Yitzhak Laor: Israel’s apartheid is worse than South Africa’s

By Yitzhak Laor, Haaretz – 8 Nov 2009

Yitzhak Laor

Yitzhak Laor

The shock that gripped the shrunken peace camp following Hillary Clinton’s statement that the settlement construction freeze is not what we thought it would be, but rather what Benjamin Netanyahu thought it would be, is reminiscent of other shocks generated by American peace plans ever since the 1960s.

Had the educated people of this camp not outnumbered its foot soldiers, this shock and amazement could be compared to other superstitions, like the correlation between rainfall and women’s fertility.

But precisely because the Israeli intelligentsia is always coming up with prophecies about “American pressure,” it would not be unreasonable to assume that we can once again expect expert regurgitation of speculations about a “first-term president” versus a “second-term” one, and about when he stops being an “incoming” president and starts being a “lame duck.”

The truth is simpler. Regardless of whether there is a Democrat or a Republican in the White House, the United States became a distinctly pro-Israel world power after the 1967 war. It has no intention of being a “balanced mediator” when it comes to the conflict with the Palestinians.

Barack Obama’s public relations moves in the Arab world have frightened many average Israelis. But Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, allies of the final takeover of the West Bank, know very well that U.S. policy has not changed. It doesn’t take a genius to read the working papers of past prime ministers.

The prevailing attitude of all U.S. administrations was drafted by Henry Morgenthau, and was later updated by Kenneth Waltz. One line guided all of them – Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, George Mitchell – essentially, that any possible settlement must match the positions of the stronger party.

This is how the Americans abandoned the refugee issue, and this is why they abandoned the opposition to settlements. Netanyahu is no genius. He is simply not interested in saying good-bye to the occupation. That is all. After all, he came to power because of this. To complain about him is to complain about November rain.

The Israeli public’s choice is a different matter. The spokesmen of the dovish camp tell us horror stories about a future binational state. But the binational state is already here. It has a rigid apartheid legal system, as the High Court of Justice fades away.

The system preserving this apartheid is more ruthless than that seen in South Africa, where the black were a labor force and could therefore also make a living. It is equipped with the lie of being “temporary.” Occasionally, Israel’s indifference comes up with allegations against the Palestinians.

Abba Eban captured the allegation by coining a phrase repeated by the doves of all parties, who never really went to battle over Israel’s future and allowed the “settlement project” to spread. After all, occupation makes Israelis richer. Why oppose it?

Yaakov (Jack) Teitel is the American aid secured by moderate Israel. What Yitzhak Rabin failed to do after the massacre by the last import, Baruch Goldstein – to uproot the Jewish settlement in Hebron – will not happen now either. Shvut Rachel, Tapuah or any other such town will not be moved, nor will the smaller “illegal” outposts.

Beyond the two Palestinians whose murders were never really investigated, and past what Ami Ortiz or Professor Ze’ev Sternhell went through, Teitel is a Made-in-the-U.S.A. reminder that “no one will do for you what you fail to do for yourselves.”

How to do what needs to be done? Surely, not through the rules drafted back in the 1970s, when “we” were in power and “they” were the opposition. The settlers are in power. The Shin Bet security service and Obama will not fight them.

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