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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/21/21

Apartheid - a global phenomenon

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Apartheid - a global racist phenomenon

The current situation of Israeli house demolitions in Sheikh Jarrah is highlighting the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their indigenous lands in order to protect the demographic dominance of the Israeli Jewish population. The system well under way and being strengthened each year is that of apartheid.

Historical moments

In pre-World War I Europe, the various empires were contesting most indigenous lands around the world. The Middle East had newly discovered resources of oil and the militaries of the world were changing from coal-fired to oil-powered ships of war. In the eyes of the British empire, as well as the burgeoning interests of the U.S. in Saudi oil, a Jewish state made sense, an outpost to keep the Arabs under control as well as to protect the transportation of oil by pipelines to the Mediterranean coast.

A long history of demographic fears is apparent in most of the contributors to the establishment and maintenance of the Israeli state. Theodor Herzl, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and Chaim Weizman all understood that the indigenous Palestinian population would be hostile to their development of a Jewish state in the region. Arguments made to the British government of the period varied, but arguably the ones carrying the most weight were the imperial desires of the British to control the Middle East for its oil resources, oil transportation routes, and its general transportation routes through to Persia and India.

The Balfour letter of 1917 promoted the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine, a promissory note, indicating "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." As is common with empires various other intrigues carried on simultaneously, the two most notable being the Sykes-Picot agreement to divide the Ottoman empire into areas of French and British control, as well as the MacMahon-Hussein correspondence recognizing a post-war Arab state in former Ottoman lands.

The Balfour letter carried the day. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles went against Woodrow Wilson's ideals of all nationals having a right to determine their own status and led to the establishment of the French and Palestinian mandates in the Middle East. From then on the British to varying degrees both allowed Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine and later fought against the same immigrants, the various Jewish militant groups being described as terrorists at the time. The British also significantly suppressed any Palestinian expressions of independence.

After World War II the recognition of the holocaust gave impetus and sympathy to the Jewish cause. The UN Partition Plan - a plan, not a law - tentatively divided the mandate into two separate states. Britain pulled up stakes and departed, followed by the nakba of 1948 creating the new Israeli state. At the time as many as 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed and as many as 750 000 Palestinians were expelled from the new Israeli territories. Prior to this David Ben Gurion had set plans for expulsion understanding there would be Palestinian resistance.

A large part of the demographic fear had been reduced, but the continued presence of Palestinians remaining in their homeland has since then slowly created an apartheid state, and has since then created a slow-moving set of rules and regulations assisting with the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the state and what might be considered by Israel a partial solution - apartheid.

Modern apartheid

Within the past year two significant pronouncements have been made firmly establishing the idea of Israel as an apartheid state. B'tselem, a Jewish human rights organization, issued a statement with the summary,

"Israel is not a democracy that has a temporary occupation attached to it: it is one regime between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea, and we must look at the full picture and see it for what it is: apartheid."

Human Rights watch, an international organization headquartered in New York, issued a much larger report declaring that the Israeli government is committing crimes of apartheid.

Apartheid has been a significant part of Israeli plans to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its indigenous population. After the nakba, the more 'modern' form of this has been since the 1967 Israeli attack against neighbouring Arab countries and the "occupation" of lands previously controlled by Egypt and Jordan - the ever-increasing establishment of settlements in occupied Palestine. The result has been the establishment in conjunction with this of many small non-contiguous bantustan-like areas denying any possibility of a Palestinian state, all under the control of the Israeli military complex.

Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem, is the current hot spot for house demolitions and the slow creep of ethnic cleansing, although similar destruction is served up on an ongoing basis over most remaining Palestinian towns. Gaza, already an open-air prison on subsistence rations at best, is being attacked once again as the Israeli's lash out at Palestinian resistance.

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Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and analyst who examines the world through a syncretic lens. His analysis of international and domestic geopolitical ideas and actions incorporates a lifetime of interest in current events, a desire to (more...)

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