In Defence Of Bob Carr's Apartheid Israel Epiphany


Former Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr’s moment of epiphany in relation to his historically changed pro-Israel position is reminiscent of another historical moment of enlightenment: Australia’s adoption of sanctions against what was then deemed “a crime against humanity, Apartheid South Africa, the call having been made in the 50’s by Chief Albert Luthuli.

The barrage of vitriolic, personal criticism in response to Carr’s factually based article, ‘Why I’m now a friend of Palestine’ bares frightening similarity to comments by apartheid apologists and differs only in that they appear more organised, a reflection, no doubt of the vast resources and reach of the Zionist lobby who’s only purpose is to silence the growing worldwide condemnation of Zionist expansion, occupation and continued violent oppression of the indigenous Palestinian people.

On the other hand this should come as no surprise given that both Zionist Israel and Apartheid South Africa shared a sordid alliance and indeed sung from the same hymn book (old Testament of course).

In defending the Zionist State of Israel, other repressive regimes are invoked as more deserving of international condemnation, a device that the Afrikaaner regime often employed to mask the essential horrors of its racist belief system and practices.

Another similar defensive ruse is to claim Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East” while conveniently forgetting its systematic ethnic cleansing (the Nakba) of almost 800,000 Palestinians in 1948 which artificially inflated a Jewish minority to a majority.

How different was this absurd claim to white minority South Africa’s claim to being a democracy when 94 per cent of South Africa’s people were denied the vote?

Israel’s apartheid advantage of people of the Jewish faith against Palestinians is a truism that goes to the very racist core, root and branch of Zionist ethno-nationalism. There are currently 50 laws in Israel that entrenches this obscene discrimination of the Palestinians.

Which serious commentator will deny that the inexorable expansion of the illegal Jewish-only settlements marks the death knell of the entirely bankrupt two-state solution which Carr asserts Israel had no intention of fulfilling?

No degree of hasbara (Israeli propaganda) regarding the unwillingness of democratically elected Hamas to accept the state of Israel will convince anyone that it is the obstacle to the Oslo Agreements.

Bob Carr is justifiably corrected for comparing Zionist Israel to Apartheid South Africa.*

In fact, for Palestinians it is much, much worse than South African Apartheid (horrific as it no doubt was). Sharpeville and Soweto were the watershed massacres that defined a new phase in the struggle against apartheid. They abjectly pale in significance to the absolute carnage, scale and bloodlust of repeated Israel brutality during every Intifada, every daily Nakba, every military assault embarked on by the Zionist regime.

The Boer regime did not use airstrikes and phosphorous coated bombs, did not incarcerate children as young as eight, did not decide on the calorific intake of food as part of a siege, did not bomb civilian infrastructure, did not develop ‘Whites Only’ roads or car number plates etc.

Nor could the combined effects of Apartheid’s Native Land Act, Colour Bar Act, Population Registration Act and Group Areas Act match the violent, brutal and inhumane forced removal of the Palestinians from their ancestral lands, ongoing since 1948.

Israel has become the macabre fantasy dream of the most vehement “verkrampfter” Afrikaaner zealot, as was remarked on by a visiting Apartheid-era Minister on a visit to Israel in the 1960’s.

The tide however is turning. No longer is the discourse on the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli colonial/settler regime the sole preserve of the Irgun/Stern gang/Haggenah inspired Zionist lobby.

It is now a raging political debate occurring all over the world, not least in the very heartland of Zionism’s staunchest defender, the USA.

It’s worth noting that no matter how hard US, Israel and even Australia tried to maintain support for apartheid, even towards the very end of Apartheid’s days, the sheer inexorable forward momentum of the South African liberation movement the ANC, the South African people and the international  BDS movement proved to be overwhelming.

Apartheid as an investment was a lost cause.

Bob Carr is simply reflecting the lessons of apartheid and, even though a long time in the making, represents, with Melissa Parke’s principled tabling of a BDS petition in the Australian parliament, a telling breach in the “stonewall” of silence that has quarantined and stymied the debate on the liberation of the Palestinian people from Israeli occupation, incarceration, exile and repression.

The shrill voices raised in defence of Zionist Israel echo the same desperation, the same paranoia that accompanied the imminent demise of that most reviled system – Apartheid.

We would do well to recall the voices of doom that foretold a bloodbath of white South Africans was about to engulf the country, and civilisation (of the white Christian variety of course) would be extinguished from the land. This offensive failed miserably, although there is much yet to be done to truly ‘transform’ South Africa.

South Africa represents, for Palestinians and Israelis alike, what is possible even under the most intransigent of historical circumstances, providing the compliance with universally accepted ground rules, without any caveat of exceptionalism based on race, colour, creed, religion or ethnic origin. 

* This article has been slightly edited from the original version, to remove a reference that some readers have found offensive.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.