B’Tselem's Israel 'apartheid' accusation masks its own sinister agenda

The Israeli human rights group wants to force Israelis and Palestinians into the single country that both sides have already rejected, writes Seth Frantzman

January 14, 2021 11:59

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem made headlines around the world this week by claiming that Israel is an “apartheid” regime. This was hardly an unusual accusation. 

But the fact that it was an Israeli group using this language turned heads.

What stood out about B’Tselem’s argument was that it had nothing to do with the two-state solution. Instead, it pushed a far more sinister agenda.

In a new report, the group claimed that Jews and Palestinians lived “between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea under a single rule.” As the sole power and authority, Israel, B’Tselem claimed, was placing one people over another – in other words, “apartheid”.

“One cannot live a single day in Israel-Palestine without the sense that this place is constantly being engineered to privilege one people, and one people only,” insisted Hagai el-Ad, the executive director of B’Tselem, in the Guardian.

This is deceptive. In fact, the area between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea is made up of three different polities: Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas-run Gaza.
How can Jews be privileged in Gaza, which is Judenrein, and where an antisemitic terror group is in charge? Are Jews privileged in Ramallah, under a leadership that has pushed Holocaust revisionism and denied the Jewish people’s historic connection to the land of Israel?

To conjure up this nonsensical “apartheid” libel is to try to shoehorn millions of Palestinians into a single state that neither exists, nor that they would want to live in. But it fits the agenda of those who wish to slander Israel. If you paint the area as under a single authority, like South Africa, then Israel is always in charge and the Palestinians are being denied their rights. Thus, apartheid.

As a way to further cement this claim, B’Tselem accused Israel of having a “nation state” law that gave Jews extra privileges. Even if this was true, many countries raise one group over another, from Malaysia to Pakistan and Turkey. If this was a form of apartheid, then half the world would be apartheid regimes.

In truth, the Jewish state has sought for decades to extricate itself from ruling over the Palestinians. In the Nineties, it handed over control of a sizeable part of the territories, and it withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in the wake of the Second Intifada.

Indeed, if there is an apartheid government that runs on a basis of institutionalised discrimination, it is Hamas-run Gaza, an actual religious supremacist ethnocracy. Israel, by contrast, is one of the most diverse countries in the world, with Arab members of the Knesset.

The real story here is that this is all part of a broader agenda. The notion that Israel exists as one state, encompassing Gaza and the West Bank, is increasingly being used by anti-Israel activists in the West in an effort to promote it as a solution. Their goal is to force Israelis and Palestinians into a single country that both sides have already rejected.

Dr. Sara Yael Hirschhorn, author of City on a Hilltop, recently noted that “B'Tselem needs to be honest about the fact that its endgame here is a one-state solution between the river and the sea, and the erasure of the Jewish character of the State of Israel.”

When the Left-wing writer Peter Beinart argued last year in favour of a “one-state solution”, he didn’t seem to have consulted with Palestinians. In July 2020 Beinart, together with other prominent progressives, debated the “viability of a binational state of ‘Israel-Palestine’ as an alternate path forward.”

No Palestinians took part in this all-Jewish panel. In an irony of the “apartheid” discussion, there is often an apartheid on left-wing panels discussing the matter: Palestinians are systematically excluded from expressing their needs by the Israel-bashing radical left.

The evidence shows that Palestinians don’t want to vote in Israeli elections, no matter how many times activists claim that Israel excludes them from voting. They want to vote for their own representatives. Only two percent of Palestinians in East Jerusalem make their voices heard in Jerusalem municipal elections. And there is no evidence that people in Gaza want to governed by Israel and vote for members of the Knesset.

The fact is that despite B’Tselem’s claim, one government does not rule everything between the river and the sea and Israelis and Palestinians don’t want to live in one state. They may have trouble divorcing from each other – and Israel’s military rule in the West Bank may be imperfect – but Israelis and Palestinians will link arms to resist an attempt to impose a single state upon them.

In essence, the Left’s support for one state is a throwback to the colonial era of the British mandate, which ruled the entire area. The discussions about it are paternalistic, rarely including Hebrew-speaking Israelis or Arabic-speaking Palestinians. Almost no one from Gaza to Ramallah, from Haifa to Ashdod, actually wants to be forced to live together after years of working to be separate. Especially by Western liberals.

January 14, 2021 11:59

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