Friday, 5 February 2010

‘an apartheid state par excellence’

Earlier this week I wrote about Ben White’s recent book on Israeli apartheid. Any comparison with apartheid South Africa has always been hotly contested by supporters of Israel. I was surprised therefore to read that Ehud Barak, Israel's defence minister, is issuing stark warnings that without a political solution in which the Palestinian people were allowed their own independent state, Israel could end up ‘an apartheid state par excellence’. (Independent, 3 February). The very fact he is talking about the need for peace reflects concern about growing international pressure. This pressure needs to be intensified. Earlier this year, Naomi Klein ran through the arguments for and against a movement for boycotts and disinvestment, based on the experience of the international movement to boycott apartheid South Africa. And there are many things we can do. Respect councillors in Sparkbrook have been campaigning in our ward for a boycott of Israeli dates. It’s a small contribution, but so far we are the only elected political figures in the city to make it. 

In terms of a long term solution, ultimately it is for the Palestinians to decide what settlement they will accept. Personally, I echo George Galloway’s call for a single state solution in which everyone is treated as an equal citizen. Speaking at Birmingham University recently he said, ‘When Nelson Mandela was freed from jail he was approached by some Boers wanting their own white Orange Free State. Mandela refused because he said wanted a democratic state for black and white to live as equals under the law. If it is good enough for apartheid South Africa it is good enough for Jews and Arabs’.

Sounds like good common sense to me.