David Ben-Gurion, like Kerry, warned of future Apartheid

Secretary of State Kerry probably heard the term “Apartheid” so many times in Israel itself that he found himself using it.  And in exasperation and frustration with Israel’s settlement expansionism that ruined the peace talks.  And ironically: At least three former Israeli Prime Ministers and many leading Israeli public figures have warned that, if Israel didn’t stop taking over the occupied Palestinian territories, then it could face similarities and comparisons to Apartheid South Africa—including Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Israel’s first Prime Minister and its founder, David Ben-Gurion.

On January 27, 2010, the Jerusalem Post reported that then-Defense Minister and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said that “It must be understood that if between the Jordan [River] and the [Mediterranean] Sea there is only one political entity called ‘Israel’, it will by necessity either be not Jewish or not democratic, and we will turn into an apartheid state.”

On July 2, 2013, the Post reported that Livni said: “I appreciate the fact that they care and are thinking about the future, and obligating us to think about the future… “But the time has come for the same youth to ask, to what kind of state do they want…. Jewish democratic Israel? Or to a binational Arab state? Or to an apartheid state?”

On Nov. 29, 2007, Haaretz reported that “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told” the paper.

As for Ben-Gurion: When veteran Israeli journalist and Jerusalem Post columnist Hirsh Goodman — who was born and raised in Apartheid South Africa — went home for 48-hour military leave at the end of 1967 Six-Day War, he listened on his bedroom radio as David Ben-Gurion “came on with his chirpy little voice, his sentences clipped and hard:

‘Israel, he said, better rid itself of the territories and their Arab populations as soon as possible. If it did not Israel would soon become an Apartheid State.  Demography, he said, was a greater danger than not having the territorial depth the right wing was always claiming Israel needed to defend itself.’ That phrase, ‘Israel will become an Apartheid State,’ resonated with me. In a flash I understood what he [Ben-Gurion] was saying.” (“Let Me Create Paradise, God Said to Himself” (2005), [p. 78).

“In a flash.” Goodman was born and raised in it and knew what it meant. It penetrated him and didn’t let go–like a barbed arrow or tick or fishhook.

The Jerusalem Post’s lead editorial only last Tuesday, that was critical of Kerry, reaffirmed these facts about some of Israel;s own leaders – and their warnings of future Apartheid if Israel continued the expansionism:

“US Secretary of State John Kerry was not the first to use the “A-word” with regard to Israel. Former prime minister Ehud Barak used it in 2010 in Herzliya. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni used it last year in Eilat. Even David Ben-Gurion used the word in a statement broadcast on the radio back in 1967, according to journalist Hirsh Goodman in his memoir, ‘Let Me Create a Paradise, God Said to Himself.'”

But American rightist demagogues  like Eric Cantor call on Kerry to resign. Would have called on the founder of Israel to resign and other Prime Ministers and many other of its leading public officials to resign?

We have an eerie, Soviet-like, Putinesque atmosphere in America where public discussion on Israel and Palestine and the conflict is stifled and America’s leaders can’t speak freely —  can’t speak nearly as openly and freely as when  Israel’s own founder and first Prime Minister and some of his successors at the top, and many leading Israeli public figures and newspapers,  for the sake of  their own country–

–can freely issue precisely the same warnings as Kerry did about the essential matter of sustaining Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

If Ben-Gurion can say it, then why can’t US Secretary of State Kerry?

And from David Ben-Gurion to John Kerry the word rings loud and clear and true — that– not now, but in the future, if no peace, and with Israeli continued settlement expansionism, then, yes, there will be Apartheid.




About the Author
James Adler was born in Kentucky, now works in university libraries, and feels especially and intensely bound up with the fate of the Jewish people in the last hundred years, especially the Shoah, the rise of Israel "out of the ashes," and the accidental and mutually tragic collision with the Palestinians in the early and middle of the 20th century, continuing through today. He is happily married and the father of two teenagers.