Blogs > HNN > "Before We End Up Like South Africa"?

Nov 19, 2007 2:00 am

"Before We End Up Like South Africa"?

[Mr. LeVine is professor of modern Middle Eastern history, culture, and Islamic studies at the University of California, Irvine, and author of the forthcoming books: Why They Don't Hate Us: Lifting the Veil on the Axis of Evil; and Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv and the Struggle for Palestine, 1880-1948. He is also a contributor, with Viggo Mortensen and Pilar Perez, to Twilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation. Click here to access his homepage.]

As Israel and the Palestinians prepare for their upcoming "meeting" in Annapolis, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been busy spinning Israel's positions on the far reaching concessions it will likely be asked to make as part of the "final peace deal" that Olmert and Abbas are pledging to negotiate within the next year.

Here's how the Guardian reported the most recent developments:

"Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister, warned this week that it was unlikely that there could be a better Palestinian leadership - from Israel's standpoint - in the foreseeable future. Israel needed to take advantage of the opportunity to create a Palestinian state in order to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel and "avoid ending up like South Africa", he told the Knesset foreign affairs and defence committee." (,,2212622,00.html)

Please read the paragraph again--especially if you ever said a bad word, or wrote a nasty email or letter, about Jimmy Carter's"Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid." Because Olmert just let the cat out of the bag. Regardless of how you parse the statment, Olmert clearly admits that Israel's situation is analogous to South Africa's.

On the one hand, the statement could well be a Freudian slip; that is, Olmert was admitting that Israel's rule of the Territories, geographically/spatially, politically, economically and militarily, already closely resembles Apartheid-era rule in South Africa. This is the position of most South Africans who have visited the OT, including Neslon Mandela and Desmond Tutu. It's also the position of many, if not most Israeli scholars who study the occupation.

On the other hand, he could be saying that if things don't change soon, Israel will wind up like South Africa. There are two ways to interpret this interpretation: First, that Olmert is arguing that things aren't as bad as Apartheid yet, but will"end up" like it if a peace agreement isn't reached soon. Second, and perhaps more troubling for Zionist Jews, Israelis and their supporters, would be that Olmert is saying that if the occupation isn't ended soon, Israel will wind up like post-Apartheid South Africa--that is, sooner or later Palestinians will achieve the numerical majority and world opinion will force Israel and the Occupied Territories to become one state, for of all its citizens, ending the Zionist dream in exactly the manner that Yassir Arafat and Hamas have long desired.

No matter how you interpret it, however, Olmert's admission reveals just how bad the occupation is, and how close it is to mortally wounding Israel's identity as a Jewish, Zionist state.

Let's hope for a Hannukhah/Christmas miracle in Annapolis.

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N. Friedman - 12/3/2007

Mr. Feuerbach,

I am not sure why it matters to you that certain Christians vote one way due to their faith. Does your perspective as a recovering Christian not make you biased against your old compatriots rather than a neutral sort of observer?

J. Feuerbach - 12/2/2007

Mr. Friedman,

It makes no sense to continue arguing back and forth. We'll have to agree to disagree on some points.

I already made my point: the influence of religion in the development of US Middle East policy is quite apparent. 50 million of born-again Evangelical Americans believe Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Being myself a Christian in recovery, I know that none of them would vote for a President who would compromise their own understanding of the way history should unfold. In other words, very few Evangelicals would vote for a pro-Palestinian president, for instance. Remember that Evangelicals are escathologically minded. Here's a good summary of their escathology.

"For Christian Zionists, the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of God's covenant with Abraham and the center of His action from now to the Second Coming of Christ and final battle of Armageddon, when the Antichrist will be defeated. But before this can occur, they say, biblical prophecy foretells the return of Jews from other countries; Israel's possession of all the land between the Euphrates and Nile rivers; and the rebuilding of the Jewish temple where a Muslim site, Dome of the Rock, now stands."

Of course some Evangelicals don't understand that their actions can make these prophecies self-fulfilling. But why take a chance, right? That's why Evangelicals have become involved in political, financial, and religious ways they never had before.

N. Friedman - 12/2/2007

Mr. Feuerbach,

I would never deny that there are Christian Zionists - and a lot of them. Such people more or less attempt to reconcile their faith with the Hebrew Scriptures. That is pretty harmless, all things considered.

