The Apartheid Smear


Israel is not an apartheid state

The allegation damages the peace process

The launch of an important new publication from BICOM

The idea that Israel is an ‘apartheid state’ is the intellectual foundation of the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (BDS). This pamphlet shows it is a smear: a malicious lie that does huge damage to the peace process.


The pamphlet shows Israel is not an ‘apartheid state’

  • Israel is a multi-ethnic democracy. Every citizen is guaranteed equal rights under the law.
  • Universities and hospitals are integrated and the judiciary counters discrimination.
  • Israel’s Arab citizens hold collective rights as a national minority. Arabic is an official language and there is a thriving Arabic mass media, literature and theatre scene.
  • The Israeli government combats discrimination and is pursuing policies to close the economic gaps between majority and minority, open up the civil service, equalise welfare, introduce Arabic into Jewish schools, and improve access to higher education.

The pamphlet shows that the Apartheid Smear works against peace      

  • The smear stops us from understanding the conflict as it is – not apartheid but a complicated and long-running national conflict between two peoples, about their equally legitimate national claims over a piece of land, requiring mutual recognition and a negotiated solution: two states for two peoples.
  • The smear damages hopes for peace by encouraging extremists, demoralising moderates, and fostering a destructive ‘boycott activism’ in the West. The smear causes political polarisation, damaging the chance of compromise, mutual recognition and reconciliation.
  • The smear consumes energies that should be invested in a different kind of activism; pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli: pro-peace.

The pamphlet refutes the supporting arguments of those who push the Apartheid Smear

  • It shows that Zionism is not a form of racism.
  • It shows that in 1948 the Jews accepted the UN partition plan but a pan-Arab invasion of the infant Jewish state caused a war. The Palestinian refugee problem was born of this war, not by design, and certainly not by ‘ethnic cleansing.’
  • It shows that being a ‘Jewish state’ does not make Israel an apartheid state. Israel is not a theocracy (rule by clerics) or a state exclusively for Jews, but a democracy, governed by the rule of law as drafted by an elected parliament, the Knesset. All faiths vote and all enjoy freedom of worship. The Declaration of Independence explicitly provides for the protection of minorities.
  • It challenges a series of myths about the Territories: the Palestinian Authority is not a ‘Bantustan’, the security barrier is not an ’Apartheid Wall’, and settlements have not killed the two state solution.

The pamphlet reveals the true history of the Apartheid Smear

  • The smear originated in the well-funded, and often antisemitic ‘anti-Zionist’ campaigns waged by the Communist states for their Cold War purposes from the 1940s to the 1980s.
  • The smear was boosted when a coalition between the Soviet Bloc, the authoritarian Arab states, and the Non-Aligned Movement’ used its built-in majority at the UN General Assembly to pass Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism in 1975.
  • The smear went global when anti-Israel activists hijacked the UN’s World Conference against Racism, Racial Intolerance and Xenophobia in Durban, South Africa in 2001 to launch a global campaign to label Israel as an ‘apartheid state.’ South Africa’s then Deputy Foreign Minister, Aziz Pahad, responded: ‘I wish to make it unequivocally clear that the South African government recognises that … [the Durban Conference] was hijacked and used by some with an anti-Israel agenda to turn into an antisemitic event.’
  • The pattern is clear: whatever the good intentions of some supporters of the Apartheid Smear, in the minds of its hard-core promoters there is a darker purpose: the demonisation of Israel as a pariah state in order to prepare the ground for its eventual destruction. Enough is enough.

The pamphlet shows there is an alternative

  • It is possible to be pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli: pro-peace.
  • Nelson Mandela challenged us to support those on both sides of the conflict who seek mutual recognition and peace: two states for two peoples.
  • Many organisations do just that, including One Voice, Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF), MEET, Merchavim, Peres Centre for Peace.
  • This is the real alternative to the dead-end and destructive politics of ‘BDS’ and the Apartheid Smear.

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