White, Ben. Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner´s Guide. 2009. Pluto Press, UK.

“[Ariel] Sharon flying over the occupied territories once remarked, “Arabs should see Jewish lights every night from 500 metres.”” Quote at beginning of chapter on settlements.

“Like all occupation, Israel´s was founded on brutal force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation, and manipulation.” Benny Morris

“We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society…engaging in theft and finding justification for these activities.” Michael Ben-Yair

This small book is information—packed and clearly written to give the important facts in a historic context about Israel´s apartheid policy and its implementation on Palestinians in Israel and Palestine. White, a British journalist, gives a comprehensive course in what solidarity activists need to know. It is a short book with well—organized sections — each headed by a pithy quote that sets the tone for the text.

To introduce apartheid White quotes from the 1973 UN General Assembly Resolution on the definition and actions of apartheid which reads in part, “…resulting from the policies and practices of apartheid and similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination” are international crimes (art. 1). Article 2 defines the crime of apartheid —“which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa” — as covering “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them…”

It is clear from present day events that Israel is guilty of apartheid. White provides some harrowing details of just how this policy is enforced regularly with brutality and thoroughness.

White also documents the Zionist ideology which has driven Israelis and supporters since before 1948 when it forced nearly 800,000 Palestinians from their homeland. It is an ideology whose whole purpose is a state for the Jewish nation. Any Jew can become a citizen; but only Jews have this right. The 20% of Israel’s population that are Arab have second class citizenship and few rights. Apartheid is inherent in Zionism.

Israeli Apartheid by Ben White: A book review by Theresa Wolfwood

Social movements speak out at Bil’in conference. Photo © Theresa Wolfwood.

Palestine and its occupation are in the mainstream media as I read this book; the news will fade after the latest travesty is hashed over; but this is an excellent opportunity to plan future work and most important, to heed the voices of Palestinians. White says in the section, Toward a Different Kind of Future, that, “peace for Israelis and Palestinians will not primarily emerge from the precise details of a geopolitical formula— the foundations of any such lasting political settlement are human rights, dignity and justice. One of the biggest obstacles then is the persisting Zionist mindset…”

Today´s leadership in Palestine and Israel is being provided by social movements, often operating under conditions of danger resulting in death and harsh punishment. But this is time to seriously consider what these movements are saying. White quotes the ´Haifa Declaration´, a paper prepared by Palestinian community leaders, “our vision…is to create a democratic state founded on equality between national groups… ”It is time political leaders listened to community leaders and the solidarity community can raise awareness about this vision while continuing to organize meetings, rallies, films shows and hosting Palestinian speakers as well as working on legal and political advocacy and supporting political prisoners. The call by over 200 organizations in Palestine, Israel and globally for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israeli products and culture as well as of any company or group that abets the Israeli policy of Apartheid is the most important (to them & us) action we can all actively support.

“Palestine has been wiped off the map, its land colonized and its people ethnically cleansed, Expecting those on the receiving end to be be satisfied with the crumbs from the table is both unjust — and wistful thinking.”

White has written an excellent guide to present conflict and the occupation of Palestine which activists always need. Along with the concise booklet by Edward Mast & Haithem El-Zabri, “NAKBA: The Ongoing Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,” activists get the information they need as well as resources for further research and directions for action. White provides photos, maps, charts, a bibliography, a glossary, list of activist resources around the world & on the web, notes for all quotes and a section on answers to frequently asked questions. An excellent and vital companion for solidarity workers.

Filed under Ben White, Book Reviews