Once again, accusations of Israel being an apartheid state surfaced. Recently, a UN committee ESCWA (Economic Social Commission of Western Asia) released a report accusing Israel of practicing ‘apartheid.’ It has since been pulled from their web site, and the author of the report has resigned. This might be the first tangible result of the “Trump effect” since the US has put the UNHRC on notice regarding its irrational campaign of anti-Israel resolutions. Britain has done likewise.
Now we hear the UN is about to release a report from the same committee suggesting the so-called “occupation” is akin to slavery in the US. Such an accusation borders on insanity, even for the UN, which has been quite hostile toward Israel for many years. However, the accusation is so comical I am ignoring it. However, since Israel has been repeatedly accused of being an apartheid state, debunking this is worth the effort.
The term “apartheid” refers to what took place in South Africa between 1948 and 1994. However, its popularity increased primarily as a result of a 2006 book by former President Jimmy Carter- “Palestine “Peace, Not Apartheid.” Carter, a strong supporter of Hamas and Yasser Arafat, sought, to portray Israeli policies toward the Arab Palestinian terrorists who are committed to its destruction as racist and discriminatory.
To call Carter’s use of the term “apartheid” a mischaracterization is akin to calling the Pacific Ocean a pond. Moreover, Carter’s use of said term suggests he either doesn’t understand its meaning, or he is truly anti-Israel. For my money it’s the latter.
In order to make it clear that South Africa’s apartheid system and the Arab Palestinian – Israel conflict have nothing in common, let’s drill down on both.
An Official Government System of White Supremacy
Racial segregation began in South Africa with the 1913 Land Act. This required territorial separation and forced black South Africans to live in reserves. Its opponents formed a political organization which later became known as the ANC (African National Congress).
In 1948 the Afrikaner National Party won the general election using “apartheid” (separateness) as its slogan. Their intent was to formally implement racial separation and subjugate the coloreds under white rule. Subsequent to taking power the apartheid system of white supremacy and racial separation became the official political, legal and social structure of South Africa. In other words, it became the law of the land, governing how all South African’s lived, enforced by the police and backed up by the courts. Keep in mind blacks compromised roughly 70% of the population. Approximately 10% were Asian Indian and mixed races. White racists while making up only 20% of the population controlled the country.
In 1949 the government banned marriage between whites and people of color, and prohibited sexual relations between races. The Population Registration Act classified all South Africans by race. A number of additional laws were passed that set aside the majority of South Africa’s land for the white minority. If colored people were in an area designated as “white only”, their lives were in danger.
The government went further by forcibly relocating black South Africans from areas that were set aside for “whites only.” Black homes and land were sold at very low prices to whites. By 1982 roughly 3.5 million blacks had been forcibly removed from their homes. Virtually all public facilities were separated by race.
Blacks were frequently mistreated, killed and imprisoned by the white minority. In 1960 for example, a group of unarmed blacks who came to the police station in the black township of Sharpeville protesting travel restrictions were fired on by the police. 69 blacks were killed.
Eventually after years of upheaval, protest and increased worldwide isolation a series of negotiations began in 1991 to bring apartheid to an end. In 1994 free elections took place and Nelson Mandela, who had spent 27 years in prison was elected President.
In some respects South Africa’s apartheid was similar to life in the southern US during segregation. Blacks lived in separate areas, could not vote, were discriminated against, had their churches burned, they were lynched, and had separate public facilities. Today, as is the case in South Africa life is much different.
Fallacy of Comparison
Let’s turn to the Arab Palestinian – Israeli situation and prove how describing it as “apartheid” is like calling a chicken a cow.
First of all the United Nations approved two separate states, one Jewish, on Arab with resolution 181 passed on November 29, 1947. The Arab nations ignored the UN vote and tried to destroy the new nation one day after it declared independence in May 1948. Israel won a protracted defensive war which included securing additional land. This is acceptable under international law.
In 1967 Israel was forced into another defensive war, which resulted in securing all of Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria (aka: West Bank). Since the war was defensive and the West Bank area was not part of a sovereign nation, Israel’s actions were legal under international law. Claims of it being a Palestinian state, which Israel is “illegally occupying” demonstrate ignorance of international law.
Contrast this against how South Africa’s whites ‘legally’ stole land from the indigenous coloreds by passing laws making it illegal for blacks to live in vast majority of South Africa’s land, and subsequently forcing them to relocate.
While the 2,000,000 Arabs primarily live in their own communities in Judea/Samaria (aka: West Bank) they aren’t doing this because of any laws which discriminate against them. There are no such laws. Nor are they prevented from routinely traveling into “official” Israel. The roughly 400,000 Jews of Judea/Samaria live in their own communities for protection from Arab terrorists. They are religious and feel strongly about living in their biblical homeland. If Israel had lost either the 1948 or 1967 war it would no longer exist. This cannot be overstated. Thus, there is no comparison to apartheid South Africa, where land was legally ‘stolen’ as result of laws passed by the minority white supremacist government.
Security Fence vs ‘Apartheid Wall’
Protecting Israeli civilians from Arab terror attacks has been an ever present issue. Since Israel was reborn in 1948 close to 3,700 Israeli’s have been murdered by terrorists. This averages 1 murder per week for the past 69 years, which is nothing short of incredible.