I might add that there are also Christians who, on religious grounds, hold that Jews preferably should roam the Earth for the sins of a few back in antiquity. They are, likely, the majority of the world's Christians. Their influence is particularly strong in Europe.

In fact, a rather nasty version of that approach has gained in popularity with the revival of the Marcionism - sometimes termed neo-Marcionism or Palestinian Replacement Theology. Such people hold that the Jewish Scriptures have not only be superseded, as is common Christian belief, but that Jews have been entirely replaced in the favor of God by Palestinian Arabs. In fact, a number of them re-cast Bible stories so as to write Jews out of them.

Again: people have lots of views of things. That is their right. I, for one, do not find my solace in religious doctrine.

At the same time, I do not cast aspersions on Christians who, contrary to the long history of hostility shown by Christians over the millennia, have chosen not to relegate Jews to history's waste bin or think, deep down, that Jews ought wander the Earth forever. Rather, I accept the wager of this new group that, if there is an end of days, as they would have it, Jews who have not converted will not find favor with God. My bet is that they are wrong.

So, I throw it out to you that policy is, in most Christian dominated countries - even those, like European countries, which are seemingly more post-Christian than Christian -, dominated by people who have inherent prejudices against Jews, taught to them from childhood. And, that tends to prejudice their thinking about Israel.

I also throw out to you that the 80 million Christian Zionists come in a variety of different stripes and are not, as you would have it, mostly one issue voters. But, that sort of begs the issue since you find it troubling that anyone would find religious solace in Israel - that, even while the Hamas has religious hostility toward issue, supported by Christians who hate Jews, asserting a renewed hostile version of Christianity that has substantial roots in certain forms of Christianity, as history's record shows pretty clearly.

J. Feuerbach - 12/2/2007

Mr. Friedman,

Some Americans may have --and I'm quoting you-- rather non-religious reasons to support Israel but a crucial segment of the US electorate force doesn't. And they are, most of the time, who decide presidential elections. I'm talking about US Evangelicals. Some facts from

(1) "The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates 85 million evangelicals believe God tells them to support Israel -- more than six times the world's Jewish population."

(2) "A recent poll found that 59 percent of American evangelicals believe Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy."

(3) Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut, was among the speakers at last month's convention of Christians United for Israel. 'There are a lot more Christian Zionists in America than Jewish Zionists,' the former Democratic vice presidential candidate told the group."

(4) Here are some testimonials that illustrate the intersection of politics and religion with losers and winners.

From the Jewish perspective:

"Back in church, Baras told the congregation: We need to stand together so that our governments will believe that the land of Israel, the entire land of Israel, belongs to the Jewish people.'"

From the Evangelical perspective:

"A recent stop finds her in Melbourne, Florida, visiting Pastor Gary Christofaro at his First Assembly Church of God. Christofaro and his flock take their Jewish roots so seriously that on Friday nights they observe the Jewish Sabbath with Hebrew prayers. This is not just religious ritual. They support Israel -- which to them includes Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank. Church members tour settlements with Baras and have donated more than a $100,000 to support them."

This is what Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia told a crowd of Israelis who gathered for a rally on Sunday evening sponsored by One Jerusalem, a new group that is opposed to dividing the city. "I remind them that Jerusalem is not merely the capital of Israel, but the spiritual capital of Jews and Christians everywhere," he said.

Bottom line: Of course you can support Israel on very liberal grounds as you do. However, US Evangelical and Fundamentalist voters play a more important role in determining who ends up in the White House devising Middle East foreign policy. If you don't think this is the case, I challenge you to come up with a US Presidential candidate who was elected and didn't support Israel. To ignore 85 million Americans would be stupid and amount to political suicide.

Never underestimate the power of well-run Sunday Schools...

N. Friedman - 12/1/2007

Mr. Feuerbach,

I have trouble understanding your view. I recall previously discussing how Islam informs the view of Muslims. To that, you told me that there Islam is not a monolith. Why not apply that view to those who favor Israel? Why not assume that some of us have rather non-religious reasons to support Israel? Why not assume that one can support Israel on very liberal grounds, as I do.

The larger issue I see is that Arab Muslims are in intellectual turmoil. Until they get over it, there will not be any real peace. And, that could take a very long time.

