Lessons in apartheid

Israel needs a few more lessons in apartheid:

Zionism did not merely pave paths of ethnic discrimination in the occupied territories. Discrimination against civilians exists in every corner of the country.

Salman Masalha | Lessons in apartheid

Scholars of the social sciences know how to defend a public opinion survey. In their way of thinking, this is a scientific tool with which it is possible to assess feelings and understand positions and trends at any given time. Together with these "quiz shows" that supply the masses with a glimpse of the mood of the public, we are also able to familiarize ourselves with the personal feelings, points of view and tendencies of those who conduct the polls.

Zionism did not merely pave paths of ethnic discrimination in the occupied territories. Discrimination against civilians exists in every corner of the country. Research institutes and the media, whether intentionally or not, cooperate with this discrimination and also perpetuate it. In parallel to that, the slogan "a light unto the nations" is repeated here ad nauseum. It is therefore worthwhile comparing the situation in Israel with that among "the nations."

Take, for example, the Population Registry Law. During the era of apartheid in South Africa, the citizens of that country were forced to register themselves with the authorities on the basis of their skin color: white, black or colored. In Israel it is not possible to oblige people to sign up in the registry according to their race or color, since the Jews themselves belong to assorted colors and races: Some are white because they came from Poland or Russia, and others are dark skinned - from Yemen or Ethiopia. With no other option, the Zionist mind was forced to invent a unique solution that was suitable to this place, and which answers the need for separation, and thus it was that the registration was born, of Jews, Arabs, Druze and so forth, in the Israeli Interior Ministry.

Another discriminatory law that was enacted in South Africa allotted separate living areas to different races. One can compare it with the local law about selection committees, whose entire objective is to make it possible for various community settlements to chose who will be allowed to become members - based on ethnic background.

Recently the state has managed to peek into the bedrooms of the Arab citizens via the Citizenship Law, which places restrictions on their marriages. And the last word has not been said on this matter.

The election season is drawing close here. This will no doubt bring blessings and money to all who deal with it, first and foremost the polling institutes. From reports about the surveys we can learn that ethnic separation is alive and well, both in these institutes themselves as well as in most of the Israeli media. Indeed, the latter will pounce on the polls' findings. Politicians will rush to check their popularity among herds of voters. The disappointed politicians who lack inspiration and intelligence will turn to recipes supplied to them by the witch doctors known as media advisers. These witch doctors will instruct the aspiring politicians how to win the support of the masses. Between them and their followers, they will no doubt explain that a political platform is not as important as the show: The more the hopefuls sweat, run around and appear on every screen, the greater their chances of influencing the average voter.

The public opinion surveys also tell us, as noted, about those who conduct them. "If elections were to be held now," the pollsters tell us, this party would get this number of seats, and that party would get that number of seats. Then, at the very end of the detailed report about this and that, within the context of the "menu" of Jewish-democratic parties, will come the eternal sentence: "And the Arab parties will receive such and such a number of seats." Because in the eyes of every "educated" Zionist, every single Arab is an Ahmed, or is assumed to be an Ahmed.

It is therefore not clear why so much time and money is being spent. After all, the election results are a forgone conclusion: 110 Knesset seats to the Jewish parties and 10 seats to the Arab parties - is that not so? Here is yet another lesson in the apartheid sciences.
Published: Opinions-Haaretz, 30 January 2012

For Hebrew, press here

Two backward peoples

Israel, Palestinians must let go of justice and join reality
The reality that will develop will not be a prophetic binational vision: The opposite is true. It will be a patently inhuman reality over which a black flag will fly, on which will be written in blood, 'This is the Balkans.'

Salman Masalha ||
Two backward peoples

The poet Taha Muhammad Ali, who recently passed away, revealed to us in one of his poems that it took him 60 years to realize that "water is the best of drinks / And bread is the tastiest of foods." Someone who takes so much time to understand reality can be tolerated. He's allowed to be backward and learn slowly; he'll write poems about that. But it's different when we're talking about the backwardness of a nation, and how much more so, its elected leadership.

It seems that the people who populate this land from both sides of the "national" barricade belong to "peoples" that are slow to grasp reality, at least for the past three decades. And this slowness is most evident among the leaders.

The milestones of this slowness stand out for all to see. One of these was when the Zionist movement, during its beginnings, adopted the claim that was originally Christian: "a land without a people for a people without a land." Thus, it accepted anti-Semitic claims and made them its own. But it completely ignored the reality in the country and its inhabitants. Only years later did the Zionist leaders, led by David Ben-Gurion, suddenly discover that "the land is not empty."

When the immigration waves increased, the situation in the land changed. The tensions surfaced with all their gravity. The conflict between the Zionist movement, which was orderly and organized, and the land's inhabitants who were still in a pre-national stage began to grow.

With the cynical encouragement of the colonialist powers, the situation became more complicated. The world order that crystallized after World War II put the partition plan on the agenda. The Zionist leaders knew to jump at the chance. But that wasn't the case with the Arab leaders.

After two decades of slowness on the part of the Arabs to grasp reality, the 1967 war broke out and completed the occupation of the land beyond the 1948 hudna (armistice ) lines. The war was a turning point in the conflict. It brought Zionism into close contact with the emotionally charged heritage sites on which the dream of "a Jewish homeland" was based. But it led to a situation in which Israel "swallowed" the land's residents who were beginning to consolidate themselves into a separate national movement.

History doesn't remain stagnant, nor does demography. Two decades of settlement, wars, intifadas and rapid demographic change went by until the leaders of both peoples realized there was no choice but to divide the land. With that, we all returned to square one.

Slowness in grasping the national, social and political situation has led to disasters in the past and will bring more disasters in the future. This slowness is a crime of historic proportions, committed by the leaders. The price will be paid by people, with a great deal of blood.

That's why we must put aside claims of justice - because all people who demand total justice in this conflict are cut off from reality and are merely grasping at delusions. They help themselves and those around them fall into useless dreams that make both peoples act as if they were outside history. This leads to a dark tunnel from which there is no escape; to perpetuating hatred on a primeval path.

The reality that will develop as a result will be concrete and historic. It will not be a prophetic binational vision: The wolf shall not dwell with the lamb, and swords shall not be beaten into plowshares. The opposite is true. It will be a patently inhuman reality over which a black flag will fly, on which will be written in blood, "This is the Balkans."
Published: Opinions-Haaretz, 13 January 2012

For Hebrew, press here