Calling BS on BDS - Apartheid Law vs. Israeli Law

The core argument of the BDS movement rests on the idea that Israel is an “apartheid State.” But more than simply being a derogatory term, “apartheid” has a specific meaning. The Apartheid System of the Republic of South Africa was based a series of laws mandating segregation of the races and unequal treatment in order to maintain minority white-rule. If Israel is truly an apartheid state, it would have to have similar laws with the same intent.

The way BDS makes its case is by highlighting Apartheid Laws that have superficial similarities to Israeli law and then saying this means Israel practices apartheid. In doing so they not only distort the meaning of those apartheid laws and how they functioned but they completely ignore the many other apartheid laws that not only aren’t in place in Israel, but that are actually illegal.

As we examine both sets of laws, it is clear that not only is Israel not an apartheid state, but if apartheid was judged by the standards of BDS, most states would be considered to be apartheid.

What’s more, if there is are entities that support any of these laws, it is the Palestinian Authority and the Islamic Resistance Movement’s Gaza Strip!

Apartheid Poster

##Apartheid Laws that are Explicitly Illegal in Israel

####South Africa Immorality Amendment Act, Act No 21 of 1950; amended in 1957 (Act 23) - Prohibited adultery, attempted adultery or related immoral acts (extra-marital sex) between white and black people.

####Israel Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty - All citizens are equal before the law. In regards to universal concepts of human dignity and liberty, religious and ethnic groups are not referenced at all, only people. There are no laws governing sexual activity within or without the bounds of marriage between consenting adults.

Mixed Transport

Above: Israel

Below: South Africa Segregated Bus


####South Africa

Group Areas Act, Act No 41 of 1950 - Forced physical separation between races by creating different residential areas for different races. Led to forced removals of people living in “wrong” areas, for example Coloureds living in District Six in Cape Town.

####Israel

It is illegal to discriminate against potential home-buyers based on race, religion or other factors in Israel. - There are no laws designating where Jews and non-Jews can or can not live. The Israel National Planning Council does designate new towns or cities as being developed for a specific community, but this is only designed to meet the needs of that community and has no bearing on who can actually live there. As such, the INPC may plan a new “haredi city,” but all Israeli citizens are free to move there, it just happens that because the plans will include special designations to meet the needs of the haredi community (additional space for synagogues, yeshivas, mikvahs…) making it more attractive to haredi citizens. INPC designations are merely guidelines and do not prevent citizens of any religion or ethnicity from living in any area.

Jews and Arabs shopping

Above: Israel

Below: South Africa

Segregated Train Station


####South Africa

Suppression of Communism Act, Act No 44 of 1950 - Outlawed communism and the Communist Party in South Africa. Communism was defined so broadly that it covered any call for radical change. Communists could be banned from participating in a political organisation and restricted to a particular area.

####Israel

Basic Law: The Knesset, Section 7A “Prevention of participation of candidates list - The only way a candidate list can be prevented from running for Knesset is if they reject Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, incite racism, or violence against the state by an enemy state or terror organization. Despite the fact that no Arab party currently in the Knesset recognizes Israel as a Jewish State, they have never been prevented from running in elections or serving in the Knesset. While there have been legal attempts to disqualify Arab parties for violating this law, each attempt was blocked by the Supreme Court. The only parties ever successfully banned from running for the Knesset were Kach and Kahane Chai and they were subsequently banned outright after being reclassified as terrorist organizations.

As for the law relating specifically to Communists, the Israeli Communist Party is currently in the Knesset as a faction of the Hadash Party which is part of the Joint Arab List.

Ayman Oudeh

Above: Prime Minister Netanyahu shaking hands with Ayman Oudeh, Head of the Joint Arab List, in the Knesset. ___

####South Africa

Native Labour (Settlement of Disputes) Act of 1953 - Prohibited strike action by blacks.

####Israel

Collective Agreements Law - 1957 and the Settlement of Labour Disputes Law - 1957 (among others)** - The right to strike by all workers, regardless of religion or ethnicity, is enshrined in law. General strikes by the Arab sector in Israel have occurred many times in the past as acts of protest.

Strike

Above: A strike by Israeli workers (if you can tell which are Arabs and which are Jews, be sure to let us know because we can’t tell the difference).


####South Africa Reservation of Separate Amenities Act, Act No 49 of 1953 - Forced segregation in all public amenities, public buildings, and public transport with the aim of eliminating contact between whites and other races. “Europeans Only” and “Non-Europeans Only” signs were put up. The act stated that facilities provided for different races need not be equal.

####Israel: Discrimination based on religion or ethnicity is illegal in Israel - Jews and Arabs use the same public amenities, buildings and transport and it is illegal for a business not to serve a customer because they are an Arab or a Jew. The fact that occasionally the news will report about people or businesses discriminating (as happens at times in every country) is proof that they are law-breakers not policy makers.

