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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Israel and Apartheid

At FrontPageMagazine.com, Jaclyn Schiff, a pro-Israel South African, puts the lie to the claim made by 'divestment activists' that Israel is an 'apartheid state.'
In my experience, divestment activists often casually label anything from a fence to a policy, “apartheid.” As someone who grew up in South Africa, I often wonder how many of those who champion the term apartheid could accurately define its meaning or even correctly identify its linguistic origin. To date, I have not even heard the term pronounced correctly (often pronounced apart-hide, the pronunciation that most closely resembles Afrikaans is apart-ate). Too many words have been reduced to catch phrases and sound bites that cheapen their actual meaning and few words have been more abused than apartheid.

South Africa's ambassador to Israel, Major General Fumanekile (Fumie) Gqiba, seems to concur. Ambassador Gqiba, a former commander in the armed wing of the ANC liberation movement recently told a South African paper, “the term 'apartheid' is uniquely South African and devalues the struggle of the black population against one of the worst forms of oppression known to man.”

I'd like just one divestment activist to make the comparison between Israel and Apartheid South Africa to a black South African, such as my friend, Maggie Masipha – a women in her 50s who grew up when apartheid policies were most stringent. Tell her about Israel's "racist" policies that allowed for the appointment of Salim Joubran, an Israeli-Arab judge to its Supreme Court in 2003. Ask her if while she was sitting on the “blacks only” bench she was allowed to go out and vote, let alone play an influential role in her country's judicial process. While Palestinians and Arabs lecture and attend every Israeli University, it was illegal for Mrs. Masipha to attend any South African universities under the National Party's rule. Tell her about how Israel's draconian policies give Palestinian professors like Sari Nusseibeh (who recently opposed the boycott of Israeli universities by the UK's Association of University Teachers) rights to academic freedom. Ask her if these conditions are reminiscent of the oppression she faced.
Read the whole thing.


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