July 21, 2007
President Carter's book, Palestine: Peace or Apartheid, caused an uproar among the pro-Zionist media in the U.S. because the word 'apartheid' appeared in the title. David Horowitz (Jimmy Carter: Jew-Hater, Genocide-Enabler, Liar) was especially pained by Carter's description of the lives of the Palestinians living behind walled off areas and restrained in their movements, while modern roads connected the Jewish settlements. If this isn't apartheid, the word has lost it's meaning. But Carter was very careful to state that apartheid only characterized the occupied territories, not Israel proper. But we have long known that Jews and non-Jews do not have the same access to public services even in pre-1967 Israel, and Haaretz now reports that a law being considered in the Knesset would allow discrimination against non-Jews in leasing land through the Jewish Agency. The law would also allow the establishment of universities and other public institutions reserved only for Jews. This law would in effect overturn a Supreme Court decision prohibiting discrimination—a decision that was ignored in practice by local communities.
It will be interesting to see if the American Jewish community is motivated to take a leading role to protest this state of affairs, but we shouldn't hold our breath on that one. American Jews have a long history of advocating policies in the U.S. that are quite the opposite of Israeli policies within Israel. (Immigration comes to mind.) It is well-known that the American Jewish community played a major role in the civil rights movement in the U.S., but less well known that from the beginning in the early 20th century there was a a strong sense among many Zionists that Jews constitute a biological entity. Many prominent Zionists (e.g., Vladimir Jabotinsky and Arthur Ruppin) saw the establishment of Israel as a way to preserve ethnic purity among Jews and advance the interests of the Jewish people seen as a racial group (reviewed in Ch. 5 of Separation and Its Discontents; see also http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/776995.html).
It's abundantly clear that that is exactly how Israel is functioning. Indeed, the prime advocates of the proposed law (Uri Ariel, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ami Ayalon, Michael Eitan, Reuven Rivlin and Shalom Simhon) are the intellectual and political descendants of Jabotinsky. They are Jewish ethnonationalists who have been in the forefront of the settler movement and the erection of the apartheid society in the occupied territories. These practices certainly depart from the image of Israel as a democratic, Western society, but they fit well with a Jewish ethnonationalist agenda and, from my perspective, are yet another example of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy.