Exposing the myth of an Apartheid Israel
Exposing the myth of an Apartheid Israel

On a trip to the U.S, the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Meshoe, a member of the South African Parliament, president of the African Christian Democratic Party and chairman of the South African Israel Allies Caucus, expressed his profound concern about the ad campaign on San Francisco’s Muni transportation system, urging for an end to U.S. support for Israel. A group of Christian, Jewish and Muslims has funded the ad campaign since 2010. [1] 

Having lived as a black South African under apartheid and having visited Israel numerous times, he said there is no basis for those accusing Israel of being an apartheid state. Apartheid is a legal system of segregation based on color, with a white majority in control of the government. Under apartheid, people of color could not vote, hold office or travel freely in their own country.

Only segregated schools and sports arenas were available to them and they had to use segregated public restrooms and public transportation. Whites and blacks were prohibited to marry or have sexual relations. Different residential areas were built to ensure a forced physical separation between the races. Their hospitals, medical care and education were always inferior to those of the whites. Any white physicians willing to treat a black patient had to conduct the examination in private. [2]   

Richard J. Goldstone, a former justice of the South African Constitutional Court, who led the United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict of 2008-2009, added that attacking Israel “is an unfair and inaccurate slander … calculated to retard rather than advance peace negotiations…. In Israel, there is no apartheid.  Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute.” [3] 

He remembered “all too well the cruelty of South Africa’s abhorrent apartheid system …where blacks critically injured in car accidents were left to bleed to death if there was no black’ ambulance to rush them to a black hospital. ‘White’ hospitals were prohibited from saving their lives.”[4]

Goldstone concludes “The charge that Israel is an apartheid state is a false and malicious one that precludes, rather than promotes, peace and harmony. [5]

Israel is a Multi-racial and Multi-colored Society

What is often forgotten is that Israel is a multi-racial and multi-colored society, where the Arab minority is actively involved in the political process.  Israeli Arabs serve in the Knesset, as judges including one on the Supreme Court, as cabinet ministers, heads of hospital departments, university professors, diplomats in the Foreign Service, and in very senior positions in the police and army.

George Karra, an Israeli Arab Christian was one of three judges who presided over the rape trial of former Israeli President Moshe Katsav. In 2013, Yitayish Aynaw, an Ethiopian Jew won the title of Miss Israel. None of this would have been legally feasible in apartheid South Africa observed Reverend Meshoe.

Incitement to racism is a criminal offence in Israel, as is discrimination based on race or religion. 
Incitement to racism is a criminal offence in Israel, as is discrimination based on race or religion. 

In 2011, Hagit Yaso became the first Ethiopian-born winner of Israel’s version of American Idol. In 2012, Belaynesh Zevadia was appointed Israel’s first Ethiopian-born ambassador, and served in her native Addis Ababa. In 2013, Pnina Tamano-Shata became the first Ethiopian-born woman to be elected to the Knesset.  Also in 2013,  Mais Ali-Saleh, a 27 year-old devout Muslim woman, who grew up in a small Arab village outside of Nazareth, graduated first in her class at the Technion’s medical school.[6]                                     

On March 31, 2015, 17 Arabs MKs were sworn into the 20th Knesset. It is true that Arab parties have never been included in an Israeli government in coalition for a reason.  Even if asked to join, it is highly unlikely that any Arab party would agree until the Israel “Arab Palestinian conflict was resolved.   As As'ad Ghanem, a senior lecturer in the School of Political Sciences at the University of Haifa, pointed out, “They couldn’t sign up to the bombardment of Gaza.”[7]  

According to a survey conducted by Ghanem, many Arab voters are frustrated by their politicians whose primary focus is on the Palestinian Arab/Israel conflict, while 92%, are more concerned about welfare, discrimination and increased crime. Infighting among Arab-Israeli politicians dilutes their political power. 

Israel’s flag with the Star of David, her national anthem reflecting an almost a 2000-year-old hope of returning to their ancient homeland, and state Jewish holidays are presented as further proof that Israel is a racist state.  The existence of tens of liberal democratic states with Christian crosses featured on their flags or Muslim states with the half crescent symbol of Islam on their flags are ignored. Not questioned or criticized either are countries in the West, with Jewish and Muslim minorities, that celebrate Christmas as a national holiday.  When Israel celebrates Passover as a national holiday, she is denounced as racist.  [9] 

Non-Jewish Africans Seeking Asylum

Another example of Israel’s alleged racism is the way in which Israel responds to the non-Jewish Africans seeking to enter he country. Israel has been accused of “verbal incitement, physical attacks, incarceration without trial and forced deportations,” that has been characterized as a war on African asylum-seekers,.[10] although most are simply looking for work. What these critics fail to mention is that during the course of seven years, 60,000 illegals have flooded the country coming from Egypt through the Sinai desert arriving at Israel’s southern border because Israel has the distinction of being the only industrialized country you can reach on foot. [11]   

Africans living in Tel-Aviv and in other areas have generated serious social and economic problems in a country already grappling with a demographic threat from its own Arab population. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that “If we don’t stop their entry, the problem that currently stands at 60, 000 could grow to 600, 000, and that threatens our existence as a Jewish and democratic state."  [12]

Nehemia Shtrasler, a columnist for the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz, criticized the NGOs and human rights organizations that insisted the illegal Africans be admitted to Israel.  “It … galls me,” he said, “that those organizations are completely indifferent to the distress of the lower class, the blue collar people, some of whom live in south Tel Aviv, those who were kicked out of the labor market or whose wages were slashed due to the competition with the migrants. Don’t they have any rights?” 

