The use of the term “apartheid” to describe Israel is “unfair and inaccurate slander,” wrote Richard Goldstone in an op-ed article for the New York Times that was published on November 1st.
“It is important to separate legitimate criticism of Israel from assaults that aim to isolate, demonize and delegitimize it,” Goldstone wrote.
The Palestinian propagandists and their supporters will no doubt reject Goldstone’s thesis as the one-sided product of a committed Zionist. However, Goldstone is no stranger to leveling criticisms at Israeli policies. He led the United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza war of 2008-09 and produced a highly critical report, which bears his name. Although Goldstone later recanted the Goldstone Report’s specific accusations that Israel had intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians and possibly committed war crimes, he has not recanted the Goldstone Report’s sharp criticisms of Israeli military operations.
Goldstone, a South African jurist with first-hand knowledge of South Africa’s pre-1994 apartheid policies, wrote in his op-ed piece that any comparison of those policies to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians was an “offensive analogy.”
Goldstone reminded the Times’ readers that under South Africa’s apartheid policy, which was an inherent part of its legal system and harshly enforced, “human beings characterized as black had no rights to vote, hold political office, use ‘white’ toilets or beaches, marry whites, live in whites-only areas or even be there without a ‘pass.’ Blacks critically injured in car accidents were left to bleed to death if there was no ‘black’ ambulance to rush them to a ‘black’ hospital. ‘White’ hospitals were prohibited from saving their lives.”
By contrast, Goldstone points out, “Israeli Arabs — 20 percent of Israel’s population — vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment.”
Palestinians who live in the so-called “occupied” East Jerusalem see how well their fellow Palestinians are living in Israel proper. According to a poll released earlier this year by Pechter Middle East Polls, in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations, 30% of Arab East Jerusalem residents said that if given a choice they would choose Palestinian citizenship with the rights and privileges of other citizens of Palestine; 35% would choose Israeli citizenship with the rights and privileges of Israelis; and 35% either declined to answer or said they didn’t know. When asked if they would move to a different location inside Israel, if their neighborhood became part of Palestine, 40 percent said they were likely to move to Israel, and 37 percent said they will not move. When asked why they chose one citizenship over the other, those who chose Israeli citizenship emphasized freedom of movement in Israel, higher income, better job opportunities and Israeli health insurance.
When and if the Palestinians do actually achieve an independent state, Palestinian leaders have already signaled that they will conduct their own version of apartheid and ethnic cleansing, and force Jews living in the new state to leave.
Goldstone conceded that conditions are tougher for Palestinians living in areas that remain under Israeli control in the absence of a peace agreement. The security wall, road blocks and check points are daily obstacles to a normal life. But contrary to the Palestinian propaganda, which is amplified at the United Nations and by Islamist and left-wing groups on college campuses, there is no apartheid in the West Bank. And Hamas-controlled Gaza, from which Israel withdrew in 2005, has since been used by jihadists to launch rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.
Goldstone noted the critical distinction between Israeli measures that have impinged on Palestinian life in the West Bank as well as Gaza, which are designed to defend Israeli citizens from jihadist terrorist attacks, and South Africa’s apartheid policies which were intended to permanently subjugate the black population:
South Africa’s enforced racial separation was intended to permanently benefit the white minority, to the detriment of other races. By contrast, Israel has agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state in Gaza and almost all of the West Bank, and is calling for the Palestinians to negotiate the parameters.
But until there is a two-state peace, or at least as long as Israel’s citizens remain under threat of attacks from the West Bank and Gaza, Israel will see roadblocks and similar measures as necessary for self-defense, even as Palestinians feel oppressed. As things stand, attacks from one side are met by counterattacks from the other.
The security wall, for example, was built only after a succession of suicide bombing attacks that increased significantly during the Second Intifada.
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