I've spent some time in South Africa - the origins of the colony are different, the rule of only 10% of population (white) over the rest totalitarian, the terrible history of black South Africans in the 20th century well-known. But...(2)
I don't think any serious scholar of the South African experience would see complete parallels to the Palestinian case (which I will get to in a minute) and the end-goal was vastly different: Rainbow Nation was about a 'one state solution' of equality, not a two state solution...
The Palestinian case shares some common features with South Africa - population transfer/ethnic cleansing, restriction of movement, lack of citzenship rights (beyond the Green Line (more on that in a moment), continued second class citizenship and ethnocracy (3)
But B'Tselem, for it's own political reasons, fails to distinguish between Israel within the Green Line and beyond the Green Line. It is absolutely false to draw equivalency across the board here (4)
Within the Green Line: It's not an ideal picture-ethnocracy, 2nd class citizenship, & of late, the horrific Nation-State law. But Arab-Israelis hold passports, serve in the Knesset, in all parts of workforce/civil society. That's not 'apartheid'-it's a VERY imperfect democracy.
Is the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice within the Green Line? Unclear. But Arab-Israelis currently have the 3rd largest party in Knesset, are participating in politics, and (some) desire further integration. Change is inevitable, whether Israel like it or not.
Now let's get to the heart of the matter: Palestinians under Israeli occupation. We need new terminology to describe the unique system of dual rights for Israeli citizens and Palestinians in the West Bank, alongside the completely different situation for Palestinians in Gaza.
This language must take into account the daily violations of human rights, denial of Palestinian sovereignty, restrictions on movement, & the reality of living side-by-side with no citizenship rights with Jewish-Israeli settlers who have all the privileges of Israel citizenship.
But the West Bank is different than Gaza; Palestinians live isolated under the control of HAMAS - a terrorist regime - and both Egypt and Israel control the movement of people/goods/services, across the borders. We are not in the Palestinian Authority any more over there.
It is also necessary, I think, to acknowledge the unique situation of the Jewish State in this whole discussion and not to make simplistic equivalencies between white South Africa and an Ashkenazi elite in Israel today.
Also worth pointing out that Jewish Israel today (within the Green Line) is a majority-minority country in its own right, with the influx of Mizrachi Jews after 1948 - Ashkenazi ethnocracy is real to them too and change is coming to there- the demographic picture isn't so simple.
Ppl love to throw around the word 'apartheid' because it sounds bad and evil - which many people feel about Israel today - but it does no service to understanding the complexity of this conflict (or to South Africa) to use bad terminology to virtue-signal about Israel/Palestine.
Instead, we should be thinking collectively of new vocabulary to reflect the unique historical experience of Palestinians, both within the Zionist regime in the Green Line & under occupation. Let's do that hard work for them if we want a just & peaceful solution to this conflict.
Last but not least, B'Tzelem needs to be honest about the fact that it's endgame here is a 1-state solution between the river and the sea and the erasure of the Jewish character of the State of Israel, if not the state itself entirely. It's beyond disingenuous...
...to think these claims (whether you are using the right terminology or not) are in the interest of the international consensus of the 2-state solution. But is Israel/Palestine going to become 'Rainbow Nation' or 'Zimbabwe'? I hope we'll think through that comparison as well.
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