He urged those Africans being released from the Holot detention facility be driven to the affluent neighborhoods of Rehavia, Ramat Aviv, Denia, Savion and Herzliya Pituach—not near the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station.[13]    

There is also the question of why the Africans left their homes. Are they refugees who fled out of fear of being persecuted or have they come for economic reasons? The Israeli state prosecutor said that only a handful of the Eritrean migrants living in Israel -- 36,000 could be legally defined as refugees.  The rest would be deported to a third country with which Israel has signed an agreement. 14]    

Steve Plaut, an associate professor of Business Administration at the University of Haifa, sees this influx as an attempt by the Israeli Far Left to destroy the Jewish state, by transforming Israel “into an impoverished country populated by huge masses of uneducated unskilled non-Jewish Africans.” [15]

These Africans are not refugees, he contends, but individuals seeking menial work to earn much more than they would have in their own countries. No other African country permits unrestricted admission for Eritreans or any other groups, yet Israel is expected to open her border unconditionally. None of them view Eritreans as "refugees." [16]

It should be noted, that Jewish Ethiopians, including even non-Jewish family members, were airlifted to Israel en masse.  The majority are being integrated and moving up the social ladder. Non-Jewish Ethiopians in Ethiopia are eager to join them.  Thousands of Ethiopians pose as Jews and as they await transport to Israel.  Objections are condemned by the Left as "racist."[17]  

Shlomo Neguese Molla, an Ethiopian Jew is one of the success stories. He walked hundreds of miles through deserts before being flown to Israel at age 16. In Israel he became an officer in the IDF, earned a law degree and was elected to Knesset, where he served as Deputy Speaker. When asked on a visit to the U.S. in 2012 about the thousands of illegal African migrants who have infiltrated or are attempting to enter Israel, Molla said there is “no reason to give them the right of citizenship…. It is a major challenge to the immigration process,” he said. “Israel is the Jewish homeland. Color is not a reason for people to be allowed to come. We have to ask if they are Jews. We need to know their roots, to assure that would-be immigrants are in fact Jews. If the people are, in fact, Jews, there is no question about bringing them home. Others must follow an ordinary legal process.”[18]  

“Israel,” Molla said, “is a privilege. Jewish people came [to Israel] from 120 countries,” he noted. “The idea of Israel as the Jewish homeland, Jews living together is creating a nefesh hadasha—a new soul. Israel is a country of colors—a mosaic society. What connects us is that we are all Jewish. [19]

During the first half of 2013 only 34 migrants crossed into Israel. "The fence we've built is highly significant in buffeting the infiltration into Israel," Benjamin Netanyahu said. “Others suggest the significant decline is attributed to the restrictions on employing migrants, and the limit of funds migrants are permitted to send home. [20]   

Perhaps another inhibiting factor is that Bedouin tribes are openly involved in a human slave trade on a massive scale from the African West Coast to the Sinai desert brining in millions of dollars. Africans are kidnapped, tortured and often held for ransom for $40,000 for an individual and even as high as $50,000. An estimated 4,000 people died in the Sinai, some of them from torture.  In some cases, they were tortured simply because they were Christians. [21]

In the meantime, the Israeli Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration signed Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to "willful emigration" documents, permitting them to be deported from Israel. Protocol requires they be interviewed before deportation and their situations be evaluated by the immigration administration and the court. [22] 

Safe-Guarding Individual Rights

A major axiom of the anti-Israel campaign is that Israeli law, with “safeguards of individual rights,” does not apply to the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Shomron, only to Israelis, while the local Palestinian Arab population is subject to the Israeli military administration.

This charge is wrong on two accounts.  Since 1993, the Palestinian Authority has had jurisdiction over the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria. Hamas has jurisdiction over the entire Gaza Strip. Thus, 96% of Palestinian Arabs are not subject to the Israeli military administration or Israeli law.  Their laws, courts, police, prisons, taxes are under Palestinian Arab jurisdiction, not Israeli. [23]  

This criticism further fails to appreciate that any effort to apply Israeli law to the few Palestinian Arabs still under temporary Israeli military administration, as has been suggested by various Israeli MKs,  would be strongly opposed throughout the world. Still, Israel permits Palestinian Arabs within her jurisdiction to petition the Israel Supreme Court against the Israeli army and government. Apparently this is the only case where a state permits such entrée to those subject to its military administration. [24]

When anti-Israel bashers label as apartheid Israel’s efforts to protect her citizens against homicide bombers, rocket attacks, drive by shootings, stabbings,  fire bombings, and stone throwing  in Judea and Samaria that have killed and maimed, Reverend Meshoe calls this “slanderous and deceptive.”[25]   The Shin Bet, (General Security Services), Israel Security Agency, tracks the number of attacks in Judea and Samaria and throughout the country each month and their reports and analysis are freely available on the Internet. A report published on March 26, 2016 by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs covering the “wave of terror 2015/16,” states that since September 13, 2015, 34 individuals have been murdered in terrorist attacks  and 382 people, including four Arabs, were injured. There have been 144 stabbings, including 66 attempted assaults, 85 shootings and 42 vehicular ramming attacks. [26]  

The most comprehensive security reports are provided by Yehudit Tayar who documents each Arab attack against Israeli civilians and soldiers throughout the country. Reports are translated and publicized by Hatzalah Yehudah and Shomron with the clearance and confirmation of the IDF.  Tayar is a volunteer first-response emergency medic and a first responder on her local security team. [27] 

Terrorist attacks have become so frequent on Route 60, between the Gush Etzion Junction Hevron, particularly where it passes the Arab villages of El Arub and Beit Ummar, the army was forced to construct a bypass road raised on a bridge, which would detour Israeli traffic around 200-300 meters from El Arub and 400 meters from Beit Umar. The proximity of Arab houses to the main highway provides cover for the terrorists to attack Israeli motorists and then swiftly escape. The bridge and road would compel them to operate in open areas or use longer range weapons.

