Richard Goldstone, who once accused Israel of deliberately seeking the deaths of Palestinian civilians, then recanted, has published an op-ed in the New York Times today refuting the accusation that Israel is an apartheid state.
While apartheid can have broader meaning, its use is meant to evoke the situation in pre-1994 South Africa. It is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel, calculated to retard rather than advance peace negotiations…
Those seeking to promote the myth of Israeli apartheid often point to clashes between heavily armed Israeli soldiers and stone-throwing Palestinians in the West Bank, or the building of what they call an apartheid wall and disparate treatment on West Bank roads. While such images may appear to invite a superficial comparison, it is disingenuous to use them to distort the reality. The security barrier was built to stop unrelenting terrorist attacks; while it has inflicted great hardship in places, the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered the state in many cases to reroute it to minimize unreasonable hardship. Road restrictions get more intrusive after violent attacks and are ameliorated when the threat is reduced.
Of course, the Palestinian people have national aspirations and human rights that all must respect. But those who conflate the situations in Israel and the West Bank and liken both to the old South Africa do a disservice to all who hope for justice and peace.
Goldstone’s article anticipates the forthcoming “Russell Tribunal on Palestine,” to be held in South Africa. Named after the hearings held in the 1960s by philosopher Bertrand Russell in the United Kingdom to protest the Vietnam War, the Russell Tribunal will bring the emotive symbolism of apartheid to a make-believe judicial process whose outcome is already predetermined.
The chair of the panel, anti-war activist Terry Crawford-Browne, has already called for international boycotts of Israel. One of the star witnesses is Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who conducted a reign of terror in South Africa’s black townships in the 1980s. Another is former U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney, who recently busied herself with propaganda for Muammar Gaddafi.
Despite the panel’s obvious lack of credibility, it will no doubt be touted by western leftists and third world governments as the basis for a renewed push at the United Nations to isolate Israel and promote unilateral Palestinian statehood. Goldstone’s op-ed is a timely rejoinder and the beginning of what appears to be sincere penance for the damage done by his slanderous report on the Gaza conflict of 2008-9.