Friday, November 30, 2007

Israeli apartheid officially acknowledged

Finally a serving Israeli prime minister has admitted what critics of Israel could hitherto only say at the risk of being labelled anti-semites: that Israel is an apartheid state and owes its survival to being undemocratic by denying its Palestinian citizens equal rights.
At the eve of yet another peace conference doomed to failure like all those previous US-sponsored half-baked and half-hearted peace initiatives we have seen come and go over the past century, Ehud Olmert warned of a "South African-style struggle" which Israel would lose if a Palestinian state was not established. For once there is a recognition that playing games with Palestinian aspirations does not, ultimately, help in denying their legitimate rights in the occupied territories. Previous peace conferences have been a cover up for continued Israeli expansion on the land it occupied illegally, each time squeezing the indigenous population a little more. When a Palestinian state was eventually established in name only, with no independence whatsoever, not territorial or tax authority and, of course, no army of its own, there was the hope on the Israeli side that this token acknowledgment that the Palestinian people did exist (something denied by previous Zionist hawks) together with an attempted collaboration with a Palestinian puppet government would contain the uprising. As Olmert know seems to acknowledge, those plans came to nothing.
Meanwhile Israel's economy would long have collapsed but for the steady stream of American dollars to prop it up. And then there is the "demographic threat to Israel as a Jewish state from a faster growing Palestinian population", to cite Olmert, an admission that even in Israel itself, never mind the illegally occupied territories, Israel is having difficulties containing its non-Jewish population. This is why people who understand the region, unlike those so-called champions for Palestine who work into the hands of the Zionists, have repeatedly asked for a one-state solution. "If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished", Olmert is quoted as saying. In other words, Israel as a Jewish apartheid state has not yet been "wiped off the map" (to quote another recently popular phrase attributed to the Iranian president), because it is undemocratic. The "one person, one vote" maxim generally accepted around the globe now, is anathema to Jewish supremacists.
Olmert's recent warnings will be a hard nut for pro-Israeli leftists to chew. In the above comment he considers a South-African struggle for equal voting rights as negative and a threat to the existence of Israel as a purely Jewish (and thus racist) state. How will the left, who always supported the struggle against apartheid in South Africa but sat on the fence when it came to Israel, now continue to justify the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel and its sponsor, the United States?
Olmert has done us a great favour. He said what we weren't supposed to say and got coverage for what would have been ignored, or denounced as anti-semitic, had it be said by anyone else. Those opposed to oppression, occupation and apartheid should see things as clearly as he does and call for a one state solution.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Holier than Thou

We have grown used to "the West" lecturing the rest of the world on standards of living, education, economic development, health and safety, human rights and, well, almost everything else. Africa in particular is given a very unsavoury image in the Western media and public perception. It is presented as a continent of aghast poverty, ravaged by disease, ruled by dictators, still practising slavery and child trafficking and having no regard to the value of human life. When the Western media became obsessed for months with the fate of Madeleine, the little Scottish girl who went missing during a holiday in Portugal whilst her parents were having a good time outside the house, all fingers were pointed to Morocco. An innocent girl belonging to a Moroccan family had her face plastered all over European newspaper because some tourists thought she looked like Madeleine. When she turned out to be one hundred percent Moroccan, no apologies followed. Meanwhile the fate of dozens of innocent children abducted from their families by so-called aid workers in Chad for the purpose of selling them on in France has all but been forgotten only a couple of weeks later.

Like drug trafficking, child trafficking is not a localised phenomenon. Supply is usually driven by demand, and the demand originates in the countries of the West. After a Unicef warning that the British government is failing to protect vulnerable youngsters brought into the country the Guardian newspaper revealed that during 2005-6 a total of 88% of Chinese children illegally trafficked into the UK have gone missing AFTER having been identified and cared for by Social Services. A similar story emerges for children brought to the UK illegally from Nigeria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Russia or Eastern Europe. Of course, the children brought to the attention of Social Services are only the tip of the iceberg. But at least one would have thought that once they were being looked after by the State, they would be safe. However, the majority eventually disappear never to be traced again, and Social Services are probably glad to have them off their books. As Unicef observes, the care and protection for these children is inconsistent, ad hoc and, in some regions, completely absent.

Some of the children are brought into the UK for sexual exploitation, others as domestic household helpers and child labourers. Their individual stories are a lot more heart-rendering than the plight of Madeleine's parents grabbing world headlines, yet little is written about them since this would tarnish the polished veneer of the "leading civilisations" of the world and reveal an ugly underside beneath the skilfully applied make-up. Until Europeans sort out their own problems of child slavery and trafficking, they should stop lecturing the rest of the nations on human rights and freedoms. If the European media were as interested in the dark side of European sexual appetites and child exploitation as in the fate of little Madeleine, and if the UK government was as proactive in dealing with the problem as it is with deriding, for example, Zimbabwe, then maybe they deserved to be listened to when talking about universal values, human rights and the future of the planet.