Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Worlds apart: "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. It is a view that horrifies and infuriates many Israelis.
A prominent Israeli political scientist, Gerald Steinberg, responded to an invitation to appear on a panel at a Jerusalem cultural centre to debate 'Is Israel the new apartheid?' by denouncing the organiser, a South African-born Jew, for even posing the question.
'As you are undoubtedly aware, the pro-Palestinian and anti-semitic campaign to demonise Israel focuses on the entirely false and abusive analogy with South Africa. Using the term 'apartheid' to apply to Israel's legitimate responses to terror and the threat of annihilation both demeans the South African experience, and is the most immoral of charges against the right of the Jewish people to self-determination,' he replied.
Many Israelis recoil at the suggestion of a parallel because it stabs at the heart of how they see themselves and their country, founded after centuries of hatred, pogroms and ultimately genocide. If anything, many of Israel's Jews view themselves as having more in common with South Africa's black population than with its oppressors. Some staunch defenders of Israel's policies past and present say that even to discuss Israel in the context of apartheid is one step short of comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany, not least because of the Afrikaner leadership's fascist sympathies in the 1940s and the disturbing echoes of Hitler's Nuremberg laws in South Africa's racist legislation.
Yet the taboo is increasingly challenged. As Israel's justice minister, Tommy Lapid, said, Israel's defiance of international law in constructing the West Bank barrier could result in it being treated as a pariah like South Africa. Malaysia's prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has called for a campaign against Israel of the kind used to pressure South Africa."
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Excellent two part article from the guardian about whether Israel's treatment of the Palestinians can be compared to Apartheid.