When I asked him what had happened, he muttered: “Do You see what I’m seeing? Three black men on the stage wearing a tuxedo?”
“Yes,” I said. “What’s the problem?” He stared at me and said, “In my country, black people don’t wear suits, and they definitely don’t perform on stage in front of a white audience.” (The three men, by the way, were part of The Mills Brothers, one of the most famous bands in the world at the time.)
It was the first time I had heard the word “apartheid,” which means “separateness” in Dutch.
Last week, the word made headlines again. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the leader who has turned himself into a dictator and who dreams of turning his country into a caliphate like it was before the rule of the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, referred to Israel last week as an “apartheid state,” repeating things said in the past by other “friends of Israel” and—regretfully and shamefully—by some Israelis too.
So I would like to ask Erdoğan and some of the others who are throwing false accusations at Israel: Where exactly do you see apartheid? A state with complete academic freedom, a state with Arab ministers and Knesset members, a state that fosters Arab professors, Arab doctors, Arab pharmacists and Arab teachers, a state whose universities have a high percentage of Arab students, can’t be called an “apartheid state,” unless it’s by ignorant or evil people.
And the last person who can throw this accusation at us is a leader who has been cracking down on freedom of speech and the free press in his own country.
Any intelligent person can immediately see that the only country in the Middle East where Arabs enjoy full rights and a proper life is Israel. Ask the residents of Umm al-Fahm, or Tayibe, or Sakhnin, if they would agree to become part of the Palestinian state when it is established one day. “Absolutely not,” they would all cry out. “We want to stay in Israel.”
An apartheid state? How rude and how ignorant can people be?