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Jim Crow in the Holy Land


Jim Crow in the Holy Land

Phyllis Bennis

The last days of the campaign sounded an awful lot like the Jim Crow South, when African Americans had officially won the right to vote but still faced massive discrimination.

On election morning, a powerful white official running for re-election urged his followers to get out and vote, warning that minority voters were turning out in large numbers — and those trouble-making civil rights agitators, he complained, were busing them to the polls.

But this wasn’t Mississippi or Alabama circa 1965. It was Israel in 2015.


I think for the apartheid comparison to make sense, you have to consider those occupied territories that are surrounded by walls whose citizenry become target practice from time to time. You know, the Palestinians.


I find myself, given the ‘elevation’ of the references to “The country where Arabs serve in the government, in the judiciary, in high corporate places, and in academia.”, wondering about matters of systemic impoverishment in the nexus of concepts of ‘dominion’. Possibly to be considered might be the thousands ‘externalized’ by such a glowing wealth of back light to your comment as rapporteur on the consequences sans diversity of historical raconteurs on decades of process.
I find myself wondering, in the architectural elevation you present, whether you are referencing the western perspective on Plato, or is it Hobbes, on the relationship of the individual to the state.
Oddly enough you do, after a fashion, actually question your own answer, at least no doubt for many who might read while not occupying so elevated an estate.


John, that was a spirited response to Phyllis’s piece. I admire how you asked the question…’ Apartheid?’, than preceded to pepper us with stats. There was a nice mingling of known truths with half truths and questionable falsehoods. Such a post works very well on most sites where the readership is exposed mostly to our standard media. My guess is that John isn’t much convincing to the Commondream’s reader. Perhaps they are aware that even Nelson Mandela stated that apartheid was worse in Israel than it was in his apartheid South Africa. But really, they have only to open their eyes to the reality on the ground. The readers here are likely familiar with the recent writings of Max Blumenthal who wrote Goliath which exposed the viral racism that infects Israel. That racism was blatant in this election for anyone who cared to notice. John, why did you leave that last sentence in about Phyllis traveling to Damascus? It makes no sense; is evidently false and it leaves the reader questioning everything before it. I’ve been following what’s going on in the Middle East for decades and this is the first time I have ever read that Syria was an apartheid state. Misconstruing the suffering of the Syrian people to serve your argument is just tacky. The prior tone was high minded, throwing words 'academia, gay rights, womens rights about; it gave your post a touch of class.


While comparisons to Jim Crow South are apt as far as Bibi’s bid for another destructive term I would ask Phyllis to consider perhaps an even more accurate comparison. I refer to the white invasion of Turtle Island, the wars of conquest which claimed the lives of an estimated 100 to 120 million First Nation peoples. Returning Jews claimed a historical connection to Palestine from thousands of years past while the European invaders of Turtle Island saw this land as their new Atlantis to which they had a “right” being so “civilized”, “christians” claiming the “right of discovery”. Both see the indigenous peoples of their respective nations as less than human the 20 % of Palestinians in Israel not withstanding.


So long oil is the major source of energy this menacing act of Israel will go on. The creation of Israel is made on the basic purpose of policing the entire middle eastern region to maintain the smooth flow of oil. It is also the same reason gulf monarchies are conducting the similar inhumane acts. In the middle, the innocent Palestenians are suffering. Obviously it is their land and white Jewish Government wants to wipe them out by genocide which they obviously have learnt from their all white American creator. I believe that elusive peace would come to reality only when oil will no longer be the only lucrative energy source anymore or else the US fiscal condition will detoriate such an extent so that tax-payers would deny to maintain that apo-state. Keep in mind that we always create those monsters which we later hunt down. Although in case of Israel it won’t go to that extent but a large cut in aids will eventually bow them to the normal level. By the way Prime Minister Netnyahu is nothing but a despicable clown.


John, an astonishing and quite hilarious response. Thank you for reinforcing once again the notion that Fox News has a devoted fan base ready and willing to use partial truths and outright fantasy to make their invalid points.


Israel is now 40 per cent non-Jewish, about 6 million Jews and 4 million not. By Israel I mean the single state encompassing all territory annexed since 1948, not the area covered by pre-1967 borders. Neither the commenter nor the author of this essay refer to this reality, which is now openly admitted by the Israeli government. Only when that 40 per cent can vote and use the Israeli legal system to recover stolen property will the nation be a democracy.


If Israel returned to its pre-1967 borders and removed all settlements from the West Bank, it would be only logical for it to be a Jewish state since the great majority of its people would be Jewish. However, it cannot survive as such if it keeps 4 million non-Jews in subjection.

Despite decades of deceptive diplomacy, the solution could not be simpler: return to the status quo prevailing before the 1967 war. It is not necessary to create some kind of makeshift Palestinian state if the occupied lands are simply returned to Jordan and Egypt, both of which are de facto allies of Israel. Due to current instability, the Golan would have to be retained at present but should be returned to Syria when and if a stable regime emerges in Damascus.


“A nice mingling of known truths with half truths and questionable falsehoods.” Please identify the “half truths”. And what, in your view, is a “questionable falsehood” and how does it differ from a “falsehood”? Statistics, by the way, are facts. What’s wrong with facts?


