Immediately south of Jerusalem, construction of the Apartheid Wall around Bethlehem is almost complete. The Wall cuts the city from its surrounding lands, annexing land into the Occupation municipal boundaries in Jerusalem and sealing Bethlehem into a tiny ghetto.
Most of the critics of Carter’s book have been Americans – saying he shouldn’t have used the term “apartheid”. But I’ve not heard or read a single argument that refutes the “apartheid” accusation. But maybe it should not come as a surprise – because the Israeli and US governments were amongst the closest supporters of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Israel was South Africa’s biggest weapons provider and the US and Israel were the top trading partners of the Apartheid regime.
Would America today tolerate such policies in the United States?
If any other nation occupied territories in violation of international law, issued ID cards for people that designated them as “Palestinians” differentiating them from Jews, denied them voting rights, forbid them from buying or leasing land, and banned any political party that called for equal rights for all, searched Arabs at checkpoints but allowed Jews from Europe, Russia, Asia and Africa to freely roam around in the land and supported their illegal settlements – would these critics support that nation and its policies?
And just because America oppressed the Native Americans (“Red Indians” is a term I find offensive) and practically committed what is widely regarded as genocide towards them, it does not justify Israel’s apartheid policies towards Palestinians hundreds of years later. They are wrong and should be condemned. Most Arab countries are run by tyrants and dictators who do not represent the people. If Israel is a democracy as it claims to be, it cannot afford to carry out such a brutal occupation and ethnic cleansing of a land.
Israelis are not as bothered by his book as are Americans. Many Israelis see the occupation for what it is and work hard to abolish such treatment. But American supporters of Israel apparently are less tolerant than Israelis when it comes to Carter’s book.
The best defense for Carter comes from an Israeli Knesset member and former Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel – Yossi Beilin:
Beilin is mentioned in the book several times. He’s been an active proponent in peace talks in general but best known for his involvement in the Oslo Accords and the Geneva Initiative.
And here’s an interesting opinion of the book from Saree Makdisi (Professor of English Literature at UCLA):