Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ostroff - Playing ducks and drakes with the apartheid canard

Maurice Ostroff..
The Times of Israel..
29 May '12..

A May 24 article in The Times of Israel titled “Bibi, there’s a duck in our backyard,” by the co-founder of Forum Tzora, Jonathan Zausmer, calls to mind the phrase “playing ducks and drakes,” defined by the Oxford dictionary as treating a subject frivolously.

The author’s frivolous and inaccurate claim that, apart from Bibi, “everyone else” recognizes the duck in our backyard as apartheid is vigorously contested by a sizable group of concerned citizens who have extensive knowledge and experience of the subject and who have been in correspondence with the author, expressing a diametrically opposite view that is very widely shared.

This group’s considered opinion is that while there is much to criticize in Israel, as in most countries, there is absolutely no justification for the lazy attitude of adopting the language of Israel’s enemies in falsely accusing Israel of apartheid within or beyond the Green Line. The group contends that the declared aims of the Forum to uphold the liberal spirit of Israel’s Declaration of Independence and actively opposing ultra-nationalist and anti-democratic forces should be addressed without resorting to the totally unnecessary, irrelevant and unjustified “apartheid” bogeyman that is “born of ignorance” as described by persons more qualified than most of us to comment on the subject.

I refer to former South African Benjamin Pogrund and Palestinian Bassam Eid, who wrote an article, “Apartheid link is born of ignorance,” that was published in the Mail and Guardian on April 13, 2012.

As deputy editor of The Rand Daily Mail, the newspaper known for its courageous opposition to the apartheid government, Pogrund was intimately familiar with all the ramifications of apartheid and the politicians involved. He was chief author of a series of articles on the torture of black prison inmates in South Africa, and in Israel he was founder director of Yakar’s Center for Social Concern.

Bassem Eid is director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group and a former field researcher for B’Tselem.

Considering their credentials, the views of these two authorities certainly deserve serious consideration, and I strongly recommend their refreshingly informative article to every person who wishes to gain an authoritative insight into the Arab-Israel conflict from persons who know what they are talking about.

The word “apartheid” is widely used as a propaganda epithet in the full knowledge that the description is unjustified. Even the most vocal critic of Israel, Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), admits that the apartheid description is inaccurate, but he nevertheless regards it and uses it as an effective weapon. He also disclosed, in an article in The Electronic Intifada in 2004, that the true aim of BDS, in his words, is “euthanasia” for Israel. How can bolstering these admittedly false arguments be justified?

While the “Zionism is racism” resolution was the only resolution ever to be repealed by the UN, our enemies have cleverly resuscitated it by promoting the Israel apartheid canard; strangely they are aided by many well-meaning Jews who claim to be saving Israel from itself.

It is strange to read one of the founders of Forum Tzora alleging that apartheid exists in our backyard despite the fact that another founder of the Forum, the eminent Professor Gideon Shimoni has declared that the Israel apartheid label “must be exposed as a malicious slander, and utterly refuted.”

This is what Professor Shimoni wrote in an article titled “ The apartheid analogy: Lessons for Israel” (Jerusalem Post Feb. 20, 2011):

Apartheid, today’s prime stigmatic code-word for racist evil, has become a potent weapon for delegitimizing and demonizing Israel, especially since it evokes the precedent of powerful external pressure in the form of boycott and sanctions as was applied against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Hence, in the propaganda war against Israel an equation is fabricated insidiously between the present State of Israel and the former apartheid state of South Africa.

This must be exposed as a malicious slander, and utterly refuted. It is also a crass abuse of the valuable lessons that might be learned from the odious apartheid experience of South Africa. There is no objective basis whatsoever for attributing to Israel the ideology, policies and praxis that were known as apartheid in South Africa.
Referring to the West Bank he added:

Yet, no matter how morally deplorable, this is not apartheid: it simply is not the same phenomenon. If one is to draw lessons, Israel’s occupation regime is equally comparable to the situation in any number of other cases of post-war occupation or ethnic domination in deeply divided and conflict-ridden countries, not least of all in the Arab world.

The fact is that real apartheid, enforced by legislation, as in the old South Africa, is currently practiced in many countries, including Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but not in Israel, and the time is overdue to follow Professor Shimoni’s exhortation that the Israel apartheid label “be exposed as a malicious slander, and utterly refuted.”

Link: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/playing-ducks-and-drakes-with-the-apartheid-canard/

Maurice Ostroff is a founder member of the international Coalition of Hasbara Volunteers, better known by its acronym CoHaV, (star in Hebrew), a world-wide umbrella organization of volunteers active in combating anti-Israel media and political bias and in promoting the positive side of Israel.

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