Construction took a year to a year and a half at a cost of millions of dollars, at a time when the Israeli government and IDF budgets are being significantly reduced. [28]  

Trivializing the Word Apartheid

Reverend Meshoe was shocked that anyone would say that :"the free, diverse, democratic state of Israel practices apartheid.” The danger is that such a “ridiculous accusation trivializes the word apartheid, minimizing and belittling the magnitude of the racism and suffering endured by South Africans of color.” This misuse mocks the “grievous injustice and threatens to undermine the true meaning of the term.” He views Israel as “a model of democracy, inclusion and pluralism that can be emulated by many nations, particularly in the Middle East.”[33]  

The reverend is among the latest black leaders disturbed by this misuse of the term. African-American student leaders from a number of historically black colleges and universities paid for full page ads in many American college newspapers that read :  “Open Letter to Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP),” to express their offense  at  SJP’s use of the term “apartheid” at Israel Apartheid Week events on campuses throughout the country.

The 16 signatories to the letter are students and alumni who are members of the Vanguard Leadership Group, an honor society for leading students. The letter ran in student newspapers including Brown University, University of California- Los Angeles, University of Maryland, but was rejected by the editors of Columbia University’s The Spectator for being “political.” [34]    

Attempts to compare medical treatment between the Palestinian Arabs and the black’s in South Africa  who were injured in an accident and left to bleed to death because there was no “black” ambulance to transport them to a “black” hospital, is another popular canard.  In Israeli hospitals, Arab and Israelis sit together in waiting rooms while their relatives receive the same treatment and care. [35]

A Jewish colleague sat in a Tel-Aviv hospital waiting room with Arab families while a member of his family received a kidney transplant. The nurses in the operating room were all Arabs because as his friend, the CEO of a medical high-tech firm told him, they are among the very best nurses in the country.  One of the most sympathetic and caring nurses in the transplant unit was an Arab.

Rare mention is made in the Western media of “Save a Child's Heart (SACH),” an Israeli-based international humanitarian project providing life-saving heart surgeries and follow-up care for children. SACH is a private organization financed by personal contributions and a special budget arranged by then Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom. Approximately half the children treated are from Palestinian Arab areas.  Since its inception in 1995, more than 3,000 children have been treated from over 40 countries including China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Romania, Tanzania and Zanzibar. [36]   

Lior Sasson, SACH’s head surgeon, said some Palestinian Arab parents are “terrified” when they arrive at the hospital since they were raised to believe “that the Jews are monstrous and they want to kill kids”, said Sasson. [37]

Some children come from Iraq and Iran that are technically at war with Israel. Transferring children from 'enemy countries' is not easy because the cooperation of the medical staff and the government is essential says Simon Fisher, SACH executive director. When this process succeeds, it demonstrates “that human life is above everything." [38]   

Also not widely publicized is that Israel saved the life of the three-year-old daughter of Hamas Interior Minister, Elham Fathi Hammad, after she underwent a failed heart operation in Amman, Jordan. Similarly, Adi Weissbuch, a senior physician in the high-risk pregnancy unit of Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, assisted an Iranian doctor with a pregnant woman suffering a rare defect. [39]

In November 2013, Israel allowed the granddaughter of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to be admitted to Schneider Children’s Medical Center for Israel in Petah Tikva, after being diagnosed with an acute infection of the digestive tract. [40]   In early June 2014, his mother-in-law was treated for cancer at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem, near the Mount of Olives. [41]  

In 2011, Israel's Magen David Adom (ambulance service) delivered at least one Palestinian Arab baby every month. The IDF announced that 180,000 Arabs from Palestinian Arab areas have been treated in one year. [42]

In "appreciation" for Israel’s medical services, Hadassah University Medical Center on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus reported 43 attacks by east Jerusalem Arabs in 2011—while representing more than a third of patients. During the last “Nakba Day” (“Day of the Catastrophe” commemorating Israeli Independence Day) 11 firebombs were thrown on to the Mount Scopus campus. [43]

Magen David Adom vehicles will not enter the Arab neighborhoods of east portion of Jerusalem without police approval and military escort. This not due to any alleged “apartheid” regulation, but because Arab terrorists have attempted to beat the physicians coming to help them. During the Intifada, Magen David Adom had to replace ambulance windows in the Jerusalem region with shatter proof glass. [44]  

Historian Gideon Shimoni, who lived in South Africa before moving to Israel where he served as head of The Hebrew University’s Institute of Contemporary Jewry and Chair in Israel-Diaspora Relations, deconstructs apartheid accusations against Israel.  [45]

Furthermore, this is not an example of colonialism in contrast to the establishment of South Africa, which was clearly colonialist, involving the imperialist interests of the Netherlands, and later Britain. Nationalism played a limited role in the growth of South African society, except in mobilizing White Afrikaners against British control.  The South African experience did not involve a conflict of nationalisms, but the near total domination by a white minority over a black majority of the population, which was denied the right to vote and equal civic rights. [46]

Zionist “colonists” were unique in that they had “no mother country,” as did European immigrants to foreign soil.  They did not move to the land of Israel at the request of or for the benefit of any state or country. Zionism is a unique experience of a people “rediscovering their past” and restoring their ancient homeland. The Jews left their homelands at potentially great risk to establish a community existing only in the minds of Zionist dreamers. [47]  

The Zionists wanted to “secure the survival of the Jewish people” or solve the Jewish problem by providing the Jews in the land of Israel with all of the prerequisites of a modern nation: land, language and sovereignty.  [48]

