- Created: Wednesday, 05 April 2017 14:28
- Written by Louis Brehony
On 15 March, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) published a report labelling Israel a ‘racist state’ and an ‘apartheid regime’. Its support for Palestinian demands for boycott, divestment and sanctions on the Zionist state caused imperialist uproar. US-led pressure forced its withdrawal and the resignation of one of its instigators, ESCWA under-secretary Rima Khalef. The full report can be read on the Electronic Intifada website. Written by Virginia Tilley, professor at Southern Illinois University, and Richard Falk, former UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territories, the report compares the Israeli occupation with the system that sustained apartheid in South Africa. It highlights the following characteristics:
- The Israeli state was ‘designed for [the] core purpose’ of racial discrimination with property laws giving overwhelming power to settler colonialism. Through constitutional and legal frameworks set up to oversee this process, non-Jews are banned from reclaiming or developing any area of land claimed by Israel. Opposition to this is deemed illegal by the Knesset ban on political challenges to the ‘public purpose’ of maintaining Zionist domination in land ownership.
- Demographic engineering is a continual policy, encouraging, funding and organising immigration by new settlers. The World Zionist Organisation and Jewish Agency are entwined with the Israeli state, while the return of over six million Palestinian refugees to any territory under Israeli control is consistently opposed.
- Israel is ‘a systematic regime of racial domination’ and therefore an apartheid state. The oppressed Palestinians belong to a specific ‘racial group’ based on their national origin and are denied any kind of ‘equal footing’ in political, economic, social or cultural life. Palestinians are deprived of their right to self-determination while the Zionist regime imposes distinct ‘fragmentation’, geographic and legal, upon them.
On the final point the authors conclude that:
‘This fragmentation operates to stabilise the Israeli regime of racial domination over the Palestinians and to weaken the will and capacity of the Palestinian people to mount a unified and effective resistance. Different methods are deployed depending on where Palestinians live. This is the core means by which Israel enforces apartheid and at the same time impedes international recognition of how the system works as a complementary whole to comprise an apartheid regime.’
It was, Khalef said in her resignation letter, ‘an honest testimony about an ongoing crime that is at the root of so much human suffering.’ UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded the report be removed from the ESCWA website. Khalef pointed out that ‘powerful member states’ pressured the UN leadership with ‘vicious attacks and threats.’ On 16 March Nikki Haley, US envoy to the UN, expressed ‘outrage’ at what she called ‘anti-Israel propaganda’. It was removed from all UN websites within 48 hours. Israeli leaders compared the report to Nazi anti-Semitism. Israeli UN envoy Danny Dannon said the report was an ‘attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy with apartheid South Africa.’ History is against him. Hendrik Verwoerd, the fascist founding father of the apartheid state, celebrated the fact that ‘Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.’
The Palestinian Authority (PA) and its leader Mahmoud Abbas commended the report and awarded Khalef with the Palestinian Medal of the Highest Honour. In a personal phone call, Abbas ‘stressed to Khalef that our people appreciate her humanitarian and national position’. Despite these fine words, recent events proved once again that the PA has no interest in fighting apartheid. The Israeli assassination of Basil Al Araj in the Al Bireh area on 6 March came a few months after the imprisonment of Basil and five of his comrades by PA forces in March-April 2016. The Addameer prisoner support group says the six were tortured by their PA captors and held without charge for six months in Beituna and Jericho prisons. In August, Abbas even boasted to German magazine Der Spiegel that, ‘Our security forces are working very efficiently to prevent terror. Just a couple of days ago, three young men were tracked down and arrested. They were planning an attack. In this context, our security cooperation with Israel is functioning well.’
Since their hunger strike and release, four of the men, Mohammed Al Salameen, Seif Al Idrissi, Haitham Siyaj, and Mohammed Harb, have been arrested by IDF forces and are now held in Israeli jails. Attempting to arrest Basil Al Araj, occupation troops met with resistance. Basil went down fighting, gun in hand, resisting the attempted arrest. His funeral was a demonstration of anger. On 12 March, protests calling for justice were met by violence from PA forces who batoned activists in Bethlehem and Ramallah. Protesters demanded an end to PA ‘security coordination’ with Israel.
FRFI has learned that PFLP activists in Hebron are suffering home invasions and arrests. The Zionists are clamping down on opposition to the PA. They will draw comfort from President Trump’s appointment of David Friedman as US ambassador to Israel. Friedman is a rabid Zionist who thinks Israel should annex the West Bank and the whole of Jerusalem. Abbas and the elite class that surrounds him are reliant on imperialism for their privileged position and will continue to play a counter-revolutionary role until their corrupt leadership is destroyed. We salute the memory of Basil Al Araj and call for action to rebuild the Palestine solidarity movement.
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 256 April/May 2017