Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 10th, 2018

Apartheid systems: South Africa versus Israel State

This year, the 14th Israeli Apartheid Week will be commemorated in over 200 cities around the world.

Commonly referred to as IAW, as a South African I do not think that a more apt name could have been chosen to highlight the atrocities carried out by the Zionist regime on a daily basis.

Whenever the plight of the Palestinian people is compared with Apartheid, there are more than a few strong objections from the pro-Israel community.

The very idea that such a comparison can be made repulses those who support the oppressive system run by the Israeli government, and passionate statements against such remarks are sure to be vented.

However, if we analyse the situation from a historic and non-biased view, the similarities between Apartheid South Africa and the situation in Israel are startling and simply cannot be ignored. (Israel is a colonial occupying force, funded and supported by western colonial powers)

The restrictive policies applied in the old South Africa are comparable to those presently carried out in occupied Palestine. We know that the government implemented the Group Areas Act here in South Africa, and non-white people were forced to live in specific areas while families were torn apart; all movements were restricted through the use of pass books.

A similar policy is seen in Israel, where Jewish settlements are established within and between Palestinian cities and then encircled by concrete walls and barbed wire, completely cutting off Palestinians from other family members and even basic necessities such as access to hospitals.

If they need to reach any destination outside of their “homeland”, their papers must be approved by Israeli soldiers, a process which often takes hours, and approval isn’t always given.

Countless horror stories have been reported where Palestinians, often children and the elderly, have suffered great deterioration to their health or even death due to these “security” checks.

We can also evaluate the specific repressive policies employed by both governments.

The Apartheid government worked in a very orderly and structured way. The arrest and detention of political and community leaders was the order of the day and suitable steps were always taken in order to justify the government’s actions.

This is precisely how the Israeli government works. It announces that it will “terminate” Hamas leaders or young Palestinians resisting occupation, and truth be told we are then sure to hear of the killing of a leader or ordinary person soon afterwards. Teenagers who are suspected of “terrorist” activities are dragged savagely from their homes in the middle of the night, and must usually endure torture and interrogation without due procedure.

The most notable and current example of this is 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi, who is spending her third month in an Israeli prison for resisting the unjustified storming of her home by Israeli forces. If these young Palestinians are lucky, they will be released — months or even years later — without being charged and tried, but definitely changed for the rest of their lives.

South Africa’s National Party government oversaw a rapid militarisation of society and the army was sent into the non-white townships regularly.

Having had the privilege of visiting Palestine myself recently, I can testify to the fact that the entire Israeli society is based around the military. Israeli forces patrol everywhere and, under the illusion of ensuring security, soldiers keep a close and suppressive eye on the Palestinians, monitoring their every move.

PW Botha’s government also became famous for its violent suppression of protest marches, and when I witnessed powerful Israeli tanks encroaching on a group of adolescent Palestinians trying to repel them with stones, it is as if I was witnessing history repeat itself.

I believe that the similarities are so undeniable, that it seems as if the Israeli government has used the Apartheid laws as the basis for its oppressive rule over the Palestinians living under occupation. (Actually, both systems adopted British occupation laws and ran with them)

It is correct to say that the occupation of Palestine by the nascent state of Israel in 1948 was indeed a Nakba, a Catastrophe.

Through the implementation of the Apartheid-like laws we see imposed against the Palestinians today and the countless massacres of innocent civilians that took place in order to establish Israel, it is safe to assume that the state was not “created” by the UN.

Instead, it was and remains built upon the terrorism of the Zionist militias and, later, the Israel “Offensive” Forces. It is time for the world to recognise the need to reject Israel as a legitimate member of the supposed “free-world” and support the rights of all Palestinians, including their right to return to the land taken so ruthlessly from them, as well as their basic human rights.

The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, said in 1948: “We must do everything to ensure that the Palestinians never return.” Assuring his fellow Zionists that Palestinians will never come back to their homes, he claimed that, “The old will die and the young will forget.” (Even the old dead Palestinians never forgot yet)

I wish Ben Gurion was still around, if only to see that, in 2018, young Palestinians have Not forgotten, as he’d hoped, and nor have justice-loving people around the world forgotten the catastrophe imposed upon the Palestinians.

It is for this reason that Israeli Apartheid Week will continue to be commemorated until truth, justice and human rights are achieved for everyone in occupied Palestine.

