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Israel: contrasting views « Previous | |Next »
December 12, 2006

Jimmy Carter, an ex-US President, has an article on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict in the Guardian which uses the word apartheid to describe what is being created in the occupied territories. It is a contrast to the views of Ted Lapkin, director of policy analysis at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), whose latest op-ed in The Age takes issue with the proponents of conventional Middle East political wisdom...[who]...tell us that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute fuels global terrorism by exacerbating Islamic discontent. Lapkin states:

.... the Muslim extremists who wage a terrorist war against the West have no interest in a benign settlement to hostilities between Arabs and Jews. In the jihadi world view, Israel is a colonialist that has illicitly built on land granted through divine dispensation to the Islamic nation. In radical eyes, the only acceptable outcome must encompass the destruction of the Jewish state. Of course, national suicide is not a popular policy in Jerusalem.The Palestinian Government also maintains an attitude towards Israel of negation rather than negotiation. But even if Hamas were one day to miraculously see the diplomatic light, a Middle East peace treaty would do nothing to slake al-Qaeda's thirst for blood. Any such neighbourly arrangement that recognised the existence of a Jewish state would serve only to inflame jihadi passions.

What is not seriously considered by Lapkin, in his rhetorical defence of Israel, is that Israel may actually be acting as a colonial regional power in terms of its occupation of the Palestinian territories. What else is settler expansion in the occupied territories? It is colonial dispossession taking place through settler expansion.

Colin Rubenstein reinforces Lapkin's Zionist position when he writes that the key is Islamist terror which is 'based on a totalitarian Islamist ideology. Solving the Arab-Israel conflict, even if achievable, would do nothing to eliminate the economic and political deficiencies in the Arab states that make this ideology popular ' On this 'evil versus good' account the good Jewish people in Israel are the victims of the evil Islamist terrorists and the loyalty of the Jewish diaspora lies with supporting the good Jewish state and the actions of the good Israeli government of the day.

What both Lapkin and Rubenstein do is conflate Israel's fight against the Palestinian terror attacks and the Palestinan people with the West's war on terror. That is the (AIJAC) position. Carter, in contrast, undercuts the evil versus good duality when he draws attention to the responsibility Israel needs to bear for what has happened in the Middle East when he mentions the oppression and persecution in the occupied Palestinian territories.. [with].. its rigid system of required passes and strict segregation between Palestine's citizens and Jewish settlers in the West Bank.' A colonial regime is probably better way to represent what is happening in the occupied territories than an apartheid regime, despite the similarities.

What Carter is doing is providing a way to introduced a Palestinian state, rights of Palestinians and the occupied territories into the public debate. These are rarely deemed to be legitimate. Yet to have a debate the rights, security needs and history of both Israelis and Palestinans need to acknowleged. As Anthony Lowenstein says in My Israel Question the Zionist lobby patrols the boundaries of public debate, aiming to silence anyone who occassionally strays from the accepted line (p.182).

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:55 PM | | Comments (2)


I think that you are right. Israel would give up much of their policies if the Palestinians were to give up their "unreasonable" demands, lay down and take it on Israels terms. It is because they are willing to challenge a manifestly unfair situation, that Israel feels that they have to subjugate and deny political rights through any means possible. Ugly and unresolvable.

yes. We rarely hear much about Palestinian self-determination. It's always about Israel's right to exist and Israel's national security, especially after 9/11--an Israel first agenda based on military might over diplomacy; one based on the military strength of the US as an imperial power willing to use force.

It's an absolutist position of the Zionist lobby, which goes so far as to assert that dissenting Jews within the Australian diaspora are internal enemies.These dissenting voices should shut up and toe the line to ensure Jewish unity. Support Israel no matter what. Community unity over honest debate was the implication of the Hanan Ashrawi affair.

According to Ted Lapkin, director of policy analysis at the AIJAC, Israel's long battle against terrorism is the same as the western governments, and similar tactics are therefore justified. All are in the middle of war and tough measures are required to defend liberty. It's a neo-con position.