Poll: Most Israeli Jews support segregated buses

Most Israeli Jews have stopped believing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bluster about Iran, but they now see their country growing isolated due to boycotts. (Caleb Smith/Flickr)

Last month, the Israeli government canceled a plan to segregate public transport.

The scheme introduced by the defense ministry required Palestinians traveling back from day jobs in present-day Israel to homes in the occupied West Bank to ride on separate buses from Jews.

Stopping this was a canny public relations move, given that segregated buses are so symbolically redolent of apartheid South Africa or the Jim Crow US south. But as Michael Omer-Man pointed out at +972 Magazine, pervasive segregation already exists, not just on buses, but in virtually every aspect of life under the “singular” regime that controls Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Nonetheless, despite the negative attention the bus plan brought Israel, more than half of Israeli Jews (52 percent) still support “implementing a separation between Jewish and Palestinian passengers on buses in the territories, in the vein of the experiment that Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon recently announced,” according to this month’s “Peace Index” poll published by the Israel Democracy Institute.

Boycott starting to bite

The poll has another important finding, as its authors state: “It appears that the Jewish public is aware of the deterioration that has occurred in Israel’s international status. This awareness seemingly stems from the intensification of voices calling to boycott Israel and its institutions. A large majority (69 percent) characterize Israel’s relations with the countries of the world as not good at all or not so good, with only 29 percent viewing these relations as moderately good or very good.”

This finding is good news for supporters of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS).

The interviews for the poll were done between 1-4 June, coinciding with the Israeli government’s massive propaganda pushback against BDS.

The Palestinian BDS campaign is inspired and modeled in large part on the similar campaign against apartheid South Africa a generation ago. The sense that the status quo was costly and unsustainable, leading to more and more isolation was key to persuading white South Africans to accept political changes that were previously anathema (I discuss this sea change in opinion among whites in a 2009 article, which I expand and develop in my most recent book).

In the 1980s, opponents of BDS against South Africa argued that making whites feel more isolated would only make them more fearful, stubborn and unwilling to compromise. While they moved to the right in the short term, within a few years the vast majority embraced something they said they would always oppose and feared would bring about their destruction: a one person, one vote system in a nonracial South Africa.

Israeli Jews are, like white South Africans once were, still overwhelmingly convinced that they alone are in the right and the rest of the world is just inexplicably hostile and misinformed.

But wide public recognition among Israeli Jews that BDS is changing perceptions of Israel – that is to say imposing a cost – is the first step on the long road they will have to travel from a regime of apartheid, occupation and colonization to democracy.

Iran bluff

I argued last week that BDS is the new bogeyman conjured up by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to replace the supposed existential threat from Iran that proved so useful to whip up the Israeli public and distract world attention from Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

That is not to say that Israelis don’t genuinely perceive BDS as a real “strategic” threat to their dominance – it is that – but that Netanyahu is also playing it up for political reasons.

Last month’s Peace Index poll provides more support for that conclusion: “Despite the warnings sometimes voiced by government officials, a clear majority (59 percent) of the Jewish public does not believe that at present, after major progress has been made toward a framework agreement between Iran and the United States, a right-wing government will give a green light for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

Even more striking, a decisive majority of Israelis Jews (60 percent) does not support such an attack.

In other words, not only has the world stopped believing Netanyahu’s bluster about Iran, the Israeli public has as well.

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Boycotts may hurt Israel, but comparing Israelis to apartheid era white South Africans and implying Israel is on the same historical trajectory (albeit 30 yrs behind) as apartheid SA is misleading. White South Africans were a distinct minority who never had the luxury of unilaterally withdrawing from a "disputed territory" in order to preserve their regime. This is the ace Israel holds. If the boycott pressure gets too much, they can always withdraw the behind the 67 lines and tell the world, "Look, we are no longer occupying them. They are free to make their state." In the meantime the plan (if there is one) seems to be insert enough settlers into the WB to create a buffer zone against this withdrawal in which either the settlers will be "sacrificed" to fight it out with the Palestinians (the bloodshed conveniently occurs outside of Israel) or the settlers will become dual Israeli/Palestinian nationals in a future secular Palestinian state that Israel will "spin off" after it's annexed the WB in order to avoid having to incorporate WB arabs as voters in Israel. These sorts of options or scenarios were never available to white SAs.

