click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

The Apartheid Propaganda

The Apartheid Propaganda

Labeling Israel as an "apartheid state" is the embodiment of the new anti-Semitism that seeks to deny the Jewish people the right of equality and self-determination among the nations.


The 1975 UN resolution equating Zionism with racism was the opening shot in the political war to dismember Israel through what Palestinian leaders refer to as "the South African strategy." The process has continued, most notably in the 2001 Durban conference against racism and in the propaganda campaign that attempts to label Israel's anti-terror barrier as an "apartheid wall."

On August 24, Haaretz reported that South African law professor John Dugard, "the special rapporteur for the United Nations on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories," told the UN General Assembly that "there is 'an apartheid regime' in the territories 'worse than the one that existed in South Africa.'"

Although the comparison between Israel and the apartheid regime that ruled South Africa is entirely fictitious, the demonization efforts are propelled by repeating and reinforcing this analogy. The attempt to label Israel as an illegitimate "apartheid state" is the embodiment of the new anti-Semitism that seeks to deny the Jewish people the right of equality and self-determination among the nations.

The South African strategy is not simply based on rhetoric, academic boycott calls, and waving placards at Israel-bashing demonstrations so common in Europe and elsewhere. There is a vast network of powerful non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, Christian Aid, and their Palestinian and Israel Arab allies, that are the main channels for spreading the big lies of "war crimes" and "apartheid." Similarly, the repetition of the rhetoric of demonization by Palestinian and Arab officials in the media helps to propel this strategy.

Their long-term goal is to use the UN to impose economic sanctions on Israel, widening the Arab boycott to encompass much of the world.

Their long-term goal is to use the UN to impose economic sanctions on Israel, widening the Arab boycott to encompass much of the world. Economic measures contributed to the downfall of the real apartheid regime in South Africa -- thus the appeal of this approach. The recent exploitation of the UN to indict Israel for building a security barrier, followed by a pseudo-legal endorsement from the misnamed International Court of Justice, are important elements in this game plan. Next on the agenda will be the introduction of a UN resolution to impose sanctions, citing Israeli rejection of the ICJ advisory opinion.

In reality, the analogy and rhetoric are absurd, and they demean Black victims of the real apartheid regime in South Africa. Zionism and the revival of national sovereignty in the Jewish homeland are not manifestations of European colonialism, in contrast to the white settlers (Afrikans, English, and others) who created Johannesburg and Pretoria. And while Black labor was exploited in slavery-like conditions under apartheid, in contrast, Palestinians are dependent on Israeli employment due to their own internal corruption and economic failures. Israel does not benefit from cheap and unskilled Palestinian labor - rather, Palestinian dependency is a drain on both societies.

Similarly, while South African apartheid was based on denial of sovereignty for the Black population, Israelis accepted the "two-state solution" from the beginning, including the 1947 UN partition plan. Arab citizens of Israel have the same democratic rights as Israelis, including full parliamentary representation and free speech -- in sharp contrast to the Blacks under apartheid, or minorities in most Arab countries.

The politicized claims of Israeli "apartheid" distort the historical record and denigrate the suffering of Black South African victims of the real thing.

Indeed, the racism and denial of legitimacy characteristic of apartheid are actually applicable to Arab and Islamic rejection of Jewish rights. In the Middle East and the rest of the world, Jews are a tiny and oppressed minority, struggling to maintain cultural identity and survive in a hostile and violent environment. But these basic facts are politically incorrect and inconsistent with the demonization of Israel.

The "Zionism is apartheid" propaganda is also used to justify Palestinian terrorist attacks and the efforts to deny Israelis the basic human right of self-defense against being ripped apart in bus and caf bombings. In effect, the relentless barrage of the term "apartheid wall" by Palestinian propagandists, including Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, UN representative Nasser Al-Kidwa, and NGOs such as B'tselem, Mossawa, Adallah, the ISM, seek to keep Israelis exposed to terror attacks.

By screaming "apartheid" at every opportunity, the leaders of this campaign have succeeded in burying data showing that this barrier has saved the lives of many Israelis. In today's immoral political doublespeak, protecting Israelis from terror has become "apartheid."

