Ilan Pappe: “Israel Has Lost The Moral Argument.”

By Jerry Alatalo

any academics, political analysts, peace activists, experts in global affairs and others consider the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict the most important international relations challenge of our time. Israel-born Jewish Professor Ilan Pappe (currently lecturing in the United Kingdom) is one of thousands of men and women academicians on Earth who firmly hold that belief. He has written a new book “Ten Myths About Israel”, a (in his words) “concise pocketbook” for those interested in learning about the situation. He visited Seattle, Washington in the northwest region of the United States recently to speak about the long-endured, at times seemingly insoluble problems – along with his vision for a solution.

During an interview while in Seattle, Professor Pappe shared both his personal experiences and knowledge of the conflict as well as some little-known facts making it clear that major changes in Israel’s political system are necessary. His view is authoritative as its foundation is the raw historic truth: Israel is the only national government on Earth implementing apartheid policies and conditions, with the example most recently seen – and rightly abolished – of South Africa.

Professor Ilan Pappe draws similarities between the settler colonialist history of America, the inhumane, genocidal treatment of Native Americans and Israel’s Zionist factions’ treatment of the indigenous Palestinian people, in particular since 1967. With experience as a professor in Israeli universities before becoming essentially thrown out of his country, he describes the role of education in Israel as a large factor responsible for perpetuation of the conflict.


“The whole education system is built on dehumanization of the Palestinians, so even liberal Israelis are Israelis who regard the Palestinians as aliens, but they are tolerant enough to let them be there, or have some of the land. There’s a basic misunderstanding… even the more liberal Zionists – that Zionism emigrated into the homeland of someone else, not that these natives emigrated. They’re not immigrants.”

“Not that we should treat immigrants in some bad way… Of course, we shouldn’t. But it’s funny that the whole liberal discourse in Israel about the Palestinians is the discourse of immigrants. So, if you’re a liberal person… you tolerate immigrants. You’re willing to let them be absorbed into the society. But this is not the situation – these (Palestinians) are not immigrants. You (Israelis) are the immigrants, and you have to ask the Palestinians to allow you to stay.”

“And this is something very difficult; after 100 years of oppression, to understand that the oppressor needs the legitimacy from the oppressed is very difficult to accept.”


Often Israel is described as the “only democracy in the Middle East”. This is one of the myths which Professor writes about in his new book, “Ten Myths About Israel”, upon which he by use of analogy says:

“If one-fifth (20%) of the American population would have been under military rule, meaning that only a military person would determine your basic rights, you would not call the United States a democracy.”

“In many ways Israel reminds me of South Africa because whites in South Africa enjoyed a certain level of democracy but the Africans did not enjoy any level of democracy. And the same is true of Israel. So, you can say that for the Jews in Israel, Israel is a democracy, but anyone who is not a Jew is a 2nd-rate, if not a 3rd-rate citizen.”

“There are practices which are not officially admitted, but very known to everyone, that discriminate against you. I will give you one fact that I think is very important, and which most of your listeners probably do not know. I’m talking pre-1967 borders, to make it clear. According to Israeli law most of the land belongs to the Jewish agency. According to the law of the Jewish agency, it is not allowed to sell land to non-Jews. So, 97% of the land of Israel is not for sale to the Palestinian citizens of Israel who are 20% of the population.”

“So they have no access to buy land, to purchase land, to expand… In fact, in the past 70 years only Jewish settlements and Jewish towns have been built – not one Palestinian citizen. Another example… We have a law in Israel which allows a Jewish community to reject the presence of a Palestinian citizen, or citizens, from their midst because they are… the only reason is they are Palestinians – they are not Jewish.”

“Imagine if there would be a neighborhood in Seattle which could be by law decided that African-Americans could not live there. I’m talking about official racism. I’m not talking about informal racism that exists in every society; I don’t think Israel is unique in that. But I think it’s quite unique for a country that pertains to be the only democracy in the Middle east to have laws that discriminate against people just because of their identity.”

“That for me is the definition of an undemocratic society.”


After the interviewer asked Professor Pappe toward the end of the interview for his views on what is the best option to resolve the conflict, he responded:

“The first thing I believe even before one-state solution – and I’ve devoted my life to this – is to convince the international community, that it’s in the interests of the international community, to put pressure on Israel to first of all change its immediate policies of oppression, even before we talk about a solution, in order to create conducive circumstances for a solution. We need to get the Israelis out of the life of the Palestinians in the West Bank, to lift the siege of the Gaza Strip, to stop the discrimination against the Palestinians in Israel, and to seriously consider the right of the Palestinian refugees to come home.”

