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(en) Anarkismo.net, Admitting to Apartheid in Israel - On the importance of Shulamit Aloni's article "Yes, There is Apartheid in Israel" by Ilan Shalif

Date Tue, 16 Jan 2007 11:45:13 +0200


Abstract: At one point, the Israeli anti-authoritarian anti-capitalist organization Matspen called for an international boycott of products from the new settlments, but it took years - and the help of radical Zionists - before the call started to have any effect. After the project to boycott products of the settlers gained momentum, Europe (which granted tax benefits to Israel) responded to the call by disallowing tax deductions on the settlers' produce, as the settled areas were no longer regarded as part of Israel, a fact which forced some of them to relocate to the old Israeli areas... If the call to boycott Israel and to treat it like the Apartheid regime of South Africa succeeds in gathering support, it may contribute to finally ending the occupation of Palestinan land resulting from a war that took place all of 40 years ago this year.

Introduction of anarkismo.net:
In this article Israeli anarchist Ilan Shalif, a long-time member of Matzpen now working with the Anarchists Against the Wall initiative, examines the relevance of a recent article by Shulamit Aloni, "Yes, There is Apartheid in Israel", which itself is a response to Jimmy Carter's book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid".
A. N.

> Yes, There is Apartheid in Israel, by Shulamit Aloni

"Freedom Rides" Against Apartheid Travel Ban, call for action

Translation of road sign: Welcome to the Az-Za’ayyem/Adumim crossing-point. The crossing-point is intended for use by Israelis only. It is prohibited for a non-Israeli person to cross or to be transported across this crossing-point!!
"Israeli" - a resident of Israel, whose place of residence is in the region and is an Israeli citizen, or a person who is entitled to immigrate to Israel pursuant to the 1950 Law of Return as it is applied in Israel, or a person who is not a resident of the region but holds a valid entry permit to Israel.

Jewish Israel is a settler colonialist project, but it is not a monolithic community. Throughout the years there has been a wide spectrum of opinions expressed within it, from the most right-wing fascists to the practical capitalists, humanitarians, and marxists. Since its beginnings, there have always been capitalists seeking to exploit the indigeneous Palestinians, in sharp contrast with the national socialist Zionists until they eventually yielded to "Hebrew (Jewish) work".

When Israel was built on the ruins of half of Palestine in 1948, those Palestinians who were not transferred due to political considerations were subjected to a military regime of apartheid - restricted to the area they lived in, needing permission to travel to other parts of Israel. Of course, as most of their lands had been confiscated and with industrialization being closed to them as an option, they were forced to become wage slaves outside their villages. But as they were formally citizens with a vote, the ruling elite of the national socialist party used this situation to gain their votes, essentially offering travel permits in exchange for votes. This was the reason behind the paradox of the coalition of the fascist right and the national marxists-Zionists in 1966 which abolished the military rule that had been imposed on Israeli Palestinians.

After the 1967 war, in the occupied territories Palestinians and others were held under military rule. The south of Syria was cleansed of most of inhabitants. The Sinai Peninsula was mainly a source of oil. Other densely-populated Palestinian areas were treated as a source of cheap wage slaves and locations for expansion, seen in the new suburbs for Jerusalem and the many settlements in other areas.

At one point, the Israeli anti-authoritarian anti-capitalist organization Matspen called for an international boycott of products from the new settlments, but it took years - and the help of radical Zionists - before the call started to have any effect. After the project to boycott products of the settlers gained momentum, Europe (which granted tax benefits to Israel) responded to the call by disallowing tax deductions on the settlers' produce, as the settled areas were no longer regarded as part of Israel, a fact which forced some of them to relocate to the old Israeli areas.

Because of the Holocaust and Israel constantly harping on about it in order to justify its settler colonialist project and atrocities against the Palestinians, any call from within the Israeli Jewish community can act as an important catalyst. This is why the Israeli State directed huge efforts into fighting 30 Matspen activists in the late 1960s and the 1970s, as well as our contacts abroad.

So it is entirely possible that we see this catalyst effect once again following the call by Shulamit Aloni in her article "Yes, There is Apartheid in Israel" against the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians.

Atheist and Israeli nationalist Aloni was born in 1928, and was a member of the Socialist-Zionist youth movement, Hashomer Hatzair. Following her participation in the fighting to establish the State of Israel in 1948, she became part of the young leadership of the ruling Mapai party (the predecessor of today's Labor) until 1973. Having then set up the Ratz party, she later drifted further to the left and in 1991 founded the (Zionist) far left party, Meretz, holding two ministerial positions in the Rabin government in the mid-90s.

She was also the first Zionist to justify in public the Palestinians' resistance to the occupation, during an open assembly of Matzpen and its sympathizers. No wonder the party she built pushed her out of power. However, she is still a prominent public figure whose access to the media is anything but limited.

Shulamit Aloni, together with many other humanitarians and Zionists of the left, has moved a long way from her original total support for the main Zionist ideology and the project of "a country without nation for a nation without country". In a way, her labelling the policy of Israel as "Apartheid" is a kind of call to arms for all the world's humanitarians and leftists. And in her call, she provides the antidote to the usual attitude of Israelis and Zionists of accusing any form of criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism and highly invested in by the propaganda of the Israeli establishment, the US Jewish establishment, and their like.

Her article, seemingly written in response to the ex-US president Jimmy Carter's latest book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid", also points out some of the evidence that the Israeli State is an Apartheid State, at times even appearing as if she is on the verge of labelling certain regulations as being clearly the Nazi way of doing things:

On one occasion I witnessed such an encounter between a driver and a soldier who was taking down the details before confiscating the vehicle and sending its owner away. "Why?" I asked the soldier. "It's an order - this is a Jews-only road", he replied. I inquired as to where was the sign indicating this fact and instructing [other] drivers not to use it. His answer was nothing short of amazing. "It is his responsibility to know it, and besides, what do you want us to do, put up a sign here and let some antisemitic reporter or journalist take a photo so he that can show the world that Apartheid exists here?"

Shulamit Aloni's position is very near to that of the Israeli Communist Party, but it too is still Zionist. Neither question the justification of building Israel - as if it could be built without harming the Palestinians. Both are of the opinion that the establishment of Israel was justified. Both, like the long-dead Mapam party (United Workers Party, an ancestor of today's Meretz), claim that Israel is not a reactionary settler colonialist project, from whatever angle you care to look. All three still claim that it is not impossible for Israel to become a benevolent project, and not just a racist tool in the service of the imperialist powers and the "Judeo-Nazis" (to use the expression coined by the late orator Yeshayahu Leibowitz).

Anyway, if the call to boycott Israel and to treat it like the Apartheid regime of South Africa succeeds in gathering support, it may contribute to finally ending the occupation of Palestinan land resulting from a war that took place all of 40 years ago this year.

Ilan Shalif

Shalif is a member of the Anarchists Against the Wall initiative and the Israeli anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian organization Matzpen.

www.matzpen.org

www.awalls.org

http://www.shalif.com/anarchy
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