FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Slandering Israel?

Sometimes when a debate seems all but settled, a prestigious voice can reopen it.  So it is with Richard Goldstone, who states the following  in a New York Times op-ed entitled “Israel and the Apartheid Slander”:

“In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute: “Inhumane acts … committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” Israeli Arabs — 20 percent of Israel’s population — vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment.”

(Richard Goldstone, “Israel and the Apartheid Slander”, New York Times,  November 2011)

Goldstone speaks with triple authority – as a South African judge, as  the first chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, and as the head of a UN Human Rights Council investigation into Israel’s invasion of Gaza.   It’s therefore worth noting that, even on the most generous assumptions, he’s wrong.

Uri Davis, in Apartheid Israel, has documented how Israeli Arabs are disadvantaged by systemic discrimination.   Let’s grant, for the sake of Goldstone’s argument, that this disadvantage doesn’t amount to oppression.  Still, Israeli apartheid, as defined in the Rome Statute, is virulent and real.

There are inhumane acts committed against Palestinian Arabs. This doesn’t really seem to be in dispute.

Let’s still suppose that none of these, or few of them, are inflicted on Israeli Arabs but only on Palestinians in the occupied territories.  Nevertheless they are “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

The Israeli laws surrounding qualification for Israeli citizenship give, and are intended to give, Jews domination over Arabs in Israel. They do so by assuring that Jews can get citizenship in a wide range of circumstances in which Palestinian Arabs cannot.

These laws, whose stated purpose is to keep the state Jewish, identify Jews by ancestry, not religion. This is as much as to say that they are racial laws.  ‘Race’ is certainly a shifty and controversial term, but for that very reason, ancestry-based laws are considered to have as much of a racial character as laws are likely to have:  that is why, for instance, the UK laws that restricted certain passports to ‘British patrials’ were thought, if not racially motivated, then certainly racially tainted. (Thus Lord Mishcon, recorded in Hansard: “The effect of the Immigration Act 1971 is that most British patrials are white people, while virtually all British non-patrials are of non-European descent.” British Nationality Bill, Hansard,  July 22 1981)

So we have racial laws, designed to maintain racial domination.  We have oppression as part of that design.  Even if we grant that the oppression is not visited on Israeli Arabs, we still have apartheid within the definition of the Rome Statute.

The definition does not require that no subgroup of the oppressed group be treated non-oppressively.   That requirement would not have been met even by South African apartheid.  It is sufficient that, in a state where racial dominance is maintained by fundamental laws, oppression of a dominated group exists.  That other laws protect some subgroup of that dominated group from oppression is neither here nor there.

Goldstone also  claims that Israel inflicts suffering on the Palestinians for ‘security reasons’.   Even if this could possibly apply to all of Israel’s cruelties, it is irrelevant:  it would only establish that Israel had a motive for apartheid, not that it didn’t practice apartheid.  His other excuse – that some day, some time, Israel might possibly relinquish the occupied territories – is beyond irrelevant; it is fatuous.   Here and now, Israel practices apartheid within the limits of the definition Goldstone cites.

Michael Neumann is a professor of philosophy at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. Professor Neumann’s views are not to be taken as those of his university. His book What’s Left: Radical Politics and the Radical Psyche is published by Broadview Press. He contributed the essay, “What is Anti-Semitism”, to CounterPunch’s book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. His latest book is The Case Against Israel. He can be reached at: mneumann@trentu.ca

More articles by:

Michael Neumann is a professor of philosophy at a Canadian university.  He is the author of What’s Left: Radical Politics and the Radical Psyche and The Case Against Israel.  He also contributed the essay, “What is Anti-Semitism”, to CounterPunch’s book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism.  He can be reached at mneumann@live.com

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail