Michael McCann
Michael McCann

A perverse event that helps Palestinians to avoid peace

Over the next few weeks the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) will launch ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ focused on university campuses across the country. Before these events start, the Israel Britain Alliance (IBA) will expose the real story.

I remember apartheid.

My family took delivery of our first colour television in 1976 and I recall watching the Soweto uprising on the news.

I also remember asking my dad what apartheid meant and he explained that black people didn’t have any rights in South Africa and that they couldn’t vote, despite the fact that they were the majority.

Years later he told me that he’d refused a lucrative opportunity to work in South Africa because of apartheid.

I’m proud my parents brought me up to oppose bigotry and prejudice and, growing up in the West of Scotland, we had our fair share of both. So when I heard the term apartheid being used to describe Israel, it merited scrutiny.

I read about the 1949 Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act that forbade South Africans to marry or have relations across racial lines,

I read about the 1950 Population Registration Act, which defined people as black, white, coloured and Indian, and I read about the millions of non-white people who were removed from their homes and placed in segregated neighbourhoods.

I then examined Israel. A country where women enjoy equality; the LGBT community flourishes; the media is unfettered and critical; an independent judiciary protects the powerless from the powerful; trade unions are well-organised and strong; educational excellence and scientific innovation are pursued; religious minorities are free to practise their creeds and a welfare state supports the poor and marginalised.

It’s a fully functioning, vibrant, colourful, participatory democracy.

But then I wondered if there was another history that could convince me that Israel judged people not by the content of their character but by their background.

And I read these words: “The state of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the ingathering of the exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.’

Any reassurance required that Israel was and is not an apartheid state can be found in the words of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.

We know that those who cast Israel as an apartheid state are the end product of a much more complex sophistry.

The Palestinians seek membership of international organisations not to pursue, but to avoid, peace and to further their objective of deligitmising and isolating the Jewish state.

Israel Apartheid Week is merely an extension of the same perverse policy.

The IBA’s campaign will dismantle the charge of apartheid and expose their real game plan, and seek to support Israeli and Jewish students who face unlawful discrimination in British universities because of these immoral events.

υYou can join the campaign at israelbritain.org.uk

About the Author
Michael McCann is a former Labour MP and is now Director, Israel Britain Alliance
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