As Jimmy Carter’s new book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid climbs the bestseller list, the reaction of
No aspect of Carter’s book has evoked more outrage than its identification of Israeli policy in the
In fact the comparison is a commonplace among informed commentators. From its initial encounter with
During the British Mandate period (1917-1947) Zionist settlers labored on both fronts, laying the foundations of an apartheid-like regime in
Ultimately, however, the Zionist movement resolved the dilemma in 1948 by way of transfer: under the cover of war with neighboring Arab states, Zionist armies proceeded to “ethnically cleanse” (Morris) the bulk of the indigenous population, creating a state that didn’t need to rely on anachronistic structures of Western supremacy. (4)
After four decades of Israeli occupation, the infrastructure and superstructure of apartheid have been put in place. Outside the never-never land of mainstream American Jewry and
If it’s “foolish and unfair,” “irresponsibly provocative” and “dangerous and anti-Semitic” to make the apartheid comparison, then the roster of commentators who have gone awry is rather puzzling. For example, a major 2002 study of Israeli settlement practices by the respected Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem concluded: “
Those sharing Carter’s iniquitous belief also include the editorial board of Israel’s leading newspaper Haaretz, which observed in September 2006 that “the apartheid regime in the territories remains intact; millions of Palestinians are living without rights, freedom of movement or a livelihood, under the yoke of ongoing Israeli occupation,” as well as former Israeli Knesset member Shulamit Aloni, former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Alon Liel, South African Archbishop and Nobel Laureate for Peace Desmond Tutu and “father” of human rights law in South Africa John Dugard. (8)
Indeed, the list apparently also includes former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. Pointing to his “fixation with Bantustans,” Israeli researcher Gershom Gorenberg concluded that it is “no accident” that
The denial of Carter’s critics recalls the glory days of the Daily Worker. Kinsley asserts that “no one has yet thought to accuse
The shrill reaction to Carter’s mention of apartheid is probably due not only to the term’s emotive resonances but its legal-political implications as well. According to Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions as well as the Statute of the International Criminal Court, “practices of apartheid” constitute war crimes. Small wonder, then, that despite–or, rather, because of–its aptness, Carter is being bullied into repudiating the term. (11)
Partial or full withdrawal?
In order to discredit Carter the media keep citing the inflammatory rhetoric of his former collaborator at the
According to Stein, Carter erroneously infers on the basis of U.N. Resolution 242 that
In fact and to his credit Carter is right on the mark.
Shortly after the June 1967 war the U.N General Assembly met in emergency session.
There was “near unanimity” on “the withdrawal of the armed forces from the territory of neighboring Arab states,” Secretary-General U Thant subsequently observed, because “everyone agrees that there should be no territorial gains by military conquest.” (14)
When the General Assembly couldn’t reach consensus on a comprehensive resolution, deliberations moved to the Security Council. In November 1967 the Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 242, the preambular paragraph of which emphasized “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.” The main framer of 242, Lord Caradon of the
For its part the United States repeatedly made clear that it contemplated at most minor and mutual border adjustments (hence Carter’s caveat of “mutually agreeable land swaps”). Jordanian leaders were told in early November 1967 that “some territorial adjustment will be required” on the West Bank but “there must be mutuality in adjustments” and, on a second occasion, that the
In private Israeli leaders themselves suffered no illusions on the actual meaning of 242. During a closed session of the Labor Party in 1968 Moshe Dayan counseled against endorsing 242 because “it means withdrawal to the 4 June  boundaries, and because we are in conflict with the SC [Security Council] on that resolution.” (19)
In its landmark 2004 advisory opinion, “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall In the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the International Court of Justice repeatedly affirmed the preambular paragraph of Resolution 242 emphasizing the inadmissibility of territorial conquest as well as a 1970 General Assembly resolution emphasizing that “No territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal.” The
Carter’s real sin is that he cut to the heart of the problem: “Peace will come to
Tomorrow: The Dershowitz Slime Machine
Norman Finkelstein’s most recent book is Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history (
(1) Michael Kinsley, “It’s Not Apartheid,” Washington Post (12 December 2006); “Jimmy Carter vs. Jimmy Carter,” editorial, Boston Globe (16 December 2006); Julie Bosman, “Carter Book Stirs Furor With Its View of Israelis’ ‘Apartheid’,” New York Times (14 December 2006).
(2) Benny Morris, “Revisiting the Palestinian exodus of 1948,” in Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim (eds), The War for
(3) Norman and Helen Bentwich, Mandate Memories, 1918-1948 (New York: 1965), p. 53.
(4) Ari Shavit, “Survival of the Fittest,” interview with Benny Morris, Haaretz
(9 January 2004).
(5) Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, second edition (
(6) Meron Benvenisti, Intimate Enemies (New York: 1995), p. 232.
(7) B’Tselem (
(8) “The Problem That Disappeared,” editorial, Haaretz (11 September 2006), Roee Nahmias, “‘Israeli Terror is Worse,’” Yediot Ahronot (29 July 2005) (Aloni), Chris McGreal, “Worlds Apart: Israel, Palestine and Apartheid” and “Brothers In Arms: Israel’s secret pact with Pretoria,” Guardian (6 February 2006, 7 February 2006) (Tutu, Liel), John Dugard, “Apartheid: Israelis Adopt What South Africa Dropped,” Atlanta Journal -Constitution (29 November 2006).
(9) Gershom Gorenberg, “Road Map to Grand Apartheid? Ariel Sharon’s South African inspiration,” American Prospect (3 July 2003). Akiva Eldar, “
(10) “Ever More Separate,” Economist (20 October 2005).
(11) Jean-Marie Henckaerts and Louise Doswald-Beck, Customary International Humanitarian Law, Vol. I: Rules (
(12) Rachel Zelkowitz, “Professor Describes Carter ‘Inaccuracies’,” The Emory Wheel (12 December 2006).
(14) “Introduction to the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization, 16 June 1966–15 June 1967,” in General Assembly, Official Records: Twenty-Second Session, Supplement No. 1A. United Nations (15 September 1967), para. 47.
(15) Lord Caradon et al., U.N. Security Council Resolution 242: A Case Study in Diplomatic Ambiguity (Washington, D.C.: 1981), p. 13.
(16) John McHugo, “Resolution 242: A Legal Reappraisal of the Right-Wing Israeli Interpretation of the Withdrawal Phrase With Reference to the Conflict Between
(17) Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history (
(19)Daniel Dishon (ed.), Middle East Record, v. 4, 1968 (
(20) Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the