Bill Maher’s recent rant against the BDS movement exposed his ignorance of Palestinian history and legal rights to end the USA sustained military occupation of their homeland; and inspired this revisit of apartheid Israeli style
By Eileen Fleming
During last Friday’s REAL TIME with Bill Maher the comic opined that the international movement to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel is a “Bullshit purity test by people who want to appear woke but actually slept through history class. It’s predicated on this notion, I think — it’s very shallow thinking — that the Jews in Israel, mostly white, and the Palestinians are browner, so they must be innocent and correct, and the Jews must be wrong. As if the occupation came right out of the blue, that this completely peaceful people found themselves occupied. Forget about the intifadas and the suicide bombings and the rockets and how many wars.”
Forget about the fact that before the USA sustained military occupation of the indigenous people of the Holy Land they have endured under the Ottoman Empire and British Mandate before Israel became a state in 1948.
In response to Maher’s rant, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., called for a boycott of Bill Maher and tweeted on Saturday: “I am tired of folks discrediting a form of speech that is centered on equality and freedom. This is exactly how they tried to discredit & stop the boycott to stand up against the apartheid in S. Africa. It didn’t work then and it won’t now.”
I add the American government was among the last nation to denounce apartheid in South Africa and I don’t want to boycott REAL TIME with Bill Maher; but I would love to educate him and his audience!
After reading a quote from Omar Barghouti, a a co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement stating that “no Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, would ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine”; Maher argued that the movement comes from people who don’t want a Jewish state at all, adding that this side doesn’t get presented in the American media.
What has been presented in the American media is Barghouti’s April 2019 letter to The New York Times stating:
B.D.S. does not endorse any political solution, but I have, personally, advocated consistently for a single democratic state with equality for all, after ending “Zionist colonization,” as the Zionist leader Zeev Jabotinsky described it in 1923.
An apartheid state legally and institutionally privileging the colonizers in historic Palestine defies international law, ethical principles and common sense.
As the philosopher Joseph Levine has written, “The very idea of a Jewish state [in Palestine] is undemocratic, a violation of the self-determination rights of its non-Jewish citizens, and therefore morally problematic.”
A true inclusive democracy, free from all colonial subjugation, discrimination and oppression, would enable Palestinian refugees to return and include Jewish Israelis as equal citizens and full partners in building a new shared society.
Diversity would be celebrated, and collective cultural and religious rights respected and protected. Coexistence would thus be ethical and sustainable.
Omar Barghouti, Jerusalem
Inspired by Bill Maher’s ignorance I offer this excerpt from IMAGINE: Vanunu’s WAIT for LIBERTY, Remembering the USS LIBERTY and MY Life as a Candidate of Conscience for US HOUSE 2012:
An apartheid society is much more than just a ‘settler colony’.
It involves specific forms of oppression that actively strip the original inhabitants of any rights at all, whereas civilian members of the invader caste are given all kinds of sumptuous privileges.
Evictions and home demolitions have become the status quo in the so-called Holy Land and since 1967 with over 24,000 dwellings -averaging eleven people per unit- bulldozed by Israeli forces because they interfered with settlement expansion.
Israel ‘justifies’ the demolitions in three distinct categories:
- Collective Punishment-homes of suspected terrorists-in reality that is anyone who opposes the occupation- and the families of suicide/homicide bombers.
- Administrative demolitions for lack of building permits- which Israel refuses to issue-account for 25%. In occupied east Jerusalem one out of four Palestinian homes have a demolition order.
- “Security” the blanket response to injustices and illegal actions taken by a Government and its employees.
On July 5, 1950, Israel enacted the Law of Return by which Jews anywhere in the world, have a “right” to immigrate to Israel on the grounds that they are returning to their own state, even if they have never been there before.
On July 14, 1952: The enactment of the Citizenship/Jewish Nationality Law, results in Israel becoming the only state in the world to grant a particular national-religious group—the Jews—the right to settle in it and gain automatic citizenship.
In 1953, South Africa’s Prime Minister Daniel Malan becomes the first foreign head of government to visit Israel and returns home with the message that Israel can be a source of inspiration for white South Africans.
In 1962, South African Prime Minister Verwoerd declares that Jews “took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. In that I agree with them, Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.”
On August 1, 1967, Israel enacted the Agricultural Settlement Law, which bans Israeli citizens of non-Jewish nationality- Palestinian Arabs- from working on Jewish National Fund lands, well over 80% of the land in Israel. Knesset member Uri Avnery responded: “This law is going to expel Arab cultivators from the land that was formerly theirs and was handed over to the Jews.”