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"If the boycott pressure gets too much, they can always withdraw behind the 67 lines"

This might have seemed plausible in 1968. It long ago ceased to represent a realistic possibility. Israel's full commitment to settling and colonizing the West Bank, East Jerusalem and eventually Gaza (once the internees there can be expelled or otherwise removed) has rendered that prospect null. Does anyone seriously believe that the Israeli state has expended many billions of dollars- and yes, let's tabulate this squalid exercise in the currency of empire- and introduced a new population, constructed entire cities with complete infrastructure, interlinking transport, seized the bulk of arable land, confiscated the water, and forced the indigenous people to live under onerous and arbitrary military rule- merely to create a series of bargaining chips? How preposterous. Conquest and colonization are the very essence and fundamental purpose of the state. Negation of these "facts on the ground" would negate the state itself.

This process is known throughout the world by one clear and concise term: annexation. Israel has swallowed the remainder of Palestine. That phase is over. The question for today and tomorrow is whether equality of all those living in this situation will be honored by whatever state succeeds the rotten one currently in control.

And as to the comparisons with South Africa, if anything that racist entity had a number of advantages not enjoyed by Israel. The idea that apartheid South Africa failed due to geo-strategic or demographic shortcomings is a convenient fallacy. The regime fell due to rising and determined opposition both within its borders and abroad. The same will be true of Israel. Nor will the Americans be there forever on Zionism's behalf. Israel couldn't save its friends in Pretoria. And Washington, in the end, will reach the same judgement about Tel Aviv.

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Aparteid Whites in SA DID "withdrew" - ie placed Blacks in bantustans and called it the solution. Of course, Zionists use the same bantustan tool and call it a possible (2 state) solution.
Then, even IF Zionists were to stop colonization of Palestine 1967, they would still be guilty of not-equality for Palestinians in Palestine 1948 (ie Israel) and in not letting Palestinian refuges return (as BDS goals list it)
So, Zionists are different from their SA colonizing brethren, but they will meet the same end of Zionist colonization as the end of aparteid in SA.

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Thank you for this interesting bit of news. Let us redouble our efforts--individually, collectively and all people who believe in the future--to make sure that everything carrying the name "Israel" is banned. it should be plain as day that "Israel" stands for racism, violence, extermination.

Lest the world forget. The name "Israel" to the Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians, and nation that Israel feels is blocking its view of its "future" signifies the nonexistence of those nations.

In reality, that future has now vanished for the Zionist race colony. Israel has proved to be the most grotesque experiment of all in the Western effort to subjugate the Middle East.

Israel equals nonexistence for every non-Jew in the Middle East because this is what it will take Israel just to keep itself intact. It is already making noises about the use of nuclear weapons. Israel's genocidal mindset is becoming clear to many who doubted that the Israel has been seriously working to split up the region into ethno-religious enclaves. The consequences are learly observe today: barbarism.

None of this means that Israel and its Wahhabi "Arab" minions will succeed. The signs are that it is actually failing.

But are the American people willing to accept the idea of the destruction of non-Jews for the sake of a race colony, which their country, the UK and France has created in the first place? I hope the American people will think deeply about this, because Israel, America's albatross, is drawing in questions about their future, too. The future of the United States itself is now the subject of serious discussion inside think tanks and research centers around the world.

Nothing is permanent, it seems, not even the "island" that Americans used imagine their country being beffore the Second World War shattered their comforting myth to bits.

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"The future of the United States itself is now the subject of serious discussion inside think tanks and research centers around the world."

