No pro-Hamas, anti-Israel protest would be complete without a few posters or banners demanding an end to “Israeli apartheid” — after all, many of the protesters attend colleges that host an annual “Israeli Apartheid Week” as part of their Spring festivities.
But the term “Israeli apartheid” is a farcical slur, meant to indict Israel as a racist nation by comparing it to the South African apartheid government.
There are two components to refuting this claim. The first one is easy, involving only a brief comparison between apartheid South Africa and Israel. The second part is more difficult, explaining the origin of the slanderous accusation.
The term “apartheid” is an Afrikaans word meaning “apartness.” Beginning in 1948, South Africa’s government implemented a series of laws that forced Black people to live apart from whites within the same country — an important detail. Those who accuse Israel of apartheid conflate foreign and domestic policy to substantiate their weak claim that Palestinian Arabs living in Gaza and parts of the West Bank controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) are forced to live apart from the citizens of Israel. But these “Palestinians” do not have rights to anything in Israel since they don’t live in Israel. This is not apartheid social policy, but rather common-sense international relations. For instance, US laws don’t apply in Canada, and Canadians can’t vote in American elections, but nobody calls this arrangement “apartheid.”
South Africa’s apartheid laws withheld from Black citizens the rights and privileges that white citizens enjoyed. But there are no such laws in Israel today. Not a single element of apartheid South African law discriminating against non-whites is applied by Israel against its non-Jewish citizens.
Arab citizens of Israel are not forced to live separately from Jewish citizens. Arab citizens of Israel have the same rights as Jewish citizens. Arab citizens of Israel can be anything they want in Israel — doctors, lawyers, soldiers, police officers, members of the Supreme Court, and politicians. Many Arab citizens of Israel join the IDF. Nearly 20 percent of students at Israeli universities are Arab citizens, and Israel has devoted considerable efforts to increase that number.
That’s not how apartheid works.
It is important to understand that the “Israel-is-an-apartheid state” lie did not originate from one of the usual suspects — the UN, academia, or a Hamas front group. In fact, it came from post-apartheid South Africa itself.
The link between post-apartheid South Africa and Palestinian terrorists begins with the friendship between Nelson Mandela and Yasser Arafat. In 1990, Mandela said, “we identify with the PLO because just like ourselves, they are fighting for the right of self-determination.”
From its earliest days as a nation, Israel rejected apartheid. In 1962, Israel voted to condemn South Africa’s apartheid policies at the UN, where then-foreign minister Golda Meir said it was a “shameful iniquity.” But after the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, almost every nation in Africa had severed ties with Israel. South Africa was not one of them, so Israel traded with it and maintained diplomatic ties. Mandela, it seems, never forgave Israel. He explained in 1994 that his African National Congress (ANC) party, then ruling the country, was “extremely unhappy” about Israel’s relations with South Africa’s apartheid government.
Mandela never called Israel an apartheid state, but his wife Winnie did, and so too did his grandson, a convert to Islam. In 2004, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela mourned the death of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, telling a group called the Palestine Solidarity Alliance in Johannesburg that “Apartheid Israel can be defeated, just as apartheid in South Africa was defeated.” In 2017, Mandla Mandela, son of Nelson’s son Makgatho, called Israel “the worst apartheid regime,” and exclaimed that “Palestinians are being subjected to the worst version of apartheid.”
Another famous South African combined his anti-apartheid credibility with his religious authority to make the charge. Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop of South Africa, or as Yishai Fleisher calls him, “the reverend father of Israel apartheid,” also called Israel an apartheid state. According Fleisher, “with his credentials in fighting apartheid, Tutu worked to reframe Israel in the same category as South Africa: as white oppressors, interlopers, colonialists, a foreign entity in the Middle East.”
Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt concurs, arguing that “Tutu was probably more responsible for introducing the slanderous accusations about Israel being an Apartheid state into the public discourse than anyone else.”
As Alan Dershowitz points out, Tutu “accused the Jews of Israel of doing ‘things that even Apartheid South Africa had not done.’”
It’s not a coincidence that the UN held its World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, in Durban, South Africa, from August 31 to September 8, 2001. The conference’s declaration targeted Israel by equating Zionism with racism, and identifying Israel as an occupying power. The declaration drafting committee, chaired by Iran, adopted language recognizing a “right” of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.
