Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
19 November 09
If Israel's detractors can associate the Jewish movement for self-determination with the Apartheid South African regime, they will have done lasting and maybe irreparable damage. Yet the comparison of Israel to South Africa under white supremist rule has been utterly rejected by those with intimate understanding of the old Apartheid system.
Israel is a multi-racial and multi-colored society, and the Arab minority actively participates in the political process. There are Arab parliamentarians, Arab judges including on the Supreme Court, Arab cabinet ministers, Arab heads of hospital departments, Arab university professors, Arab diplomats in the Foreign Service, and very senior Arab police and army officers. Incitement to racism in Israel is a criminal offence, as is discrimination on the basis of race or religion.
The accusation is made that the very fact that Israel is considered a Jewish state proves an "Apartheid-like" situation. Yet the accusers have not a word of criticism against the tens of liberal democratic states that have Christian crosses incorporated in their flags, nor against the Muslim states with the half crescent symbol of Islam. For a Western state, with Jewish and Muslim minorities, to have Christmas as a national holiday is permissible, but for Israel to celebrate Passover as a national holiday is somehow racist. For various Arab states to denote themselves as Arab Republics is not objectionable.
Zionism is perhaps the only national movement that has received explicit support and endorsement both from the League of Nations and from the United Nations. It was the League of Nations that approved the mandate for Palestine with its ringing endorsement of "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country."
The real goal behind the Apartheid campaign is the denial of the legitimacy of the State of Israel and the determination that the only status the Jewish population in Israel can hope for is that of a "protected" ethnic minority in an Arab Palestinian state.
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*Dr. Robbie Sabel served as Legal Adviser to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1985 to 1993, and is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.