The FCI visits the Apartheid Wall – But is it Apartheid?

2 02 2010

All Along The Watchtower: The Flying Carpet Institute visits the Apartheid Wall – But is it Apartheid?

The FCI got the chance of touring the Separation Wall last Sunday and see `realities on the ground´ as Israeli governments have a habit of saying. The most expensive project in the history of the state, the Wall or Fence (it´s actually both; and both varieties are grotesque with the Fence-version suspicously resembling its US-Mexican counterpart) is responsible for one of the biggest land grabs against Palestinian territory in the recent years. More permanent-looking behind it are the settlements, fortresses of the Israeli extreme Right amidst a shrinking Palestinian landscape. The Wall is responsible for the arbitrary divsion of Palestinian land, an elaborate system of permanent surveilance (we actually received a `friendly visit´ by an IDF-jeep during the tour), the isolation of Palestinians from their places of residence and, along with settler violence, a variety of psychological disorders among the Palestinian population, especially as regards to children. The Wall is complemented by so-called Workers´ Terminals, policed by private security firms and designed to facilitate the access of Israeli goods in the enclaves controlled by the Palestinian Authority, as well as the flow of cheap Palestinian labour to Israel proper.

But is it really Apartheid? How did this term become so popular among Palestinians and international activists? Probably the reason is the direct optical reality. Seeing the Wall separating the Palestinian enclaves from a modern Israel brings to mind images of a prosperous, European Johannesburg and a Third-World-looking Soweto township. The Workers´ Terminals certainly bring in mind the thousands of black South Africans commuting everyday from their townships to the factories and diamond mines of white South Africa. But, to quote socialist Israeli dissident Moshé Machover, calling it Apartheid is misleading for it is worse than Apartheid. The South African Apartheid digged its own grave by ending up as a system of a white ruling class exploiting a black working class majority. While the Workers´ Terminals are intended to bring Palestinian labour into Israel, the proportion of Palestinians that are vital for the functioning of the Israeli economy is very small. In fact, a significant amount of workers employed in the factories set up along the barrierr, like in Tulkarem (see photo), employ not only Palestinians but also migrant workers from countries such as Romania and Thailand.

So the Wall isn´t an effective high-tech policing operation intended of exploiting Palestinian labour. It is rather intended to suffocate economic and cultural activity on behalf of  the Palestinians to the point of forcing them to leave, while settlements expand from the hilltops to the valleys. If any doubts arise about this statement, then I suggest reading Binyamin Netanyahu´s statement last week saying Israel is here (the West Bank) to stay. Furthermore, there is no Palestinian workers´ strike that is able to paralyze the Israeli economy and force a serious change in current Israeli policy. Judging by the high levels of unemployment and cases of extreme alcohol abuse, the Palestinian Authority enclaves resemble Native American reservations in the United States.

So calling it Apartheid is a most self-defeating statement. Its use actually does favour to the Palestinians by assigning them a better status than the one they enjoy now.

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3 02 2010
Palestine Special: All Along Israel’s Watchtower | Enduring America

[…] From The Flying Carpet Institute: […]

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