Sunday, November 07, 2010

Israel and Apartheid ...

I remember it rather vividly. It was around the end of 2002 and I was in the process of starting my self education about Israel.

Growing up I hadn't really cared that much about Israel, and I honestly didn't know that much either. When the second Intifada broke out during my junior year in college it really took me by surprise. It's hard to think back and remember how ignorant I was, but I really didn't understand what I was seeing all around me. There were protests and posters and fliers, and almost all of it was denouncing Israel.

So when I got back home from college, I decided that I needed to actually learn something about Israel. I wandered into a random bookstore and picked up about five different books on the subject. I tried to get a diverse set of books that would represent both sides of the subject. So along with From Beirut to Jerusalem and From Time Immemorial I also picked up a book called The Second Intifada: Resisting Israeli Apartheid.

This was my first introduction to the infamous Zionism=Apartheid analogy. The funny thing is that this book, which laid out a plan to dismantle Israel, was one of the main things that motivated me to care even more about Israel. It motivated me, in a way, to eventually move to Israel. I guess I never really cared that much about Israel until I realized there were people who were trying to take it away from me. Perhaps that's what it took for me to realize how important it was, and ultimately how important it is to me to be Jewish. But that's a post for a different time.

The reason I'm touching on this subject is because the South African Jewish community has recently put together a website in support of Israel that directly challenges the false apartheid comparison. This is a community that experienced apartheid rule and understands the difference between it and Israel far better than Israel's critics. The website doesn't refrain from criticizing Israel's practices in the West Bank, but it points out how the apartheid analogy caries almost no significance for anyone trying to understand the conflict here.

Go check out the site right now.

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