Israel, civil rights and the apartheid smear

I know I’ve written about this subject several times before, but the apartheid libel just doesn’t go away. If it looks like the smear campaign against Israel is failing, some bigot like Alice Walker will make darned sure it makes the headlines again – in this particular case by writing another letter to singer Alicia Keys to persuade her to boycott Israel.

So here are a few more articles debunking this terrible libellous besmirching of Israel’s good name.

Honest Reporting has an excellent guest post by Rolene Marks about the rationalization of the apartheid smear – “Apartheid – More than just a word“:

Today the word apartheid has been hijacked by Israel’s detractors as a way to launch a well-orchestrated assault on her legitimacy as a state. They capitalize on the emotional response that the very mention of the word and the images that it conjures up, to plan campaigns that are based on their own particular brand of racism – anti-Semitism.

[...]

The rationale behind this is that if Israel is compared to and demonized just as much as apartheid South Africa was, then treating the Jewish state like a pariah and meting out the same treatment in the form of boycotts, divestment and sanction policies is the logical step. In fact, if Israel is as odious as South Africa was, should it exist at all? And herein lies one of the fundamental differences. At no point during the apartheid years was South Africa’s legitimacy or existence as a state challenged, just the racist governmental policy.

Israel being singled out for opprobrium at the  expense of other conflict regions and states that are guilty of human rights abuse smacks of something more sinister.

[...]

If we are going to point a finger at any regime practicing apartheid in the Middle East, Hamas is certainly a top contender. Others include Lebanon and Jordan and others who withhold the rights of citizenship from Palestinians, relegating them to perpetual second-class citizenship status. What about Iran or Saudi Arabia whose records on human rights are deplorable?

The PLO ambassador to the U.S. famously declared that no Jews would be allowed to live in a future Palestinian state. Is this not apartheid?

The Rev. Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) had this to say about the Israel apartheid analogy:

As a black South African who lived under apartheid, …in my view, Israel cannot be compared to apartheid in South Africa. Those who make the accusation expose their ignorance of what apartheid really is. Black, brown and white Jews and the Arab minority mingle freely in all public places, universities, restaurants, voting stations and public transportation. All people have the right to vote. The Arab minority has political parties, serves in the Israeli parliament (Knesset) and holds positions in government ministries, the police force and the security services. In hospitals, Palestinian patients lie in beds next to Israeli Jews, and doctors and nurses are as likely to be Israeli Arabs as Jews. …None of the above was legally permissible in apartheid South Africa!

Despite evidence and statements to the contrary, Israel continues to to face accusations of apartheid practices. The singling out of Israel for approbation in the media, United Nations, university campuses and farcical tribunals like the Russell Tribunal reinforces the idea of an anti-Semitic cabal. Now that is racism.

Read the whole article to gain an in-depth understanding.

On a similar theme, and connected to the example I gave in my opening paragraph, Richard Friedman in the Wall Street Journal writes about Alicia Keys, Israel and Civil Rights (to get a workable link, google the title):

Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, has lately garnered more attention for her unhinged political views than for her writing. She has compared Fidel Castro to the Dalai Lama. She refused to allow her book “The Color Purple” to be translated into Hebrew. But perhaps nothing was more off-base—at least morally speaking—than the open letter Ms. Walker wrote in late May to singer-songwriter Alicia Keys. Ms. Walker, writing at the website of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, urged Ms. Keys to cancel a July 4 performance in Israel.

Ms. Walker wrote: “you are putting yourself in danger (soul danger) by performing in an apartheid country.” The writer then compared the plight of the Palestinians to that of blacks in the American South prior to the civil-rights movement. “You were not born when we, your elders who love you, boycotted institutions in the U.S. South to end an American apartheid less lethal than Israel’s against the Palestinian people.”

The analogy is false: “Apartheid” is a more apt description for the systemic discrimination against women across the Arab world than the only democracy in the Middle East. But this comparison is also an insult to the courageous civil-rights activists who risked their lives in Birmingham, Montgomery and elsewhere in the South to attain full rights for black Americans.

