The ‘Peace Process’ Delusion is Worse than Apartheid

Editor’s note: The article below is an important challenge to the major fantasy encouraged by the Obama White House and Sec of State Kerry: that the “peace process” negotiations might yield a reasonable outcome. Lev Grinberg shows why that is very unlikely. Yet it might come up with a proposed settlement that some in the West will think is quite reasonable. In the Winter 2014 issue of Tikkun (coming by the end of January to subscribers and members of the Network of Spiritual Progressives) we lay out a detailed plan that is the minimum acceptable plan for actually providing a plausible and lasting solution. Please use it as a measuring rod when deciding what to think about what emerges from the “peace process.”  If you don’t yet subscribe or haven’t joined the Network of Spiritual Progressives, please do so now at Meantime, read Grinberg’s insightful article below!–


The ‘Peace Process’ Delusion is Worse than Apartheid[1]

By Lev Grinberg*

The death of Nelson Mandela, a major hero of the struggle for freedom and equality in the 20th century, has generated a host of strange and curious comparisons and interpretations. Strangest of all is the one crowning Mandela as the leader of the non-violent struggle. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may not have been alone in upholding this distorted notion, but in his case, the political intention is unmistakable: to wit, the reason why the Palestinians are unable to achieve their coveted liberty and equality is that they do not have their own Mandela to lead a non-violent struggle. Such interpretation reflects not ignorance, but a deliberate deception. Mandela’s struggle should be reviewed and compared to the Palestinian struggle in order to understand both the similarities and the differences between them. It is thus worthwhile to consider briefly the link between violence and liberation.

Mandela won his senior position when he decided to lead an armed struggle in South Africa, and established the military branch of the African National Congress. Going underground, he then led terror and sabotage operations against the apartheid regime, for which he was sentenced to life in prison. Twenty-seven years later he was released to conduct negotiations with South Africa’s State President Frederik William de Klerk, designed to put an end to the apartheid regime. De Klerk managed to bring the Whites around to concede a regime of White supremacy and privilege, do away with inter-racial segregation, and accept the principle of equal voting rights for Blacks and Whites. Such concessions were the result of not only the armed struggle, but of the apartheid regime’s mounting unpopularity and of the economic and political boycott imposed on South Africa. In other words, it was only when the White elites of South Africa felt the direct impact of these sanctions that de Klerk was able to convince them that they should renounce apartheid and their privileges. It is important to realize that without violent struggle, the Blacks of South Africa would never have won recognition. But armed struggle alone is not enough, because the powers ruling the State are always  more powerful, organized and better equipped. International pressure is therefore necessary. The more international pressure, the less violence is required.

Could an analysis of Black struggle in South Africa teach us something about the Palestinian struggle? I believe that it can, despite the differences between the two regimes in terms of the nature of segregation and types of privileges. Palestinian violence did engender international pressure during 1988-1992, which resulted in Israel’s recognition of the PLO in 1993. Following this recognition, Yasser Arafat committed to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, and got Mandela’s blessing for it. Unfortunately, mutual recognition has led matters in the opposite direction – to an upgraded version of Israel’s military and economic control and oppression. The reason for this is that Israelis, along with the rest of the world, imagined that the sheer act of recognition was the end of the process, rather than its beginning. The world stopped putting pressure on Israel, the Arab boycott was lifted, and every country in the world, including Russia, eastern Europe, China, and the Asian and African continents, have opened their gates for commerce with Israel. Israelis, too, have bought into the peace delusion, turning their attention to internal struggles over Israel’s ‘civic’ agenda, choosing to close their eyes to the doubling and later tripling of the Jewish population in the Occupied Territories. And when the Palestinians resorted to violence once again as diplomacy failed in 2000, Israelis were surprised and disappointed, and supported escalating oppressive violence. Simply put, when the world does not put pressure on the oppressive regime, the privileged group has no motivation to make any concessions. A cyclic routine of violence was thus created, erupting from time to time but never achieving anything beyond mutual bloodshed and destruction.

The result of the ‘Peace Process’ delusion has been worse than South African apartheid; more accurately, it was the realization of South African Whites’ frustrated plans: the division and fragmentation of the Palestinians into several separate and segregated areas under various regimes of control and oppression. This was the objective of the failed Bantustan Plan of the South African apartheid regime. Fearing that Israel was pushing him into accepting Palestinian Bantustans, Arafat declared that he would resist the plan, but without international support, his struggle failed. Israel has managed to effectively divide the Palestinians into five different discrimination regimes: the Arab citizens of Israel; the residents of East Jerusalem; the inhabitants of the West Bank; the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip; and the Palestinian refugees who are outside Israel’s control. Each of these groups is controlled in a different manner, so that its political struggle has taken a different shape. The Palestinians are thus unable to unite, and it is eminently clear that without massive international support, they can never break free from Israel’s iron grip. Violence on its own can only lead to another round of pointless bloodshed.

It is important to understand that this is not about the Palestinians not having a Mandela to lead them; Israeli prisons are home to a number of nationally recognized and respected Palestinian leaders. Rather, it is about Israel having no de Klerk to liberate them, and to negotiate towards putting an end to a regime of Jewish privileges. And without de Klerk, even Mandela would have died in obscurity.

*Professor Lev Grinberg is the author of Politics and Violence in Israel/Palestine – Democracy vs. Military Rule (Routledge, 2010)



Professor Lev Grinberg is a political sociologist, author of the book Imagined Peace; Discourse of War.

[1] This article was published as an oped in Hebrew (Haaretz December 15, 2013) and translated by Orit Friedland

tags: Israel/Palestine   
Tip Jar Email Bookmark and Share RSS Print
Get Tikkun by Email -- FREE

COMMENT POLICY Please read our comments policy. We invite constructive disagreement but do not accept personal attacks and hateful comments. We reserve the right to block hecklers who repost comments that have been deleted. We do have automated spam filters that sometimes miscategorize legitimate comments as spam. If you don't see your comment within ten minutes, please click here to contact us. Due to our small staff it may take up to 48 hours to get your comment posted.

7 Responses to The ‘Peace Process’ Delusion is Worse than Apartheid

  1. Ralph Seliger December 17, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    There are a few slight omissions in this all-too-brief analysis: Hamas and Islamic Jihad inflicted hundreds of civilian casualties in the 1990s, including at a critical time when a wave of bloody attacks effectively elevated Netanyahu into power in 1996; the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, who was Israel’s De Klerk, if not its Mandela; the launching of the much bloodier Second Intifada in 2000, which effectively elected Ariel Sharon in 2001.

    The ANC’s armed struggle mostly involved sabotage, and cost only about 60 deaths in the course of 20 years, nothing like the horrendous toll inflicted by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.

    • David December 17, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      Setting aside the expulsion of over one million Palestinians from Palestine, their homeland, between late 1947 and 1967, conspicuous by its absence in your comment is any reference to Israel’s belligerent, illegal and brutal occupation of Palestinian and other Arab lands, its ongoing and accelerating dispossession and oppression of the native inhabitants and its well documented serial vioations of hard won international humanitarian law, e.g., the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

      The good news is that the vast majority of people around the world, including an ever increasing number of Jews, understand full well that Palestinians and other Arabs are the victims and Israel is their victimizer.

  2. David Appelbaum December 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    The question of where is an Arab or Israeli Mandela is absurd. The unique historical conditions in South Africa and the confluence of new political forces of liberation and the death of colonialism created a climate where a DeKlerk and a Mandela could emerge. I agree with Mr. Seliger – the unilateral disengagement from Gaza did not result in a period of calm and building on the part of the Palestinians but one of internal destruction and external violence. The arab states themselves have significant culpability in all this – by keeping the Palestinians as permanent refugees as a means of pressuring Israel to make concessions has done great damage to ever finding a way out of this situation. The ANC had support from those countries in Africa that had already liberated themselves and so validated their struggle and supported the black South Africans in their quest for liberation. Bad choices on both sides have propagated a horrible cycle of blood. Mandela’s assessment – to maintain the white based economic system while liberating the political system was what essentially prevented the decent into chaos. And in many ways they are still paying a price for it as black poverty has not been ameliorated since liberation. Yes they are free – and yes they are starving. There is no parallel in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict unless we are discussing a one state solution. While I deplore the Netanyahu government and its policies I do not see anyone on the Arab side – as this is not just a “Palestinian” issue – coming forward to help create a climate where disarmament becomes a real possibility.

  3. Kenya Washington December 19, 2013 at 12:45 pm


  4. jimmie c boswell December 21, 2013 at 11:48 am

    an apartheid is formed, by a people being discriminated against. so just who are the ones, being discriminated against here? when Yesrael was designated for the jews, the arab nations encouraged their citizens to flood that area. in an attempt to prevent the jews from settling in the designated area as per the agreement with arab king theisel.

    and so since then, the arabs have been trying to piece meal Yesrael away, from the area west of the Yordan designated for them. and it has become obvious over time, that the muslim nations are not interested in peace with Yesrael. since they are against the right of jews, who were legally given the area called Israel. because pagans of other g-ds, don’t know how to spell Yesrael, more or less Moshe.

    so who are the real people, being discriminated against here? when all evidence, indicates it is the jews. i am not a jew, christian, muslim or atheist. so i can see this objectively with HaShem G-D, here in TheTorah Today. as an observer, i was born outside of The Garden, to see this more clearly. religious prejudice can blind you, from seeing The-Story that G-D wrote to actually happen in this world rejecting being here in IT again.

  5. jimmie c boswell December 21, 2013 at 11:55 am

    and now as for the apartheid in south africa. i do not consider, two or more enemies of HaShem G-D. duking it out as commanded, as the same situation as in Yesrael. and i do not consider, the international community true to G-D here in TheTorah Happening today. since all the horror in this world, is all tied to disbelief of HaShem G-D, actually here and now in TheTorah. so no! G-D did not quit giving The-Whole Torah, just because somebody crossed a river about 3000 years ago. G-D has only been giving, TheTorah since even before this time here in IT again, for another 7 days.

  6. jimmie c boswell December 21, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    and now as to the jews, where ever they may claim to be. i am quite surprised, you all do not know the story of HaMosheeach in Parashas Bereeeshees. Who G-D gave, virgin birth to. come on people this is such a gimmie, i don’t see how you can be so confused to not see this. you do not even know what to expect after, it is not good for Adam to be alone. even though it is right their in The Written Torah in regards to this end of the sixth day again. why don’t any of you believe in G-D, of Only TheTorah here in IT again. G-D did not give any quran or any other new testament to Moshe. what G-D have to Moshe is it, it is what is going to actually happen in this world rejecting being here in TheTorah. EL-SHADDAEE G-D is not a liar.

Leave a Reply

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