My last post, which was on Toronto Pride banning the term Israeli apartheid from the Pride Parade, led to an email comment debate that, I will admit, I am not entirely capable of handling, simply because I have not been aware of the situation for long enough to have done any extensive research. A friend and classmate has been quite involved for some time and, as such, can provide some insight on this issue.
The following post, written by Eileen, is directed towards the previous debate, but also provides some important information as a stand alone piece.
The term apartheid, used to describe the occupation, is correct and has been supported time and time again by South African anti-apartheid activists including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.
The word "apartheid" means "apartness" in Afrikaans. It is a very new word in the first place and thankfully isn't terribly commonplace. Frankly, the fact that Western countries are able to get away with dismissing and censoring this word so hastily despite its validation speaks volumes about just how easy it is to disregard an Afrikaans word in the English world.
Language changes and the word apartheid is more than appropriate to describe the genocide of Palestine. This debate is not a new one, it's a tired, pro-zionist argument used as a distraction; if the world is scared into believing the very use of the word apartheid is an anti-semitic act, no one will be able to accurately talk about Palestine. Try to describe a painting without talking about the colour, shape, line, texture, space, value or form.
Israel is in violation of many international laws and war crimes, it is a rogue state that believes itself above the law because, aside from the Vatican, they are the only religious state and believe they have a religious right to be where they are. This is not an age-old religious clash, this is a 62 year war on Palestine. Jews, Muslims, Christians and people of many other religions lived there together for centuries, what we are seeing now in “Israel” is ethnic cleansing.
Amongst many other misinformed statements you [the commenter in the aforementioned debate] say “…many of the criticisms which are alledgedly[sic] only against the Israeli policies are in fact thinly veiled antisemitic comments.”
So tell me, as an anti-zionist Jew am I anti-semitic for calling out Israel for their war crimes? As an out queer am I homophobic because I’m ashamed of my city’s Pride committee for adopting censorship for the first time in their 30 years? I think of myself as a morally sound human being who is appalled by genocide no matter who the perpetrator.
Carving up the borders of Palestine to separate Palestinians from each other, setting up check points and road blocks, assigning special license plates, denying passports, not supplying enough medical aid, fresh protein and produce, building materials and many other bare-minimum aid supplies, not allowing Palestinian refugees the right to return, keeping 1.7 million Gazans (58% of them under age 18) in an open air prison of 360 square kilometers and using the fourth largest military in the world with Canadian and American support and weapons (including a high but unknown number of nuclear weapons) to kill 1,417 Gazans and maim thousands more in less than a month then claim everything was a success is the very definition of apartheid. These are the actions that should offend, disturb and anger you, not the word describing them.
Your initial reaction to stop arguing on behalf of Israel’s in light of the Mavi Marmara murders was correct and should have stopped you there, though Israel’s actions shouldn’t surprise anyone by now. There may be a media block but factual information isn’t totally obsolete, I highly suggest you familiarize yourself with news that doesn’t pass through many zionist filters from here on, you can start with the Goldstone report.