Op-Ed: On the 'Israel is an Apartheid State' Slander
Dr. Manfred GerstenfeldThe writer has been a long-term adviser on strategy issues to the boards of several major multinational corporations in Europe and North America.He is board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and recipient of the LIfetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.
If Israel tried to apply Israeli law to the few Palestinian Arabs under its jurisdiction, it would be heavily criticized by world opinion.
“Israel is a multi-racial and also a multi-colored society. It has free elections with universal voting rights. Its judiciary is independent and enjoys high international standing. Jews comprise 80% of the population. Arabs, mainly Muslims but also Druze and Christians, are the largest minority. Like all other minorities, they actively participate in the political process. Incitement to racism in Israel is a criminal offense.
“Since Israel became independent in 1948, there have always been Arab parliamentarians. There have been Arab cabinet ministers and deputy speakers of the Knesset. There are Arab judges on various courts including the Supreme Court. There are many Arab doctors in hospitals, as well as heads of departments. There are Arab university professors. Many Arab students study at all Israeli universities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has Arab ambassadors and other diplomats. There are Arabs among senior army and police officers and so on. This reality is radically different from the 1948 to 1994 white South African Apartheid regime.”
Ambassador (ret.) Prof. Robbie Sabel is former legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. He now teaches international law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, and the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.
“To better understand the fraud of those who call Israel an Apartheid state, one can enumerate the key characteristics of the South African regime. They included a large array of legal constraints. Colored people were prohibited from voting in general elections. There was a prohibition of marriages between white people and those of other races. Extra-marital sexual relations between white and black people were also forbidden.
“Furthermore, there was forced physical separation between white and colored residential areas. Black people were not allowed to perform any skilled work in urban areas except in those designed for black occupation. Strike actions by black persons were forbidden. All black people had to carry a special pass, at all times. No black person could leave a rural area for an urban one without a permit from the local authorities.
“There was a special Black Education Department. Its aim was to prevent black Africans from receiving an education which would lead them to aspire to positions they were not allowed to hold in society. Black students were banned from attending major white universities.
“In addition there was the so-called ‘petty segregation’ in all public amenities, such as hotels, restaurants, swimming pools and public transportation. To enforce this legislation, there were signs saying ‘Europeans Only’ and ‘Non-Europeans Only.’
“To sum up: The black population was segregated, discriminated against, and had no voting rights in general elections. It could also not participate in the government.
“The ‘Israel is an Apartheid State’ lie was popularized after the 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa. At the NGO conference there, anti-Israel calumny reached new post-war heights. Its declaration stated: ‘We declare Israel as a racist, Apartheid state in which Israel’s brand of Apartheid as a crime against humanity has been characterized by separation and segregation, dispossession, restricted land access, denationalization, ‘bantustanization’ and inhumane acts.’
“After this scandalous hate declaration, South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad issued a statement. He criticized the way the NGO conference had been hijacked and turned by participants with an anti-Israel agenda into an anti-Semitic event.
“Since then, the false Apartheid accusation is repeated regularly. One example is the ‘Apartheid Week’ initiative. It started at Canadian universities and spread from there to campuses in other countries.
“Yet another variant of the Apartheid slander is that ‘Israel applies Apartheid to the territories.’ The claim is that Israeli law with its democratic safeguards applies to Israeli settlers but not to the local Palestinian Arab population who are subject to Israeli military administration. Since the Oslo Accords of 1993 however, the Palestinian Authority has jurisdiction over the vast majority of Palestinians in the "West Bank".
“Hamas, which promotes genocide of Jews and Israelis has jurisdiction over the entire population of Gaza. Thus the overwhelming majority of Palestinian Arabs are not subject to Israeli military administration or to general Israeli law. Their laws, courts, police, prisons, taxes and so on are Palestinian. Furthermore, if Israel tried to apply Israeli law to the few Palestinian Arabs under its jurisdiction, it would be heavily criticized by world opinion.”
Sabel concludes: “The ‘Israel is an Apartheid State’ campaign is a fraud presented as being based on concern for the universal application of human rights. Its true aim is the delegitimization of Israel, by accusing it of the worst possible crimes.”