I’ve always found the term ‘apartheid’ to be a heinous word; much like my reaction upon hearing the word slavery, I give a sharp wince with each syllable, my mind painting a picture of a life of destitution and pain. The severity of the stinging malaise it still renders, illustrates why one should not use such a word out of context. And using it out of context is exactly what SJP societies are doing this week across UK campuses.
I think for anyone to declare Israel as an apartheid state denies just how abhorrent the concept and practice of apartheid actually is. It’s much like declaring your sports team’s performance ‘Holocaustal’, or to say that you got ‘Raped’ on FIFA. Metaphors can only take one so far until they are disregarding and disrespecting history and the invaluable lessons we are supposed to learn from it.
Now, I will continue lambasting the use of the term ‘apartheid’ as soon as I disprove the myth that Israel is an apartheid state. Using the definition of apartheid as “a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race", we’ll contrast Israel and apartheid South Africa, and you, on your own can decide whether Israel is truly an apartheid state.
In Israel, Arabs are allowed to participate in the political process of Israel’s liberal democracy. The right-wing Israeli Government even goes as far as promoting equality of opportunity for Arabs and Jews. No legislation prohibits integration of social affairs, and in public places no physical separation exists. Arabs are allowed to serve in any institution, political or otherwise, as the exhaustive list below demonstrates:
Arabs like Major General Hussain Fares, Major General Yosef Mishlav, and Lieutenant Colonel Amos Yarkoni have served prominently in the IDF. Ali Yahya, Walid Mansour, and Reda Mansour served as Israeli Ambassadors. Salim Joubran sits on the Israeli Supreme Court, while Nawwaf Massalha and Raleb Majadele were members of the Israeli Cabinet.
As for Apartheid South Africa, the conditions that existed were as follows: legal prohibitions on sexual relations between different races; forced physical separations between races, in restaurants, neighborhoods, swimming pools, public transport, etc; restricting members of the black community to unskilled labor in urban areas; forbidding black people from voting, let alone running for office; and educational restrictions for black people, etc.
An objective mind should allow one to cogitate the inconsistencies with the two word pictures presented. An objective mind should now turn its attention to the atrocity of apartheid and lament all that use the term for hyperbolic effect. So before you pick up that placard and start chanting ‘Justice for Palestine’, look up the facts, decide for yourself. If you still want to protest the rights of Palestinians (I know that in a lot of cases, I do), let’s engage in a constructive dialogue.
Are Barcelona on FIFA ‘rapists’? Are the Tory party are the ‘Nazi’ party? Is Israel the legal image of apartheid South Africa? I vociferously state here and now, Israel is not an apartheid state, and it pains me, that it has even been suggested so. Israel Apartheid Week is little but a front of academic freedom to demonise and de-legitimise the state of Israel - and so effective is it as a strategy, that many a Jew now feel unsafe in their own country.
Movements such as Israel Apartheid Week and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions lay the foundations for the perpetration of anti-semitism worldwide, a phenomenon which despite cries of ‘never again’ is clearly on the rise; ironically it serves only to show the world why the existence of Israel is essential to the wellbeing of Jews worldwide.