Israeli Beach

Above: Israel

Below: South Africa

Segregated Beach


####South Africa Group Areas Development Act, Act No 69 of 1955 - Helped to effect the purpose of the Group Areas Act of 1950, namely to exclude non-Whites from living in the most developed areas, which were restricted to Whites. It was later replaced by the Community Development Act of 1966.

####Israel

There are no restrictions on where a citizen can live regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Israeli Town

Above: Israeli town

Below: South African racial segregation sign

Sign


####South Africa

Natives (Prohibition of Interdicts) Act, Act No 64 of 1956 - Denied black people the option of appealing to the courts against forced removals.

####Israel

Any citizen can appeal an eviction notice before the courts. Even non-Israeli Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria can sue in the Israeli Supreme Court (and win) if they believe they are being deprived of their land unjustly. Arabs, both citizens and non-citizens, have the right to appeal to the court system for any reason.

Court

Above: Israeli court ___

####South Africa

Bantu Investment Corporation Act, Act No 34 of 1959 - Provided for the creation of financial, commercial, and industrial schemes in areas designated for black people.

####Israel

There are no areas designated as only for Arabs (or Jews only) in Israel and no “financial, commercial or industrial schemes” specifically for those non-existent areas. The Industrial Parks or Zones in Israel and Judea and Samaria make no distinction between Jew or Arab or Israeli or Palestinian (Israel and Egypt have 15 “Qualifying Industrial Zones” of a similar nature which have run without incident or protest).


####South Africa

Extension of University Education Act, Act 45 of 1959 - Put an end to black students attending white universities (mainly the universities of Cape Town and Witwatersrand). Created separate tertiary institutions for whites, Coloured, blacks, and Asians.

####Israel

There are no restrictions on university admission based on religion or ethnicity. On the contrary, there are affirmative action programs designed to aid disadvantaged students - Arab, women, the disabled… - in gaining admission.

University

Above: An Arab student at Ben Gurion University of the Negev ___

####South Africa

Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act, Act No 46 of 1959 - Classified black people into eight ethnic groups. Each group had a Commissioner-General who was tasked to develop a homeland for each, which would be allowed to govern itself independently without white intervention.

####Israel

Arabs (like Jews) do fall into many categories in Israel - Muslim, Christian, Bedouin, Druze - but they are all equal before the law. There are no Bantu areas in Israel and no Israeli citizen can be deprived of their citizenship.


####South Africa

Coloured Persons Communal Reserves Act, Act No 3 of 1961 - Effectively of lowered wages by denying Africans rights within urban areas and by keeping their families and dependents on subsistence plots in the reserves.

####Israel

It is illegal to discriminate between employees based on religion or ethnicity, including in regards to their salaries.

Workers

Above: Palestinian workers in Israel. ___

####South Africa

Preservation of Coloured Areas Act, Act No 31 of 1961 - Created a legal loophole for land in “coloured areas” to be seized and paid for to white “Guardians” in place of the original owners who may or may not have registered their claims.

####Israel

There are no areas specifically for Jews or non-Jews and in the case of eminent domain, only the legal owner would be compensated. All land-owners must have documentation to prove their ownership.


####South Africa

Urban Bantu Councils Act, Act No 79 of 1961 - Created black councils in urban areas that were supposed to be tied to the authorities running the related ethnic homeland.

####Israel:

City councils are elected by the citizens of the municipality without regard to religion or ethnicity.


####South Africa

Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970 - Compelled all black people to become a citizen of the homeland that responded to their ethnic group, regardless of whether they’d ever lived there or not, and removed their South African citizenship.

####Israel

Arab citizens of Israel cannot be stripped of their citizenship without their consent. While critics of Israel frequently label the Palestinian Authority as a “Bantustan” this is for propaganda purposes and does not fit the comparison at all. Rather than creating the Palestinian Authority to deprive Arab Israelis of their citizenship, Israel was essentially forced into establishing it as part of the Oslo Accords. The creation of the PA had no effect on Arab citizens of Israel and while some Knesset Members have floated the idea of ceding some Israeli Arab towns to the PA as part of a peace treaty, such suggestions were never part of Israel’s past peace offers.

####Palestinian Authority

Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear that under any final peace deal, he would not allow a single Jew to remain in the Palestinian State. This means that all Jews living in Judea and Samaria outside of areas annexed by Israel would not even get the option of Palestinian citizenship. Just like Blacks in South Africa, they would be unable to get citizenship where they live and instead would have to look toward their ethnic homeland for citizenship before being expelled.

Arab voters

Above: Arab voting in Israeli an election ___

####South Africa

The Natives (Urban Areas) Act of 1923 - Laid the foundations for residential segregation in urban areas. This led to all Black South Africans being required to carry a Pass or ID card at all times.

