I know off the bat that I will get criticism for saying the above, since it apparently means that to refuse the equality of the two struggles, for some, is a declaration of war. To say the Israel-Palestine conflict is apartheid, is the same as saying animal rights is equated with Black civil rights; and so the fight for green energy is the same as the conversation of the last Baboon in Vuringa, Congo. When we force causes to be equated it not only shows the gaps in our civic arguments but also defames other people's struggles.

Apartheid was rooted in Nazi racism, the current conflict between Palestine and Israel is a question of dominance between two groups who feel qualified to inhabit the land of Israel for religious and historic reasons. Unfortunately one group (Israel) seems to have scored more success than the other ( Palestine).

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The situation in Israel is likened to a house offered to two renters subject to purchase. The two renters both arrive at the house ready to take occupancy only to learn about the other renter. Sadly, the two decide to share the house but on the first night one renter and his friends enter the house to try and remove the other renter by force. The attacked renter fights back, and wins control of the whole house. He then offers the attacking renter permission to come back in and exclusively use one room only. But, he warns the attacking renter - he is entitled to police the whole house and set new rules to avoid further attacks! The attacking renter sets up his cause to regain the initial house petition. Because of the strict security nature of the house he calls it apartheid!

But is it really apartheid under these facts?

For starters, I am writing as a descendant of South Africa who has a real connection to the history and its people. I am not writing as a scholar or politician who does not understand the racist organic nature of apartheid nor am I not undermining Mandela’s statement that, “We are not free if Palestine,” is not free. A statement that was intended to mean in metaphorical sense - human freedom is limited when your friend is in bondage, it was not intended as South African foreign policy! And not intended as a declaration that South Africa supports Palestine, against Israel. It was a warm and kind-hearted gesture directed at Arabs in Palestine.

For the Palestinians - Israel's issue is unique in that it is steeped in the Balfour agreement. South Africa had nothing to do with the Balfour Agreement or any other international accord. While this might seem trivial - it is important because whereas the Palestinian-Israeli issue is rooted in an international document. Apartheid South Africa had its roots, modest evidently in 1948, under the most racist and draconian domestic laws ever known to man - its roots were in the NAZI style of racism in which one race is seen as being superior to another. Jewish Israel has never advocated for a less than human Arab treatment. In many sectors of Israeli life, Arabs have risen to the highest levels including some Constitutional judges of the Israel's Constitutional Court.

The conflict in Israel is not systematic encroachment of areas previously settled by Arabs in the Palestinian state by legal laws of segregation. The 'Jewish only' placards are not to be seen in Israel. No doubt, the calls that the Palestinian issue is apartheid has its supporters in South Africa, especially the more communist side - who no doubt aspire to emulate other communist governments further North (Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe etc). And to emulate Communism is to attack capitalism; nationalization, capitalist market driven policies ( and individuals) and support the underdog. When two entities are paired you attack the more capitalist! With this brand of Communism is the angry utterance that a political problem can be solved by inventing facts.

One Israel, full citizenship.

A possible solution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict is a constitutional assemble. Israel does not have a written constitution and the time has come to write one. Like in South Africa in the run up to the first democratic election, a negotiated agreement is a powerful step in the right direction. In South Africa, one problem at the negation table was the retaining of Bantustans (Bophutatswana and Cieskei) in the new South Africa. It was agreed that South African citizenship would erase these former States. This must be brought to the table in a negotiated settlement in Israel, - that the Palestinian state be integrated as a Palestinian county of city with its own autonomy within a unified Israel. In this sense yes - there can be no peace in the whole of Israel if there is no peace in one part of it. An autonomous while integrated Palestinian county/ province with full benefits of Israel citizenship, recognizes the hard facts that wars have been fought and security issues have dominated Jewish-Arab co-existence.
 

Ken Sibanda is an American Constitutional Lawyer. 


 


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