The charge of Apartheid

The charge of Apartheid



                                    “Balak the king of Moab has brought me from

                                     Aram, from the mountains of the east.  Come,

                                     curse Jacob for me, and come, denounce Israel!

                                     How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?

                                     And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has

                                     not denounced? For from the tops of the rocks

                                     I see him, and from the hills I behold him; there!

                                     A people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself

                                     among the nations.”

                                                                        Numbers 23:7-9




Today it is both popular and politically correct to accuse Israel of being an apartheid state. This smear has been brought against the only democracy in the Middle East by the BDS movement (Boycott, sanction and divest from Israel) and by pro-Palestinian activists who have no interest in democratic government and real peace with Israel. The implications of this accusation are serious in that; if the original apartheid state, South Africa, had to be overthrown and dismantled as it was, then it stands to reason that the same must happen to Israel.


Of course this initiative to brand Israel a racist state is not new as a similar attempt was made in 1975 at the United Nations when the General Assembly adopted a resolution defining Zionism as racism. After close scrutiny and investigation this resolution was finally overturned in 1991 when it was established that in fact Zionism is nothing more than an ideology that gives expression to the longing of Jews everywhere to return to the land of their forefathers. However, not withstanding this setback, the enemies of Israel were determined to remodel the accusation and they did in the form of the current charge that Israel is an apartheid state.


So then the apartheid slur against the state of Israel is just another attempt to reintroduce the notion that Israel is a racist entity that must be dismantled in order to bring peace to the Middle East. Those who advocate for this position are invariable Islamists who wish to see Israel given over to the totalitarianism of radical Islam. That is, they would be more than happy to see Hamas or Hezbollah in control of the region! In fact at the very root of this new movement is the age-old problem of anti-Semitism.


I am a South African who was born in 1952 and was therefore raised in the apartheid state of South Africa. I saw the wickedness of this system firsthand; I lived in its world every day and witnessed the systematic dehumanization of 30 million black people by a white minority government. There is nothing in Israel that is even close to this abomination and to suggest that there is, is an insult to the millions of black people in South Africa who lived and suffered under it. The truth is, nowhere in Israel today are Arab Israelis treated in the manner in which the black people of South Africa were treated. Arab Israelis can go anywhere in the country, live anywhere they wish to, go to any university or educational institution or hospital of their choice and take up any profession they desire.


The apartheid state of South Africa, by contrast, passed laws that totally stripped the African people of having any stake in the land of their birth. These laws were draconian, inhumane and vicious and were the following:


  • The Group Areas Act, that placed restrictions on where blacks could live.
  • The Influx Control Act, that limited the movement of blacks in the country.
  • The Job Reservation Act, which prohibited black people from taking up certain professions.
  • The Bantu Education Act, which provided black children with an inferior education.
  • The infamous Pass Laws Act, which temporarily legalized black people’s presence in a certain region.


The latter meant that black people could not freely move around the country unless they were needed to provide labor for white owned industry etc. The “Pass”, called a “Dom Pass” (Dumb Pass) by the black people legitimized their presence in a place that they would otherwise not be allowed to live in or operate in. The “Dom Pass” tightened up the restrictions outlined in the Influx Control Act. Black people were thus herded into “Locations”, later called Townships, like Soweto, from where they served as cheap labor to the big “white by night” cities and industries. If caught out of their zone as designated by their Pass they were immediately arrested and thrown into jail. Indeed, even if they were legitimately in the area but forgot to carry their Pass, they were still arrested and imprisoned. Their “Pass” governed their lives, designating their place of domicile and had to be on them at all times.


In March 1960 anger and resentment in this regard boiled over and consequently some 5000 black people embarked on a peaceful protest at a police station in a place called Sharpeville. The response by the apartheid apparatus was swift and severe in that 69 people were gunned down and killed and a further 180 were wounded. According to the governing authorities the blacks would be taught a lesson! Resistance would be met with “an iron fist” as one Nationalist Party leader put it.


According to the white minority government, Africans had inferior brains to whites and therefore they did not need or qualify for “white education.” No, they were instead subjected to what was called Bantu Education and to make matters worse the Nationalist Afrikaner Government insisted that the language of education in black schools be that of Afrikaans! Black children could not be schooled in their mother tongue but in that of the oppressor. Consequently in 1976 the Soweto Riots broke out and swept through the whole country. The response of the government was swift and severe as once again thousands of blacks were indiscriminately shot and countless thousands more were arrested and put in jails.


Anti-Apartheid activists like Steve Biko were murdered and others like Nelson Mandela were imprisoned on Robben Island just off the beautiful city of Cape Town. Indeed the Soweto Riots sparked the end of Apartheid as from that time forward the only way the government could keep a lid on the resistance was to ring the African locations with what was called a “ring of steel.” That is, tanks, armored cars and armed white soldiers surrounded the black townships. All this kept the white areas “black free” and in a false notion of peace. The country was boiling underneath as the vast black majority were totally disinvested and disenfranchised. The truth is, in apartheid South Africa black lives were cheap and expendable and many young desperate black people were hung for petty crimes like theft. Black lives did not matter!