####Israel

There is no segregation - residential or otherwise - in urban or other areas. Segregation based on religion or ethnicity is illegal. All Israelis, regardless of religion or ethnicity, are required to carry their National ID Card at all times.

Bus

Above: Israeli bus

Below: South African racial discrimination sign

Sign


##Israeli Laws with Superficial Similarities to Apartheid Laws

####South Africa

Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, Act No 55 of 1949 - Prohibited marriages between white people and people of other races. Between 1946 and the enactment of this law, only 75 mixed marriages had been recorded, compared with some 28,000 white marriages.

####Israel

Religious Marriage and Recognition of All Foreign Marriages - In regards to marriage, Israel maintains the law established by the Ottomans and continued by the British Mandate in which all marriages are conducted by separate religious establishments. All people are free to change their religious status for marriage or personal choice. All foreign civil marriages are recognized by the state without regard to religion, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

####Palestinian Authority The PA also has no Civil Marriage and all marriages are carried out through separate religious establishments. There is no recognition or protection for same-sex couples.

Gay Wedding

Above: A staged gay-wedding in Israel.


####South Africa

Population Registration Act, Act No 30 of 1950 - Led to the creation of a national register in which every person’s race was recorded. A Race Classification Board took the final decision on what a person’s race was in disputed cases.

####Israel

Registration of Inhabitants Ordinance No. 50 OF 5709-1949 and Population Registry Law, 5725-1965 - The State of Israel’s registration authority does collect data on citizen’s religion and ethnicity under the these laws, but this is merely for statistical purposes, as stated in Section 3 of the Registration of Inhabitants Ordinance and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2004. Many if not most countries around the world do the same. The laws list “religion” and “ethnicity” but makes no distinction between them and does not call for members of a certain group to be treated differently. Israeli ID cards have not shown the barer’s religion/ethnicity/nationality since 2005.

####Palestinian Authority

All Palestinians have their religious affiliation included on their identification papers as well.

Teudat Zehut

Above: An example of an Israeli ID card (note the **** under the nationality section so the barer’s ethnicity/nationality is not shown.)


####South Africa

Bantu Education Act, Act No 47 of 1953 - Established a Black Education Department in the Department of Native Affairs which would compile a curriculum that suited the “nature and requirements of the black people”. The author of the legislation, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd (then Minister of Native Affairs, later Prime Minister), stated that its aim was to prevent Africans receiving an education that would lead them to aspire to positions they wouldn’t be allowed to hold in society. Instead Africans were to receive an education designed to provide them with skills to serve their own people in the homelands or to work in labouring jobs under whites.

####Israel

Signatory to Convention against Discrimination in Education and Numerous Israeli Universal Education Laws - The Ministry of Education runs an Arab education system for the Arab minority in Israel that makes special recognition of Arab heritage and culture. This includes instruction in Arabic and lessons in Arab history and literature. There are also many joint Jewish-Arab schools throughout the country.

In order to address gaps between the level and quality of education between Jewish and Arab students, the Israeli government has initiated numerous affirmative action campaigns and increased budgets for the Arab community. This has had mixed results. Despite the problems Israel faces with ensuring students in minority and poor student get a proper education (something every country has difficulty with) Christian Arabs have flourished in Israel in terms of education. Far from intending to prevent Arabs “from receiving an education that would lead them to aspire to positions they wouldn’t be allowed to hold in society” (none such positions exist in Israel), the Arab Education system of the Ministry of Education is designed to incread the educational standards in Arab schools while celebrating and teaching Arab culture and history.

Arab Kids

Above: Arab students in Israel


####South Africa

Natives Resettlement Act, Act No 19 of 1954 - Permitted the removal of blacks from any area within and next to the magisterial district of Johannesburg by the South African government. This act was designed to remove of blacks from Sophiatown to Soweto.

####Israel

It is illegal to remove anyone, regardless of religious or ethnic background, from their legally owned homes. - If a citizen does not own their home or property or built their home without a legal permit, only then can they be evicted, but these evictions can be fought in court. The most common occurrences deal with Bedouin squatting on State Land and Jews who establish outposts in Judea and Samaria on property they have not legally acquired. In both cases, the residents may appeal their evictions to the Supreme Court. The only example of Israeli citizens being forced from their legally owned homes is of Jews who were forcibly removed from Sinai, Gaza and Samaria as part of the peace treaty with Egypt and the 2005 Disengagement Plan.

####Palestinian Authority

Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear that under any final peace deal, he would not allow a single Jew to remain in the Palestinian State. This means that any Jews living in the area designated for a Palestinian State would be expelled in the same way Jews were previously expelled from Sinai, Gaza and Northern Samaria.

