CONFRONTING ISRAELI APARTHEID
- The Israeli government is torturing Palestinian children, including keeping them in outdoor cages during winter, according to a new human rights report. A report by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel claims children suspected of minor crimes have been subjected to “public caging,” threats and acts of sexual violence and military trials without representation.
- Ilan Pappé is foremost among the Israeli "new historians" who have challenged the traditional view of Israeli history, especially the Israeli role in the 1948 ethic cleansing of Palestinians. He teaches history at Exeter University in England. I share some of what Pappé said in a recent extensive interview:
If I had to choose a formative event that really changed my point of view in dramatic way, it would be the attack of the Israelis on Lebanon in 1982. For us who grew up in Israel, it was the first non-consensus war, the first war that obviously was a war of choice: Israel was not attacked, Israel attacked. Then the first Intifada happened. These events were eye openers in many ways for people like myself who already had some doubts about Zionism, about the historical version we learned at school.It [Israel] is a very indoctrinated society probably more than most of Western societies and more than the non-Western societies. It is not because of coercion that people are indoctrinated, it is a powerful indoctrination from the moment you are born to the moment you die.Even the first Zionist settlers when they came and realised that what they thought was an empty land or at least their own land, was full of Arab people, they regarded these people as aliens, as violent aliens who took over their land. It is this infrastructure they have built about the other side that feeds all the Israelis’ perception and visions. It is a dehumanisation of the Palestinians that begins in the late nineteen century.The Palestinian political elite lived in the cities of Palestine but the main victims of Zionism up to the 1930s were in the countryside. That’s why the revolt started there but there were sections of the urban elite that joined them..... I pointed out in one of my books that the British killed or imprisoned most of those who belonged to the Palestinian political elite and military or potentially military elite. They created a Palestinian society that was quite defenceless in 1947 when the first Zionist actions, with the knowledge that the British mandate was coming to an end, commenced. I think it had an impact on the inability of the Palestinians to resist a year later in 1948, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.The task of changing Jewish society from within is formidable. This society seems to be more and more entrenched in its positions. The more I think about it the more desperate I am about succeeding in changing it from within.
- The American Studies Association (ASA) is facing down the predictable backlash against its historic mid-December resolution in support of the academic boycott of Israel. "With the vote to boycott Israeli universities, the ASA has embraced a legitimate means of addressing Israel's human rights violations and challenging the U.S. government's unconditional support for Israel," reads the ASA press release. "As we move forward, threats and insults will not silence our voices or undermine the growing support for the academic boycott."
- Almost immediately after the overwhelming 2-to-1 passage of the resolution, the ASA faced a backlash organized by defenders of Israeli apartheid. In response, the ASA has issued a press release reiterating the social-justice motivations behind its resolution, while noting that its own members have been subjected to a campaign of harassment and intimidation for daring to break the wall of silence that for so long has muted any criticism within the U.S. academy of Israel's denial of Palestinian rights. Both the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, for example, published editorials condemning the ASA, while imposing a near-total "apartheid wall" against ASA members seeking to provide a counterpoint. The most virulent attacks, however, have come from university presidents. Kenyon College President Sean Decatur and Indiana University President Michael McRobbie not only condemned the ASA vote, but they also unilaterally and without consultation with faculty suspended the ASA membership of their American Studies programs. Presidents at Harvard, Purdue, Northwestern and University of Texas-Austin have likewise condemned the ASA vote.