Wednesday, 3 February 2010

'Slap on the wrist'

White phosphorus is a particularly nasty weapon of war. It sticks to the skin and can burn through to the bone. The particles continue to burn unless deprived of oxygen. Even if extinguished by water, they can reignite when dried out. Its use against civilians is prevented by Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons.

It is indicative of the contempt with which the Israeli military hold Palestinian lives that those found guilty of using it during last year’s brutal assault on Gaza have been reprimanded with just a 'slap on the wrist'.
Like millions of people around the world, I get angry at the injustice the Palestinians have to endure. The question is: what to do with that anger?

Ben White provides some answers. I was lucky enough to meet him on his recent trip to Birmingham. His book ‘Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide’ (Pluto Press 2009) is an invaluable resource. Meticulously researched, yet succinctly and accessibly written, it makes the charge that while there are differences between Israel and apartheid South Africa, the similarities are such that both belong in the same infamous racist category.

Ben argues that Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement, the evictions of Palestinians from their land, and the settler privilege maintained by military oppression, recall apartheid South Africa’s pass laws, Bantustans, and brutal white supremacy. And just as apartheid South Africa was the subject of international sanctions for its racism, Ben argues so too should Israel.

The international anti-apartheid movement played a pivotal role in turning apartheid South Africa into a pariah state in the eyes of the world. We must do likewise in the case of Israel. A new generation are entering into Palestinian solidarity - the recent Gaza protests were the largest of its kind in this country. Following the historic success of the Viva Palestina convoy in temporarily breaking the siege, and the decision of the TUC to support the boycott Israel call, this handbook does not only educate; it points to how people can channel their anger into effective and peaceful political strategies.

Buy it, read it, and tell your friends about it!