After the Durban conference, the once-venerable Human Rights Watch (HRW) took up the apartheid slur. Under Kenneth Roth’s direction, HRW became devoted to anti-Israel activism, culminating with his effort to tar Israel as an apartheid state in a report released on April 27, 2021.
Following the deaths of both Mandela in 2013 and Tutu in 2021, South Africa under the ANC increased its anti-Israel stance, including support for Hamas. After the October 7 pogrom in Israel, Hamas sent two of its top officials to Johannesburg — Bassem Naim and Khaled Qaddoumi, Hamas’ representative in Iran. On December 5, Naim took more Hamas officials to South Africa to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Mandela’s death. They were warmly received in Pretoria.
On November 6, South Africa recalled its ambassadors from Israel. On November 21, South African lawmakers voted to close the Israeli embassy in Pretoria, and in late December, they brought charges against Israel at the UN’s International Court of Justice.
Psychologists might explain South Africa’s hostility towards Israel as a combination of guilt, projection, revenge, and simple antisemitism. Whatever the impetus, the slur that Israel is practicing apartheid against Palestinians is a gross distortion of history that diminishes the horrors of genuine apartheid.
Investigative Project on Terrorism (IP)T Senior Fellow A.J. Caschetta is a principal lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a fellow at Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum where he is also a Ginsberg-Milstein fellow. A version of this article was originally published at IPT.
The post South Africa Is Wrong: Israel Is Not an Apartheid State first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
When Judaism didn’t offer rituals for a stillbirth, a grieving couple created their own
(JTA) — On Nov. 29, 2021, Ilan and Sherri Glazer announced to the public that they were expecting a baby after three rounds of IVF.
The following day, during their 20-week ultrasound, they learned that their baby’s brain wasn’t forming properly. Multiple scans and visits with other doctors confirmed that their long-awaited baby’s condition was not compatible with a good quality of life, and the couple made the difficult decision to terminate at 26 weeks.
They named the baby Shemaryah, meaning “God watches over.” The name comes from Psalm 121, which the couple sang every night during the pregnancy before going to sleep. They continued singing the psalm following the 20-week checkup, and sang it once more at Shemaryah’s funeral.
Two years later, Ilan Glazer, a rabbi and musician, is releasing an album inspired by his family’s experience, with lyrics drawn from Jewish liturgy, including poems and psalms. The melodies came to him throughout the IVF process, while most of the words emerged as he and Sherri grieved the loss of their son.
Now, Ilan hopes his album, “Gam Ki Elech: Turning Our Sorrows Into Songs,” might provide solace to others in cases where Jewish liturgy, law and custom are limited in what they can provide for parents experiencing the early loss of a child.
Glazer said it was particularly painful that the local Jewish burial society declined to wash Shemaryah’s body following his death — a ritual known as tahara — because he was less than 30 days old. Jewish law does not require traditional mourning or burial practices for a baby who lived fewer than 30 days.
Instead, the Glazers spent the Shabbat following the stillbirth ritually preparing Shemaryah’s body for burial with assistance from friends.
“The worst thing that you can tell a family just after a loved one has died is, ‘We’re not going to help you,’” Ilan said. “And that was especially jarring.”
He added, “Grief over child loss is not widely discussed in the Jewish community.”
“One of the hardest parts of stillbirth,” said Rabbi Idit Solomon, CEO of Hasidah, a group that provides grants and support for Jewish families undergoing IVF, is that “we have advanced emotionally and societally and the Jewish community is still kind of religiously immature and theologically immature.”
Historians and anthropologists say there is a compassionate — and also pragmatic — motivation behind a tradition that does not mourn stillbirth and miscarriage with the rigorous rituals applied to the death of an older child or adult.
“Until the 20th century, you had very high infant mortality rates,” said Michal Raucher, associate professor of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. “If we instituted all of the mourning rituals that we have for a child or an adult for every miscarriage and stillbirth, for every infant that died in the first couple of weeks of life, people would be in mourning all the time.”
The decline in infant mortality and other advances in neonatology have led families to seek new rituals. While saying the Mourner’s Kaddish for a stillborn baby might be rare, Raucher says in recent years she has seen more informal and online communities emerge to connect members of the Jewish community who have experienced stillbirth and miscarriages. Community members are typically willing to bring a meal to the house of a family mourning a stillbirth or a late miscarriage, replicating “some of the ways that the Jewish community supports people who have experienced loss,” Raucher said.
