Sorry folks, this has been an incredibly hectic fortnight and I’m just surfacing for air. I wanted to write something on Purim last week and something on “Israel Apartheid Week” but was let hitherto. Here’s something by Malcolm Hedding I would like to have written if I’d had the time…
As a young minister in South Africa in the 1980s, Malcolm Hedding participated in the struggle against Apartheid and was threatened with detention without trial by the infamous Bureau of State Security, so he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about Apartheid.
Israel and the charge of Apartheid
Day by day the anti-Israel alliance, and sadly in collaboration with major church movements mainly from the Protestant world, is seeking to make the Apartheid label stick to Israel. We see this at present in the fortnight of global agitation known as “Israel Apartheid Week.” There is more to this scheming than meets the eye in that the real agenda behind branding Israel an “Apartheid state” is to remove the Jewish State altogether.
The real Apartheid State of South Africa was rightfully dismantled in the late 1980s and early 90s. It was first discredited, then delegitimized and finally dismantled to the elation of the world and the enslaved black majority who had lived under and endured its brutality. However, to describe Israel in these terms is, quite frankly, immoral and wicked. Yet on university campuses across the Western World, this is becoming a very popular cause.
Essentially, Apartheid was a totalitarian system of governance – not unlike many of the regimes in the Arab world today – whereby a minority white population subjugated and enslaved the overwhelmingly black population. It was ideologically driven and was obsessed with racial superiority. The superior whites could not mingle with or even sit on a bench with the inferior black peoples. Even the education system was “dumbed down” for black people because they were deemed mentally inferior and unable to cope with the higher levels of learning that whites could embrace.
The towns and cities were “white by night” as all “blacks” – as they were called – had to be removed to their shanty towns, which served as cheap labour ghettos for the nation. The black people could not vote, own property or even move freely inside their own country.
Various instruments of state were used to ruthlessly apply the system of total and complete segregation and these included the police, the military and the judiciary system. In short, it was Aryanism in a new form!
There is absolutely nothing equivalent to this in the dispute that rages between the Palestinians and Israel today. Within Israel itself, Arabs and Jews share the same shopping malls, benches, hospitals, theatres and, in many cases, suburbs. The educational institutions do not have a deliberately “dumbed down” Arab curriculum and the privilege of voting is given to all. The Israeli Knesset has Arab members of parliament, and Jews, Arabs and Palestinians often work together at construction sites, businesses, hotels and elsewhere. Most important of all is the fact that Israel is a democratic state. Though not a perfect one, it does have democratic institutions and it is definitely not governed by a totalitarian minority!
The state of Israel enjoys a Jewish majority. It is democracy which must answer to its citizens and thus has demonstrated a willingness to make painful concessions in order to secure a future of peace with its neighbours. In all cases, it alone paid the real price by giving up land. It even withdrew from Gaza to demonstrate its sincerity in seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict with the Palestinians. The trauma that this withdrawal brought to the people of Gaza and to Israel was played out for the entire world to see through the international media. Yet it was not good enough! So, the result was the, “same old, same old”. That is, within a short span of time thousands of missiles, fired from the vacated territory, rained down on Israeli civilians in the western Negev. The world said and did very little, except to call Israel an “apartheid state”!
Over the years, and even in response to Israel’s most generous peace overtures during the Oslo era, the Palestinians have opted for violence. This they called an “intifada.” Wave upon wave of suicide bombers attacked Israel from the porous boundaries surrounding the West Bank. Men, women and children were indiscriminately murdered in buses, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls. To protect herself from these murderous infiltrations, Israel built a security barrier, which in some of the more vulnerable built-up areas consisted of a wall. It was not built to segregate people or discriminate against them, but to protect its own citizens from attack. In this connection, the security fence has been highly successful though even Israelis admit it is regrettable. But what would any other self-respecting, democratic state do? Nevertheless, Israel’s detractors love to deride the “Apartheid Wall” to further their accusation.
The Palestinians have suffered and still do but to place the blame entirely at Israel’s door is folly. Their failed and corrupt leadership, missed opportunities, and willingness to support violence and terror are also central causes of their suffering. Israel is no Apartheid state. She is a democratic state living under the constant threat of annihilation and thus seeking to balance her need to find a lasting peace with her neighbours with that of her security. Her regional experience has taught Israel that her security and very existence is the number one issue. After all, in all the so-called peace plans presented for the region, she is expected to do all the giving with only verbal guarantees of security given by her interlocutors. These have never amounted to much!
The truth is the Apartheid accusation is just another smokescreen in the war against Israel! I should know because I grew up in the dark Apartheid era of South Africa and stood against it to my peril.
Read Malcolm’s entire blog.