Shulamit Aloni retired from public life in the Knesset and as head of the RATZ component of Meretz in 1997, at the point that Meretz changed from a parliamentary bloc into a single political party, with Yossi Sarid as its leader. While she remains a friend of Meretz USA, she is still an outspoken public voice, placed politically by her own description as somewhere between the Meretz-Yahad party and the Hadash party of the non-Zionist left.
This may explain why this article is posted at the notoriously anti-Israel website, “Counterpunch” under the curious title: “This Road is for Jews Only: Yes, There is Apartheid in Israel.” Why curious? Because Aloni knows, with all of the Israeli peace camp, that the “apartheid” situation she describes is not about Israel, but rather the West Bank and East Jerusalem under occupation. Jimmy Carter, for all the factual faults of his book that merit criticism, carefully distinguishes between Israel within its pre-1967 borders — which he characterizes as a “liberal democracy” (going further than even I would, since I see Israel in many ways as a not so liberal democracy) and the occupation of Palestinian territories that he regards as “apartheid.”
Still, this makes this article no less painful for the truth it conveys.
THIS ROAD IS FOR JEWS ONLY By Shulamit Aloni, January 8, 2007
Jewish self-righteousness is taken for granted among ourselves to such an extent that we fail to see what’s right in front of our eyes. It’s simply inconceivable that the ultimate victims, the Jews, can carry out evil deeds. Nevertheless, the state of Israel practices its own, quite violent, form of Apartheid with the native Palestinian population.
The US Jewish Establishment’s onslaught on former President Jimmy Carter is based on him daring to tell the truth which is known to all: through its army, the government of Israel practices a brutal form of Apartheid in the territory it occupies. Its army has turned every Palestinian village and town into a fenced-in, or blocked-in, detention camp. All this is done in order to keep an eye on the population’s movements and to make its life difficult. Israel even imposes a total curfew whenever the settlers, who have illegally usurped the Palestinians’ land, celebrate their holidays or conduct their parades.
If that were not enough, the generals commanding the region frequently issue further orders,
regulations, instructions and rules (let us not forget: they are the lords of the land). By now
they have requisitioned further lands for the purpose of constructing “Jewish only” roads.
Wonderful roads, wide roads, well-paved roads, brightly lit at night–all that on stolen land. When a Palestinian drives on such a road, his vehicle is confiscated and he is sent on his way.
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?”
Indeed Apartheid does exist here. And our army is not “the most moral army in the world” as we are told by its commanders. Sufficient to mention that every town and every village has turned into a detention centre and that every entry and every exit has been closed, cutting it off from arterial traffic. If it were not enough that Palestinians are not allowed to travel on the roads paved ‘for Jews only’, on their land, the current GOC found it necessary to land an additional blow on the natives in their own land with an “ingenious proposal”: Humanitarian activists cannot transport Palestinians either.
Major-General Naveh, renowned for his superior patriotism, has issued a new order. Coming into affect on 19 January, it prohibits the conveyance of Palestinians without a permit. The order determines that Israelis are not allowed to transport Palestinians in an Israeli vehicle (one
registered in Israel regardless of what kind of numberplate it carries) unless they have received
explicit permission to do so. The permit relates to both the driver and the Palestinian passenger.
Of course none of this applies to those whose labour serves the settlers. They and their employers will naturally receive the required permits so they can continue to serve the lords of the land, the settlers.
Did man of peace President Carter truly err in concluding that Israel is creating Apartheid? Did he exaggerate? Don’t the US Jewish community leaders recognise the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination of 7 March 1966, to which Israel is a signatory? Are the US Jews who launched the loud and abusive campaign against Carter for supposedly maligning Israel’s character and its democratic and humanist nature unfamiliar with the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 30 November 1973? Apartheid is defined therein as an international crime that among other things includes using different legal instruments to rule over different racial groups, thus depriving people of their human rights. Isn’t freedom of travel one of these rights?
In the past, the US Jewish community leaders were quite familiar with the meaning of those
conventions. For some reason, however, they are convinced that Israel is allowed to contravene
them. It’s OK to kill civilians, women and children, old people and parents with their children,
deliberately or otherwise without accepting any responsibility. It’s permissible to rob people of
their lands, destroy their crops, and cage them up like animals in the zoo. From now on, Israelis
and International humanitarian organisations’ volunteers are prohibited from assisting a woman in labour by taking her to the hospital. [Israeli human rights group] Yesh Din volunteers cannot take a robbed and beaten-up Palestinian to the police station to lodge a complaint. (Police stations are located at the heart of the settlements.) Is there anyone who believes that this is not Apartheid?
Jimmy Carter does not need me to defend his reputation that has been sullied by Israelophile
community officials. The trouble is that their love of Israel distorts their judgment and blinds
them from seeing what’s in front of them. Israel is an occupying power that for 40 years has been oppressing an indigenous people, which is entitled to a sovereign and independent existence while living in peace with us. We should remember that we too used very violent terror against foreign rule because we wanted our own state. And the list of victims of terror is quite long and
We do limit ourselves to denying the [Palestinian] people human rights. We not only rob of them of their freedom, land and water. We apply collective punishment to millions of people and even, in revenge-driven frenzy, destroy the electricity supply for one and half million civilians. Let them “sit in the darkness” and “starve”.
Employees cannot be paid their wages because Israel is holding 500 million shekels that belong to the Palestinians. And after all that we remain “pure as the driven snow”. There are no moral
blemishes on our actions. There is no racial separation. There is no Apartheid. It’s an invention
of the enemies of Israel. Hooray for our brothers and sisters in the US! Your devotion is very much appreciated. You have truly removed a nasty stain from us. Now there can be an extra spring in our step as we confidently abuse the Palestinian population, using the “most moral army in the world”.
I agree with you: Israel is NOT a liberal democracy. While not a herrenvolk democracy like apartheid South Africa, it is a frontier or settler democracy like Jacksonian America or Northern Ireland under Ulster Unionist rule from 1922 to 1972.
I haven’t read Carter’s book, so that I cannot vouch for its content. But I don’t think that harsh criticism of Israel constitutes anti-semitism, as long as it is accurate and balanced. If Carter were a Jew rather than a Southern Baptist, he would be labeled a self-hating Jew. Better a “self-hating” Jew than a group of self-satisfied complacent Jews run from Jerusalem.
The problem with using the term apartheid is that is used by people who wish to see the disolution of Israel as a Jewish state.
this sets off defensive reactions in the Jewish community making it harder to advocate ending the occupation.
I wonder what the reaction to Mr. Carter’s book would have been had it been titled “Israel and Palestine: How to undo the Gordian Knot”.
Regarding the Counterpunch publication, apparently this is merely a reprint of the Hebrew Yediot Aharonot article, http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3346283,00.html