Q: What does Apartheid have to do with Israel?
A: Absolutely nothing.
Yet, the BDS movement accuses Israel of being an apartheid state to justify the call to boycott. Apartheid is mentioned in 3 of the pro-BDS letters printed in the Gazette and twice in the submission to the agenda committee.
"Apartheid" is an Afrikaans word meaning "apartness." It is the name of the system of harsh and brutal discriminatory laws instituted in South Africa in the 20th century to maintain the dominance of the minority white population over the 90% majority non-white population. In the 1980’s there was a movement to boycott South Africa, as a way of supporting the anti-apartheid activists in South Africa. Apartheid was abolished in 1994.
By making the “apartheid” accusation, BDS tries to equate Israel with South Africa, making it worthy of our approbation and boycott. The accusation is a complete denial of historical fact. The analogy is false.
Dishonesty: The Israeli Arabs have full civil rights. They are free to vote and hold political office. They have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, including even criticizing the government and suing in court. They are not restricted in education or profession. Arabs serve as officers in the army, a supreme court justice and President of the State. None of this was available to the non-white South Africans. To use the term “apartheid” is to diminish and disrespect the suffering of non-white South Africans.
Bigotry: Palestinian refugees and their descendents have been denied absorption and citizenship in all but one of their host countries. Those same countries rejected the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine into a Jewish State and an Arab State and they declared war on the newborn Jewish State. They caused the Arabs to flee and become refugees. Could you imagine if the U.S. refused to absorb the refugees created by its involvement in Vietnam? BDS does not stand up for the right of those Arabs.
More Dishonesty and some anti-Semitism: BDS refers to Israel as a colonial presence and Zionism as a colonial movement, attempting to equate the Jews with white European South Africans. Colonists are foreigners settled in a territory for the purpose of establishing and maintaining the sovereignty of their mother country. Jews who immigrated to the Ottoman Districts of Jerusalem and Beirut were not representatives of their countries, nor were they attempting to supplant the local Ottoman rulers. They came to live their lives as Jews in the Land of Jewish origins, to join the uninterrupted Jewish community there, and to escape oppression in their previous country of residence. They were not colonists. Calling Jews colonists is an attempt to deny the connection between the Jewish people and the Holy Land, to deny the Jewish historical and cultural legacy, to deny the authenticity of the Jewish People. In other words, it is an attempt to erase an essential part of Jewish identity. That is anti-Semitism.
The apartheid claim is a false accusation. It is designed to demonize, delegitimize and isolate the Jewish State. It is part of the overall BDS strategy to demonize and delegitimize Israel.