Settlements and Racist Laws: A Wrap around Apartheid

The final outcome of a protracted yet determined effort by the University of Johannesburg to sever links with Israel’s Ben Gurion University has been a resounding success for the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment [BDS] campaign.

Congratulatory messages along with predictably excited media releases welcomed South African academic’s bold moves to distance themselves and their institutions from ties with a regime widely acknowledged as an apartheid state.

This moves comes at a time when the Israeli Knesset is likely to pass an obnoxious law to outlaw the boycott of Jewish settlements. Be sure to understand this correctly: settlements will remain ‘legal’ but the boycott of settlements will be ‘illegal’!

This is the third of a series of new laws enacted by Israel to overcome growing challenges to its obvious failure as a convoluted ‘democracy’ built on Jewish exclusivity in pursuit of an unattainable Zionist dream.

According to Israeli writer Uri Avnery the first of two new laws he describes as “racist” and targeting Arabs in historic Palestine will make it possible to annul the citizenship of persons found guilty of “offences against the security of the state”. Annulling citizenship on such grounds is contrary to international laws and conventions, he points out.

The second he argues is more sophisticated. It allows communities of less than 400 families to appoint “admission committees” which can prevent unsuitable persons from living there. These will operate on the basis of the apartheid-era “group areas act” which divided South Africa’s population into racial enclaves or settlements. Despite the inclusion of clauses, which forbid the rejection of candidates on grounds of race or religion, Avnery thinks it’s tantamount to a “wink”.

However the third law as envisaged in crude text of the bill before the Knesset will punish any person or association publicly calling for a boycott of Israel –” economic, academic or cultural! Avnery who founded and heads a well-known NGO called ‘Gush Shalom’ has been actively campaigning for boycott of products from settlements. This law once passed will thus make it “illegal” for Gush Shalom and a host of other NGOs and activists within the Zionist state to advocate boycotts!

It is thus no surprise that this legislation has been slammed as anti-democratic, discriminatory, annexationist and unconstitutional.

Israel is firmly under the grip of right-wingers. Such apartheid era type of legislation can only be welcome when its initiators under Netanyahu are racists of the Lieberman school and Likud rightists.

Laws that rob people of their dignity and favour one group above others make a mockery of Israeli-style “democracy”. These new innovations to erode civil liberties does demonstrate how far removed the Netanyahu regime is from dramatic and profound changes in the region driven by calls for freedom.