"Israeli Apartheid Week" 2009
Thursday, March 5th: Part 2: Leila Farsakh
Leila Farsakh's Wikipedia entry starts out: "Leila Farsakh... is a Palestinian Muslim who was born in Jordan..."
Excuse me, but wouldn't that make her a Jordanian Muslim?
At any rate, according to her IAW bio, Ms. Farsakh is an "assistant professor in political science at University of Massachusetts Boston." She was the first featured speaker of the evening.
In her speech, Ms. Farsakh discussed some aspects of South African apartheid and compared it in the broadest terms to "Israeli apartheid" and I got the impression that she considers the latter to be far worse than the former. Throughout her speech, she threw out statistics, catchphrases and definitions without any context or analysis. It was all one-sided: The Israelis did this to the poor, suffering Palestinians, the Israelis did that to the poor, suffering Palestinians, while the Palestinians bore no responsibility for any of it.
The anti-Israel groups have broadened and cheapened the definition of apartheid; they have co-opted its imagery and the emotional response it evokes. It doesn't matter to them that a comparable system does not actually exist in Israel; they are more interested in provoking pity or rage than cold reason derived from hard facts. They like the word's instant recognition factor, especially among middle-aged folks who boycotted South African grapes and read the hagiographic "Mother of a Nation" before Winnie Mandela championed the use of "necklaces" to burn people alive and before she was convicted for her part in the kidnapping and murder of a 14-year-old boy. Some mother.
Where once it was the name of a specific legal system governing the lives of blacks in South Africa during a specific era, anti-Israel activists have taken the literal meaning of the word apartheid, "apartness", and applied it to any practice they deem to be unfair against those who define themselves as Palestinians.
I was among those who decried apartheid and rejoiced when Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa but I am not so desperate to relive those days of activism that I will throw my rationality out the window and glom onto any cause featuring the word apartheid. Launch a campaign against a real apartheid state, such as Iran or Saudi Arabia, and I will demonstrate alongside you in a heartbeat.
Ms. Farsakh talked about checkpoints, the security wall and Gaza's "economic and political depression" without once mentioning the reason for the checkpoints and the security fence/wall: terrorists coming from outside Israel to murder Israelis. She also neglected to mention Egypt's security wall; now why would that be?
She threw out statistics for the poverty rate, per capita income and unemployment in the West Bank and Gaza without any context. The statistics were meant to cast a negative light on Israel but I don't know how or why Israel is responsible for the economy of any other territory or country than its own.
It seems as if Palestinians want all the benefits of having their own country without any of the responsibilities.
"Palestinians depend on jobs in Israel," Ms. Farsakh said. According to her, 40% of all Gazans and 30% of all West Bank residents work in Israel but they comprise "only" 7% of the workforce in Israel.
So, a minority of Israel's workforce comes from these two places; this is not apartheid. If Israel does, in fact, provide employment for almost one-half of all Gazans and one-third of West Bankians, shouldn't their governments be doing all they can to improve relations with such a major employer of their citizens? Wouldn't that be the peaceful and sensible thing to do, instead of firing missiles into Israel and encouraging their people to become suicide-murderers of the citizens of this major employer? Talk about blowing yourself up in the foot.
Ms. Farsakh described the next statistic as "the tricky one": "Until 1993 a large percentage of the construction sector was Palestinian but that has dropped since the Intifada." Again, no explanation, no context. What's so tricky about cause and effect (terrorism from your side = restrictions from our side)?
Ms. Farsakh said, "There are still 60,000 Palestinians working in Israel."
According to her statistics, then, 60,000 Palestinians, comprising almost one-half of all Gazans and almost one-third of those in the West Bank (and not solely those of employment age), are employed in Israel. Somebody please tell me how this reflects poorly on Israel because I can't see it. In what way is any sovereign country responsible for providing work to any citizens other than its own?
Up next: Bantustans!