“The difference between Israel and apartheid South Africa can be highlighted at a very human level: Jewish and Arab babies are born in the same delivery room, with the same facilities, attended by the same doctors and nurses, with the mothers recovering in adjoining beds in the same ward.” (Benjamin Pogrund)
Global anti-Israel activists have adopted a baseless but malicious mantra for attacking Israel, claiming that the Jewish state is an apartheid state. The roots of this campaign go back to the racist Durban conference, an anti-racism event that turned into an unrestrained orgy of vicious anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment.
The people who call Israel an apartheid state seek to draw a parallel between the vile racism and injustice which apartheid represented in South Africa and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank since 1967. But this parallel does not exist in reality. It is a vicious canard and an exaggerated appeal to emotion aimed at producing a deeply flawed and distorted comparison.
The ultimate purpose of portraying Israel as an apartheid state is to set in motion a process whereby the Jewish state will be slapped with the same harsh sanctions as South Africa, which eventually forced the apartheid regime to surrender and abolish its racist social system. The idea is that similar sanctions will also bring Israel to its knees and force it to withdraw from the West Bank. Yet as noted, this campaign is premised on a groundless, malicious fallacy.
Apartheid (apart-ness) in South Africa featured legal racial segregation that deprived non-white residents of the country of rights, while enabling the white minority to maintain its rule and superiority in virtually every area of life.
Public services in apartheid South Africa were segregated, with white citizens enjoying highly developed facilities compared to vastly inferior services for non-whites. In fact, blatantly racist legislation classified South Africans into different racial groups based on their ethnicity and skin color.
Now let’s turn our attention back to the Middle East. Indeed, Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank want the occupation to end; moreover, we can concede that a situation whereby one nation occupies another is indeed a recipe for disaster, as inequality and injustice inevitably creep in on some occasions. However, such occasional inequality is not the same as apartheid.
Moreover, Israel’s conduct and the acts it undertakes in the West Bank are largely motivated by security concerns, rather than racial bias. As such, these moves are not fixed or entrenched in legislation; they are mitigated when the security situation is calm. On a broader level, Israeli society is based on equality and freedom for all citizens, including Arabs, by law, further highlighting the non-racial basis for the Jewish state’s actions in Judea and Samaria.
Until such time as a viable Palestinian government can rule the West Bank, following negotiations, Israel has no choice but to maintain its occupation in order to curb the terror threats against it. Yet Israel’s presence in the West Bank is not premised on a hateful, pervasive racist model as the one previously employed by South Africa. Rather, it is an imperfect political and military arrangement that shall prevail until the Palestinians can govern themselves.