On April 4, 1969, General Moshe Dayan is quoted in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz telling students at Israel’s Technion Institute that “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You don’t even know the names of these Arab villages, and I don’t blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either… There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”
On April 28, 1971: C. L. Sulzberger, writing in The New York Times, quoted South African Prime Minister John Vorster as saying that Israel is faced with an apartheid problem, namely how to handle its Arab inhabitants.
Sulzberger wrote: “Both South Africa and Israel are in a sense intruder states. They were built by pioneers originating abroad and settling in partially inhabited areas.”
On September 13, 1978, in Washington, D.C. The Camp David Accords are signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and witnessed by President Jimmy Carter.
The Accords reaffirm U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, which prohibit acquisition of land by force, call for Israel’s withdrawal of military and civilian forces from the West Bank and Gaza, and prescribe “full autonomy” for the inhabitants of the territories.
Prime Minister Begin orally promises Carter to freeze all settlement activity during the subsequent peace talks. Once back in Israel, however, the Israeli prime minister continues to confiscate, settle, and fortify the occupied territories.
On September 13, 1985, Rep. George Crockett (D-MI), after visiting the Israeli-occupied West Bank, compares the living conditions there with those of South African blacks and concludes that the West Bank is an instance of apartheid that no one in the U.S. is talking about.
In July 2000, President Bill Clinton convenes the Camp David II Peace Summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Clinton—not Barak—offers Arafat the withdrawal of some 40,000 Jewish settlers, leaving more than 180,000 in 209 settlements, all of which are interconnected by roads that cover approximately 10% of the occupied land.
Effectively, this divides the West Bank into at least two non-contiguous areas and multiple fragments.
Palestinians would have no control over the borders around them, the air space above them, or the water reserves under them.
Barak calls it a generous offer. Arafat refuses to sign.
August 31, 2001: Durban, South Africa. Up to 50,000 South Africans march in support of the Palestinian people.
In their “Declaration by South Africans on Apartheid and the Struggle for Palestine” they proclaim:
We, South Africans who lived for decades under rulers with a colonial mentality, see Israeli occupation as a strange survival of colonialism in the 21st century. Only in Israel do we hear of ‘settlements’ and ‘settlers.’ Only in Israel do soldiers and armed civilian groups take over hilltops, demolish homes, uproot trees and destroy crops, shell schools, churches and mosques, plunder water reserves, and block access to an indigenous population’s freedom of movement and right to earn a living. These human rights violations were unacceptable in apartheid South Africa and are an affront to us in apartheid Israel.
October 23, 2001: Ronnie Kasrils, a Jew and a minister in the South African government, co-authors a petition “Not in My Name,” signed by some 200 members of South Africa’s Jewish community stating: “It becomes difficult, from a South African perspective, not to draw parallels with the oppression expressed by Palestinians under the hand of Israel and the oppression experienced in South Africa under apartheid rule.”
Three years later, Kasrils will go to the Occupied Territories and concluded: “This is much worse than apartheid. Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic. We never had jets attacking our townships. We never had sieges that lasted month after month. We never had tanks destroying houses. We had armored vehicles and police using small arms to shoot people but not on this scale.”
April 29, 2002: Boston, MA. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu says he is “very deeply distressed” by what he observed in his recent visit to the Holy Land, adding, “It reminded me so much of what happened in South Africa.”
The Nobel peace laureate saw “the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.”
Referring to Americans, he added, “People are scared in this country to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful—very powerful. Well, so what? The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists.”
Jonathan Ben Artzi a nephew of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, refused to serve in the IDF and went to jail for 18 months pleaded with US:
Sometimes it takes a good friend to tell you when enough is enough. As they did with South Africa two decades ago, concerned citizens across the US can make a difference by encouraging Washington to get the message to Israel that this cannot continue…
If Americans truly are our friends, they should shake us up and take away the keys, because right now we are driving drunk, and without this wake-up call, we will soon find ourselves in the ditch of an undemocratic, doomed state.
This American who experienced life from both sides of Israel’s Wall in Palestine, concludes with this except from the UNCENSORED “30 Minutes with Vanunu” Mordechai, Israel’s nuclear whistle blower’s invitation to all the Christians to come and see the real wailing wall—the apartheid wall:
Eileen Fleming, senior non-Arab correspondent writes for TADN
Contact Eileen Fleming
- Mordechai Vanunu: Final Annual Update and this Writers Next Steps - June 19, 2021
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- Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif and Vanunu: Israel’s Nuclear Whistleblower - February 21, 2021