Washington Post and MSNBC voices say ‘Apartheid’ (and J Street inches closer) – Mondoweiss
That letter initiated by Israeli scholars calling out American Jewish leaders for supporting “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “Jewish supremacy” is getting more and more signatures, 1,600 and counting in ten days, and it is sparking media attention.
The Jewish letter is giving the media cover to speak a heresy– Israeli apartheid.
In the Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor writes that the “elephant in the room” is the “’regime of apartheid’ that prevails for Palestinians living under Israeli control.”
And it offers yet more evidence of a shifting discourse on Israel among even some of the Jewish state’s staunchest supporters in the United States.
Tharoor quotes Brown University historian Omer Bartov, who was born and raised in Israel.
“You can call me a self-hating Jew, call me an antisemite,” Bartov responds. “People use those terms to cover up the reality, either to deceive themselves or to deceive others. You have to look at what’s happening on the ground.”
The letter had a similar effect on MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan in a segment broadcast last Sunday. Describing the letter as “a very major intervention,” Hasan tracked the trendiness of the apartheid designation and gave a speech about the hypocrisy over apartheid in the U.S. Democratic establishment.
Let’s talk about the a-word. For years now anyone accusing the state of Israel of being guilty of apartheid in its treatment of Palestinians has been immediately condemned as an antisemite, an Israel-hater, someone who doesn’t understand what apartheid even is… The Anti-Defamation League says that the apartheid label is inaccurate and offensive….
And yet now with a government in Israel that is demonstrably far right and openly racist, increasing numbers of Israelis and American Jews are starting to use the a-word…
The tragedy however is that while former Israeli generals and liberal Israeli journalists finally come around to seeing how badly the Palestinians have been mistreated, and how that mistreatment meets the definition of apartheid under international law, according to a plethora of leading human rights groups, we have liberal Democrats from the United States including House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries turning up in Israel this week with the rightwing lobby group AIPAC to reaffirm the special relationship, to praise Israeli democracy while ignoring the protesters in the streets, and to do fawning photo ops with Benjamin Netanyahu…
In years to come, we will say these Democrats were on the wrong side of history.
Hasan then hosted Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street. Ben-Ami has denied that Israel practices apartheid. But he tacitly accepted Hasan’s characterization of the “apartheid” letter:
Its a very major intervention, and it’s really true, how can you possibly talk about democracy if you are not talking about the rights of millions of Palestinians who are living under Israeli control without the right to vote, the right to water, the right to build in their own communities, property rights, all the essentials of having equal rights to your neighbor who is of a different racial and ethnic background.
And that’s what’s missing on the West Bank and you can’t fight for democracy if you aren’t fighting against occupation.
That comes pretty close to an apartheid accusation. J Street later tweeted the comment without citing the apartheid framing from Hasan.
Hasan went on to criticize the Hakeem Jeffries-led trip by 24 Democratic congresspeople to Israel for praising Israel’s “democracy,” while failing to meet the Israeli protesters. “It’s not just a bad look, that’s indefensible.”
Ben-Ami offered a backhanded defense of the Democrats, saying that Republicans also don’t go to the West Bank. He said the problem was the influence of money in American politics. AIPAC represents “a small percentage of the American Jewish community but they hold a great deal of power,” because of money.
P.S. The American Jewish Committee has recently published a defense of Israel from various “lies” told in social media and on college campuses. “For more on why Israel is nothing like apartheid South Africa,” the AJC writes, go to South African-born Israeli author Benjamin Pogrund’s “compelling piece” in the New York Times in 2017.
But Pogrund wrote last week that he had changed his mind, in part due to the 2018 Nation State Law that grants Jews the exclusive right of self-determination in the land of Israel. So Pogrund now believes Israel practices apartheid, as Hasan pointed out.
So even the American Jewish Committee’s experts are turning on it!