Photo Credit:
Police operation with teargas and dogs in the township of Soweto near Johannesburg,

In remembering Nelson Mandela, we most recall his determined leadership in bringing down apartheid — the separation of races — in South Africa. His passing after a lifetime of suffering extreme prejudice and hatred causes us all to pause in honor of his deeds and respect for his commitment to justice and equality.

The term “apartheid” evokes not only images of the struggle of his people in South Africa, but is also a concept that is often taken, and sometimes mistaken, by advocates determined to achieve their own goals for their own purposes.


Such is the misuse of the term “apartheid” as it is thrown around in an accusatory framework against the State of Israel, who suffers regularly in the United Nations and in the press from the untrue and unfounded accusation that Israel, in building the terrorism prevention security fence, has built an “apartheid wall.”

For decades at the United Nations and in the press, the Palestinians and her supporters have blindly but broadly attempted to brand Israel as a racist criminal state, adopting resolutions equating Zionism with racism and continuing the war of words against Israel in repeated UN Conferences and resolutions. The theme is simple and has been quite effective: brand Israel as Zionist … brand Zionism as racism. With racism and apartheid being criminal … brand Israelis as part of a Zionist racist criminal conspiracy to commit apartheid. This ugly effort lives on without regard to the truth.

During the raging Second Intifada when Palestinian terrorists were infiltrating Israel for the purpose of murder, maiming and heinous acts of terror through suicide-homicide bombings, as well as gun and grenade attacks upon innocent people, Israel took the necessary and rightful decision to defend and protect her people. This decision took various forms, including steps to provide security on the edges of the land located between Israel and the Palestinian territories, particularly between Israel and Gaza and between Israel and the Judea and Samaria areas of ancient Israel situated on the West Bank of the Jordan River. Construction of the terrorism prevention security fence began in 2001 in an attempt to fence out the terrorists and has proven to be most effective in saving lives, limbs and the fiber and fabric of families and communities.

Exactly ten years ago on December 9, 2003, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution referring to the International Court of Justice the question of the legal consequences of Israel’s construction of the security fence, calling it a wall. Israel’s opponents continually refer to it as a “separation barrier” for the specific purpose of evoking the image of separation between Israel and the Palestinians in a hijacking of “apartheid”.

The use of the ugly term apartheid in conjunction with wrongful accusations that Israel is a criminal racist state evidenced by the building of the security fence as a wall of separation, are unfair, untrue and itself maligning of the good name of Israel and the Jewish people.

In memory of President Mandela, it is both timely and fitting to issue a call for the world to cease the inappropriate, unfair and untrue use of the term apartheid when referring to Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people. In that spirit, it should be remembered, acknowledged and appreciated that the Jewish people have historically stood against racism; have always stood for civil and individual rights; have always stood for the dignity and human rights of men, women and children from all religions, all races, all sexes, all national origins; and with a commitment to freedom, liberty and justice for all.



  1. I was in Israel, I talked with many Jews, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians (both Christians and Muslims). Some of my friends live in Israel several times, and I know the country pretty well. Apartheid is penalized as a criminal offense by international law.
    Today, within Israel, Jews are a majority, but the Arab minority are full citizens who enjoy equal rights. Arabs are represented in the Knesset, and have served in the Cabinet, high-level foreign ministry posts and on the Supreme Court. Under apartheid, black South Africans could not vote and were not citizens of the country in which they formed the overwhelming majority of the population. Laws dictated where they could live, work and travel. And, in South Africa, the government killed blacks who protested against its policies. By contrast, Israel allows freedom of movement, assembly and speech. Some of the government's harshest critics are Israeli Arabs who are members of the Knesset. In fact, passengers on buses and shoppers at the mall represent a very mixed population of Jews, Christians, Muslims and others whose blood is indistinguishable when splattered on the ground in an act of Palestinian terror. There isn't racial or ethnic segregation in buses, bathrooms and hospitals… I know at first hand because I was attended in a hospital where right next to me Israeli doctors were treating an Arab family. Israeli Arabs have everything what their brothers in Arab countries don't: freedom of speech, democracy, individual liberties, good health care, prosperity, education, jobs, rights, etc. You will find more segregation and conflict within Muslim minorities in Europe than Arabs in Israel.

    Israeli laws don't make a racial/ethnic-religious distinction. In Israel, no matter your ethnicity, whatever you are Arab/Palestinian or Jew, you can go to the same hospital, reside in the same cities, use the same roads, eat in the same restaurants, study in the same universities (even in OPt), swim in the same beaches, your vote will have the same value of Jewish citizens' vote, go to the same courts with the same judges that can be non-Jews, even in the supreme court. Arabs can be elected to the same posts, including Prime Minister, President, Knesset spokesman. It was demonstrated that the "Jew-only roads" are pure bull, the same with the "Jew-only buslines", pure propaganda lies fabricated by pro-Palestinian camp. Don't even mention the "apartheid wall", that do not make racial/ethnic distinction v. gr: Palestinians/Arabs and Jews live on the both sides of the fence. In any case, it's a security-related issue, not something based on racial segregation. But what the Palestinian Authority really wants, is to place Israel as the bogeyman. They have no idea of security. They would be overwhelmed by AQ, Salafists, Hamas and all manner of Jihad outfits, if it was not up to Israel that actually keeps them safe. What they do not know, is that a Palestinian state cannot ever happen unless Israel's security is assured.
    So yourself with your accusations of apartheid and ethnic cleansing, terms also popular in a different era, when they actually meant something.
    It's the sort of sentence that has become the mantra of those who don't know what life in Israel is like, and probably aren't aware of the full horror of apartheid, either.

    The Palestinian Authority is an autonomous government that controls the overwhelming majority of Palestinians in the West Bank, although it's not a sovereign state. Indeed, since PA was created in 1994, Palestinians under their control (areas A and B) have Palestinian citizenship and passports. Palestinians in Gaza are ruled by Hamas dictatorship.

    Besides, I ask to you… Did blacks in South Africa attacked a sovereign nation to destroy it or wanted to throw the whites into the sea? Did blacks in South Africa stab babies sleeping on their cradles? Did blacks in South Africa throw stones against civilian cars, stab and shoot civilians, including women, elderly Jews and children, eat the organs of unarmed prisoners, perpetrate suicide bombings in schools, launch rockets against kindergartens, etc?

    Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, where anyone can marry anyone else (regardless of gender), pursue higher education, get the best health care, etc.
    If you hate Israel that much, why don't you at least come up with some original canard, rather than use this fake cliche?
    The term apartheid, which was so coined by Dr. Hendrik Verwoed in South Africa had more to do with not accepting that white people can live with black people.
    In Israel we have Black Jews, Colored Jews, White Jews and possibly very pink Jews.
    However in the Muslim Countries, racist policies are well know. The fact that black Muslims are mistreated far worse than allowed by Human Rights Organizations, or the poor construction workers from Sri Lanka who are treated no better than slaves, not to forget servants or domestic help from South East Asia etc, who are beaten, burnt or simply die of natural causes.
    The real apartheid against Palestinians exist in the Arab countries where they keep them in refugee camps without citizenship (unlike Israeli Arabs). They have kept their apartheid refugee industry as their "winning card" against Israel.
    Besides, what characterized Nelson Mandela movement was its strict adherence to the philosophy of nonviolence. Even when attacked with fire hoses, live fire and police dogs, anti-apartheid demonstrators courageously refused to retaliate.
    The Palestinian leadership, by contrast, for decades has used violence whenever missile attacks or suicide bombers suit its aims. It is Israel that has shown an inclination to absorb punishment, though the country's tolerance stretches only so far before it responds militarily to attacks.
    The comparison between Israel and the apartheid is false in other ways. Unlike South Africa decades ago, when local governments enacted laws and policies to prevent black citizens from attaining full rights, Israel has tried repeatedly to reach an agreement with the Palestinians in the West Bank that would grant them sovereignty. In 2005, Israel even withdrew unilaterally from the Gaza Strip. We all know how that turned out: missiles against Israeli civilians.

