Hebron: You Have Entered Apartheid

Hebron: This was taken by Israel. You are entering ApartheidThe first time I visited Shuhada Street in Hebron, a city of 200,000 in Israel’s West Bank, I felt as if I’d stepped through a looking glass. For most of the past 12 years, the once-bustling market street has been under lockdown to protect 800 militant Jewish settlers who’ve seized part of the old city. Aside from soldiers and a few orthodox Jewish women pushing baby carriages, Shuhada Street is empty and silent; in the parlance of the Israel Defense Forces, it is “completely sterilized,” which means that Palestinians aren’t allowed to set foot on it. Most of the Arabs who once lived in the area have left, but the few who remain are virtual prisoners in their apartments, where cages protect windows and balconies from settlers’ stones. Palestinians who live on Shuhada Street aren’t allowed to walk out their front doors; if they must go out, they have to climb onto the roof and down a fire escape into a back alley. My tour guide, an orthodox Jewish IDF veteran who’d become a fierce critic of the occupation, described what happens if the Palestinians get sick. “The Jewish subset of the Red Cross doesn’t treat Palestinians here,” he told me. “What you see a lot of times is Palestinians carrying people by foot to an area with an ambulance.”

The disorientation of Shuhada Street comes not just from the moral horror, but from the near-impossibility of conveying that horror to most Americans without sounding like a crank. Before that first visit, I was someone who rolled my eyes when left-wingers described the occupation of Palestine as apartheid, a term that seemed shrill and reductive and heedless of a thousand complexities. Afterward, I realized how hard it is, within the cramped, taboo-ridden strictures that govern mainstream discussion of Israel, to talk about what’s happening in Hebron. If I’d never been there and someone had described it to me, I wouldn’t have fully believed her.

–Michelle Goldberg
The Smearing of Keith Ellison Reveals the Warped Priorities of the Israel Lobby

3 thoughts on “Hebron: You Have Entered Apartheid

  1. I was a little reticent to comment about this because this subject I feel is given much attention as compared to many other more pressing issues around the world (in general). However, after reading this piece again (which unfortunately/not unusually brings more emotion than reasoned and weighed opinion on this subject – I thought it would be fair to bring just a little context to this particular article.

    I actually got to visit Hebron back in 1982. It was not as is described here.

    I imagine after the two intifadas in 1987 and 2002 respectively – there was a complete separation of the smaller Jewish community from the larger Arab community there.

    And everyone there is well aware – that if there weren’t soldiers there looking out for the safety of the Jews there – and if de facto separation did not exist in Hebron – there would be violence and essentially a massacre of the Jews living there.

    There has been a Jewish community there for a while – continuously over centuries (except in 1929 when there was a riot and I guess a number of Jewish people were killed there). It is also apparently amongst the oldest Jewish communities in the world.

    So I think my point here is – beyond looking at what is – it is important to understand some larger context there…

    Whatever view or perhaps nuanced view one may have on the Israel-Arab-Palestinian situation – it is important or rather essential to recognize the issues on both sides. I am not so sure Michelle Goldberg even attempts that here.

    I believe in a viable solution of an autonomous Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel (though it is certainly unlikely to happen with Gaza). The only question is if that could happen in even the best of circumstances – if that could even be a reality. The attitudes and feelings of both parties in Hebron are a good indication that it is unlikely to become reality soon. And I do not believe (as some have commented) that the fault solely or even mainly lies with Israel necessarily. Additionally a very complicated situation is all too often reduced to simplistic opinion.

    And not recognizing such complex realities leads ironically further and further away from a viable solution of two states.

    • PS. My comment was in response to the situation in Hebron (in particular) -which historically has been a very distressed one. If anyone has an enlightened solution and well thought out argument on a realistic solution that might solve the issues there or in the region – I am open to it.

      I personally believe that rhetoric and simplistic solutions from either side will not solve these issues And beyond that – many people claiming to have answers are not even familiar with even the very basic issues and facts. Hey if I am wrong in my opinion – a reasoned argument can be very powerful ( i.e. I am not closed to other views on this – especially ones that actually make sense and are actually grounded in reality and a larger context of the issues involved there).

      FYI traditional left-right dogma and polarized views on this and/or an array of other related issues actually has not solved much so far. Maybe there is wisdom and some solution out there somewhere… I certainly cannot claim to have all or even most of the answers. Hey If you do -you certainly are better than I…

      • FYI? I think most people are aware things haven’t gone well. That acronym has never been a favorite of mine. IMHO (or IMO) is politer, don’t you think?

        It’s true that leftist suggestions (supported by most of the international community, a large proportion of Palestinians, and an Israeli minority) have been ignored by Israel and the US. Centrist solutions (supported by US Democrats and another large proportion of Palestinians) have as well. The Israeli government and US Republicans (and a tiny fraction of Palestinians) are far-right, and theirs are the policies in place. The Israeli government’s base is so extremist on the issue, the government has nothing to lose and everything to gain by continuing a policy of ceaseless cruelty, provoking the inevitable act of violent response, and then bulldozing more homes, launching more bomb strikes, etc. It’s red meat for the base. Meanwhile a number of Israeli leftists are leaving the country. Ironically, there is an Israeli ex-pat community in Germany, of all places!

        What would you suggest the Palestinians do? Peaceful marches are met with beatings and killings. Nonviolent civil resistance is met with beatings and killings. I don’t see many options open to them. I suspect if there is ever a change in Israeli policy, it will come from American pressure. So it’s on us to deliver that pressure to our leaders. Maybe after 2020 …

        The whole thing reminds me of our conquest of Native America. Peaceful coexistence was ruled out, treaties were ignored. Occasionally frustrated young hotheads would lash out in violence, resulting in harsher treatment for their people. There’s a story in my state about a great Dakota activist, Little Crow, who supposedly tried to talk angry young men out of the 1862 uprising. You’ll all die for nothing, he supposedly said, but if you’re determined to die, I’ll die with you. (He did.)

        That’s great that you got to visit Israel in 1982, I’d love to visit someday. In 1982, I was still a kid. It’s funny how things change. I went back about 12 years ago, and the old neighborhood was much the same. Now I’m told it’s very different. A quick look at satellite maps makes it almost seem unrecognizable to me. So many memories erased! Ain’t that how it goes …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *