Jimmy Carter’s Gift of “Apartheid”: Use It

Carter Harassed with $5 million Suit by Israeli Lawyers

Eclipsed by the events in Egypt, news from its little neighbor has not gleaned much notice save for media angst that Egyptian democracy might not be as genial as was the Mubarak dictatorship to the relentless, long term ethnic cleansing of an indigenous people, the Palestinians.  But news there was as Israeli “human rights” lawyers went public with a libel suit against Jimmy Carter for his precise little book, “Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid.”  The stunner to the Israelis lies in a single word in Carter’s title, “Apartheid”

Names, names, names.  What constitutes an accurate description of Israel?  There are many appellations, none of them appealing.  The partisans of Israel like to call it “the Jewish state.”  But that name carries a disconcerting note.   We do not like “Islamic states,” and “Christian state” calls forth images of fascism, bigotry and Crusades.  Does “Jewish state” sound any more tolerant?

Then there is the very old fashioned label, “a people without a land and a land without a people.”  Not even the European colonialists of the Americas had the chutzpah to deny the very existence of the indigenous peoples as they were exterminated or put into reservations, the Gazas of the New World.  Though that racist little phrase continued to Golda Meir who denied the very existence of the Palestinians, at least by the time of the terrorist Yitzhak Shamir, the Palestinians had transmogrified into “insects” or “cockroaches.”   At least Shamir allowed for their pesky, subhuman existence.

Then there is “colonial, settler state,” an accurate name well understood by the developing world as it continues its struggle to throw off the hidden shackles of European domination – but not well understood as yet in the more or less post-colonial West.  Of course, there is the “Zionist entity,” again well understood by the oppressed of the Middle East, but a mystery to many in the West who have been trained to perceive it as anti-Semitic.

Carter has popularized the term “Apartheid,” both accurate and easily understood, a term that has a “stench in the nostrils of the world.  And it is precisely what is going on in Israel and the territories it occupies.  Do you want to call Israel a democracy?  Fine if we understand that it is a democracy in the same sense that South African was under Apartheid.  The Apartheid  in the West Bank is so blatant that it can be seen from a satellite where the Jewish colonists have their own roads in the West Bank. And if the West Bank is a haven for terrorists, why oh why would Israelis keep colonizing on the far side of the great “security” wall; in fact, an Apartheid wall.

And the allegory of South African Apartheid plays itself out in amazing detail here.  Gaza, an outdoor prison, is like a Bantustan, a virtual prison where only Arabs reside.   Israel proper has Arab “citizens” with diminished rights based on their Arab status, much like the “coloreds” of the old South Africa.  And then there are the Arabs of the West Bank, living in poverty adjacent to, and separated from, great wealth of Jews, much like the townships of the old South Africa.   Anti-Arab racism cuts across the society in many different ways.  It is a core feature of Israeli society and not just superficial.

But the great advantage of the term “Apartheid” is not simply its accuracy but the fact that everyone in the West and on the planet knows it was wrong in South Africa – and wrong in the US where it bore the synonym of Segregation.  And so it is also wrong in Israel.  By putting this single word into the mainstream of political discourse, Carter has given us a weapon in the struggle against the slow genocide of the Palestinian people.  It should always be used – the Apartheid Israeli State or the Apartheid State of Israel or even simpler Apartheid Israel.  It is a gift inserted into the mainstream; use it routinely before it fades away.

And now there are “human rights lawyers” from Apartheid Israel attempting to sue Carter and his publisher in New York, claiming that the book’s classification as “non-fiction” violates NY’s consumer protection laws.  It is a landmark case of sorts since it is the first time a president and his publisher have been sued for violating consumer protection laws.  This sinks even deeper into absurdity than the suit of the Texas cattlemen of Cactus Feeders Inc.against Oprah for libeling beef.

