Judge Goldstone's offensive apology for apartheid
Udi Aloni

Don't tell me Israeli apartheid doesn't exist. My father implemented
agrarian apartheid policies long before 1967

I write as an Israeli Jew who was brought up and molded at the very center
of secular, Zionist Israel. My parents, Reuven and Shulamit Aloni, exemplify
everything that is good and just about Israel for humanistic Jews like Judge
Richard Goldstone, the noted South African jurist, who in a recent New York
Times Op-Ed, denied the practice of apartheid in Israel.

My mother founded the Civil Rights Movement in Israel, was a member of the
Knesset and a Minister of Education in Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's
cabinet. She fought for equal rights for women, gays and lesbians, and, of
course, Palestinian Arabs too. My father helped create the Israel Land
Administration and managed all government lands.

As a youngster embedded in a humanistic Zionist ideology I was unaware that
my father's daily business for the state consisted of, among other things,
appropriating land from Palestinians who had been living on it for
generations and granting it to Jewish newcomers. Only a strong ideology can
explain the degree of blindness necessary to avoid recognizing that my
father was implementing agrarian apartheid policies - and long before the
occupation of 1967.

As I grew up, served in the army, and participated in efforts to make Israel
a better place, the contradiction in my own home between the struggle for
civic equality and the ongoing appropriation of more and more Palestinian
land made me question the moral and legal compass by which Israel plotted
its course. Ultimately, I had no choice but to face the world without the
ideological lens I had looked through since childhood.

Apartheid in the state of Israel is different than it was in South Africa.
The two states embody different sets of interests and power structures, and
while in some ways it has been crueler in Israel, in others it is more
liberal. The main difference between the two is that in South Africa
apartheid was an explicit tenet of the judicial system, while in Israel the
entire judicial system conceals and cleanses the praxis of government-led

Judge Goldstone's arguments not only offend his and my core humanistic
Jewish values, they also inflict irreversible damage to the prospects of
Israel's existence as a democratic state. Goldstone denies Palestinians the
right to function as a sustainable cultural, economic and political unit,
while fully granting this right to the Jewish community.

The fact is that there is today a single political and geographic space
between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The whole area has been
under Israeli sovereignty and control for the past 44 years. The skies,
seas, borders, water rights, the judicial system as well as military and
civic government are all controlled by Israel. Palestinians have municipal
rule; not sovereignty.

Goldstone's article inadvertently exemplifies the racist strategy of
continued Jewish-Israeli control by means of violent maintenance of a
demographic majority and the breaking of the Arab-Palestinian nation into
pieces. There are 6 million Jews and almost as many Palestinians living
today in this space. While the Jews live as one people tightly linked to
world Jewry, and any Jew can become an Israeli citizen at any time, the
Palestinians are broken into five separate pieces that cannot function as a
people: There are approximately 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, 1.5
million Palestinians holding Israeli citizenship, 2.5 million Palestinians
in the West Bank, 300,000 residents of Jerusalem, and finally the
Palestinian Diaspora scattered throughout the world that Israel does not
allow to return.

Judge Goldstone is, in fact, legitimizing apartheid. He describes the
current condition as a precursor for a future two states. That utopian
vision of an always yet-to-come future enables the ongoing cruelty of
apartheid. Some examples: 1) Half a million Israelis have settled in the
area that was conquered in 1967. The lands these settlers occupy have been
robbed from Palestinians, simply because of their ethnicity, and have been
transferred to Jews simply because of their ethnicity. These seized lands
are being settled by Jews from other countries, especially the U.S., with
the help of huge subsidies provided by Israeli and American taxpayers. In
contrast, a Palestinian in Ramallah cannot even dream of moving back into
his father's home in Haifa or Jaffa, nor even marry an Israeli and live with
her in Israel. Is that not apartheid?

The Supreme Court issued an evacuation order against Palestinian families in
the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and gave their homes to Jewish
families who showed proof to the titles of the homes predating 1948.
Millions of Palestinian refugees, however, cannot regain land or houses on
the basis of such proof.

Israel attempts to maintain a semblance of equality under the law for Jews
and Palestinians inside the Green Line, but all the zoning plans and
investments in infrastructure discriminate unequivocally against the
Palestinian Israeli population and thus reveal an administrative apartheid
that's quite distinct from the legal apartheid reserved for Palestinians in
the territories. For example, in the mixed city of Lydda there are 700
houses marked for demolition, all of them but one belong to Arab citizens of
Israel. llegal Jewish houses, however, received retroactive approval.

Israeli law separates Palestinians into fictitious subcategories. By
annexing eastern Jerusalem, Israel applies Israeli law on the physical
territory but not on its Palestinian inhabitants, thus creating a new class
of "citizens" lacking the right to vote. Even departing their house for a
certain period of time can serve as the basis for the state to revoke their
already crippled citizenship status and their right to live in Jerusalem.
These examples show that a clear policy exists to maintain a Jewish
majority, a policy whose execution involves the systematic abuse of
fundamental civil rights.

Goldstone claims that the theoretical two-state solution to come provides
the legal justification not to consider the Israeli regime as practicing
apartheid. Yet the state of Israel created and continues to develop the
settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for 500,000 Jews, and
only for Jews, while not building for the Palestinians from the refugee
camps and elsewhere. This is sufficient to call this Israeli practice a form
of apartheid.

A couple of years ago I approached my ardently Zionist mom, a woman who
carried a weapon for the Jewish community of Jerusalem in 1948, and asked
her a simple question: "Mom, is all this apartheid?"

With the sigh of a betrayed lover she indicated that, yes, this is
apartheid. My heart broke.

Udi Aloni is an Israeli writer, filmmaker, and the author of the new book
"What Does a Jew Want?: On Binationalism and Other Specters," Columbia
University Press.


Fair Use Notice
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml . If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.