Two years ago I went with the Meretz USA Symposium to Hebron and have never felt the same about the “situation” there. Now, Letty Pogrebin visits Hebron and is shocked. She tells it like it is.–Lilly
or cut and paste: http://www.forward.com/
The situation in Hebron in the West Bank is appalling but that’s not the “A” word referred to in this article.
The implication is that Letty and Lilly are willing to use the word “apartheid” to describe Hebron, but not to describe Israel’s treatment of Palestinians throughout the West Bank, and Gaza Strip (the narrow apartheid definition of some, like Jimmy Carter, for which he was of course harshly attacked), much less within Israel, or for Palestinians denied a right of return to their homeland. Again, Meretznicks are a day late and a dollar short, dragged kicking and screaming to conceding the accuracy of the use of the word apartheid, that is now accepted by thoughtful people around the world, but still only used by Meretznicks in the most extreme situation, Hebron.
In reality, however, Hebron is more accurately described by a stronger term, “ethnic cleansing,” defined by Human Rights Watch in the following manner: “Although ‘ethnic cleansing’ is not formally defined under international law, a U.N. Commission of Experts has defined the term as a ‘purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas. . . . This purpose appears to be the occupation of territory to the exclusion of the purged group or groups.’”
As with the use of the word apartheid, if they follow their past tendencies, Meretznicks will probably only feel comfortable using the term ethnic cleansing to describe Israeli actions in Hebron and other locations years after the rest of the world has concluded it is the appropriate descriptor.
Always following, never leading, never moral, and so, basically irrelevant.
Less relevant to me than whether labels such as “apartheid” or “ethnic cleansing” are used is how we promote positive change in Israeli government policies towards Palestinians. Clearly, there is an unjust, settler enforced matrix of control over Palestinian lives in Hebron.
The blatant human rights violations – separate roads for Palestinians and Israelis, unjust restrictions of movement placed on Palestinians, carte blanche to extremist settlers harassing Palestinians and more – must stop. Denying that these abuses take place – as some politically conservative members of the Jewish community would prefer to do – will not make them stop.
Whatever label you use or do not use, become active in one of the organizations that is working to stop these abuses and towards final status negotiations between Palestine and Israel.
There is a wide range of organizations to choose from – Meretz USA, Peace Now, Rabbis for Human Rights, J Street, and Jewish Voice for Peace among them. The important thing is to choose one or more that you feel comfortable working with and work with them.
Our tradition teaches us that when our brothers’ or sisters’ blood is being shed, we should not stand idly by. Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s expose of Israeli government and settler abuses in Hebron puts this hallowed Jewish ethic into practice.