Rhoda Kadalie is a former anti-apartheid activist and South African Human Rights Commissioner. Based in
Julia I. Bertelsmann is the editor-in-chief of New Society:
1st part of 3
ON A COLD NIGHT IN Johannesburg last year, a bus pulled up outside the American consulate. It was the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War in the Middle East-June being a winter month in
Or so it seemed. A reporter discovered that some of the black demonstrators "were not pro-Palestinian activists, but homeless people bused in from the surrounding townships," he told Ha'aretz. "[M]ost of them refused to protest, opting to sit on the warm bus. The organizers refused to allow it. When I asked one black 'protester' if he was for
Like the `protester' on the bus, most South Africans feel indifferent towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a study conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project in 2007. Of those with clear opinions on the matter, the majority sympathized more with
However potent the Israel-apartheid analogy, few of those who directly suffered from apartheid have bought into it
Senior members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) began using the analogy to attack
Proponents of the analogy used it to appeal to black South Africans, drawing links between Palestinian suffering and their own. But most black South Africans dismiss the analogy. Outside the small Muslim community (1.5 percent of the population), anti-Israel sentiment is largely an elite phenomenon. However potent the Israel-apartheid analogy, few of those who suffered from apartheid directly have bought into it.
A False Analogy
One reason is that the equivalence simply isn't true.
But racism and discrimination do not form the rationale for
Whereas apartheid was established through a series of oppressive laws that governed which park benches we could sit on, where we could go to school, which areas we were allowed to live in, and even whom we could marry,
Israeli schools, universities and hospitals make no distinction between Jews and Arabs. An Arab citizen who brings a case before an Israeli court will have that case decided on the basis of merit, not ethnicity. This was never the case for blacks under apartheid. Moreover,
Like those who demonize
In fact, Nelson Mandela had many positive dealings with
Like those who demonize
The ANC has re-written much of its own history, however, and removed positive references to
The Prophets of Prejudice
Not only has the ANC begun to distort the history of its relations with
At the end of 2007, Tutu was the keynote speaker at a conference on "The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine-Israel" at
Ronnie Kasrils has similarly exploited his anti-apartheid credentials to achieve celebrity status in the anti-Israel movement and send his self-serving memoir, Armed and Dangerous, into a second printing.  He was embarrassed by reports last year in the Palestinian press that he had told an audience at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank "that the guns should be pointed towards the enemy," though he disputed the accuracy of the quote.
Another South African who has staked his reputation on the Israel-apartheid analogy is John Dugard. Dugard, who carries considerable weight in certain human rights circles, serves as the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories. He was appointed in 2001 by the discredited UN Commission on Human Rights, which has since been replaced by the Human Rights Council. Despite initial optimism about the Council among democratic member states, it has repeated some of the mistakes of its predecessor by remaining fixated on
Last year, Dugard told the Council that
These three detractors - Tutu, Kasrils and Dugard-share two traits. One is their neglect of human rights elsewhere. They behave as though human rights violations and terror do not matter unless there is an Israeli nearby on whom the crime can be blamed. Indeed, Tutu was present last year when Carter declared that the word "genocide" had a narrow "legal definition" which the Sudanese government-sponsored onslaught in
Just as Carter lost his sense of moral indignation when talking about horrors perpetrated in
Kasrils is similarly hypocritical on the question of human rights. In his book and speeches, he frequently glorifies Josef Stalin's Soviet Union-one of the most repressive and murderous regimes in human history. As Intelligence Minister, he signed an agreement to cooperate with
Tutu, Kasrils and Dugard...behave as though human rights violations and terror do not matter unless there is an Israeli nearby on whom the crime can be blamed
The second trait common to these self-appointed prophets of apartheid is that they have been sidelined in the new
Responding to criticisms Tutu had made of the ANC, Mbeki wrote in his weekly online letter: "The Archbishop has never been a member of the ANC, and would have very little knowledge of what happens even in an ANC branch. How he comes to the conclusion that there is "lack of debate" in the ANC is most puzzling. Rational discussion about how the ANC decides its policies requires some familiarity with the internal procedures of the ANC, rather than gratuitous insults about our members . . . The Archbishop proposed what our nation needs to do to determine its agenda. But as we have said in this Letter, to succeed in this task, all of us must educate ourselves about the reality of
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