[...]

The comparison that Ms. Walker and her comrades in the boycott-Israel movement make to the civil-rights movement is false in other ways. Unlike the American South decades ago, when local governments enacted laws and policies to prevent U.S. citizens from attaining full rights, Israel has tried repeatedly to reach an agreement with the Palestinians in the West Bank that would grant them sovereignty. In 2005, Israel even withdrew unilaterally from the Gaza Strip. We all know how that turned out.

Those civil-rights activists who participated in the movement of the 1950s and 1960s—as well as others who remember the era—owe it to that noble cause to speak out when Ms. Walker and others distort and misuse this period in American history to advance an anti-Israel agenda.

It also wouldn’t hurt to remind people like Ms. Walker that no less a civil-rights leader than Martin Luther King Jr. was a fierce supporter of Israel. Days before his assassination in 1968, he said that “Israel is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy.”

[...]

Bayard Rustin, who organized the March on Washington in 1963, also believed in Israel’s cause. In the late 1960s, when some black activists began denouncing Zionism and Jews generally, Rustin cautioned against joining “in history’s oldest and most shameful witch hunt, anti-Semitism.”

Perhaps Alicia Keys is more familiar than Alice Walker with the true history of the relationship between the civil-rights movement and Israel. After the writer’s open letter to Ms. Keys appeared, the Grammy Award-winning musician publicly rebuffed Ms. Walker: “I look forward to my first visit to Israel,” she told the New York Times. “Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show.”

Would that all pop stars and other cultural icons had similar courage to Alicia Keys to withstand the pressure of the BDS brigade.

An article in Aish from a couple of years ago was brought to my attention just today (h/t Reality), in which a former Sudanese slave praises Israel and denounces its detractors for distracting world attention from the real victims of oppression and apartheid.

The introduction to Simon Deng’s article”Israel, Sudan and Me“begins:

Simon Deng, a former South Sudanese slave taken by a neighbor as a young boy to Islamist Northern Sudan, gave this impassioned speech at the Durban Watch Conference in New York, Sept 22, 2011

Mr. Deng then takes up his story:

I came here as a friend of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I came to protest this Durban conference which is based on a set of lies. It is organized by nations who are themselves are guilty of the worst kinds of oppression.

It will not help the victims of racism. It will only isolate and target the Jewish state. It is a tool of the enemies of Israel. The UN has itself become a tool against Israel. For over 50 years, 82 percent of the UN General Assembly emergency meetings have been about condemning one state – Israel. Hitler couldn’t have been made happier.

The Durban Conference is an outrage. All decent people will know that.

But friends, I come here today with a radical idea. I come to tell you that there are peoples who suffer from the UN’s anti-Israelism even more than the Israelis. I belong to one of those people.

Please hear me out.

By exaggerating Palestinian suffering, and by blaming the Jews for it, the UN has muffled the cries of those who suffer on a far larger scale.

[...]

n South Sudan, my homeland, about 4 million innocent men, women and children were slaughtered from 1955 to 2005. Seven million were ethnically cleansed and they became the largest refugee group since World War II.

The UN is concerned about the so-called Palestinian refugees. They dedicated a separate agency for them, and they are treated with a special privilege.

Meanwhile, my people, ethnically cleansed, murdered and enslaved, are relatively ignored. The UN refuses to tell the world the truth about the real causes of Sudan’s conflicts. Who knows really what is happening in Darfur? It is not a “tribal conflict.”

It is a conflict rooted in Arab colonialism well known in north Africa. In Darfur, a region in the Western Sudan, everybody is Muslim. Everybody is Muslim because the Arabs invaded the North of Africa and converted the indigenous people to Islam. In the eyes of the Islamists in Khartoum, the Darfuris are not Muslim enough. And the Darfuris do not want to be Arabized. They love their own African languages and dress and customs. The Arab response is genocide! But nobody at the UN tells the truth about Darfur.

[...]

Do you hear the UN condemn Arab racism against blacks?

What you find on the pages of the New York Times, or in the record of the UN condemnations is “Israeli crimes” and Palestinian suffering. My people have been driven off the front pages because of the exaggerations about Palestinian suffering. What Israel does is portrayed as a Western sin. But the truth is that the real sin happens when the West abandons us: the victims of Arab/Islamic apartheid.

[...]

The United Nations knew about the enslavement of South Sudanese by the Arabs. Their own staff reported it. It took UNICEF – under pressure from the Jewish-led American Anti-Slavery Group — 16 years to acknowledge what was happening. I want to publicly thank my friend Dr. Charles Jacobs for leading the anti-slavery fight.

[...]

As a former slave and a victim of the worst sort of racism, allow me to explain why I think calling Israel a racist state is absolutely absurd and immoral.

I have been to Israel five times visiting the Sudanese refugees. Let me tell you how they ended up there. These are Sudanese who fled Arab racism, hoping to find shelter in Egypt. They were wrong. When Egyptian security forces slaughtered 26 black refugees in Cairo who were protesting Egyptian racism, the Sudanese realized that the Arab racism is the same in Khartoum or Cairo. They needed shelter and they found it in Israel. Dodging the bullets of the Egyptian border patrols and walking for very long distances, the refugees’ only hope was to reach Israel’s side of the fence, where they knew they would be safe.

Black Muslims from Darfur chose Israel above all the other Arab-Muslim states of the area. Do you know what this means!? And the Arabs say Israel is racist!?

In Israel, black Sudanese, Christian and Muslim were welcomed and treated like human beings. Just go and ask them, like I have done. They told me that compared to the situation in Egypt, Israel is “heaven.”

Read the whole of Simon Deng’s shocking personal story for a full understanding of the absurdity and the slander of smearing Israel with the apartheid label.

It all seems so obvious to us supporters of Israel, but we must continue to fight this slander in every forum and with every means at our hands, both for the sake of Israel’s good name and for the sake of the real victims of Arab apartheid and racism.

This entry was posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Culture, Arts & Sports and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Israel, civil rights and the apartheid smear

  1. Arguing the issue of apartheid on behalf of Israel is like arguing the issue of whether the world is round to the flat earth society. The issue is not whether Israel is an apartheid state. It is self-evident that it is not. Therefore, the critical issue that should be addressed is the motives of those claiming the absurd. Spending valuable time a resources proving Israel’s democratic institutions only plays into the hands of those claiming the institutions are false and orients the discussion as to the validity of the institutions. Resources should instead be focused on why critics can be so stupid, ignorant, incompetent and corrupt to believe Israel is an apartheid nation and we would soon discover and expose their anti-Semitic, economic and fear of terrorist retaliation as their true concerns – and this is where the focus of the debate should concentrate. Stop trying to prove Israel is democratic. When the accusation is made, begin with a focus on the intent of the accuser. Render evidence of their ulterior motives and it will result in a more effective defense of Israel and condemnation of its critics.

    • anneinpt says:

      Elliott, you are quite right in your assessment of Israel’s predicament as that of arguing with the flat-earthers. I feel that way very often myself, especially when blogging for the umpteenth time about this subject and related ones.

      I also agree that we need to allocate more resources to uncover the true motives and funding of the Israel-haters. However, that is not enough. We DO need to counter them in the media, online, on campus, wherever they can be found, even if it feels like we’re talking to a brick wall (or to flat-earthers). We need to do this for the sake of “passing traffic” – people who are uneducated in the facts about the Middle East and Israeli history but are open-minded enough to learn if someone is there to teach them.

      Many anti-Israel activists are simply ignoramuses, who if shown the truth, come to reconsider their leanings. There are enough stories in the papers from people like these to prove my point.

      We cannot allow ourselves to leave the field open to the Israel-haters. Yes, we need to publicly expose them and excoriate them for being antisemites. But we must also work to counter their lies.

      And yes, it’s a never-ending job.

