Monday, April 09, 2007


Novak acknowledges Israeli policy of apartheid

In late 2006 former President Jimmy Carter angered just about everybody who was anybody in the U.S. when he released his book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid." The Washington Post ran a review by New Yorker writer Jeffrey Goldberg, who found almost everything about the book objectionable except the smell.

The Post's own writers disagreed with Carter's thesis of an Israeli-imposed apartheid in a more moderate sort of way. Columnist Richard Cohen, formerly an admirer of the Iraq invasion, mentioned the book in passing while writing in his own defense—

At times, I have written coldly and provocatively about Israel, maybe once or twice in anger. This, in turn, has angered some readers who knew what I was thinking but not what I was feeling -- that, at bottom, I had a strong emotional attachment to Israel.

Michael Kinsley wasn't sure what "apartheid" meant—

It's not clear what he [Carter] means by using the loaded word "apartheid," since the book makes no attempt to explain it, but the only reasonable interpretation is that Carter is comparing Israel to the former white racist government of South Africa. That is a foolish and unfair comparison....

Since Palestinians found inside the Washington Post building are more likely to be arrested than given a book to review, the reaction to Carter's apartheid charge has been pretty one-sided. Until today.

To my absolute astonishment Robert Novak (yes, he of Plamegate) produced a column for which he'll be glad he converted to Catholicism last month. He writes

Hani Hayek, an accountant who is the Christian mayor of the tiny majority-Christian Palestinian village of Beit Sahour, was angry last week as he drove me along the Israeli security wall. "They are taking our communal lands," he said, pointing to the massive Israeli settlement of Har Homa. "They don't want us to live here. They want us to leave."

.... I could see both the construction at Har Homa and road building for a dual transportation system for Israelis and Palestinians.

Jimmy Carter raised hackles by titling his book about the Palestinian question "Peace Not Apartheid." But Palestinians allege this is worse than the former South African racial separation. Nearing the 40th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, the territory has been so fragmented that a genuine Palestinian state and a "two-state solution" seem increasingly difficult.

Concerning the near impossibility of a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—Alexander Cockburn, columnist for The Nation, was making the same point last week on C-Span. When Alexander Cockburn and Robert Novak agree, you can assume the unusual cold snap we're experiencing in the East is a vapor rising from hell.

I'm pleased that at least one person on the American right is able to acknowledge the injustice of Israeli policies. And Novak says he's found, perhaps, one other—

Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey was at the university the same day I was, and faculty members could hardly believe a real live member of Congress was there. Smith later was given a tour of Jerusalem to see with his own eyes that the separation barrier in most places is a big, ugly and intimidating wall, not merely a fence.

Concerned by the disappearance of Christians in the land of Christianity's birthplace, Smith could also become (as I did) concerned by the plight of all Palestinians. If so, he will find precious little company in Congress.

A Simply Appalling two-state solution

I'm a bit surprised that I haven't been accused of anti-semitism by now. But before any such calumny gains a voice I'd like to propose a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem that I believe will amply demonstrate the falseness of such a charge.

Some time ago I checked the land area of Israel. Though the exact size is hard to come by (since it keeps changing), it looks as if New Hampshire may be the best approximation. So my proposition is this: Let the Israeli Jews cede Palestine back to the Palestinians and move to New Hampshire. It lacks the Mediterranean climate, but with New York only a hop, skip and a jump, the opportunities for shopping will more than compensate.

As for the current New Hampshirites, the largest ethnic component of the population is French, and we don't want their kind anyway. They can move back to Canada where they came from. As for the rest, they can be resettled in Vermont—I'm sure they won't mind. But if they do, we can always build a wall.

Related posts
The new McCarthyism: First they came for the Arabists ... (3/11/06)
World Bank gives chicken feed to the Palestinian Authority (3/27/06)
Iran and the New York "money people" (1/12/07)


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