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.