UK Guardian: Israel & Apartheid South Africa Peas in a Pod

The UK Guardian published a two part story last week, the first making a case that Israel is an apartheid state, the second exposing the sordid relationship between Israel and the South African apartheid regime.

Many Israelis recoil at suggestions that their country, risen from the ashes of genocide and built on Jewish ideals, could be compared to a racist regime. Yet for years the bulk of South Africa’s Jews not only failed to challenge the apartheid system but benefited and thrived under its protection, even if some of their number figured prominently in the liberation movements. In time, Israeli governments too set aside objections to a regime whose leaders had once been admirers of Adolf Hitler. Within three decades of its birth, Israel’s self-proclaimed “purity of arms” – what it describes as the moral superiority of its soldiers – was secretly sacrificed as the fate of the Jewish state became so intertwined with South Africa that the Israeli security establishment came to believe the relationship saved the Jewish state.

CAMERA has responded with kind of a weak rebuttal, though they do wisely point to Benjamin Pogrund’s general remarks. You can view the full-text of Pogrund’s rebuttal of the apartheid allegation, as it originally appeared on Jewschool, here.

20 thoughts on “UK Guardian: Israel & Apartheid South Africa Peas in a Pod

  1. The article allowed Israelis boundless opportunities for rebuttal and it didn’t talk to the religious right wing, who aren’t at all ashamed of their similarity to south africa, or their associations with them.

  2. BTW, your tags would suggest the article is anti or post zionist. Are you saying that Israel has to be this way in order to be zionist? I would disagree, since two states based on the partition plan boarders would eliminate the need for all the demographics laws. You would have a comfortable majority without having an officially jewish state.

  3. The article allowed Israelis boundless opportunities for rebuttal and it didn’t talk to the religious right wing, who aren’t at all ashamed of their similarity to south africa, or their associations with them.

    A) What’s more likely? The Israelis failed to rebut, or the author failed to adequately present their rebuttals?
    B) The religious right wing represents the absolute minority in Israel. Its activities and perspectives do not represent most Israelis nor the actions of the Israeli government. Nor was it the religious right which cultivated a political relationship with South Africa. You’re asking for the reporter to talk to the crazy drunk guy who witnessed the accident from a distance.
    Let alone the fact that the religious right does not advocate a South African-style apartheid regime. The religious right envisions a Torah state. It’s actually none too dissimilar from Islamic dhimmitude, which, considering the current situation, it’s actually a much better deal for Palestinians. They get a right of return in exchange for their democratic rights. Better to be a protected, second class citizen in your homeland than a target, disposessed.

    BTW, your tags would suggest the article is anti or post zionist. Are you saying that Israel has to be this way in order to be zionist? I would disagree, since two states based on the partition plan boarders would eliminate the need for all the demographics laws. You would have a comfortable majority without having an officially jewish state.

    Don’t be naive. Google the author, Chris McGreal. You’ll quickly discover that every article he’s authored is an attack on Israel from a different angle. My experience tells me that, generally, the only people audacious enough to allay Israel as an apartheid state are anti-Zionists. McGreal seems to fit the profile rather nicely. Obviously I am not saying that to oppose “apartheid” is to be anti-Zionist. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Zionist who would brand the Israeli regime “apartheid.”
    Finally, if you think it’s even remotely possible to go back to the 48 border’s you’re daffy. “Facts on the ground” ain’t a rhetorical chant. The end game is already in play. The final borders are drawn and sitting on a desk within a kilometer of where I’m sitting.
    While everyone’s daydreaming their mediocre visions for ending the conflict, reality marches on. So I beg you, don’t talk me about ’48, talk to me about East Jerusalem and how you’re going to divvy it in a way that will pacify Arab and Jewish rage. Talk to me about orchestrating joint-policing of Har Habayit. Talk to me about “interstate” travel: How will families visit one another? Talk to me about “reorienting” a generation of religious teenagers who will continue to battle the cops over every piece of s* hilltop trailer unless we find a way to redirect their youthful energy into some other great cause for them to feel a part of. Talk to me about practical solutions for dealing with the present reality or don’t waste my time.
    ’48? Hah. Occupied territory is the minimarket across the street.

  4. The CAMERA rebuttal is based on an alert they sent out, which also noted that a more detailed rebuttal would be forthcoming…
    And I expect there is much to rebut

  5. I admire the “general remarks” link. It criticizes the “apartheid” notion without falling into the “Israel is Always Right” camp.

  6. I generally don’t like CAMERA, as just complaining about anti-Israel articles does little if you can’t rebut the audacious claims made. We as Zionists who care about Israel have to be able to intelligently defend our state without giving some ZOA-tailored response. Kudos to folks like Benjamin Pogrund for reppin’ hard and giving a quite effective rebuttal. I mean, a South African-born Jew who fought against apartheid and made aliyah? It doesn’t get much better.

  7. FYI from the weblog of Meretz USA –
    Tuesday, February 07, 2006
    THE SITUATION: Is It Apartheid?
    by Ralph Seliger
    I was disturbed to find that the Feb. 7 issue of the left-wing British daily, The Guardian, includes the first of a two-part investigative report called “Brothers in arms – Israel’s secret pact with Pretoria.” It’s introduced online as follows: “During the second world war the future South African prime minister John Vorster was interned as a Nazi sympathiser. Three decades later he was being feted in Jerusalem. In the second part of his remarkable special report, Chris McGreal investigates the clandestine alliance between Israel and the apartheid regime, cemented with the ultimate gift of friendship – A-bomb technology.”
    It’s a challenging article, just as this is a challenging issue. Clearly, there are parallels to be drawn in terms of separation, discrimination, military repression, security threats, “native” uprisings and resistance movements, plus an actual relationship (or alliance) between Israel and the apartheid regime, apparently beginning in 1976 — after sub-Saharan African countries were bribed or otherwise influenced to turn against Israel following the Yom Kippur War — reversing two decades of Israel’s close friendship with and assistance of the emerging African states.
    The reporter makes inadequate effort at contextualizing, with some diversity of opinion, but always coming back to a drumbeat of quotes and arguments that would tar Israel with the apartheid brush. And there are plenty of quotes (unfortunately) and evidences that would substantiate this view.
    But if one sought them out, it would not be at all difficult to find Arab-Palestinian genocidal threats and gross anti-Semitic/racist views — both historical and contemporary– to substantiate reasonable fears on the Jewish-Israeli side. One critical difference between the African National Congress and the PLO, is that the former never practiced terrorist actions of major consequence against white civilians (ANC military actions tended to be sabotage against property); the difference is summed up by what Israeli doves used to say with regret about Arafat as a partner for peace: that he’s no Mandela.
    Also, you cannot regard as typical (as the article implies) the current level of …
    MORE here

  8. This article’s reasoning makes no case for Israel being “apartheid state”, any more than it would have made Britain a “Stalinist realm” under Churchill.
    During its earlier, formative decades, Israel’s relations with South Africa were quite cold and distant, as Ben-Gurion purseud an “Africanist” policy, seeking cooperation with newly independent African countries, an aspect gone unnoticed by the Guardian’s article.
    This Israeli Africanist approach came to a sudden close in 1973, when most African countries severed diplomatic ties with Israel (see: oil crisis, OPEC). As Israel was becoming more and more isolated diplomatically due to combined efforts by Arab and Communist countries, and their Third-World associates (see: “Zionism=racism” @ UN), it was hardly surprising that Israel came closer to South-Africa, no “secret pact” about it (or else how could Vorster have been so publically “feted by Israel’s prime minister”?)
    At about the same time, the A.N.C. was associating itself with the Soviet Union and other unsavoury regimes, and why should I blame it for? One takes the allies one can, sometimes wisely, sometimes less so.

  9. Matt:
    What does CAMERA have to do with ZOA? CAMERA deals with facts and, yes, rebutting them. (Look at their website… almost every piece is a rebuttal rather than “just complaining).
    ZOA has to do with promoting political positions.
    Your comparison isn’t really valid at all….

  10. That’s pretty valuable info, Rapahel. Thanks.
    Seriously, who the fuck are the British to take a higher moral stance on South Africa? The British were responsible for the Bohr War, and celebrated after winning the war through their scorched earth policies. The British allowed the Afrikaners to maintain autonomy with the Treaty of Vereeniging, whike making South Africa and the Transvaal colonies of the British Empire, possibley the most ractist and the worst human rights violator of the 20th-century imperial powers. One of the main provisions of the treaty ending the war was that blacks would not be allowed to vote, except in the Cape Colony. The National Party, which was a Nazi sym party, did take over, but the British made their rise to power possible in the first place.
    And now the hypocrites are focusing blame on the Jews and Israel. Shame on them.

  11. I think using the apartheid label is harmful. But that doesn’t change the fact that if you are a Palestinian under occupation, it may well feel like you are a second class citizen.
    Perhaps if we eliminate all Settler presence in the occupied territories and move the Wall to the Green Line, we can persuade them that it’s just occupation and not apartheid.

  12. Pursuade whom? Israel evacuated citizens from Gaza and the place is still ruled by Hamas. Palestinians destroyed some of the greenhouses left for them by Israel. The occupation should end, but don’t tell me that removing settlers will automatically make the Palestinians more understanding of Israel. Rabble rousers and demagogues are the biggest problem.

  13. Dan I believe Israel resembles apartheid for more than it should particularly in the settlements. So long as the settlements exist I won’t call it “just an occupation.” However, I am not opposed to a Jewish state, and most people I know including those willing to the use the apartheid label aren’t. We just have different experiences on this matter. I don’t think a Jewish state has to be that way. I also don’t think creating two states requires that the settlements be forcibly evacuated. They can just be given an option of Palestinian citizenship or resident alien status. However you may be right about the solution that Kadima is coming up with which is why I don’t understand why Israelis who claim they want two real states want to vote for them. If they force cantonization the two state solution is dead.
    Maybe at some point J and Matt will figure out your a real antizionst. That is you oppose the “Jewish State”! I don’t know when.

