July 13, 2020

The Queens County Citizen

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Israeli annexation program attracts apartheid comparisons

In this Friday, June 19, 2020 photo, A view of Shuafat refugee camp is seen behind section of Israel's separation barrier in Jerusalem, Friday, June 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Benjamin Pogrund invested a long time battling apartheid as a journalist in South Africa. Because relocating to Israel two a long time in the past, he has passionately defended the country towards rates that it way too is an apartheid condition.

But at the age of 87, Pogrund is acquiring 2nd ideas. He states that if Israel moves in advance with programs to annex pieces of the West Bank, he will have no option but to declare that his adopted homeland has become a modern day-day version of apartheid-era South Africa.

“There will be Israeli overlords in an occupied place. And the men and women above whom they will be ruling will not have standard rights,” Pogrund claimed in an job interview in his leafy yard back garden. “That will be apartheid. And we will advantage the demand. And that is a thing that problems me gravely due to the fact it exposes us to big risks.”

Pogrund, a prolific author who is working on a new reserve about South African political background, claims he feels so despondent he’s been unable to produce about looming annexation.

“I could not carry myself to do it. Quite frankly, I just feel so bleak about it, that it is so silly and sick-encouraged and arrogant,” he said.

For decades, Israel’s harshest detractors have labeled it an apartheid condition to describe its rule about Palestinians who were being denied basic legal rights in occupied areas. For the most component, Israel has effectively pushed again in opposition to the fraught word.

But as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nears launching his annexation moves as component of President Donald Trump’s Mideast strategy — maybe as early as upcoming month — the expression is more and more getting portion of Israel’s political discussion.

Mainstream politicians who oppose annexation have started to use the time period. Disillusioned former military services males bounce it about. Israel’s most well-known political satire present, “Wonderful Region,” just lately ran a spoof advert for a fictitious drone firm that lifts Palestinians and flies them absent from annexed land. The drone’s identify: “Apart-Higher.”

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“When you begin doing these unilateral steps, you basically place yourself on a incredibly slippery slope,” claimed Gadi Shamni, a retired Israeli typical who once commanded the West Bank. Inevitably, Palestinians in annexed regions will demand the legal rights of citizens, together with the suitable to vote, which will “eventually make some variety of apartheid,” he warned.

Apartheid refers to the technique of racial discrimination enforced by South Africa’s white-minority regime from 1948 right up until 1994. It was characterised by different housing and general public amenities for blacks and whites, bans on interracial relations and disenfranchisement of the Black greater part. Branded a pariah state, South Africa peacefully dismantled apartheid in 1994, when democratic elections brought Nelson Mandela to come to be its 1st Black president.

Supporters of the Israeli governing administration are outraged at comparisons to South Africa. They take note that Israel’s Arab minority, about 20% of the inhabitants, can vote and, even if there is some discrimination, have risen high in business enterprise, politics and enjoyment. They say the West Lender is “disputed,” not occupied, and defend Israel’s existence in the West Financial institution in terms of stability or the deep Jewish connection to what spiritual Jews connect with biblical Judea and Samaria.

The comparison is “deeply offensive,” mentioned Eugene Kontorovich, head of the international regulation section at the Kohelet Coverage Forum, a conservative imagine tank in Jerusalem that often advises Netanyahu’s governing administration.

“Apartheid was a process in which a minority white authorities in South Africa ruled in excess of the Black majority,” he claimed. “They taxed them. They drafted them, and they passed every legislation underneath which they lived.”

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He reported none of these conditions apply, with most Palestinians governed by the self-rule Palestinian Authority, which has restricted autonomy in sections of the West Financial institution.

Pogrund sees issues in different ways, the outcome of his many years of experience in South Africa.

As a reporter and editor at the Rand Day by day Mail in Johannesburg, Pogrund documented lots of of the horrors of apartheid.

These involved the infamous Sharpeville massacre in which South African law enforcement fired on black protesters, killing 69 people, and exposés about jail circumstances and the torture of Black jail inmates. He was jailed for refusing to detect an informant, put on demo for his reporting, saw his residence ransacked by police and at times essential a bodyguard. He visited Mandela, a reliable source and friend, in jail. Past calendar year, he been given a “National Buy,” one of South Africa’s most prestigious awards.

Pogrund left South Africa just after his newspaper was closed in 1985 below government stress. Right after time in London and the United States, he moved to Israel in 1997.

Pogrund is a vocal critic of Israel’s remedy of the Palestinians. He describes the West Bank profession — in which Israeli settlers and Palestinians reside under unique sets of regulations — with text like “tyrannical,” “oppression” and “brutality.” But he has normally stopped small of contacting it apartheid, believing the phrase is uniquely evil.

“It’s a lethal term,” he reported.

Advocates of the term argue that it currently is relevant in the West Lender mainly because, inspite of the existence of the Palestinian Authority, Israel has final, de facto regulate over the territory. It controls entry and exit, water and other methods and over-all protection. Underneath interim peace accords, it also maintains whole management in excess of 60% of the West Bank exactly where all settlements are found and tens of hundreds of Palestinians reside but have no voice.

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As appalling as he finds the occupation, Pogrund has argued for several years in article content, lectures and a 2014 e book that the scenario lacks the “intentionality” and “institutionalized” racism of South Africa.

Where by South Africa’s program was designed with the intent of producing second-class people based mostly on their skin colour, he believes Israel’s weak therapy of Palestinians are rooted in stability issues.

“There’s discrimination. There’s oppression. It’s not apartheid,” he reported.

Pogrund claimed he started to have misgivings quite a few many years in the past when the Israeli parliament handed its “Nation Condition Law,” which declared the place to be the “national home” of the Jewish men and women when showing to downgrade the standing of the Arab minority.

“Annexation will take us proper in excess of the edge,” he stated.

In a modern job interview, Netanyahu mentioned Palestinians would continue to be in “enclaves” and “remain Palestinian subjects.” Some experiences have prompt that Netanyahu may well scale again the annexation to aid minimize intercontinental criticism, but Pogrund says size won’t subject.

Through his time in London, he recalled a shopper selecting up a bundle of grapes, seeing they were a product or service of South Africa and placing them down in disgust. He fears Israel will be in a comparable situation.

“You’ll be carrying the apartheid stigma,” he reported. “We are heading straight into self-inflicting (this) on our ourselves. We are applying apartheid, the hated word of the next 50 percent of the 20th century.”