Sunday, January 10

The Illegal Settlers and Apartheid

Many Zionists and supporters of Israel loathe the comparison of Israel's policies with the old apartheid system of white South Africa. Perhaps it is an odious comparison but it is not totally devoid of some truth.

Israel within the green line is a democracy in every sense of the word - certainly to the outsider this is without doubt. There are no signs of discrimination between Jewish citizens and the non-Jewish minority who are also Israeli citizens. Equal rights are applicable to both groups. There is a certain amount of social discrimination and there is a preference to employ Jews rather than non-Jews in the work place but this is not enacted by law as in apartheid South Africa under infamous Job Reservation Act.

However in the occupied territories - the home of the right wing settler movement - apartheid is alive and kicking.

In the occupied territories one must bear in mind that the Israeli settler is a member of a powerful and dominant majority. He is by no means persecuted.

Apart from that, Israel favors settlers based on their national identity and discriminates against Palestinian people resident in the occupied territories.

The settlers are a comparatively well off lot compared to the Palestinian population. The Israeli tax payer pays the bill for the infrastructure of their illegal settlements as well as the network of roads linking them. The IDF protects and cossets them all the time - at the taxpayers' expense to keep an illegal right wing, religious Zionist project of illegal settlement going.

The "phony settlement freeze" apparently is not "phony" enough for these illegal settlers. The cosmetic Netanyahu freeze was sufficient to illicit an illegal settler response against the IDF and the building inspectors who are supposed to "enforce" the cosmetic freeze for US consumption. In reality, there is no settler freeze and more land is being built for settlements at the expense of the future Palestinian state.

Settlers ensure that discrimination against the Palestinian population continues by the establishment of roads for "Jews only". Roads for Palestinians remain little more than dirt tracks. As an ex-South African now living in Israel for most of my life, I cannot deny that feeling of déjà vu.

There is no doubt that the so-called freezing of settlements by the right-wing Netanyahu Government is really a form of appeasement of its US ally and has no moral significance whatsoever beyond just that.

Laws favouring the illegal Israeli settlers in the territories at the expense of the Palestinians are reminiscent of the white apartheid regime of South Africa. The excuse of "security" as the reason to whittle away Palestinian land in favour of illegal settler colonization is despicable and immoral. It limits Palestinian freedom and development opportunities.

The "natural growth" excuse bandied about by the illegal settlers is total hogwash. It is an excuse to further expropriate Palestinian land rendering a future Palestinian state not viable. Apart from that, there are still housing advertisements to encourage potential new settlers to buy housing units in the occupied territories.

Illegal settlers being Israeli citizens have the same rights as all Israeli citizens yet they deny civil rights to their Palestinian neighbours. These Palestinians have no freedom of movement and have very little legal recourse especially when they are ill treated by settlers, the State of Israel or if their property is confiscated by settlers and their orange groves and olive plantations are uprooted. Israel then claims that it does not wish to rule or colonize another people. Yet in practice that is exactly what they are doing.

The Israeli Government fails to realize that the laws favoring illegal settlers encroaching on Palestinian life is morally unacceptable and this is the attitude of most of the world. Even many Israelis and the Jewish people across the world find no justification for Israel's illegal settlement policies. MANY ISRAELI APOLOGISTS CLAIM THE WORLD IS ANTI-SEMITIC BECAUSE THE WORLD OF NATIONS IS AGAINST ISRAEL’S OCCUPATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT OF ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS IN THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES.

The settlers view themselves as victims when the victims are really the Palestinian People resident in the occupied territories.

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