My grandfather Nelson Mandela fought apartheid

I see the parallels with Israel

It took an international effort to end institutionalised racism in my country – now it must happen again, for the Palestinian people


Relatives of 12-year-old Faris Hafez al-Sarasawi at his funeral. He was killed after Israeli soldiers’ intervention in the ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations in Gaza, October 2018. (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Nkosi Zwelivelile, The Guardian, 11 Oct 2018

My grandfather, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, would have turned 100 this year. The world is marking the centenary of his birth and celebrating his leadership in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. But while my country has long been free from racist minority rule, the world is not yet free of the crime of apartheid.

Like Madiba and Desmond Tutu before me, I see the eerie similarities between Israel’s racial laws and policies towards Palestinians, and the architecture of apartheid in South Africa. We South Africans know apartheid when we see it. In fact, many recognise that, in some respects, Israel’s regime of oppression is even worse.

Apartheid is defined in international law as an “institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other”. It is about unequal racial power relations upheld by unjust laws that are intended to deny oppressed groups their rights.

History will judge the governments that fail to stand by human rights and international law

Even before Israel passed its “nation state law” (stipulating that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country) it was easy to see, for anyone willing to look, that the country’s government was committing the crime of apartheid. Its segregation wall, discriminatory admissions committees, ID-card systems, roads built for settlers which are not accessible to Palestinians, and the bantustan-like fragmentation of the West Bank gave the game away.

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Israel practices ‘apartheid’ — Representative Betty McCollum


Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN)

Phil Weiss and Annie Robbins, Mondoweiss, October 2, 2018

The highlight of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights conference that concluded Sunday in St. Paul was a speech by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) that was that very rare and brave thing in mainstream US politics: an unapologetic endorsement of Palestinian human rights.

McCollum denounced Israel’s “brutal” “cruel” policy of detaining and torturing children, which she has sought to sanction through groundbreaking legislation that would end U.S. aid that supports those practices. She said that it is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel: “why can’t I hold a foreign government accountable for how they abuse an entire population of people under their control?”

She referred to the power of the Israel lobby over other legislators — a power that she first defied in 2006, when she told the Israel lobby group AIPAC that it was barred from her office till it apologized for saying she supported terrorists. She said that more and more Congresspeople are at last willing to take on Israel openly, witness the 29 co-sponsors of her bill (all Democrats).

And most importantly, McCollum described Israel under its “nation state of the Jewish people” law, which was enacted last July, as an “apartheid” state.

“Friends, the world has a name of that form of government that’s codified in the nation state law, and it’s called apartheid.”

McCollum, 64, is a former social studies teacher who represents a district that includes all of St. Paul and its northern and eastern suburbs. She is endorsed by J Street, the liberal Zionist organization. Her speech, in which she accepted a leadership award, can be found on Facebook. We have transcribed much of it below.

Betty McCollum:

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Israel’s Unequal Citizens

Israelis marching at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem in May to mark the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967 (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images).

Sayed Kashua, New York Times, July 30, 2018

We were driving our rental car out of Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv.

“Dad,” my oldest daughter said as we listened to the radio, “what’s the Nationality Law?”
“It’s a law that says Israel is a Jewish state,” I replied.
“But wasn’t it always that way?” she wondered, and rightly so.
“Yes. Bottom line, it’s always been that way.”
“I don’t get it,” my middle son said. “I thought you said we were citizens.”
“We are,” I answered.
“But we’re not Jewish, right?”
“No, we’re not.”
“Then I don’t get it,” my youngest son complained.
“It’s a little complicated,” I tried to explain.

And it really was complicated to explain the law that Israel’s Parliament passed earlier this month without using terms like “racial segregation,” “discrimination” and “supremacy.” How was I going to explain to a 12-year-old that he is a citizen of a state that holds that he is inferior because of his non-Jewish origins? “Not everyone in the country is Jewish,” I said. “At least 20 percent of the citizens are not. But it’s a country where Jews enjoy rights that others don’t have. Meaning, non-Jews are less equal than Jews.”

“Can’t we be Jewish then?” my youngest son asked, as if he’d instantly solved the inequality problem.

“Sorry,” I told him, “that’s not up to me. According to Israeli law, in order to be Jewish you have to have a Jewish mother. So it’s not my fault; it’s your mom’s.”

