Anti-Israel ideologues have a well-worn tactic of taking the latest world outrage and foisting it upon Israel, no matter how absurd the comparison or epithet. So in the 1960s Israel was branded a “colonialist power,” in the 1970s Israel became an “apartheid state,” in the 1990s Israel practiced “ethnic cleansing,” and at the Durban conference in 2001 the Jewish state was called “genocidal.”
The latest is a throwback to the ’70s: Israel is accused of constructing an “apartheid wall” ? a term gaining currency in world media coverage of Israel’s security fence. To cite just two recent examples, on Feb. 2 the Hartford Courant granted op-ed space to an academic “calling for an end to U.S. aid to the Israeli apartheid system” as evidenced by Israel’s “apartheid walls,” and the Feb. 11 edition of The Australian ran the headline: Israel to cut 100km off ‘apartheid wall’.
Since the South African apartheid system was dismantled over ten years ago, many today are unaware of what exactly that nation’s racist land policies were. The South African government established nine bantustans ? sectors for black segregation ? in the 60s and 70s, in the effort to separate non-white South Africans from whites, and from each other. To demonstrate just how fallacious the comparison to Israel’s security fence is, we summarize South African apartheid policy here, alongside the facts of Israel’s anti-terror security fence:
|Issue||Apartheid South Africa||Israel’s Security Fence|
|Goal of separation||The explicit goal of bantustans was the elimination of rights of the majority South African black population, to ensure white hegemony.||The explicit goal of the security fence is preventing surreptitious terrorist entry to Israel, which has caused the murder of hundreds of Israeli civilians.|
|Citizenship||A central goal of official apartheid “separate development” was to strip black South Africans of their citizenship.||West Bank Palestinians were never citizens of Israel. (Arabs, meanwhile, constitute 15% of the Israeli citizenry.)|
|Forced transfer||Between 1950 and 1986, about 1.5 million Africans were forcibly removed from “white” cities to rural reservations.||The security fence causes no transfer of population.|
|Opposition to nation||South African blacks, cordoned into bantustans, did not seek the destruction of South Africa, but rather the removal of the apartheid regime.||The majority of Palestinians in the territories dispute Israel’s very right to exist; this has bred terror, and ultimately, the need for the fence.|
|Permanence||South African bantustans were an effort to force a permanent international status on lands, and the black population living there.||The security fence is a temporary defensive measure, not a border; inconveniences caused by the fence are reversible.|
|Colonialism||South African “separate development” was an outgrowth of imperialist, colonial policy.||Israel is “colonial” neither with regard to the source of its population (mostly refugees), nor their deep historical relationship to the land.|
The Israeli security fence, therefore, differs from South African measures in its rationale, its goals, its effect, and its historical context. A far more appropriate comparison can be made, therefore, between Israel’s fence and other democratic nations’ border fences, such as the British “peace line” in Ireland, or the US border fence with Mexico.
As media outlets continue to grant legitimacy to the “apartheid wall” myth, HonestReporting encourages subscribers to respond directly when the distortion appears in news stories or opinion pieces, debunking the latest effort to associate Israel with a racist, immoral political policy.
For additional information on the security fence, see the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s website: Saving Lives: Israel’s Security Fence.
On Feb. 5, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman ignored the facts of Israeli prisoner releases while making his case that Ariel Sharon directs a “conspiracy” to control Washington. That day, HonestReporting issued a In today’s (Feb. 12) Times, Friedman states:
My Feb. 5 column erred in saying Ariel Sharon had released no Palestinian prisoners to Mahmoud Abbas. He did. It was just too limited a release to have any impact.
By “limited release,” Friedman clarifies that “none of them [were] big-name fighters” and that some were “just criminals.”
This Friedman contrasted to the recent Hezbollah exchange. Yet even in the Hezbollah exchange, the only “big-name fighters” (Mustafa Dirani and Abdel Karim Obeid) were Lebanese. The 400 freed Palestinians included, by Israeli government insistence, no terrorists with “blood on their hands.”
Moreover, in June, 2003 Israel did release a “big-name fighter”: Ahmad Jabara, known as the “refrigerator bomber” for a terror attack that killed thirteen people, was released to much fanfare, front page headlines in PA papers, and a warm public reunion with Yassir Arafat.
So while Friedman’s correction is welcome, he still misrepresents Sharon’s record on prisoner releases in the effort to paint the “conspiring” Israeli Prime Minister as “failing to lift a finger” to support Mahmoud Abbas.
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The Toronto Globe & Mail had the following poll question on the homepage of its website earlier today (Feb. 12):
Should all financial and political aid to Israel be cut off until a just peace with the Palestinians is in place? ? Yes ? No
After immediate protest from HonestReporting and other media monitors that the question itself contains blatant anti-Israel bias, the Globe & Mail changed the question to include the option of cutting off aid to Palestinians.
That’s a far more reasonable proposal ? a halt in PA funding is precisely what the EU’s Anti-Fraud Office is presently considering, after evidence emerged that the PA has directly funneled EU ‘political aid’ funds to terror organizations.
Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.