Poster for 'Israel Apartheid Week' in 2009Israel and the charge of Apartheid

- Guest commentary by Malcolm Hedding

Day by day the anti-Israel alliance, and sadly in collaboration with major church movements mainly from the Protestant world, is seeking to make the Apartheid label stick to Israel. We see this at present in the fortnight of global agitation known as “Israel Apartheid Week.” There is more to this scheming than meets the eye in that the real agenda behind branding Israel an “Apartheid state” is to remove the Jewish State altogether.

The real Apartheid State of South Africa was rightfully dismantled in the late 1980s and early 90s. It was first discredited, then delegitimized and finally dismantled to the elation of the world and the enslaved black majority who had lived under and endured its brutality. However, to describe Israel in these terms is, quite frankly, immoral and wicked. Yet on university campuses across the Western World, this is becoming a very popular cause.

Radical leftist academics and politicians are teaming up with extremist Muslim elements to pursue this goal. They want to equate Israel with the original Apartheid State and thus demand that the world do as it did to South Africa – dismantle it! Most of these people know absolutely nothing about Apartheid, but the word is extremely powerful since it conjures up notions of hatred, discrimination, brutality, racism and prejudice.

It is quite astonishing to witness how a lie told often enough can eventually be accepted as truth! Most of these people have no knowledge of the “inner workings” of the Apartheid regime and couldn’t even tell you the basic facts about it. It is just a very powerful weapon to use when discharging their hatred of Israel.

Essentially, Apartheid was a totalitarian system of governance – not unlike many of the regimes in the Arab world today – whereby a minority white population subjugated and enslaved the overwhelmingly black population. It was ideologically driven and was obsessed with racial superiority. The superior whites could not mingle with or even sit on a bench with the inferior black peoples. Even the education system was “dumbed down” for black people because they were deemed mentally inferior and unable to cope with the higher levels of learning that whites could embrace.

The towns and cities were “white by night” as all “blacks” – as they were called – had to be removed to their shanty towns, which served as cheap labour ghettos for the nation. The black people could not vote, own property or even move freely inside their own country.

Various instruments of state were used to ruthlessly apply the system of total and complete segregation and these included the police, the military and the judiciary system. In short, it was Aryanism in a new form!

Hypocrisy WeekThere is absolutely nothing equivalent to this in the dispute that rages between the Palestinians and Israel today. Within Israel itself, Arabs and Jews share the same shopping malls, benches, hospitals, theatres and, in many cases, suburbs. The educational institutions do not have a deliberately “dumbed down” Arab curriculum and the privilege of voting is given to all. The Israeli Knesset has Arab members of parliament, and Jews, Arabs and Palestinians often work together at construction sites, businesses, hotels and elsewhere. Most important of all is the fact that Israel is a democratic state. Though not a perfect one, it does have democratic institutions and it is definitely not governed by a totalitarian minority!

Out in the disputed territories, some 98% of the Palestinian Arab population now lives under the governance of their own Palestinian Authority, where they have the right to vote and change their leaders – at least theoretically. True, Israel has adopted security measures that curtail their movement, but these have been necessitated by the conflict thrust upon her and are legitimate acts of self-defense, rather than acts of racial discrimination.

It is also important to remember that there never had been a Palestinian State in the region, as even Jews were called and registered as “Palestinians” in 1948! British authorities held a Mandate over the country and accepted the right of Jews to have a state of their own in what was their ancient homeland. Even the United Nations accepted and voted for this right. When Israel implemented this decision by declaring its existence, she was immediately attacked by no less than five Arab armies!

This brings into focus the real nature of this conflict. That is, it has very little to do with politics or peace agreements but everything to do with theology! By this I mean a radical jihadist theology that considers the whole Land of Israel and not just the West Bank as part of the “House of Islam.”

