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.