  2. Avner Leon says:

    It’s frustrating to try to answer all the libelous (and often wacky) claims made against Israel. Most of the people making these claims have never been here and don’t know the complexities of the conflict. I served as a combat soldier during my compulsory service and in the reserves. I then served many years in the reserves as a physician. I have treated both in the reserves and daily in my civilian capacity, thousands of arabs, including convicted terrorists. We daily treat Gazan children suffering from cancer because the Hamas uses EU funding to buy missiles instead of medicine. I have related this fact in this short post:

    http://www.quietusleo.blogspot.co.il/2012/11/today-i-provided-sedation-for.html

    • anneinpt says:

      Hi Avner (aka QL?), thank you so much for your comment, which goes precisely to prove my point. I would like to add kol hakavod on your devoted service to the IDF and to Israel’s health care. You must publicise your blog and your work more widely, even though it is a thankless task dealing with the libels and lies.

      For anyone reading here, I would highly recommend Avner’s (aka Quietus Leo’s) blog, The Sandman.

      It’s good to see you again. It’s been a long time. :-) )

    • cba says:

      What Anne said :)

  3. dave berg says:

    I don’t think anyone accuses Israel of apartheid in its own country. It is in the occupied lands where it seems to fit. Here is why:

    Two sets of laws, depending if you are a Jewish settler or a Palestinian. Both could commit the same crime, but it is a fact that the Pal will suffer a much harsher sentence.

    Palestinians have no control over their land and have no right to vote as well as no legal or civil rights. Jews in the occupied lands vote for Israeli leaders who then make decisions about the occupied land, while the Pals have no say and no voice, simply because they are not Jews. Palestinians cannot so much as build an outhouse without the consent of the Israel authorities, while Jewish settlers build illegal settlements all the time.

    Kangaroo courts where the judge, prosecutor and all witnesses are Israeli military. The use of indefinite detention on Pals in the occupied lands while Jews have all the rights of the Israeli democracy.

    The theft of natural resources for use in Israel while the Pals are not allowed to initiate any projects.

    Attacks by terrorist settlers against the locals while the thugs in the Israel army watch and support them.

    • anneinpt says:

      Oh boy, Dave Berg, you really don’t have the first clue of what is really going on in Israel – and that includes the territories of Judea and Samaria. You have just spouted every single talking point of the typical anti-Israel left without really thinking.

      Two sets of laws, depending if you are a Jewish settler or a Palestinian. Both could commit the same crime, but it is a fact that the Pal will suffer a much harsher sentence.

      Codswallop. An Israeli who murders and a Palestinian who murders get the same sentence from an Israeli judge – life. Even a Palestinian tried by a military court will get the same sentence. There is no death sentence in Israeli courts – unlike in Palestinian courts. You DID know there are Palestinian courts didn’t you? You didn’t? Then you didn’t know that those Palestinian courts hand out and carry out death sentences for anything from murder to criticising the President. But not for killing Israelis. Even settlers. Especially settlers.

      Palestinians have no control over their land and have no right to vote as well as no legal or civil rights.

      More codswallop. Palestinians in Area C control their own land and govern themselves. If they have no vote they have only themselves and their own government, aka the Palestinian Authority, to blame.

      Jews in the occupied lands vote for Israeli leaders who then make decisions about the occupied land, while the Pals have no say and no voice, simply because they are not Jews.

      Israelis – not Jews – who live in Israel get to vote. I can’t vote in the American elections and Palestinians can’t vote in the Israeli elections. Israelis can’t vote in the Palestinian elections and vice versa. It’s called democracy. And it’s nothing to do with religion. Ask any of the hundreds of thousands of Arab citizens of Israel whether they have the vote. Hint: they have several members of Knesset and even Ministers. Not to mention judges etc. You’ve got a bee in your bonnet about Jews which says something nasty about you.

      Palestinians cannot so much as build an outhouse without the consent of the Israel authorities, while Jewish settlers build illegal settlements all the time.

      That’s hysterical! :-). Did you not know that there is a de facto freeze going on in the settlements right now? Did you know that there is a huge building surge in the Palestinian sector? Legal as well as illegal? Talk about illegal settlements! The Palestinians are the biggest violators.