The living conditions of black people were appalling to say the least as the sprawling black townships had little or no services. In the winter months a thick pall of grey smoke hung over these areas bringing with it all sorts of sickness and respiratory diseases. The misery of being born black in South Africa was indescribable and it was on the backs of their labor that the country was built and thrived. They were nothing more than cheap labor and they were routinely insulted and verbally abused by being called names the worst of which was, “Kaffir”; a term borrowed by the nationalist government from the slave traders of Islam. Just as Islam punishes and abuses so called “infidels” so the South African government marginalized its black citizens and herded them into Gestapo like ghettos!


So then, to equate all of this with the nation state of Israel today is simply absurd and outrageous. Arab Israelis excel in all areas of Israel’s economy; they have full representation in the Knesset (Parliament); they occupy positions on the High Court of Israel and officially represent Israel at international beauty and singing contests. There is precisely nothing that holds them back from achieving their dreams in the free and democratic state of Israel.


To be honest then the real slur leveled at Israel as being an apartheid state is made against the nation in the context of its conflict with the Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza. In other words, this accusation is made within the framework of disputed territories only. However, those who make it have sinister and wicked motives in that they really desire to use this accusation as one of the weapons they can wield in their desire to destroy all of Israel! They affirm this time and time again in the Arabic speaking media and the charters of Hamas and of the Palestinian Authority continue to call for the destruction of all of Israel thus also confirming this. They have no desire to come to a settled and peaceful accommodation with the State of Israel even though successive Israeli governments have endeavored to do so. The idea of two states living side by side in peace and security is not on their agenda and they say it all the time in Arabic. No, they wish to reclaim the lands once under the heel of Islam and this in turn means that the very existence of Israel is anathema to them.


To achieve this goal they wage a war of terror against Israel and they wage a diplomatic war against Israel in the halls of international institutions and on the college campuses of the West. The latter has taken the form of branding Israel an apartheid state. Those who use it and advance this narrative all over the world actually know nothing of apartheid and would not be able to properly define it if asked to. However, the word apartheid is a very emotive word and thus we can only oppose this lie with the truth. I know the truth because I grew up in Apartheid South Africa and lived in the free democratic state of Israel for fourteen years. If one listens to the nightly broadcasts on TV of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, as Palestinian Media Watch do, one will quickly learn of their ultimate agenda, that of Israel’s destruction. Sadly, western politicians routinely laugh this off as mere rhetoric, just as they did some 70 years ago with Hitler’s “rhetoric!


The Oslo Accords of the 1990s nearly brought this unhappy episode to a conclusion but at the very end of this initiative Yasser Arafat withdrew, falsified reasons for doing so and began a war with Israel known as the Second Intifada. His wife Suha Arafat later confirmed that he did so because he was not prepared to give the “Islamic Heritance”, as she put it, of his people to the Jews. Meaning that he could not adhere to the peace accords he had agreed to as these only gave the Palestinians a portion of the land and not all of Israel. In fact after the Presidential Inauguration of Nelson Mandela in April 1994 Arafat, speaking in a Mosque in Johannesburg, confirmed that his peace agreement with Israel, signed on the lawns of the White House with Prime Minister Rabin and President Clinton in 1993, was nothing more than a deception designed to buy time in order to pursue the greater goal of Israel’s total destruction.


No my friends, Israel is not an apartheid state in any shape or form. Her restrictions on Palestinians in the disputed territories are designed for only one purpose, and this includes the security wall, to stop Palestinian terror squads from assaulting her towns and villages. In this regard they have been successful and any democracy under sustained assault would do the same. In fact Israel is a bright light in the Middle East of civilized democratic government and recently Arab journalists in Egypt and elsewhere in the region have acknowledged this. For sure even the so-called moderate Arab nations in the region, like Saudi Arabia and Jordan, remain dictatorships with restrictions and laws that sometimes shadow the apartheid state! Women live under severe restrictions, their testimony in a court of law is not equal to that of a man, they are banned from driving cars and barred from certain professions. Add to this the fact that the press is not truly free and must tow the government line and the fact that people of other faiths cannot practice their religion freely and that Muslims who convert to another religion are executed publicly then the picture you have is of another version of apartheid! Who can deny it?


South Africa underwent a remarkable change in that the apartheid government realized that it could not continue to rule the black majority in a manner that robbed them of their human dignity. It therefore decided to genuinely sue for peace and this required the very bold step of surrendering power to a black majority democratic government. President F. W. de Klerk found a genuine peace partner in Nelson Mandela and together they forged a new day for all of South Africa’s people. The only apartheid state collapsed and, as they say, the rest is history. Sadly, Israel has yet to find a genuine peace partner who does not have her total destruction in mind. Until such a person comes forward she will have to be vigilant and watchful while at the same time continuing to strengthen her democratic institutions, which are indeed the envy of the world.


Golda Meir, the Prime Minister of Israel, once said, “ Until the Palestinians love their children more than they hate the Jews there will be no peace in the region.” She was right and sadly it seems that more lives will be lost just as long as the Palestinians and their sponsors from Iran and elsewhere continue to wage war against Israel. They will fail, as will the BDS movement and the Israel Apartheid movement, because the truth will always overcome the darkness of lies and deceit. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority President, is an example of this type of wickedness because he continues to assert, in the light of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that the Holocaust never happened. It is impossible to negotiate with a man like this who is intellectually dishonest and incapable of telling the truth at anytime. It is no wonder that he and his fellow terrorists continue to peddle the lie that Israel is an apartheid state.



Malcolm Hedding