The Yishuv (Jewish residents living in the land of Israel, prior to the establishment of the state) was not a colony in the conventional sense. The Jews who left their homes had no strong roots in Europe, and were not exploiting natural resources to export to former countries. Quite the contrary. They were investing significantly in human and financial capital in building up of the country. Thus, it is not surprising that Israel has no towns or villages named New Warsaw, New Lodz, New Moscow, New Minsk, or New Pinsk—unlike the New World, where settlements were named for old cities—i.e. New London, New Orleans, New York, New England and New Madrid. [49]

By rejecting Europe and the British Mandate, and by reviving the Hebrew language, the Zionists tried to create their own intellectual and cultural energy without imitating or transplanting the old ways. They did not consider themselves outsiders or conquerors. They used Biblical (Hebrew) names to affirm control over their geography. Their settlements were tangible manifestations of the Jewish return to the homeland. [50]

“Another basic difference is the way… in which the struggle of the African National Congress (ANC) and the PLO was conducted. In South Africa the blacks started with a tradition of non-violent resistance,” Shimoni points out.  “They tried in every peaceful way to argue their case, only turning to violence as a last resort, because the other side refused to negotiate. Even when the African National Congress turned to violence, its nature was incomparable with the barbarically indiscriminate practice not only of the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad but even of the PLO. The ANC always tried not to harm civilians, and most of their attacks were against installations such as electricity pylons. Comparing the Palestinian struggle to that of the ANC is an absolute insult to the latter’s historical record.” [51]  

The most tragic difference observed journalist Michael Kinsley is that “apartheid ended peacefully,” in large part to Nelson Mandela, who rather than seek revenge, pursued reconciliation. “If Israel is white South Africa and the Palestinians are supposed to be the blacks,” asks Kinsley, “where is their Mandela?[52]

Apartheid is a Legal Term, Not Just a Label

"Apartheid” is not just a label professor Eugene Kontorovich, an expert in constitutional law, international law, and law and economics, notes. It is a legal term South Africa designated to describe its system of de jure segregation between blacks and whites to guarantee white minority rule. This led to International denunciation of the regime and the enactment of several treaties—the Convention Against Apartheid and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court—which established and delineated a “crime of apartheid.” The crime is defined as “inhumane acts committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups, and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” Among other offenses, this includes “widespread” murder and enslavement. [53]

Significantly, since South Africa ended apartheid, no other country has been branded an apartheid state due to the official criterion the treaties created.  Even in view of the substantial repression of racial and ethnic minorities in China, Sri Lanka, Sudan and elsewhere, no country has applied this term to these oppressive regimes.

When directed to Israel within the 1949 Armistice lines and in Judea and Samaria, the charge is false, Kontorovich asserts since the Israeli Arab minority enjoys full civil and political rights in Israel. And the claim that Palestinians Arab are not permitted to vote in Israeli elections wrongly assumes that Israel governs and enacts laws for them. They were able to abandon the peace process, join 15 international organizations open only to sovereign states and form a national unity government between Fatah and Hamas precisely because they have their own government or governments, and are not living under Israeli rule. More than 95 percent of Palestinian Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza live under the PA. Why then should the Palestinian Arabs be expected to vote for members of the Israeli Knesset? [54]

If Israel ruled the Palestinians Arabs, they would not allow them to promote anti-Semitism in their schools, media and mosques, fund pensions for terrorists and the families of homicide bombers, and legislate laws outlawing real estate transactions with Jews on penalty of death. The PA controls its own security forces, central bank, Internet domain name, tax policy, and foreign relations. [55]

Attempts to equate the PA with the “Bantustan,” the “pseudo-autonomous puppet governments” created by South Africa for its black inhabitants, is equally absurd. As already described, the PA consistently opposes Israel. Furthermore, the international community declined to recognize the Bantustan’s in order to deny them legitimacy, while the PA is recognized as a sovereign government. [56]

Even Abbas rejected the apartheid canard by seeking international recognition, which is an overt admission that there is no apartheid in Judea and Samaria. Under international law, a territory must be self-governing. At the U.N., Abbas announced the “successful culmination of our state-building program,” which means the PA can either be a new country or it is governed by Israel--it cannot be both at the same time. [57]

Finally Kontorovich explains that for the policy of apartheid is imposed on a population against their wishes, by a regime “with the intention of maintaining that regime.” Israel has offered the Palestinian Arabs complete sovereignty no less than three times during the past 15 years, and they have refused every time. Whatever the excuse for their refusal—the question of borders and the “right of return”—there is no connection to apartheid. [58]

Israel’s Relationship with South Africa during the Apartheid Years

The relationship between Israel and South African concerning trade and alleged exchange of nuclear technology has been the subject of much discussion and dispute. With regard to trade, Yehuda Z. Blum, who served as Israel Ambassador to the U.N. from 1978–1984, said the facts were clear. In response to being singled out by members of the U.N. Special Committee Against Apartheid, (established in 1963), who questioned the extent of Israeli trade, Blum volunteered that the volume amounted to two-fifths of one percent of South Africa’s foreign trade.  This compared to South Africa’s other trading partners who accounted for 99.6 percent of the total, but who were apparently not regarded worthy enough for a special report. [59]   

An accurate assessment would show South Africa still importing oil as previously it had done, and that the “two-way traffic of oil and gold,” amounting to billions of dollars, between the Arab oil -producing states and South Africa continued “unabated.”   In return, the Arabs received building material and food supplies. [60]

Blum had no problem discussing Israel’s trade activities as long as the same standards were applied in evaluating the other states represented.  He suggested a full accounting of investments, trade, tourism, oil and gold procurements and covert and overt visits.  [61]

