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.Richard D. Heideman