Is­raeli’s apartheid pro­ject des­tined to fail, just as SA’s did

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OPINION - SURAYA DADOO

ONE OF the most ef­fec­tive tools used to ob­scure apartheid was the former South African regime’s of­fer of trips to the coun­try to al­low peo­ple to see that apartheid was re­ally not that bad, and calls to boy­cott South Africa were ex­ces­sive.

State of­fi­cials would take vis­i­tors on care­fully scripted tours to show them how happy black peo­ple were, and how the con­dem­na­tion against apartheid did not re­flect this “suc­cess” story.

As long as you were hosted by a group that was ap­proved by the gov­ern­ment, stuck to the care­fully cho­sen itin­er­ary, and only spoke to the “good” na­tives, then you were wel­come in apartheid South Africa.

Be­ing hosted by “ter­ror” groups like the ANC, ven­tur­ing into the pro­hib­ited town­ships, and speak­ing to any­one call­ing for a boy­cott of South Africa earned you the la­bel of “threat” and a per­ma­nent ban­ning from South Africa.

Lo­cal model and celebrity Shashi Naidoo poses such a threat. On Wednesday, Is­rael im­posed a 10-year travel ban on Naidoo, after she tried to en­ter the West Bank to ed­u­cate her­self about Is­rael’s oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tine. As the oc­cu­py­ing power, Is­rael con­trols al­most all ac­cess to the Oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries com­pris­ing the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Any­one wish­ing to en­ter these ar­eas must go through Is­raeli­con­trolled borders.

This week, Is­rael’s Deputy Am­bas­sador to South Africa,

Ayel­let Black, re­peat­edly told the me­dia here that Naidoo was de­nied en­try at the Al­lenby Bridge bor­der cross­ing be­cause her trip was planned by the South African branch of Boy­cott, Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS), and that it would “harm” Is­rael.

Yet it was widely known that Naidoo’s itin­er­ary was planned by the SA Coun­cil of Churches (SACC) and South African Jews for a Free Pales­tine. Does Is­rael con­sider these groups a threat?

The Is­raeli gov­ern­ment sus­tains its apartheid poli­cies with fear. Is­rael, like apartheid South Africa be­fore it, de­fines any op­po­si­tion to its op­pres­sive poli­cies as a “threat”.

This in­cludes the Pales­tinian call to boy­cott Is­rael un­til it com­plies with in­ter­na­tional law and ends the oc­cu­pa­tion. Last year, Is­rael passed a travel ban law which for­bids grant­ing en­try visas to for­eign­ers who call for a boy­cott of ei­ther Is­rael or its il­le­gal set­tle­ments.

Even Jewish peo­ple crit­i­cal of the coun­try are con­sid­ered a threat. Last year, Rabbi Alisa Wise was de­nied en­try to Is­rael be­cause of her sup­port for the BDS.

On July 1, Is­rael turned away Ariel Gold, a Jewish Amer­i­can who is a na­tional leader of the Code Pink group which sup­ports BDS. Is­rael has avoided in­ter­na­tional iso­la­tion by claim­ing the boy­cott call is anti-Semitic. Last week, 40 Jewish groups from across the world stated that BDS should not be de­fined as anti-Semitic, and that crit­i­cism of Is­rael is not anti-Semitic.

Is­rael claims to wel­come Chris­tians to the Holy Land, yet an in­creas­ing num­ber of Chris­tian vol­un­teers with the SACC’s Ec­u­meni­cal Ac­com­pa­ni­ment Pro­gramme in Is­rael/Pales­tine have been de­nied en­try into the oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries by Is­raeli au­thor­i­ties.

This comes after Is­raeli se­cu­rity confiscated their pass­ports, in­ter­ro­gated them for hours, sub­jected them to hu­mil­i­at­ing strip searches, and then de­tained them in hold­ing cells.

Are the vol­un­teers a “threat” to Is­rael?

In De­cem­ber 2016, as­so­ciate gen­eral sec­re­tary of the World Coun­cil of Churches (WCC), Is­abel Apawo Phiri, was banned from en­ter­ing Is­rael after land­ing at Ben Gu­rion Air­port in Tel Aviv.

The Chris­tian the­olo­gian was at­tend­ing a WCC meet­ing in Jerusalem.

Is­rael has ad­mit­ted that she was a “threat” be­cause of her in­volve­ment with the BDS move­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Is­raeli Strate­gic Af­fairs Min­is­ter, Gi­lad Er­dan, Naidoo was “wel­come to visit” but only as long as her hosts were ap­proved by the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment.

Naidoo, how­ever, doesn’t in­tend tak­ing him up on the of­fer.

As South Africa’s apartheid regime learnt, the truth and the facts do emerge from be­hind the pro­pa­ganda and sup­pres­sion. Is­rael’s apartheid pro­ject is des­tined to end the same way as South Africa’s did, in ut­ter fail­ure.

“Hope­fully after my 10-year travel ban, or even be­fore the 10 years, there will not be a mil­i­tary oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tine and I will travel there,” Naidoo said on Thurs­day after her re­turn to South Africa.

The first step on the path to Pales­tinian lib­er­a­tion would be for the South African gov­ern­ment to down­grade re­la­tions with Is­rael.

• Dadoo is a re­searcher with the Me­dia Re­view Net­work. Find her on Twit­ter: @Su­raya_Dadoo

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