Tuesday, February 07, 2006

'Guardian' of lies

The greatest cannard has risen its ugly head again. The acquainting of Israel and apartheid South Africa has not just made it into the news but received a 14 page report by the British newspaper, The Guardian.
This is one of the best and most disturbing lies about Israel circulating today. From the anti-Israel side it is perfect in its conception, to equate Israel with an ideology that formed a basis for government which is universally condemned. An ideology which conducted one the worst excesses of racism and discrimination by a white government since the end of WW II. The term Apartheid means 'separateness' and was coined by Jan Smuts in 1917.
If you are unfamiliar with the facts of Apartheid then just read the link above and all the disturbing facts of that regime will be laid bare. Anyone of course with a cursory knowledge of apartheid South Africa and Israel will know that the two couldn't be further apart in ideology or policy.
Firstly, we will look at policy. According to the 'Declaration of Independence' by the State of Israel " it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations."
At the official level it doesn't sound very 'separate' to me. In fact if you read such equivalent documents around the world you would find few with such egalitarian and humanitarian principles ensconed in such a declaration. Perhaps even more so as the codifiers of the document knew they were about to be attacked existentially on all sides as soon as they declared the State of Israel.
The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel is that the latter are not required to serve in the Israeli army. This was to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren.
Critics will argue that official policy is one thing (although on that alone you could mark tremendous differences not only with apartheid South Africa but with over two thirds of the world) but how does the situation stand on the ground.
Azmi Bishara, an Arab Muslim ran for Prime Minister in 1999 and was fully entitled to do so. Arab members of Parliament sit in the Knesset even when they openly call for Israel's destruction.
Abdel Rahman Zuabi, an Arab sits on the Israeli Supreme Court. The Literacy, health, life-expectancy and median years of schooling of Israeli Arabs are higher than any other Arabs in the Middle East. Can you find a Jew only street, cafe, cinema, sports club,etc. In fact can anyone show me a sign in the whole country which makes a distiction between one people,race,ethnicity and another?
But ok, I hear the critics say again "What about the Palestinians?"
This is where the argument to discredit becomes all too easy but discredit it I will. As far as I am aware the majority of the world are calling for a two state solution. That means that Palestinians and Israelis (including Jews, Arabs,etc) are two distinct nationalities, thus will not be under the same law, same rights,etc. The Palestinians just had open democratic elections and the Israelis will have theirs in a few weeks. The Palestinians have their own parliament, their own president, their own judicial system....they should be part of Israel's aswell??
The critic will finally be left with one hand to play, "But the Palestinians do not have a state?"
This is of course very true, the only question is why?
For those who are not certain of their history, the Palestinians have had the chance to build their own state on many occasions but turned it down. In 1947, the UN created a partition plan to create an Arab state and a Jewish state. Then from 1948 until 1967 the Palestinians lived under Jordanian and Egyptian rule (no talk of apartheid then) and have been offered a state by Israel on numerous occasions. The most recent offer was at Camp David in 2000 when the Palestinians were offered a state encompassing almost all of their demands and again they turned it down and started the second intifada.
So there it is, Israel can not possibly be equated with Apartheid South Africa as (1) All citizens in Israel regardless of race, religion, ethnicity are equal before the law.(2) Israeli Arabs can reach the highest pinnacles of office and (3) the Palestinians can not be considered under 'Apartheid' because Israeli laws don't govern their lives, they have their own institutions of state and will have a fully-fledged state when they accept an Israel living alongside them.
This slander even took place before the State of Israel came into being and David Ben-Gurion himself had to deal with it.
If I have left anything out, please let me know. Let's please consign this most malicious of slanders to the dustbin where it belongs.

7 comments:

Hugh said...

I think your renounciation of the comparison is too extreme. Such analogies can never be true - but they often contain useful insights.

Firstly let it be said that South African apartheid advocates were heavily influenced by Nazi racist Ubermensch and Untermensch delusions. That is not true of Israel.I have yet to meet an Israeli who did not believe Palestinians or Arab Israelis were fully human! White Jewish South Africans were prominent amongst the ANC freedom fighters who overthrew that repulsive regime. On the other hand it cannot be denied that Israeli leaders, as a matter of convenience, entered into an alliance with that regime whenever the occasion suited them.

Secondly, though the motivation behind the Israeli and the South African regimes are clearly different, in many ways, as far as the indigenous people are concerned, the results are the same, lower living standards, lower expenditure on education, laws that privelege one race over the other in regard to property rights, segregation of races into Bantustans, etc. The article in the Guardian points to loyal Israelis, many of them refugees from the Apartheid regime, who see too many similarities in the outcomes of the two nation's policies. It isn't what the laws ostensibly say it is how they actually work out in practice that counts.

It seems unwise just to reject the comparison out of hand. Only good can come out of a serious study of the similarities and differences. Should a trend towards convergence be detected, I would think that Israel would be anxious to take steps to reverse that trend lest ultimately it suffers the same fate that was suffered by the Africaaner's state. Simply rejecting the Guardian report out of hand , which seemed to me to be written by a well informed and observant correspondent, seems to me to be foolish. In international as well as in personal relationships, it is important to have the insight as to how others view you - and understand just why it is that they hold those views. Often it is those who are your best friends and who like you and respect you the most, who tell you the most important, if initially unwelcome, home truths.

Ashley Perry said...