– Dr Aayesha J Soni is a medical doctor working in South Africa, as well as the vice-chairperson of the Media Review Network a Johannesburg based advocacy group committed to human rights and justice. Her article was published in the Middle East Monitor.

@Copyright The Palestinian Information Center

Lebanese Elections: Clientelism as a Strategy to Garner Votes

Sami Atallah and Zeina El-Helou, respectively LCPS executive director and researcher and development consultant. March 2018

Lebanon’s adoption of a proportional representation (PR) system is seen by many as a step in the direction of fostering a more representative system to select some of the most important decision makers in the country.

Members of parliament (MP) are constitutionally endowed with the authority to collectively elect a president, issue a vote of confidence to new governments, set national policies including the budget, and hold the government accountable using its oversight function, among other duties.

Yet, the new electoral law is being undermined by some of its most central tenets, which preserve clientielistic networks through, among other factors, requiring that a preferential vote be cast and the redrawing of districts in concert with the parliament’s confessional quota.

Taking all this into consideration, it behooves us to consider those power structures and tactics that underlie our elections.

It should also be recognized that as much as the electoral law is crucial to determining the outcome of an election, electoral behavior will have an equal say on the outcome, if not more.

More to the point, how parties and candidates manage their campaigns, mobilize and persuade voters, manipulate the media, shape opinions, and buy votes are largely ignored. (The law was delayed an entire year to include a few reforms, but no reforms were discussed or considered on the law)

Many of these tricks are unknown by the wider public. (For example, a candidate must be able to deposit $100,000 in a bank: a condition that excludes most of the people in this poor economy, and this requirement was never made public)

While this article will not highlight all the methods that parties and politicians employ to win elections, it does look into the clientelistic relationship that links parties and candidates to voters whereby parties or politicians provide services or jobs to voters in return for their political loyalty.

While some people vote based on their sectarian beliefs or ideological convictions, many others support one party or candidate over another based on the services provided to constituents or the cash handed out on election day.

In fact, this provision of services and even outright vote buying goes hand in hand with the majoritarian electoral system that was in place. That is, once parties agree on how to gerrymander electoral districts to their own liking under a majoritarian system, they only need to mobilize a certain number of voters from within these districts to be elected.

PR should in theory make gerrymandering harder, particularly with large districts in which every vote counts.

Such a system would make vote buying and the provision of services much more expensive, meaning political parties would be forced to develop new strategies to mobilize voters.

However, the new Lebanese electoral law has managed to sustain some key facets of clientelism, namely the preferential vote, relaxing electoral spending limits, inflating the number of registered election delegates, and permitting charitable organizations to offer quid pro quo services during elections.

With the support of Konrad Adenauer Foundation, LCPS conducted focus groups with voters in regions across the country, taking into account gender, age group, sect, income level, and the competitiveness of the district.

Some of the key findings are synthesized here.

For one, while most participants would like to vote for parties and candidates with national political visions, most opt for existing sectarian parties out of fear of other groups.

Hence, many participants made their electoral decision out of a perceived need to protect their own community based on the myth of being threatened as a confessional group— in terms of both physical and resource-based security—by other groups.

Two, citizens expect their MPs to provide them with targeted services, jobs, and other favors, especially since state institutions have failed in designing and implementing policies that make public goods available for everyone, such as jobs opportunities, free and quality education, and universal health coverage.

MPs, on the other hand, prefer to provide targeted goods to individuals and families rather than design policies that serve those communities and regions which are most in need.

According to focus group participants, politicians give high-value goods as rewards for active, long-term support from dedicated partisans, especially those who have leverage over large groups of voters. In some instances, politicians provide services to voters with influence, even if they are not party loyalists.

High-value goods mainly include jobs and scholarships, and to a lesser extent, payments for medical care.

Political parties also threaten to deny or withdraw these services from voters who fail or cease to support the candidate or party in question, especially in areas where residents are highly dependent on one powerful party to provide employment and educational or health services.

By comparison, low-value goods such as food and petty cash are distributed to weakly affiliated and persuadable voters with limited resources and significant material needs. These goods are sometimes provided on a regular basis, particularly if the party has a strong distribution system, but appear more frequently and in greater quantity in the months leading up to elections, as a form of vote buying.

