It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Chris McGreal, the Guardian’s former Jerusalem correspondent who – unlike Harriet Sherwood – has never even tried to hide his animosity towards the Jewish state. As we’ve revealed previously, McGreal fancies the idea that Israeli snipers target Palestinian kids, is obsessed with the power of the Israel lobby, and is one of the few Guardian reporters singled out by the Community Security Trust for engaging in antisemitic discourse.
He’s also quite predictably been among those who participate fully in what’s known as the Durban Strategy, named after at the NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban Racism Conference which ignited an orgy of hatred towards Jews and Israel and coalesced around a strategy of ‘bringing Israel to its knees’ by casting it as a racist, ‘apartheid’ state beyond the moral pale.
Though the movement to smear Israel as an apartheid state can trace it origins to Soviet and Arab propaganda of the 70s, the idea only began to gain traction within organs of the pro-Palestinian movement following Durban. Not surprisingly, the Guardian – the epicenter of Western media subservience to even the most extreme elements within the anti-Zionist cause – has been among the most enthusiastic purveyors of the apartheid canard.
McGreal’s latest polemical effort on behalf of Israel’s adversaries was published by the Guardian on May 14 – Israeli Independence Day on the non-Hebrew calendar – and titled ‘Kerry wasn’t wrong: Israel’s future is beginning to look a lot like apartheid‘.
Organizations claiming to speak for America’s Jews – mostly too far to the right to be representative of most of them – reeled in horror after Kerry dared to say it two weeks ago: if Israel doesn’t reach a deal on an independent Palestine it risks becoming an “apartheid state”.
Israel called the envoy a hypocrite and blamed him for the failure of the latest talks. The secretary of state apologized for using the A-word, saying it was “best left out of the debate” in the US – even if it is used in Israel itself, including by two former prime ministers to sound similar warnings to Kerry’s.
Later he opines:
After years of traveling through the West Bank and South Africa, it’s blindingly clear to me: the ever-expanding settlements are, indeed, carving out the geography of West Bank apartheid. And if Kerry was wrong, it was only in casting his warning as a prediction rather than about a present reality.
Tellingly, McGreal doesn’t explain how settlements “carving out the geography of the West Bank” create an apartheid reality. Indeed, though sources which refute the intellectually unserious charge that Israel is practicing apartheid are ubiquitous (and include testimonies by South Africans who actually lived through apartheid), it’s helpful to briefly note what the term actually means.
Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren explained its origins in a recent op-ed at the LA Times:
Translated from Afrikaans, apartheid means “apart-hood.” It stemmed from the deeply held racist beliefs of South African whites who, in the half-century after World War II, imposed strict legal barriers between themselves and all black people. The segregation was total: separate restaurants, separate toilets and drinking fountains, separate houses, hospitals and schools.
First, there is absolutely no racial element involved in the fact that there are separate and distinct Israeli and Palestinian communities. The distinction between Israelis and Palestinians is based not on race, but on the fact that they are two distinct national communities. Israel’s security barrier, for instance, is a counter-terror tool aimed to protect Israelis from Palestinian suicide bombers, and, as Oren noted, is no more an “apartheid wall” than the fence between the United States and Mexico.
Additionally, despite the fact that Israelis and Palestinians represent two national communities, and security measures have been introduced to mitigate the potential for conflict and violence, there is still an absence of codified segregation, as evident by the thousands of Palestinians who work in Israeli factories and receive life-saving medical care at Israeli hospitals.
Of course, pro-Palestinian activists who claim to support a two-state solution and level the apartheid charge are especially hypocritical, as any future Palestinian state would almost certainly be 100% Jew-free. Israeli Jews won’t be treated in Palestinian hospitals. They won’t be permitted to travel on Palestinian buses, nor permitted to attend Palestinian universities. Indeed, given the endemic antisemitism within Palestinian society, any Israeli Jew who ventured unprotected into the new Palestinian state would be taking a considerable risk. Palestinian Apartheid is all but assured.
McGreal then pivots to a familiar Guardian narrative, one which champions such assaults on Israel’s legitimacy as acts of bravery – those evidently bold enough to speak truth to Zionist power in Washington.
Israel’s intent in the West Bank is an issue that has largely been off-limits in Washington. The pro-Israel lobby, with some help from Congress, has played an important role in determining the boundaries of criticism
Indeed, here is where McGreal shows his true stripes – again telling Guardian readers what they want to hear: specifically, that US foreign policy is being hijacked by the pro-Israel lobby, but, more broadly, that the reason decision makers in Washington don’t buy into their view of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is because the system is rigged and debate is being squelched – furtively of course – by a small but dangerously powerful minority of Americans who conflate the US national interest with Israel’s.
However, at the end of the day, the fact is that Israel remains wildly popular among the American public, the boycott movement produces failure upon failure, Israel’s democracy is robust, its economy is booming, and its society (by any number of indicators) is thriving.
Much like narrow efforts to cast Israel as an apartheid state, the broader delegitimization campaign – by nearly any standard – is failing miserably.
And, Chris McGreal is simply furious.