J. Feuerbach - 12/1/2007

Nr. Friedman,

I'm not as interested in Mr. LeVine's psychoanalytical or socio-political interpretations of someone's words as in the topic per se. The use of emotionally charged expressions (e.g.: Holocaust or Apartheid) just get in the way of having an open discussion and reaching a definite solution to a problem that affects two people. For some reason, no one appreciates being called directly or indirectly a racist. Mr. LeVine apparently agrees with President Carter's take on what's going on in the Middle East. My point? He doesn't need to use someone else's words to take a stand.

We can discuss Mr. LeVine's interpretations of what the Israeli Prime Minister said or we can discuss the issue at large. Here's my second point. While premillenianism theology continues to inform US foreign policy in the Middle East, the Zionist Jews, Israelis and their supporters (i.e. US Evangelicals and Fundamentalists) can rest assured that the Zionist dream is not in danger. Nothing to worry about. Remember it's in the Bible...


N. Friedman - 12/1/2007

Mr. Feuerbach,

The issue he raised concerned the intended meaning certain language used by the Israeli Prime Minister. Professor Levine sees it as somehow suggesting an admission of a relation between apartheid South Africa and Israel. Most of the posters have pointed out that such seems to be an unlikely interpretation.

His comment had nothing per se to do with taking the Israeli or the Palestinian Arab side. Which is to say, one could think what they will about Israel but that does not change the meaning of what the Israeli Prime Minister had in mind. Or, do you think otherwise?

The dispute here concerns what the Israeli Prime Minister meant. And, he could be saying what Professor LeVine thinks or he might have had something very different in mind, as most of the other posters here believe. But, either way, I think that all of us, evidently excluding you - and maybe you are employing a quantum theory of language so that the perceiver of words can change what is in the mind of the speaker of such words -, work on the view that our social preconditions do not answer the question of what was in the Israeli Prime Minister's head.

J. Feuerbach - 12/1/2007

When you start interpreting interpretations of your own interpretations, the chances of losing touch with reality grow exponentially. And if reality is constructed and not discovered as social constructivists argue, your line of thought will eventually reflect a thought disorder.

Just keep it simple Mr. Levine. Don't beat about the bush. When it comes to discussing Israel, and you don't take the "official" Jewish side --the US Bible Belt interpretation--, you'll be criticized and threatened with eternal damnation. Well, of course you're aware of this... based on your last name.

It all boils down to (1) which people wrote the sacred book first and (2) which people succeeded in marketing it mainly to the West. Of course, you know who won and who lost...

N. Friedman - 11/30/2007


I certainly agree that the Arab regions are in a period of upheaval. I am not sure that I would call it only a reaction to modernity - although for some that may well be the case.

My overall take is a bit different. I think that the issue has roots in the withdraw of European powers from ruling the region, thus allowing over time the re-emergence of traditional political ideas and agendas which, in the Muslim regions, means religious ideas for governing society and for relations with others.

We also have the vast migration of Muslims to Europe and we have the Internet, a revolutionary means for communication that has no precedent. And, we have a Muslim region in deep economic decline with falling living standards immediately following a period of rising living standards.

So, when people learn of the past glory of Islam, of the creation of a vast empire by a handful of people, of victory after victory against all odds - armed primarily with faith -, but also see that Muslims do not dominate the world and do not really even follow their own rules, the idea of reconstituting that glory and the means to do so come together. And, so we have the mess we are all in.

I noted, with respect to Europe, that Muslims will become more important and are, if current trends continue, willing to use violence toward gaining an upper hand over others. Whether that means a take-over is another matter. That is certainly one possible outcome. Another possibility, as suggested by Walter Laqueur, is a deeply divided continent in deep decline. I think the latter possibility to be a greater one.

Even still, your country has an urgent need to improve its standing in the world community. That means finding a way to counter hostility from European bigots and from others who appease Arab demands. It likely means ceding some land which, I would think, could cut off about 90% of what is said with hostility about your country.

It is not at all clear that Muslim populations in Europe will always retain the same views they now have. Think Turkey. But, it is clear that if nothing is done to dampen down the hostility in Europe, that population will not be exposed to other ideas by which a new form of thinking might arise. So, it is a rather self-fulfilling prophecy on your approach.

Again: I would have your country decide on its borders and make that approach stick. That means, as I see it, keeping the Arab bulge and ceding some of what Europeans would call Palestinian land, after convincing the world that such is a fair settlement.

