Photograph: Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA
But Tutu’s real crime in the eyes of Israel’s most unrelenting supporters was to liken its rule over the Palestinians to apartheid and then refuse to back off in the face of an onslaught of abuse. On his visits to Israel and Palestine, Tutu would have immediately recognised echoes of his homeland in the forced removals, the house demolitions, the humiliations of checkpoints and systems of control on movement, the confiscation of land for Jewish settlements, and the confining of Palestinians to blobs of territory, reminiscent of the Bantustan black homelands. Above all he saw one people controlling another who, like black South Africans until 1994, had little say in their governance.
Tutu was not alone in his view. Former US president Jimmy Carter drew similarly vitriolic accusations from Dershowitz and others when he published his bestselling book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, in 2006. But Tutu was harder to attack. He not only had the authority of a Nobel peace prize awarded for his courageous stand against white rule in South Africa but he knew apartheid when he saw it.
- Written by Gilbert Schramm Gilbert Schramm
- Published: 21 May 2021 21 May 2021
Gaza, May 20, 2021
An Update and Some Simple Truths
The brutal, ongoing violence in Gaza has brought on the usual handwringing and nonsense. Yet strangely, in some ways, there seems to be a bit of a breakthrough. It is long overdue.
In some quarters, the admissions now made by pundits, policy wonks and reporters would have been unthinkable a few years ago. One is that Netanyahu was never serious about allowing a Palestinian state: barrels of ink were used to insist he did. Some of us have known better for 20 years. We were ignored. Another was the extreme shift to the right in Israel. They are basically now a Zionist supremacist state. Obviously, too, the justifications for extreme violence by Israel have been clearly refuted: if there are this many rockets in Gaza, previous brutal attempts by Israel to destroy them have been a miserable failure. Lots of us knew that too...
When President Carter’s book Peace, Not Apartheid came out in 2006, he was ridiculed and vilified for suggesting Israel was an Apartheid state (a term that has serious implications in international law). That fact is now widely acknowledged. So too is the fact that Netanyahu’s policy not only flagrantly abuses human rights and breaks international law, but a is colossal failure that is more harmful to Israel in the long run than any force the Palestinians might bring to bear.
Other lies and myths are breaking down as well. In the past, many Americans threw up their hands in confusion when this issue came up, believing it too ancient, complex, or insoluble to understand. It is not.
One simple way to look at the current crisis is this: Zionist settlement in Palestine began in about 1895 and continues to this day. In all that time, it is hard to find an example of Palestinians taking land back from the Zionist settlers. That is why today, as Zionist settlers continue to steal Palestinian land, about five generations of Palestinians live in exile or as prisoners and refugees in their own country. Put bluntly, Palestinian violence has always been about defending their land, while Israeli violence has always been about taking it.
In 1895, the ignition point for the violence was Zionist settlers taking Palestinian land and homes. The current episode is no different. What we see today stems directly from Zionist settlers trying to evict Palestinians from their ancestral homes in East Jerusalem. It began in early May as Jewish settlers tried to evict Palestinians from homes in East Jerusalem during Ramadan. Protests began, and at Friday prayers at the sacred Al Aqsa Mosque, Israeli police inflamed the situation by firing on protesting Palestinians. Over 200 Palestinians were wounded. Saturday brought more protests, and around 120 Palestinians were wounded. Some 17 Israeli soldiers were hurt.
Let me make some important distinctions here.
- Written by Brian Walt Brian Walt
- Published: 20 February 2021 20 February 2021
Since 1989, B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, has rigorously documented the many ways Israel violates the basic human rights of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza: through land confiscation, killing of Palestinians by security forces or settlers, forcible transfer of Palestinians, restrictions on movement, torture and abuse in interrogation, and administrative detention. It also reports on violations by Palestinians against the rights of Israeli civilians.
B’Tselem’s report on apartheid challenges what analyst Nathan Thrall terms the “separate regimes delusion” — the idea that Israel within the Green Line is a democracy that is somehow fundamentally different from its “temporary” military occupation of the Occupied Territories that has existed for more than 50 years. The report argues that over time the distinction between the two areas “has grown divorced from reality.” East Jerusalem has been annexed and the West Bank has been annexed in practice. “The entire area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River is organized under a single principle: advancing and cementing the supremacy of one group — Jews — over another — Palestinians.”
- Written by B'Tselem B'Tselem
- Published: 12 January 2021 12 January 2021
- Written by Gilbert Schramm Gilbert Schramm
- Published: 22 August 2020 22 August 2020
As the 2020 election approaches, advocates of Palestinian rights have a seemingly difficult decision. On closer examination however, I think our course should be pretty clear.
On one hand there is Trump, whose Middle East policy in general, and with Palestine in particular, has been an atrocious “outsourcing” of US interests to those of Benjamin Netanyahu and other right-wing parties in Israel.
On the other hand, there is the Biden/Harris ticket. Neither of them has been exactly stellar on behalf of Palestinian rights. Still when one looks at other factors, the choice is starkly different—and our path forward should be obvious.
We can hardly promote the Palestinian cause if we totally lose democracy in our own country. Trump’s ongoing attack on almost every aspect of our democratic institutions has activists of every stripe completely caught up in their own issues. In this context, the Democratic ticket is far superior to Trump (and, sad but true, a non-vote or a vote for a third party will only help Trump). We need to be realistic here. In simple military terms, we need to secure our base of operations before we can look further afield. Sadly, to most Americans, Palestine is still a very marginal issue. Anyone who really hopes to help the situation in Palestine should support the Biden ticket without any sniping from the sidelines. Trump’s supporters will only use any criticism of Biden as a wedge to divide us.
The choice is stark. With Trump, there is no way forward. He simply ignores other views (even if they are majority views) and proceeds in his own unprincipled ways. The Trump/ Kushner/ Netanyahu trio is impervious as long as it is allowed to exist.