Twenty-seven years after the end of white rule, some see the boycott campaign against South Africa as a guide to mobilising popular support against what is increasingly condemned as Israel’s own brand of apartheid.
As South Africa showed, building popular support for action takes years – and those who back the campaign face a far more effective opponent in the Israeli state. For all that, significant shifts in attitudes toward Israel, particularly in the US and within the Jewish diaspora, have presented campaigners with their best prospects to date for building a boycott and they are looking to the anti-apartheid movement as the example.
One of the most important changes is the breaking of the taboo on comparisons with South Africa’s racist system. Israel’s leading human rights group, B’Tselem, issued a report in January called: “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid”. Human Rights Watch in the US followed in April, accusing Israel of “crimes of apartheid”.
For years, Israel and its supporters have dismissed claims of similarities as antisemitic on the grounds they imply that the Jewish state is a racist enterprise.
Israel continues to claim to the outside world that the occupation is temporary, even as it entrenches control ever more deeply, and that the Palestinians only have themselves to blame for failing to negotiate their way to an independent state.
But the increasing focus on campaigns for racial justice in the US has contributed to a shift in focus from arguments about two states to abuses of individual human rights. [Continue reading…]
Leading a group of Jews onto the Temple Mount for the first time in three weeks, Tom Nisani shrugged off the sensitivities of Palestinian worshipers at the contested site.
“If it makes them sensitive, it’s not my fault,” Nisani, 32, who heads an organization that aims to bring the holy site under direct Israeli control, said moments before Israeli police on Sunday escorted him around the compound known by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
While Israeli police called the appearance of right-wing Jews at the holy site routine, Palestinians called it provocative. And the Islamic Waqf, or endowments agency, which is responsible for running the site, later said three of its workers were detained after “radicalized settlers” were allowed entry. An image of a Waqf worker restrained on ground, with an Israeli police officer’s knee on his neck, quickly went viral on social media.
This was just one incident in what have become almost daily confrontations in East Jerusalem, even after a cease-fire was reached last week to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas. These tensions largely center on two flash points — the sacred compound that includes al-Aqsa Mosque and the planned eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood — and are the very same ones that triggered the devastating exchange of rockets and airstrikes this month. [Continue reading…]