A reader notes that the chorus of indignation at John Kerry’s use of the term “apartheid state” to refer to Greater Israel’s destiny never actually engages the substance of his statement. So Ted Cruz, calling for Kerry’s resignation:
The fact that Secretary Kerry sees nothing wrong with making such a statement on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day demonstrates a shocking lack of sensitivity to the incendiary and damaging nature of his rhetoric.
Whatever else this is, it is not an argument that Israel is not an apartheid state or on its way to becoming so. On the left, we have this from Barbara Boxer:
Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and any linkage between Israel and apartheid is nonsensical and ridiculous.
But what about those under Israeli control who have no right to vote at all? It doesn’t occur to Boxer that the apartheid-like regime on the West Bank is actually a function of Israeli democracy, since a majority of Israelis support it. But, of course, AIPAC created the template all these lemmings follow and its statement is the purest of them all:
Any suggestion that Israel is, or is at risk of becoming, an apartheid state is offensive and inappropriate.
But is it true? That’s the question AIPAC never wants debated. So it polices the American discourse to prevent it. Since the observation is of the bleeding obvious, this can be hard. Jeffrey Goldberg, my old sparring partner on matters of Israel, wrote this a decade ago:
A de-facto apartheid already exists in the West Bank. Inside the borders of Israel proper, Arabs and Jews are judged by the same set of laws in the same courtrooms; across the Green Line, Jews live under Israeli civil law as well, but their Arab neighbors — people who live, in some cases, just yards away — fall under a different, and substantially undemocratic, set of laws, administered by the Israeli Army. The system is neither as elaborate nor as pervasive as South African apartheid, and it is, officially, temporary. It is nevertheless a form of apartheid, because two different ethnic groups living in the same territory are judged by two separate sets of laws.
Here’s Ehud Barak, former prime minister of Israel, making the exact same argument:
“The simple truth is, if there is one state” including Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, “it will have to be either binational or undemocratic. … if this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”
Here’s Tzipi Livni:
The time has come for the same youth to ask, to what kind of state do they want to leave the gas reserves? To a Jewish democratic Israel? Or to a binational Arab state? Or to an apartheid state? It is impossible to deal with economic issues and to ignore the important diplomatic issues related to two states for two peoples.
Here’s another former prime minister, Ehud Ohlmert:
If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.
Of course, Kerry could be criticized for speaking an undiplomatic truth in a meeting he considered off the record. But the peace talks are at a dead end anyway, and it’s perfectly appropriate for a US secretary of state to explain why such a failure is a dreadful portent for the future of Israel. It’s a truth that the Israelis need to hear from Americans just as much as they need to hear it from their own leaders.
The real question is: why do some want this fact deemed off-limits in America when it sure isn’t in Israel? And the answer is obvious: AIPAC has no interest in a two-state solution and wants no impediment to the permanent establishment of Greater Israel, even if that means keeping half or more than half of the country in undemocratic bantustans for ever. That’s another truth no one is allowed to say out loud. But man does it sit there right in front of our noses.