By JanSuzanne Krasner
It is a falsehood to say that Israel is an apartheid state. This indictment, made by Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly in his speeches, is an Orwellian distortion of the truth, but it has been extremely effective in the public relations war of words that plays out in the United Nations, on the international stage, in the media, and on college campuses every day.
This is a grave and toxic travesty that needs to be made right. In light of the "Arab Spring" spreading seeds of sharia law throughout the Middle East, Western civilization needs to see the truth. Americans are being hijacked by propaganda against Israel...and not defending Israel's right to be a Jewish state will lead to our own eventual downfall.
The analogy of Israel to South African apartheid commands a response. Because of its catchy, slick word combination and its connotations that evoke vivid images of human unfairness and suffering, it has became a fashionable narrative for the media and international community's discourse. But it is not factual, and it is very deceptive.
Labeling Israel "apartheid" is meant to provoke worldwide criticism and elicit human rights-based anger that sanctions demonstrations, boycotts, and the denigration of Jewish morals. This finger-pointing is an intentional attack on Israel. It condones terror in the guise of "freedom-fighters," encourages prosecution of Israeli officials in foreign courts, promotes laws against Israeli goods, and supports boycotts of stores selling Israeli products. It sees the advantage of kidnapping soldiers, allows the destruction of Jewish artifacts and religious sites, and tries to exclude Jews from their legitimate claim to their historic homeland.
Factually speaking, apartheid was the policy of the South African government as a way of dealing with the white and non-white social, political and economic issues up until 1992. It was the official policy that established and maintained racial segregation and racial discrimination. The South African non-whites could not vote, and they had to carry a "Pass Book," or they risked being jailed or deported. By contrast, all citizens of Israel have equal voting rights. Arabs have eleven representatives in Israel's Knesset, including an Arab on the Israeli Supreme Court. Every citizen must carry an identity card, along with all legal residents.
In addition, non-white South Africans were kept from a wide range of jobs. They had no free elementary through high school education; mixed sexual relationships were restricted and segregated; hospital and ambulance services were segregated; they could not use most public amenities; sports were segregated; and public facilities were labeled for correct racial usage. Non-whites could not enter a building through the main entrance, be a member of a union, or participate in a strike. That is apartheid, and Israel is not an apartheid state.
Although many pro-Palestinian organizations are aware that the Israel-apartheid analogy is inaccurate, this rhetoric is continually used to condemn and isolate Israel. Just visit Israel to see the truth...Israeli Arabs shopping at Jerusalem's Mamila Mall, enjoying Tel Aviv beaches, enrolled in the universities, getting hospital care, going on school trips to the zoos, and having free access to public places.
One of the more outspoken defenders of Israel is Benjamin Pogrund, a Jew born in Cape Town, now living in Israel. Pogrund lived under apartheid, and as an anti-apartheid activist, he took grave risks by reporting the injustices against blacks. He often comments that the comparison of Israel to South African apartheid "greatly minimizes the oppression and misery caused by apartheid and is debasing to its victims."
In his rebuttal, Pogrund argues that "Israel is not unique in declaring itself a state for a specific people."
Everyone knows that Egypt is for Egyptians, Ireland is for Irishmen, France for Frenchmen, Italy is for Italians, Serbia for Serbs, China for the Chinese, Iran for the Persians...and the list goes on.
"Apartheid"-supporters substantiate their stance by claiming that Israel discriminates against Israeli Arabs by barring them from buying land.
The facts regarding land ownership are clarified by Mitchell Bard, the executive director of the non-profit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and a foreign policy analyst who frequently lectures on U.S.-ME policy:
In the early part of the century, the Jewish National Fund was established by the World Zionist Congress to purchase land in Palestine for Jewish settlement. This land, and that acquired after Israel's War of Independence, was taken over by the government. Of the total area of Israel, 92% belongs to the State and is managed by the Land Management Authority. It is not for sale to anyone, Jew or Arab. The remaining 8% of the territory is privately owned. The Arab Waqf (the Muslim charitable endowment), for example, owns land that is for the express use and benefit of Muslim Arabs. Government land can be leased by anyone, regardless of race, religion or sex. All Arab citizens of Israel are eligible to lease government land.
The reality is that both Arabs and Jews build homes illegally throughout Israel. And the fact is that the number of illegal Arab homes scheduled for demolition is miniscule compared to Jewish homes that must adhere scrupulously to the rules for fear of condemnation. (Please check Bard's point-by-point rebuttal.)
The problems in Israel's Arab communities are much like conditions others face in various places in the world, but Arabs don't point a finger at those places. Only Israel is labeled and attacked as "apartheid." Arabs need only to look at their neighboring countries in the Middle East to find real apartheid. Does anyone honestly believe that Muslim women do not suffer from apartheid in countries with sharia law? Or that Christians and Jews in some Arab nations are being attacked and killed purely because of their religion? More pointedly, both Jordan and Saudi Arabia do not allow Jews to live there, and Saudi Arabia doesn't even let Jews visit.
There are many "no-class" citizens in the world that Arabs don't care to talk about. One must believe that Abbas just doesn't recognize "apartheid" as he declares that the State of Palestine will be "Judenrein" -- a Jewish-free state. Instead, the label of "apartheid" is stuck on Israel, keeping eyes focused away from the intolerance and bigotry that the PLO and Hamas preach.
Recently, I took issue with "Students for Justice in Palestine" (SJP), an on-campus pro-Palestinian organization that orchestrated the first National Anti-Israel Conference at Columbia University to "educate" students for participation in "Israel Apartheid Week 2012" on university campuses.
The SJP supports the Apartheid Movement, the Gaza Freedom Movement that tried to break the Israeli-Egyptian blockade, the BDS movement against Israeli goods, and a One-State Solution with the "Right of Return." There can be no doubt that SJP, hiding behind the veil of human rights activism, supports the end of a Jewish state while "freedom-fighting" terrorists try to accomplish the same goal through violence.
One question needs to be asked of all those who accuse Israel of being an apartheid state: if Israel gave up all the land rights, forfeited all of the natural resources, and agreed to a One-State Solution with the "Right of Return," would the Jews be able to live in peaceful coexistence with their Arab neighbors? The answer to this question determines the fate of the Jewish people and whether peace is ever attainable.