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Israel can shoot the messenger, but cannot kill the message

Most of the world’s media conveniently missed the fact that a UN agency earlier this month issued a report describing Israel as an “apartheid regime.” The report used the word “apartheid” in its strictest sense under international law, defining it as a crime against humanity.

The consequences were predictable: Pro-Israel groups furiously mobilized; the UN secretary-general ordered the deletion of the report from the UN website; and the report’s main author Rima Khalaf was forced to resign. There was no attempt to grapple with the report’s content. It was simply denounced as “anti-Semitic” and buried.

In the same way that US President Donald Trump denounces all criticism of himself as “fake news,” Israel’s proxies have spent decades attacking even the most studiously balanced outlets like the BBC, claiming that all criticism is aimed at “destroying Israel’s image and isolating it as a pariah state.” The offense is not in the nature of the criticism, it is for daring to criticize in the first place.

This now-deleted UN report argued that Israel is an “apartheid regime that seeks the domination of one racial group over another.” The report examined the multitude of laws and practices which systematically discriminate against Palestinians, from the manner in which illegal settlement-building deprives Palestinians of their land, to arbitrary detention procedures which see children criminalized for stone-throwing.

Palestinians stripped of their rights

The current vogue for a “one-state solution” is apartheid by definition. Its advocates are certainly not thinking of giving Palestinians equal rights in a democratic state. This is a vision of Palestinians stripped of their rights and marginalized within a Jewish “Greater Israel.”

It has been denounced as the worst form of anti-Semitism to recall that there was once a nation called Palestine. The lands seized by Israel in 1948 must not be mentioned in negotiations. The “peace process” was defined by a progressive narrowing of what was up for discussion. When Palestinian negotiators hinted at flexibility on tiny “land swaps”, this was immediately banked as recognition that Israel would hold on to its sprawling settlement blocks. Even this was not good enough for Netanyahu, for whom the only palatable vision would be to give the Palestinians a tiny fraction of the land which nobody else wants — while insisting that Israel retains a military presence there.

Every round of peace talks begins by exhorting both sides to exhibit flexibility. But the Palestinians have long since handed over all their cards. There is no way they could be any more flexible without packing their things and moving to Jordan or anywhere else!

A world of double standards

I am often asked why the Muslim world has been blighted by various brands of extremism. If I was to choose the main factor that has poisoned the region, it would be Israel. Israel caused generations of Muslims to grow up perceiving that we live in an unfair world of double standards. It is a world where certain nations are beyond the law, while others are fated to be driven off their land like cattle.

It will eventually become obvious to every right-thinking person that Israel’s apartheid system is both oppressive and unsustainable.

Baria Alamuddin

I hate Daesh and I hate the terrorist atrocities which see innocent citizens murdered in London and Paris. These evil twisted minds are an affront to every religion or human value. However, what should we tell those radicalized young people when they point to the double standards and deficiencies in the international system? There are a thousand factors which corrode the hearts of embittered young people, but at their root they all lead back to Palestine.

In the 1980s the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher denounced Nelson Mandela’s political group a terrorist organization. Thatcher fought tooth-and-nail against sanctions or measures against South Africa — yet nobody today seriously claims that apartheid was a viable or fair system.

History will similarly judge the last remaining apartheid state. Freed from the lobby groups, political pressures and dishonest media, it will become obvious to every right-thinking person in 50 years’ time that Israel’s apartheid system was both oppressive and unsustainable. Most people around the world recognize this already.

Netanyahu’s regime congratulates itself on its cleverness in inventing laws which steal Palestinian lands. However, a moment will come when they push the Palestinian nation too far — and neither riot batons nor machine guns will coerce women and children, young and old to endure another minute of the humiliations and injustices of occupation.

Even without the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that billions of dollars of US military aid cannot indefinitely obliterate Palestinian national aspirations. 

The UN report can be purged from the Internet. However, they cannot efface this truth: Not only is apartheid a crime against humanity, but history proves that it is an unsustainable abomination — a people’s national aspirations cannot be suppressed indefinitely.

The question is when the world’s last apartheid state will collapse under the weight of its own contradictions?

• Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate, a foreign editor at Al-Hayat, and has interviewed numerous heads of state.