The Truth Behind "Israeli Apartheid Week"
Deconstructing the myth of Israeli apartheid
We have recently witnessed yet another so called "Israeli Apartheid Week" on the educational campuses of the western world. The objective of this campaign is clear; it seeks to discredit Israel as the "second apartheid state" of the world that therefore, like the original South African one, needs to be delegitimized and dismantled. The word "apartheid" is a highly charged one since it implies the most awful form of human rights abuses and thus, those who use it get traction and a hearing.
The fact is the charge that Israel is an apartheid state is an absolute myth and a lie. In fact to apply this charge against the only fully democratic state in the Middle East is an insult to the 30 million people who were actually subjected to the horrors of apartheid in South Africa. So, why is it being utilized against Israel? Because of radical Palestinian activists who have over the decades sold a distorted narrative of their history to young academics in the west. Thus, this accusation against the Jewish state has more to do with anti-Semitism than we are prepared to acknowledge. The ultimate goal of this sinister smear is the dismantling of the Jewish State. This is precisely why the text books in Palestinian schools delegitimize all of Israel and do not even acknowledge its existence! It also is the reason why the PLO Charter, in contradiction of all the PA's undertakings under Oslo 1, 2 and 3 continues to call for the total destruction of Israel.
Apartheid has become the useful tool of idiots who know nothing about it!
I grew up under the apartheid regime and resisted it theologically and paid a price for doing so. I therefore affirm:
- That I know something about it................and,
- That those who use the term as a smear against Israel know nothing about it; absolutely nothing.
I recently asked one of these activists to tell me the following and on all counts he was unable to offer any intelligent answers:
- What was the British involvement in setting up the apartheid regime of South Africa?
- Who was the architect of what was called Grand Apartheid by the Afrikaaner led government of South Africa?
- Who was the first Prime Minister of the grand apartheid state and in what year did he come to power?
- What do we understand by the terms Dompas, Group Areas Act, Influx Control Act, Job Reservation Act and the Bantustan Act?
- What were the names of the various Bantustans?
- What do we mean by the term Tricameral Parliament?
- What were the theological foundations of Apartheid?
South Africa's apartheid experiment altered the lives of every individual in the country. The system defined everyone by race and told you where you could go, where you could sit, where you could work and where you could live. It permeated every part of the country and was ruthlessly enforced by the security and military establishments. Those who resisted it were detained without trial and many just vanished. The country was a police state and everyone "knew their place" and people of color were herded into "Locations" or shanty towns from which they serviced the homes and businesses of their racially superior white masters. These white masters referred to their black employees as "kaffirs" and even did so sometimes, as they thought, affectionately!
Most black people were "non-discripts" and were simply called "boy" or "girl" even when they were adults. Whites demanded that they be called "Baas" or Boss by their black counterparts. The superiority of whites was always made clear and nothing brought this home more forcefully than the dumbed down black educational system that was imposed upon them because their brains were actually considered inferior to that of whites. Black people would forever be confined to the role of domestic workers and laborers. The country was largely "white by night" and "black strays" caught in the streets of white suburbs without permits to be there were rounded up, arrested and thrown into prison. The jails were overflowing with people who dared to walk on white ground without permission!
Those blacks that dared to challenge the system were gunned down without mercy and whites and other minorities that resisted it were called communist agitators and were invariably detained without trial and without recourse to the courts. The apartheid state was a ruthless attempt at preserving white minority privilege and power. There is absolutely no comparison to this in the fully democratic state of Israel and those who suggest that there is are just lying and, as I stated before, are dishonoring the millions of black people who suffered under this brutal regime.
So, by contrast, Israel's Arab and other minorities enjoy full protection and equality under the law. They have access to the same institutions and facilities that their Jewish counterparts enjoy and are represented in the Knesset where they are free to criticize the state openly; and they do! They can go anywhere they choose to go and no professional career is out of their reach. Hard work and discipline will be rewarded with success no matter what race, color or gender one has. Israel, though by no means perfect, is a fully democratic state and the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, on his most recent visit to Israel, declared that not only was this so but that Israel's democracy was "a beacon of light to the region."This is no apartheid state and those who consequently seek to make this claim are strangers to the truth. Shame on them!
Israel's dispute with the Palestinians is largely the reason why the charge of apartheid state has be leveled against her. But here too this charge is based on half truths, distortions of history and mischief. Quite frankly the dispute continues because the Palestinian leadership is still fully committed to the total destruction of Israel. This is true of Hamas that openly acknowledges it and of the Palestinian Authority that has in a more sophisticated way used peace to advance its cause while always falling back on the violent option. Under the Oslo Accords the Palestinian Authority was required to remove the "destruction clauses" from its charter. They have never done so because their constituency is so radicalized that they cannot, will not and dare not! The truth is the PA is committed, as it ever was, to the destruction of all of Israel. No one should doubt it!
