The need to curb hate rhetoric in Mideast conflict
Sunday August 25, 2013
By Ray Hanania
Apartheid does not correctly describe what Israel is doing within the 1967 borders and exaggerates what it is doing in the occupied West Bank.
But in the heated war of empty emotional words, it makes the activists feel better in the face of their failed policies to achieve any major significant rollback of Israel’s occupation.
The only success in stunting Israel’s settler growth has come from the peace process launched by the late Palestinian President Yasir Arafat and his successor, the not-as-influential President Mahmoud Abbas.
Although apartheid is an inaccurate word to describe Israel, that doesn’t mean Israel doesn’t engage in racist practices. It does. Nor does it wipe away its history of atrocities against civilians under the exaggerated guise of “fighting terrorism.”
People in Israel and the West are as fanatic and extremist in their emotional rhetoric, just like the pro-Palestinian activists. The only difference is Israel achieves its goals while the pro-Palestinian activists do not.
Both sides exaggerate their positions, with Israel pretending that it is a democracy, when technically as a “Jewish State” it can’t be. How is that different from countries that are defined as “Islamic states?” America is a “Christian state,” even though most Americans support a fictitious separation of “Church and state.”
Merely discriminating on the basis of religion is not the basis for apartheid, which is defined as the extreme racial segregation of people.
Under South African apartheid, blacks not only could not vote, they were denied all kinds of rights, forced to live in specific reservations.
Racism was a policy in South Africa. In Israel, it is a popular practice, as it was and still is in America.
The mayor of Nazareth Elit (Upper Nazareth) is a racist who refuses to provide educational services to the city’s 1,900 Arab children, because they are non-Jews.
Residents of the illegal settlement Gilo, built on Arab lands stolen and purchased under threat of force from non-Jews, have vandalized and threatened non-Jews who have moved into the alleged “Israeli neighborhood.”
Israel’s illegal settlements are a racist system of colonialism, and non-Jews are excluded.
But that is not apartheid.
Practice and policy are two different things. To the discriminated, it may not seem like much of a difference but the differences are significant.
Built on the inaccurate definition that Israel is apartheid is the confused “BDS” movement. BDS is the acronym for “Boycott, Divest and Sanction.”
In its most morally justifiable sense, the BDS movement targets the exploitation by Israel of Palestinian assets in the occupied territories in the West Bank and in occupied Jerusalem. But hatred of Israel – caused by generations of endless conflict, violence and death that is paralleled by an equal Israeli hatred of Arabs – has expanded the definition of BDS to include Israel, too.
In a war, boycotting everything Israel would be moral and legitimate. But in an environment of even a failed peace effort, boycotting Israel is as illegitimate as boycotting all things Palestinian, which many Israelis and American Jews in fact do.
One cannot right a wrong by similarly doing wrong. Just because Israel commits war crimes doesn’t mean Palestinians or Arabs should commit war crimes.
There is an effort, though weak, to achieve a final status peace agreement that might result in the defining of a Palestinian State for the first time in 65 years since the ill-conceived and illegal partition of Palestine in 1947.
The hatred of Jews and Israelis by some elements of the BDS movement is matched by the hatred of Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians by the Israelis and by Jews around the world. Israeli hate is the ugly equivalent of anti-Semitism, which many Israeli and Jewish fanatics have expanded into a political distortion to counter even legitimate “criticism of Israel.”
In Australia, for example, a Jewish law firm is using Australia’s hate laws to file lawsuits against two BDS activists there. Prof. Stuart Rees, Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation, and Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Director of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), have been threatened with legal action by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli law center, through agents acting on their behalf in Australia.
The irony is Australia is a nation built on racism, probably more so than Israel. Australia’s natives, “Aborigines,” were victimized and their lands stolen by White settlers, many of whom embraced South African apartheid.
Now that Australians have marginalized its natives, they can pretend they care about civil rights. They don’t. If you want to help defend Rees and Lynch against the racist political attacks, visit http://www.Change.org.
Extremists on both sides will do everything to prevent peace based on compromise. They are so consumed by hate that they actually believe they can achieve “peace” by defeating the other side.
There won’t be any “defeat” of anyone. Just an endless conflict and violence.
Limiting hate rhetoric, controlling our emotions, and embracing a morally focused BDS movement against Israel would be enough to counter Israel’s policies. But anything more simply makes it easier for Israel to fight back.
And let’s drop the exaggerations, like apartheid, and address the reality of Israel immoral conduct in more accurate terms.
– Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him at http://www.TheMediaOasis.com And follow him on Twitter at @RayHanania.
- Jewish groups fight Israeli racism (rayhanania.com)
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- Pink Floyd musician urges other rock musicians and artists to boycott Israel (imemc.org)
- Norman Finkelstein: Prospects for a just peace (normanfinkelstein.com)
Categories: Middle East Topics