Referring to Israel as an apartheid state is part of the world’s biggest lie
Last week we published responses to Tony Leon’s column “Israel a handy alibi for SA’s poor foreign policy” (March 28 ). Responses to Leon from Roshan Dadoo and Ziyad Motala, both published on April 4, plus a letter from EM Cassim, have elicited a number of counter-responses. We publish one of these here, plus a letter on the subject on page 18. All subsequent correspondence on this issue will be published online
In your edition of April 4, you published four articles pertaining to the Israel-Palestine dilemma: an objective report by Franny Rabkin on the chief justice’s outspoken comments (“Mogoeng hits back at ‘flawed’ censure by JCC”), a contentious letter by EC Hassim (“Leon, chief justice ignore Israeli persecution”), and two opinion pieces, by Roshan Dadoo, convenor of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) SA coalition committee (“Forget Leon, SA must fight Israeli apartheid”) and Ziyad Motala, a professor of law at Howard University School of Law (“Leon’s defence of Israel a spurious claim of victimhood”).
The last three items are aggressively anti-Israel. In particular, Motala’s article, with its implied matter-of-fact statements linking SA’s apartheid system to Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and his blatantly one-sided attitude, using words like “barbarity”, belies expectations of objectivity arising from his extensive experience as an academic of local and international law.
The tragedy of this interminable debate is that the two “sides” are ever more polarised as the fundamentals of the issue are suppressed by increasingly toxic narratives, exacerbated by the more strident voices of the virulently anti-Israel lobby. This is amplified in SA, which introduced and applied its notorious apartheid policy between 1913 and 1994 and which the anti-Israel lobby has shrewdly commandeered as an emotion-inducing label for Israel’s policy regarding the Palestinians.
One cannot but wonder how much of the debate is underpinned by adherence to the two opposing religions, Judaism and Islam, and the apparent adamant intolerance by Muslims to the existence of a neighbouring Jewish state.
Sadly, most Israel-antagonists, including many world leaders who haven’t bothered to check the facts, have swallowed the world’s biggest lie: that Israel is “occupying Palestine”.
The term “occupation” was applied the day after Israel won the Six-Day War in June 1967. What did Israel do to be called an occupier? It defensively recaptured from Jordan the piece of territory that Jordan had offensively occupied and illegally annexed in 1948, when the newly recognised state of Israel became independent from Britain, which, until then, had administered its mandate to develop a Jewish state in Palestine.
Jordan itself has always been disingenuously silent about this, notwithstanding its peace treaty with Israel and the economic and other ties that exist today between the neighbouring countries.
Palestine was originally the area bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon and Syria, Iraq and Jordan — originally Trans-Jordan until Britain reneged on its mandate and partitioned original Palestine into what became Palestine (west of the Jordan river as far as the Mediterranean Sea) and Jordan (east of the Jordan river, with Syria to the north, Iraq to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south). That name — Palestine — geographically disappeared when the country gained its independence and was called Israel.
The Arab population remaining in Israel after the 1948 war became Israeli citizens with the same rights under law as the Jewish population. That is still the position today. Those who fled the newly named country became commonly referred to as “Palestinian refugees”, with most of them settling in the territory illegally occupied and annexed by Jordan, including east Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Hebron and all the other established towns that were part of Judea and Samaria and Jewish history dating back to biblical times. It was these two offensively occupied and illegally annexed areas, including east Jerusalem, that Israel reclaimed from Jordan during the 1967 war.
So there is no occupation, nor has there ever been one, other than by Jordan. And Israel is not an occupying power, nor has it ever been one. Zionism is merely the Jewish nation’s self-determination in its ancient homeland.
The Jewish people who returned from a 2,000-year dispersion are not colonisers; and they have no territory-expansion motives. All they wanted, and still do, is what was and is rightfully theirs, as confirmed in 1922 by the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, which inherited all resolutions from the league. These are enshrined in international law, contrary to all those who pronounce otherwise.
What is happening is that Israel-antagonists conflate Israel’s own domestic laws, which do not discriminate against any of their citizens, with Israel’s having to maintain military control of those areas of Judea and Samaria to which many of the Arab “refugees” fled in 1948, thinking they would find safety in the Jordanian-controlled territory.
After Israel recovered its territory in 1967, it was forced to erect security barriers to prevent the ongoing terrorist attacks originating from those areas. Effectively, the “refugees” — already second, third and fourth generations — are now victims of their Arab neighbouring countries’ calls for them in 1948 to move aside while they “pushed the Jews into the sea”.
Israel has absorbed millions of Jews from around the world, including those expelled in 1948 from the same neighbouring Arab countries and others in the Middle East, but the Arab countries refused to do likewise, using the “refugees” as political pawns in their efforts to eliminate the Jewish state.
Unfortunately, at a time of such widespread disinformation, deliberately propagated by sources with their own agendas, invariably to distort historical facts that are inconvenient to them, it is clear that what I refer to as the world’s biggest lie has not been “reality checked”.
The language and terminology in the debate are littered with emotion-inducing labels like “occupation”, “violation of international law”, “genocide”, “human rights transgressions”, and an ongoing slew of false allegations trumpeted and disseminated loudly and often enough to convince those without the time and inclination to check them.
There are many publications available which cover the history of Israel, many of them factually correct, others deliberately “revised” even by Israeli “new historians” like Ilan Pappe and Avi Shlaim.
In the interests of genuine impartiality and before aligning themselves with those attempting to demonise and deligitimise the state of Israel — especially the oftalleged but grossly untrue label of “apartheid” which “Palestinian” leader Omar Barghouthi shrewdly and with malicious intent applied to Israel when he founded the BDS movement — please take the time to read From Time Immemorial: the Origins of the Arab-Jewish
Conflict Over Palestine by Joan Peters (published by Harper & Row in 1984).
This book contains seven years of independent, meticulous research into thousands of documents and archives covering the period prior to and during the British mandate of Palestine. It will reveal the truth about the so-called Palestinians and will expose the falseness of the numerous claims made by the anti-Israel lobby.