I am an American Jew opposed to Zionism/Israel and lately have had what some consider, strange ideas about the future of my country. After reading your post, I had no idea that there are others like me, who question and/or see the demise of this "great country". I feel this way, due to not only our role in the Middle East but the illegal wars of the past and current century, as well as my law enforcement agencies murder or mass incarceration of anyone who challenges our "great American way of life".

I look around me, and literally sickened to see the evils of capitalism and it's ability to control us to the point, that Occupation is justified by my politicians and even clergy. I know of trips planned by churches, to the Jordanian river for Baptisms. I asked these "Christians" what do they see when they arrive in Tel-Aviv. Do they know that the tourist attractions are big business at the expense of our fellow humans? They just stare at me with a blank look for a few minutes, then tell me with great excitement, how blessed they are to have been Baptized in those waters.

I'm actually ashamed of being an American and when saying so, called un-American. I resent being associated with such an evil Empire.

The Occupation of Palestine will come to an end. There are enough humans putting energy into it.

Peace

Jane Zacher Student Philadelphia PA Turtle Island

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Joel Cairo's insightful comments are a reminder that efforts on behalf of BDS must not lead those who want adherence to the UN Charter and to mankind's progress to forget other fundamental issues. Of the crimes of Apartheid committed by "Israel", the greatest and perhaps the most obscene is its preventing, over a period so far of nearly seventy years, the Nakba exiles from returning to their homes and communities within what is regarded as Israel "proper". In 1948 and the years immediately following, this crime has meant that NO government of "Israel", nor the name "Israel" itself, by the sheer force of democratic logic have been legitimate, since they were originally elected/chosen without the participation of at least half of the legitimate population. Within this greatest crime of Apartheid, the most obscene element is perhaps the deliberate killing and maiming of the Nakba exiles in the Gaza Strip, who constitute about 80% of the total Gaza Strip population. Thus of the two thousand plus people who were massacred last Summer, by pure statistics it is likely that 1,600 at least, men, women, children, infants at the breast, babies still in the womb, were Nakba exiles kept out of THEIR country by the government of "Israel". Another aspect to Israeli Apartheid that it is crucial to keep in mind is that "Israel" and its illegitimate governments could never get away with their crimes without the backing, whether diplomatic or through aid and trade or through cultural exchange or through suppression of the truth, of the United States, the UK and the European Union generally, and many other states. BDS against "Israel" must be replicated by action against "Israel" 's allies and supporters, who through the United Nations could solve the whole problem but who instead are determined to prolong and intensify it for their own greedy advantage.

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Make no mistake. Jim Crow, Apartheid, ethnic cleansing, inequality, exclusion, segregation ethnic/religious supremacy, ethnic/religious discrimination, political and social disenfranchisement, separate but not equal, "whites only buses," these are not terms Judaism finds acceptable.

These are terms that racist desecrators of Torah, Talmud and Midrash find acceptable. True Jews are not fooled by the criminal machinations and attempted defilement of Judaism by the KKK "agents of empire."

There will be no peace until ALL the victims (and their families) of the Pogroms of 1947/1948 are able to return to their homes and Zionism ends.

No equality, no peace!
Democracy Now!

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The South Africans were right, just like the Jews are right now. The alternative: poverty, radicalism, multicultural totalitarianism, the feeling of being displaced, scared, and uncomfortable in one's own community. No thanks. Israel for the Jews, Europe for whites. Let the people who built the Third World remain there. Why should it be noble to try to turn successful civilizations into unsuccessful but diverse civilizations? No matter how much Marxist egalitarian trash the oligarchy spews, there's nothing in it but misplaced values and likely inaccurate assessments of human ability.

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There are non-Zionist Jews and non-Jewish Zionists.
The same is right about aparteid. There were anti-aparteid Whites and not so few.
Of course, colonizers always say things like AP says - the same as Nazis said about how nice it when non"Arians" are dead or slaves.
Where are Nazis? Where is aparteid? Zionism is well on the way to the same dunghill of history.
And if "Europe is for "whites", what some "whites" are doing in Iraq, or in the lands of Natives, called also "America" and "Australia"?

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.