Azmi Bishara: Israel is an apartheid regime surrounded by dictatorships

Israel may be surrounded by dictatorships, but that doesn’t make it democratic or better than what it is — a racist and dispossessing settler colonial state that has become a deepening apartheid regime in a process that will probably only continue, whether under Netanyahu, Lapid or Gantz

The Palestine Project

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Azmi Bishara, Balad founder and former Knesset member
(Edited transcript of a television interview broadcast Monday 18 December by the Arab media • Translated by Sol Salbe*)

❝ The Israeli government claims that military pressure is conducive for the release of Israeli POWs and hostages — but this is total nonsense. The truth is that as far as they are concerned, the issue of abductees is simply a secondary by-product of military strategy, and not the other way around. The fact that an Israeli force killed three abductees who took off their shirts, waved a white flag and shouted ‘help’ [in Hebrew] says everything about their approach and mindset.

The fact is that now, after this happened, they are telling the people, “We were not prepared for such situations, the army did not practice such scenarios and the soldiers were not instructed how to identify abductees.” There is a significant message hidden in this gaslighting, because what is official Israel saying here, really, between the lines? That in practice it is permissible and the norm to kill those who wave a white flag and take off their shirt.

In reality, in Gaza, they are allowed to kill anything that moves — including women, children and the elderly. That’s the spirit of things and these are the real guidelines. The explanation and the apology are justifications that only add insult to injury and expose their nakedness, since it is evident that if the oversight is in not identifying the abductees as such, then if and when they are not abductees,, then it is actually permissible to kill them without batting an eyelid.

This is reminiscent of the case of the killing of the soldier [actually a civilian-tr] who killed the perpetrators of the operation in Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and then got down on his knees, lifted his shirt and did everything possible according to his professional knowledge so that he would not be shot at, and yet they opened fire on him and killed him. That’s the approach.

If the three abductees who were killed were Palestinians, of course not only would there be no apology, but they [the authorities] would lie, deny the facts, say that no white flag was raised and that they were armed Hamasniks, etc.

In their military strategy, not only is there no real distinction between civilians and militants, but on the contrary, civilians are the real target, not “collateral damage.” If we examine the scale of the killings and the proportion of children and women killed compared to the armed militants of the organisations killed, then it is absolutely clear that this is the case, and it can even be said that in many cases armed militants are killed only as collateral damage from the systematic killing of civilians and indiscriminate bombings.

Israel may be surrounded by dictatorships, but that doesn’t make it democratic or better than what it is — a racist and dispossessing settler colonial state that has become a deepening apartheid regime in a process that will probably only continue, whether under Netanyahu, Lapid or Gantz.

No Arab ruler in the region deludes themselves about Arab public opinion, everyone knows that the Arab peoples from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf completely identify with the tragedy of the Palestinian people who are now undergoing another Nakba. Of course, the people don’t agree with everything Hamas does or Fatah or other movements do, but there is complete identification with the [Palestinian] people… Therefore, it is an absolute illusion to implement normalisation with Israel while ignoring the Palestinian people, because the Palestinian issue is the central issue and cannot be marginalised — even a blind person cannot help but see this fact.

The Palestinian organisations have a responsibility to remember that those who went out in all the capitals of the world to demonstrate in solidarity with the Palestinian people did not come out to support the actions of the organisations and their positions, but rather the Palestinian people and the individuals of Gaza, and that this important global solidarity must be nurtured through responsible political discourse and reasonable political conduct… We must also take into account people’s suffering… and invest in the long-term construction of the global solidarity movement, because it will be the future factor that will have the most important significance in the struggle against apartheid.

All the Palestinian movements must also understand that Israel has completely renounced the Oslo process, and it has long since become meaningless and that a new and joint national realignment is needed that will restore Palestinian unity, in a framework that will unite all currents within it. ❞

Translated by Sol Salbe, Middle East News Service

Translator’s Notes: Azmi Bishara is one of the sharpest Palestinian Political thinkers around, and undoubtedly as a former Knesset member with bloody good Hebrew, one of the ones who knows Israel’s best. So if you can’t watch him in Arabic (or Read Nadav’s translation to Hebrew) this is the next best thing. Orly Noy said: Azmi Bishara read him.

Note of translation: I usually try to convey the tone and choice of terminology of the author. I tried my best, but it’s hard after two translation. If you have suggestion for improvements I’m all ears.

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