South African MP Rev. Dr. Kenneth Meshoe, a person of color who survived the apartheid regime, explains why he does not believe that Israel can be considered an apartheid state.
South African MP Rev. Dr. Kenneth Meshoe wrote in the San Francisco Examiner, “As a black South African who lived under apartheid, this system was implemented in South Africa to subjugate people of color and deny them a variety of their rights. In my view, Israel cannot be compared to apartheid in South Africa. Those who make the accusation expose their ignorance of what apartheid really is.” Meshoe made this statement upon visiting San Francisco, where he was shocked to learn of posters posted within the city comparing Israel to the apartheid regime in South Africa.
San Francisco was not the only American city to post such posters relatively recently. The Americans for Palestine group placed posters on the New York subway not too long ago where Desmond Tutu is quoted as stating, “I’ve been very distressed by my visit in the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa.” The ad then continues, “Americans give Israel $3 billion per year. End Apartheid Now! Stop US aid to Israel!” Yet, Meshoe has very strong arguments why Tutu and various anti-Israel groups wrongly compare the situation in Israel to the apartheid regime in South Africa.
He asserted, “As a black South African under apartheid, I, among other things, could not vote, nor could I freely travel the landscape of South Africa. No person of color could hold high government office. The races were strictly segregated at sports arenas, public restrooms, schools and on public transportation. People of color had inferior hospitals, medical care and education. If a white doctor was willing to take a black patient, he had to examine him or her in a back room or some other hidden place. In my numerous visits to Israel, I did not see any of the above.”
Indeed, Meshoe pointed out that in Israel, racial equality is enshrined in Israeli law. As the Israeli Declaration of Independence proclaims, Israel will “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irregardless of religion, race, or sex.” If one takes a train or bus in Israel, one will witness Muslims sitting next to Jews; Ethiopian Jews of color sitting next to Jews of European and Middle Eastern origin. On university campuses, in work places, and in restaurants, the same scene can be witnessed. No public bathroom in Israel is segregated by race or religion. Furthermore, there are Arabs serving as university professors, doctors, emergency room heads, soldiers, and even as Knesset members. Arabs in Israel have rights and privileges that a black living under the apartheid regime in South Africa can only dream of.
Meshoe concluded, “I believe that it is slanderous and deceptive for Israel’s self-defense measures against the terrorists’ campaign of suicide bombing, rocket attacks and other acts of terrorism that have occurred, and continue to occur, to be labeled as apartheid. I am shocked by the claim that the free, diverse, democratic state of Israel practices apartheid. This ridiculous accusation trivializes the word apartheid, minimizing and belittling the magnitude of the racism and suffering endured by South Africans of color.”
By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel