Photo Credit: Perry Bindelglass
Ethiopian father and son upon making Aliyah, Aug. 28, 2013.

In a private conversation, Secretary of State John Kerry unleashed the well-known narrative that dictates that if Israel does not retreat from the settlements, it will become an apartheid state and our fate will be like that of South Africa during its apartheid rule. Kerry even showed deep concern for Israel’s future as a Jewish state. Clearly, his words were directed at the Israeli public in order to create internal pressure for additional retreats.

So what is the truth?


The only case in history when a predominantly white nation sent its armed forces to Africa in order to bring black people to its country and grant them full citizenship with total freedom is Israel’s rescue of Ethiopian Jewry.

Slavery in the classical sense exists today only in some Muslim countries. Accusations of practicing apartheid from representatives of the culture of slavery and their supporters in the Obama administration against the nation that represents the message of Jewish liberty are outrageous.

Now for some real definitions of apartheid: South African apartheid was an array of segregative and discriminatory laws based on race. If annexation of territory without affording full voting rights means apartheid, then the U.S. has been – and continues to be – an apartheid state for more than the last 100 years. Here’s why:

1) The U.S. captured the island of Puerto Rico (3.6 million residents) from Spain 116 years ago. Its residents cannot vote in U.S. federal elections.

2) The U.S. captured the island of Guam (150,000 residents) from Spain 116 years ago. No voting rights (same as above).

3) The U.S. bought the Virgin Islands (106,000 residents) from Denmark 97 years ago. No voting rights (same as above).

4) The Northern Mariana Islands (77,000 residents) were captured from Japan 70 years ago and became a UN-American mandate. For the past 36 years, the islands have been under U.S. sovereignty. No voting rights (same as above).

5) The U.S. captured American Samoa (55,000 residents) from Spain 116 years ago. Its status is different from the rest, as it is a protectorate of the U.S. No voting rights (same as above).

Nobody accuses the U.S. of practicing apartheid policies because the people in its territories do not have federal voting rights. There is a clear and recognized difference between human rights and civil (as in voting) rights.

Differences in the civil status of citizens exist in other Western countries, and they are not considered apartheid states in the least. In addition to the U.S., in the modern countries of Czechoslovakia, Hong Kong, Latvia and others, a certain percentage of its citizens do not have voting rights. For example, in Latvia – a member of the European Union – 15 percent of its citizens do not enjoy voting rights. All of these countries make a distinction between people on the basis of their nationality, not on the basis of the territory where they live. Israel is another one of those countries. It has nothing to do with apartheid.

The nation of Israel has returned to its ancestral homeland in order to establish a Jewish state. The principles according to which this state should function are the means, not the end. If and when we see that granting voting rights and full citizenship to other national groups will threaten Israel’s Jewish identity, it is our full right to contest that threat. Israel always has and always will grant all its residents full human rights.

And what about Kerry’s concern for Israel’s Jewish majority? Most likely, he was referring to the “demographic problem.”

In that case, Kerry can relax. The average Jewish woman in Israel now gives birth to more babies than her neighbor in Ramallah. According to the American-Israel Demographic Research Group, the continued trend, with the addition of approximately 500,000 new immigrants to Israel, will bolster the Jewish majority from 66 percent to 80 percent by 2035. Without any peace process, the Jewish majority in Israel – Arabs of Judea and Samaria notwithstanding – will be 80 percent in just 20 years. Upheavals like what we are now witnessing in Ukraine or economic crises throughout the world can definitely bring even more new immigrants to Israel, shortening the estimated time span.


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Moshe Feiglin is the former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. He heads the Zehut Party. He is the founder of Manhigut Yehudit and Zo Artzeinu and the author of two books: "Where There Are No Men" and "War of Dreams." Feiglin served in the IDF as an officer in Combat Engineering and is a veteran of the Lebanon War. He lives in Ginot Shomron with his family.


  1. Yes there are some parallels (though not many) between the situation in Latvia and that in Israel.

    In view of this, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance has recommended that Latvia “revisit the existing requirements for naturalization with the objective of facilitating the granting of citizenship to non-citizens, implementing the commitments established by the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.”

    What (assuming Israel keeps Judea and Samaria and the areas it has annexed) is Israel to do with its ethnic and religious minorities?

  2. Steve Klein I didn’t propose any particular solution. I asked what Israel’s solution was.

    But since you ask me, I can only see two real alternatives: 1) a one state solution in which all have equal rights within that state; or 2) a two (or more ?) state solution in which all have equal rights within each state.

    Israel doesn’t seem to want either of those solutions (which I can understand given the likes of Hamas etc).

    Other alternatives of course are continuation of the status quo (where one section of the population enjoy restricted rights according to their ethnicity/religion) or some form of “ethnic cleansing”. I don’t think such alternatives are ethical or viable in the longer term.

    What do you propose?

  3. Mike Ward, the Palestinian peoples elected Hamas to govern them in the 2006 Palestinian elections. It’s just that the Bush administration refused to respect the will of the Palestinian peoples even as President Bush and Secretary of State Rice conceded the election was open and fair. I don’t see much difference between Hamas and Fatah other than tactics, do you? What do you think the Americans would do if a section of our population was dedicated to this country’s obliteration? I have a pretty good idea what the Americans did with Native Americans who unlike Islam had no religious or culturally-based reason for not living side by side white peoples in peace; unlike Islam with non-Muslims.

  4. Steve Klein Yes, what the European settlers did to the Native Americans (north and south) was dreadful too. But today the Native Americans enjoy de jure (though not necessarily de facto) equal rights with the rest of the populations in the various countries where they live.

    So again, what do you propose should happen in Israel?

    1 state, 2 states, ethnic cleansing, or “apartheid” (even if some would rather not call it that)?

    Which is it to be?

  5. Steve Klein Interesting piece but I wonder how Dr. Martin Sherman would feel if (say) the UK (where I live) began offering money to its Jewish inhabitants to persuade them to leave.

    I think I know how the Jewish half of my family would react.

  6. Mike Ward, here is what I would say about that idea. If Jewish citizens of the UK were committing terrorist acts, suicide bombings, demanding the imposition of a strict interpretation of Jewish law which included stoning women, homosexuals, (amputation of limbs for theft which isn’t anywhere to be found in Jewish law), etc., if Jews hacked to death an off-duty British soldier telling passers-by that they had killed the soldier to avenge the killing of Jews in ‘Palestine’ by the British armed forces during the Mandate period then I would say you would be well within your rights to offer your Jewish citizens money to persuade them to leave.

  7. Steve Klein but all the things you list are true of *some* UK Muslims. To offer money to all UK Muslims (to leave) because some of them are fanatics and barbarians would be appalling.

    This is the logic used by racists and xenophobes.and religious extremists throughout history: try: “Hitler was bad, Hitler was a vegetarian, therefore vegetarians are bad.”

    I’m sorry but this style of reasoning is nonsense.

  8. Mike Ward, I am a “struggling” vegetarian; not a vegan. There are plenty of misguided, even dangerous, extremist vegetarians. I love animals. There are plenty of animal rights extremists. Your country looks to be a dying nation because of folks whose style of reasoning mirrors your reasoning. When a nation loses its survival instinct (its will to live) it is in for some very difficult days ahead. Good luck.

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