Exports to black Africa in 1979 increased by 39 percent from the previous year. South Africa had commercial links with 46 of the 52 member states of the Organization of African Unity. Of even more importance Blum suggested was an article in The New York Times of November 17, 1978 stating that “ammunition for the (Rhodesian) Security Forces—once in short supply—is reported to come in by circuitous route from Middle Eastern Arab states.” Despite this “infinitesimal trade” with South Africa, the U.N. Special Committee Against Apartheid referred to Israel as having an “alliance with apartheid.”[62]

Commenting on Israel’s relations with South Africa, Chaim Herzog, Israel's Ambassador to the U.N from 1975-1978, noted “the only difference between Israel and those who attack it is that while Israel openly acknowledges the existence of such relations, they deny their own.”  On March 12, 1973, The West Africa publication confirmed this observation: “The Arabs identify with the Black Africans only because of their votes in the United Nations and other conferences.” [63]

Herzog reminded critics of Europe’s share of the $19 billion invested in South Africa which amounted to $13 billion according a November 1977 report in The New York Times. The African countries accounted for eight percent or over $1 billion of Africa’s trade. The Soviet Communist bloc increased their trade by 13 percent, while the Soviet Union marketed their vast diamond production through South Africa’s De Beers.  A Washington Post report of November 8, 1977 from Johannesburg corroborated Soviet involvement in supplying weapons: “It is estimated that the bloc supplies up to half of South Africa’s private weapons….They are displayed in arms shops next to American-made Colt pistols.”[64]  

South Africa’s modern armed forces had sophisticated aircraft, artillery, destroyers and submarines. Patrol boats allegedly sold by Israel to South Africa were “minuscule” compared to these weapons supplied by major Western powers.  Yet, the U. N. marked Israel alone for condemnation.  Jordan’s sale of British-made fighter planes and missiles in 1974 seemed to have been overlooked. Also ignored was Israel’s announcement in the fall of 1977 that the country would comply with the recently declared Security Council’s mandatory arms embargo. [65]

Herzog argued that to suggest that having relations with a country implied acceptance of their social, political or economic policies is “utterly absurd.” Were that the case, every nation would be in an untenable position. [66]  

Nelson Mandela, who led the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, asked the Israeli government to train him to use weapons and teach him sabotage, a few months before being arrested in South Africa. According to an official document found in the Israel State Archives marked “Top Secret,” Mandela, who went under the name of David Mobsari, expressed an interest “in the methods of the Haganah and other Israeli underground movements,” greeted the Israelis “with ‘Shalom’, was familiar with the problems of Jewry and of Israel, and gave the impression of being an intellectual.” In January 1962, he secretly and illegally escaped South Africa and visited a number of African countries. In Ethiopia, he underwent military training with Mossad agents. [67]

Section III of the report of the Special Committee Against Apartheid entitled “Military and Nuclear collaboration” raised this sensitive issue, which Israel denied.[68]  In a biased and self-righteous study about this cooperation, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa  by Sasha Polakow-Suransky, a former editor of Foreign Affairs, exposes the extent of this relationship forged in the mid-1970s by Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and defense minister Shimon Peres.[69]  

Development of South Africa’s nuclear program began in 1949 with the purchase of hardware and expertise from the U.S, Britain, France and Germany. In 1976, the West severed the connection after determining that under the pretext of developing nuclear energy for peaceful use, they were creating nuclear power for military purposes. [70]

Israel’s alliance with South Africa intensified after the October 1973 Yom Kippur War as their mutual military and economic interests fueled the relationship for the next three years.  During the war, when Israel desperately needed spare parts for her damaged French Mirage jet fighter planes, South Africa provided them with the parts. [71] The failure of the U.S. to respond immediately to Israel’s dire plea for military hardware during the critical opening days of the conflict, when she suffered significant setbacks on the battlefield, drove Israelis to radically increase her domestic arms industry. [72] 

After the war, most African nations abandoned Israel in exchange for Arab petrodollars and threats of Arab economic pressure. The seemingly endless rise in oil prices had taken a severe toll on much of Africa’s economy. [73] The absence of America’s unconditional military support led Israel to a feeling of vulnerability.

With the generated surplus from their weapons industry, Shimon Peres sought access to South Africa’s export market and their funding to develop new weapons. In the process, the exports helped rectify Israel’s severe trade imbalance and provide work for scientists, engineers, and technicians returning with expertise from abroad. As Angola and Mozambique came under Soviet patronage, the leaders of South Africa turned to Israel in desperation for weapons—the only country willing to help them. [74]    According to one report, South Africa was Israel’s second- or third-largest trading partner because of arms sales, and both collaborated considerably on nuclear technology.  No less than 20 percent of Israeli export income emanated from South Africa in 1985. [75]

This collaboration lasted throughout the most turbulent period of the apartheid regime—a relationship   essential for Israeli security and financial well-being.  Because of this association Israel has been chastised. Sometimes it is easy to forget that Israel had to contend with the Arab League’s boycott, attempts at the U.N. to undermine her legitimacy, diplomatic isolation, and encircled by U.N. member states actively seeking her demise. [76]

In 1958, when the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Golda Meir visited Africa for the first time, she intended to speak to a group of black leaders in Accra, Ghana about public health, infrastructure and agriculture. Instead she found herself at a table surrounded by 60 “skeptical” men who backed the fight in the Arab countries of North Africa against French colonialism, and were quite disturbed by Israel’s relations with France. The Algerian representative stood up to insist Israel justify the country’s involvement with a government engaged in a “ruthless and brutal war against my people,” and is the primary enemy denying self-determination to the people of Africa. [77]   

Golda did not equivocate: “Our neighbors…are out to destroy us with arms that they receive free of charge from the Soviet Union…. The one and only country in the world that is ready…to sell us some of the arms we need to protect ourselves is France.”  She then turned to the audience and asked: “If you were in that position, what would you do?” They did understand. [78]

When the African National Congress publicly announced that Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro were among their furthermost allies, American leaders viewed this in perspective. [79] After all, the U.S. collaborated with the Soviet Union’s dictator Joseph Stalin during World War II to defeat the Nazis.

