I was hoping that halfway through last night’s talk at SOAS by Jewish Israeli lecturer Oren Yiftachel that another Jewish Israeli lecturer, Dr. Yair Wallach, would stand up and announce that it’s all just a Purim shpiel!
Mr Wallach and a third Jewish Israeli lecturer, Moriel Ram, had heavily promoted Mr Yiftachel’s talk under the auspices of the Centre for Jewish Studies. Mr Wallach was in last night’s audience while Mr Ram introduced Mr Yiftachel.
The talk was called Between Apartheid and Peace: Confederation for Israel/Palestine? It was part of a fairly hostile series of five talks crafted together by the European Association of Israel Studies.
Mr Yiftachel’s lecture was basically in two parts. The second part would have been fine as a stand alone topic in which he discussed his own plan for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. No one can reject hearing a possible peace plan however delusional it might be, especially considering that he headed B’Tselem until 2014.
He is currently on a sabbatical at UCL from Ben Gurion University with 10 months left.
But the first part was about Israel becoming an apartheid state and about how both a two state solution and a one state solution would not work: two states would fail because, he claimed, Palestine would be a “ghetto state” due to the Palestinians having been ghettoised and put into bantustans by the Oslo accords. A one state solution would fail due to the competing nationalisms.
Mr Yiftachel then showed slides with questions “Why has Israel destroyed large parts of Gaza and killed many?” and “Why is Palestinian resistance and terror continuing?”
He claimed Israel was carrying out one of the few remaining colonial projects while most of those of other countries had ceased in the 1950s.
Another slide* depicted what he termed “The Judaisation process” showing maps of how in 1917 there were 67 “Jewish settlements”, in 1947 there were 332, in 1967 there were 764, in 1993 there were 911 and now there are well over a thousand.
Next, a slide contained two maps showing the “Nakba: De-Arabization” between 1947 and 1949. Other slides* used the term “Deepening apartheid”.
One slide depicted how the economic gap between the Israelis and Palestinians had accelerated since 1975 which he said contributed to the “apartheid”.
He then showed a map* of South Africa depicting where all the bantustans used to be while explaining that the Palestinians are currently even more “encaged”. A subsequent slide* depicted how “citizenship” had been “stratified” under “the Israeli ethnocracy” into:
- Jews – ‘whites’
- Palestinian Arabs in Israel – ‘coloureds’
- Palestinian Arabs in the OT – ‘blacks’
- Foreigners – ‘grays’
One would think that the ex-head of a human rights organisation wouldn’t make light of the horrific historical conditions in ghettoes and under apartheid with such comparisons.
Mr Yiftachel should be ashamed of himself.
The second part of Mr Yiftachel’s talk was about his delusional peace plan called Two States, One Homeland. He explained it was a way for Israel to save itself from ‘apartheid’. It would involve two sovereign entities with joint institutions and gradual free movement ‘Schengen style’ between the two entities. There would be a right of return for Palestinians to Palestine and “redistributive justice”.
Gradually, according to Mr Yiftachel, the huge economic disparity between Israelis and Palestinians would disappear and so would terror attacks by Palestinians. He said “the Jews will remain the upper class but the gap will close…terror dies when the cause of terror dies…it’s worth trying because it is better than apartheid” although he admitted “there will be conflict”.
During the Q&A I asked how this ‘confederation’ could not ultimately lead to the end of the Jewish state. First, he wasn’t impressed with the term ‘Jewish state’ preferring to use ‘Israeli state’ which was a ‘state of all its citizens’. Second, he said the Palestinians wouldn’t have citizenship in Israel so there wouldn’t be a problem. Third, he reckons there were only a couple of hundred thousand Palestinian refugees anyway but that would depend on the definition of ‘refugee’.
That third assumption is ludicrous seeing as earlier in the talk he had claimed there were 2.5m refugees and according to UNWRA there are five million!
To sum up the awfulness of his talk an elderly gentleman asked about the possible consequences of having Hamas terror so much closer to Israel. Mr Yiftachel replied that Hamas had accepted the two state solution. Of course this is utter nonsense. Their 1988 Charter to annihilate every single Jew in the world is still alive and kicking. Hamas has never disowned it.
Embarrassingly for Mr Yiftachel he managed to secure for himself a 300 seat prime central London university lecture theatre but only 50 people turned up. Needless to say a waste of taxpayers’ money.
(* for these slides see Jonathan Hoffman’s blog)