Fast Food Apartheid

2016-01-31 11:15

It’s twenty years later and South Africans have not fully dealt with the horrors of their past. And as much as this might irk many, the reality is that so vile and meticulous was the design and implementation of the system, that it is little wonder that this is the case. The laws were all encompassing and crafted to make certain that not only that the designated racial groups remained separate but that Whites would be privileged, better educated, have superior healthcare as well as retain political and social control.

In order to achieve this, all aspects of everyday life had to be regulated. From freedom of association, relationships between racial groups, education systems, healthcare, beaches and public benches and bathrooms down to separate carriages on a train. Racial groups could not share a meal, could not use the same facilities, learn from the same textbooks and live in the same areas. They could not marry. And if you were Black then you could not work in certain positions, would be subject to a sub standard education and would be told where you could live. Failure to comply would mean arrest. Spot checks were conducted as the South African Police roamed the streets in search of the non compliant. Black families were separated because of financial need, ensuring that scrupulous system impacted on each and every person; man, woman and child.

Which makes me wonder why South Africans have been so quick to lend their history to an ill-fitting situation in Israel. Israel Apartheid Week is about to visit a theatre near you. And as they have done for the last few years, South Africans have sold themselves short without understanding the damage they are doing.

To say that Israel is an apartheid state is to suggest that most countries around the world are too. Perhaps even South Africa. To begin with, Israel is a democracy (unlike most of her neighbours). Arab citizen vote, have political parties and have freedom of speech. There are no limitations on movement, receive the exact same health care, education, are doctors and lawyers and Supreme Court judges. They ride the same busses, bathe on the same beaches and are citizens of the country in the full sense.

If they are subject to more stringent security checks it is because of the on-goingsecurity dilemma that the county faces - with the murder of Israeli Citizens being carried out by Israeli Arabs creating the self fulfilling and inevitable prophecy. And whereas I am certain it is not the way that anyone wants to live, the old adage, “You are not paranoid if someone really wants to kill you” comes to mind. Israelis are being murdered in the streets; mothers and daughters and sisters stabbed in front of their families because they are Jewish. Eradicating that is not apartheid, its vital.

My son of 14 and I watched two innocent family men bleed to death. We were on holiday in Jerusalem in December when two Palestinians ran down a street stabbing people. The one terrorist was gunned down immediately and the other restrained. We stood by numb and shaking and speechless as two men of peace, of God, bled out and died. My son asked me how God could allow this to happen and I had no words. I had no doubt that God had no words either.

Jews in Israel are precluded from praying on the Temple Mount. The holiest place on earth for Jews. Jews in Israel are only allowed to live in 5% of Hebron because the Palestinian population would murder them as they have done before in Hebron. As they did well before there was a State of Israel. Jews have no freedom of movement and are confined to a “Ghetto” of sorts. Given the history of Gaza, where Israel withdrew completely, a Palestinian State would not allow practice of Judaism and would hardly tolerate the practice of Christianity. It would not accept gay citizens. Israel on the other hand has the only thriving Christian community in the Middle East and has one of the most progressive gay communities.

Whilst the situation in Israel is far from ideal, especially in the West Bank, and is in urgent need of a change to the status quo in order to achieve tranquility and stability, it is an inaccurate and unfair compare government policy and implementation to apartheid. There is no doubting that there needs to be some movement on both sides but vilifying the Israeli Government is not constructive and will achieve little. The false narrative of Israel as the oppressor is simplistic, damaging untrue. And not repetition of this by those who wish to see her destroyed makes it more so.

The narrative of Israel as an apartheid state is dishonest. It subverts the truth. It accuses Israel of the very thing that we know to be untrue to Israel but true to the Palestinian Authority and to Hamas. But it is powerful and it works, especially if repeated often enough. And sadly South Africans are so quick to relinquish their history to this fallacy.

To call Israel an Apartheid State is to deny the real horrors of apartheid. It bastardises a meticulous and evil system and turns it into fast food. Its snappy and quick and is powerful in imagery. But it’s plain and simply a lie.

The apartheid system was a horror that will live in South African consciousness for decades. More than twenty years later the wounds are yet to heal. Which makes it all the more perplexing that South Africans would allow their history to be stolen from them, to be used inappropriately, and to negate the reality of their past.

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