In 1998, a “grieving ritual following miscarriage or stillbirth” was included in “Lifecycles,” a landmark book of new Jewish rituals created by and for Jewish women. In her 2007 study “Inventing Jewish Rituals,” religion scholar Vanessa Ochs writes that new rites developed since the 1970s surrounding miscarriage, stillbirths, infertility and abortion “mark events linked to women’s bodily experiences that previously have not evoked formal Jewish responses.”
When the Glazers opened up to their rabbi, it led him to discuss the subject from the synagogue pulpit, recounting in sermons how the mothers in the early Genesis stories dealt with their own challenges in conceiving, Sherri Glazer said.
But, she said, “it doesn’t help that those same Bible stories that talk about women struggling end with the women ultimately having kids.”
“The Jewish community can definitely do better,” she added. “I think that’s why we’re speaking out. This is our experience. This is who we are.”
In addition to choosing their own Jewish mourning rituals, Sherri Glazer created a mosaic, the concept for the design appearing to her in something like a vision.
“I kept having this imagery show up in my dreams of Shemaryah in the clouds, of him playing ball, of him being a kid,” she told JTA. “And that image really stuck with me. It showed up more than once.”
On Shemaryah’s first yahrzeit, the anniversary of his death, she hung up the mosaic behind the family’s Shabbat candles. The commandment to “keep” and “remember” the Sabbath, shamor v’zachor — corresponding with the Shabbat candles — shares a root with Shemaryah’s name.
On Friday nights, the Glazers say the blessing for the children to connect with Shemaryah, even though he’s not there.
“He’s very much part of our ritual lives,” Sherri said.
Acknowledging the loss publicly, both parents say, has been crucial to their grieving process, and made it clear to their community members this is not something they would keep silent about — especially since so much of Jewish community life is predicated on childrearing.
After they announced the death of their son, multiple Jewish couples reached out to the Glazers saying they had also experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth or pregnancy termination, and they created a Facebook group for this community.
“We decided that, not entirely for selfish purposes, but we needed to hear from other couples about how they had gone through it, because there was so little material out there for us from a Jewish perspective,” Ilan Glazer said. “Obviously, everybody’s story is a little bit different, but how do you go forward? How do you talk about the death of one child to another child? How do you mark the anniversary of a death? There are things that only those who have faced this have to think about and it’s been very meaningful to have that place.”
In addition to the Facebook group and their synagogue community, the Glazers hope to have plenty of opportunity to discuss what family looks like after loss. Sherri is pregnant again, due in March. (The couple chose embryo donation after learning that Ilan has a mild version of the same syndrome that caused Shemaryah’s brain condition and could pass it on to another child.)
“It’s even harder to plan for a new baby after having a loss like we had. Until this baby is actually here in our arms, it’s really hard to really even envision them being here,” Sherri said. “It is clear to both of us that we want them to know about Shemaryah, that Shemaryah will always be their big brother.”
Much like with their rounds of IVF and as with Shemaryah, music and Jewish ritual played a big role in this pregnancy.
Sherri and Ilan went to the mikveh, or ritual pool, before the embryo transfer, and for Jewish inspiration consulted a fertility guide from Mayyim Hayyim, a Boston-based mikveh and spirituality center. It was there that Sherri found a verse in English that she wanted as their next song.
While the song won’t be on the 13-track album, Ilan performed it at the close of the album release show two weeks ago at Beth Am Baltimore, the Conservative synagogue where he and Sherri are members.
“I want this to be a healing experience,” Ilan, who is also an addiction recovery coach, said. “Every time I share these melodies with others, people tell me that it allows them to process grief that they’ve been carrying, in some cases, for many years. And I’m truly honored by that.”
The post When Judaism didn’t offer rituals for a stillbirth, a grieving couple created their own appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Here’s Exactly What the International Court of Justice Held About Israel
Last week, the International Court of Justice (IJC) issued its decision on South Africa’s request for the indication of provisional measures — in effect, an injunction — against Israel in regard to alleged violations of the Genocide Convention in the context of the Israel’s use of force in response to the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas-led attacks in Israel.
The Court found that it had jurisdiction because South Africa and Israel are parties to the Genocide Convention, but both disagree on the interpretation and application of that Convention in the Gaza context. The Convention provides for ICJ jurisdiction in such circumstances.
