South Africa Is Already Here

The government is trying to build a protected autonomy for the Jewish majority and a stunted autonomy for the Arab minority.

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
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A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

How could the Israeli public allow a few dozen racists go down into the lion's den of Umm al-Fahm on their own? Do Michael Ben-Ari, Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir represent only themselves or just the fringes of the extreme right? After all, thousands of Israeli citizens agreed when they heard the thugs' explanations of the reasons for their march.

Hundreds of thousands in Israel are pleased with the Citizenship Law, glad that the bill will, when it passes - and it will pass - allow discrimination against Arabs who will want to buy a home in a Jewish community, and the majority of the public considers MK Hanin Zuabi a traitor.

Where were all these people while the fascists marched through Umm al-Fahm? Suddenly they are not comfortable being seen with those who reflect precisely the zeitgeist?

Participating in this march should have been Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, MKs Anastassia Michaeli and David Rotem, the settler leadership, the followers of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the heads and residents of Jewish communities in the Galilee, as well as the owners of homes in Tel Aviv and Ra'anana who refuse to rent apartments to Arabs. This march should have carried the banner "[National] Pride Parade." Alas, only 1,300 participants showed up, along with the police force that protected them.

But they are certainly not alone. They simply do not need yet another demonstration. Israel's apartheid movement is coming out of the woodwork and is taking on a formal, legal shape. It is moving from voluntary apartheid, which hides its ugliness through justifications of "cultural differences" and "historic neglect" which only requires a little funding and a couple of more sewage pipes to make everything right - to a purposeful, open, obligatory apartheid, which no longer requires any justification.

In South Africa of the 1950s, the whites were afraid even of the white immigrants, lest they bring with them liberal ideas that would affect the local volk.

But mostly they feared the blacks. In a short period of time the insular white community adopted a series of laws that were meant to preserve their purity. In 1949, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act was passed; in 1950 and 1957 the Immorality Act and amendment made interracial sexual relations a criminal offense carrying a seven year prison sentence. In 1950, in the Population Registration Act, each citizen was categorized racially. In 1953 the Bantu Education Act was passed which established that the blacks will receive a different and lesser education than the whites, and in 1950 the Group Areas Act was passed which determined "group regions," establishing where each racial group could live and which led to the expulsion of 3.5 million blacks from their homes.

This listing is presented here as a service to the racists in the Knesset, in case they did not know what kind of legislation to propose in order to complete their plan. This is also a public service for those who did not participate in the Umm al-Fahm march, so that they will know what they should require of their representatives.

With considerable delay, the South African Group Areas Act is now being copied into Israel's book of laws. An individual can no longer purchase land, build a home or even rent an apartment in small communities in which the absorption committee opposes their presence. According to Adalah - the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the law will "protect" 68.3 percent of all communities in Israel from being "stained."

The remainder of communities, and especially the large cities, will have to continue, for the mean time, to make do with voluntary apartheid. But the days will also come, as they did in South Africa, when an appropriate solution was found for its cities. It will be possible, for example, to grant homeowners committees the authority to determine who can buy or rent an apartment in a building. After all, what is good about a small community should also be good in an even smaller building. And of course a law which encourages snitching will also be passed.

So, while the government of Israel is trying to gain Palestinian recognition for its Jewish identity, it is building within it the double identity of the state. A protected autonomy for the Jewish majority and a stunted autonomy for the Arab minority.

Israel is quickly defining the borders of the Arab autonomy and through apartheid legislation it is granting the Arab minority a legal standing of enclaves with lesser rights; of a cultural-ethnic region which, because it is being expelled from the broader who, can also demand international recognition for its unique standing.



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