Fair Policy, Fair Discussion

February 3, 2010

Ehud Barak uses the A-word. WaPo buries it

Filed under: Apartheid,Discourse in America,Discourse in Israel — Helena Cobban @ 7:44 am

Israel’s much-decorated defense minister Ehud Barak yesterday told a high-level audience in Israel that unless Israel can reach a peace deal with the Palestinians it will indeed be running an apartheid system:

The simple truth is, if there is one state [including Israel, the West Bank and Gaza] it will have to be either binational or undemocratic. … if this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.


Shouldn’t Barak start running scared of the kind of massive backlash that Jimmy Carter met when he first, timidly, suggested that what was happening in the occupied territories– though not, in his view, in Israel itself– could be headed toward some kind of apartheid?

Nah, I guess it’s only people in the United States who need to worry about that. The general public discourse on matters Palestinians is still far more free and open inside Israel than it is here in America. (As MJ Rosenberg and Matt Yglesias have already pointed out.)

Another case in point. Barak’s use of the A-word was pretty big news in Israel. But here in the capital of the free world, if you wanted to learn about his characterization of the situation from the venerable Washington Post you’d have to read right down to the bottom of this article— which headlined Salam Fayyad’s appearance at the Herzliya conference, not Barak’s.

(Talking of Barak, this pointed little commentary arguing that he prefers hanging onto his cabinet seat rather than averting Israel’s next war with Syria is also worth reading.)



  1. saying something is retarded in a discussion with a group of mentally handicapped is very different that using the word in a discussion with policy aides in the White House. You can of course be like Sarah Palin and pretend that it’s the same. But we all know that context matters.

    Using the word apartheid with a high level audience in Israel is different that using it in the title of a book.

    Maybe we should coin a new word: Helena you are going Palin.

    Comment by David — February 3, 2010 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  2. Yes, David, but the fact remains that Palestine has become an apartheid state. This was always the intention of the zionists, to drive out the inhabitants of the land or, if they could not be prevailed upon to leave, to deny them the rights of citizenship.

    Barak’s inadvertant relapse into honesty is of little significance besides the daily routine,in every aspect of Israel’s life, from Supreme Court decisions to Knesset resolutions, to beatings by settlers, to assassinations in Dubai. Not to mention the ‘slimming’ regime in Gaza.

    The truth is that Israel is acting in a manner to which the South African Nationalists never dared to descend. Nor is this surprising it is a state run by fascists, hewing to fascist principles. Context does indeed matter but what matters most is the way in which the state’s agents behave. And that is truly shocking even for a lifelong apologist for zionism like Judge Goldstone.

    Comment by bevin — February 3, 2010 @ 10:22 pm | Reply

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