Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ben White at the SPSC in Dundee (Q&A session)

Note: This is the Q&A session. The main lecture has not been posted yet. I'll post it in a separate entry whenever it becomes available.

Note: You can see the lecture here: Ben White on Israeli Apartheid

Six Videos

Does Israel stand alone?:

rstewartorg | September 21, 2010
Ben White, author of Israeli apartheid: a beginner's guide spoke at Dundee University in September 2010 on a tour organised by the local branch of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Answering questions from the audience following his talk, White spoke about Israel's claim that it stands alone in the Middle East:

"Israel of course doesn't stand alone... Israel doesn't just have powerful friends in Britain, the USA also provides enormous diplomatic, financial and military support. But also let's think of the European Union which plays in crucial role in supporting and not challenging Israeli policies."

White also mentioned that some of the Arab states, in particular Egypt, the second-largest recipient of foreign aid in the region, were working in partnership with Israeli policy. White concludes:

"We can look around and see that Israel is not short of allies and certainly doesn't stand alone. Of course, that doesn't reflect popular sentiment in most of these places"

White said that the key question would be how that popular sentiment could be used to change government attitudes towards Israel on a wider level.

Asked how the Israeli government justifies it's policies against the Palestinians, White said:

"The kind of things that you will hear are often based around security... the security word is stressed time and time again and will be used to justify policies that have nothing to do with security.

White gave the example of a Palestinian farm, which the Israeli's want to demolish, had its access road cut off when the Israeli Defence Force placed large boulders on the dirt track. He said that the Israeli reason for this would be on the grounds of security whereas the more likely reason would be to make it more difficult for the farmer to live there.

Find out where to buy a copy of White's book from the website:

For more coverage of this talk and others visit my blog:

Israeli perks and the belief that land was given to Israelis by God:

"rstewartorg | September 21, 2010

Ben White, author of Israeli apartheid: a beginner's guide spoke at Dundee University in September 2010 on a tour organised by the local branch of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Answering questions from the audience following his talk, White spoke about the perks offered to Israeli citizens to encourage them to become complicit in what the state's persecution of the Palestinians:

'Many of them (settlements) have been deliberately constructed to attract ultra-orthodox population groups. In some senses, sections of the ultra-orthodox community in Israel do not support political Zionism from a theological position. But, the settlement housing is provided in such a way that it is an attractive housing proposition for a sector of the community that has issues with housing and overcrowding.'

On the suggestion that the land of Palestine was given to the Israeli's by God, White said:

'When you go back to the founding fathers of political Zionism, many of them were secular, many of them were not doing it for that reason. Although, they saw the usefulness of that as a rallying cry. But certainly, for many Jewish Israelis that idea is present in their understanding of the reason for the state of Israel and their presence there.'

White also talks about the potential for human rights groups in Israel to challenge the actions of the state.

Palestine/Israel -- One state solution, recognition as a Jewish state and the settlements:

Answering questions from the audience following his talk, White was asked about his thoughts on Israel's demand, in current peace negotiations, that Palestinians recognise Israel as a 'Jewish State'. White responded:

'For the Palestinians, that is objectionable because what it is asking them to do is recognise and affirm their own dispossession.

'Despite all the horrors visited upon the Native Americans by the USA, nobody ever asked the Native Americans to affirm and applaud their own ethnic cleansing and expulsions. But, that is what the demand for the Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state is doing.'

White said that Israeli policy has made a two-state solution to the problems unpractical:

'Israel by its own policies has created a defacto one state. There isn't another authority in the area between the river and the sea. If you want to visit Bethlehem, you have to go through Israeli border control. There is only one state in that sense... a two-state solution is impractical given the realities on the ground.'

'The consistency and parallels in Israeli policy in these areas, whether you are talking about the Palestinians in the South, in East Jerusalem or in the North, Israel's policy is the same -- maximum amount of land, minimum number of Palestinians and the maximum amount of Palestinians on the minimum amount of land. These are the strategic principals that are guiding Israeli policy.'

'That has created one state. The question is, what kind of state will that be? One based on domination and subjugation or one based on equality and justice.'

Talking about the legal basis on which Israeli settlements in the Palestinian areas are considered illegal, White said:

'The illegality of the settlements is based on the fourth Geneva Convention. It is illegal to transfer your own civilian population to areas that are under military occupation.'

The mindset of Israeli settlers:

Answering questions from the Audience, White talks about the mindset of Israeli settlers before answering another question about the effectiveness of the Palestine solidarity movement.

He mentions an interview he read in the Jerusalem Post with a settler couple 'During the course of this interview the husband said something to this effect... 'We don't have any problem with the Ahmeds and the Mahmoods around here. As long as they recognise who is the landlord.' He wasn't meaning in his particular spot, he was meaning in Jerusalem and Palestine in general.'

'That isn't just the mentality of some kind of crazy settler person. That is the kind of ideology that has informed all of these sorts of (Israeli) policies all the way through.'

Differences between Israel/Palestine and apartheid South Africa:

Talking about the difference between Israel and apartheid South Africa, White reads a quotation from an Editor of a South African Newspaper:

'It seems to me that the Israelis would like the Palestinians to disappear. There was never anything like that in our case, the whites did not want the blacks to disappear.'

White said that 'In the case of apartheid South Africa there was also a relationship of dependency, economically speaking between the white minority and the black majority. In how political Zionism developed in Palestine and exists today there is that relationship.

'By and large this is the main difference, that the Palestinians are, horrifically, a surplus population. That is the policy, the idea behind the fact that the Gaza Strip is a big prison... and the idea behind making life untenable in some of the areas of the West Bank... the idea behind making Palestinian life in East Jerusalem unsustainable.'

Ben White on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS):

Asked by a member of the audience, 'what can people like us do about the situation (in Palestine)', White spoke about the growing strength of the peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and gave examples of what people can do:

'It is about going to see your elected representative... in the European Parliament, in the local parliament, it is about education (attending lectures and talks) locally and getting involved in BDS.'

White finished on an encouraging note by saying that a Jewish-Israeli involved in BDS from within Israel had told him that 'we are now in the end-game'.

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Palestine Video - A Palestine Vlog