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Israel and Apartheid South Africa - is it a valid comparison?


"Israel is an Apartheid State" has been the slogan of opponents of the peace process for many years. The basic idea is to delegitimize Israel as a state that implements self-determination for the Jewish people, and to purvey the notion that Israel is similar to the South African Apartheid regime. This provides an excuse for boycott and divestment initiatives.

In fact however, this slogan is used in different ways, and none of them relate to a situation that parallels the South African apartheid regime. Sometimes the "Apartheid State" epithet was used to criticize Israeli occupation of all of the West Bank and Gaza. However, Israel has withdrawn from Gaza. Sometimes, it is used in connection with the claim that Israel wants to annex 42% of the West Bank as Jeff Halper argued. Elsewhere, the same Jeff Halper argued that giving the Palestinians 94% of the land would be "apartheid" as well. Sometimes "apartheid" refers to the "Apartheid Wall" which takes up less than 10% of the West Bank, and sometimes it refers to Israeli society within the 1948 Green Line. Nobody is sure where the apartheid is or what would end it. Making a single "secular democratic state," which is apparently what Jeff Halper and his friends want, would end the "apartheid." It would also deprive both the Jews and the Arab Palestinians of the right to national self determination.

Benjamin Pogrund, a veteran of the struggle for equality in South Africa, discusses the validity of the apartheid comparison. [more]

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Replies: 2 comments

I am always stunned when I read articles about Israel. The "brain washing" theory becomes so clear. It would be good if some people start removing the blind folds from their eyes. The state of Israel is an occuping force in the middle east. If some people are too blind to see that, then they should seek help. When will people stop making execuse for Israel. By continuing to be blind, the middle east will never see peace. It is sad to see people in the 21st century still have the seek and conquer mentality. The writer here appears to be saying to the Palestinians to accept what Israel is doing and be thankfull because they are getting part of THEIR land back from occupying Israel. If Israel wants to build a wall, it should do it in it's own land and not Palestinian land. If Israel wants to make a security zone, it should do it in it's own land and not Palestinian land. UNTILL THE STATE OF ISRAEL ACCEPTS THE ARAB PROPOSAL MADE IN BEIRUT, "WHERE IT STATED THAT ISRAEL RETURNS TO THE 1967 BORDERS AND RETURN ALL OCCUPIED LANDS IN RETURN FOR PEACE WITH ALL ARAB COUNTRIES" ISRAEL AND THE MIDDLE EAST WILL NOT SEE PEACE.
Please everyone, the solution is very very simple. Land (all occupied land) for peace is the only solution. So instead of making execuse, try and convince the Israel's to accept the peace proposal offered by the arabs in Beirut. Some politicians on all sides see peace as an end to their existance, however, they are a small price to pay for a lasting peace in the middle east. The needs of the many out way the needs of the few.

Posted by M. Jebara @ 01/03/2006 01:36 PM CST


I'm happy to see "all occupied land" returned to its owners, but that should also include the lands taken through military force in 1948 by Arab Armies during their ethnic cleansing campaign. Pro-Palestinian critics continually state that "Military force cannot bring about border changes," yet this is precisely what they want by trying (again, and again) to enforce the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank and Gaza that occurred in 1948.

The Arab Ethnic Cleansing Campaign of 1948 is well documented (and photographed) in the seminal work, "O, Jerusalem." It is a better comparison to Apartheid South Africa. I note, in passing, that the Jews - ALL Jews - were forced to go from Gaza. The Palestinians who demand a right to return have not reciprocated. They want all Jews out of the West Bank including the 700-year old Jewish community in Hebron that was destroyed in 1948.

Sorry: no genocides. If Israel and Palestine institute a trade along the lines of the Geneva Accords, I can accept it. But the Jews ALSO are not going to give up the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and the Western Wall. The previous poster seems to think that the ONLY party who has to be satisfied - whose "bottom line" has to be met - is the Arab party. THAT is the problem: the whole world actually does not revolve around Mecca. Both sides have a bottom line.

- Jim Wherry

Posted by Jim Wherry @ 02/03/2006 12:57 AM CST

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