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February 26, 2016 5:30 am

We Cannot Allow Anyone — Especially Jews — to Call Israel an Apartheid State

avatar by Pini Dunner

Email a copy of "We Cannot Allow Anyone — Especially Jews — to Call Israel an Apartheid State" to a friend
 "Israeli Apartheid Week" in May 2010 on the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus. Photo: AMCHA Initiative.

“Israeli Apartheid Week” in May 2010 on the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus. Photo: AMCHA Initiative.

This week in Los Angeles, we were all extremely disturbed by the full-page advertisement that appeared in Wednesday’s edition of the LA Times. Sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the $10,000 ad — ostensibly aimed at Oscar nominees who have been offered an all-expenses-paid VIP trip to Israel — refers to Israel as an “apartheid state.” This same ad had previously been rejected by Variety, which explained to JVP that the “topic is too sensitive,” although that excuse falls far short of the explanation Variety should have given JVP when it vetoed the ad.

To call Israel an apartheid state is not just a lie; it is brazen antisemitism. The clear aim of this provocative statement is to identify all Israelis, and Jews who associate themselves with Israel, as racists who deliberately segregate Palestinian Arabs and treat them as non-citizens, or worse, mistreat them simply because they are Arabs. That this is a lie is self-evident to any unbiased person who has ever visited Israel. Benjamin Pogrund, a South African Jewish journalist now living in Israel, who actively battled apartheid from the 1960s onwards, has written frequently on this subject, and he is hardly an apologist for Israel. On the contrary, he feels very strongly that a solution must be found for the plight of Palestinians. And yet, although he is sympathetic to the cause of Palestinian statehood, he rejects any comparison between apartheid South Africa and contemporary Israel.

In an article published last year, Pogrund wrote: “I have now lived in Israel for 17 years, doing what I can to promote dialogue across lines of division. To an extent that I believe is rare, I straddle both societies. I know Israel today – and I knew apartheid up close. And put simply, there is no comparison between Israel and apartheid.” He goes on to explain why this is so, and criticizes “well-intentioned” people who fall for this comparison, and allow themselves to get sucked into a propaganda campaign run by activists who have only one intention: “[They] want Israel declared an apartheid state so it becomes a pariah, open to the world’s severest sanctions. Many want not just an end to the occupation, but an end to Israel itself.”

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Most strikingly, the late Nelson Mandela, unquestionably the person most identified with anti-apartheid activism, not only visited Israel, but heaped praise on its achievements — despite, as he mentioned, Israel’s earlier association with South Africa’s apartheid government. How do JVP “apartheid-state” activists explain the fact that at no time during his visit, nor at any time before or after, did Mandela ever suggest or even hint that Israel was an apartheid state? Of course he didn’t, because it isn’t. He knew that, as does anyone else who has any knowledge of what it meant to be a black in South Africa during the apartheid era.

And that is exactly the point. JVP activists are not interested in the accuracy of any historical analogy, only in the propaganda value of using such an incendiary word. By referring to Israel as an “apartheid state” they are setting the stage, they believe, for the complete collapse of Israel’s governmental infrastructure and the legitimacy of its constitution, similar to the collapse of South Africa in the early 1990s, which was precipitated by the concerted delegitimization campaign of anti-apartheid activism.

There is a very powerful message here, and it is a message that can be similarly drawn from the episode of the Golden Calf in this week’s Torah Portion. A careful reading of the narrative, as explained by various commentaries, reveals that the Golden Calf began as an innocent attempt to find a non-deity replacement for Moshe, who had disappeared and was feared dead. One thing led to another, and the Golden Calf was the unfortunate result. Even this, while misguided, would not have amounted to idol worship had it not been for an insidious campaign mounted by the “Eirev Rav” — the “mixed multitude” element within the Jewish population, Egyptians who had insinuated themselves among the Jews during the Exodus. Once the Golden Calf was formed, the Eirev Rav announced: “This is your God, Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.”

How could any Jew who had been present at the Mount Sinai revelation ever have fallen for such a lie? Clearly this physical effigy was not the God who had presided over the Exodus. And yet there were Jews who fell for it, mesmerized by the deceptive allure of the Eirev Rav. That is the danger inherent in any kind of Golden Calf, however innocent or “well-intentioned.” The Jews had every reason to be concerned by Moshe’s absence, and to request new leadership. Without Moshe, they lacked the guidance he offered. He was their link to God, and to God’s plan for their future. But in their haste to replace Moshe they ended up with something so destructive that it almost finished off the Jewish nation before it even began.

It is entirely legitimate for us to be concerned for the well-being of all those who fall under Israel’s jurisdiction, Jew and non-Jew alike. Even Israel’s fiercest advocates and defenders know that the situation as it stands is not perfect, and we watch as Israel struggles with this issue on an ongoing basis. But in the headlong rush to improve matters there are many Jews, both in Israel and beyond, who have allowed themselves to fall under the spell of the Eirev Rav, whose only objective is to dismantle the Jewish state and destroy all the good that it represents. Our duty, therefore, is to fight the “apartheid state” label with every fiber of our being. No less than Israel’s survival depends on it.