As for Ms. Rice, she is not an enemy of your country. She may or may not be correctly informed and her comment may or may not have been meant literally. I do not know.

That Arab citizens of your country do not quite take the country to be also their country seems clear. That there is discrimination (e.g. in the amount of money spent on education for different communities) is also clear. That they are far better off than in any Arab country is also quite clear. That it would be fair for your country to treat such people more as equals would, of course, depend on whether they are willing to accept your country as a state for Jews or whether they see common cause with those in the territories. That your country has an interest in keeping such people from allying with those in the territories seems pretty obvious to me since otherwise your country will have even more headaches than it now has.

Lastly, whether Palestinian Arabs are entirely a mythological people, they do, at this point, sometimes see themselves as a people. Of course, they tend to act more as a front which seems to keep them from becoming a true nation. It would seem to me that your country gains nothing but headaches by ruling people who do not want your country's rule, whether or not they are a nation.

Elliott Aron Green - 11/30/2007

The Arab world is in a period of convulsions which will continue for the foreseeable future. This obviouly weakens them, despite Western efforts to keep them united against Israel.

Arab society will undergo more internal disruptions, I foresee, as women become more educated and less willing to stay in their traditionally subservient role. They will also have fewer children. This trend is already visible among Arab/Muslim women in Israel. The emancipation of women and other demands for increased indivisual rights will keep on arousing violent reactions among Muslim religious fanatics which may increase, thus producing more internal disorder.

Some major Western govts, UK, Germany, US, are what keep the palestinian authority afloat. Without their aid it would collapse. At the same time, certain Western politicians and govts [Norway, UK] support and encourage Hamas. So, as I said, the Western govts. are more of a problem than the Arabs. Indeed, the Arabs are full of hatred and lies, but they usually respect military superiority --which Israel has had up till now.

NF, you suggested in an earlier comment that Muslims might take over Europe. That might mean the end of Western civilization. Not that the Western govts really care [maybe some do]. Anyhow, in that case, an Israel having made foolish concessions would be worse off than otherwise. And Jews and civilized people in Europe would be endangered.

What I do suggest is that Jews and friends of civilization become more active and vociferous in rejecting the many many commonplace lies about Israel and Jews in the Western media, the Western academic world [inc. UK & US], and in the positions of Western govts and politicians and political parties. As an example, Condoleeza Rice claimed the other day that Arabs [whom she called "palestinians"] were subject to racist jimcrow restrictions in Israel like those that Blacks were subject to in the American South when she was young. She mentioned water fountains reserved for whites, forbidden to Blacks, and Blacks being forbidden to eat in restaurants with Whites. Of course, no such restrictions exist in Israel or have ever been applied in Israel. Indeed, it was during Muslim rule that Jews were subject to all sorts of humiliating restrictions as dhimmis. Rice doesn't want to know the real history. She just wants to use false comparisons in order to smear Israel. Of course, she does it in a soft tone of voice. But a lie is a lie. And these lies need to be rejected vociferously. I suggest that those in America who are hostile to Israel are hostile to Jews as such, and therefore the American Jews ought to defend themselves by defending Israel from all the lies.

N. Friedman - 11/28/2007


I certainly agree with you that there is no possibility of an ordinary peace agreement. I disagree, however, that Israel ought not attempt to regain its stature in the West, which will, in fact, require the country to decide on its borders. I do not see how that can be avoided. I also do not see how your country can afford, indefinitely, to hold out against the Arabs.

That there are Europeans who would finish off us Jews is no excuse for not attempt to outwit the bigots. You might note Bat Ye'or comment that ordinary Europeans are not really bigoted. They are being manipulated by political agendas of those interested in economic and political games that relate to the Arab regions and of those who think that the Islamist agenda either can be appeased by throwing your country to the wolves or that the Islamist agenda is somehow an anti-Imperialist agenda (the last item being the biggest joke of all). But there are also politicians who do not buy into - or, at least, not fully into - the anti-Israel crusade. And such people are allies for your country, something your country sorely needs.

What happens when the Arab side enters the contemporary world while retaining its primitive ideologies? How will Israel fight off 300 million plus such people? Israel, as I see it, can only do so if it has outside support. If that is true for the US - which it surely is - it is true in spades for Israel.

