The false analogy between apartheid South Africa and Israel – particularly since the UN’s racist 2001 Durban Conference – has played a key role in the campaign to delegitimize Israel and threaten its existence. The strategy of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is based on convincing the public that Israel is no more legitimate than the apartheid regime in South Africa, and can be removed with enough public pressure.
Now, this insidious delegitimization campaign has returned to university campuses around the world, including the US, UK and Canada, as part of Israel Apartheid Week.
As the Jerusalem Post states:
Problem is, if left unchallenged, proponents of the apartheid analogy are liable to stifle free speech and trample open debate on campuses by using intimidation and bullying tactics. They recently prevented Ambassador Michael Oren from finishing a speech at UC Irvine, and on the same day in Cambridge they interrupted Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, allegedly shouting in Arabic, “Slaughter the Jews.” Meanwhile, Cambridge Universitys Israel Society bowed to pressure from Muslim students to cancel a speech by historian Benny Morris.
We commend those media outlets and commentators that have recognized IAW for what it really is – what Canada’s National Post calls a “festival of bigotry”:
In its very conception, IAW is offensive for two related reasons. First, it directs participants to vilify a single country, an inherently bigoted exercise. Unlike, say, “anti-racism week” or “diversity awareness week,” IAW does not champion a concept — rather, it targets a particular group of people defined by religion and citizenship. Second, it does so with a false and poisonous analogy between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa. Taken together, the combined message is more or less the same one communicated by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hamas — that Israel is a uniquely evil and fundamentally illegitimate nation. While IAW speakers generally are careful not to call for Israel’s destruction explicitly, they don’t need to: That message follows naturally from the claim that the nation is fundamentally illegitimate.
Staying in Canada, Lawrence Hart, writes in the Hamilton Spectator:
In addressing the fallacious association between apartheid and Israel, Gideon Shimoni, professor emeritus of the Hebrew University’s Institute of Contemporary Jewry in Jerusalem, emphasizes that the historical context of the Jewish-Arab conflict in the Middle East is fundamentally different from that between the Afrikaner ideology of apartheid as it pertained to the Black population in South Africa. He stresses that the charge that Israel is an apartheid state is an insidious tool in the hands of those who deny the entitlement of Jews to a viable national home.
It is his contention that “those who use the apartheid accusation employ the old anti-Zionist arguments … applying identifiable double standards of judgment to Israel, traceable to the characteristic anti-Semitic premise that all things Jews do are inherently evil, including their nationalism.”
Thus, by relating “apartheid” constructs to Israeli policies and practices, Israel’s enemies have found the ultimate vehicle by which to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state and its supporters around the world.
Meanwhile, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen recognizes:
The Israel of today and the South Africa of yesterday have almost nothing in common. In South Africa, the minority white population harshly ruled the majority black population. Nonwhites were denied civil rights, and in 1958, they were even deprived of citizenship. In contrast, Israeli Arabs, about one-fifth of the country, have the same civil and political rights as do Israeli Jews. Arabs sit in the Knesset and serve in the military, although most are exempt from the draft. Whatever this is — and it looks suspiciously like a liberal democracy — it cannot be apartheid….
Yet Israel’s critics continue to hurl the apartheid epithet at the state when they have to know, or they ought to know, that it is a calumny. Interestingly, they do not use it for Saudi Arabia, which maintains as perfect a system of gender apartheid as can be imagined — women can’t even drive, never mind vote — or elsewhere in the Arab world, where Palestinians sometimes have fewer rights than they do in Israel.
While this latest battle is taking place on college campuses, the false apartheid charge regularly appears in the mainstream media as well as other places such as Jimmy Carter’s infamous book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”.
The Israel apartheid charge has been addressed in the past by HonestReporting:
In addition other organizations are specifically addressing Israel Apartheid Week:
CAMERA has created a site specifically addressing Israel Apartheid Week.
StandWithUs has produced a downloadable PDF booklet debunking the apartheid analogy.
Our student subscribers are invited to use the above resources to take action on their own campuses. The above materials can also be used to address the apartheid charge as part of the wider campaign of delegitimization of Israel taking place beyond our academic centers.