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An Israeli View of Israel

Neve Gordon, a third-generation Israeli, resident of the Negev, and professor of politics at Ben Gurion University roused a bit of controversy a few weeks ago with an op-ed piece affirming the need for an international boycott of Israel:

The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state. For more than 42 years, Israel has controlled the land between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Sea. Within this region about 6 million Jews and close to 5 million Palestinians reside. Out of this population, 3.5 million Palestinians and almost half a million Jews live in the areas Israel occupied in 1967, and yet while these two groups live in the same area, they are subjected to totally different legal systems. The Palestinians are stateless and lack many of the most basic human rights. By sharp contrast, all Jews — whether they live in the occupied territories or in Israel — are citizens of the state of Israel.

The question that keeps me up at night, both as a parent and as a citizen, is how to ensure that my two children as well as the children of my Palestinian neighbors do not grow up in an apartheid regime. . . .

I am convinced that outside pressure is the only answer. Over the last three decades, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories have dramatically increased their numbers. The myth of the united Jerusalem has led to the creation of an apartheid city where Palestinians aren’t citizens and lack basic services. The Israeli peace camp has gradually dwindled so that today it is almost nonexistent, and Israeli politics are moving more and more to the extreme right.

It is therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure. The words and condemnations from the Obama administration and the European Union have yielded no results, not even a settlement freeze, let alone a decision to withdraw from the occupied territories.

I consequently have decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that was launched by Palestinian activists in July 2005 and has since garnered widespread support around the globe. The objective is to ensure that Israel respects its obligations under international law and that Palestinians are granted the right to self-determination.

The article affirms that this sort of international pressure would be necessary to bring about a two-state solution that would be just and equitable.

Neve has been met with plenty of frenzied outrage on the part of many pro-Israel ideologues since writing this of course. However, his point really should be taken for what it is. This is a thoughtful, intelligent person who cares about the shape of the country his kids grow up in. Whether he’s right or not about what international pressure will acomplish with regard to the state of Israel, any Israeli who dares to be critical of Israel at all, let alone acknowledge it as an aparthied state has what can only be defined as balls.


  1. kim fabricius wrote:

    I’ve been watching this space from the UK now for a day. No comment on a Halden post is as rare as hen’s teeth. It’s eerie – and perhaps disturbing. Does this silence indicate consent? Or simply deep, if inconclusive, reflection? Is Gordon wrong in his analysis of Israel being an apartheid state (Tutu doesn’t think so – and I don’t either)? Or wrong in his hope in the effectiveness of the boycott, the economic option, as a spur to some movement by Israel towards a two-state solution? I trust, at least, that the silence is not a hostage to the fortune of a future footnote in James Crossley’s disturbing book about the failure of nerve (to say the least) of intellectuals, particularly in the US, over Israel/Palestine, Jesus in an Age of Terror: Scholarly Projects for a New American Century (2008) (in which there is a chapter on Bibliobloggers).

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 11:07 am | Permalink
  2. Daniel Imburgia wrote:

    OK Kim I will take a stab at a response. Halden’s last passage: “…any Israeli who dares to be critical of Israel at all, let alone acknowledge it as an aparthied state has what can only be defined as balls.” Well, maybe, but I have found both here and in Israel that Israeli’s and Jews are quite openly critical of their govt., almost incessantly, nauseatingly so for those who aren’t used to or don’t like that kind of thing. Only the Italians seem to kvetch more. Prof. Gordan, however, is to be commended for being willing to open himself up to an above normal amt. of criticism for his position. I wasn’t really sure what the purpose of the post here was though. Is Halden calling for his blogerittes (of which I am one) to join him in a boycott? Is he endorsing one? Or simply making a testicular comparison like one might find in ‘Inglorious Bastards?” This issue is so complex, painful, and difficult that to address it in one blog seems a bit frivolous. What are American Christians who share Prof. Gordon’s views doing about their own govt’s complicity in Israel’s policies they disagree with? Are they like dissenting German’s calling for a boycott of Italian truffles during WW2 For Italian atrocities? (mote and beam sort of thing) Given Anabaptist history I would encourage Halden to offer some comprehensive insights into how the church (as it is, and should be) aught to engage state structures and policies; then offer some specific applications to the Palestinian/Israeli situation. I am not just talking about some quotes from Yoder’s “Politic’s of Jesus” (as great as that is) something more along the lines of Lenin’s “What is to be Done.” Shalom, Daniel (oh, and Hannah Arendt, wrote a bunch of important and trenchant criticisms of Zionism, and was ardently criticized, she is worth a read I can offer suggestions).

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 10:02 pm | Permalink
  3. kim fabricius wrote:

    Thanks, Daniel.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 1:06 am | Permalink

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