Who said that Israel was an apartheid state in 1963?

March 31, 2009

Here’s an excerpt from the text of a speech given by Ronnie Kasrils, South Africa’s Minister of Intelligence, in February:

Who said nearly 50 years ago that Israel was an Apartheid State?
by Ronnie Kasrils

“…a colonial racist mentality which rationalised the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australasia, in Africa from Namibia to the Congo and elsewhere, most clearly has its parallels in Palestine.”

At the onset of international “Israel Apartheid Week” in solidarity with the embattled Palestinian people, I want to start by quoting a South African who emphatically stated as far back as 1963 that “Israel is an apartheid state.” Those were not the words of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu or Joe Slovo, but were uttered by none other than the architect of apartheid itself, racist Prime Minister, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd.

He was irked by the criticism of apartheid policy and Harold Macmillan’s “Winds of Change” speech , in contrast to the West’s unconditional support for Zionist Israel.

To be sure Verwoerd was correct. Both states preached and implemented a policy based on racial ethnicity; the sole claim of Jews in Israel and whites in South Africa to exclusive citizenship;  monopolised rights in law regarding the ownership of land, property, business; superior access to
education, health, social, sporting and cultural amenities, pensions and municipal services at the expense of the original indigenous population; the virtual monopoly membership of military and security forces, and privileged development along their own racial supremacist lines – even both countries marriage laws designed to safeguard racial “purity”.

The so-called “non-whites” in apartheid South Africa, indigenous Africans, others of mixed race or of Indian origin – like second or third class non-Jews in Israel – were consigned to a non-citizenship status of Kafkaesque existence, subject to bureaucratic whims and the laws prohibiting their free movement, access to work and trade, dictating where they could reside and so forth.

You can read the full text of the article based on this speech here: http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=14924

Is this the world’s most ethical army?

March 22, 2009

In the last several days the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has published testimony from IDF soldiers who served in the Gaza offensive. The words of the IDF combatants are not only disturbing but point to damning evidence of war crimes that the Israeli establishment has been trying to distance itself from. Further to this, it seems, upon reading some testimonials, that an ugly and deeply entrenched sentiment of racism towards Palestinians is the underlying logic that drives such heinous acts.

Amos Harel reports that a

squad leader . . . told of an incident where the company commander ordered that an elderly Palestinian woman be shot and killed; she was walking on a road about 100 meters from a house the company had commandeered.

The squad leader said he argued with his commander over the permissive rules of engagement that allowed the clearing out of houses by shooting without warning the residents beforehand. After the orders were changed, the squad leader’s soldiers complained that ‘we should kill everyone there [in the center of Gaza]. Everyone there is a terrorist.’

The squad leader said: ‘You do not get the impression from the officers that there is any logic to it, but they won’t say anything. To write ‘death to the Arabs’ on the walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can. I think this is the main thing: To understand how much the IDF has fallen in the realm of ethics, really. It’s what I’ll remember the most.’

These testimonials have already received a fair amount of international attention. You can read further commentary here:

Israeli soldiers admit shooting dead civilians during Gaza war

Israeli soldiers say army rabbis framed

Israeli military to probe Gaza campaign allegations

Did Israeli soldiers kill unarmed civilians?

War crimes in Gaza: Israel told to investigate

Israel’s dirty secrets in Gaza

The Colonial Past and the Colonial Present (Italy and Lybia)

March 18, 2009

Many Arab and Third World Countries have welcome this unprecenteted step, taken by Italy, to repay Lybia for the Colonial Past (Lybia was under Italian control more or less between 1912 and 1943). The agreement, ratified some days ago, is historical indeed. But Claudia Gazzini, in the article just published by merip.org, illustrates some of the ‘dark sides’. Generally speaking the Colonial Past is rarely debated in Italy, and education and popular culture still spread the myth of a ‘colonialism with a human face’ (colonialismo dal volto umano). Far from this, the Italian occupation of Lybia saw, especially in the Fascist Period (from teh late 1920s to the end), one of the most brutal repression ever even for he bloody history of Colonialism and Imperialism. Italians massacred, deported and displaced over 100,000 Lybians. This is still largely a taboo in Italian history, and only few brave historians, such as Angelo Del Boca, have broken it.

Read the article at:

Dr Jeff Halper to speak at Macquarie University, 20 March, 7pm

March 9, 2009

Macquarie University Centre for Middle East and North African Studies is proud to present a public lecture by distinguished Israeli academic
Professor Jeff Halper titled:

“Israel’s Demolition of Palestinian Homes: the essence of the conflict”

Friday 20 March 2009,
The Price Theatre, Macquarie University,
7-9 pm

Dr JEFF HALPER is an Israeli academic and peace activist who co-founded the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD, http://www.icahd.org/eng/) in 1997 to challenge and resist the Israeli policy of demolishing Palestinian homes at the risk of his own personal safety.

A tireless writer and speaker, Halper travels extensively to build international support for ICAHD. He was nominated along with Palestinian activist Ghassan Andoni, for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

Dr. Halper is the author of several books including Between Redemption and Revival: the Jewish Yishuv in Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century; Obstacles to Peace and most recently, An Israeli in Palestine.

Attendance is free and donations for ICAHD will be welcome.
For enquiries: call CMENAS at 02 98508854, or email mecentre@humn.mq.edu.au

Closed Zone by the animator of Waltz with Bashir

March 6, 2009

Closed Zone” is a 90-second animated film by Yoni Goodman, Director of Animation for the Academy Award-nominated film “Waltz with Bashir”. Closed Zone shows the closure of the Gaza Strip and its effects on the ability of one and a half million human beings living there to pursue their aspirations and, more recently – even to run from harm’s way, during the devastating military operation in Gaza. Unfortunately, despite post-war calls to rehabilitate Gaza, the closure policy remains in effect.

Gisha, a Tel Aviv-based NGO, commissioned the film

“out of concern that the discourse on access policies in the Gaza Strip ‘erases’ from consideration the individuals affected by the closure. As a first step in protecting human rights in Gaza, we find ourselves needing to remind people of the humanity of Gaza residents – and the rights they have by virtue of their humanity, including the right to freedom of movement. The film is our attempt to help viewers see and empathize with the real victims of the closure policy – 1.5 million human beings, here represented by a single cartoon character and the bird he chases – who just want to live normal lives.”


March 5, 2009

Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East

UK Government Boycotts Israeli Tycoon
Lev Leviev over Settlement Construction

Decision a Victory for Coordinated Campaign in Palestine,
US, UK and Israel

New York, NY, March 4 – The government of the United Kingdom has decided to
boycott Israeli diamond and real estate mogul Lev Leviev over his companies’
construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the Occupied West
Bank, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz Daily (1) reported today. The decision

by the UK government followed a coordinated advocacy  campaign by human
rights advocates in New York, the UK, Palestine and Israel demanding that
the UK government end plans to rent the new UK Embassy in Tel Aviv from
Leviev’s company Africa-Israel.

The UK’s Tel Aviv Ambassador notified Leviev of the decision by letter,
following a British parliamentary debate, and inquiries with Leviev’s
company Africa-Israel over its activities in the West Bank,  Ha’aretz
reported. According to Ha’aretz, “The embassy in Tel Aviv confirmed the
details of the story.”
Read the rest of this entry »