Thursday, May 19

Comparison of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict with Apartheid South Africa

Taken and donated by Guinnog.
Taken and donated by Guinnog. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Negotiations to End Apartheid in South Africa
Negotiations to End Apartheid in South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
These days it is becoming very popular to compare the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict with apartheid South Africa prior to 1994. It is an odious comparison wreaked with many half-truths and clich├ęs. Both situations are so different that when one examines the situation one can note major differences. The idea of using this comparison is to delegitimize Israel's right to exist within secure and recognized borders and to justify the Palestinian methods of terror in order to destroy Israel.

In apartheid South Africa prior to 1994 before the first democratic elections in South Africa's history, there was this odious apartheid system. Its main purpose was to maintain white minority rule at all costs and to keep the black majority disenfranchised and without basic human rights. These blacks were a reservoir of cheap labour to operate the white economy and to ensure white prosperity at their expense. Blacks had suffered immense injustice under this system. White South African Government spending on black education and their general community welfare was minimal. The gap between the black situation then and slavery was not very large.

Social intercourse between whites and blacks in those days was a relationship between the white master and the black, underpaid servant. The situation for non-white people was intolerable and even cruel. It was against the law for Blacks to travel freely in the country of their birth except if they had a pass (dompas) from the white authorities. After 9.00 p.m., there was a curfew and blacks were forbidden in the streets after that dreaded hour in many towns. These people were not terrorists. They were not people who threatened the whites in any way. Denial of their basic human rights was commonplace. There was the dreaded Immorality Act, which prevented mixed marriages and sex beyond the colour bar. Those who contravened the law were imprisoned. There were separate public facilities for blacks and whites. Laws forbade blacks to eat in white restaurants. Separate transport facilities, which resulted in overcrowded conditions in buses and trains, were part of this evil, cruel system. It was common to see police officers abusing and ill treating blacks for not having their pass (identity or reference book) on their person when being searched. The police pushed them into the back of the police van, and drove them to the police station where they spent a night in the lock up cell. Usually their white employers bailed out these unfortunate persons when they produced a permit that they were in his employ legally. Blacks could not purchase property in white areas, as this was a contravention of the notorious Group Areas Act.

Anybody who opposed the apartheid system in those days – especially if he was black – was accused of being an agitator or communist. The police arrested him for 90 days without trial or recourse to a lawyer. This was increased later to 180 days detention and the police officer even had the power to keep a person imprisoned indefinitely without trial. These incidents occurred during the period of 1950 – 1990. Apartheid was at its zenith in those years. It was illegal to criticise the white government for its apartheid practices. There was limited criticism in those days by white opposition parties in parliament. However, the law controlled the limit of legal criticism. The abuse of prisoners for obtaining information was legal and encouraged. The police tortured the famous black leader, Steve Biko, to death when he was in prison for "anti-apartheid crimes" in 1977.

The majority of South African citizens was against apartheid and wanted to be part of a multi racial South Africa. The leaders of the liberation movements never spoke of destroying the white man and denying him rights in South Africa. Their fight was a justified fight for freedom and human rights as well as equality before the law.

If one were to contrast that with the situation in the Middle East, it is different. Israel's Arab neighbours threatened her from the day of her establishment in 1948. There was never a desire to recognise Israel's right to exist. What has this to do with South African style apartheid? Where is the comparison?

The blacks in their liberation struggle never targeted innocent people by suicide bombings or terror. There were sporadic incidents by some black extremists, but the mainstream liberation movements in South Africa went underground. Their leaders, who were living in exile, condemned this violence.

Perhaps, there may be a vague parallel of apartheid in the occupied territories since June 1967. The occupation is a complex problem that is the result of a war foisted onto Israel. Israel, being militarily superior, occupied territory in the Six Day War of June 1967 and made the fatal mistake of encouraging Jewish settlements there when it was obvious that there was no Arab partner who was willing to sign a peace treaty insuring the return of occupied territory as part of an overall peace agreement. The occupation and rule of the Palestinians is a tragic result of the wars that Israel fought for her survival.

However, had there been a willing partner on the Arab side who would come to terms with Israel's existence the seemingly "apartheid-like" situation would not have occurred. Israel never wished to conquer another people. This is contrary to the apartheid South African situation whereby the whites ruled and oppressed the blacks by force. They denied them their basic human rights. The intifida of 2000 resulted in a heavy spate of suicide violence against innocent Israelis, which resulted in heavy Israeli Army retaliation against armed Palestinian terrorists. The Palestinian terrorist groups had declared war on Israel and in a war; innocent people on both sides die and suffer.

The difference is that in South Africa both Whites and Blacks realized that their fate is dependent on one another. Both realised the importance of sitting down and negotiating a transitional period to end apartheid. Both sides were determined to rebuild the new democratic, multiracial South Africa. This feeling of mutual desire to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is lacking. The Palestinians have embarked on the road of terror and suicide bombings. This is their chosen path. It differs from the path that the freedom fighters in South Africa chose. Here there is no desire to come to terms with Israel's existence that was always a "thorn" in Palestinian flesh. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have made this perfectly clear to the world. Their manifesto is no example in building an alternative democratic Palestinian society in a state replacing Israel.
Is there not a similarity to Nazism in the Hamas manifesto?

Many Palestinian observers in the UN Security council accuse Israel of genocide. Is the Hamas Manifesto not promoting genocide of the Jewish People? Compare this to the ideals of those who opposed and fought the cruel racist regime of White South Africa during those evil, apartheid years. Their fight was a fight to attain equality for all South Africans irrespective of their skin colour. This is not the case in the Israel-Palestinian dispute. Here there is no desire in Palestinian street, as represented by Hamas and company, to come to terms with Israel's existence – let alone negotiate a peace treaty, which would eventually lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel

Genocide is more part of the lexicon of the Palestinian terrorist groups than in Israel. Perhaps from this point of view, there is a similarity between the Palestinians and the dominating whites of apartheid South Africa. Both peoples oppressed their citizens and denied them basic human rights. Both regimes were corrupt and were involved in feathering their own nests.

The similarity of apartheid South Africa to the Palestinian Authority, including their methods of torture of opponents, makes this comparison closer to the truth.
Where are human rights in the Arab countries? Where are woman's rights in Islamic Society? In Saudi Arabia, women are treated like chattels and do not even have the franchise. Why are the human rights organizations not taking any view on that?

Another very big difference between apartheid South Africa and Israel is the fact that there are no separate facilities for Jews and Arabs. Arab Israelis have equal rights and have the right to vote. There is no law preventing social mixing between the two peoples nor are there separate universities for Arabs and Israelis in Israel.

The comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa shows total ignorance of the situation in both countries. After having been born and educated in apartheid South Africa and having opposed apartheid and racism all my life, I have come to realize how false and stupid this comparison really is. Much still remains to be done in the human rights area for Arab Israelis. There is some social descrimination in the job market and the situation is not as good as it could be. 

However, it is very far from the apartheid system of White South Africa where draconian laws were well set in place to separate blacks from whites.


zac said...

How well do I remember those apartheid years in South Africa where I was born and educated. Under the fascist white apartheid regime, the blacks had suffered terrible humiliation. The big miracle of it all – that brought the changes towards a better multiracial South Africa was the desire of the majority of South Africans to see the demise of the evil apartheid regime and equal rights for all.

The black people had a responsible leadership who went underground. Nelson Mandela NEVER hated the whites despite everything that he had experienced under apartheid. I remember his arrest and imprisonment on Robben Island for sabotage activity and treason. (I would recommend reading his autobiography – No Easy Walk to Freedom) The targets for sabotage were always free of humans. Sabotage was directed at government buildings and property. In fact, some close friends of ours were involved in the underground against apartheid and our home was a refuge for them in many ways. The Special Branch had searched our home for banned political (or communist) literature and my mother was questioned.

It is ridiculous how cynical use is made of the apartheid regime for comparison with the suffering of the Palestinians. As one who had experienced this disgusting era of apartheid in South Africa, nothing could be further from the truth.

I do not remember any rhetoric coming from any black pulpit filled with such hate as one reads in the Friday sermons of various imams. There is no conciliatory message in the anti-Semitic garbage of lies in their sermons.

It is an unfortunate fact that we are subjected to the most irreconcilable hate on the part of many Moslem leaders in the territories. We wish to make peace with them and they do not seem to have the same desire. They still want to see the destruction of Israel and they wish to see every Jew destroyed. They remind us of that continuously from sermons in the mosques of Gaza. It is not just the refugee problem or the occupation. Israel's existence as a state is unacceptable to many Palestinian leaders. Let us not pull the wool over our eyes because of peace ideologies that we still wish to believe in. The intifada with its violence of suicide bombings and terror proves this point.

Even now, with the start of disengagement, there is no parallel desire on the part of Abu Mazen (apart from sterile lip service) to a cessation of Palestinian violence by disarming terrorist groups. Let us be honest with ourselves. There is no serious parallel desire on the Palestinian side to reach an agreement of terror cessation. The strength of that agreement lies on a polite request from Abu Mazen towards the Palestinian terrorist factions to behave and not fire rockets and mortars into Israel. This tactic is doomed to fail.

Anonymous said...

When the international community recognized that the Apartheid in S. Africa could no longer be tolerated, they acted to ensure that it came to an end. The same must be done in response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. America must take the lead, but the entire international community must join them in the movement for peace in the Middle East. Thousands of Americans from all 50 states as well as over 225 American political, religious, and business leaders have come together through the Campaign for American Leadership in the Middle East (CALME) to say that a two-state solution is the right answer, and that the Administration should make resolving the conflict a central and sustained objective of American foreign policy. The central focus of CALME is an open letter to President Bush that is signed through an internet petition. I hope that you will join me in signing the CALME petition by going to, and that you will ask your friends and family to do so as well. Your voice will help us send a strong message about Americans’ interest in peace in the Middle East.

meditations71 said...

I appreciate your comments as usual, but beyond the usual disagreements we've already acknowledged that we have with each other's positions I think you're trying here to make some rather fine distinctions between liberation movement and "extremists" in South Africa, while lumping all those opposing Zionism into one category "the extremists". It is well known that the ANC did in some cases authorise attacks on so-called "soft targets", yet I think neither you nor I would call the ANC a terrorist organisation (although of course many US and British conseratives, and of course the apartheid government, did). Moreover, there was certainly a part of the liberation movement - the Pan-Africanist Congress and the Azanian People's Liberation Army - that took a decidedly "anti-white" stance but were eventually "reined in" or at least brought on board as a political solution was made a possibility by the apartheid government.
The problem with the Israeli approach seems to be that it's current use of wanton violence without seemingly any discrimination (and it's not the first time) can only strengthen the extremist elements. End of occupation, a viable Palestinian state with a shared Jerusalem and return of refugees must surely be the precondition for Israel if it wishes to remain a state that does not have to become completely militarised (and thus subvert any pretense to democracy or pluralism) to survive in what will surely be an increasingly hostile environment.
The argument "they're all lunatics in the other camp" is not a very convincing one, I think, to many outside Israel or (parts of) the US, and it is surely not one on which any form of solution can be built.

Javier Marti said...

Interesting article. I didn't know much about both situations / countries. Now I know a little more, and that by itself, makes this work highly valuable. Congratulations

falconress said...

To me it just defies logic how anyone can talk about the right of return being a reasonable possibility in the context of any peace agreement. Much less the Jerusalem issue, but that's another matter. If that is a sticking point, then I, a non-Jew, wish to go live in Judea and Samaria when this new "state" comes into existence. I claim right of return as these lands are important to my faith, and Israel has thus far not enabled me to become a citizen. Since we are founding this potential state on the premise of justice and democracy, shouldn't anyone be able to live there if they want? In fact, if it's supposed to be okay for Israel to allow all these "Palestinian" milliions to come flocking back into pre-1967 Israel, then doesn't justice dictate that Jewish people should be able to freely live in the West Bank as well? That is, as long as Israel is no longer forced to act as a controlling military presence in those areas with its checkpoints, barriers, posts, etc. Is that possible? Will anyone be able to live safely in "Palestine" who is not Muslim?
I guess these are the discussion points for this upcoming meeting in the fall... hmmm.... I hope the watchmen are watching. Are we ready to stand with the people of the mountains and to stand for the place where God has left His Name?
Woe to those who stand for the division of His Holy City and the carving of the Land. Who will go up with Him in that day?

falconress said...

I want to add a letter from someone else that I thought was relevant to the discussion:

“Evangelical” Buffoons
By: Michael D. Evans

The New York Times published a letter on July 29 under the title of “Letter to President Bush from Evangelical Leaders.” Thirty-four so-called evangelical leaders thanked President Bush, but for what, and on behalf of whom? Is he being thanked on behalf of another group of evangelical leaders that met with an Arab contingent on Monday, July 2? Is he being thanked for reversing the statements made on June 21, 2002: “The United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure”? Less than a year later, the State Department reversed course, eliminating the cessation of terror as a pre-condition for engagement. Palestinian terrorism grew.

Is President Bush being thanked for a presidential promise in July that would send ½-billion dollars in aid to President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah terrorist movement? Fatah is the organization that, one year ago, threatened to strike at the economic and business interests of the United States, both here and abroad.

The letter is absurd in several respects: First, evangelicals believe the Bible. The majority of the men who signed the letter to President Bush are “replacement theology” adherents and should not even be labeled “evangelical.” In fact, evangelicals would never call a Presbyterian an evangelical. Most are members of the World Council of Churches, a decidedly “un-evangelical” organization.

The great news is that not one person who signed the letter would be known by most evangelicals. If a poll were taken of 1000 evangelicals, not one of that number would be able to recognize the names of the signers. The President of the Southern Baptist Convention, the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, the head of the National Association of Evangelicals, and the head of the National Religious Broadcasters did not sign the letter.

The letter also says that the best way to bless Israel is to support a two-state solution. This is a myth that calls for the support of a Palestinian culture, language, and history. The letter calls for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem, the home of Christianity, to be placed under the authority of terrorists. The debacle of Bethlehem and Jericho should be enough to convince these men that this would be a horrendous mistake. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, and Jericho are now terrorist towns. It is no longer safe for Christians to visit the birthplace of their faith because of the emphasis on suicide martyrs and terrorist activities.

Israelis have never had a problem with the existence of the Palestinians. Rather, they have strived, year after year, to reach some agreement that would allow them to live at peace with their neighbors. One land-for-peace deal after another has been signed by Israel only to be spattered with the blood of the victims of suicide bombers roused by calls for intifada and jihad. Yes, the Israelis have protected themselves as much as possible from the onslaught of terrorists hell-bent, not on a two-state solution, but on driving the Jews into the Mediterranean or annihilating them completely.

It should be that one extends a hand to a rabid dog only once; the Jewish people have reached out again and again, and have been murdered for their attempts to reach some agreement with the Palestinians.

It is heartbreaking that these men, professors, presidents of organizations, ministers, and etc., are willing to offer Israel up as a sacrificial lamb, yet again. Compromise is deadly. The Church in Europe compromised during World War II. Many turned a blind eye as Jews by the millions were dragged away to the concentration camps and deadly ovens that awaited them. The Jewish people know that compromise cost them dearly; we dare not ask them to compromise what little security they now enjoy.

The writers of the letter speak of “historical honesty.” If these learned men are going to be truly historically honest, surely they must admit that the Jews have every right to inhabit the land of their fathers, the covenant land given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by none other than God. How dare it be said by anyone that God’s chosen people have no right to their inheritance.

Now, we have only to wait and see if the conference planned for the fall will parallel the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991. Will the Palestinians again be handed peace on a plate only to reject it by issuing yet another intifada, ala Arafat? A reconstituted Middle East roadmap would strip Israel of its right to defend itself, would give control of East Jerusalem to a terrorist organization, and would certainly move the terrorists bent on the destruction of Israel nearer their target.

The Old Testament prophet Zechariah wrote: “‘If someone asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ he will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’” If the signers of this letter to President Bush are friends of Israel, she has no need for enemies.

GS Holy Land Observer said...

The Truth vs MisconceptionsPosted: September 30, 2011 by gelbersternost in Uncategorized
1Israel is not an invader, but returned to its ancestral homeland, they are not the BOERS of South Africa !

Palestinians are not the masters of the Holy Land either, the PLO and Hamas is not the ANC !

Occupation is terrible and must come to an end, it is not Apartheid rule as known in South Africa !

Mahmud Abbas is not Nelson Mandela and Bebe Nethanyahu is not De Klerk !

Hannia is outspoken and true to his convictions ! Fatah learned to become more softspoken but is not the less dangerous – Both mean the destruction of Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian State in the Holy Land, at best in a two stage solution with a dwindling Jewish entity under Palestinian Rule !