      Kangaroo courts where the judge, prosecutor and all witnesses are Israeli military.

      Military courts – yes, because the territory under Israeli control is not under Israeli sovereignty – by international diktat. However the witnesses are not military. That is pure slander. The witnesses will be anyone who witnessed the crime, just like in an ordinary court. You just want to believe the worst possible of Israel. You make me sick.

      The theft of natural resources for use in Israel while the Pals are not allowed to initiate any projects.

      Complete and utter lies. I refer you to this about water resources as an example.

      I will refer you to this article about the legality of Israel’s annexation of the territories and to this background to occupied v. disputed territory.

      You can also read about the legality of the settlements here.

      When you’ve gotten yourself an education, come back and we can discuss some more.

      • dave berg says:

        Anneinpt: thanks for you reply, and for not calling me an anti-semite because I spoke the truth about the apartheid system in the occupied lands. Like many others who cannot tolerate criticism, you are condescending and use ad hominem attacks. I read the websites you referred me to, they are not legitimate analyses, they are only hasbara and propaganda that attempts to sanitize Israel’s actions.

        “Two sets of laws, depending if you are a Jewish settler or a Palestinian.” Oh yes, Jewish rock throwers and price taggers are given a pass while Palestinian rock throwers are shot or put in the Israeli gulag. And that is only the tip of the iceberg.

        “Palestinians have no control over their land and have no right to vote as well as no legal or civil rights”. Yes, in their own little Bantustans they can vote for figureheads who must seek Israeli permission to do anything on their land. BTW, the Pals control area A, not C.

        “Israelis – not Jews – who live in Israel get to vote. I can’t vote in the American elections and Palestinians can’t vote in the Israeli elections. Israelis can’t vote in the Palestinian elections and vice versa. It’s called democracy”. The point is that Jewish settlers vote in Israeli elections. The leaders of Israel then decide to build more settlements, take more land and resources, oppress the locals. The Pals have no say while the more extreme and ugly side of the Israeli body politic make decisions about their land and lives. They are disenfranchised by the occupation.

        It is a vast majority of the world that sees the Israeli occupation as immoral and illegal. And it is an increasing number of people who see the occupation as a form of apartheid, including Israeli leaders such as Olmert, Barak, etc. Israel does have the US, Micronesia and a few other countries that support the occupation, but nobody else.

        Also, I have a graduate degree in history and I have been to Israel twice. I love Israel, support it, but hate what it is doing to itself and the Palestinians.

        • anneinpt says:

          thanks for you reply, and for not calling me an anti-semite because I spoke the truth about the apartheid system in the occupied lands.

          I didn’t say you were or you weren’t. I don’t know why you are so sensitive to such an epithet anyway. You obviously have a bee in your bonnet about Jews – you speak constantly about “Jews” and not “Israelis”. If the cap fits…

          As to the “apartheid system” – here we go again.

          I read the websites you referred me to, they are not legitimate analyses, they are only hasbara and propaganda that attempts to sanitize Israel’s actions.

          That is really very funny. Which websites would be acceptable to you? Der Stuermer? Or perhaps one of the Arabic media. Why do you think you would get a balanced view from a site that opposes Israel? You just don’t like the answers I give, which is fair enough. I don’t like your claims either. Only your claims are unsubstantiated whereas mine are backed up by reputable websites.

          Jewish rock throwers and price taggers are given a pass

          Again, hogwash. Read this – from an Israeli right-wing news site no less: Israel combats price tag raids.

          while Palestinian rock throwers are shot or put in the Israeli gulag.

          Ouch! LOL!! Hyperbole much? Which gulag? What are the names or numbers of these concentration camps comprising this gulag? Where is it situated? You spout such utter nonsense that I’m sitting here laughing.

          Yes, in their own little Bantustans they can vote for figureheads who must seek Israeli permission to do anything on their land. BTW, the Pals control area A, not C.

