The Apartheid Smear

Neve Gordon a Professor of Politics from Ben Gurion University recently added fuel to the “”Is Israel apartheid” argument, with a recent interview to the Los Angeles Times. 

It has led to a variety of articles and readers comments.  One thoughtful article that appeared in The Guardian was by Benjamin Pogrund.  Pogrund rejects the linkage between Israel and Apartheid, and goes on to say that

For some, the apartheid accusation is the way to destroy Israel. If Israel can be linked with apartheid then it can be denounced as illegitimate as was white-ruled South Africa and hence be wide open to international sanctions. Those who pursue this couldn’t care less about facts. They have an agenda and are unscrupulous about distortion, lying and exaggeration. Their ultimate purpose is exposed by how they answer a basic question: whether or not they accept the fact of Israel’s existence. Others use the apartheid label because they are genuinely affronted and angered by Israeli behaviour – from the occupation to the attack on Gaza – and it seems an easy way to reduce to digestible size the complexities of the national-religious struggle between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians over a small piece of land. It’s wrong and it’s lazy but that’s how many people behave.”

Other relevant articles on the subject a critical assessment of the Neve Gordon interview and previous  demolishments of the apartheid analogy by CAMERA and Gideon Shimoni.  Wikipedia has useful detailed  articles summarising the multitude of opinions on the question, and also the international legal relevance if the so-called “Crime of apartheid” is attributed to Israel. 

As a deja vu, it is already 3 years since Jimmy Carter’s book “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid”  was published.  The book was criticised at the time by many including Alan Dershowitz.  Remember how Carter cowardly refused to debate with Dershowitz, while bizarrely maintaining that there was no debate allowed on the topic.  Some of the internet comments on the Hot Air blog at the time were quite amusing but to the point. Nevertheless Carter has undoubtably damaged Israel’s standing through contributed to the linkage being more freely used.

The use of “apartheid” as a term of abuse has some parallels to the less common but still used descriptor “fascist”.   George Orwell in 1944 wrote an expose of the misuse of the word. “It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless… All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.”

While it is important to know the facts and the arguments,  Pogrund correctly points out the “apartheid” promoters are all about an agenda.. and bringing to mind the adage that “the best defence is a good offence”

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