No, Gadi Taub, Apartheid Is Still a Sin

Uzi Baram
Uzi Baram
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Palestinian schoolchildren cross through an Israeli checkpoint as they head to school, in Hebron, April 29, 2019.
Palestinian schoolchildren cross through an Israeli checkpoint as they head to school, in Hebron, April 29, 2019. Credit: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters
Uzi Baram
Uzi Baram

Gadi Taub tries to explain in his February 11 Haaretz article why a possible apartheid state in Israel shouldn’t be considered a sin. His basic assumption is that the world is moving from global democracy to a more nationalist democracy.

If he were to summarize his article, Taub could say: I object to apartheid, but it isn’t universally rejected nowadays. There won’t be any more boycotts and isolation; the world is now U.S. President Donald Trump, Britain’s Boris Johnson and Hungary’s Viktor Orban, and not Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron. The world will be able to accept such an apartheid, and so will Israel, because any state that desires life will prefer to continue the occupation when the alternative is risking collective suicide.

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Taub’s arguments barely hold water because they are built on two assumptions: First, that the world is moving toward ultra-nationalism and countries are being cautious about taking binding moral positions and second, that we are facing a Palestinian killing machine and whatever stand we take toward it won’t change that. Both assumptions are dubious. Technological progress, interpersonal communication, climate change which requires international cooperation, and the world economy in service of globalization all undermine the nation-state.

The rise of democratic liberalism stemmed from the horrors seen during World War II. Yesterday’s nauseating world gave way to a universal, enlightened view. The pro-Soviet world has also disintegrated, unable to cope with the democracy, liberalism and wealth that others had. So we are witnessing somewhat of a counterrevolution. Global liberalism became more permissive, so the Christian church, seeing its values trampled upon, launched a war using those political pipelines that still respect its authority. Autocratic regimes, like that of Russian President Vladimir Putin, fight the LGBT community and make millions of citizens miserable.

U.S. President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017Credit: \ JORGE SILVA/REUTERS

But that’s today’s picture; it’s not that of the future, even the near future. The future of the United States isn’t Trump, who has “left his mark” on the future. The walls that Trump is trying to build won’t change the process of globalization – no wall can halt that. Europe might also undergo a counterrevolution. The reality of globalization – in terms of technology, climate and the economy – resonates for young Europeans. That’s why in the end, a global perception will triumph.

As for the Palestinians, we must understand that we’re talking about a people that is gradually evolving. There is already a cultural and technological elite, which is also expected to distance itself from the dogmatism of the past and progress toward building a basis for dialogue. In today’s world young Palestinians are prepared to sacrifice their lives for the Palestinian people. And Israeli youth? Taub ought to look at the Israel Defense Forces data on the drop in motivation; for many, army service has gone from being a sacred national mission to a burdensome obligation.

In Taub’s world, one could deny Israeli Arabs’ right to vote now that the nation-state has been declared. Why allow people who don’t identify with the Jewish nation-state the right to vote? But Israeli Arabs are highly motivated to realize their right to vote. Even the possibility of them joining a future coalition doesn’t shock anyone.

I don’t think Taub is wrong in all his assumptions, but I’m convinced that in his effort to bet on a future world that will accept apartheid he is misreading the direction of things. It’s just the opposite, Taub – just the opposite.

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