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‘The Moral High Ground’: Jewish Voice For Peace Supports ‘End Israel Apartheid’ San Francisco Bus Ads

Israel apartheid

Jewish Voice for Peace supports SF bus campaign criticizing Israeli human rights violations, condemns local Jewish Community Relation Council’s attempt to muzzle political speech.

Cecilie Surasky, Jewish Voice for Peace
cecilie@jvp.org

The group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) has launched a public advertising campaign on San Francisco buses quoting Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu and calling for an end to Israeli apartheid.

In its press release of May 9, 2013, incorrectly titled, “Bay Area Jewish Community Condemns Deceptive Apartheid Ads”, the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) smear the ad as “deceitful” “morally reprehensible” and “inflammatory” because it characterizes Israel’s military regime as “apartheid.”

National group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) states unequivocally that calling Israeli control over the Occupied Palestinian Territory “apartheid” is a widely accepted and legitimate political statement. JVP absolutely rejects the attempts to label as hate speech the ad placed by American Muslims for Palestine.

Carol Sanders, “As a Bay Area Jew, I take strong exception to the JCRC purporting to speak in my name about Israel-Palestine.  In fact, the Jewish community does not have a monolithic position on this issue, but rather a robust diversity of opinion. JCRC serves neither the interests of our community nor of justice by once again attempting to eradicate speech critical of Israel from Bay Area discourse.”

AMP’s ad quotes Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has repeatedly called Israel’s occupation regime “apartheid.” But he is not alone. In fact, high-ranking Israeli officials, including a former Prime Minister, Israeli journalists and human rights groups have been using the term apartheid for years to talk about what is happening in Israel-Palestine.

*Former Israeli Foreign Ministry director-general ambassador to South Africa Alon Liel: “If you, President Obama, intend to come here for a courtesy visit – don’t come….. …You yourself know full well that Israel is standing at the apartheid cliff.” (2013)

*Israeli Defense Minister (and former Prime Minister) Ehud Barak: “As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic. If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.” (2010)

*Israeli newspaper Haaretz editorial: “The de facto separation is today more similar to political apartheid than an occupation regime because of its constancy. One side – determined by national, not geographic association – includes people who have the right to choose and the freedom to move, and a growing economy. On the other side are people closed behind the walls surrounding their community, who have no right to vote, lack freedom of movement, and have no chance to plan their future. ” (2007)

*Former Israeli Minister of Education Shulamit Aloni: “Jewish self-righteousness is taken for granted among ourselves to such an extent that we fail to see what’s right in front of our eyes. It’s simply inconceivable that the ultimate victims, the Jews, can carry out evil deeds. Nevertheless, the state of Israel practices its own, quite violent, form of Apartheid with the native Palestinian population.” (2007)

*Former Israeli attorney general Michael Ben-Yair: “[In 1967] We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. Passionately desiring to keep the occupied territories, we developed two judicial systems: one – progressive, liberal – in Israel; and the other – cruel, injurious – in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture. That oppressive regime exists to this day.” (2002)

*Archbishop Desmond Tutu:  “I am aware that many of our Jewish brothers and sisters who were so instrumental in the fight against South African apartheid are not yet ready to reckon with the apartheid nature of Israel and its current government…But I cannot ignore the Palestinian suffering I have witnessed, nor the voices of those courageous Jews troubled by Israel’s discriminatory course.” (Tampa Bay Times, April 30, 2012).

* B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories: This report deals with one of the primary, albeit lesser known, components of Israel’s policy of restricting Palestinian movement in the Occupied Territories: restrictions and prohibitions on Palestinian travel along certain roads in the West Bank. This phenomenon is referred to in the report as the “Forbidden Roads Regime.” The regime, based on the principle of separation through discrimination, bears striking similarities to the racist apartheid regime that existed in South Africa until 1994. In the roads regime operated by Israel, the right of every person to travel in the West Bank is based on his or her national origin. Source: http://www.btselem.org/download/200408_forbidden_roads_eng.pdf 
Forbidden Roads: Israel’s Discriminatory Road Regime in the West Bank, Btselem, 2004.

* On 21 April, 2010, the South African government expressed “the greatest concern” over Israeli Infiltration Order 1650, saying that the order has a broad definition of “infiltrator” and unclear terms as to which permits would allow a person to reside in the West Bank, as well as how valid residency might be proven. The South African government said the terms of the order are “reminiscent of pass laws under apartheid South Africa.”

Jewish Voice for Peace has over 125,000 supporters, 35 chapters throughout the country, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Cabinet and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists, including Tony Kushner, Naomi Klein, Eve Ensler, and Noam Chomsky.

 

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