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  • Dear Pini,
    Thank you for your wonderful article. It is truly sad that it is much needed.
    You may be interested in my video that shows how Hebrew is a gift for Jews and non-Jews, titled, Proof of G-d’s Existence,( link directly below).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCZ9m848esY
    Thank you again,
    All my best,
    Dr. Nick Gura
    NYC

    • Pini Dunner

      Thank you – great video!!

  • stevenl

    Unfortunately there are plenty of antisemitic Jews. They are probably the wost enemies of the Jewish people and Israel. They provide new blood or oxygen to the antisemites.
    Anybody else is a piece of cake.

  • William C. McKee

    With out taking up and boldly so, the challenge that God gave to everyone, that the army at the bottom of the Red Sea is the witness to the events of Exodus, the high concern that you have for the perpetual existence of Israel, just isn’t [objectively] a big deal. Are you hot for God, or cold for God, or lukewarm for God. If you don’t believe in God (if you are cold) then there is no loss in your moving to Western Kansas. The same if you are lukewarm (that maybe there is a God, but that you are not sure). That which is being left is being hot (or on fire) for God.

    [If] you are hot for God, then ask the question to your religious authority — of how do you dare ignore God’s challenge that what he did be proven, by taking the testimony of that sunken army? Not doing so, at least for very good reason, is a lot like making a Golden Calf out of either Moses himself or his composed Scripture.

    Is it not obvious that the testimony of that army can easily be taken? And that at least some of the first five books of the Bible is provably real. Without being provably real, you simply don’t have a lease to the land that you are on. A kind of important point. If no objective lease, then critics of your conduct have more than soft clay to stand on.

    You bring up a certain people mixed with the Jews, as a test of “being other”. Apartheid had a lot with regard to the philosophy of “being other”. Moving to Kansas would be more pragmatically of benefit to your soul, than imposing “otherness” on “others”. With pragmatic evidence that is quite simple to obtain. Many that are “other” would not want to remain “other”. Unless of course it was YOU that wanted them to remain “other”.

    The Bible speaks of the world coming to the Mountain of God to be taught by YOU about him. But first of all, to fulfill that prophecy, you of course have to learn what it is that you need to teach. Looking on the sea floor for the witnessing army (as God said was there) is a simple and easy (and quite objective) starting point. If these witnesses are found, then you and the Palestinians will get along infinitely better. And someone like Trump would have a chance to negotiate a super good deal between you. A deal where there are no more “others”. A deal where everyone involved is given an honorable job in serving God. Trump thinks that this is nearly impossible. But he also would utterly empty himself out in trying. As he put it, “the toughest deal to negotiate that he would ever do”. Tough, but if God is on your side, if the events recorded in Exodus, really happened. And you exercise the faith to prove it — then being tough doesn’t mean being impossible. Again, are you “hot” for your God?

    Methods: GPS devices of military grade, can easily define locations anywhere on earth, to within a very few centimeters.

    Discriminating magnetometers can locate any kind of magnetic or non-magnetic metals of the mass of say a coin, on the sea floor or even at depth below the sea floor. And often say even what kind of metal.

    Bulk memory devices would be able to record all of the above for the entirety of the Red Sea and the conjectured Reed Sea. All of it.

    So will you take the steps of seeking to find what God said was there to find?

    Those that don’t believe that there is a God, would be Cowards to look, for fear of finding something.

    Those that suggest that they do believe in God, would be Cowardly in thinking that they might not find this something.

    Both are cowards. Being “Apartheid” would be too kind to say of the latter. Those sorts want “others” to remain “others”. In South Africa, even the former Apartheid members confessed their wrong doings and made better people of themselves for doing so.

    Take the risk for finding faith in your God of doing likewise. And infinite God easily can provide for both Israel and Palestine to contract in limitless projects benefiting everyone on the planet. And then everyone would come to Israel to learn of a very gracious God indeed. Who of you would test God’s challenge?

    One little point. It is not very hard to find in the Bible that Moses taught to “love your neighbor”. But also not very hard to locate that he later on defined who your neighbor was. Your fellow Jew. Automatically he thus defined “other”.

    The Itinerant Jewish Rabbi Jesus, believed by some to be the answer to the age old question of “Original Sin” re-defined that neighbor that you should love, such that the very idea of “other”, even in your Moses example became completely void. It would be wisdom, if you are calling on an infinite God to help you, to remember that contribution. Without it, then [why] would the whole earth seek to learn about your God (as is written)?

  • Ephraim

    Beautifully put!

  • enufizenuf

    The same tactics the Jew-haters use must be used on them.

  • Israeli rabbi has repeatedly refused to marry black Ethiopian Jews.

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