When the Arab Palestinians abrogated their commitment to the 1993 Oslo Accords and kept murdering Israeli’s, the agreements became doomed. Things worsened in 1995 when Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated. The terror continued, forcing the Israeli government to take action to protect its civilians from being murdered. A difficult decision was made to construct a protective barrier. The need was clear.
The barrier has been built primarily along the so-called “Green Line,” which is also referred to as the ’67 Lines. Contrary to how it has been portrayed, at least 90% of it is a fence, not a wall. During the initial period of construction, 2002 – 2004, the terror attacks accelerated. Almost 1,000 Israeli’s, (an average of over 300 per year) were murdered during this period. The situation was intolerable.
Subsequent to the barrier’s construction terrorist attacks were dramatically reduced, so it served its purpose. However, this did not silence the critics who called it a “land grab,” or an “apartheid wall.” The barrier was never intended as a “land grab.” Israel is more than capable of securing land if that’s its goal. Moreover, calling it an “apartheid wall,” demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge regarding apartheid. The barrier was constructed for one single purpose, which is to prevent Arab Palestinian terrorists from murdering Jewish civilians. Labeling it an “apartheid wall” shows disdain for the security of Jewish lives. I suggest those who accuse Israel of being apartheid are likely racist themselves….against Jews.
Inside ’67 Lines
Within what is generally accepted as “official” Israel inside the ’67 lines Jews and Arabs live where ever they choose. There are numerous towns which are almost entirely made up of Arabs. They are free to travel anywhere in Israel. Arabs also live within predominantly Jewish cities and interaction with Jews is a routine part of daily life. Few Jews live in Arab towns largely due to fear of being attacked, but there exists no laws requiring Jews and Arabs to live separately. This is in contrast to apartheid South Africa where coloreds were legally required to live in separate geographic regions under penalty of law.
Within the ’67 lines there are roughly 1.5 million Arabs who are full Israeli citizens. Unlike South African blacks who had no rights, the Arabs own homes and businesses. They vote, hold local government positions, are elected to the Knesset, and one serves on the Israeli Supreme Court. They are also in the IDF and have attained senior positions on the Israeli Police force. Druze are also included in the Knesset and serve in the IDF.
Arabs are fully integrated into Israeli society with all the privileges of citizenship, which was never the case for blacks during apartheid in South Africa. Arabs sit side by side with Jews throughout the workforce in virtually all cross sections of industry, which includes having management positions. They are construction workers, taxi drivers, truck drivers, electricians, etc. Go to a supermarket and you’ll find Arabs working side by side with Jews. The same is true in hospitals. In fact in certain industries Arabs make up virtually all the employees on the weekend because of the Jewish Shabbat (Sabbath). Arabs are professors, students, doctors, lawyers, gas station attendants and virtually every other profession. Walk into any restaurant or club and you’ll find Arab and Jewish Israeli’s eating, drinking and working together. Plus, there is no law against Arabs and Jews marrying.
Not one of the aforementioned routine daily occurrences describes life between blacks and whites under apartheid in South Africa.
Even former South African President Willem de Klerk, says Israel is not apartheid. Plus, there are some brave Arab voices who have spoken in defense of Israel such as Brigitte Gabriel and Father Gabriel Naddaf. Each has endured death threats.
Palestinians Fate is Their Own Choice
Let’s not forget the Arab Palestinians have it within their own hands to end the conflict at any time. All they need to do is agree to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and stop murdering Jews. Once again this is in stark contrast to South Africa’s blacks who had no control over their circumstances. Sadly, to date the Arab Palestinians have refused to do either. Unlike South Africa’s blacks who only sought equality, the Arab Palestinians, including Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party have charters requiring the destruction of Israel to be replaced by a single Arab Muslim dominated state where Jews would be subjugated. Given their ongoing campaign of terrorism, they seem content to murder Jews rather than have their own state, if it requires recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. This speaks volumes about their clear lack of interest in peaceful co-existence with a Jewish state.
Recently a Canadian journalist visited Israel and was shocked to discover her preconceived notions were baseless. She completely reversed her position and filed this report.
My own personal experience has given me the privilege of speaking with Arabs who live within the ’67 lines. They acknowledge the quality of their lives is superior than if they lived under ‘Palestinian’ rule, or in a Muslim dominated country. They also indicated those who accuse Israel of practicing apartheid are incorrect and unfair.
Israel covers less than 1% of the land in the Middle East, and is the only country in the entire world where Jews are the majority, which includes 21% Arab population. Twenty-two Arab nations already exist, with a combined population of almost 400,000,000. Thus, any fair minded person should understand Jews deserve a homeland, just like every other group of people. Yet the attacks on Israel persist.
I suggest those who accuse Israel of apartheid educate themselves on the subject before making such reckless accusations. They make as much sense as describing the Grand Canyon as a small hole in the ground. Such people ought to take a closer look at their own level of racism. As Benjamin Netanyahu said– “Israel is not what’s wrong with the Middle East, Israel is what’s right about the Middle East.”
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