    The Arab world failed to bring one, just one iconic figure like Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King — individuals who talk about peace and harmony and are respected the world over. Not someone who enjoys destroying countries and killing people.

    And don't tell me Barghouti is like Mandela. Although Mandela headed the African National Congress's armed wing, he never attacked civilians. And even when the anti-apartheid movement had no choice but to resort to armed struggle in order to bring democracy in South Africa, the armed struggle was founded on two fundamental principles: First, violence should not be directed against civilians but against property and military targets. This derived from the ANC's history of non-violent protest, and its belief in the principle of non-violent political action to effect change as preached and practised by Mahatma Gandhi in fighting British rule in India….

    Second, not killing whites was a pragmatic strategy aimed at keeping the door open for them to change. The argument was that violent and indiscriminate attacks would so frighten whites about their future that their determination to resist change would be deepened. Giving this approach even greater depth was the fact that whites were members of the ANC, and some occupied high leadership positions, alongside black, colored and Asian South Africans. Unlike Mandela, who coordinated a sabotage campaign against military and government targets, Barghouti was convicted in a civilian court on five counts of murder, with responsibility for the grisly killing of a Greek monk and diners in a seafood restaurant. While he remains an influential player in Palestinian politics, Barghouti is a murderous terrorist who, under the laws of any democratic society, deserves to remain behind bars. Even if Barghouti were to be released at some future date for practical reasons, that would not diminish his crimes or the legitimacy of putting him behind bars in the first place.

    The situation of Palestinians in the territories is different. The security requirements of the nation, and a violent insurrection in the territories, forced Israel to impose restrictions on Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip that are not necessary inside Israel's pre-1967 borders. The Palestinians in the territories, typically, dispute Israel's right to exist whereas blacks did not seek the destruction of South Africa, only the apartheid regime.

    Regarding South African Jews, although they could have done more, Jews had a very different reaction to other people's oppression than the average reaction of European gentiles during the Holocaust, for example. Blacks suffered oppression in America and South Africa. In both countries their respective Jewish communities fought for them. Out of seven whites who brought down the apartheid, six were Jewish. Of the 17 activists arrested at Rivonia in 1963, five were whites and all of them were Jews. The Jewish people in South Africa and around world never supported apartheid (you can search for an exception, but I doubt you will find even one single Jew supporting apartheid back then, despite they lived under huge privilege because of their skin color). South African Jews almost always voted for the liberal opposition parties in elections (which were pretty hostile to the apartheid system). Mandela had many Jewish friends… maybe too many for the tiny population of Jews compared to the rest of white population (do you need names? Lazar Sidelsky, Cyril Harris, Herby Rosenberg, Ruth First, Bertie Lubner, Isie Maisels, Sydney Kentridge, Percy Amoils, Norman Bernhard, Ady Assabi, Helen Suzman, Yossel Slovo… just to name a few). The Jewish community of South Africa was very passionately Zionist and anti-apartheid. They were victims of Afrikaner nationalist discrimination, although of course not the same kind of oppression suffered by blacks. Many leading Afrikaner politicians publicly apologized to Jews for the antisemitism they suffered. I know it because I met many South African Jews when I was in Israel. Not a single one of them had racist feelings and all of them loved Madiba as a great example of a leader, both for their country and for the rest of the world.

    On the other hand, I recognize that Israel, although not involved in apartheid violence, had cooperated in military matters with the South African government at the time. However, they were pragmatic, not ideological, relations. Mandela supported Castro dictatorship because Cuba fought against apartheid South Africa in Angola, but I don't see anyone judging Madiba for that. There are many countries around world which have (or had in the past) bilateral relations with dictatorships, tyrannies and oppressive regimes (I can think of Europe's relations with several repressive islamist regimes), but you are pointing only one of them, which is double standard. Mandela himself, although the ANC had good relations with the PLO during the Cold War for political reasons, always respected Israel and never supported the absurd comparison of the apartheid with the only democracy in the Middle East. Although simplistic, Mandela's proposals for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict always tended to the 'two states for two peoples' formula.

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