Former IDF chief and Netanyahu challenger Benny Gantz bragged that Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank are actually better off than their counterparts in Arab countries, echoing apartheid South Africa.
Gantz slammed his rival’s refusal to allow American congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to visit Israel and the occupied territories last month, insisting that had the two supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement actually seen the West Bank “with their own eyes,” they would have changed their minds on the spot.
Tlaib – who is of Palestinian descent – and Omar would see that “the best place to be an Arab in the Middle East is in Israel… and the second best place to be an Arab in the Middle East is in the West Bank” if they had been permitted to visit, Gantz declared in a campaign ad released on Monday.
Journalist Ben White pointed out that Gantz was using the exact same arguments that South African politicians used to justify their apartheid regime during the 1980s, as the original Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign became a powerful force against the institutionalized racism of that nation’s government. South African blacks, then-PM John Vorster claimed, enjoyed a standard of living “two to five times higher than that of any black country in Africa.”
Electronic Intifada dug up a few other recent comparisons between apartheid South Africa and Israel, which emphatically denies it is an apartheid state and claims such comparisons are motivated by anti-Semitism.
Palestinians in the West Bank have seen their territory increasingly riddled with Jewish-only settlements that are illegal under international law and guarded by aggressive and intrusive checkpoints, and have been cut off from their families, farms, and workplaces by a long and winding wall that has claimed the best land in the territory for Israel. Arabs are barred from using the same schools, facilities, and even roads as their Jewish neighbors, who are seldom punished for committing crimes ranging from property damage to assault against what Netanyahu’s government has declared second-class citizens.
Gantz presents himself as more moderate than Netanyahu, who has promised to annex the Jordan Valley if elected. However, the former IDF commander launched his campaign with ads boasting of the number of Palestinians killed under his leadership during Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza – and the subsequent “3.5 years of quiet.” A Dutch citizen suing him for war crimes allegedly committed during that campaign – including a bombing that killed seven members of his family – will have his case discussed in The Hague next Tuesday – the same day as the Israeli elections.
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