In an all-out assault on Israel’s legitimacy, the Guardian newspaper has published a lengthy two-day “Special Report” on February 6 and 7 by reporter Chris McGreal, promoting the false and defamatory allegation that Israel is an apartheid and colonial state.
The Palestinians have elected Hamas (whose charter openly calls for the obliteration of the Jewish state and includes the most vicious slanders against the Jewish people) to the majority of seats in their legislature. The Palestinian leadership continues to demand the land they claim for a state be Judenrein. The Iranian president presses for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” while aggressively seeking nuclear weapons. With all of this, the Guardian finds it more urgent to “assess” the notion that Israel is an apartheid state.
The article also goes beyond de-legitimizing Israel, singling out South African Jews as supporters and beneficiaries of the apartheid regime. McGreal even makes a point of noting that prominent Jews involved in the anti-apartheid movement were secular or unaffiliated Jews.
McGreal follows the familiar pattern of Israel’s detractors, portraying security measures, such as the security fence and border checkpoints, as a means for Israel to intentionally humiliate Palestinians rather than as a way to stop terrorists and save lives. When he does include opposing opinions, they are used as a pretext for the next attack on Israel or the South African Jewish community, rather than to provide a balanced perspective.
The comparison of Israel to apartheid South Africa is specious. Israel is a diverse and pluralistic society. 20% of Israel’s citizens are Arab Christians and Muslims, and they have full rights, including voting, serving in the government, attending universities, freedom of speech and religion.While Israel, like America, is not a perfect society, and discrimination does exist, Israeli Arabs have by far the most rights of any Arabs in the Middle East. And like in America, discrimination in Israel is lessening as the years go by. Israeli schoolbooks teach respect for different ethnic and religious cultures and promote coexistence. Increasingly, Jewish and Arab Israelis go to camp together (e.g. www.shemesh.org ), attend university together, work and socialize together. If McGreal wants to focus on a genuine source of discord and ongoing violence, his attention might be better spent examining the rejectionist and anti-Semitic indoctrination that permeates Palestinian society.
Anti-Israel activists claim that Israel is an apartheid state because Palestinian Arabs don’t have the same rights as Israelis. This is akin to saying that the United States is an apartheid state because Mexican citizens don’t have the same rights as American citizens and aren’t allowed to automatically live and work in America. Palestinian Arabs who live in the West Bank and Gaza are citizens of the Palestinian Authority. They are not citizens of Israel and therefore they do not enjoy the same rights and privileges. This would seem to be an obvious point, but many people do not grasp the difference between an Arab citizen of Israel and a Palestinian Arab who is a citizen of the Palestinian Authority.
Benjamin Pogrund, a South African-born Jew who was active in the anti-apartheid movement and now lives in Israel, notes:
Apartheid is dead in South Africa but the word is alive in the world, especially as an epithet of abuse for Israel. Israel is accused by some of being ‘the new apartheid’ state. If true, it would be a grave charge, justifying international condemnation and sanctions. But it isn’t true. Anyone who knows what apartheid was, and who knows Israel today, is aware of that. Use of the apartheid label is at best ignorant and naïve and at worst cynical and manipulative. …
“Apartheid” is used in this case and elsewhere because it comes easily to hand: it is a lazy label for the complexities of the Middle East conflict. It is also used because, if it can be made to stick, then Israel can be made to appear to be as vile as was apartheid South Africa and seeking its destruction can be presented to the world as an equally moral cause. (from the December 2005 issue of Focus, published by The Helen Suzman Foundation)
For further detailed talking points to refute the apartheid accusation, read the entire article by Pogrund. (Note, however, that Pogrund is entirely wrong in claiming that with regard to land “most of Israel [is] reserved for Jews.” For refutation of that tenacious canard see CAMERA’s Land Backgrounder and this article in Middle East Quarterly.)