“Now, if I take all these three basic rights that Israel violates, the rights to live in peace in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in a democracy inside Israel, and the right to come back home for the refugees, I can only see one political outcome that will enable us to implement these right – and that’s one democratic state for all. Because I think, otherwise, any other political solution would perpetuate it, would make it even worse than it is today. When I say worse it means mainly for the Palestinians, but I also think it’s not very positive for the Jews.”

“So I think that for everyone we should live democratically as you here in the United States, as human beings regardless of our identity, religious identity, national identity, gender or color. One person, one vote… I’m willing to take a bi-national state if that is what people want. It’s much better than what we have today. Maybe people would want a collective identity; I can appreciate it, especially on the Jewish side because they’ve built a culture of their own. I think a lot of Palestinians would go along with this. “

“But the state has to be a state for everyone, and should not be divided, or be partitioned. And the 3rd generation of settlers and the native people have a very good chance of making Palestine, and Israel – or whatever we will call it – one of the best places on Earth.”  


(Thank you to TalkingStickTV at YouTube)


4 thoughts on “Ilan Pappe: “Israel Has Lost The Moral Argument.”

  1. Sadly for professor Pappe, and the Palestinians, the “international community” is a myth, and the UN is as effective today as a check against imperialist drives as was the League of Nations prior to WWII. We’re completely back to the chaos of nationalist and imperialist desires. The pressure that was brought to bear on South Africa will not materialize on Israel – many reasons for that, but the obvious is that the US is behind Israel, their attack dog in the Middle East.


    1. Sha’Tara,
      How have you been. Your analysis of the situation is accurate, the only addition could be that Palestinians for whatever reasons haven’t been able to gather the same worldwide support for their cause as was the case when apartheid was ended in South Africa. We’re old enough to remember in particular the seemingly unanimous support from famous musicians around the world to end apartheid, including giant concerts organized to energize humanity. During that time, everybody came to refer to that nation as “Apartheid South Africa”, but references to “Apartheid Israel” are small in number by comparison.

      U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a recent press conference explained pulling the legally devastating Tilley-Falk Israel apartheid report from the U.N.’s website as having to do with calling it a “report” (official U.N. document) instead of a “study” (unofficial). Perhaps making “Apartheid Israel” as widely used as was “Apartheid South Africa” is a way of focusing on the real problems there and all the profound consequences of inaction.

      Here’s hoping the psychopaths in Trump’s administration and the Pentagon don’t blow up everyone in World War III before Palestinians gain their long awaited human rights. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Peace.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I admire Ilan Pappe enormously; not only for his rigorous intellectual integrity, but also his moral determination, honesty and courage.

        He dares to speak and write the “unspeakable,” but also to defend the fundamental ethical principle of free speech within the critical context of disciplined, learned, unprejudiced & inclusively balanced historicity.

        This new book is a most welcome addition to the increasingly powerful extant literature that now informally underpins the gradual emergence of a more robust international humanitarian law; that will ~ eventually ~ shape the development of all future political conduct & diplomatic relations between states/corporate entities and individuals.

        I am optimistic, but I am also a realist insofar as I recognize that certain “uncomfortable” truths will never be allowed to dictate the profane agendas of certain parties; however the facts cannot be erased, nor occluded.

        So we can anticipate a very great struggle to assert these profoundly necessary, even to some, self-evident, “prima facie” facts ~ but, truth will prevail! and one day, real Justice will truly govern our shared planetary destiny.


        1. David,
          It was interesting and disappointing to watch (YouTube) a 60-minute interview from 1969 by the NYT of Gamal Nasser of Egypt (he died young in 1970), which covered the Israel-Palestine issue in depth. It was an excellent historical view of Israel-Palestine from Nasser, whose English was equally excellent. The reason the highly informative interview disappointed was that Nasser’s plainly accurate points and positions describe the same unresolved situation 47 years later – in other words, there has been little to no progress, even a worsening, as the land and settlements issue was central to the peace process back in 1969… and today in 2017. Come to think of it, the speaking styles of Nasser and Mr. Pappe are pretty much identical; both men share the qualities of being sober, matter-of-fact, straightforward and honest.

          Unfortunately, in the decades since 1948 so much unnecessary violence and tension has engulfed the region, when no problems would’ve occurred had Israel stuck to the original United Nations resolution/agreement. Of course, the U.S., western nations, GCC kingdoms, sided with Israel to force via warfare their agendas for controlling people and resources, stoking the fires that continue raging until today. Through those criminal actions the West, Israel, Saudi Arabia and monarchy nations’ reputations have suffered severely, it might be impossible to get those angry “customers” back, leaving one to hope the psychopaths in power refrain from unimaginably dangerous military acts of desperation.

          All men and women with the same shared moral determination, honesty and courage as Professor Pappe have the obligation to speak out loudly and powerfully in these dangerous and deadly days.

          Liked by 1 person

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