Hugh, you are a very good example of someone who is not fully acquainted with the facts so will take certain articles at face value and consider there to be no smoke without fire. This iss why these articles are so dangerous.
You say "Israeli leaders, as a matter of convenience, entered into an alliance with that regime whenever the occasion suited them."
Actually Israel dealt with the South African government because noone else would, it was do or die for the fledgling Jewish state. They reached out to Africa and gave lots of help, finacial, medical, technological, agricultural but one day they made an alliance with the Arab and Muslim world and cut off all ties with Israel.
I would like to know where your "segregation of races into Bantustans" is? Actually in Israel there are mixed towns and cities. Please tell me one town or city in the Palestinian territories with one single Jew. Just one, can't be hard can it?
Why do we have to accept what you call 'well informed' articles which do nothing of the sort. Did the article give anything except conjecture and hearsay? Surely an article which is claaiming to show a resemblance between two systems of government would show a law or a government decision to back up this spurious assertion. It does not, it relies on opinions only. It wasted half the article talking about the past of a south african civil rights campaigner just to make a point. Yes, we geet it. One man thinks the comparison is apt. This is one man's opinion, end of story. There are pitifully few facts which make anyone who would like to conduct a 'serious study'completely ignore this as worthless opinion at best and hate mongering at worst

Anonymous said...

Here's an interesting Apartheid comparison for you all

http://www.bicom.org.uk/publications/

Hugh said...

Sorry Ashley, you seem to be missing my point. I cannot believe that you are claiming there is absolutely no truth in anything in the Guardian article. My point was that you should look at it carefully and reject the bits which are obviously misleading or misinformed and consider the bits which contain elements of truth. It does no harm to start from the premise that the writer is trying to be honest and report on what he sees and the conclusions he draws from what he sees. We have to assume he is neither blind nor stupid, so we are best served by trying to understand how and why he reaches his conclusions.

Your assertation that only one odd man considers there is a resemblance between what happened under Apartheid and events in Israel, is dangerous. There are many people around the world, both Jews and gentiles who see, and are worried by, certain similarities. Israel ignores this widespread interpretation of its actions at its peril.

You challenge me to find a Palestinian town that contains one single Jew. As an outsider, I find this challenge very hard to understand. As Israel has not yet declared its final frontiers - let alone had any Palestinian or international agreement as to what they should be, how do you define a Palestinian town? Clearly, an outsider might assume, for instance, that Hebron was one such - but anyone who has been following the recent events there knows that it contains more than one single Jew!

Is your argument that the alleged fact that Palestinians do not welcome Jews living in their cities means that they themselves are guilty of attempting to enforce Apartheid? If this is what you are claiming (and I accept I might well have misunderstood) I think you and I probably have a semantic problem with the word "Apartheid." As I understand it, Apartheid in South Africa, from where the term originates, was a system enforced by a colonialist ethnic group which held the dominant military power and was used as a means of acquiring land from the indigenous ethnic group that lacked the power to defend its rights to the land. Given this interpretation, I fail to see how "Apartheid" could be something imposed by the weaker on the stronger.

I am only talking semantics here - I am not arguing that the situation to which the term "Apartheid" was applied in South Africa is identical to the situation pertaining in Israel.

Ashley Perry said...

Hugh,
I think it is you who have missed some very vital points. I am not saying that many of the observations in the article are patently untrue. Of course there are situations in Israel where a minority is treated worse than a minority. Go and visit some of the twons in the south of Israel, lived in mostly by poorer Sephardim and you will see similarly disappointing images that the writer mentions.
The point is there is not a nation on this earth that treats every segment of the population equally. This is a sad fact but to single out Israel means there is something at work here beyond a journalists integrity.
Of all the nations in the world which actually have legal structures negating minority rights and creating far more apartheid-like systems, the Guardian chose to have a 14 page supplement on Israel. Any cursory reader of the Guardian knows that they do not report from an even handed point of view.
And you talk of semantics about the word apartheid, look it up and you will learn the true dictionary meaning. It means 'separatness'. Nowhere in Israel is there this 'separateness' but all areas under Palestinian Authority control are 100% Jew-free. Even when some Jews in Gaza asked to become part of the Palestinian Authority and give up their Israeli citizenship and thus remian in their homes they were denied purely because they were Jewish. In fact an Arab that sells his property to a Jew (not an Israeli) faces the death penalty.

Hugh said...

It is indeed amazing how biased the Western media can be - I had received the impression that it was the Israeli government that was not allowing the Jewish settlers to stay in Gaza.

It is is true that certain settlers wanted to stay and the Palestinians would not allow it, it is indeed a sad reflection on how far apart the two communities have moved under the pressure of constant encroachment. Perhaps it would be understandable were the Palestinians (who now have so little land left to them compared to the Israelis) reluctant to voluntarily part with still more. It only requires a little imagination to try and view things as they would look from a Palestinian's perspective.

Incidently - and a slight change of subject - I came across the www.assoc40.org website earlier today - surely this israeli site is telling blatant untruths?

Anonymous said...

The situation in Israel is obviously complicated. Just as you can claim that the Palestinians are getting less and less land. I can easily claim that the Palestinians could have had more than 50% in 1948 and turned it down. Each time they turn it down and instead turn to violence their future state becomes smaller. Actions mean consequences.
Also, I could clearly argue that the Jews received less than one third of the land that was historic Palestine (not the state, that never existed, the area). There is absolutely no difference culturally, historically between Jordanians and Palestinians.
The Jews have been given a tiny slither of land. In many areas you can see from one end to the other. In this land Israel has acheived so much and this while being perpetually attacked.
I think instead of looking for comparisons with apartheid the world should be saluting Israel for what it has acheived. Note: See Israel's relationship with Africa on later posting. Should give you an idea how 'racist' Israel is.