Israel and the Charge of Apartheid
by Malcolm Hedding, ICEJ Executive Director-Emeritus
Day by day the anti-Israel alliance is seeking to make the Apartheid label stick to Israel. We saw this every year in the annual ritual known as “Israel Apartheid Week.” Sadly, major Protestant churches are collaborating in this campaign. There is more to their scheming than meets the eye in that the real agenda behind branding Israel an “Apartheid state” is to remove the Jewish State altogether.
The real Apartheid State of South Africa was rightfully dismantled in the late 1980s and early 90s. It was first discredited, then delegitimized and finally dismantled to the elation of the world and the enslaved black majority who had lived under and endured its brutality. However, to describe Israel in these terms is, quite frankly, immoral, wicked and an offense to those who truly suffered under apartheid. Yet on university campuses across the Western World, this is becoming a very popular cause.
Radical leftist academics and politicians are teaming up with extremist Muslim elements to pursue this goal. They want to equate Israel with the original Apartheid State and thus demand that the world do as it did to South Africa – dismantle it! Most of these people know absolutely nothing about Apartheid, but the word is extremely powerful since it conjures up notions of hatred, discrimination, brutality, racism and prejudice.
It is quite astonishing to witness how a lie told often enough can eventually be accepted as truth! Most of these people have no knowledge of the “inner workings” of the Apartheid regime and could not even tell you the basic facts about it. It is just a very powerful weapon to use when discharging their hatred of Israel.
Essentially, Apartheid was a totalitarian system of governance – not unlike many of the regimes in the Arab world today – whereby a minority white population subjugated and enslaved the overwhelmingly black population. It was ideologically driven and was obsessed with racial superiority. The superior whites could not mingle with or even sit on a bench with the inferior black peoples. Even the education system was “dumbed down” for black people because they were deemed mentally inferior and unable to cope with the higher levels of learning that whites could embrace.
The towns and cities were “white by night” as all “blacks” – as they were called – had to be removed to their shanty towns, which served as cheap labor ghettos for the nation. The black people could not vote, own property or even move freely inside their own country.
Various instruments of state were used to ruthlessly apply the system of total and complete segregation and these included the police, the military and the judiciary system. In short, it was Aryanism in a new form!
There is absolutely nothing equivalent to this in the dispute that rages between the Palestinians and Israel today. Within Israel itself, Arabs and Jews share the same shopping malls, benches, hospitals, theatres and, in many cases, suburbs. The educational institutions do not have a deliberately “dumbed down” Arab curriculum and the privilege of voting is given to all. The Israeli Knesset has Arab members of parliament. Jews, Arabs and Palestinians often work together at construction sites, businesses, hotels and elsewhere. Most important of all is the fact that Israel is a democratic state. Though not a perfect one, it does have democratic institutions and it is definitely not governed by a totalitarian minority!
Out in the disputed territories, some 98% of the Palestinian Arab population now lives under the governance of their own Palestinian Authority, where they have the right to vote and change their leaders – at least theoretically. True, Israel has adopted security measures that curtail their movement, but these have been necessitated by the conflict thrust upon her and are legitimate acts of self-defense, rather than acts of racial discrimination.
Actually, the real nature of this conflict has very little to do with politics or race, and everything to do with theology! By this I mean a radical jihadist theology that considers the whole Land of Israel and not just the West Bank as part of the “House of Islam.” This Islamic theology dictates that all this land must be returned to Muslim rule, by force if necessary. Despite its ‘secular’ credentials, the PLO has pursued the express mission of destroying the State of Israel since its founding in 1964 because it simply cannot derogate from this Islamic doctrine.
The same jihadist theology drives an even more radical Hamas, as well as Hizbullah, (former) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, and all the rest of the “resistance” front.
This has absolutely nothing to do with Apartheid! The state of Israel is a democracy which must answer to its citizens and thus has demonstrated a willingness to make painful concessions in order to secure a future of peace with its neighbors. In all cases, it alone has paid the real price by giving up land, which has then been used as a launching pad for further acts of terror. This has played out for the entire world to see through the international media. Yet it was never good enough!
Over the years, and even in response to Israel’s most generous peace overtures during the Oslo era, the Palestinians have opted for violence. Wave upon wave of suicide bombers attacked Israel from the porous boundaries surrounding the West Bank. Men, women and children were indiscriminately murdered in buses, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls. To protect herself from these murderous infiltrations, Israel built a security barrier, which in some of the more vulnerable built-up areas consists of a wall. It was not built to segregate people or discriminate against them, but to protect its own citizens from attack. In this connection, the security fence has been highly successful though even Israelis admit it is regrettable. But what would any other self-respecting, democratic state do? Nevertheless, Israel’s detractors love to deride the “Apartheid Wall.”
These same radical leftists espouse democracy but will not allow Israeli officials and scholars to exercise their democratic right to free speech, as they threaten and disrupt meetings in educational institutions across the globe. This is exactly what the Apartheid thugs in South Africa did. They violently brought public meetings to an end if anyone opposed their view. They were scared to death that someone might just have a more truthful and compelling argument than theirs. The democratic rights they claim for themselves, they deny to others.
For sure the Palestinians have suffered, but to place the blame entirely at Israel’s door is folly. Their failed and corrupt leadership, missed opportunities, and willingness to support violence and terror are also central causes of their suffering.
Israel is no Apartheid state. She is a democratic country living under the constant threat of annihilation and thus seeking to balance her need to find a lasting peace with her neighbors with that of her security. Her regional experience has taught Israel that her security and very existence is the number one issue.
The truth is the Apartheid accusation is just another smokescreen in the war against Israel! I should know because I grew up in the dark Apartheid era of South Africa and stood against it to my peril.
As a young minister in South Africa, Rev. Malcolm Hedding participated in the struggle against Apartheid in the 1980s and was threatened with detention without trial by the infamous Bureau of State Security. He later served as the Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; www.icej.org