Posted by: Lister | July 11, 2008

Worse Than Apartheid

Gideon Levy in Haaretz:

This week, 21 human rights activists from South Africa visited Israel. Among them were members of Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress; at least one of them took part in the armed struggle and at least two were jailed. There were two South African Supreme Court judges, a former deputy minister, members of Parliament, attorneys, writers and journalists. Blacks and whites, about half of them Jews who today are in conflict with attitudes of the conservative Jewish community in their country.

[…] They spent most of their time in the occupied areas, where hardly any official guests go …

[…] Madlala-Routledge speaks. “It is hard for me to describe what I am feeling. What I see here is worse than what we experienced. But I am encouraged to find that there are courageous people here. We want to support you in your struggle, by every possible means. There are quite a few Jews in our delegation, and we are very proud that they are the ones who brought us here. They are demonstrating their commitment to support you. In our country we were able to unite all the forces behind one struggle, and there were courageous whites, including Jews, who joined the struggle. I hope we will see more Israeli Jews joining your struggle.”

She was deputy defense minister from 1999 to 2004; in 1987 she served time in prison. Later, I asked her in what ways the situation here is worse than apartheid. “The absolute control of people’s lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw.”

Madlala-Routledge thinks that the struggle against the occupation is not succeeding here because of U.S. support for Israel – not the case with apartheid, which international sanctions helped destroy. Here, the racist ideology is also reinforced by religion, which was not the case in South Africa. “Talk about the ‘promised land’ and the ‘chosen people’ adds a religious dimension to racism which we did not have.”

Equally harsh are the remarks of the editor-in-chief of the Sunday Times of South Africa, Mondli Makhanya, 38. “When you observe from afar you know that things are bad, but you do not know how bad. Nothing can prepare you for the evil we have seen here. In a certain sense, it is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of the apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of apartheid.

It’s worth looking up Ronnie Kasrils, who has said this sort of things many times.

(Via JSF — which used the title: “We call Israel an Apartheid State because we are trying to be polite”).



  1. Hafrada is Hebrew for seperation — eg: Geder Ha’hafrada “Seperation Fence”.

    Wiki’s description of Hafrada:

    In Israel, the term is used to refer to the concept of separation, and to the general policy of separation the Israeli government has adopted and implemented over the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    To remove ambiguity, the Hafrada fence seperates Palestinians from Israelis.

    Comparisons to apartheid are exactly what Israel dreads. Olmert had this to say:

    “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Haaretz Wednesday, the day the Annapolis conference ended in an agreement to try to reach a Mideast peace settlement by the end of 2008.

    “The Jewish organizations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us,” Olmert said, “because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents.”

    And this is why Jimmy Carter, who brokered peace between Israel and Egypt, is dismissed as anti-Semitic for describing the situation as apartheid.

    The most diappointing parallel is the slow growth of disapproval. But, eventually, the disapproval was great enough to destroy Apartheid. And the disapproval of Israel’s conduct is growing slowing.

    Olmert is right. The clock is ticking. Eventually, everyone will give up on a 2-state solution which is always on the horizon. And everyone will call Hafrada what it is: worse than apartheid.

    FireGarden at JREF

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