Benjamin Pogrund

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A protest against the government’s 'judicial reform’ law, Tel Aviv, Israel, 12 August, 2023. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Israel 2023, South Africa 1948. I’ve lived through it before: power grabbing, fascism and racism – the destruction of democracy. Israel is going where South Africa was 75 years ago. It’s like watching the replay of a horror movie.

In 1948, as a teenager in Cape Town, I followed the results of the 26 May election on a giant board on a newspaper building. The winner-takes-all electoral system produced distorted results: the Afrikaner Nationalist party, with its smaller partner, won 79 parliamentary seats against 74 for the United party and its smaller partner.

But the Nats, as they were called, in fact won only 37.7% of the vote against the opposition’s 49.2%.…  Seguir leyendo »

An undated photograph of a segregated Cape Town beach in apartheid South Africa. Credit Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis, via Getty Images

Among critics of Israel, it has become ever more common to accuse the Jewish state of imitating apartheid South Africa. This month, an obscure United Nations agency, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, whose membership comprises 18 Arab states, caused an uproar when it issued a report accusing Israel of applying the same racism in its conflict with Palestinians that made South Africa an international pariah. The United Nations secretary general swiftly repudiated the report, and it was removed from the agency’s website.

The idea that Israel is an apartheid state is a staple of the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement, which has made the South African comparison practically the lingua franca of anti-Israel activism.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tunisians voters line up at a polling station in Menzeh, near Tunis, in 2011. (Amine Landoulsi/Associated Press)

The A-word reappeared in Israel this week. The country’s defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, approved a scheme that would have seen a crude form of segregation of Jews and Arabs in the West Bank, with Palestinians banned from using Israeli-run bus services in the occupied territory.

At the last moment the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, intervened and overturned Ya’alon’s decision, suspending the scheme – but not before a collective howl of protest from Israeli opposition leaders and human rights groups. The leader of the leftwing Meretz party, Zehava Gal-On, could not have been clearer: “This is how apartheid looks,” she said. “There is no better or nicer way to put it.”…  Seguir leyendo »