This theology dictates that all this land must be returned to Islamic rule, whether by peaceful, political or violent means of jihad. So from 1948 to 1967, when the Palestinians had everything they say they want now, they neither protested against the illegal Jordanian occupation of the West Bank nor even remotely demanded a state of their own. They did, however, found the PLO in 1964 with the distinct mission of destroying the State of Israel. They subsequently launched a terror campaign to force this end and throughout the Oslo era refused to remove the infamous clauses from their Charter calling for the “elimination” of Israel!

The same jihadist theology drives Hamas and its affiliated militia al-Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades, as well as Hizbullah, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, and all the rest of the “resistance” front.

This has absolutely nothing to do with Apartheid! The state of Israel enjoys a Jewish majority. It is democracy which must answer to its citizens and thus has demonstrated a willingness to make painful concessions in order to secure a future of peace with its neighbors. In all cases,
it alone paid the real price by giving up land. It even withdrew from Gaza to demonstrate its sinceri ty in seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict with the Palestinians. The trauma that this withdrawal brought to the people of Gaza and to Israel was played out for the entire world to see through the international media. Yet it was not good enough! So, the result was the, “same old, same old”. That is, within a short span of time thousands of missiles, fired from the vacated territory, rained down on Israeli civilians in the western Negev. The world said and did very little, except to call Israel an “apartheid state”!

Over the years, and even in response to Israel’s most generous peace overtures during the Oslo era, the Palestinians have opted for violence. This they called an “intifada.” Wave upon wave of suicide bombers attacked Israel from the porous boundaries surrounding the West Bank. Men, women and children were indiscriminately murdered in buses, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls. To protect herself from these murderous infiltrations, Israel built a security barrier, which in some of the more vulnerable built-up areas consisted of a wa ll. It was not built to segregate people or discriminate against them, but to protect its own citizens from attack. In this connection, the security fence has been highly successful though even Israelis admit it is regrettable. But what would any other self-respecting, democratic state do? Nevertheless, Israel’s detractors love to deride the “Apartheid Wall” to further their accusation.

To presume, after all that Israel has been through in her sixty-two years of modern statehood, that the Jewish State has no legitimate security concerns is madness. The Palestinians have time and again demonstrated that their strategy has not changed since 1964. In Johannesburg in 1994, a year after shaking the hand of Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn, PLO chief Yasser Arafat declared as much. Close monitors of the Palestinian media have also repeatedly drawn attention to this fact. The liberal left and their fellow travelers conveniently ignore this fact. No sir, Apartheid is not the issue; the destruction of Israel is.

Just recently, the Syrian-based leader of Hamas stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ahmadinejad and together they boasted that very soon Israel, in its entirety, would vanish from the map of the world. Theirs is a holy war but for the liberal left it is Apartheid, and the truth is their radical positions have made them allies!

These same radical leftists espouse democracy but in practice they deny it. They will not allow Israeli academics, leaders or politicians to exercise their democratic right to free speech. Their intolerance knows no boundaries as they threaten and disrupt meetings in educational institutions in Western countries that supposedly are there to educate within the context of democratic values. This is exactly what the Apartheid thugs of the South African regime did. They violently brought public meetings to an end if anyone opposed their view of the world. They were scared to death that someone might just have a more truthful and compelling argument than theirs. The democratic rights they claim for themselves, they deny to others.

For sure, the Palestinians have suffered and still do but to place the blame entirely at Israel’s door is folly. Their failed and corrupt leadership, missed opportunities, and willingness to support violence and terror are also
central causes of their suffering. Israel is no Apartheid state. She is a democratic state living under the constant threat of annihilation and thus seeking to balance her need to find a lasting peace with her neighbors with that of her security. Her regional experience has taught Israel that her security and very existence is the number one issue. After all, in all the so-called peace plans presented for the region, she is expected to do all the giving with only verbal guarantees of security given by her interlocutors. These have never amounted to much!

The truth is the Apartheid accusation is just another smokescreen in the war against Israel! I should know because I grew up in the dark Apartheid era of South Africa and stood against it to my peril.


As a young minister in South Africa, Rev. Malcolm Hedding participated in the struggle against Apartheid in the 1980s and was threatened with detention without trial by the infamous Bureau of State Security.  He is the former Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; (
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