I am neither a historian, decent author or a journalist and the chances are, unless there is a link or reference to somewhere else, the perpetrator is your's truly-Renaud Sarda.
I created this blog as a focal point, to arm friends and people with arguments and facts that they could perhaps use to counter the anti- Israel propaganda, biased media and Israel boycott campaign.
I am a Zionist and a proud Sephardi Jew who will fly the Israeli flag, and defend whatever Israel does.
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Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Major controversy erupts again as top UK Jewish leader reaffirms apartheid-Israel discourse
In an astonishing re-run of the most controversial moment in British pro-Israel advocacy for many years, Mick Davis, the man at the centre of that storm, has launched a second broadside defending his judgement in warning of the prospect of Israel becoming “an apartheid state”.
Mr. Davis, who is chairman of the United Jewish Israel Appeal and chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, made his original remarks in November last year. Among the formal UK Jewish leadership there was a mixed reaction –see here for comments by supporters and opponents — while the Israeli embassy issued a scathing protest and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and its supporters reacted with jubilation.
In this week’s Jewish Chronicle Mr. Davis sought to clarify his remarks as follows:
“… I said clearly that Israel was not an apartheid state. I reject any comparisons between Israel today and apartheid, an analogy which is often used as a stick to beat Israel. I did say that if the world came to believe that a two-state solution was not possible and that a single unitary state (“a one-state solution”) was seen to be the only way forward, then that unitary state may be characterised as an apartheid state as you would have a minority ruling over the majority – or at least a majority of Palestinian non-citizens in the West Bank and Gaza. The international pressure for full civic rights for all, including the right to vote, would be enormous and would mean the end of Israel. This is not a new or controversial point. Prime Minister Olmert said as much in 2007 as did Defence Minister Barak last year”.
Unless forced to do so it is my policy not to get involved directly in the internal affairs of the UK Jewish community over discussion of Israel since Jews and non-Jews face a different calculus of risk. For example, as a non-Jew defending Israel I will never be accused of dual loyalties, (though I am accused of pretty much everything else!). The wider debate about Israel, however, is an entirely different matter. And since, as Mr. Davis acknowledges, the apartheid analogy is such an insidious and dangerous weapon in the arsenal of Israel’s opponents I would like to offer some thoughts from a purely analytical perspective on why it is so wrong to raise it in the Israeli context, and why it always will be under any future scenario:
1) As a political system, apartheid refers to the institutionalised policy of racial segregation which existed in South Africa between 1948 and 1993. The central principle underpinning apartheid was a belief in the inherent, genetic superiority of white people over black people. In the absence of that principle, apartheid would not have existed. Since there is no equivalent to this white supremacism in the Israeli case today or in any imaginable future, apartheid is impossible in Israel.
2) “Apartheid” is a word from Afrikaans and is the only word from that language to have successfully made it into the English speaking world’s political lexicon. It approximates to “separateness” in the English language. Given that Palestinians in the West Bank and Israelis in the West Bank live separately because of the threat of terrorism and because of the absence of a final status peace agreement, this has provided the spurious basis on which the charge of “apartheid” has been made against Israel.
3) It is clear, however, that the use of the term by Israel’s opponents is dishonest, hateful and propagandistic since if they meant “separateness” they could say “separateness”. Why use a term from Afrikaans which is also centrally concerned with white supremacism? Do they usually use terms from Afrikaans in their political discourse? Of course not. The term is used to leverage mass hatred of the Jewish state and to promote its isolation and destruction.
4) It is true that apartheid is sometimes used in a vulgar or opportunistic manner in other contexts. For example, a search for use of the term “educational apartheid” in the English speaking world over the last 12 months on my (Factiva) database yielded 1,094 results. It is also true that some Israeli politicians, such as Ehud Barak, have (very occasionally) been foolish enough to use the term apartheid in the Israeli case themselves. But this is a purely opportunistic usage against political opponents inside Israel, where there is no campaign of deligitimisatiion as such. It is the use of the term outside Israel that really does the damage.
5) Although in the South African case the minority ruled the majority, this was not the core objection of the international community to South African apartheid. If whites had been in a majority, the white supremacist system would have been equally objectionable and would have been just as much an apartheid system. The mere fact of a minority ruling a majority says nothing about whether a system like apartheid exists or not. There are myriad examples throughout history (and today) of racial, religious or ethno-linguistic minorities ruling majorities. This does not mean that they approximate to apartheid in any way shape or form.
6) The dispute between Israel and the Palestinians is a national conflict which need never have arisen in the first place had the Arab/Palestinian side accepted internationally brokered peace deals such as the United Nations partition plan of 1947. There is no equivalent in the South African case.
It would be quite possible to expand this list extensively. But internalisation of these key points should be sufficient to understand why there is never any justification for labelling Israel an apartheid state and never will be.
The great danger now is that a failure adequately to recognise the inappropriateness of the use of the term apartheid may hand huge victories to Israel’s opponents, particularly if it spreads into the Foreign Office and further afield in government. If that happens, we enter an entirely new phase. Watch this space.