This month the SA chapter of “Zionism Equals Apartheid” gang is girding its loins to play its role in delegitimising Israel. Their crocodile tears as they invoke the plight of the Palestinians carries no weight against the backdrop of the slaughter going on today in the Middle East and North and East Africa, a human tragedy that significantly escapes their attention. It is wearying to once more point out the deceitful propaganda posing as facts. A few salient points starting with Israel’s “disproportionate” action against attacks on its country:
For example, all fair commentators have conclusively shown that Israel’s occasional incursion into Gaza follows years dominated by more than 7,000 rockets and other missiles fired at civilian targets without any Israeli retaliation and that Israel acted only when this bombardment started escalating. What is disproportionate, one may ask? How many more years are needed to go by before Israel reacts to protect its citizens living peacefully and legally in their towns and villages.
When Israel did react, it did so with care and circumspection. Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan said it best: “Based on my knowledge and experience I can say that during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli defense forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in combat situations than any other army in the history of warfare.” The charges against Israel reveal much more about those who make the accusations than it does about their target.
Much ink is expended in accusing Israel of being an apartheid state citing the checkpoints, the security fence and segregated roads, but nothing about pass laws, forced segregation, anti-gay legislation, and racial laws, which don’t exist in Israel but do in surrounding countries. Critics focus on the border between sovereign Israeli territory and the disputed territories of the West Bank ignoring the efficacy of controls that keep civilians from being murdered.
The security barrier for example has been very successful in protecting civilians. In 2000, the Palestinian leadership launched a massive wave of suicide bombers into Israel, leading to more than 1,300 civilian deaths and 10,000 injuries. Today after the erection of the barrier these terrifying figures have been reduced to almost zero.
The same can be said about separate roads for Israelis (of whatever culture or religion) and non-Israelis. After prolonged attacks on Israeli civilians that have taken a mounting toll of lives, Israel has taken steps to limit the ability of Palestinians to slaughter Jews. Separate bypass roads, inspections of Palestinian cars, the revoking of permission for family members of killers to work in Israel makes it harder for Palestinian terrorists to treat pedestrian precincts as killing grounds.
The apartheid claim becomes even more offensive in the larger context of apartheid practices in the entire Middle East including Palestine and excluding Israel. For example, The PA has a law invoking the death penalty for selling land to Jews. The PA has declared that no Jew will be allowed to live in Palestine. (Israel welcomes Arabs, Muslims, Christians and all others across religious and cultural divides to settle, own property and work there.)
Sabreen Saadi is set to become the first hijab-wearing Muslim woman to attain the rank of lieutenant in the Israel Police. Saadi comes from a traditional Muslim family in a Bedouin town in northern Israel. Since 2016, when the Israeli government established a special unit aimed at improving policing and security in the country’s Arab communities, more than 600 Arab men and 55 Arab women have enlisted in the Israel Police. Eight new police stations have been established in the Arab sector, with the intention of adding ten more.
Arab countries with large Palestinian populations, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and others, practice legal apartheid against Palestinians, including denying them the right to work in most professions, attaining citizenship, passports, education and freedom of movement.
In Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims are severely discriminated against by the government, yet those who accuse Israel of apartheid seem never to complain about such official discrimination. And so it goes on. To any unbiased reader there is no doubt that true apartheid resides in countries other than Israel, which remains a bastion of freedom and democracy.
The denial of Israel’s right to exist is the cornerstone of the entire BDS strategy. Israel has made valiant attempts on at least five occasions to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians, although as victors in all the wars it was forced into, it had no moral obligation to do so. In every case it was rebuffed, and the infamous Kartoum 3-No’s are still in place and form part of every Arab manisfesto bar Egypt and Jordan: No peace, No negotiation, No recognition of Israel.
Besides the antisemitic strategy to delegitimise the only Jewish state and to hold it to different standards from the rest of the world, critics of Israel hide behind the argument that they are not antisemitic but “anti-Zionist”, all the while seeking to blur the distinction between the two concepts. They disregard Jews’ right to self-determination, despite promoting their distorted definition of Zionism as an apartheid system that seeks to take over control of land and resources, forcibly remove Palestinians and engage in ethnic cleansing. Even more so, they seek to rewrite any manifestation of Jewish identity that does not fit their propaganda in which they align Jews with the South African apartheid regime.
Those promoting the Palestinian cause devalue their argument by quoting from propaganda and not from independent sources. One such independent source is Freedom House, which evaluates countries throughout the world and apportions a percentage score dependent on each country’s human rights performance. Israel, (79%) despite facing constant terrorism, ranks above every country in the Middle East and North Africa, with Syria scoring a low of minus-one and Jordan a high of 37%. Israel’s record is better than South Africa’s (78%) and just behind the USA (86%). The countries and territories that refuse to have any Jews, Christians or any other religions in the areas of their jurisdiction, persecute those who have not yet fled to the USA, Europe and, yes, to Israel where they can freely practice their religions, work and live where they like, achieve and rise to the highest levels in the land. Where then is the apartheid? Palestine? Syria? Iraq? Lebanon? or democratic Israel.
If the Palestinians were to use the billions they receive to build dams instead of attack tunnels, educational structures instead of colleges of hatred and indoctrination, water conservation infrastructure instead of rockets and other weaponry, Israel would be the first to offer a hand of friendship and cooperation.
In effect, the ongoing Intifada has not only accomplished nothing for the Palestinians but is leading to measures that will make their lives harder. Which means the Palestinian Authority, which has helped incite this madness in which its people have gone out to stab, shoot and firebomb any Israeli they can get near, achieved precisely nothing of value, but instead they have no compunction about sacrificing the lives as well as the prosperity and the dignity of their people in order to keep fighting a pointless war to eradicate Israel—a war they can never win.
It is even more astonishing that, 72 years after Ben-Gurion’s declaration, which includes more than 15 wars, continuing terrorism, existential threats, refusals of neighbours to accept a Jewish State, BDS, Palestinian intransigence, global anti-Semitism, anti-Israel movements, UN bullying and media obsession, the tiny State of Israel stands stronger, prouder, smarter and more content than ever.
Recent studies have shown that Israelis are the 11th happiest people on Earth (beating the US, Germany, UK and of course South Africa), and Israel is the 4th best place on Earth to raise children. Israel in 2020 remains the only democracy in the Middle East and a thriving place for minority groups. It is a technological, water and medical superpower, has more start-up companies per capita than anywhere on earth that intricately affects our lives everywhere. Israel has literally and figuratively filled the world with her fruits and the world has thrived as a result. The Jewish nation has thrived in spite of adversity.
There are those who say that they are offended by Israel’s actions. I too am offended, not by trumped up accusations of disrespect, but by more mundane things like beheadings of civilians, cowardly attacks on public and private buildings, attacks on Westerners for the crime of drinking beer at their local pubs, suicide murders, murders of Christian priests in Middle Eastern countries, burning of Christian churches and Jewish Synagogues, the continued persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, the imposition of Sharia law on non-Muslims, the rapes of Scandinavian girls and women (called ‘whores’), the murder of film directors in Holland and elsewhere and the rioting and looting in Paris, Brussels, New York, London and in Spain. This is what offends me and many, many of my friends.
For anybody who would give any thought to the matter, the Jewish State is here to stay. After 72 years, it is surely high time to accept, acknowledge, embrace, speak up for and stand with Israel.