Haaretz editor and board member Danny Rubinstein does not retract his categorization of Israel as an “apartheid state” before the UN. He claims many at Haaretz agree.
Rubinstein had addressed the UN’s Palestinian Rights Conference in Brussels on his way to a World Zionist Organization-sponsored speaking tour in Britain last week. His speaking engagement before the local Zionist Federation was cancelled due to the outcry over his statements, but a local Conservative synagogue hosted the lecture, sponsored by the New Israel Fund.
Some attendees expected Rubinstein to explain the context of his words, but when they offered him a chance to explain himself to the local Jewish community, he stubbornly stood by his statements.
"I am not apologizing for what I said," the Haaretz editor said, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. "People do use the word apartheid in my circles. My newspaper increasingly uses that word. This is nothing new.”
Yisrael Medad, Vice Chairman of Israel's Media Watch, commented on Rubenstein's words: "The atmosphere that David Landau, chief editor of Haaretz, has created together with the paper's owner Amos Schocken, has led what should have been Israel's premier newspaper to adopt the terminology of the enemy and provide it with the most important instrument for victory: the kowtowing of Israel and Zionism before their onslaught." "Haaretz seems no longer to be a newspaper, but perhaps an ideological ragsheet," Medad added.
Rubinstein says he started using the word after former US President Jimmy Carter published his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” Rubinstein said that he disliked the book, but argued: “Even [former Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon used the word ‘occupation,’ which was a word never used before…I have a professional responsibility to say what I think, and I won't change what I say or what I think depending on the place.”
The UK Zionist Federation was scheduled to have Rubinstein address its annual assembly and Rubinstein’s trip, including his stopover in Brussles, was paid for by the World Zionist Organization. The UK Zionist Federation is an umbrella organization for more than 120 different British Jewish organizations.
The New Israel Fund funds several left-wing and Arab organizations in Israel like Adalah, Mossawa, the Arab Human Rights Association (HRA), Hamoked. The common trait of those receiving funding is working to end the status of Israel as a Jewish state. It also provides grants to radical groups that attack Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria and their property; and to groups who work to enable illegal Arab land-grabs around Jerusalem and elsewhere, such as the Israel Committe Against House Demolitions.
Rubinstein addressed the International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestine Peace, as the UN conference was called, alongside several other participants who did use this “apartheid” status to call for a boycott of Israel. One of the speakers with whom he shared the dais was Clare Short, a notoriously anti-Israel British politician, who spoke about being led on tours of PA-controlled areas by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). ICAHD is funded by the New Israel Fund.
Zionist Federation Takes a Stand
Despite growing pressure from the large left-wing Jewish community in Britain, the Zionist Federation stood firm in its decision to bar Rubinstein from speaking. "The Anglo-Jewish community and other supporters of Israel have been fighting growing efforts by various British unions to boycott Israel, the latest being an attempt by the UK's University and College Union to sever links with the Israeli academic community," Gavin Gross, director of public affairs for the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland told the JTA. "By using the phrase 'apartheid state' to describe Israel, [the Haaretz editor] has provided legitimacy to the pro-boycott camp."
Asked by the moderator at his London appearance whether he would also appear before the extreme-right British National Party, Rubinstein replied: "That analogy is not fair. This was the UN."