A few days ago, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that unless Israel reached a peace agreement with the Palestinians, it “risked becoming an Apartheid state”.
The Israel lobby in the US in their not so holy alliance with right-wing Republicans, who will attack Democratic administrations regardless of merit, managed to force Kerry to apologise.
He shouldn’t have.
Apartheid is a system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race and Israel is justifiably nervous about the use of the term apartheid in connection with its policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians. After all, South Africa became a pariah in the world until it rid itself of its apartheid system. Yet, even many Israelis agree that Israeli rule or control of a substantial Arab population (beyond the 1967-line), which may not be racially motivated, produces an apartheid-like outcome.
Kerry was wrong: Israel does not “risk” becoming an apartheid state. Israel’s course of action leading to a one-state solution, a bi-national state under Jewish rule, will undoubtedly create apartheid. AIPAC, the Israel lobby, might find the suggestion that Israel is at risk of becoming an apartheid state “offensive and inappropriate,” but it is not half as offensive and inappropriate as Israel’s policies AIPAC so successfully defends.
Introducing emotive terminology such as apartheid into a debate quickly raises the level of agitation and should – if only for that reason - be done with awareness. Sometimes, however, increasing the pressure is just what is necessary.