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Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

The Dangerous Amnesty International Apartheid Lie

Welcome! It is that time of year again, open season for Jew haters and Israel bashers. Yup, the astoundingly misnamed “Amnesty International” which itself was accused of institutional racism last year, has declared, in the headline words of that great lover of Israel, the BBC that, “Israel committing crimes of apartheid and persecution.” They wanted to call it the “Wipe the Jewish Zionist entity off the Map” report but the “Israel is an Apartheid state” report is more politically correct. If it was not so sad it might be funny. To call Israel Apartheid is absurd as saying that there are equal rights to all peoples in any of the countries surrounding Israel.  The full title of the report is,  “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and crime against humanity.” In the words of Colonel Richard Kemp, this is,

“Not only a blatant and unsubstantiated lie but also an insult to black South Africans who suffered so horrifically under a genuinely apartheid regime.”

I grew up in the only apartheid regime the world has known in South Africa. I waited for my (whites only) school bus to my (whites only) school on a bench that said “Bus stop. Whites only” in English and Afrikaans. After school I went to the beach and daily passed by this sign:

My childhood beach in Apartheid South Africa. Photo (c) T. Book, 2022

It was a brutally oppressive regime where State sanctioned racism was enshrined in the law. The color of one’s skin was the sole factor as to whether one did or did not have rights. The contrast between Apartheid South Africa and the State of Israel is total. As Jeremy Leibler, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia wrote,

This is an appalling report that should be rejected by everyone who seeks Israeli–Palestinian peace. It makes a mockery of both objectivity and the victims of apartheid South Africa, who suffered under an evil regime that bears absolutely no resemblance to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

If one wants to find Apartheid in the Middle East, one doesn’t need to search far.  Most of the regimes in Israel’s neighborhood practice Gender Apartheid. The United Nations (no big friend of Israel) Human Development Report of 2002 (page 22) states that:

Women in Arab league countries suffer from unequal citizenship and legal entitlements. Often evident in voting rights and legal codes and from inequality of opportunity evident in employment status, wages, and gender-based occupational segregation. Their political and economic participation remains the lowest in the world.

In most of the Arab world and Iran adultery is a crime for both sexes, though women receive harsher punishment. Adultery is a capital offense, with execution by stoning. This is sexual Apartheid.

Tuvia with Fatima, an Israeli Arab Social Worker, at Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) in the Wolfson hospital in Holon, Israel. SACH is an Israel NGO which performs life-saving pediatric cardiac surgery pro-bono for children from developing countries irrespective of race, religion or gender. Photo, (c) T. Book, 2022

It is important to acknowledge that with all of Israel’s incredible successes in many fields since its creation, there are issues that Israel is grappling with as it continues to stride into the 21st century. One of the most pressing of these concerns is how to harmoniously co-exist with a minority population.  Approximately 20%, one out of five, of Israel’s population consists of Israeli Arabs.

The vast majority of Israeli Arabs are Muslim. However, about 8% are Druze, about 5% are Bedouin, and about 10% are Christian. Israeli Arabs have full democratic rights, parliamentary representation, state education and judiciary recourse.  Despite their full democratic rights, the resources given to Israeli Arabs are less than those given to the Jews. The current government, with its Arab party coalition partners, is striving to rectify this situation. The majority of Israeli Arabs do not serve in the army. (The Druze, with mandatory male conscription, Bedouin and some Christians who can, and do, volunteer are the exception). There is a movement to encourage national service for Israel’s Arab population as an alternative to military service. Israel’s Declaration of Independence enshrines equality for all her citizens by categorically stating:

The State of Israel… 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…

In conclusion, whilst Israel continues to struggle and wrestle with its relationship to its minority population, it is imperative to remember that relative to any of the neighboring countries in the region the situation is incomparably better, although there is certainly much room for improvement. Jeremy Leibler states that,

At its core, the Amnesty report is not about Palestinian rights or the occupation, it is about Israel’s existence. Given Amnesty calls for an end to the Jewish majority of Israel, the inescapable conclusion is that Amnesty has come to the position that Jews, alone in the world, may not exercise the right to self-determination.

So, my friends, the next time someone, or an organization such as Amnesty International, starts gnawing away at that old bone that “Israel is an Apartheid regime as South Africa was,” remember that some can tolerate weak Jews as victims of racism but cannot stand to see strong Jews as beacons of tolerance, understanding and equality.

About the Author
Dr. Tuvia Book was born in London and raised in both the UK and South Africa. After making Aliya at the age of 17 and studying in Yeshiva he volunteered for the IDF, where he served in an elite combat unit. Upon his discharge he completed his BA at Bar-Ilan University, as well as certification in graphic design. He then served as the Information Officer at the Israeli Consulate of Philadelphia, while earning a graduate degree in Jewish Studies. Upon his return to Israel, Dr. Book graduated from a course of study with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and is a licensed tour guide. Tuvia has been working in the field of Jewish Education, both formal and informal, for many years. He has guided and taught Jewish students and educators from around the English-speaking world for some of Israel’s premier educational institutions and programs. Tuvia has been guiding groups for Birthright Israel since its inception and, in addition, has lectured throughout North America, Australia, Europe and South Africa. Tuvia served as a Shaliach (emissary) for the Jewish Agency for Israel as the Director of Israel and Zionist Education at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York (Jewish Education Project). He was a lecturer/educational guide at the Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education (AMIIE) in Israel for a decade. Tuvia has lectured at both Bar Ilan University and Hebrew University. He was a Senior Editor and Teaching Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. He is a research associate at the Hudson Institute. Tuvia is the author and illustrator the internationally acclaimed Israel education curriculum; "For the Sake of Zion; A Curriculum of Israel Studies" (Fifth edition, Koren 2017), and "Moral Dilemmas of the Modern Israeli Soldier" (Rama, 2011) and has a doctorate in Israel Education. His latest book, "Jewish Journeys, The Second Temple Period to the Bar Kokhba Revolt – 536 BCE-136 CE," was published by Koren this year. To order: https://korenpub.com/products/jewish-journeys
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