A conservative defense for Apartheid & colonialism

Posted: March 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Some stuff you have to read with your own eyes in order to believe it. Prof. Richard Landes, who writes a pro-Israeli conservative blog named Augene Stables, is making what seems like a comparative case for Israeli colonialism.

Answering a reader’s question regarding the legality of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Landes writes:

Indeed, in the history of settling conquered areas, including the record of Islamic conquerors, Israeli behavior in the West Bank as been exceptionally mild and constructive. All the indicators of quality of life are higher there than any of the surrounding Arab states. And all this was accomplished with comparatively little violence from the conquering settlers (the norm is harsh violence from conquerors; the action of the most extreme settlers is peanuts in comparison)

Yes, it’s the old “our blacks are better off than in their own countries” argument – making a surprise comeback into Western political thinking. And yes, Israeli occupation might be “better” than the colonization of Australia or the Armenian genocide, but this is hardly a reason to support it, no?

But even if you do accept the twisted logic according to which one crime legitimize another, supposedly milder one, Landes, like most Neo-Cons, is still avoiding the heart of the matter when it comes to the occupied territories: the existence of two populations on the same territorial unit (Jews and Arabs), one having full citizen rights and the other very partial ones.

Recently, I had a conversation with rightwing Israeli writer Ben-Dror Yemini in which he referred to the situation in the West Bank as “Apartheid-land”. We discussed the application of this specific term, and Yemini even claimed to have used it in public as well, but I couldn’t find any reference to that. Anyway, while I didn’t agree with most of his conclusions – Yemini supports evacuation of settlements but keeping the IDF’s presence in the West Bank – his analysis was pretty honest. When dealing with the legitimacy of the settlements, the policy of separation and the lack of rights is the real issue that needs to be addressed. Unlike Ymini, Landes prefers not to see the elephant in the room.

For a more detailed discussion of the Israeli interpretation to the legal statues of the West Bank and Jewish settlements in it, check out this post.

3 Comments on “A conservative defense for Apartheid & colonialism”

  1. 1 Nate Witkin said at 1:23 pm on March 13th, 2011:

    In addressing the heart of the matter, as you define it, of two distinct peoples living within the same territorial unit, is there any buzz or talk in Israel of the Interspersed Nation State System? This is a theoretical model that would allow both Israelis and Palestinians to have separate, independent governments and also allow both peoples to have full access to 100% of the disputed land. This was proposed in the most recent issue of the Middle East Journal (published by the MEI in Washington DC).

  2. 2 rlandes said at 3:18 am on March 24th, 2011:

    i’ve written a response to this posting (about my writing) at my blog. i invite open-minded readers (presumably a trait of progressives) to visit, read, and comment.

  3. 3 Freddy said at 1:24 am on March 28th, 2011:

    The argument is often made that the Palestinian Arabs are “Oppressed”. And that this is the reason for Arab anger. So it is more than fair to compare the material conditions of Arabs living in Israel (and not at war with Israel) the Palestinian Arab (and their descendents) living in Syria, Lebanon, and under the PA in the West Bank.

    Since the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank are in a state of war with Israel, it is ludicrous to ask Israel to treat them as friendly neighbors.

    Until the situation is rectified by a peace treaty, the current permanent-temporary situation will persist. It has been the position of Israel that the territories are on the table, but in return for real land, there must be real peace.

    The Arabs have pretty consistently refused to negotiate. At first because Israel was Israel, now the excuse is housing construction.

    My own point of view is that a horizontal freeze is appropriate if negotiations begin, but that vertical and attached construction be allowed during negotiation.

    Apartheid was separation based on skin color. They would really count drops of blood, so to speak, as they calculated race by counting the color of grandparents. Skin color is not an issue in the Arab-Israeli dispute. As it happens, Jewish Israelis have a wider range of skin tones than Arabs in Mandate Palestine.

    Under international law, Jews are to be permitted and encouraged to settle in all of Mandate Palestine, by the Palestine Mandate itself, by the UN Charter in Article 80, and by the San Remo Resolution of 1920. At the very least, Israel has the right to annex any territory in the “West Bank”.

    These facts remains even if all the nations of the word disagree.

    Any attempt by the UN to shrink the territorial rights of Jews is a violation of the UN Charter, esp. Article 80.

    This is not to claim that international law is to be relied upon. The illegal refusal of the British to help immigrants fleeing from Nazism in the 1930′s to enter Palestine is perhaps the most relevant example.

    On the practical side, a negotiated agreement seems like the best course. For peace to last, the Arab states would have to agree. This is difficult but not impossible.