This is verified by their regular statements in the Arabic press:
- Yasser Arafat's speech in Johannesburg in 1994 where he affirmed that he had not moved away from the 1964 phased plan for the destruction of Israel even though he had given this impression by shaking the hands of Bill Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin on the lawns of the White House in November of 1993.
- The text books in Palestinian schools that continue to incite hatred against Israelis and do not acknowledge the existence of the state of Israel. A Palestinian representative and negotiator speaking at AIPAC's 2014 Policy Conference was challenged about the destruction clauses in the charter and the content of the school text books and he replied by saying that they were working on this! Indeed.
- The statement by Sulcha Arafat who, speaking in one of the gulf states recently, acknowledged that her husband pulled out of the Oslo Accords with Israel and began a renewed campaign of terror against Israelis, known as the Second Intifada, because in the end he was not prepared to give away the full inheritance of the Palestinian people; meaning that he was not going to betray the dream of total conquest. Bill Clinton blamed Arafat completely for the break down of the peace process under the Oslo Accords.
It will thus be noted that none of this has anything to do with Apartheid but everything to do with an agenda that really envisions no place for Israel in the Middle East. The violent nature of this agenda led to the building of the barrier fence, a small part of which is in fact a wall. This "barrier" was put in place for one reason only and that is to stop Palestinian terror attacks against Israel and it proved to be hugely successful. Naturally it brings with it all sorts of regrettable human consequences but when one is dealing with an entity that is determined to wipe one off the map what alternatives does one have? Apartheid is not at play here but survival. People on both sides of the divide get hurt in such an environment.
It must be remembered that Israel has already made painful concessions in order to reach a peaceful resolution to its territorial conflicts in the region. It withdrew from the Sinai in order to find agreement and peace with Egypt; it ceded land to Jordan near the southern end of the Sea of Galilee and it withdrew from south Lebanon. All of these concessions have proved to be successful because the "other side" was genuine about seeking a peaceful way out of the conflict but when it has come to the Palestinians there has been no way forward because they continue to be trapped in a strategy that calls for Israel's destruction. So, for example, as an act of good faith, Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 with the hope that the Palestinians would make an appropriate peaceful gesture. What the Israelis got was a never ending barrage of thousands of missiles against their southern towns and villages. Is it surprising that they therefore clamped down on access between Gaza and Israel and did so by putting in place security checkpoints and a naval blockade? This has nothing to do with Apartheid but with restraining the intentions of an enemy that really has no interest in peace at all. There is no self respecting government on earth that would not have done the same thing.
By the middle of the year 2000 Israel, in compliance with her obligations under the Oslo Accords, had fully withdrawn from the West Bank and a deal was on the table to resolve the final status of East Jerusalem. There was no occupation but the Palestinians, having been brought to the day of destiny, engineered a violent Intifada in order to avoid a peace deal with Israel, a fact later confirmed by Marwan Barghouti a senior leader within the PLO and personal advisor to Yasser Arafat. The 1964 phased plan for the destruction of all of Israel could not be abandoned and would not be abandoned and no PA leader, including Abbas, is going to go down in history with the legacy of having betrayed the Palestinian cause as it is enshrined in its charter. Apartheid has precisely nothing to do with all of this but it has become a convenient tool by which to smear and discredit Israel and those who use it are not at all interested in the facts.
Israel came into existence with international legitimacy in 1948 and it was the Arabs that rejected this legitimacy and launched a war against the fledgling Jewish State. At that time, all those living in Palestine, including Jews and Christians were called Palestinians. A separate Palestinian people, as we have come to know them today, did not exist and had no national history. Yasser Arafat was himself not Palestinian but Egyptian. It was in 1964 that this identity was bestowed upon these Arab peoples for the express purpose of mobilizing them for the great cause of destroying Israel. Moreover, it is to be noted that they did this at a time, 1948 to 1967, when they had everything they say they want now, including old East Jerusalem!
Their roots have been and are genocidal and the tree and its fruit has not changed, consequently the Apartheid accusation leveled at Israel is just another weapon in their arsenal of weapons arrayed against the Jewish state. The end game is the destruction of Israel.
One of their leaders once declared, "Piece by piece we will destroy Israel with peace!"
Rev. Malcolm Hedding is Executive Director Emeritus for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Learn more about his work and ministry at www.malcolmhedding.com.