Startling op-ed from Amos Schocken, owner and publisher of Haaretz, about Israeli settlements and the use of the term apartheid. Schocken takes particular aim at Gush Emunim, the religious and political ideology behind the movement to expand settlements in the West Bank. He writes:
This is a strategy of territorial seizure and apartheid. It ignores judicial aspects of territorial ownership and shuns human rights and the guarantees of equality enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. It is a strategy of unlimited patience; what is important is the unrelenting progress toward the goal. At the same time, it is a strategy that does not pass up any opportunity that comes its way, such as the composition of the present Knesset and the unclear positions of the prime minister.
The term “apartheid” refers to the undemocratic system of discriminating between the rights of the whites and the blacks, which once existed in South Africa. Even though there is a difference between the apartheid that was practiced there and what is happening in the territories, there are also some points of resemblance. There are two population groups in one region, one of which possesses all the rights and protections, while the other is deprived of rights and is ruled by the first group. This is a flagrantly undemocratic situation.
Read the rest here, where Schocken goes on to claim that the “Jewish lobby” in the United States is “totally addicted” to the Gush Emunim ideology.
Agree or disagree, these are weighty words; they shouldn’t be thrown around lightly. I’d say that Schocken’s op-ed is likely to spur debate in Israel, but Israelis already debate and discuss these issues openly. In fact, this isn’t the first time that Schocken has said in Haaretz that Israel is practicing apartheid.
Haaretz is the liberal Israeli paper, and so these comments should be understood from that perspective. But it’s difficult to imagine any Jewish newspaper in the United States saying the same thing. Why?