One of the lead lawyers from the Apartheid state is Nitsana Darshan-Leitner who rose to prominence just out of law school in the 1990s when she helped litigate a case on behalf of victims of the Achille Lauro hijacking of 1985 in which, tragically, one Jewish American was killed by terrorists who took over the ship.  But she is silent these days on the killing of one Turkish American and six Turks aboard the Mavi Marmara, which attempted to break the blockade of Gaza.  There is a crucial difference between the two incidents: the first was the act of individual terorists; the second was the act of a state, which must therefore be labeled a terrorist state, the Apartheid state of Israel.  Recently the Turkish government released its report on the incident on the Mavi Marmara which points to nothing less than cold-blooded murder by the agents of the Apartheid state .  Precisely what kind of human rights lawyer is Darshan-Leitner and her like?  Judge for yourself .

Carter is certainly being harassed for his contribution to the discussion of Israel in the US, but it amounts really to a desperate and flimsy attack on him.  Nevertheless it shows just how much the champions of the Apartheid state of Israel fear this stark statement of the truth.  There is much in a name.  Carter has given us the gift of “Apartheid.”  Let us use the term ceaselessly so that the truth about the Apartheid nature of Israel becomes crystal clear.

John V. Walsh, @JohnWal97469920, until recently a Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, has written on issues of peace and health care for several independent media. Read other articles by John V..

9 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. MichaelKenny said on February 15th, 2011 at 10:07am #

    The claim is so absurd as a matter of law that it will actually damage Israel far more than keeping silent would have! And if it actually succeeds, and in the big, wide world, nobody has the slightest faith in the American courts, it will do even further damage. Thus, the only question is whether Israel will shoot itself in one foot or both! If even the lawyers are making silly mistakes like this, then they’re panicking!

  2. bozh said on February 15th, 2011 at 10:39am #

    is this then a conflict betwn a historian [maybe also a publisher] and the state of israel as recognized by u.n., or ‘jewish’ state with undeclared borders?
    or a litigation between a few people?

    or litigation of history 1, that of the world, and history 2, that of ?only a few ‘jews’ or even history 3, that of the ‘jewish’ state.

    is this also a litigation betwn people who stand for free speech and people who wld allow only the speech they’d approve of?

    well, my suggestion to ‘jews’ is simply to burn all books written by jimmy which they own. but, then, they just might buy a judge who’d fine or put jimmy in jail and order all his books be burned. tnx

  3. kalidasa said on February 15th, 2011 at 10:55am #

    Some people inherit their legacy, some steal their legacy, some buy their legacy, some decry their legacy.

    Mr. Cater has, as the old saying goes, had his legacy thrust upon him.

  4. mary said on February 15th, 2011 at 11:25am #

    What has been done by the Israelis to the Palestinians for the last 62 years (continuing to the present day) is a thousand times worse than anything the white South Africans did to the indigenous people of that country.

  5. mary said on February 15th, 2011 at 11:27am #


    Apartheid? No.

    Occupation, land theft and genocide? Yes.

  6. hayate said on February 15th, 2011 at 12:16pm #

    “What constitutes an accurate description of Israel?”

    I can think of a few very “accurate” descriptions, but the owners of this site probably wouldn’t appreciate them being posted here. ;D

  7. 3bancan said on February 15th, 2011 at 12:26pm #

    hayate said on February 15th, 2011 at 12:16pm #

    “What constitutes an accurate description of Israel?”

    Israel is an illegal, unlawful, immoral, fascist, nazi state of Jewish racist supremacist thieves, robbers, vandalizers, torturers, murderers, genociders and consummate liars.

  8. mary said on February 15th, 2011 at 1:32pm #

    ?? Correction:
    #But she is silent these days on the killing of one Turkish American and six Turks aboard the Mavi Marmara, which attempted to break the blockade of Gaza.#

    6 + 1 = 7

    There were nine killed including the young Turkish American student. doctor.

    NINE Turkish men on board the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the autopsies for the Turkish ministry of justice today.


  9. hayate said on February 15th, 2011 at 7:48pm #


    “Israel is an illegal, unlawful, immoral, fascist, nazi state of Jewish racist supremacist thieves, robbers, vandalizers, torturers, murderers, genociders and consummate liars.”

    You forgot to mention the fact they are very mediocre lovers, at best, most are up there with the Mennonites (the females, that is, the males perform so poorly they fail to even register on the scale, any scale, in fact – like texas rednecks). And if goats could talk….