Disengagement Plan

Above: An Israeli Jew being forcibly removed from his home in Gaza.


####South Africa:

Terrorism Act of 1967 - Allowed for indefinite detention without trial and established BOSS, the Bureau of State Security, which was responsible for the internal security of South Africa.

####Israel:

British Mandate 1945 Law on Authority in States of Emergency as amended in 1979, or Administrative Detention - (From Wikipedia) >Within Israel, the Defense Minister has the authority to issue Administrative Detention orders for up to 6 months in cases where there is a reasonable chance that the person harms the security of the state. The same Minister has the authority to renew such orders. Likewise, the Chief of the General Staff can issue such orders, but valid for only 48 hours. Law enforcement authorities have to show cause within 48 hours (in a hearing behind closed doors). Administrative Detention orders can be appealed to the District Court and, if denied there, to the Supreme Court of Israel. The District Court can annul such orders if it finds the administrative detention occurred for reasons other than security (e.g., common crimes, or the exercise of freedom of expression). Overall supervisory authority on the application of the relevant law rests with the Minister of Justice.

More importantly, this law applies to all terrorism suspects. Suspected Jewish terrorists are subjected to the strictures of the law exactly as are Arab terrorists. It just happens that there are fewer Jewish terrorists (Thank God!) and therefore fewer Jews placed in administrative detention. Importantly, it is only very rarely used against Israeli citizens, Arab or Jew.

This law is not perfect and, like any law, can be abused. However, the number of prisoners held in such an arrangement has a direct correlation with the terror level. In June 2012, there were 285 Palestinians in detention but by December 2013, this number was cut by more than half to 140. To put this in perspective, as of 2011, Jordan had 11,345 prisoners in Administrative Detention 81 times the number in Israel, with a significant proportion of those detained being Palestinian.

praying protestor

Above: An Arab praying in front of Israeli police


####South Africa

The Natives Land Act, No 27 of 1913 - Made it illegal for blacks to purchase or lease land from whites except in reserves; this restricted black occupancy to less than eight per cent of South Africa’s land.

####Israel

Arabs can and do purchase and lease land from Jews and there are no restrictions on them doing so. It is illegal to discriminate between buyers based on religion or race.

When confronted with this fact, many people then point to the Jewish National Fund, which only allows Jews to buy, mortgage or lease its land. There are two important things to take into consideration in regards to the JNF:

  1. In 2005, Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ruled that the Israel Lands Administration could not comply with the JNF’s Jews-only policy as it directly contravened Israel’s anti-discrimination laws. Therefore, the JNF would be required to sell, lease or rent land to anyone regardless of religion or ethnicity.

  2. The Jewish National Fund was founded in 1901 in order to help Jews settle in the land of Israel at a time of growing global anti-Semitism. It was an NGO dedicated to aiding Jews regain territory in their ancestral homeland. This was akin to establishing Indian Reservations in the US or Aboriginal land rights in Australia however it was established and funded by the Jews themselves rather than the ruling government. It is understandable that such areas are run by and in many cases, restricted to, members of the native tribes who were kicked off their land so many years ago and that need these areas to maintain their cultural traditions. There are many laws in the United States, like the Dawes Act and the Indian Reorganization Act that deal specifically with setting aside land only for members of the tribes while Australia has the Indigenous Land Corporation whose sole purpose is to aid Aboriginal Australians gain and manage their land. If Australia were to elect an Aborigines Prime Minister, it would still be necessary and just to have land set aside specifically for Aboriginal use and settlement. The same is true for Israel and the Jewish National Fund.

####Palestinian Authority

It is illegal to sell land to Jews - Any Palestinians who sells land to Jews is not only subject to intense social pressure leading to most claiming they were misled as to the real buyers, but the PLO’s Revolutionary Penal Code (1979) applies the death penalty to anyone “transferring positions to the enemy.” While this was strictly enforced in the 1990s, Abbas has not authorized executions for land sales since 2004. Instead, Palestinians convicted of selling land to Jews are now sentenced to hard labor for life.

Technically these laws refer either to “enemy states” or “Israelis,” however in practice, this is only ever applied to land deals with Jews. There has never been a case where Palestinians were prosecuted for selling land to Israeli Arabs, despite the fact that many buy homes in the PA. Additionally, since all Jews were ethnically cleansed from Judea and Samaria by Jordan and Gaza by Egypt in 1948, there are no Jewish citizens of the Palestinian Authority (other than token citizenship for famous Israeli “peaceniks” like Daniel Barenboim who don’t actually live there) who could buy land or property without being members of an “enemy state.” The effect is that it is illegal to sell or rent land to Jews in the Palestinian Authority.


Clearly anyone who accuses Israel being an apartheid state either does not know what apartheid is, what Israel is or is a liar.

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