Robert D. Kaplan an American journalist and the chief geopolitical analyst at Stratfor, reminds us that “real history, is not the trumpeting of ugly facts untempered by historical and philosophical context. Realism is about the ultimate moral ambition in foreign policy: the avoidance of war through a favorable balance of power.”[80]     

From the very beginning of Israel’s birth, the country has been faced existential threats. Those not involved in defending the Jewish people have the luxury to pontificate how they should act, yet as Kaplan observes, “Ensuring a nation’s survival sometimes leaves tragically little room for private morality. ” [81]

Bayard Rustin, a veteran African-American civil rights leader highly critical of South Africa, understood that Israel’s relationship with the country did not reflect negatively on Israel: “As one who has very serious reservations about detent because of the repressive nature of the Soviet Government, I do not interpret American trade with the USSR as approval of the persecution of Jews, intellectuals, artists and scientists. Nor do I think that trade relations with South Africa represents Israeli or the black African nations’ approval of apartheid.” [82]

He also feared that “the condemnation of Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, would obscure mankind’s rejection of racism and apartheid.”   As director of Black Americans To Support Israel Committee (BASIC), he formed  with A. Philip Randolph in response to U.N. General Assembly Resolution 3379, “Zionism is Racism” passed November 10, 1975, Rustin said the organization supported the right of the Palestinian Arabs to “genuine self-determination, but not at the expense of the rights of Jews to independence and statehood.”  He presciently predicted that by proclaiming Israel’s illegitimacy and condemning Zionism, this will only make the “problem of the Palestinians more intractable and diminish the likelihood of a lasting and just peace. [83]   


By any standard, including the one established by the International Committee of the Red Cross, [84] Israel is not even remotely an apartheid state.  

Even when Israel rescued black Ethiopian Jews, questions were raised about her motives.  As historians David and Richard Landes observed, “The rights of Israel’s Jewish citizens are among the most protected on the planet. To some, this may seem racist, like the German news commentator who felt the rescue of the Falashas from Ethiopia was racist: Why did the Israelis take only Jews out? Actually, the irony was there to savor. This was the first group of Africans since the Exodus brought out of Africa for freedom rather than slavery.”[85]

Promoting the charges of "apartheid," has consequences. Bassam Tawil, an Arab writer, wrote that “there is not a single Israeli Arab citizen willing to give up his Israeli ID card -- a choice that embarrassingly contradicts this Palestinian contention.” When Israel's former Foreign Minister, Avigdor Liberman, “suggested to the residents of the Israeli Arab city Umm al-Fahm the option of moving the city border to within the Palestinian Authority. They would retain their houses, lands and property, and relinquish only their Israeli citizenship. They refused outright.”[86]

“We cannot lie to ourselves,” he said. “There is not one single Israeli Arab willing to give up Israel's ‘apartheid’ in exchange for the rule of the Palestinian Authority. Its amateurish propaganda only serves to destroy its credibility..”[87]


[1] Rev. Dr. Kenneth Meshoe, “Pro-Palestinian ads misrepresent apartheid,” San Francisco Examiner (May 15, 2013); Will Reisman, “Mideast conflict spills onto BART walls,” San Francisco Examiner (January 12, 2012).

[2] Rev. Dr. Kenneth Meshoe, “Pro-Palestinian ads misrepresent apartheid,” San Francisco Examiner (May 15, 2013); Reisman, “Mideast conflict spills onto BART walls,” San Francisco Examiner (January 12, 2012); Robbie Sabel, “The Campaign to Delegitimize Israel with the False Charge of Apartheid,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, (2009).

[3] Richard J. Goldstone, “Israel and the Apartheid Slander,” The New York Times (October 31, 2011).

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid. David Bernstein, George Mason University Foundation Professor at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia, notes that South-Africa had a peaceful transition to post-apartheid, but what if it developed in the same way at the Israeli-Palestinian Arab history has: David Bernstein, “Boycotting Israel and the South Africa/apartheid analogy,” The Washington Post (February 19, 2014).

[6] Sabel, op.cit; (Meshoe, “Pro-Palestinian ads misrepresent apartheid,” op.cit; Ofra Edelman, “Former President Moshe Katsav Gets 7 Years in Jail for Rape,” Haaretz (March 22, 2011); Daniel Estrin, “Israel’s Bold New Queen,” Tablet (March 13, 2013);  Michal Yaakov Yitzhaki, “An officer and a Muslim Zionist,” Israel Hayom (September 7, 2012); Yana Pevzner, “The lone Arab soldier,” Ynet (October 13, 2010); Jennifer Lipman, “IDF’s first Arab officer: 'It's my duty,” The JC.com (November 4, 2010); Yoav Stern, “Number of Israeli Arab IDF recruits dramatically increases in 2008,” Haaretz (October 10, 2008); Gili Cohen, “Druze officer named commander of elite infantry brigade,”Haaretz (October 25, 2013); Diana Bletter, “Guess Who's Valedictorian at Israel's Top Medical School?” Huffington Post (July 16, 2013); Gabe Fisher, “All the kingmaker’s men, and women,” The Times of Israel (January 23, 2013).

[7] Lahav Harkov, The 20th Knesset by the numbers: More Arabs and women, fewer Orthodox members,” The Jerusalem Post  (March 18, 2015); “Twelve MKs are members of the Joint (Arab) List, while the remaining four are from the Zionist Union, Likud, Meretz, and Yisrael Beytenu.” Ofer Kenig, “The Social Composition of the 20th Knesset,” The Israel Democracy Institute (March 30, 2015); “Israel’s Arab voters: What’s the point?” The Economist (January 12th 2013); As'ad Ghanem, “The Bi-National State Solution,” Israel Studies Volume 14, Number 2, (Summer 2009): 120-133. Some and other Israeli Arabs might have strong familial and cultural ties to their relatives in Gaza and in hostile Arab states,” Sabel, op.cit. 

[8] “Israel’s Arab voters: What’s the point?” op.cit.

[9] Ibid.

[10] David Sheen ,“A year in review: Anti-African racism and asylum seekers in Israel,” +972 (May 29, 2013); Ilan Lior, “ Israeli inspector pours bleach over food in Tel Aviv restaurant run by African migrants,” Haaretz  (May 14, 2013); Ilan Lior, “Israel's AG to draw up guidelines for 'voluntary' repatriation of jailed Eritrean, Sudanese migrants,” Haaretz  (May 13, 2013).

[11] Ruth Marcus, “Israel confronts a flood of African refugees,” The Washington Post (July 24, 2012).

[12] Ibid; Eli Senyor, Police suspect tourist raped in beach restroom: Umm al-Fahm resident, Sudanese national arrested on suspicion of involvement in rape of 17-year-old South African tourist at Tel Aviv's Banana Beach. Men located through victim's phone found their possession,” Ynet (July 11. 2013); David Lev, “Youths Beaten Badly by Foreign Workers for Protecting Girl,” Israel National News (June 2, 2013); Gil Ronen, “Youths Beaten by Infiltrators – Arrested,” Israel National News (June 6, 2013); Eli Senyor, “Tel Aviv: 2 men come to woman's aid, attacked by foreigners,” Ynet (June 2, 2013); Eli Senyor, “Migrant raped disabled woman in her home,” Ynet (July 17.2013); Eli Senyor, “Tel Aviv: Foreign national injures 6 in stabbing spree,” Ynet (June 23 2013; Danny Adino Ababa, “The Dark Side of Tel Aviv,” Ynet (June 7, 2012); Hagar Cohen, “Foreign Workers in Israel,” Economic Reform Studies 2007, Koret-Milken Institute Fellows Research Program, Number 17-25 (2007): 24-30; Harriet Sherwood, “Israel PM: illegal African immigrants threaten identity of Jewish state,” theguardian (May 20, 2012).

[13] Nehemia Shtrasler, “African Migrant Workers? Not in South Tel Aviv's Back Yard,” Haaretz (August 14, 2015); Nehemia Shtrasler, “Migrants in Israel - the Stone Thrown Into the Well, Haaretz (May 29, 2012). Nehemia Shtrasler, “Why Not Move Israel's African Migrants to North Tel Aviv?” Haaretz (July 1, 2013).

[14]. Yehuda Shlezinger, “High Court to deliberate canceling Infiltration Prevention Law,” Israel Hayom (June 2, 2013).

[15] Steven Plaut, “The Plan to Africanize Israel Zionist,” Conspiracy (June 16, 2013).

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid; Ben Dror Yemini, “Ethiopian Jews a Success Story in Israel,” Al-Monitor (December 13 2012); Naama Barak, “240 Ethiopian immigrants flown to Israel: Jewish Agency’s Operation Dove’s Wings aims to bring all remaining Falash Mura to the country by October 2013,” The Times of Israel (October 29, 2012); Ben Dror Yemini, http://www.nrg.co.il/app/index.php?do=blog&encr_id=f2b4c1b55be76d1e6d7b777256ea0370&id=453)

[18] Maxine Dovere, “From Ethiopia to the Knesset: Shlomo Molla Lives the Israeli Dream,” Algemeiner (September 30, 2012).

[19]. Ibid.

[20] Itamar Eichner, “Israel to trade arms for migrants with African countries,” Ynet (July 9, 2013); William Booth, “Israeli government to refugees: Go back to Africa or go to prison,” The Washington Post (May 14, 2015).

[21]. Chris Mitchell, “Tortured in the Sinai: 'I Was Hanged for Days,'” CBN (July 10, 2013).

[22. Omri Efraim, “Eritreans sign 'willful emigration'; dozens to be deported,” Ynet (July 9, 2013).

[23] Sabel, op.cit.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Meshoe, op.cit; see for example, “Tutu: Israel's humiliation of Palestinians 'familiar to black South Africans',” Haaretz (March 10, 2014); Uri Davis, Israel: An Apartheid State (New York: Zed Books, 1989); Azmi Beshara, “A short history of apartheid,” Al-Ahram Weekly (January 8-14, 2004) Yoav Stern, “Israel's Road Policy In West Bank are 'Apartheid-Like,”' Haaretz  (August 4, 2004), Saree Makdisi, Does the term ‘apartheid’ fit Israel? Pf course it does,”latimes.com (May 17, 2014); Leila Farsakh, “Israel: an apartheid state? Le Monde Diplomatique,” (December 3, 2003).

[26] http://www.shabak.gov.il/english/Pages/default.aspx; “Wave of terror 2015/2016 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (March 27, 2016).

[27] Josh Hasten, “Documenting ‘Hourly’ Arab Terror,” Algemeiner (May 13, 2012).

[28] “Colonel: IDF to Build Bridge to Bypass Terrorist Village in Judea,” The Jewish Press (May 26th, 2013).

