In this episode of “Our Middle East,” a panel discussion on the apartheid libel against Israel, moderated by Pastor Dumisani Washington, founder of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, a Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs partner is highlighted. The panel also includes South African journalist Rolene Marks, Africans for Peace coordinator Klaas Mokgomole and Arab-Israeli journalist Khaled abu Toameh.
The ‘apartheid’ label
For decades, Israel has been targeted by racialized, politicized criticisms from its detractors. The apartheid charge has been particularly prevalent with people from academia, the arts, the United Nations and politics all smearing Israel as an “apartheid regime.”
Mokgomole and Marks emphasized the BDS movement’s appropriation, twisted redefinition and conflation of the South African Apartheid experience, appealing to uninformed social justice activists. These activists include impressionable students at campus “Israeli Apartheid Week” events. Mokgomole, a former BDS activist himself, came to recognize the false equivalence, pointing out that South African Apartheid was a systemic legal segregation, in which civil liberties were brutally denied, including that to peaceful protest, in contrast to the situation in Israel.
Distracting from the real problem
Khaled Abu Toameh commented that the “apartheid” claim against Israel hurts Arab Israelis by distracting from their real problems, such as discrimination in employment, infrastructure demands and public funding distribution. Arab Israelis’ main concern is integration, and their pragmatic approach stands in opposition to that of campus activists.
The real solution
Marks and Mokgomole pointed out, regarding conflict resolution, that South Africa’s success in achieving reconciliation between its various ethnic groups came from a “people-up” model as opposed to a “government-down” one, where dialogue bridged gaps. Marks said that many are unaware of projects in Israel that bring together Jews and Arabs. Abu Toameh said education that encourages peaceful methods and dialogue is the key to successful coexistence.
“Our Middle East: An Insider’s View” airs live every Monday on JNS TV Youtube Channel, Facebook and Twitter at 1:30 PM EST/8:30 PM IST. You can also listen to the audio version here. A Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs podcast produced by JNS.
Dan Diker is the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a foreign policy expert and the former Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress.