Israel is involved in a war against terrorism directed from the south (Hamas in Gaza) and the north (Hezbollah in Lebanon). As the war on both fronts goes on, there are Islamist fundamentalist sympathizers who compare Israel to apartheid South Africa ad nauseam. As I had mentioned, in a previous post that I wrote on my blog site about a year ago, nothing could be further from the truth. Those who wish Israel’s destruction make the comparison.
I had lived in South Africa during the height of the apartheid period. We had experienced a Special Branch search in our home because of purchasing a book on South Africa’s Third Reich written by Brian Bunting. Some friends, living in London during the 1960s, sent the book to us in a plain cover. The book was published in 1964. The South African Police hounded those who opposed the apartheid government without mercy. I remember my late father, Chaim Eli Klein, burning many banned political books because of fears of police raids that could occur at any time.
Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are great people and they both had achieved very much in the liberation of South Africa from fascism and apartheid. Both these leaders made a tremendous contribution to uniting all South Africans irrespective of their skin colour, race or creed. They found a common denominator in all South Africans who share a common homeland and destiny. All South Africans owe a tremendous amount of gratitude towards these incredible leaders.
The frivolous use of the term “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians when referring to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians shows total ignorance of the situation. If anything, there is an attempt by Hezbollah and Hamas (had they been stronger) to ethnically cleanse Israel of the Jews. Sheik Nasrallah has made this more than clear in his rabble-rousing addresses to his supporters and in his terrorist activities against the Jews even beyond the borders of Israel.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to give a chance to those with authority vested in them by the apartheid SA regime, who abused human rights, to obtain forgiveness from those who had suffered under white rule. Many whites who were involved in suppressing blacks came out of the cupboard and confessed the cruelties that they had committed against their black victims. This commission was highly successful and played a part in the healing process to unite South Africans in a common destiny. All races, despite the terrible bloody history of white supremacy, were prepared to forgive and rebuild the new South Africa from scratch.
As great as these two leaders are, they had one failing. Their knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian problem is poor and inadequate. Their intentions are good but they fail to understand the major difference between Israel’s problems with the Palestinians and with the fundamentalist Islamist terrorist groups who are committed to Israel’s total destruction. These Islamist terrorists are highly motivated in wreaking havoc and terror on innocent Israelis irrespective of their creed.
I had witnessed cruelty to blacks who happened to be in “white areas” at the wrong time and who never had their passbooks (reference books or identity document “dompas”) on their person. The police arrested them and their white employers bailed them out the following day when they showed the police the relevant papers proving that they were under their employment.
Under Apartheid South Africa, Blacks, Coloureds (people of mixed race), Moslems and Indians had very few basic human rights. There were so many draconian laws that prevented these people from competing in the employment market. There was the Job Reservation Act that reserved professional jobs for whites. There was the Groups Areas Act, the Mixed Marriages Act that prevented people of different colour from living in select White areas. Whites and blacks were forbidden to marry and if they did, they were sentenced to prison.
There was total separation between whites and blacks. Law enforced this. Despite all these travesties of justice, goodwill between the various races in South Africa remained a uniting factor. The desire to end apartheid by all races won the day. South Africa was fortunate that they had Nelson Mandela as leader. He had served so many years in prison and came out without any malice towards anybody. He even hosted his former adversaries who imprisoned him when he became President of South Africa. This proves his greatness.
South Africa’s new leaders are unable to accept the fact that Israel’s problem with her Palestinian neighbours is existential. There are not even the basic ingredients for some kind of rapprochement with the Palestinians. The ruling ANC (African National Congress) never had a manifesto that promoted destruction of the whites like Hamas and Hezbollah that has destruction of the Jews and Israel as an essential goal (genocide). Their manifesto is filled with hate for Israel and there is nothing even hinting at recognizing Israel’s right to exist let alone making peace with Israel. Where are the parallels between apartheid South Africa and Israel? Only a wild imagination of the likes of Israel-bashers could find a perverse parallel. There is no racism in the ANC manifesto in contrast to the Islamist terrorist groups’ manifestos.
Much has been written about the rights of Arab citizens in Israel in previous posts and I shall not repeat that again. Suffice it to say, Israel’s Arabs have equal rights, have representation in the Knesset and there are no separate facilities such as for “Jews Only” or signs such as “Arabs not allowed”. In apartheid South Africa, signs such us “Europeans or Whites only” on park benches and public facilities was commonplace. Every public place, including public telephone booths, was segregated. The list was endless. Apartheid signs on buses insured very little seating accommodation for blacks.
Much remains to be achieved in Arab human rights in Israel. It is not one hundred per cent perfect. However, there is no discriminatory legislation on the statute books preventing Israeli Arabs from competing in the job market or any professional spheres.
Israel is fighting a war for its survival. This has been the case since Israel’s establishment in 1948. Those who use the apartheid South African parallel are delegitimizing Israel’s right to exist. There is no parallel whatsoever. The South African experience is not applicable to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The basic ingredient – the desire for coexistence and an end to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not there. There is no desire from Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist. The suffering of the Palestinian People is due to the desire of their Hamas leadership to carry on terror against Israel’s citizens. The rain of Qassam rockets in the south and Katyushas in the north is not a fight against “the occupation” but an attempt to bring Israel to her knees.
The ANC never used violence against innocent people to promote their liberation struggle against apartheid. Suicide bombings, kidnappings, murders and blowing up people in their daily business was never part of their manifesto to achieve human rights. The “brutal oppression” of the Palestinian people is a result of the violence that the Palestinians have wrought on Israel. Israel has a right to protect herself from Palestinian violence against her citizens. Hezbollah in the north in Lebanon and Hamas in the south in Gaza are responsible for the retaliations that Israel has wrought on their respective peoples.
Even if Israel carries out further disengagements without any watertight peace treaties with the Palestinians, the vacuum created will result in the rearmament of the Palestinians with Qassams and Hezbollah Katyushas in their quest to destroy Israel. It is not a matter of “liberation from the occupation” anymore. Their purpose is to establish an undemocratic caliphate or fundamentalist Islamic state replacing Israel. How does this compare with apartheid South Africa?