Mr President – this is apartheid in Israel-Palestine
Sabeel-Kairos member Mike Mineter writes on the question of Apartheid in the Pax Christi Scotland Newsletter, issue 24, July 2022. Reproduced with thanks.
President Biden was greeted in the West Bank on 13 July by banners: “Mr President, This is Apartheid.” His rejection of that description prompted me to review my understanding of “apartheid” concerning Israel.
The term “apartheid” has been widely used by advocates of Palestinian rights for years: being defined in international law, facts can be assessed with objectivity, hopefully leading to accountability. The assertion of Israel’s apartheid has become increasingly widespread – why might this be?Israel’s Nation State Law gave the term impetus, as does seeing realities in webinars – e.g. video from Mondoweiss. South Africans, all too familiar with apartheid, have applied the term to Israel’s actions. Most recent is Brian Brown, author of the widely acclaimed “Apartheid South Africa! Apartheid Israel?” Reports from international and Israeli NGOs made it clear that apartheid crimes are committed not only in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) but also within Israel. Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos published a dossier, detailing the above. Response is growing: the Presbyterian Church USA overwhelmingly passed a recent resolution naming apartheid.
In Israel-Palestine the crimes of apartheid are legion but it is important to name their purpose. It is not merely to exploit, or to achieve racial segregation, but also to dispossess Palestinians of land, history, culture, identity and any opportunity for self-determination. It is to replace Palestinians by settlers – in other words settler colonialism.
It is also important to confront the false theologies that are claimed to normalise Israel’s objectives. At Tel Aviv airport Biden said, “I say again, you need not be a Jew to be a Zionist” – a cheer-leader for some 25 million Christian Zionists in America. A web search about Trump, Pence and CUFI (Christians United for Israel) will convince the unaware of the dominance of Christian Zionism in American politics. I commend Don Wagner’s new book, “Glory to God in the Lowest.” He writes beautifully of life in the USA, and moving from Christian Zionism to theology that is liberating for all, and to solidarity with those in poverty and with Palestinians. Other helpful resources include christianzionism.org, palestineportal.org, stephensizer.com and Avigail Abarbanel’s journey from Jewish Zionism.
In a situation that is increasingly and intensely urgent how can we respond?
- Learn (including from the annual Bishops’ communiques), visit, raise awareness
- Encourage people to join the UK-based Sabeel-Kairos in its advocacy for justice in Israel-Palestine and connections to Palestinian liberation theologians. sabeel-kairos.org.uk
- Seek morally responsible investment (personal pension, other funds; church fund managers): avoid profiting from companies complicit in breaking international law or denying human rights, anywhere, including Israel and the oPt.
- Avoid buying produce from settlements.
I posted a few more ideas here.
Mike is a member of Sabeel-Kairos and Pax Christi, writing in a personal capacity.