At the same time, while there are legitimate differences over the wisdom of Israeli settlement policy in the areas captured in 1967 in the wake of Arab aggression, these differences are also unrelated to the political rhetoric of "apartheid." Ethno-national disputes, occupation, and charges of discrimination against minorities are also part of the conflicts in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Kosovo and Bosnia, Sri Lanka, India/Pakistan, etc., but the demonization campaign is unique to Israel.

Clearly, the South African strategy designed to propel the political war against Israel has many weaknesses. For instance, faced with a campus divestment campaign, Columbia University president Lee Bollinger called the comparison of Israel to apartheid South Africa "grotesque and offensive."

It is necessary to expose the big lie at the center of the apartheid campaign. Beyond exposing the absurdity of the charges against Israel, it is time to put Arab and Islamic racism - as shown in Sudan and elsewhere - at the center of the international agenda. In political warfare just as on the military battlefield, the best defense is a good offense.

This article originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post.

August 28, 2004

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 11

(11) Mike Seth, May 4, 2012 2:25 PM

Eli E. Hertz has compiled a book of devastating criticism of ICJ's decision

It is called "Reply to the Advisory Opinion of 8 July 2004 in the matter of legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory as submitted by the International Court of Justice" It is available freely as a PDF and online at

(10) Anonymous, July 19, 2011 9:35 AM

And look what is happening in South Africa now that the apartheid is gone 15 years later ,rape,murder,robbery's, the worst kind of violence you can think off, is on everybody's front porch. People's houses look like prison cells, because theyr'e scared of being murdered. I say the white man of S.A. must take backwhat our ancestors fought for and regain our countrey for a better future.For all white and black. Israel must not give in to what the world want's them to do. They will end up living like the white people in S.A. In fear!!!

(9) Dennis Maeder, February 1, 2005 12:00 AM

Apartheid misrepresented

Having grown up in Apartheid South Africa, I must object to your bad assertion that "apartheid was based on denial of sovereignty for the Black population" while Israelis accepted the "two-state solution".

South African apartheid went far beyond the deplorable race classification - the Bantustan policy sought to produce geographically separated "Nations" and "Independent Homelands". That bears a striking resemblance to the Palestinian solution.

(8) STEVE, October 17, 2004 12:00 AM

demonisation of Israel,part of a foolish liberal one world view

Your article struck only part of the problem,the Arab world is undemocratic, it has lavished it's Oil revenues upon a small percentage of it's population and the rest can go where it likes, the pent up frustration at zero civil rights is pointed towards Israel,the only democracy in the region.
The liberal recived wisdom is that Palestinians must have their own homelands, but Arafat ( with $ millions stashed away in France and Switzerland)has already baulked at taking the offer on the table years ago, he and his type of terrorist do not want peace they want Israel.
Do not give in for they wish the destruction of the State of Israel, nothing less, as in the tale of the Fox and the Scorpion it is just in his nature to behave as he does.
The banding together of the South African situation with the current one is disgusting hyperbole and is swallowed by the undereducated and politically naive alike.

(7) david singer, August 31, 2004 12:00 AM

International Court of Justice opinion worthless

The 150 countries that endorsed the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice [ICJ] declaring Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank to be illegal need to take a second look at their rush to condemn Israel for its actions.

This follows an inspection of the Court file showing that both the ICJ and the Secretary General of the United Nations [UN] Kofi Annan deliberately ignored a comprehensive body of international law legitimizing the right of Israel to build the barrier in the West Bank.

That law is comprised in the Treaty of Sevres 1920, the Mandate for Palestine 1922 and article 80 of the United Nations Charter, which substantiates the inalienable right of the Jewish people to settle and reconstitute their national home in the West Bank. Such law prevents both the ICJ and the UN taking any action to alter or withdraw this right without the express consent of Israel.

The Court’s failure to consider this law has fatally flawed its opinion and made any future reliance on it totally unjustified.


David Singer



See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment