Adrien Wing on Apartheid

By McMahon, Janet | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 3, 1998 | Go to article overview

Adrien Wing on Apartheid


McMahon, Janet, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


ADRIEN WING ON APARTHEID

Adrien K. Wing, professor of comparative and U.S. constitutional law at the University of Iowa College of Law, spoke Feb. 20 at the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine in Washington, DC on "Apartheid Israeli-Style: A Comparative Legal Analysis Between South Africa and Occupied Palestine."

In his introductory remarks, Center chairman Dr. Hisham Sharabi commended Wing's "great job and great service" as an adviser on the Basic Law to the Palestinian Legislative Council. He noted also that she previously had advised the African National Congress Constitutional Committee in the years leading up to the adoption of South Africa's interim constitution.

Wing described the first National Conference of Black Lawyers delegation she led to occupied Palestine in 1985, which resulted in the publication of Bantustans in the Holy Land. Many Americans at that time were unwilling to accept that analogy, she said, but "African-Americans could clearly see the connection."

Wing defined bantustans as "little pieces of nonviable land separated from each other that will not permit a viable political and economic state." She noted the irony of Israel's "pushing" a solution finally discarded by the South African state. (Only one of the two apartheid systems, after all, will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.)

Wing also challenged State Department official Aaron Miller's contention that "at least 99 percent of the Palestinian people are under the control of the Palestinian Authority." As was the case in apartheid South Africa, she pointed out, the vast majority of the land is under the control of the oppressor or occupying government.

The links between apartheid and Zionism go back to at least 1917, Wing explained, and the friendship between Chaim Weizmann and Afrikaaner leader Jan Smuts. Indeed, Hendrik Verwoerd, a South African prime minister during the apartheid era, stated that "Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state." The two states, both international pariahs, cooperated closely over the years. South Africa provided arms to Israel and Israel, in turn, provided relief from the world's embargo on South African exports. Just as they purchased rough diamonds from South Africa, cut and polished them and then marketed them around the world, Israeli companies would add one final detail to other almost-finished South African goods and label them "made in Israel," thus evading the international boycott of South Africa.

Both systems of apartheid were/are based on law: the South African constitution under apartheid had no bill of rights, permitting such regulations as the population restriction act, the internal security act and the notorious pass laws -- an idea which Israel has appropriated, as Wing pointed out. …

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