Day by day, the anti-Israel alliance is seeking to make the apartheid label stick to Israel. We see this at present in the fortnight of global agitation known as “Israel Apartheid Week.” But no one should be fooled – the real agenda behind branding Israel an “apartheid state” is the disappearance of the Jewish state altogether.

The real apartheid state of South Africa was rightfully dismantled by the early 1990s. It was first discredited, then delegitimized and finally dismantled to the elation of the world and the enslaved black majority who had lived under its brutality. However, to describe Israel in these terms is, quite frankly, immoral and wicked. Yet on university campuses worldwide, 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, yet most of these people know absolutely nothing about apartheid. They have no knowledge of the “inner workings” of the apartheid system and couldn’t even tell you the basic facts about it. But the word itself is an extremely powerful weapon against Israel – since it conjures up notions of hatred, discrimination, brutality, racism and prejudice.

Essentially, apartheid was a totalitarian system of governance – not unlike many of the regimes in the Arab world today. A white minority subjugated the overwhelmingly black population. It was ideologically driven and 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.

The towns and cities were “white by night” as all “blacks” 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 enforce a total segregation, including the police, military and judiciary. In short, it was Aryanism in a new form.

THERE IS absolutely nothing equivalent to this in the dispute between the Palestinians and Israel today. Within Israel itself, Arabs and Jews share the same shopping malls, benches, hospitals, theaters 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 Knesset has Arab members, and 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. Not a perfect one, but it does have democratic institutions and is definitely not governed by a totalitarian minority! In the disputed territories, some 98 percent 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 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 theology dictates that all this land must be returned to Islamic 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.

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 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.

Even in response to Israel’s most generous peace overtures during the Oslo era, the Palestinians have opted for violence. Waves of suicide bombers attacked Israelis 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,
Israel built a security barrier, which in some 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.

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. 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. The truth is the apartheid accusation is just another smoke screen in the war against Israel. I should know because I grew up in the dark apartheid era in South Africa and stood against it to my peril.

As a young minister in South Africa, the writer participated in the struggle against apartheid in the 1980s and was threatened with detention without trial by the infamous Bureau of State Security. Today, he is executive director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. www.icej.org/

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