Calling BS on BDS - Why "Apartheid"

The biggest weapon in the arsenal of BDS is the “Israel = Apartheid” charge. This has completely overtaken the “anti-occupation” trope that previously characterized much of the “pro-Palestinian” movement.

In his book One State, Two States, renowned Israeli historian Benny Morris notes:

Over the past few years, against the backdrop of the Second Intifada and Israel’s efforts to suppress Arab terrorism, Palestinian spokespeople have stepped up their designation of Israel’s policies as “apartheid.” Without doubt, the definition “sells” well in the West and serves the Palestinian goal of delegitimizing Israel much as South Africa’s apartheid regime was delegitimized in the West before it’s collapse. But Israeli journalist Sever Plutzker (in “Who Favors a Partition Plan?” Y-Net, 3 January 2008) had pointed out that these years have also witnessed a gradual replacement, among Palestinian spokesmen, of “the discourse of occupation” with the “discourse of apartheid” because the focus on berating the “occupation” leads, or should lead, to Israeli withdrawal from the territories, opening the way for a two-state solution, whereas the talk of “apartheid” with its stress on human rights and their absence, should lead, eventually, to ameliorating the situation of the oppressed within the geopolitical framework. Plutzker points out that this shift of emphasis corresponds to the shift among Palestinians from advocacy of a two-state solution to advocacy of one-statism; talking of ‘apartheid serves the “one state” purpose. (n1 p. 203-4.)

Plutzker was probably the first to recognize the reasoning behind shift to the apartheid analogy: the only remedy for an apartheid state is its complete dissolution and destruction, which has been the goal of the majority of the pro-Palestinian movement from the beginning. Whereas an anti-occupation movement could technically resign itself to a peaceful two state solution, an anti-apartheid movement never can because an apartheid state has no right to exist, or the rights to peace and defense that go with it.

This was view was clearly expressed by British MP Denis MacShane while addressing the South African Board of Jewish Deputies back in 2012. He said “Criticism of Israel is perfectly legitimate, but we have to be clear that the new antisemitic trope is beyond the pale of legitimate criticism. The notion of Israel as an apartheid state is deliberately promoted because an apartheid state cannot exist.”

Still there are others who take the view of Canadian MP (and staunch friend of Israel) Irwin Cotler, who said that accusations of apartheid are “within the boundaries of argument.” However, while most anti-Zionists who make this argument stop here, Cotler clarified by saying “It’s where you say, because it’s an apartheid state, it has to be dismantled - then you crossed the line into a racist argument, or an anti-Jewish argument. You’re not just criticizing, you’re not only criticizing Israeli policy or practice; you’re not only saying it has apartheid policies; you’re saying it’s a criminal apartheid state that must be dismantled. Then in my view, you’ve crossed the line.” MP Cotler failed to recognize (or at least he did back in 2011) that the very accusation of apartheid itself implies that the accused must be dismantled and this is the crux of the BDS movement.

Another thing to remember, which is often overlooked, is that apartheid was a real thing. The oppressive system it created destroyed real lives and real people struggled against it. So not only is the apartheid libel grossly offensive to Israel, it is incredibly disrespectful to those who actually suffered under the real thing in South Africa. When the group “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” wanted to march in Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade in 2012, the City Council condemned the use of the “odious” term slamming “the term for undermining the values of Pride and diminishing “the suffering experienced by individuals during the apartheid regime in South Africa.””

More recently, Frederik Willem de Klerk, the last president of South Africa under apartheid, recently gave an interview to Israeli radio. In it he said, “I think comparisons [of Israel to Apartheid South Africa] are odious and wouldn’t like to draw direct comparisons.” This from the man who oversaw the dissolution of the South African “Republic” and shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela. While the BDS movement claims sanctions on Israel will help the Palestinians, de Klerk cautions that “In the case of South Africa our experience has been that sanctions sometimes delayed the reforms,” and usually hurt the Black population much more than the ruling White government. This has long been the position of Palestinian Human Rights Advocate Bassam Eid who asserts that

The “pro-Palestinian” activists have therefore entirely completed the switch from supposedly being pro-Palestinian to being fully anti-Palestinian. While they claim to defend the interests of Palestinians, they in fact thrive on the deaths and unemployment of Palestinians… Whenever they are told that their actions hurt the Palestinians far more than they hurt Israel, “pro-Palestinian” activists plug their ears and start shouting “la la la la, I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you”, then they go back to their mantra about the Israelis having stolen land and needing to be punished and being all-around evil people and so on. It would be funny if it were not real.

What Eid is clear on is that BDS-holes are not “pro-Palestinian” in any sense of the word. They are anti-Israel extremists who seek the destruction of Israel over any other goal. The replacement of the “anti-occupation” meme with that of an “anti-apartheid” one only serves to highlight that these Israel haters are only interested in one thing :

###The destruction of the world’s only Jewish State.

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