Parties enlist community leaders such as mayors and mukhtars as brokers (who happen to be tribal elders in most of the cases, especially in rural and periphery areas) to identify and approach persuadable voters in their communities for the purposes of vote buying.

It is important to note that in most cases, services are not supplied voluntarily by parties, but are demanded by citizens themselves. Parties also target large families as they have more votes to deliver than smaller ones.

The former electoral law 25/2008 made these abuses ‘legitimate’ as it stipulates under article 59 that ‘financial donations including service provision or payment of money to voters such as in-kind and cash donations and support to individuals, charity, social, cultural, family, religious organizations or other, or sports clubs and all non-public institutions shall be prohibited during the campaign period, except for those granted by candidates or institutions owned or run by candidates who have been doing so on a regular basis for not less than three years prior to the commencement of the electoral campaign.

This counter-intuitive law not only legitimizes clientelism, but also provides an advantage to long-term clientelistic-based parties and candidates over newcomers to the system.

While some contend that clientelism does provide services to citizens when the state falls short in doing so, it is argued that the state—managed by the same governing elite—is prevented from doing so, giving political parties the opportunity to manipulate the election in their favor by effectively holding voters hostage. In this way, clientelism undermines both democracy and development.

For one, the notion that citizens are able to elect their representative or hold them accountable has been undermined as a result of this clientelistic network, where now it is parties that reward or punish voters for their vote choice.

This behavior has impacted development as the political elite have no incentives to provide or ensure development for the country since they managed to be elected by buying votes and providing some services to specific groups of people in their districts under a majoritarian system.

Clientelism cannot actually improve voters’ socio-economic condition beyond dolling out some cash or favors to voters, which provides only a temporary boost in income. In fact, we argue and it should be recognized that the opposite is true, namely that these campaign strategies impoverish people by denying them services that they ought to have access to as a right.

Note: I contend that we have No political parties in tiny Lebanon: they are all funded and directed by foreign State governments. The same goes to local news media.

Notes and tidbits posted on FB and Twitter. Part 162

Note: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. I pa attention to researched documentaries and serious links I receive. The page is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains a month-old events that are worth refreshing your memory.

Since 2,000, Israel killed 2027 Palestinian children.

The new Palestinian National Council will revisit all the agreements and deals that Israel failed to carry out, after Trump pronouncement on Jerusalem.

The UN voted on 84 Palestinian resolutions that have never been executed. The US has the highest number of vetoes and 43 of them vetoes were related to Palestinian rights.

I’m tired of Petanque players (boules) who want to corner you as “pointeur” in order to enjoy the “privilege” of “tireurs”. They are the worst players: can do neither task.

The excellent “tireur” in Petanque is who mastered for years the task of “pointer”. He steps in to point instead of regurgitating the beginners’ cliche’: “In this game, we must have a pointeur, a milieu and a tireur”. Desist lying to yourself and train to control your body parts movements

Frankly, I feel lucky that I lived long enough in this century to realize that books of females authors are far more interesting than their gender’s counterparts

Chez nous, on est garcon ou fille. Des codes differents regissent les deux genres. Les termes “garcon manque'” ou “fille manquee'” n’existent pas pour devenir cliche’.

Et moi, la fille qu’on expectait de naitre garcon, je me revais  adulte comme le voisin qui fumait, le torse nu, sur le balcon dans l’indifference generale.

Je fesais le pitre et sautais entre les jambes des adolescentes femelles. Ma soeur ainee’ me chuchotas en Francais: ” Franchement, on dirait que tu es Lesbienne“. Je ne savais pas ce que ce mot signifiait, mais il tomba en moi comme une goutte d’encre noire dans un verre d’eau.

Est-ce qu’etre une lesbienne veut dire avoir l’energie grisante et la gaiete’ espiegle  quand je suis entre les femelles adolescentes, et que cette sensation disparait quand je retourne jouer avec les garcons?

Can’t become secular without working actively on a secular community. Need to avoid the claim that secularism is basically an internal individual spiritual condition, a permanent discipline, an individual asceticism that refuses the domination of abstract concepts and belief-systems on the reality of life and the true needs and wants of the common people.

Citizens needs to be educated how to differentiate among abstract concepts that cannot be demonstrated, concepts that can be measured and experimented with, concept that can be made operational to be measured, evaluated and tested (such as mental and emotional abilities…), concepts that require tolerance, and concepts that we should never tolerate under any excuse.




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