Elliott Aron Green - 11/27/2007

NF, there is no chance for an ordinary peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, especially as long as the major powers, including the UK, US, and EU, plus Russia, continue to support and incite the Arabs against the Jews, against Israel. Actually, I consider the major powers as more dangerous for Israel than the Arabs, whom Israel could handle alone --whether diplomatically or militarily-- if the Powers were not so eager to use the Arabs as their Judeophobic surrogates. This is because the Powers are almost always seeking to hobble Israel in its measures of self-defense and encourage Arab warfare [incl. terrorism] against Israel. The Arab anti-Israel struggle is a means of continuing war against the Jews by other hands [that is, the West uses the Arabs against the Jews, and the West pretends to be peaceful and peaceloving, sitting on the sidelines, feeding the palestinian authority with money and lifting it up when it falls].
NF, I do believe that you are sincere and well meaning. But I disagree with several factual assertions made in your comment, and would have some other responses to make if I had the time.

Elliott Aron Green - 11/27/2007

Jonathan, I think Shcherban believes or wants to believe that Israel actually practices apartheid. This is simply a lie. On the other hand, the law in the Palestinian Authority zones forbids Jews to buy real estate in those places. Further, traditional Muslim-Arab society was and is like apartheid in many ways, although the discriminations and humiliations imposed are based on religion rather than skin color [with exceptions].

As an example of continuing oppression of non-Muslims in Muslim-Arab society, we have the recent case of an Egyptian Coptic woman [and the Copts are the descendants of the ancient Egyptians]. She is being jailed for 3 years because her father, unbeknown to her, had left his wife and daughter when she was young, converted to Islam, and then come back resuming his Coptic identity and getting false ID papers.

His conversion is irrevocable by Islamic law and she was automatically converted by his conversion. Therefore, when she married a fellow Copt, she was breaking the law, because Muslim women are forbidden to marry non-Muslim men. That's the law today in Egypt. Now, Arnold, if you're listening, isn't this a severe violation of human rights?? What are you going to do about it, Arnold?

If Arnold could get the real history and the real current situation into his head, then maybe we could take him seriously.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/26/2007

That's an offensive and absurd accusation, clearly based on a poor understanding of my point.

I'm arguing that the comment can be interpreted as not being about apartheid at all -- that's Mr. LeVine's forced reading -- and not in any way intended to be a comment on apartheid as such.

Arnold Shcherban - 11/26/2007

Mr. Dresner,

The suggested by you interpretation can only make sense, if the South-African-like apartheid was just about
weak "economic and cultural ties" with Europe and the US, not about racism, violation of elementary human rights and the opposite of democracy. Unfortunately, and you know it too well to pretend otherwise, it brought the former as the direct consequences of the latter.
So unless you're a racist yourself, stop your non-sensical comments.

N. Friedman - 11/23/2007


What would you have for a settlement to your country's dispute? What would be ideally desirable? What sort of settlement do you think is actually possible? And, in what time frame?

While I doubt that now is a time when a mutually agreeable settlement is remotely possible, I do not see how your country can viably go on indefinitely with the present arrangement. And, I do not see how your country can hold onto the captured territories and afford, over the long term, to rule them. The cost in your country's resources will prove unbearable and it will cost you your country's alliance, eventually, with the US.

Holding out for such an arrangement over the long term is, to me, a pipe dream, a folly. It radically overstates your country's resources and strength and radically overestimates your country's position on the world stage. Consider: 50 years from now, your country's enemies will make up the majority of the population in Europe and the governments there will be your country's enemy, not just pestering, no nothing meddlers attempting to appease Arab oil producers.

My gut reaction is that the dispute will end either with an all Arab or a mostly Jewish country. That is not, to note, my wish. It is my best guess of where the current dispute is headed, all things remaining on their present course.

Frankly, I really do not see how your country will go on permanently ruling people who want you dead or deported to Alaska. And, I do not see how your country has either the diplomatic, political, economic or military strength to maintain the current arrangement indefinitely.

Were I an Israeli, I would act unilaterally to settlement the problem, one way or the other. That, I suspect, means creating permanent borders sufficient to protect your country and convincing the world to accept them. That means ridding your country of its rule over people who want you dead or deported. Such approach, at least, holds out a small prospect for your country's long term survival. And, I might add, even that prospect is not so great as Arabs will never likely give in because Arab nationalism and Islamist politics are so directly linked to your country's demise.