[33] Rev. Dr. Kenneth Meshoe, “Pro-Palestinian ads misrepresent apartheid,” op.cit.

(Footnotes 29-32 are not applicable in this abridged article and have been removed)

[34] Jordana Horn, “Black student leaders slam 'apartheid' characterization,” The Jerusalem Post (April 9, 2011); Gary Rosenblatt, “Black Group Defends Israel against Charge of Apartheid,” The Jewish Week (October 11, 2011);http://www.jewishresearch.org/quad/04-11/vanguard-leadership-group.htm).

[35] Giulio Meotti, “The medical war on Israel,” Ynet (November 25, 2011).

[36] “Israel OKs entry of 3 Iraqi children for treatment in heart program,” UPI.com (April 29, 2013); Meotti, op.cit) Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, “Jewish kidney donation saves Palestinian boy,” The Jerusalem Post (June, 2013).

[37] Meotti, op.cit.

[38] “Israel OKs entry of 3 Iraqi children for treatment in heart program,” op.cit.

[39] Meotti, op.cit.

[40] Khaled Abu Toameh, “Israeli hospital treats Hamas PM Haniyeh’s granddaughter,” The Jerusalem Post (November 19, 2013). 

[41] “Haniyeh’s mother-in-law treated in Israel,” The Times of Israel (June 3, 2014).

[42] Meotti, op.cit.

[43] Ibid; Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, “Hadassah Mount Scopus sees regular violence,” The Jerusalem Post (July 13, 2011).

[44] Ibid.

[45] Gideon Shimoni, “Deconstructing Apartheid Accusations Against Israel,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affair (September 2, 2007).

[46] Ibid.

[47] S. Ilan Troen, Imagining Zion: Dreams, Designs, and Realities in a Century of Jewish Settlement (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2003), xiv, 7-9; Shimoni, op.cit; Jehuda Reinharz, and Anita Shapira, Eds. Essential Papers on Zionism (New York: New York University Press, 1995):9.

[48] Ben Halpern, The Idea of the Jewish State Second Edition (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1969), 20-27.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid. 151-152, 158.

[51] Shimoni, op.cit.

[52] Michael Kinsley, “It's Not Apartheid,” The Washington Post (December 12, 2006).

[53] Eugene Kontorovich, “The Apartheid Libel: A Legal Refutation,” The Tower Magazine (June 2014).

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56]. Ibid.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Yehuda Z. Blum, For Zion’s Sake (Cranbury, New Jersey: Cornwall Books, 1987), 217-118.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Chaim Herzog, Who Stands Accused? Israel Answers Its Critics (New York: Random House, 1978), 150-152); for a review of Africa’s special and unique place in Israel’s foreign relations see Dr. Arye Oded, “Fifty years of MASHAV activity Jewish Political Studies Review,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs 21:3-4 (Fall 2009);  Ehud Avriel, “Israel’s Beginnings in Africa, 1956-1973, Memoir,” in Israel in the Third World, Michael Curtis and Susan Aurelia Gitelson, Eds. (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Books,1976), 69-74.

[64]Herzog, op.cit.

[65] Ibid. 154; Aluf Benn, “How South Africa's apartheid regime saved Israel's defense industry,” Haaretz (December 10, 2013).

[66] Herzog, op.cit. 154.

[67] Ofer Aderet and David Fachler, “Mandela received weapons training from Mossad agents in Ethiopia,” Haaretz (December 20, 2013); David Fachler, “Mandela and the Mossad: How Israel courted Black Africa,’” Haaretz(December 20, 2013).

[68] Blum, op.cit. 218-219.

[69] Sasha Polakow-Suransky, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa (New York: Vintage Books, 2011), 7; Sasha Polakow-Suransky, “Time to come clean: It's time for Shimon Peres to tell the truth about Israel's military cooperation with Apartheid South Africa” Haaretz (June 4, 2010); Chris McGreal, “Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons,” The Guardian (May 23, 2010);  Chris McGreal “Israel and apartheid: a marriage of convenience and military might,” The Guardian (May 23, 2010); Avner Cohen, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998); David K. Willis, “How South Africa and Israel are maneuvering for the bomb,” The Christian Science Monitor (December 3, 1981). 

[70] Yossi Melman, “Did Israel play a role in 1979 South Africa nuclear test?” Haaretz (August 2, 2009).

[71]. Polakow-Suransky, op.cit.6, 72.

[72] Ibid.76.

[73] Herzog, op.cit 155.

[74] Ibid. 77-84.

[75] James Kirchick, “The Unspoken Alliance, by Sasha Polakow-Suransky,” Commentary (September 2010); Polakow-Suransky, op.cit. 49, 72, 83, 141, 149.

[76] James Kirchick, op.cit.

[77] Polakow-Suransky, op.cit 27.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Ibid. 196.

[80] Robert D. Kaplan, “In Defense of Henry Kissinger,” The Atlantic (May 2013). 

[81] Ibid.

[82] Herzog, op.cit. 154-155.

[83] Bayard Rustin, Letter from Black Americans To Support Israel Committee (BASIC) to unknown. No date. Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem   S/10/47).

[84] “How Does Law Protect in War?” Apartheid Glossary (May 28, 2005) https://www.icrc.org/casebook/doc/glossary/apartheid-glossary.htm)

Apartheid 28-05-2012 Glossary

This term comprises the following inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining the domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them:

 a. denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups or the right to life and liberty of persons (by murder of its members, inflicting upon them serious bodily or mental harm, infringement of their freedom, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or by arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of its members);

 b. deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;

c. measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participating in the political, social, economic or cultural life of the country, and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups (by denying to their members basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognized trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right of freedom of peaceful assembly and association);