          You are correct in only one detail: The Palestinians control area A. It was my typo. And yes, that is what happens when you are not a citizen in a country. You can have autonomy but you don’t get to rule the country itself. The Palestinians have their own government: the Palestinian Authority, with their own President who seems to have forgotten what elections are all about and how often they should take place, not to mention that he has outstayed his mandate by about 5 years (but who’s counting?). The Palestinians have their own judicial system – which sentences people to death for things like selling land to Israelis or criticizing their everlasting president – and which has a revolving door system for terrorists.

          In any event, the Palestinians never had their own country. Before Israel liberated the territories, the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria were subjects of Jordan. The Palestinians in Gaza were Egyptians. And the Palestinians in Palestine – which is what became Israel – were indeed Palestinians, as were the Jews who lived there. The only Palestinian passports ever issued were to Jewish Palestinians. The Palestinians never had a capital, never had their own currency, government, stock market or anything resembling a civil society. In fact the Palestinians only arrived in Israel after the Jews began to make the economy flourish and the desert bloom.

          The point is that Jewish settlers vote in Israeli elections. The leaders of Israel then decide to build more settlements, take more land and resources, oppress the locals. The Pals have no say while the more extreme and ugly side of the Israeli body politic make decisions about their land and lives. They are disenfranchised by the occupation.

          See above.There have been no new settlements since the 1990s. No more land or resources are being taken. Israeli settlements are NOT built on land where Palestinians were living but on empty state land or privately bought land. Do you deny the rights of Jewish Israelis to buy land in Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank) to build homes there? Would you deny Jews the right to build in New York? Of course not. So why deny them these rights in their homeland?

          Re disenfranchisement, the Palestinians are not Israeli citizens and therefore get no say in what goes on in Israel, just as Israelis get no say in what goes on in the Palestinian Authority. They get to vote in their own territory. If they truly want their own state and NOT a state to REPLACE Israel, they had better get used to voting in their own place of residence and not somewhere else.

          It is a vast majority of the world that sees the Israeli occupation as immoral and illegal.

          First of all, how do you know it is a “vast majority”? Just because the anti-Israel groups make the most noise? Or do you mean the UN? That place where Syria and Libya can chair the Human Rights Committee and where Iran is chair of the Disarmament Committee? Where there is an automatic anti-Israel, anti-US and anti-West majority due to the huge number of Arab and Muslim states?

          In any event, the world holds no moral authority over Israel. The vast majority of the world thought it quite correct to abuse and persecute Jews throughout the centuries, and have not stopped since the Jewish state came into being. The world has no problem with literally millions of innocents being slaughtered in Sudan, Syria, Congo and so many other benighted places. The only thing they have a problem with is a few Israelis building homes on empty land which by law belongs to them.

          If only the world were as moral as Israel we would have a much better world.

          And it is an increasing number of people who see the occupation as a form of apartheid, including Israeli leaders such as Olmert, Barak, etc.

          What Olmert and Barak think is irrelevant. They were thrown out of office by Israelis who disagreed with them.

          As to the entire legality of Israel retaining Judea and Samaria, I bring you the drafters of UN Resolution 242, who specifically did NOT call for Israel to withdraw from the territory. Of course you probably won’t like this source either because it’s pro-Israel, but you can’t argue with quotes from the original people at the scene.

          Also, I have a graduate degree in history and I have been to Israel twice.

          Albert Einstein said:
          “Having a degree or being intelligent does not make one wise” and
          “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”

          I love Israel, support it, but hate what it is doing to itself and the Palestinians.

          I am glad that you love and support Israel but you seem to be one of those people who are determined to save Israel from itself. Thank you for your concern but we can look after ourselves. Please study the subject fully and if you really feel you must change the country, make Aliya and vote in our elections. That is what democracy is all about after all.

          I’m afraid I don’t have enough time to go into any further discussion with you about this. We will be talking in circles in a “conversation of the deaf”. It’s been an interesting exercise though.

  4. Pingback: It’s Israel Apartheid Week once again. Let’s counter the vicious smear | Anne's Opinions

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