  14. Some striking stuff in the Mcgreal piece:
    As far back as 1961, Hendrik Verwoerd, the South African prime minister and architect of the “grand apartheid” vision of the bantustans, saw a parallel. “The Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state,” he said.
    “Apartheid was an extension of the colonial project to dispossess people of their land,” said the Jewish South African cabinet minister and former ANC guerrilla, Ronnie Kasrils, on a visit to Jerusalem. “That is exactly what has happened in Israel and the occupied territories; the use of force and the law to take the land. That is what apartheid and Israel have in common.”
    “If we take the magnitude of the injustice done to the Palestinians by the state of Israel, there is a basis for comparison with apartheid,” said the former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Alon Liel. “If we take the magnitude of suffering, we are in the same league. Of course apartheid was a very different philosophy from what we do, most of which stems from security considerations. But from the point of view of outcome, we are in the same league.”

  15. Dameocrat, you don’t even know my politics. Your assessment of me and J is based entirely on speculation. But then again, speculating is what you do best.
    Have you even been to Israel before? Or do you take everything that you read on your radical websites as pure fact? Like antiwar, where Justin Raimondo’s “proofs” for all of his disgusting, hateful conspiracy theories come from other articles that he’s written. Or do you prefer indymedia, on which some jerk called on people to boycott Matisyahu for not speaking out against Israeli policy and not smoking pot, in addition to all the other shenanigans pulled by all the other “progressives.”
    Being progressive does not mean conforming to someone else’s misinformed views. Take that into consideration the next time you type something or open your mouth.

  16. 1. Chris McGreal is a bit of a waste of time. He was airlifted to Israel to cover it for the Guardian four years ago. He doesn’t speak Arabic. He doesn’t speak Hebrew. He is, in short, relatively clueless, and perfectly consistently with the British colonial model — drop him in, set him up, and have him start explaining to the natives how things really are. Local knowledge optional.
    2. Not coincidentally, Chris McGreal was last posted to South Africa. Presumably he is now a newly-minted expert on the way things really are in both places. Who knows? Maybe these are excerpts from some hot new best-seller he’s hoping will really make his career in that zany reputation economy peopled by the “nod”-ocrats.
    Of course, the idiocy of McGreal’s piece is the unspoken nod to the very reason that association of Israel with apartheid is — well, apart from the sensationalism of the term (next week: a special on the Muslim policy of Jew-slaughtering! sounds bad, doesn’t it?) — “explosive”. It tries to silently undercut the idea of Jews as a people, connected to a historic place.
    In other words, diaspora? no such thing. Jews in Israel are like Dutch & English in Africa: coming to an alien place to which they do not belong, in this case because “they” are otherwise-unconnected persons of diverse ethnic bavkgrounds who happen to subscribe to a common set of religious beliefs.
    That is the point of the apartheid slur, and always will be.

  17. Yet the new South African state didn’t force the white colonists to leave. Most still live there. People are offended by the lack of progress toward a real homeland of the Palestinians, and the fact that the Palestinians are governed by a country that won’t let them vote. They suffer horrible discrimination as a result of this. That is the the problem. It can be solved in only two ways. A Palestinians state, or binationalism.

  18. It can be solved in only two ways. A Palestinians state, or binationalism. Or trinationalism, and so forth. Why should any Israeli and Palestinian right for self-determination be overridden in favour of a we-know-what’s-best-for-you paternalistic binationalism, but Jordan and Lebanon and Syria allowed to exist as independent states? All of the arguments for a binational state work even better for a larger entiity. Why should majority-Palestinian Jordan be cantonized into a benevolent-or-not Hashemite dictatorship? Wouldn’t the significant Christian and Druze populations in Israel and Palestine be better reunited with their brethren? Isn’t Bilad al-Shams /Greater Syria a much more natural unit, and far more consistent with the history of the region, as long as we’re ordaining political units from high above? and so forth.
    But … I digress. Point is, there is no serious debate about Palestinians’ right to self-determination in their own country. But, and I’m really not joking, it’s their responsibility to see it through. And as long as every media appearance, every intervention at the U.N., every hail to the Arab League as diplomatic proxy, and even military intervention is devoted to crude vilification of Israel rather than the workmanlike advance of a plan for an actually-existing country, I have a hard time believing that it will occur.
    Who knows? Maybe Hamas will help them organise and get things moving forward. They can’t do much worse than Fateh did. Stranger things have happened. But if people are offended by the lack of progress toward a real homeland of the Palestinians, I must point out that other people are less offended than simply think it is a real shame. That’s certainly how I feel.

  19. there is a lot of similarities between hendrik verwoerd en adolf hithler.
    both of them were merciless murderers, foreign rulers,in fact Hendrik Verwoerd was a admirer of Adolf Hithler.
    Both believed they were right.

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