Israel famously disengaged from Gaza in 2005, removing the citizens that had settled there, including the dead. Any Israeli presence was removed from the area and an opportunity was created for the Palestinians to make overtures towards peace. Instead, a vacuum was created that led to the fundamentalist Hamas taking control of the territory. This new regime persecuted and got rid of any opposition, installing an Islamist leadership that quickly imposed harsh restrictions and trampled on human rights including on the media, freedom of religion, women’s rights and sexual orientation.
Israel’s detractors make the comparison of Hamas being a liberation movement for the Palestinians but can we really compare the genocidal Hamas Charter, which advocates the destruction of the Jews and Israel, to the ANC Freedom Charter, which calls for equal rights and inclusion of all citizens of South Africa regardless of race or history? To do so maligns everything those who fought to end apartheid injustice stood for and the hard work by veterans such as Nelson Mandela to broker reconciliation.
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.
Rolene Marks is a South African olah and volunteer member of the Media Team Israel and Truth be Told, an advocacy body that fights media bias. She has appeared on radio, television and has been published in numerous global publications. Visit her blog: www.rorosrantings.wordpress.com
See our Hot Topics for more on the Apartheid State Libel and how to address this slur.