by Ron Dart
image above: 15 May, 2013, marked the 65th anniversary of the Nakba – when 750,000 Palestinians were displaced from the territory that became Israel. In 1948, more than 50% of the entire Palestinian population was ethnically cleansed. In commemoration of the Nakba, and the displacement that continues today, VP released ‘An Ongoing Displacement’. The graphic references the iconic ‘Disappearing Palestine’ image, adding a layer of detail that quantitatively catalogues the multiple dimensions of Palestinian displacement and loss of land.
NOTE: Dr. Colter Louwerse (see below) will be giving a lecture Tuesday November 29, 2022 (4:00-5:30: A225 Abbotsford Campus) on “The Struggle for Palestinian Rights at the United Nations.”
WN: There is much on this website about the tragic oppression of Palestine and the Palestinians. Ron, a good friend, contributes more. Our hearts cry out:
How long, O Lord?!
Israel and the Palestinians: Apartheid State
The media has, legitimately so, focused on the plight of women in the theocratic state of Iran and the aggressive nature of Russia in the tragic Russian-Ukrainian War of the last few months. I was on staff with Amnesty International in the 1980s (before I was hired at Fraser Valley College1 and point person for a variety of states in the Middle East that were known as violators (in various ways and means) of elementary and fundamental human rights. I had, previously, worked on a PhD thesis on Martin Buber, and the political implications of his classic philosophic book I and Thou and the political implications of it for Jews in Germany and Palestine-Israel, from the 1920s-1960s. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, in recent publications have stated, in an unequivocal way, that Israel is an “Apartheid State.” We do know the obvious, in time, opposition to South Africa as an apartheid state, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney eventually convincing President Ronald Reagan of this fact and acting on it. The fact the West acted decisively on the apartheid nature of South Africa, why not Israel?
I recently received an email from Israel from a student who graduated from UFV in the Adult Education program more than a decade ago-he was on his 3rd trip to Israel and spent time in Nablus in Balata Refugee Camp—such a sad and painful place to see and for those who live there, apartheid most obvious. Those who have visited and lingered long in Palestinian refugee camps cannot but sense the suffering of decades. This past spring season, one of our finest POLSC students, finished his MA and PhD at Exeter University (probably at the higher end of Middle Eastern Studies in the UK). Colter Louwerse worked closely with Ilan Pappé (at the forefront of Jewish revisionist thinking on the demolition of multiple Palestinians villages that brought into being Israel in 1948). Much of Colter’s work was on the UN, Israel and the Palestinians—he is now doing more work on Canada, Israel and the Palestinians.
It is somewhat significant that it has been historic Tories in Canada (see Heath Macquarrie’s Red Tory Blues and “The Stanfield Report”) that have questioned the structural nature of Israeli politics in regards to the Palestinians and the living conditions of many Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, East Jerusalem, refugee camps in nearby Muslim states and the illegal proliferation of Jewish settlements. Our present Prime Minister [Justin Trudeau], although often, in principle and rhetoric, claiming to be a human rights defender, does or says little against the state of Israel, and when minimally inching in such a direction, the language of anti-Semitism is the rhetorical way of silencing critical questions. It is important to note that Trudeau’s major fundraiser is from the wealthy pro-Israeli Bronfman family.
Why, we might ask, do Iran and the Ukrainians receive so much attention but the ongoing structural injustices in Israel go consistently ignored (except, of course, when there is momentary violent flare up)? The deeper reasons for such violence often ignores the immense disparity between how many Jews and Palestinians live. The historic underlying causes are often ignored by the media as they tend to focus on the immediacy of symptoms.Needless to say, the death of the Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini by the “morality police” must be protested (and the way women have been and treated in Iran). It is somewhat interesting, though, that the West tended to conveniently ignore human rights violations when the Shah (whom the West supported) was in power in Iran. The West backed another human rights violator ([Sadam] Hussein in Iraq) to oppose the Iranian theocracy until Hussein foolishly attacked Kuwait in 1990. But, the attention given to Amini misses the fact that a significant Palestinian journalist (Shireen Abu Akleh) was killed in May in the West Bank while covering Israeli violence in the city of Jenin. Amini is a martyr of sorts and her cause given ample media coverage but we hear virtually nothing about the death of Shireen Abu Akleh. There is, in short, not only the way the structural politics of apartheid is played out in Israel but also the way the western media panders to some martyrs and ignores others (yet another form of apartheid).
Our present Prime Minister, although often, in principle and rhetoric, claiming to be a human rights defender, does or says little against the state of Israel, and when minimally inching in such a direction, the language of anti-Semitism is the rhetorical way of silencing critical questions. It is important to note that Trudeau’s major fundraiser is from the wealthy pro-Israeli Bronfman family.
It is somewhat noticeable at the 2022 FIFA World Cup that although some issues of human rights have been raised, the Israeli-Palestinian issue is predictably absent—apartheid does work at many levels, Palestinians often the sacrificial lambs in both the West and their Sunni brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
NOTE: Dr. Colter Louwerse will be giving a lecture Tuesday November 29 (4:00-5:30: A225 Abbotsford Campus) on “The Struggle for Palestinian Rights at the United Nations.”
- now University of Fraser Valley–UFV) [↩]