Israel’s opponents return to the same talking points in every war, notably the claim that Israel is an “apartheid” state. The accusation is absurd.
Just this week, a black Israeli named Eden Alene qualified for the Eurovision song contest with a song including lyrics in Arabic, as well as Hebrew and English. And until the Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas, fired rockets at Israeli civilians — both Jewish and Arab — an Islamist Arab political party was about to join an Israeli governing coalition.
Israel’s Declaration of Independence provides “full and equal citizenship” to Arabs, as well as “due representation” for Arab citizens in all “provisional and permanent institutions.”
That’s the opposite of “apartheid,” as practiced in South Africa, where black people were denied the vote. Moreover, there is no segregation or discrimination in Israel, as there was under “apartheid.” And a “large majority” of both Arabs and Jews support programs to narrow socioeconomic gaps between Arabs and Jews.
The Palestinians, who live alongside Israel in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) in the east, and Gaza in the west, live in different circumstances that are the result of terrorism and conflict.
If you travel to the West Bank, as I have done, you will encounter checkpoints guarded by Israeli soldiers, and the security barrier (a wall in some places, a fence in others). Sometimes there are separate roads for Israeli and Palestinian vehicles.
While unfortunate, these measures are relatively recent, and they are responses to Palestinian terror attacks on Israeli civilians. The security barrier, for example, ended Palestinian suicide bombings in Israeli cities.
That’s not “apartheid”; that’s survival.
The Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, bans the sale of land to Jews, on pain of life in prison. It also regularly incites hatred and violence against Jews and Israelis. Hamas, which governs Gaza, has an explicitly antisemitic, genocidal charter. (If there’s any “apartheid” around, that is it.)
The term “apartheid” was introduced to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by anti-Israel activists at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001 — which I covered. It was an antisemitic hate-fest — and no wonder: the Iranian regime hosted one of the preparatory meetings.
But the goals were clear: not to describe reality, but to marginalize Israel, as South Africa was once isolated; and eventually to dismantle Israel, just as apartheid was dismantled.
It is interesting to note how apartheid — the real kind — actually ended in South Africa. The anti-apartheid movement, led by Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress, gave up the “armed struggle” once the apartheid government was ready to negotiate in earnest. (It helped that the Soviet Union collapsed, cutting off the ANC’s weapons supply.)
The Palestinians have never done that: they have continued to pursue terror. In recent years, Iran has provided arms and funding, ensuring more war.
The “apartheid” label echoes the effort by the Soviet Union to isolate Israel, a close American ally, by backing the infamous United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, which declared Zionism — the movement to support Jewish statehood — racist.
It was a disgraceful slander against the non-racist, democratic, inclusive State of Israel — so much so that the United Nations actually repealed the resolution in 1991. The “apartheid” claim is an attempt to turn back the clock to the Soviet era.
Some people use the term “apartheid” because they are simply ignorant. Perhaps some are so moved by the suffering of Palestinian civilians that the term “apartheid” is just a shorthand for outrage. But the correct address for that outrage is the Palestinian leaders who have chosen terror over statehood.
The “apartheid” claim is a lie, one that cannot fill the emptiness of Palestinian nationalism, which has not even begun to take seriously the question of what kind of society it wants to build.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new e-book, The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it). His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.