Mondoweiss / June 24, 2022
Support for apartheid is the one thing that unifies Israeli Jewish political parties — from the supposed left to the far right.
After the collapse of the Israeli government was announced in the media Monday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid (who will soon replace Bennett until elections in October), held a joint speech. Bennett’s framing of what had happened and the reasoning for the timing is worth special scrutiny.
Bennett ascribed the decision to the government’s recent failure to pass the Apartheid regulations for settlers. This is an “emergency” order, extended every 5 years since 1967, that affords Jewish settlers in the West Bank civil rule while Palestinians in the same areas live under military rule. The inability to extend the law left him with only one choice: to disperse the government. The regulations would otherwise expire in July.
Bennett didn’t mean this in the sense of “I failed, I must go”. No, Bennett was pointing out that his legal advisors told him that there’s only one way to extend those separate-and-unequal regulations if they couldn’t get a majority in the parliament – to dissolve the parliament. Then the apartheid law would be extended automatically. And it’s not like the opposition opposes the law: Netanyahu’s opposition blocked the government only to see Bennett’s coalition, which it claims is based upon “terror supporters” and “anti-Zionist elements”, fall.
In other words, Bennett was saying that the singular reason for which he decided to capitulate, was, To save Israeli Apartheid.
Here’s how Bennett formulated it:
Last Friday, I held a series of talks with legal and security officials, and I understood in a definite way, that within 10 days, with the expiry of the Judea and Samaria regulations [biblical names for West Bank], the State of Israel will encounter severe security damage and constitutional chaos. I couldn’t allow that.
Bennett said that neither he nor Lapid would allow that to happen, not even for one day.
Bennett used loaded biblical language, in referring to the extension of the regulations as a “holy of holies” that he would not defile:
Unlike the opposition which has turned also the holy of holies of Israel’s security into a political pawn – by the way, in an unprecedented manner – at no point in my term did I agree that a political consideration would in any way affect the security of Israel.
Bennett compared himself and Lapid (whom he hailed as a “mensch”) to the mother in the biblical story of Solomon:
In the Solomon trial of 2022, we chose to be the mother who preserves the child’s life also at a heavy personal price.
This deserves some explanation for those who might be rusty on the bible thing. The story popularly known as “Solomon’s judgement” (1 Kings 3:16-28) involves two mothers who were living in the same house and gave birth at the same time, and one claimed the other had stolen her baby and exchanged it for her own, which had died in sleep. So there was one live baby which they were in dispute about. Since both claimed it was their baby, Solomon decided to threaten to cut the baby in half: “That way each of you can have part of him”. The one mother shouted that the baby shouldn’t be killed and that she would rather have it be given to the other, whereas the other mother said she didn’t care if they cut it, then none of them will have the baby.
Solomon knew that the true mother was the first one who cared for the baby more than anything. It ends with: “Everyone in Israel was amazed when they heard how Solomon had made his decision. They realized that God had given him wisdom to judge fairly.”
So Bennett is saying that he’d rather give up his premiership than see the baby – that is Israeli Apartheid – be severed.
This is extremely sticky Jewish supremacist schmaltz. Bennett wants to be seen as a wise and fair Solomon. Without mentioning Netanyahu, he is portraying him as the callous mother who would let the baby be cut in half.
But this baby is Apartheid. Bennett doesn’t give a damn that Palestine is severed, not only in half, but into some 165 Bantustan-like enclaves in the West Bank, as well as an open-air prison called Gaza, nor that its people have been scattered around Palestine, the surrounding countries and the further diaspora, due to ethnic cleansing. Bennett shows what he and Israeli society treasure most: Apartheid.
Are we supposed to shed a tear with this crocodile?
Indeed, Bennett knows very well that there is no real threat to Israeli Apartheid. Israel will find a solution to those “emergency orders”. The failure to pass this law does not indicate any major ideological shift. No one from the Zionist establishment is really aiming to challenge it, God forbid. It’s more that a day must not pass without the Apartheid being intact. This is what Bennett is referring to when he says “constitutional chaos” – the Jewish supremacy should continue intact, while Palestinians live a lawless life under the Israeli military.
Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz disavows the despicable Arab renegade
On Wednesday, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the liberal Zionist Meretz Party, spoke of a Palestinian member of the party, Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, in unbelievably harsh terms, since she did the unthinkable: voted against extension of the Apartheid regulations.
“We have no connection to that woman”, he said at a TV interview with Ilana Dayan.
This is racist, as well as sexist, language to use against a Palestinian lawmaker who voted according to her conscience. Horowitz cannot even call her by her name? Is Rinawie Zoabi now the one whom we may not name? It wasn’t a slip. Horowitz elaborated:
Her behavior was malicious and unfair – she crossed all the red lines – and did a despicable deed which hurt me, Meretz and the Israeli society as well as Arab society.
Gosh, what a schmuck. And look at the ideological arrogance – Apartheid should not be questioned or challenged! It’s despicable and malicious! This is coming from the furthest Zionist left, mind you.
