The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes. - Mira Bar-Hillel
Mira Bar-Hillel represents proof that the stubborn reality of Israel’s progressive advantages in the region in the civil rights protections afforded to minority groups, and the absence of anything resembling codified discrimination, aren’t impediments for anti-Zionist commentators who wish to smear the state with the charge of Apartheid.
Interestingly, Bar-Hillel’s Dec. 13 op-ed in The Independent, ‘Israel and Apartheid: Confused? You will be‘, deals almost entirely with issues tangential to the narrative she’s trying to advance, such as Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision not to attend Nelson Mandela’s memorial, and Israeli arms sales to Pretoria in the 70s and 80s (which, contrary to her suggestion, actually represented a miniscule percentage of the regime’s military imports).
So, Bar-Hillel actually bases her insinuation of a parallel between Apartheid South Africa and Israel on two sentences in her final paragraph:
Maps which were only revealed in the past few days show how the Israelis plan to create bantustans for the Nomadic Bedouin in its southern Negev region. Tens of thousands of them would be forced into ghettoes to make way for new Jewish towns and military zones. A-word, anyone?
Of course, the word “bantustans” was used by the Indy columnist specifically because of its common association with a system of codified racial segregation in South Africa. According to the common definition of the term, it refers to the following:
Bantustan, also known as Bantu homeland, South Africa homeland, or black state, any of 10 former territories that were designated by the white-dominated government of South Africa as pseudo-national homelands for the country’s black African (classified by the government as Bantu) population during the mid- to late 20th century. The Bantustans were a major administrative device for the exclusion of blacks from the South African political system under the policy of apartheid, or racial segregation.
The 1959 Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act relabeled the reserves as “homelands,” or Bantustans, in which only specific ethnic groups were to have residence rights. Later, the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act of 1970 defined blacks living throughout South Africa as legal citizens of the homelands designated for their particular ethnic groups—thereby stripping them of their South African citizenship and their few remaining civil and political rights.
In contrast to such racist legislation, what’s known in Israel as the Prawer-Begin Plan (the plan, recently shelved by the government, which Bar-Hillel is alluding to) represented an effort to settle the problem of 70-90,000 Israeli-Bedouin living in unrecognized villages in the Israeli Negev, and the resulting land claims. The plan would have legalized a large majority of the unrecognized land, but called for roughly one-third of this population to relocate (with full compensation in money and land) to recognized, planned and developed towns within a few kilometers of their current homes.
Alternatively, as these Israeli-Bedouin are Israeli citizens with full civil rights protected under the law, they could of course choose to live elsewhere – indeed anywhere in the country. Bar-Hillel’s suggestion that even one Israeli Bedouin would be forced into a “bantustan” (conveying to readers the impression that they’ll be legally segregated from the rest of Israeli society) is a total lie.
As Bar-Hillel continues to engage in such smears, half-truths and distortions about Israel, it’s becoming evident that “the Jews of today” scare her a lot more than her increasing notoriety as a bigoted, dishonest journalist.
- Antisemitic reporter Mira Bar-Hillel pens op-ed (on antisemitism!) for The Independent (cifwatch.com)
- Email shows The Independent got it wrong on Antisemitism working definition (cifwatch.com)
- Harriet Sherwood refers to future Israeli cities in the Negev as “Jewish settlements” (cifwatch.com)
- Did the Guardian double the actual number of Bedouins facing dislocation? (cifwatch.com)