Apartheid – More than just a word..

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Apartheid. Just the mention of the word is emotive, evocative and provocative. For millions of South Africans who suffered under the Apartheid regime, the word is synonymous with suffering, discrimination and racism.


Today the word Apartheid has been hijacked by Israel’s detractors as a way to launch a well-orchestrated assault on her legitimacy as a State. They capitalise on the emotional response and that the very mention of the word and the images that are conjured up to plan campaigns that are based on their own particular brand of racism – anti-Semitism.


Why has the comparison between Israel and Apartheid South Africa gained so much trajectory over the last decade? The Durban Conference on Racism that was held in South Africa in 2001 became the spring board where this comparison really gained ground. Not since Nazi Germany had such nasty invective and accusations been levelled against Israel and the Jewish people.


The rational behind this is that if Israel is compared to and demonised just as much as Apartheid South Africa was, then treating the Jewish state like a pariah and meting out the same treatment in the form of boycotts, divestment and sanction policies is the logical step. In fact, if Israel is as odious as South Africa was, should it exist at all? And here lies one of the fundamental differences. At no point during the Apartheid years was South Africa’s legitimacy or existence as a state challenged, just the racist governmental policy.


Israel being singled out for opprobrium at the  expense of other conflict regions and states that are guilty of human rights abuse smacks of something more sinister.


What was Apartheid? Apartheid is defined as the discriminatory and oppressive laws based on race that deemed one group of people (non-white) as inferior and legislation in all spheres to support that. It also pertains to the forced removal of people of colour from their neighbourhoods and relocated to less desirable areas.


Does racism exist in Israel? Yes it does. Just as it does in Canada, America, Brazil, South Africa or any other country in the world. It is abhorrent and inexcusable but is it state legislated and policy like it was in Nazi Germany or South Africa. No, and to single Israel out exposes a shocking double standard. Israeli Arabs who are citizens of Israel enjoy equal voting rights, representation in government, right to education in the same schools and

universities as anyone else, in fact Arabic is an official language and all inalienable rights. Israel’s critics will argue but what  Palestinians? Aren’t they subject to Apartheid that is worse then South Africa at the hands of Israel?


Israel famously disengaged from Gaza in 2005, removing the citizens that had settled there, including the dead. Any Israeli presence was removed from the area and an opportunity was created for the Palestinians to make overtures towards peace. Instead a vacuum was created that led to the fundamentalist Hamas taking control of the territory. This new regime persecuted and got rid of any opposition and installed an Islamist leadership that quickly imposed harsh restrictions and trampled on human rights including on the media,

religion, women and sexual orientation.


Israel’s detractors make the comparison of Hamas being a liberation movement for the Palestinian but can we really compare the genocidal Hamas Charter which advocates the destruction of the Jews and Israel to the ANC Freedom Charter which calls for equal rights and inclusion of all citizens of South Africa regardless of race or history. To do so maligns everything those who fought to end Apartheid injustice stood for and the hard work by veterans such as Nelson Mandela to broker reconciliation.


If we are going to point a finger at any regime practicing Apartheid in the Middle East, Hamas is certainly a top contender. Other’s include Lebanon and Jordan and others who with hold the rights of citizenship from Palestinians, relegating them to perpetual second-class citizenship status. What about Iran or Saudi Arabia whose records on human rights are deplorable?


Mahmoud Abbas, has famously declared that no Jews would be allowed to live in a future PalestinianState. Is this not Apartheid?


The Rev. Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) had this to say about the Israel Apartheid analogy, “As a black South African who lived under apartheid, …in my view, Israel cannot be compared to apartheid in South Africa, Those who make the accusation expose their ignorance of what apartheid really is. Black, brown and white Jews and the Arab minority mingle freely in all public places, universities, restaurants, voting stations and public transportation. All people have the right to vote. The Arab minority has political parties, serves in the Israeli parliament (Knesset) and holds positions in government ministries, the police force and the security services. In hospitals, Palestinian patients lie in beds next to Israeli Jews, and doctors and nurses are as likely to be Israeli Arabs as Jews. …None of the above was legally permissible in apartheid South Africa!” 


Despite evidence and statements to the contrary, Israel continues to to face accusations of Apartheid practices. The singling out of Israel for approbation in the media, United Nations, university campuses and farcical tribunals like the Russell reinforces the idea of an anti-Semitic cabal. Now that is racism.

5 thoughts on “Apartheid – More than just a word..

  1. Dear Ms. Marks, With all due respect to your very clear cogent remarks and beautiful defense of Israel proper, you are not addressing what the false apartheid claim is really addressing which is the different levels of “freedom” of movement etc. between Arabs and Israelis in Judea and Samaria, I,e. see Gershom Gorernberg’s book “the Unmasking of Israel”. Could you comment on that in a future blob or article? Thank you.
    C. Friedman


  2. Roelene, I find it rather strange that South Africa’s government, the African National Congress (ANC) are so ready to criticise Israel and label that country an ‘apartheid state’. The reality in South Africa is that since ‘liberation’ from apartheid about 20 years ago, the ANC has imposed the most Draconian, apartheid-style laws on our country, primarily, affirmative action (AA) and black economic empowerment (BEE). While these may sound like ‘righting the wrongs of the past’, it extends way beyond ’empowering the previously disadvantaged’ to the extent that ‘whites’ have been purged from all state entities – be that government departments or state-owned-enterprises (there’re more than 700 of them – from energy supply to education and healthcare) – further, by legislation, employment in any business sector is based on race, and the same applies to acceptance at university (regardless of grades achieved at high school).