“Great,” my wife protested, “now you’re shouldering me with your children’s inequality?”

When Israel was founded on the ruins of the Palestinian people in 1948, it was defined as a Jewish state. The Israeli flag was always a Jewish one, bearing a Star of David; the national anthem invokes the “Jewish soul,” excluding anyone who is not Jewish from these national symbols. The Palestinians who became Israeli citizens when the state was founded — like my family — have always been viewed as an undesirable demographic burden and subjected to discrimination.

So what does the issuance of the Nationality Law change? In essence, perhaps not that much. It has turned de facto racism into de jure racism.

The law asks progressive Israelis — both Jewish and Palestinian — to suspend our fantasies of equal rights and a future in which all the country’s citizens, regardless of religion, race or gender, have a sense of belonging. It seeks to legislate what Israel has been effectively telling non-Jewish minorities all along: You will never be a part of this country, you will never be equal, you are doomed to be unwanted citizens forever, to be inferior to the Jews to whom the state belongs and for whom it was founded. A state in which Judaism is the only national expression permissible by law will, by definition, reject any minority member who wishes to be part of it, even if he is, like me, fluent in its culture or, as I do, writes literature in its language, respects its laws, serves its society.

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Israeli Law Declares the Country the ‘Nation-State of the Jewish People’

A vote of 62 to 55 with two abstentions

Arab lawmakers protesting as Parliament passed a law on Thursday that defines Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people.” (Olivier Fitoussi/Associated Press)

David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner, New York Times, July 19, 2018

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has long demanded that the Palestinians acknowledge his country’s existence as the “nation-state of the Jewish people.” On Thursday, his governing coalition stopped waiting around and pushed through a law that made it a fact.

In an incendiary move hailed as historic by Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition but denounced by centrists and leftists as racist and anti-democratic, Israel’s Parliament enacted a law that enshrines the right of national self-determination as “unique to the Jewish people” — not all citizens.

The legislation, a “basic law” — giving it the weight of a constitutional amendment — omits any mention of democracy or the principle of equality, in what critics called a betrayal of Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence, which ensured “complete equality of social and political rights” for “all its inhabitants” no matter their religion, race or sex.

The new law promotes the development of Jewish communities, possibly aiding those who would seek to advance discriminatory land-allocation policies. And it downgrades Arabic from an official language to one with a “special status.”

Since Israel was established, it has grappled with the inherent tensions between its dual aspirations of being both a Jewish and democratic state. The new law, portrayed by proponents as restoring that balance in the aftermath of judicial rulings that favored democratic values, nonetheless struck critics as an effort to tip the scales sharply toward Jewishness.

Its passage demonstrated the ascendancy of ultranationalists in Israel’s government, who have been emboldened by the gains of similarly nationalist and populist movements in Europe and elsewhere, as Mr. Netanyahu has increasingly embraced illiberal democracies like that of Hungary — whose far-right prime minister, Viktor Orban, arrived in Jerusalem for a friendly visit only hours before the vote.

With the political opposition too weak to mount a credible threat, and with the Trump administration providing a never-before-seen degree of American support, Mr. Netanyahu’s government, the most right-wing and religious coalition in Israel’s 70-year history, has been pressing its advantages on multiple fronts.

It has sought to exercise more control over the news media, erode the authority of the Supreme Court, curb the activities of left-wing advocacy groups, press ahead with moves that amount to de facto annexation of parts of the West Bank, and undermine the police by trying to thwart or minimize the effect of multiple corruption investigations against the prime minister.

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Nikki Haley brags about bullying the UN on behalf of Israel



If Americans Knew, May 10, 2017

Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, bragged to the number one pro-Israel lobbying organization in America about the many ways she’s blocked Palestinian human rights from being addressed by the United Nations.

At AIPAC’s policy conference in March, she proudly admitted to using her power to discriminate against a Palestinian official and prevent him from serving at the U.N.:

So when they decided to try and put a Palestinian [former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad] in one of the highest positions that had ever been given at the UN, we said no and we had him booted out.

Fayyad, a popular diplomat, was going to be appointed to lead the U.N. Mission to Libya, until Haley objected. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres claimed at the time that his sudden rejection of Fayyad had nothing to do with U.S. pressure.

