Dissident wants ‘regime change in Israel’
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Self-proclaimed Israeli academic and dissident Ilan Pappe, currently in South Africa for a national speaking tour, believes his government is “losing its legitimacy as a state”.
In an interview yesterday, he said he was among Jews who wanted “regime change in Israel”.
“The more Israel is active in Gaza, the less legitimate they are in the world… There’s a legal and ideological regime that governs the lives of Jews and Palestinians. Jews are privileged by the regime. All Palestinians suffer under this regime. This is why I want to change it,” he said.
“The present regime is morally and legally unacceptable. Nobody says the Jews should not be there. They should just not enjoy their privileges as a result of oppression.”
Pappe was born in Haifa, Israel, in 1954 but moved to the United Kingdom in 2007 after facing death threats for his views. He has since then been teaching at Exeter University in England. He set up the university’s European Centre for Palestine Studies.
Although his family still lives in Israel – and he visits regularly – Pape said he had to leave because he did not agree with its “ideology”.
“I’m allowed to go back but have no connection anymore to my Jewish friends in Israel. Twenty percent of the people who live in Israel are Palestinian. They have Israeli citizenship. I’m connected to this community,” he said.
Pappe visited Robben Island yesterday, finding it a “mixture of emotions”. He also visited the District Six Museum in the city.
Interestingly, two young Palestinian men who were born in Israel were with him, calling themselves his “security guards”. The two are students in Cape Town.
By yesterday afternoon, he had already had three public talks since his arrival. He was hosted at Stellenbosch University, Al Quds mosque in Gatesville and Community House in Salt River.
His tour will take him to Johannesburg, Pietermartizburg and Durban. Higher education minister Blade Nzimande is scheduled to join him in Johannesburg.
Pappe also perpetuates a narrative that differs from, for example, the South African government and the Palestinian Authority based in the West Bank.
He does not support the idea of a two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine existing side-by-side.
“There is only one solution; a democratic state over all of Palestine. Israel controls all of Palestine, not a democratic way. There should be one person, one vote for a democratic state,” he said.
“We have to strive to have a multi-faith state. We are thinking about how to create a new state.”
He being a dissident was not easy as the “backlash is worse now than before”.
“Israeli is escalating legislation against dissenting voices. Young Israeli Jews who are connected to the Internet and who are a bit more decent than others are worried about what’s going on,” he said.
Pappe said Palestinians had a hard time in particularly the West to get a hearing because it was “partly racism that prevented people from listening to Palestinians”.
“It’s also Europe’s inability to come to terms with the genocide of Jews in Europe. Zionism and Israel gave them the easy way out. They believe if they support Israel they don’t need to deal with the genocide,” he said.
“And so they have an unwillingness to listen to the Palestinian side of the story.”
He defended Palestinians historians and academics that “have been telling the truth about what is happening in Palestine”.
“They were not listened to. But when I as an Israeli told their story, it became legitimate. There are Jewish and Israeli academics that understand they have a role to play,” he said.
“They were brought up under Zionism and should be willing to challenge their own society. The future of Palestine depends on internal change in the Jewish community, like whites in South Africa needed to transform.”