The following excerpt is from the chapter "The Ghettoization of Palestine," an interview with Noam Chomsky and Ilan PappĂ©, conducted by Frank Barat.
Barat: The word apartheid is more and more often used by NGO's and charities to describe Israel's actions towards the Palestinians (in Gaza, the OPT but also in Israel itself). Is the situation in Palestine and Israel comparable to Apartheid South Africa?
Ilan PappĂ©: There are similarities and dissimilarities. The colonialist history has many chapters in common and some of the features of the Apartheid system can be found in the Israeli policies towards its own Palestinian minority and towards those in the occupied territories. Some aspects of the occupation, however, are worse then the apartheid reality of South Africa and some aspects in the lives of Palestinian citizens in Israel, are not as bad as they were in the hey days of Apartheid. The main point of comparison to my mind is political inspiration. The anti-Apartheid movement, the ANC, the solidarity networks developed throughout the years in the West, should inspire a more focused and effect pro-Palestinian campaign. This is why there is a need to learn the history of the struggle against Apartheid, much more than dwell too long on comparing the Zionist and Apartheid systems.
Noam Chomsky: There can be no definite answer to such questions. There are similarities and differences. Within Israel itself, there is serious discrimination, but it's very far from South African Apartheid. Within the occupied territories, it's a different story. In 1997, I gave the keynote address at Ben-Gurion University in a conference on the anniversary of the 1967 war. I read a paragraph from a standard history of South Africa. No comment was necessary.
Looking more closely, the situation in the OT differs in many ways from Apartheid. In some respects, South African Apartheid was more vicious than Israeli practices, and in some respects the opposite is true. To mention one example, White South Africa depended on Black labor. The large majority of the population could not be expelled. At one time Israel relied on cheap and easily exploited Palestinian labor, but they have long ago been replaced by the miserable of the earth from Asia, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere. Israelis would mostly breathe a sigh of relief if Palestinians were to disappear. And it is no secret that the policies that have taken shape accord well with the recommendations of Moshe Dayan right after the 1967 war : Palestinians will "continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave." More extreme recommendations have been made by highly regarded left humanists in the United States, for example Michael Walzer of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton and editor of the democratic socialist journal Dissent, who advised 35 years ago that since Palestinians are "marginal to the nation," they should be "helped" to leave. He was referring to Palestinian citizens of Israel itself, a position made familiar more recently by the ultra-right Avigdor Lieberman, and now being picked up in the Israeli mainstream. I put aside the real fanatics, like Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who declares that Israel never kills civilians, only terrorists, so that the definition of "terrorist" is "killed by Israel"; and Israel should aim for a kill ratio of 1000 to zero, which means "exterminate the brutes" completely. It is of no small significance that advocates of these views are regarded with respect in enlightened circles in the US, indeed the West. One can imagine the reaction if such comments were made about Jews.
On the query, to repeat, there can be no clear answer as to whether the analogy is appropriate.
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