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`Learning the Lesson from South Africa` - When Haaretz Publishes a Cynical Piece...

OM Editor`s Note:

On 25/4/10 Haaretz published an article by Prof. Amir Hetsroni, of the Ariel University Center of Samaria, a college in the illegal settlement of Ariel (translation follows). The center has been granted the status of `university center` by the Israeli Minister of **Defense**, Ehud Barak, who apparently has the authority to act as a high commissioner of education matters, in an occupied territory...
This happened in spite of opposition by Israel`s higher education authorities:

In the article Prof. Hetsroni argues against the labeling of Israeli policies as `apartheid`, since Israeli policies are simply a result of `security needs` (one can only wonder if that includes the establishment of the settlements, like Ariel). However, his main point is that since apartheid was good for white South Africans, they should have stood up to international pressure (and so should we, Israeli Jews, here in Israel).

Unlike the vast majority of original Hebrew content, this article was not translated onto the Haaretz English-language mirror. This follows a pattern we have noticed repeatedly, where articles and op-eds deemed by unknown English-edition personnel at Haaretz as too `embarrassing` for external consumption are not translated (perhaps the most glaring example for this was the non-translation of a story about the IDF killing of 13-year-old Eimann El-Hamas in Rafah in 2004).

In further correspondence with Prof. Hetsroni, he added that `Arabs, as a rule, understand only force`, and claimed `All we have done to them was to take a few olive trees, that`s all`.

The honorable Professor writes for the Israeli newspaper Maariv/NRG on a regular basis.
Somewhat strangely, the article was also published by Maariv two days later.

`Learning the Lesson from South Africa`

Amir Hetsroni (*)

In the debates on the future of Judea and Samaria, the left regularly uses the South African example as its doomsday weapon. The message is that unless we end what is called `the apartheid policy` in the territories, we will become a pariah state among the international community, like South Africa in the 70`s and 80`s. In my opinion, even if one adopts a critical approach towards Israel`s policies in the West Bank, it is exaggerated to regard this policy as apartheid.

It is possible that in some aspects of everyday life, there is occasional separation between settlers and Palestinians, but this separation stems from security considerations (which are perhaps exaggerated sometimes) and not from a racist world view. However, the flaw in the use of the South African example lies not just in the lack of sufficient similarity between fable (South African white people) and the moral (Jews in Israel), but also in total distortion of the lesson one has to draw from the fable.

According to the leftist version, South Africa of the apartheid era was a terrible place to live in, not just for the black population but also for the white public, while today it is a heaven on earth. The truth is different. It is true that in the 80`s South Africa was boycotted by most states, which rendered the South African passport a useless piece of paper, but the standards of living of white South Africans at the time were quite high. It is also true that today white South Africans are free to go anywhere across the globe, but in reality their course of movement - a one way ticket - teaches us that it is probably unpleasant to live as a white man in free black South Africa.

Since the abolition of apartheid, in 1994, 20% of the white population has left the country. The reasons are numerous, including, among others, high rates of rape and murder (50 acts a day), which make the South African street one of the most dangerous in the world, in complete contrast to the low crime rates during the time of the white regime.

In addition to shaky internal security, a series of `affirmative action` regulations, which have made the ownership of white businesses a Sisyphean task, since these businesses are obliged - by law - to add black members to the management, and cede partial control of the agricultural farms to those blacks. Even from the aspect of democratic diversity, it is hard to claim that South Africa is thriving: Ever since the abolition of apartheid, the ANC party has ruled the country, sweeping around two thirds of parliament seats in every election, which makes the word `opposition` seem like a parody, minimizing the white population`s ability to fulfill its political interests.

True, South Africa can nowadays participate in the Olympic Games, and will even host the Soccer World Cup this summer, but are these symbolic profits worth the abolition of apartheid? From the pragmatic point of view of an average white South African, the abolition seems like a shady deal in hindsight.

This article does not intend to support apartheid as an ideology. Furthermore - as mentioned earlier - even if one adopts a critical position towards Israel, it is difficult to compare our policy towards the Palestinians to South Africa`s treatment of black people during the era of racial separation (when even sexual relations between the races were considered a criminal offense).

However, since it is the South African example that is drawn as the conclusive proof that unless we kowtow to the international community, we shall be doomed, perhaps we should learn something from the rather sorry fate of the white South African public in the post-apartheid era: Sometimes standing firm in the face of an international boycott is better than bowing down.

- Prof. Hetsroni teaches at the `Ariel University Center in Samaria`, i.e. the college at the Ariel settlement.
-Translated by Ofer Neiman
-Hebrew version originally published by Haaretz:
on 25/4/10.


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