The apartheid myth

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Op-ed: Despite the slanderous propaganda against Israel, the Palestinians not only have a parliament, but also higher education institutions, a police force, security forces, a justice system and prisons. Is this apartheid? Thanks to Israeli rule, they’re number 1 among university graduates in the Arab world. Is this oppression?

A Kabbalat Shabbat was supposed to take place at the Chicago LGBTQ conference last Friday, but it was canceled by the organizers, and after being hit with criticism from the Anti-Defamation League, the cancelation was canceled. Except that when the Kabbalat Shabbat began, hundreds of hooligans from the forces of progress barged in. It happened, among other reasons, due to the participation of a representative from the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, Sarah Kala-Meir. The cries of “apartheid” were joined with, as always, the leading slogan: “From Jordan to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

The useful idiots, gays and lesbians donning keffiyehs, have never seemed more pathetic. After all, each and every one of them would have been thrown off a tall building, like a bag of potatoes, in nearly every single one of Israel’s neighboring countries. But their problem is with Israel.

The question is, what the hell is the source of this madness, which comes from the fringes and spreads

like a cancer to the middle. To understand that, we need to look at the hooligans’ reasoning. The familiar tune. We have to think back at Haaretz’s front page headline in October of 2012, which declared that “Most Israelis support the apartheid regime in the country.” This wasn’t just any article. It was the main headline on the front page. It made waves in the world in a matter of hours.
There was no need to wait so long, however, to know this was a lie. The story’s headline was based on a poll conducted by a left-wing NGO. The poll itself actually showed the situation was quite the opposite, but damn the facts. Who needs those when propaganda is involved? Two or three days have passed, and the paper itself printed a small, tiny clarification, on page 5, which was unable and likely didn’t really intend to fix the damage. After all, the damage was the main thing, and it was already caused. Gideon Levy, who wrote the story as well as an analysis on the topic, did admit he was wrong. But using a typical kind of manipulation, he explained he actually wasn’t wrong.

Over three years have gone by since. The paper has continued pushing the apartheid lie, and in recent months, the propaganda is only increasing. More and more articles provide fuel to the incitement fire. It’s not that there are no injustices, and it’s not that these injustices shouldn’t be brought to light. But none of this has anything to do with an apartheid regime. It’s not that anyone is confused; someone is intentionally working to confuse and leave the wrong impression.

This campaign has a clear declared goal: To turn Israel into South Africa, in order to encourage “pressure from outside.”

The link between this campaign and the BDS movement can no longer be hidden. The stage this paper gives to the supporters of sanctions, and its support of Roger Waters, one of the prominent faces of the BDS movement, are milestones in the fight. And considering the fact that this newspaper, the very same stage, publishes a lot of articles against the idea of a “Jewish state” – well, even if they deny it a thousand and one times, it’s clear where the wind blows. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck.

Controlling the Palestinians is, one must admit, a great problem. A peace agreement or separation is in Israel’s interests. We can and we should criticize the current government for not doing enough to create separation. We can and we should criticize the injustices committed, and such injustices exist. But this situation has nothing to do with apartheid.

Since 1967 and to this very day, the Palestinians have been rejecting the two-state solution at every turn. When Arafat went to Washington to give the Palestinian response to the Clinton Parameters, he met with Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi’s ambassador to the US, who urged Arafat to say yes. “If you say no, it would not be a tragedy – it would be a crime.” Arafat went to the White House and committed a crime. This was also Abbas’ response to Olmert’s initiative in 2008. And Abbas had the same response to Barack Obama and John Kerry who presented him with a draft on March 17, 2014.

This is what’s behind the continued Israeli control of the West Bank. Israel has already left the Gaza Strip. Many at the time hoped the Palestinian leadership would take advantage of this historic opportunity to do something for the Palestinian people: More factories, more education, more welfare, and more prosperity. But they chose the opposite path: The industry of death and terrorism.

Israeli Arabs are citizens. They vote for the Knesset, they hold some of the top positions at hospitals, they serve as judges, and more. The equality is not yet complete; we still need to fight for it. There’s discrimination here and there, and we need to fight that too. Discrimination is not apartheid. Second and third generation Muslims in Europe are far from the level of achievements and equality of Israeli Arabs.

The Arabs in the territories are an entirely different story. Most of them live under Palestinian rule, which was formed as part of the Oslo Accords. They all vote for the Palestinian Authority. They have their own parliament and their own government. The Israeli control continues mostly because the Palestinian leadership has repeatedly rejected any proposal for an accord based on the idea of two states for two peoples. And there’s concern that as soon as Israel leaves the West Bank, the exact same thing that happened in the Gaza Strip will happen there.

It doesn’t mean the Israeli government is innocent of injustices. These injustices should be criticized, just like the settlement enterprise should be criticized. But the claim that this is an apartheid regime is plain miserable demagogy. The Palestinians not only have a parliament, but also independent higher education institutions, a police force, security forces, a justice system and prisons. Is this apartheid? Thanks to Israeli control, the Palestinians went from zero higher education institutions to being first among university graduates in the Arab world. Is this apartheid? Is this oppression?

But Haaretz insists, over and over again, on nurturing the myth of apartheid. One of the publicists of that paper once wrote that “Israel does not need gas chambers to exterminate the Palestinians. It is doing so by raising the rate of infant mortality.” The truth is the complete opposite of that. The infant mortality rates have dropped dramatically. But his hand did not shake as he was writing this blood libel for an important publication in Europe. This used to be a position held by a negligible minority. Today it is the predominant stance of the newspaper, which nurtures this blood libel.

The anti-Semitism survey released last week revealed the fact that 40 percent of Europeans have anti-Semitic views. Those who say that it’s “because of Israel” are right. Of course. When Israel is presented as an apartheid state, a benighted state, and a state that commits non-stop crimes – anti-Semitism grows. So you need to be more accurate – it’s not because of what Israel does, it’s because of the lies against Israel. And no, it’s not because of a specific policy or the current government, which should be criticized. After all, the anti-Israel campaign was in full swing even when Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni led the country.

The apartheid campaign achieves results. It doesn’t promote peace or reconciliation, it creates the opposite results. It raises the rate of anti-Semitism, encourages the hooligans that support the BDS movement, bolsters Palestinian intransigence, and makes the chances of peace smaller and smaller still.

A democratic state does not silence those who spread libels. All that can be done is to expose them in order to fight their destructive results.

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