Tags : Israel, Palestine, Hamas, Gaza, Zionism, apartheid, Shoah,
I grew up in a Zionist household, spent 12 years in a Zionist youth movement, lived 4 years in Israel, and have friends and family who served in the IDF.
When that is your world, it’s hard to see apartheid when it’s happening.
I grew up in France, in a Jewish community where the norm was unconditional love and support for Israel. Zionism wasn’t even named because that’s all we knew. Jews were nearly wiped by pogroms and repeated holocausts, and a Jewish state was the only way to keep us safe.
All Zionism is rooted in trauma and fear. It is first and foremost an ideology of self-liberation. It’s about love Jewish people, survival for Jewish people. But Zionism is like any other ethnic nationalism, it’s about prioritizing *our* safety and well-being.
Like all nationalisms, we were fed a historical narrative completely divorced from reality: that Palestine was a largely uninhabited piece of desert before we settled it; that in 1948 Palestinians willingly left because they were making room for Arab armies to « throw Jews to the sea »; that Arab leaders turned down all Israeli and US peace offers and were unwilling to share the land; that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle-East; that despite terrorism, the IDF upholds the highest moral standards; so on and so on.
So the first reason that Israelis will never willingly make peace with Palestinians is that Israelis (and Zionist Jews around the world) live in a parallel world. They know alternate historical facts that feed more nationalism, militarism, and extremism.
The second reason is that the past 100 years of conflict have dehumanized Palestinians in the eyes of Israeli Jews. I mean this in a literal way: Israelis are not able to empathize with Palestinians, they aren’t able to comprehend Palestinian suffering.
So when the IDF bombs Gaza and kills children, the average Israelis thinks that 1) it is the Palestinians’ fault–for not agreeing to peace, for continuing to threaten and attack Israel, etc 2) Israel is merely defending itself and that there is simply no alternative.
The same rationale justifies Gaza’s open-air prison; military checkpoints in the West Bank; bulldozing homes; etc. Israelis even made up the term « Pallywood », because for them, it’s all a show to turn the world against Israel. The suffering is either fake or self-inflicted.
Of course, there are some Israeli leftists and anti-Zionists who fight for Palestinian liberation. But it’s a tiny, and shrinking, minority. Most Israelis don’t consider what it means for Palestinian freedom, dignity, and physical well-being to be systematically erased.
Israel is, by every definition, an apartheid state: if a Jew and an Arab commit the exact same crime in the West Bank, they will face two different legal systems. The Jew will face a civil court, the Arab will face a military court. Two legal systems for two ethnic groups.
But Israelis can’t fathom that this is unjust. When they fight against people calling the occupation of the West Bank « apartheid », it’s because Israelis genuinely believe that it’s all self-defense and needed and legitimate.
These two factors (alternate history and dehumanization) mean that it is *physically impossible*–and I mean that in the most literal way–for Israel to willingly end the occupation and agree to a just solution to the conflict. Peace cannot come from within Israel.
Israeli society is getting more extreme, more nationalistic, more violent, and more entrenched in its own historical narrative & its own self-victimization. At this point, it is simply delusional to expect that things change will come from Israel.
The *only* thing that can bring Palestinian liberation is if the cost of the occupation outweighs its benefits. And that requires, just like for the apartheids in South Africa and the US South, massive external pressure.
That means consumer boycott of Israeli goods, corporate boycott of Israeli technology, and sanctions by Israel’s main trade partner and political supporters, the US and EU. Those are the only measures that can meaningfully push Israel toward ending the occupation.
#Israel #Palestine #Zionism #Shoah #Gaza #Hamas