Written by Stanley L Cohen Stanley L Cohen
Published: 07 March 2017 07 March 2017
Long before Israel erected separate communities, the United States perfected the art of the artificial divide.
Stanley L Cohen is an attorney and human rights activist who has done extensive work in the Middle East and Africa.
For years, Israel has sold, and we in the United States have bought, the cheap peel-away sticker that it is the "lone democracy" in the Middle East.
It has a nice, assuring ring to it, sort of like "opportunity" or "peace", whatever these chants may, in practice, mean. But, like beauty, it remains very much in the eye of the beholder, and like reality, sooner or later the truth surfaces, no matter how well its fiction is packaged.
We in the US are damn good at packaging ourselves, and our charade of equality and justice is second to none. We sell stuff; lots of it. Much of it false. Very much like a willing stepchild, Israel has learned from us that if you say something long enough with vigour, power and money to back it, it begins to take on a surreal life of its own, no matter how much reality puts the lie to its embroidery. Indeed, we are quite accomplished at obfuscation. We know it all too well. We've hidden behind the fog of it for so long that, even today, those who remind us that the earth is, in fact, not flat, remain heretics to be scorned. Have we found the weapons of mass destruction yet?
Long before Israel erected separate communities divided by will of law to segregate its Jewish citizens from its almost two million Palestinian Arab ones, the US perfected the art of artificial divide.
With the accuracy of delusion, from coast to coast, could be heard the refrain that race-based segregation was lawful as long as the facilities provided to each race were equal.
For decades, the legal fiction of "separate but equal" was the mantra that state and local governments, throughout the US, held out to justify the artificial, indeed lawful, separation of tens of millions of Americans on the basis of race and nothing more.
Whether in services, facilities, public accommodations, transportation, medical care, employment, voting booths or in schools, black and white were segregated under the cheap shibboleth that artificial isolation of the races insured equality, as long as the conditions of their separation were legally equal.
These laws came to be known simply as Jim Crow.
Read more: Jim Crow is alive and well in Israel