Thursday, February 18, 2010

Palestinian Bantustan...and Sharon

I have been tossing around the term “Palestinian Bantustan” lately. To the uninitiated this must surely sound like an extraordinarily nasty anti-Israeli insult, so I thought it might be worthwhile setting the record straight: as much as I think the phrase is appropriate for what the current Israeli regime is planning, indeed for describing the current situation on the ground, I cannot take credit for the allusion to South Africa’s version of the Warsaw ghetto. It comes, believe it or not, from none other than that great champion of human rights (remember Sabra and Shatila?) Ariel Sharon. [Thanks to Allan Nairn for the citation.] Haaretz had the story way back in 2003 [Akiva Eldar, “Sharon’s Bantustans are far from Copenhagen’s hope” Haaretz May 13, 2003]:

During his visit two weeks ago to Israel, former Italian prime minister Massimo D'Alema hosted a small group of Israelis - public figures and former diplomats - to a dinner at a Jerusalem hotel.

The conversation quickly turned to the conciliatory interviews Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave to the press for their Independence Day editions. One of the Israelis, of the type for whom it's second nature, no matter who is in government, to explain and defend Israeli policy, expressed full confidence in Sharon's peace rhetoric. He said the prime minister understands the solution to the conflict is the establishment of a Palestinian state beside

The former premier from the Italian left said that three or four years ago he had a long conversation with Sharon, who was in
Rome for a brief visit. According to D'Alema, Sharon explained at length that the Bantustan model was the most appropriate solution to the conflict.

The defender of
Israel quickly protested. "Surely that was your personal interpretation of what Sharon said."

D'Alema didn't give in. "No, sir, that is not interpretation. That is a precise quotation of your prime minister."

Supplementary evidence backing D'Alema's story can be found in an expensively produced brochure prepared for Tourism Minister Benny Elon, who is promoting a two-state solution -
Israel and Jordan. Under the title "The Road to War: a tiny protectorate, overpopulated, carved up and demilitarized," the Moledet Party leader presents "the map of the Palestinian state, according to Sharon's proposal." Sharon's map is surprisingly similar to the plan for protectorates in South Africa in the early 1960s. Even the number of cantons is the same - 10 in the West Bank (and one more in Gaza). Dr. Alon Liel, a former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, notes that the South Africans only managed to create four of their 10 planned Bantustans.

"Palestinian Bantustan" is a deadly serious, long-term Israeli plan.

See also:

Neve Gordon, “Bowed Heads and Bantustans,” July 31, 2002” on the Dissident Voice website concerning Sharon’s attitude toward ceasefires.

Lawrence of Cyberia, “I Have…A Cunning Plan,” January 2, 2008, on the Information Clearing House website.

Mika Minio-Paluello, “Disengaging Resistance,” on the StoptheWall website and also on the Z Magazine website, June 22, 2004 for an analysis of Israeli strategy.

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