The Common Good

Jeff Halper: Yes Virginia, It Is Apartheid

Beliefnet asked God's Politics to dialogue with a recent post by one of their Virtual Talmud bloggers, Rabbi Eliyahu Stern, which compared Jimmy Carter with Orthodox Jews who attended Iran's Holocaust deniers summit:

While Carter's new book is not half as despicable as these Jews' recent trip to Tehran, where they joined hands with Iranian President Ahmadinejad at his Holocaust denial conference, it is pathetic if for no reason other than its title, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

Israeli Jewish peace activist Jeff Halper responds:

Jimmy Carter's use of the term "apartheid" to describe what is developing in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel these last 40 years is both accurate and useful. Accurate because apartheid is emerging in Israel/Palestine.

What is apartheid? It is the forced separation of populations in which one people establishes a regime of permanent and structured domination over another (whether on racial lines as in South Africa or on national/religious lines as imposed by Israel). This is exactly what Israel is doing, from annexing its huge settlement blocs to imprisoning the Palestinians behind 26' concrete walls and electrified fences. I don't even see what the "controversy" is about. Just go to the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem and open your eyes.

Carter's use of the term is useful because it names the thing: apartheid is the only term that gets at the systemic qualities of the regime of domination Israel is establishing. Its not just a policy or a response to terrorism or occupation - it is a full-blown, thought-out, intentional system of control and domination. Indeed, Israel itself calls its policy hafrada, separation, apartheid.

Let's thank Carter for giving us a handle on this thing. Let's stop arguing about the semantics and get on with the job of stopping it. Jews as the new Afrikaners. What a chilling thought!

Jeff Halper is the coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), based in Jerusalem.

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