[While we were at Oxford in the late 1950s we developed a close sense of things in South Africa through the eyes of a couple renting in the same building who became dear friends who were South Africans — she Afrikaans and he of British roots.  Alice had noted the distance between blacks and whites and her distress at not having had direct social relationships with them and so one evening we invited an Afro-American classmate, Vergil, from our college to join us for dinner.  We all had a delightful evening.  Later we casually asked Alice what the new experience had meant to her.  She laughed and said, “Your friend is colored, not black. We have many good colored friends with whom our family dines.”  And so we learned the none-too-subtle distinctions that humans draw.  Gandhi (an East Indian) was classified as colored.  Japanese were white in apartheid SA and other weird designations quite literally based on one’s personal appearance — members of the same family with the same parents could be variously classified as black or colored.

The bottom line is that one’s rights and lack of same were based on one’s classification.  That is the case, I gather, in Israel and in the occupied territories, too.  So if the term, apartheid, is to be applied, while it comes from geographical distinctions, it is really a carry over of racism.  Needless to say we have it still here in the U.S., lest any Israelis feel singled out by the designation.  Ed Kent]

P.S. Michael and Alice left South Africa and raised their children elsewhere for obvious reasons.



Israel accused of ‘apartheid’
Dugard said Gaza was an imprisoned society, with things little better in the West Bank [GALLO/GETTY]

A UN human rights envoy has likened Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in occupied territory to “apartheid”, and said that failure to tackle the situation will make it hard to solve abuses elsewhere.

John Dugard, a UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, made his remarks to the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday.

Dugard, a South African lawyer, said restrictions on movement and separate residential areas gave a sense of “deja vu” to anyone with experience of apartheid, noting that apartheid was “contrary to international law”.

He said: “Of course there are similarities between the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territory] and apartheid South Africa.”

He also told the council that the situation “places in danger the whole international human rights enterprise”.

He said that Western states would never rally support among developing nations for effective action against perceived abuses elsewhere, such as Sudan’s Darfur, unless they tackled the plight of Palestinians.

Israel dismissed the statement and Dugard’s regular reports to the council as “one-sided, highly selective and unreservedly biased”.

Dugard, who was appointed to his position in 2001, said that Gaza was an imprisoned society and that the situation in the West Bank was little better.

‘Reign of terror’

He said about 500,000 Israeli settlers were now living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories seized by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war.

“Settlers, largely unrestrained by the Israel Defence Forces [the Israeli military], subject many Palestinians to a reign of terror – particularly in Hebron,” he said.

Itzhak Levanon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said such language was “inflammatory and inciteful” and would not contribute to a “process of constructive dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians”.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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