In her AIPAC speech, Haley also explained how she pressured the U.N. to retract a report commissioned by Dr. Rima Khalaf, the Secretary of Economics for West Asia, that documented Israel’s practices of segregation and apartheid against Palestinians:

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May 2, 2018
Memorializing 70 Years of Occupation

UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine

Rescheduled from April 27. Stop by to see UW SJP’s display memorializing 70 years of occupation and devastation that stills continues today in Palestine. We will be handing out literature and you can find out how you can get involved in the cause. Hope to see you all there!

Islam Maraqa of ISM on WORT

Gil Halstead with Islam Maraqa on Access

Shahir Hunaina, YouTube, November 16, 2016

My Blood is Palestinian (Dammi Falastini), translation by Sara Ba

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

We stood for you, our homeland
With our pride and Arabisim
Al-Quds land called us
(As) The sound of my mother calling me
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

O mother don’t worry
Your homeland is a fortified castle
Which I sacrifice my soul for
And my blood, and my veins

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

I’m Palestinian, a son of a free family
I’m brave and my head is always up
I’m keeping my oath to you my homeland
And I have never bowed to anyone
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 

“Apartheid, Rogue, Terrorist State”: Glenn Greenwald on Israel


Democracy Now! April 9, 2018

On Saturday, hundreds of mourners gathered in Gaza for the funeral of Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, who was fatally shot by the Israeli army while covering a fresh round of deadly protests along the Israel-Gaza border. Photos show the 30-year-old journalist was wearing a flak jacket clearly marked ”PRESS” at the time of the shooting. He’s one of at least nine Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli army during its brutal crackdown against Friday’s protests. The Palestinian Health Ministry says Israeli forces have killed 31 people in total since Palestinians kicked off a 6-week-long nonviolent protest late last month, dubbed “The Great March of Return.” Both the International Criminal Court and the United Nations have rebuked Israel in recent days and warned its actions on the border could violate international human rights conventions. For more, we continue our conversation with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: On Saturday, hundreds of mourners gathered in Gaza for the funeral of Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, who was fatally shot by the Israeli army while covering a fresh round of daily protests along the Israeli-Gaza border. Photos show the 30-year-old journalist was wearing a flak jacket clearly marked ”PRESS” at the time of the shooting. He’s one of at least nine Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli army during its brutal crackdown against Friday’s protests. The Palestinian Health Ministry says Israeli forces have killed 31 people in total since Palestinians kicked off a 6-week-long nonviolent protest late last month, dubbed “The Great March of Return.”

AMY GOODMAN: Both the International Criminal Court and the United Nations have rebuked Israel in recent days and warned its actions on the border could violate international human rights conventions.

We are continuing our conversation with Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Glenn, can you talk about what’s happened in Gaza over the last two weeks, with Avigdor Lieberman, the high-level Israeli official, saying that no Gazan is innocent?

GLENN GREENWALD: I think it’s just time to acknowledge and accept the reality of what Israel is. Whatever you thought of Israel in the past, believing that it was some kind of bastion of liberal democracy in the Middle East, that it was surrounded by primitive brutal enemies, all the propaganda, what’s clear now is that Israel is something quite different than all of that. And even people who once believed that are now starting to come and see that Israel is an apartheid, rogue, terrorist state. The conduct that it engages in, continually and without apology, proudly, and the comments that it makes, including the one you just referenced from the defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who said there are no innocent people in Gaza, which is basically the mentality of a genocidal maniac, is reflective of what Israel is.

And I think the context here is so critical, which is that a lot of people have come to realize that Benjamin Netanyahu is this far-right, bloodthirsty, militaristic figure. And what’s amazing about it is that in the context of Israeli politics, Benjamin Netanyahu resides in the center of Israeli politics, if not almost now on the left. There’s very little political force to his left. All the political force is to his right. The younger generation of Israeli leaders think that Netanyahu is too moderate, that he’s too centrist, that he’s too soft on the Palestinians. They don’t believe in a Palestinian state. They don’t pretend to support the two-state solution. They want to dominate that land forever. They believe they’re religiously entitled to it. They want to—basically, they believe in apartheid, a policy of apartheid, forever suppressing what is soon to be the majority, the Palestinians, ruled by a minority of Israelis, using whatever war crimes and slaughter and murder they need to in order to suppress and intimidate that population.

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