The Court reminded the parties that, at this stage of proceedings, its decision is preliminary and without prejudice to final decisions about jurisdiction, facts, and merits. The Court concluded that it had a basis for indicating provisional measures based on the plausibility of South Africa’s claim that Palestinian rights under the Convention might be at risk in Gaza, and that therefore, protective measures were in order. In this connection, the Court found that the Palestinian people were a distinct group within the meaning of the Genocide Convention and thus entitled to protection against genocide. At the same time, the Court noted that it was not obliged to indicate the provisional measures that South Africa had requested.
By majorities from 15-2 to 16-1, the Court then required Israel to take all steps within its power to prevent acts of genocide within the meaning of the Genocide Convention — “killing members of the group [Palestinians], causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.” Israel is to prevent and punish “direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip.” Israel is to ensure that its armed forces do not commit genocide. Israel is to ensure to the extent it can the provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. Israel is to protect evidence of genocide. And Israel is to report within one month from today on its compliance with the Court’s order.
The Court did not explicitly say that its requirements were subject to intent. But the Genocide Convention requires “intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.” Therefore, one may safely conclude that, so long as Israel does not intend to commit acts that violate the Genocide Convention, conducting military operations in accordance with the laws of war in Gaza or elsewhere is permitted. Unintended civilian deaths that occur in the course of military operations do not constitute either war crimes per se or acts of genocide.
The Court emphasized that its conclusions were based on resolutions, reports, and statements by UN bodies and UN and other officials in the public record. The Court did not take such reports or words as definitive. It emphasized that none of the facts alleged could be independently verified at this time. This statement by the Court applied even to UN estimates of the size of Gaza’s population.
ICJ judges are elected by, and responsive to, the UN General Assembly and Security Council. The ICJ thus is a political body. Its judgments, especially in cases such as the one brought by South Africa, must be understood against this background. As is well known to those who have served in foreign ministries, some judges consult with, and take direction from, their governments prior to issuing decisions.
What did the Court actually do? At bottom, it reminded the parties and the world that “thou shall not commit genocide” and, to the extent of one’s capability, shall protect people at risk of genocide. It reminded all fighters that they are obligated to conform to the laws of war — “international humanitarian law” — something we know that Hamas and its associates do not do. As a matter of international law and Israeli domestic law, including decisions of Israel’s Supreme Court, Israel must comply with IHL and, in the words of Israel’s President quoted by the Court, does so. And the Court called for the unconditional release of the hostages seized by Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023.
The Court thus did not indicate the provisional measures requested by South Africa. These included finding that Israel had breached the Convention and owed the Palestinian people reparations for such breach.
The Court did not find that Israel had violated or was violating the Genocide Convention. Thus, Israel should have no difficulty complying with last week’s order by the ICJ.
Nicholas Rostow is Senior Partner at Zumpano, Patricios & Popok PLLC and Senior Research Scholar at Yale Law School. This article first appeared in Just Security.
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Antisemitic Acts in France Went Up by 1,100% Immediately After October 7
SPCJ, France’s society to protect Jews, issued a report on the massive increase in antisemitism in that country after October 7.
That is an 1,100% increase in antisemitic acts between September and October.In fact, there were five days where the number of antisemitic incidents were higher than the entire month of February.
According to the statistics, 372 of the post-October 7 antisemitic acts in France mentioned “Palestine.” Of those:
more than 33% also advocated jihadism
more than 25% also called for murder
more than 10% also advocated Nazism
The increase in antisemitic acts was most pronounced in schools, where antisemitic incidents soared by more than 1,600% between September and October. In November, there were 31 incidents advocating Nazism in French schools.
And the rise in antisemitism did not begin as a response to Israel’s actions in Gaza. It began on October 7 itself, as soon as the slaughter of Jews was known. The SPCJ notes:
It should be noted that the outbreak of anti-Semitic acts in France began on October 7, the day of the surprise attack carried out by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PFLP. Thus, on the very day that images of the massacre of Israeli civilians were broadcast, antisemitic acts increased by more than 700% compared to the daily average observed from year to year.
This similar reaction had already been observed during the upsurge in antisemitic acts following the attack on the Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012 (an increase of almost 200%) and after the Hypercacher attack in 2015 (increase of almost 300%).
In light of these three events, a surprising and worrying phenomenon emerges: the media coverage of the massacre of Jews causes an increase in antisemitic acts.
Antisemitic acts are one of the best predictors of more antisemitic acts. Jew-haters see attacks by others as a green light for them to join in.
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