‘Arabs absolutely do not want to leave.’ This statement is at least a half truth because of the use of the word ‘absolutely’. It begs the question…'Why do they don’t want to leave? If they do not want to leave their home, it is not because life as an Arab there is some kind of paradise as John suggests. That suggestion in itself tilts this comment toward outright falsehood. You could call this a questionable falsehood since it depends on how the phrase is examined.
‘A country whose Arabs are the freest, richest, and most educated in the entire Middle East’ This statement is so broad and absolute ( richest,freest, most) it renders itself as a blatant falsehood that may have elements of truth to it.
‘And it is the only country in the Middle East where gay rights are enshrined into law, women’s rights also.’ This statement lacks context. It leads to a conclusion that the Israeli’s record on these matters has been stellar. There are many people who would argue those points. There is a bunch of history on woman and gay rights in Israel that this statement sweeps under the rug.
‘What’s wrong with facts?’ Great question! On the face of it, nothing is wrong with facts. Facts can be used to lead you to any conclusion. We see it done by our media everyday. I used the word ‘stats’ over ‘facts’ for a reason. I originally used ‘facts’ as I started writing but I felt that John’s ‘facts’ were mostly false if you really thought them through. So, I settled on ‘stats’, though, I was hoping another better word would surface. John’s post here is actually a good example. John managed to massage the facts to lead us to a false conclusion. It is a bit of a parlour trick practiced by charlatans.


Really hate to disillusion you, John, but consider that the Chief Rabbinate can (and does) overrule the Knesset on occasion. If the Knesset–the only elective body–can be overruled by three orthodox rabbis with no appeal possible, then Israel is a theocracy, not a democracy.

By the way, you won’t find an Israeli constitution, 'cause to commit actual practice to pen and paper would be to expose the separate-and-unequal distribution of rights in Israel. All rights are available to the Orthodox; fewer available to Conservatives; fewer still for Reform Jews; and even less than that for Arabs, christians, and muslims. And if you live in Gaza or the West Bank–tough luck–you really have no guaranteed rights. This is Apartheid, John.

Second, only a limited number of Knesset seats are available to non-Orthodox Jews. You must also be Orthodox to be a teacher, a mayor, a judge, or a police officer.

No Caterpillar/IDF bulldozers ever killed an Orthodox Israeli, or demolished a Jewish home; No IDF helicopter gunship ever rained rockets into an inhabited Jewish apartment, or surrounded a settlement (like Shatila) so that Marinite “Christian” militia could massacre Jewish women and children.

And no other country today has roads only used by a minority (Palestinian) population while the majority population uses newer, well-maintained separate roads. Nor are there Jewish settlements which require
Jewish residents to show ID at exit and entry checkpoints, checkpoints (like those in the South African Bantustans) which are closed for days at a time for non-Jews. Nor do other nations erect Apartheid Walls that segregate Jewish from Palestinian areas. This is truly an Apartheid country, John.

Sorry to say, John. Israel really is an Apartheid state. No way to avoid this conclusion despite a few token Arabs in the Knesset.


John, John, John–

Simmer down. Your enthusiasm exceeds your knowledge. For example, in a case several years ago, merchants and tour operators asked the Knesset to reduce the number of days their businesses must close due to “high holy” days.

They were concerned that closing on shabbat plus 4-6 extra week days each month made it tough to pay the rent. The Knesset agreed, & passed a less restrictive law. Then, Orthodox rabbis appealed to the Chief Rabbinate, which OVERTURNED the Knesset legislation and restored the restrictive religious rules. Hence, Israel must be seen as a theocracy [theo = god, -cracy = rule by], not a democracy.

No, John, a non-Orthodox Israeli may NOT be a judge or a mayor. Even to be a teacher, one must have a statement from an Orthodox rabbi stating that one is a member of his congregation in good standing.

Facts, John. They are difficult to reconcile with your rant.

The facts are that (1) Israel was chartered by the UN with a specific territory (area inside the Green Line, in today’s terms); every inch occupied outside that area is illegal under the UN Charter and under international law, regardless of Israel’s claims to be exempt from that international law. No actual treaty or UN resolution has ratified the 1967 deal, either.

By the way, “god” is not a real estate broker, and has no right to assign territory to anyone. Other groups (Bedouins, Assyrians, Abbysinians, etc.) can make the same claim as Israel, i.e., that they used to live there, therefore they should now own these Palestinian lands.

And (2) over 40 UN resolutions have been passed by the UN General Assembly condemning Israel for violations of the Geneva Convention, the Rome Accord, and various human rights violations. Only the fact that the USA vetoed them allows Israel to remain technically un-censured, but over 100 nations have heard the facts and concluded that Israel’s Likud and earlier governments are international outlaws.

Israel also agreed as part of its UN Charter to pay “reasonable” compensation for lands taken to create Israel in 1948. 67 years later, Israel has not paid a single shekel of these required reparations, nor does it intend to pay them. Same goes for the right of return, which Israel ignores.

Your limp excusees for the Apartheid Wall and the Jewish-only by-pass roads are not convincing, John.
Israel is a failed state (needs $$2-3 billion annually from the USA to survive) and after 67 years it still can’t keep its brightest Jewish citizens from emigrating, can’t comply with international law, can’t stop on-going human rights violations and illegal occupation crimes, can’t pay required compensation, and for these reasons still can’t find respectability among nations of the world. That is why there will be war crimes trials coming very soon which will implicate many Cabinet members.

Like you, John, Israel is more to be pitied than scorned. Those of us who have supported Israel vigorously in the past can no longer ignore Israel’s failure to achieve the dream we once shared for a truly democratic and thriving State of Israel. What a pity.