Israel is apartheid state against the Palestinians

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

William Bennett’s letter (October 6) is filled with so many inaccuracies and misleading content that it almost outdoes the personal vituperations of George McNally’s remarks (October 7) as they both struggled to give responses to my own commentary on Derry and Strabane district council’s decision to back the Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Using terms such as ‘anti-Palestinian’ to describe those who advocate for Israel, especially the particular brand of right-wing Israel advocacy that reliant the talking points of odious organisations like Shurat HaDin, is not only fair but also entirely accurate.

It is also right to label those who adamantly repeat sentences such as ‘Israel is the only multi-ethnic democracy in the region’ and that ‘Israel is seeking a peaceful solution which would allow her to extricate herself from the West Bank’ as fanatics.

Not least because those statements reveal an excessively single-minded, closed and unwavering ideology in support of a particular religious and/or political cause, all whilst ignoring the factual reality; Israel is an ethnocracy which oppresses and occupies the Palestinians and the continuing expansion of illegal settlements proves beyond any doubt there is not even the slightest intention of extricating themselves from the West Bank.

The crime of apartheid is defined by the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as discussing “crimes against humanity committed in the context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group” which are “committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

It is this definition that is the basis for describing Israeli apartheid against the Palestinians and it is certainly not a comparison to the regime of Apartheid in South Africa between 1948 and 1994.

Israel, like all other political entities throughout the world, hasn’t got a ‘right to exist’. No such ‘right’ has ever been enshrined in international law and is not an attribute of states but rather of peoples (human beings have a right to life and existence). It’s also of interest that nobody on the Israel advocacy side of things ever discusses the right of Palestinians to exist or even have self-determination in their own homeland. Why do Palestinian lives and rights matter so little?

McNally’s position that boycotts are “exceedingly difficult to impose for logistical reasons”, whilst providing no evidence to demonstrate the veracity of this claim, is astounding.

As is the notion of my having “oversimplified” the complexities of Middle Eastern politics - something that is laughable, especially coming from an individual who deliberately conflates Israel and Jews to get his points across.

The assertion of Derry and Strabane council boycotting “Jewish products and services”, deliberately replacing the word ‘Israeli’ with ‘Jewish’, either reveals deep ignorance or a a purposeful attempt to anti-Semitise the discussion by conflating Jews and Israel - a tactic favoured by anti-Semites who seek to endanger Jewish communities around the world by making them into targets through blaming them for Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians.

It also worries me that McNally asserts that the BDS campaign is “against Jewish interests”, something that is both laughable and highly dangerous in equal measure.

This exploitation of Jewish identity as a way of defending Israel is frankly obscene.

Gary Spedding, Londonderry