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  KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted:
February 16, 2006 - י"ח בשבט, תשס"ו
 
 

A Response to The Guardian’s “Worlds Apart”

Israel as an apartheid state.
Maurice Ostroff
About the Author

The London Guardian recently published a very lengthy two-part series by Chris McGreal, which it described as an explosive comparison between Israel and the former apartheid regime in South Africa. And indeed it did provoke a flurry of responses. 

It is very sad that a quality newspaper like the Guardian, considered it worthwhile to devote so much effort and space, (14,350 words), to propagating the obviously propagandist libel of equating Israel to apartheid South Africa. Logical examination of the facts shows that allegations of a similarity between South Africa’s apartheid regime and the Israeli system are as irrational as the claim that Jews were responsible for 9/11 or that the earth is flat.

However, if the intention is to justify an opinion formed before examining the relevant facts, one can find parallels between apartheid and almost any other country, even with Mr McGreals home territory, Britain. For example, while I would be the last to liken Britain to the old South African regime, facts taken out of context show a much more convincing resemblance of Britain, rather than Israel, to apartheid.
 
Last September, the BBC reported that Trevor Phillips, leader of the Commission for Racial Equality, warned that British society was becoming more divided by race and religion and that the nightmare of fully fledged ghettos could happen in the country.
 
The London  based Independent Race and Refugee News Network (IRR) has released statistics revealing that in 2003-04, there were 52,694 racist incidents and an alarming increase in racially motivated murders as well as a devastatingly high incidence of Black deaths in custody. Their reports also show that the percentage of persons living in unfit dwellings is much higher for all ethnic minority groups than for their white counterparts. Sounds very much like apartheid does it not?
 
But any informed logical person realizes that these statistics, quoted out of context, reflect a completely unrealistic picture of Britain, with its laudable history of racial tolerance, universal justice and strenuous efforts to ensure racial equality.
 
So too, the parallels Mr. McGreal draws between Israel and apartheid are as unjustified as they are offensive. Such comparisons, repeated by persons who should know better are not only intellectually dishonest; they are often lazy repetitions of catch phrases propagated by cynical propagandists. More egregiously they ignore situations where valid parallels can be drawn.
 
In South Africa, apartheid was entrenched in the law and strictly enforced. The law not only denied the vote to Black citizens, it legislated to force discrimination in almost every aspect of daily life. One wonders whether Mr. McGreal is aware that one of the countries where discrimination continues to be enforced by law is Lebanon; where, according to an Amnesty International report, Palestinian refugees are barred from certain jobs, where a Palestinian cook; accountant; medical doctor; hairdresser; pharmacist; engineer; concierge or lawyer is unable to practice legally and where the law bars Palestinians from owning real estate and from inheriting property or even registering property that they had already bought.
 

Any person interested in making a serious comparison can readily ascertain that in stark contrast to South Africa’s apartheid laws, and Lebanon’s discriminatory laws,

Israel's Declaration of Independence specifically ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or gender. Israeli Muslims, Christians, Druse and other minority groups enjoy exactly the same civil and political rights as Jews. They serve in the Knesset and speak freely against the government. By contrast, Israel’s Arab neighbors strictly enforce gender and religious apartheid.
 
Unfortunately, as in Britain and elsewhere, injustices do occur in Israel. Mr. McGreal quotes the Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, to support his arguments, but logically the very fact that B'Tselem and other human rights organizations operate freely in Israel is a powerful argument against any accusation of apartheid. Israelis are proud of the fact that by contrast with neighboring states, B'Tselem frequently wins arguments even against the state. The litmus test is that in complete contrast to the despised South African laws, which enforced apartheid, the Israel high court upholds the civil rights of all citizens without distinction. 


The writer has experience of both South Africa and Israel. Currently living in Israel, he was an early member of the Springbok Legion, an active anti-apartheid organization formed by South African soldiers during WW2 and the first mass movement of South African Whites openly opposed to apartheid.  

The original Guardian article, parts 1 and 2, may be viewed on
http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1703245,00.html and
http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1704037,00.html 

Read more articles by Maurice Ostroff

 

 
     
 
 
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