Tzipi Livni joins the ‘Israel apartheid’ club

Israel’s justice minister follows former prime ministers Barak and Olmert in applying the term to this occupying country.

The newest self-hating Jewish anti-Semite, according to right-wing Zionist standards, is Tzipi Livni, who on Monday suggested that one of Israel’s possible futures is that of an “apartheid state.” From The Jerusalem Post:

During her Eilat speech, Livni said she was impressed that youth in the country protested against the government decision to export natural gas.

“I appreciate the fact that they care and are thinking about the future, and obligating us to think about the future,” she said. “But the time has come for the same youth to ask, to what kind of state do they want to leave the gas reserves? To a Jewish democratic Israel? Or to a binational Arab state? Or to an apartheid state? It is impossible to deal with economic issues and to ignore the important diplomatic issues related to two states for two peoples.”

As the outraged “centrist” professor/commentator Gil Troy noted in his JPost blog, Livni, the country’s justice minister and figurehead negotiator with the Palestinians, joins two former prime ministers, Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, in applying the A-word to Israel. Like Olmert and Barak, she was warning of what would happen in the future if Israel doesn’t relinquish control over the Palestinians – but actually she, like Olmert and Barak, was talking about the present. If maintaining the occupation will become apartheid in the future, why, after 46 years of it, isn’t the occupation apartheid now? What’s going to be different later? Will the occupation become apartheid only after the Jews lose their majority (which now stands at about 51 percent) between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, where Israel is the only sovereign state? Will apartheid begin only when the Arabs reach 50 percent plus one of the area’s population, and so long as they’re at least one Arab shy of 50 percent, will apartheid be at bay?

Myself, I don’t use that term to characterize the occupation because, as Troy points out, apartheid was based on race, while the occupation is based on nationality and territory. Instead, I prefer terms like “military dictatorship,” “tyranny” and “colonialism.” But I think the similarities between the occupation and apartheid far outweigh the differences – they’re both based on one kind of people “legally” lording it over another kind – so while the term is imprecise, it’s not an insult, or an offense, or, to use a term right-wingers love, a “blood libel.” And with Livni now joining the club, the campaign by Israel’s propagandists to brand those who make the occupation-apartheid comparison as anti-Semites has become an embarrassment, a tactic that will backfire.