South Africa: Label West Bank Squatter Products; Israel: You Apartheid State!

Having Avigdor Lieberman as a foreign minister is one of the worst things that could happen to Israel. I was in Brazil last year this time when Lieberman visited, and parliamentarians were saying they would not meet with him because they consider him a racist. He has a long record of saying offensive and chauvinist things, like that if Egypt gives Israel too much trouble, the Israeli air force should just bomb the Aswan Dam, and sweep the Egyptians into the Mediterranean.

Now the Israeli government has poked South Africa in the eye.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon just said that South Africa ‘remains an Apartheid state,’ and that ‘at the moment South Africa’s Apartheid is aimed at Israel.”

The whole rest of the world, virtually without exception, considers Israel’s aggressive settlement of the Occupied Palestinian Territories illegal. Many consumers, even ones generally supportive of Israel proper, don’t want to abet the squatters’ land theft and expropriation of the Palestinians, and would not knowingly buy something made at a squatter settlement. But Israeli authorities (who are actively promoting and funding the squatters) label what they make as ‘made in Israel.’

Israeli liberals, appalled at the squatter policy, have started calling it worse than Apartheid.

All South Africa did was demand that West Bank settlers’ produce be labelled as such. In the Apartheid era, whites in South Africa carved out Bantustans to marginalize black Africans, just as Israel is doing to Palestinians on the West Bank. And, African property rights were never secure under Apartheid. In a way, South African blacks were stateless in their own country, just as West Bank Pelestinians are. So it is natural that the government of South African, now dominated by elements of the African National Congress that fought Apartheid, should take a dim view of Israeli actions on the West Bank. There is also lingering resentment among many South Africans at the ways Israel supported and enabled the Apartheid government, with which it had close economic and political ties. Israel has never acknowledged or come to terms with that shameful episode, which may account for its inability to accept criticism from the new Pretoria.

Only in the fevered, hothouse atmosphere of the Israeli Far Right could Pretoria’s simple request be seen as itself a form of racism, or as directed at Israel itself. It is directed at an Israeli policy, which the World Court has ruled illegal, and for which Israel would certainly face severe international sanctions if the US did not consistently block the other members of the UN Security Council in condemning it.

As time goes on, the West Bank squatting will result in more and more consumer and even governmental boycotts of Israel. Israel’s illegal and evil blockade of the cililians of Gaza has already resulted in Turkey excluding it from a recent key NATO summit.

Ayalon’s despererate and over-the-top rhetoric smells of fear, fear that when South Africa calls you on Apartheid policies, it legitimizes that critique of the Greater Israel project — now the only major project of the Ruling Israeli Far Right.

14 Responses

  1. We need to stop making the distinction between Israel “proper” and the West Bank. What Israel is doing in the West Bank is what was done in Israel itself: driving Palestinians out of their homes to make way for the “Jewish State”. It has been a consistent policy since before 1948.

    The solution is not to accept the results of this policy but to fix Israel. Israel as a country with one people on top and the others at the botton. We should reject that. Such a country will never have peace. Let us advocate for a solution and not be party to the problem.

  2. Bradley Burston of Haaretz nailed it:

    “In saying that boycotting settlements is the same as boycotting Israel, the [Israeli] government is saying that occupation is intended to last forever, that settlement cannot and should not be opposed, and that Israeli endorsement of the principle of a two-state solution is a lie.”

    link to

  3. And what prevents the US from recognizing these blatant truths? A miasma of lies and fantasies, which, so long as the Lobby and its supporters have a stranglehold on public opinion, will direct US policy.

    But then when looking at rightwing thought in the US this turns out to be only one more myth, along with denying science regarding evolution, conception, climate change, etc…… But this is all fairly obvious.

  4. ‘Substantive and Rigorous’ Galilee Trip Paid for by AIPAC

    Each year members of U.S. Congress perjure themselves by denying AIEF is the same foreign agent as AIPAC and thus they are free to travel to the Jewish part of Israel, all expenses paid.

  5. Aren’t Israelis always proud of their Jewish state. Why would they want to hide “made in Israel” label? Just leave it to the buyers to make the judgment call and the products will likely rot in the shelves. Alternatively, they can borrow made in USA stamp. US would willingly lend it, not questions asked.

  6. South African Rabbi Dr. Goldstein and Hasbara

    Apparently the rhetoric has escalated beyond the labeling of goods origin from illegal settlements to a call for a boycott of visits to Israel. How farfetched is the claim Hamas and Hezbollah are operating throughout Africa in conjunction with AQIM fighters firebombing christian churches in Nigeria (Boko Haram). Pure falsehoods or at least obfuscating Israel’s real enemies.

    South African Chief Rabbi attacks Israel boycott minister

    (The JC) – Dr Goldstein said the minister was endangering his country’s “international credibility” yet at the same time remaining too quiet on attacks in Syria. “It is indeed the ideological allies of Hamas and Hizbollah — Israel’s sworn enemies — who have also launched a terror campaign against Christian communities throughout Africa,” he said. “Nigeria, one of our key African partners, has borne the brunt of some of the worst attacks.”

  7. Israel was close to South Africa’s apartheid era leadership.
    There is a famous photo of South African head of state John Vorster with Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin. Both countries collaborated on atomic bomb research and it is unlikely Israel would have ever gotten their nuclear arsenal back in the 1970s absent the joint effort with South African nuclear scientists.

    On the flip-side, the African National Congress and Palestine Liberation Organization were close allies as well. Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu has been a frequent critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and equated Israel’s political-societal structure with the former South African system of apartheid.

    • South Africa turned to Israel after West froze nuclear ties in 1976 over development of military nuclear program. In September 1979, a United States intelligence nuclear detonation detection source, a Vela type satellite, which covered the Indian Ocean, detected a flash several hundred kilometers off South Africa’s coast.

      Even worse, both countries joined forces in R&D of biological and chemical warfare (BCW). The Truth and Reconciliation commission uncovered many documents in trial and judgement of Dr. Wouter Basson, see Project Coast. In 2002 the bacterial strains and research documents were offered to USAMRIID at Fort Detrick (anthrax experiments included). The GW institute and SAIC already employed SA researcher Steve Hatfill.

  8. SODASTREAM, that heavily marketed, not very good soda making machine; which charges exhorbitant prices for replacement C02 canisters (that’s how they make their REAL money), is primarily manufactured at a factory on the West Bank.
    You will not find a label anywhere on its products to indicate that it is made “In Israel” or on the “West Bank” or anywhere else. Apparently it is made by Santa’s elves at the north pole.

  9. In the sixties as an eighteen year old lad brought up as a Protestant, I was appalled at the holocaust and energised by the ideals of the the Kibbutz system. With a friend I hitch hiked to Israel and went to work for just over a year on a kibbutz near Beersheba. Eventually I began to realise that the Mizrahi Jews were more friendly than the Ashkenazi, one of whom, a South Africa, told me I had no right to pass critical comment on South Africa, then still under white rule, because I hadn’t lived there. I was so stunned, and still am to this day, that I failed to find an adequate response.

    Netanyahu and Lieberman are without doubt the most dangerous politicians in the world, and the irony is that the US congress, at Netanyahu’s speech some two years ago, looked like an audience from the Nuremberg rallies.

  10. Weren’t the US and Israel basically the last holdouts in supporting apartheid South Africa? I may be wrong on this as I am working off my childhood memory. I think the US was primarily motivated by Cold War dynamics. I am not sure what motivated Israeli recalcitrance.

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