Which is to say, Palestinian Arabs will not settle. And, they are not idiots. They have read the tea leaves which show your country's position on the world stage falling over the long term, if all things remain as they now are.

Which is to say, your country, as I see it, needs to seize the initiative while it still has the strength and diplomatic standing. Dwelling on the fact - and as an historical matter, you are correct - that Judea and Samaria were part of the Palestine Mandate and that such is, as you correctly say, enshrined directly into the UN Charter is an interesting fact but, what of it?

Recall Edmund Burke: a right without an interest is folly.

Elliott Aron Green - 11/22/2007

Prof LeVine, you ended your original article with the words below:

Let's hope for a Hannukhah/Christmas miracle in Annapolis.
I think that it's reasonable for me to assume that you hope that it "succeeds", that some kind of "peace" agreement comes out of Annapolis. If you meant otherwise, then just what sort of "miracle" were you hoping might emerge from Annapolis?? I ask how anything good or decent could emerge from a conference bringing together Israel's worst, most corrupt prime minister ever, with a Palestinian Arab leader who is not only corrupt in financial matters but is a liar [a Holocaust denier, among other things], and a terrorist leader involved in mass murder. To be sure, Abu Mazen wears a suit, unlike the late arafat. So what? I'm sure that a lot of politicians whom you disrespect also wear suits. Then the conference is being guided by the US State Dept and the rest of the US foreign policy establishment. Do you --as an ostensible anti-imperialist-- trust these people to make real peace, to be concerned with human rights, historical truth, lasting peace??

I could go on in this vein. Moreover, I'm sure that we have lot's more to disagree about. Your very use of the term "occupation" as a descriptor of Israel's status in Judea-Samaria is, in my view, false and tendentious. These areas were part of the Jewish National Home set up by the San Remo Conference in 1920, endorsed by the League of Nations in 1922, confirmed in the UN charter [article 80], and never cancelled by any legal UN act. Further, the 11-29-1947 partition plan was merely a recommendation, as are all General Assembly resolutions [UN charter, articles 10-12].

Mark A. LeVine (UC Irvine History Professor) - 11/22/2007

i'm so glad you know that i want annapolis to succeed, and that i'm a "sympathizer of the arab cause." is that supposed to be an accusation? sort of like being a "known communist sympathizer"? and what exactly is it that i'm in sympathy with that you would have trouble with? and which arabs? what about arab jews? them too, or don't they count? please go through my writings and report back here what it is that you think the "arab cause" is and what i sympathize with vis-a-vis it.

as for annapolis, perhaps you should check with your source before you write things. i do not hope it succeeds, or fails. i have absolutely no opinion about it bc i think it's a waste of time. but it's good to know what a good judge of peoples' views you are...

as for olmert's corruption, about that one you're spot on.

Elliott Aron Green - 11/21/2007

if it is not clear from what I wrote above, olmert is not interested in Israel's welfare but in olmert's welfare. His corruption is notorious here. His being prime minister is rather a fluke, being largely due to his having been perceived [by less educated, less sophisticated voters] as Sharon's anointed successor after Sharon became incapacitated. Nevertheless, his party --Qadimah-- only got less than 1/4 of the vote in the 2006 elections. Today, his party would barely get 1/8 of the vote, if that. Olmert hardly has a mandate to do anything drastic. Yet Condi and Bush and the ever-hostile to Israel State Dept must see him as an ideal tool for their anti-Israel policy. Moreover, they probably fear the return of Netanyahu because he --Netanyahu-- would be better for Israel. So they overlook the three criminal investigations against olmert, which are barely reported in the US press, which demonstrate that he is not a legitimate representative for Israel at an international conference. Maybe Condi feels that she has to plow ahead with an anti-Israel international conference at this time before olmert falls from power or is removed legally due to criminal prosecution.

N. Friedman - 11/20/2007


The writing on the wall may well be, as you suggest, that a one state solution is bad for Israelis. So, you may be correct that the Likud has it all wrong.

That, however, does not mean that Olmert had concern about apartheid, as you suggest. You are reading a great deal into very little to come to your conclusion.

His expressed concern is more likely that the Likud solution would be a danger to Israel retaining its character as a Jewish state. That is consistent with looking to present day South Africa as a model.

