Friday, January 27th | 5 Shevat 5783

March 17, 2017 6:59 am

The Lie of ‘Israeli Apartheid’

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avatar by Dror Eydar


Diversity on an Israeli train. Photo: Pinterest.

Why do Israel-haters stop at “apartheid”? If apartheid is racial or ethnic segregation, then Nazi Germany also had such a regime. The simple answer: They know that claims of Nazism would make them seem ridiculous to their audience, who would then understand with whom they are dealing. So we are left with apartheid, a patently false claim, but a confusing one.

We will make things difficult for those among the Left who limit the claim of apartheid exclusively to Judea and Samaria: Is a state that has at its center the Law of Return — which sees Jews as potential citizens and does not encourage members of other religions to immigrate to it — not an apartheid state? That is, after all, the claim of the political and intellectual leadership of Israel’s Arabs. We even gave them the right to vote and to be elected to the Knesset — but so what? They want to change the character of the Jewish state completely. Giving prisoners the right to vote for the leadership of the prison, they argue, does not make us humane.

When we push the inarticulate among the apartheid claimants into a corner, they speak of “discrimination.” This exists in many fields, but it is not apartheid. Is the discrimination against Mizrahi Jews in certain places apartheid? Or the exclusion of right-wing lecturers from most humanities and social sciences faculties? Does Channel 10, for example, which does not allow any presenter with a conservative, rightist worldview to host a program (but which allows a clown like Assaf Harel to host a program repeatedly because he belongs to the correct media party) also earn the title “apartheid”?

The most absurd thing is that the term is clearly a weapon in the struggle to delegitimize Israel. Much to our shame, useful idiots in our midst are joining this army of lies. Apartheid South Africa became a pariah, and some on the Left hope the world will force us to take steps toward political suicide, just to save ourselves from international pressure.

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In South Africa, with the victory of the National Party in the elections at the end of May 1948, apartheid was legislated with a system of laws and regulations that designated four completely separate groups: white, black, colored and Indian. Even public benches and restrooms were segregated. Mixed sexual relations were prohibited, and hospitals, shopping centers, educational institutions and beaches were segregated.

In Israel, by contrast, the Declaration of Independence was granted legal status when it was added as the first article in the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty — in particular, the paragraph that pledges to “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” A review of High Court rulings shows that one of the best predictors of winning in a petition is nationality. An Arab’s chance of winning in a petition to the High Court is higher than a Jew’s.

Regarding Judea and Samaria, the Palestinians live autonomously and vote for their own institutions. Until the rise of terrorism and murder, Jews and Palestinians lived together. Even today, our separate lives are not the result of any racial or national principle, God forbid, but of proven security concerns. Speaking of apartheid, it is the fans of the two-state solution who are not prepared to grant Palestinian citizenship to Jews and are demanding that the area be free of Jews (“Judenrein”). By contrast, those advocating the application of sovereignty to the area are prepared to grant Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians.

For the non-Jews who have received citizenship or residency in Israel, nothing resembles the situation that existed in South Africa — except for the desire to bash Israel. South African parliamentarian Kenneth Meshoe, who suffered under the apartheid regime, said the comparison of Israel to apartheid South Africa “betrays the memory of those who suffered through a real apartheid” and those who draw such comparisons “are minimizing the suffering that black South Africans endured.” Addressing those who promote such comparisons, he said, “You are damaging the truth, you are damaging any chance for peace in the Middle East, and most of all, you are destroying the memory of the real apartheid.”

Former South African President F.W. de Klerk has also sharply criticized those who call Israel an apartheid state.

“It is unfair,” he said. But what does he know?

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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