No wonder Rinawie Zoabi doesn’t want to have any more to do with these hypocrites. She has already announced she will not be running in the next elections.
Think about what Horowitz is saying: Rinawie Zoabi should have fallen on the Apartheid sword and voted for extension of the Apartheid regulations like the other Meretz members. In a way, Horowitz is confirming the holy self-righteousness of Bennett – the Jewish Apartheid status quo it is a holy of holies, and the Arab whom we may not even call by name, has defiled it.
As Meron Rapoport wrote in +972 Magazine last week, Meretz has abandoned “its last core value” on that Apartheid vote. Horowitz has just demonstrated that he has also abandoned any semblance of decency he may have had.
Also the US falls on the sword of Israeli Apartheid
It is not only in Israel where people are expected to fall on the sword of Apartheid. In the US, the vast majority of states (35) have passed anti-BDS legislation – making it illegal to engage in in boycotts, divestments and Sanctions against a one particular state – Israel, at least if you want to have contracts with state agencies.
Such laws are blatantly unconstitutional, violating the First Amendment. However, this Wednesday, an Eighth Circuit appeals court confirmed that Arkansas legislation on this matter was legitimate, even though a one dissenting judge pointed out that it simply violated the First Amendment. The court’s ruling was based on the idea that these boycotts constitute “purely commercial, non-expressive conduct.” This is an egregious fallacy. Boycotts meant to hold Israel accountable for its systemic violations of international law as well as crimes against humanity, are essentially political, they are in no way “non-expressive”, and this is precisely why Israel is fighting them so hard – it’s a PR problem.
The dissenting judge pointed out that the law in question “prohibits the contractor from engaging in boycott activity outside the scope of the contractual relationship ‘on its own time and dime” – and that this is how and why it violates the First Amendment.
The ACLU is taking this to the Supreme Court. And it is about time this earned a major US national discussion. Because the Israel lobby is basically making the US fall on that Apartheid sword and sacrifice its most sacred values – and I say the term “sacred” seriously, although I mocked it before when it was used to sanctify Apartheid. We are talking about the ability to oppose not just Israeli Apartheid policy – if this passes in the Supreme Court and is legitimized, it will serve as a precedent barring people from engaging in all kinds of boycotts. The next thing we know is that the NRA will demand that people declare that they will not boycott rifle sales or divest from weapons companies, lest they lose their privilege to make a contract with a government agency. Any powerful lobby will become untouchable.
It is what it is
So, how much do people want to sacrifice for Apartheid? It might appear a bit obscure for many people, that it really is Apartheid, but it’s become ever more clear, also for the recent UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine Michael Lynk, as he wrote in his recent piece (Wednesday) titled Calling Israeli Apartheid What It Is. Lynk explains how he used to avoid the term so as not to “harden diplomatic hearts and close doors”, under a strategy involving “focus on international humanitarian law —the laws of war and occupation—and international human rights law”. But then, in 2021, towards the end of his six-year mandate, his “mind had changed”. He was affected by the unwillingness of UN member states to hold Israel accountable; he notes over 30 Israeli UNSC violations since early 1970’s “and hundreds of more resolutions by the General Assembly and Human Rights Council”; and the second reason for his “new openness to considering the apartheid framework” was “the proliferating and indisputable facts on the ground… The Israeli occupation—which, under international law, is required to be temporary and short-term—had become indistinguishable from annexation and apartheid.” Lynk mentions the many reports about Israeli Apartheid that appeared in the past two years:
Beginning in 2020, a number of highly respected regional and international human rights organizations issued reports concluding that apartheid existed, either in the West Bank (Yesh Din) or in the entire area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan (Al-Haq, Addameer, Al-Mezan, B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International). Some prominent Israeli figures were coming to the same conclusion, too. As one example, Michael Ben-Yair, a former attorney general of Israel, wrote earlier this year that Israel had become “an apartheid regime” and “a one-state reality, with two different peoples living with unequal rights.”
Lynk says he came to realize that it’s the most appropriate term, and therefore should be applied:
[I]f there is a better word in the international vocabulary to describe the situation of two different peoples inhabiting the same political space, yet living in sharply segregated communities and having access to vastly different legal and social rights based solely on their ethnicity and nationality, then let’s use that term. Until then, apartheid is the appropriate word.
So that is what it’s all about. The fall of the government, the bullying of Palestinians even by left-Zionists, and the bullying of US Americans by the Israel lobby. It may not seem so – it may seem like a mere legislation here, a mere legislation there, a mere bureaucratic consideration. But it’s all circling around the same thing: Israel wants to preserve its Apartheid status quo, and it doesn’t want it to be challenged in any effective way. The liberal Meretz folks like Horowitz might persuade themselves that they don’t really like Apartheid, but it’s better than Netanyahu, and don’t make a fuss, or whatever it is they tell themselves. But that’s all small and petty logic in relation to the bigger picture. And that bigger picture is unquestionably Apartheid. It is really about time to give up that baby.
Jonathan Ofir is an Israeli musician, conductor and blogger/writer based in Denmark