Mark A. LeVine (UC Irvine History Professor) - 11/20/2007

i lived in jersualem as well. so perhaps we are both qualified. olmert's point is clear, to me at least, bc of his previous statements as to why he, who as mayor of jerusalem--when i lived there--was one of the most hard-line likudniks, is now embracing a two-state solution and even some sort of division of jerusalem. he sees the writing on the wall, so to speak.

Elliott Aron Green - 11/20/2007

Furthermore, olmert is generally regarded here as a crook. He is now under THREE criminal investigations. His capacity for mendacity puts him in a class with Abu Mazen and a certain former American president. So what he says should not be assumed to have factual value anymore than what Condi or jimmy or Mahmud or Bashar or Khaled Mash`al have to say. Olmert is not the leader of Israel and is widely considered an illegitimate prime minister. Rather he is seen as a hardship that we are forced to endure.

Olmert is also a toady to the US State Dept. So perhaps, if he intended his "South Africa" remark to be understood as Prof LeVine understands it, then the remark was meant to please Condi, to justify his anti-national policies and his possible surrender at Annapolis. Again, the remark does not have factual value but rather instrumental value. Now, I hope that Annapolis fails because it has genocidal implications for the Jews. Yet, Prof LeVine, known to be a sympathizer of the Arab cause, has hopes about Annapolis. His hopes have some realistic grounds. Therefore, Annapolis contradicts all of the commonplace lies about US Middle Eastern policy being dictated by Israel or even favoring Israel. Of course, it gainsays walt-mearsheimer who are themselves State Dept consultants.

Joseph Mutik - 11/20/2007

What this person writes should be taken as a knee jerk reaction. I guess, the same as the Jimmy Carter bigot, we should check who sponsors him (how many Arab oil grants and speech fees he gets)

Elliott Aron Green - 11/20/2007

LeVine's imagination immediately jumps to an interpretation of olmert's words that fits LeVine's worldview, in which America's worst president ever --and a great hypocrite and liar-- jimmy carter turns out to be "accurate" about something. LeVine should recall that carter gets fat speaking fees from Saudi and Persian Gulf emirate audiences for his ignorant and benighted public speaking. Carter tells these superrich emirs and shaykhs what they want to hear. Carter's label "apartheid" was meant to smear Israel. It is a lie whether applied to Israel on either side of the 1949 armistice lines. The social separations and humiliations imposed on Blacks in South Africa under apartheid do not exist on either side of the armistice line. On the other hand, the Islamic laws applied to non-Muslims in the traditional Muslim state --the dhimma-- do resemble apartheid in many ways, but not all, albeit dhimma was based on religion rather than skin color. How about LeVine and the "experts" that he looks up to studying the similarities and differences between apartheid and dhimma??
The site below contains a dissenting view of Israel's demographic situation.

btw, I live in Jerusalem and rub shoulders --so to speak-- with Arabs every day in various social situations. I think that I'm more qualified to speak of conditions here than either carter or Prof LeVine.

N. Friedman - 11/19/2007


I used to think about the population issue the way you do. However, I read a recent article which indicates that contrary to what is generally assumed, Israeli Jews are actually having enough children to maintain a stable majority indefinitely.

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 11/19/2007

Olmert, like many others, probably sees present-day South Africa as a already having moved half way to becoming another Southern Rhodesia. If birthrates continue as at present, Israel will eventually have a Palestinian majority. The long-run future doesn't look very good for her, any way you slice it.

N. Friedman - 11/19/2007

It is rather unlikely that the concern expressed is that Israel would become like South Africa under apartheid. That interpretation would require Israelis to view matters differently (a) than they actually are and (b) than Israelis perceive their situation to be.

Far more likely, the concern expressed is that Israel might, if something is not done, become like today's South Africa - something Israelis do not want to occur. And, for Israel to remain a homeland for the Jewish people, the one state solution is no solution at all so the South Africa model is not a useful model for the future. So, the statement most likely means that Israel must cede land in order to remain a Jewish state.

Were the issue to be one of Israel becoming like South Africa, there would need to be a very different state ideology than now prevails and is likely to prevail.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/19/2007

There is at least one more interpretation, straightforward and reasonable, but that doesn't fit Mr. LeVine's thesis: Olmert is concerned that boycotts and anti-Zionist activism could weaken Israel's position internationally, particularly with regard to economic and cultural ties to Europe and the United States.