    Laws are also being enacted that will allow government to ‘grab’ any business, private property or patent that it feels will be ‘for the good of the country’ – and the owners will have no recourse to law to protect their interests or investments. While apartheid was evil, reverse discrimination and ethnic cleansing are not the way to solve this.

    What’s worrying international investors are the ANC’s alliance in government with COSATU – the trade union movement – and the SA Communists Party. Neither are pro-business, and prefer a Stalinist-style government where the state owns and controls everything – including the media – and opposition parties do not exist.

    What has transpired recently are violent anti-business strikes and the revelations that government is tacitly endorsing the most serious acts of corruption where billions in South African Rand are being illicitly siphoned from state reserves, and government has endorsed cronyism, nepotism and ‘cadre deployment’ as a way of getting their family and friends into high-ranking positions in government, state owned enterprises and government contracts, lucrative business deals that are making overnight billionaires.

    Yes, the ANC is wracked with corruption and mismanagement, and criticising Israel is no more than a way covering their unholy tracks by diverting focus to another country. And, blaming that country of being an ‘apartheid state’ strikes at the core of their ‘struggle’.


  3. No to annexation, yet real racism is on the Arab Islamic side.

    We object annexation for so many reasons. 


    The hype of racialized language isn’t just wrong. It’s dangerous, as it wrongly “legitimizes” racist Arab Islamic attackers who target civilian Jews. Inside Israel or outside.

    That, and the racist dehumanization “as apes and pigs” education and sermons in mainstream Arab Muslim bigoted Palestine.

    Racial language: PRO NAZI ORIGIN

    It is vital to know that the slippery slope language (not just exaggerated and loaded,  but carefully distorted into a high drama vocabulary, maliciously) of demonizing Israel and often used as a way to vilify Jews as a whole began by Issa Nakhleh in June 17 1949 at UN at his -more brutal than nazis- inventive phrase and in 1963 wrote to fascist Candian fuhrer A. Arcand; in 1967 before six-day war travelled to supremacists WesternFront and in March 7 1969 was featured speaker at free-palestine meeting joined with anti-black anti-Jewish racist Gerald Smith;  in November 1972 showed more of his true colors by denying Hitler killed Jews – that the 6,000,00 are “alive” and in 1981 lectured at IHR Holocaust deniers representing Muslim Congress.

    Issa Nakhleh’s hate terminology was adopted by Hitler’s ally ex-Mufti’s henchman Ahmad Shukairy in 1960, and a year later October 17, 1961 he began first the apartheid slanderous comparison. He questioned Catholic Uruguayan Representative Enrique Fabregat’s loyalty saying he is a “Jew.” He also said in 1956 that Jews are “not” a nation; admitted his host country S. Arabia bans Jews but it’s “not” anti semitism because Arabs are semites.. And in end of 1962 was sacked from UN after saluting Nazi Tacuara (which is linked to the influence by writings of Issa Nakhkeh spewing venom in their area 1950s). Shukairy is best known for calling for genocide before the six-day war. As printed in 1970 (by historian/Journalist) he admitted after the war of calling for “sweeping the Jews into the sea,” but said all Arab leadership were in that mindset and complained why he is singled out.

    Since then, this unfair libelous language has become more and more used. Even by some ardent political pundits, not aware of its meaning, aim and origin much less its danger. Still, real genogidal haters use it for their racist demonization campaign veiled falsely as “anti racist”.


    As to Israel’s legitimacy as a safe haven for most persecuted group in the world, which are persecuted for belonging or being connected to Jewish origin or culture, or/ and for perceived as such in the eye of the persecutor, that isn’t a “race” thing either. Not just because the persecuted areca mixture of colors, but also because it’s as it is, a refuge. Not a racial superiority ideology. Never was. Even colonialist Jabotinsky was not about a “race.”

    As to Zionism of any string, today it is less about ideology. Today there is a question of survival. [So is the barrier for example between Arab-Palestinians, where most attackers come from on one side, and on the other side: Israel Jews/Arabs/multi color pluralistic democracy]. 

    And you can be called a “zionist” today for just being a defender of lives.

    (Even Carter admitted -at the time on CNN and on NPR-  that his “book” is not about inside Israel territory which is a wonderful equal democracy. Quoted for example, CNN transcript Dec.12.2006; LATimes Dec.8.2006).


    More to the point of real racism and bigotry:

    Ask yourself, if there had been a conflict (since 1920) had it not been for being Jewish, mostly. Amidst the goliath Arab Muslim neighborhood, where all nations are Muslim and most are Arab.


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