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Questioning Israeli ‘apartheid’ in Palestine

Do Israeli policies in Palestine amount to apartheid? Journalist and writer Ben White thinks so. He will be explaining how he arrived at this conclusion at a meeting organised by Hasting Palestine Solidarity Campaign on Saturday 17 September. PSC’s Gill Knight had an early opportunity to quiz Ben on his views.

The situation in the Middle East is perplexing and becomes more so as the mainstream news shifts from one crisis to another. When the focus is on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict there remain many unanswered questions: to name just a couple, why is there an endless ‘peace process’ between the Israelis and the Palestinians brokered by the US and the UK?; and why is Gaza periodically bombarded, the main victims being the families, their homes, schools and hospitals?

Freelance journalist and author Ben White‘s books and online writings make the subject accessible to us as he throws light on a the complex historical scenario. His books include Israeli Apartheid, A Beginners Guide; Palestinians in Israel and, his latest, Gaza.

I asked Ben  some questions about his involvement in the Israeli-Palestine situation.

What influenced you to take up the Palestinian cause?

I went to Palestine for the first time in 2003, aged 20. I had done some reading about it over the preceding few years, since the beginning of the Second Intifada in September 2000. Seeing the ‘facts on the ground’ for myself, I decided that I wanted to write about what was taking place there, and I went from there really.

Why do you think Palestine is one of the most important issues in the world today?

I don’t want to rank issues in terms of importance. First and foremost, Palestine is about the suffering, losses and struggle of the Palestinian people, who remain denied their basic rights. But Israel is also a special case, in that it is a settler colonial state which continues to actively expand and dispossess the indigenous population. And it does so with the support of major world powers, including our own government here in Britain.

South Africa had to acknowledge that apartheid was wrong before its abolition – is Israel’s denial of the Right of Return for those Palestinians ethnically cleansed a major stumbling block for any ‘peace process’ to succeed?

Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their homeland; they are prevented from doing so until today, because of the State of Israel’s commitment to existing as a ‘Jewish state’, with a Jewish majority. That majority was only established through the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, particularly in 1948. Palestinians insist that respecting the rights of refugees to return and restitution must be part of any long-term settlement.

What can we do to support the Palestinians in their fight against the occupation?

There are many ways to show solidarity with the Palestinians, but a vital one is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Anyone can be part of a BDS campaign, which is designed to apply pressure on Israel until the Palestinian people’s rights are implemented. Check out the BDS movement website for more details.

 

Ben White will be talking at the White Rock Hotel on the 17 September at 2pm. This is a free event with refreshments hosted by Hastings Palestine Solidarity Campaign. It will provide essential information for those who want to learn more and an opportunity for seasoned campaigners to boost their initiatives to bring peace and justice to the Palestinians. For more information contact info@hastingspalestinecampaign.org.

Posted 12:47 Friday, Sep 9, 2016 In: Campaigns

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