Siham Nuseibeh | 11 Dec 2013
ISRAELI POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA
- The state of Israel was created in 1948, the same year that the racist apartheid regime was implemented in South Africa. In the 1960s a political and military alliance developed between the two countries, deepening following Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, and the Syrian Golan Heights, in the June 1967 War.
- In the 1970s, Israel’s government under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin forged close ties with South Africa’s apartheid regime. One of the architects of this alliance was then-Defense Minister and current President Shimon Peres. While Peres frequently condemned apartheid publicly, behind the scenes he was instrumental in creating an alliance that helped keep the apartheid regime afloat while the rest of the world was increasingly turning against it in revulsion at its racist policies. In November 1974, following a secret visit to Pretoria, Peres wrote to South African officials praising the “vitally important” link he had helped establish between the two countries and highlighting that “this cooperation is based not only on common interests and on the determination to resist equally our enemies, but also on the unshakeable foundations of our common hatred of injustice and out refusal to submit to it.”
- In 1975, a “Joint Secretariate for Political and Psychological Warfare” was created to facilitate the apartheid South Africa-Israel alliance, including “propaganda and psychological warfare,” part of a $100 million South African propaganda campaign to rehabilitate the country’s image internationally. According to a report from NBC News: “Under terms of the agreement, championed by Peres, then Defense Minister, and Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister, Israel would help South Africa burnish its international reputation. South Africa would supply the money, with each country appointing a secretary to look after its interests.”
- In 1976, South African Prime Minister John Vorster, who was imprisoned by the British during World War II for pro-Nazi activities, was given a red-carpet welcome in Israel. At a state dinner, Prime Minister Rabin praised Vorster for creating a “prosperous atmosphere of cooperation” between their two countries.
- Regarding the affinity between the two regimes, Israeli army chief of staff General Rafael Eitan, who would go on to serve as Agriculture and Environment Minister and as a Deputy Prime Minister during Benjamin Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister (1996-1999), explained that blacks in South Africa “want to gain control over the white minority just like the Arabs here want to gain control over us… And we, like the white minority in South Africa, must act to prevent them from taking over.”
- While Israel and South Africa’s apartheid regime worked closely together, the African National Congress (ANC) under Nelson Mandela and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasser Arafat also developed close ties in their anti-colonial struggles. An outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights, in 1997 Mandela declared: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” Shortly after being released from prison in 1990, Mandela remarked: “The people of South Africa will never forget the support of the state of Israel to the apartheid regime.”
ISRAELI MILITARY SUPPORT FOR APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA
- In addition to the political alliance, the Israeli and apartheid South African militaries also developed a close alliance. Israel supplied the South African regime with military advisors and weapons, and the two armed forces trained together. The two governments also cooperated in their fights against the ANC and PLO.
- In the 1960s, Israel and South Africa began to cooperate in the development of nuclear weapons. By the 1970s both countries had manufactured the bomb. Again, Shimon Peres, as the architect of Israel’s nuclear program, played a key role, building a secret agency called the Science Liaison Bureau whose mission was to collect nuclear technology. In 1975, Peres was involved in an offer to sell South Africa advanced Jericho missiles, which could have been equipped to carry nuclear warheads.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA AND ISRAEL
- As in apartheid South Africa, Israel classifies its citizens according to ethnicity and privileges one group over all others. Today, there is a de facto caste system within the territories that Israel controls between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. At the top are Israeli Jews, while Muslim and Christian Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza are at the bottom. Between them are Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem. Each has different rights according to the regime Israel has implemented, with Jews enjoying the full benefits of democracy in a “Jewish state,” and Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza accorded no political rights whatsoever, being ruled by Israeli military decree.
- In apartheid South Africa, blacks weren’t allowed to vote for the national government. While Palestinian citizens of Israel can vote in Israeli elections, millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories cannot, even though Israel has ruled them for almost half a century.
- In apartheid South Africa, the government used a complex pass system to control the movement of blacks, while Israel has instituted an elaborate permit and checkpoint system to control Palestinian movement in the occupied territories.
- In South Africa, blacks were forced into bantustans where they were more easily controlled by the apartheid regime. Israel has divided the occupied territories into several isolated territorial units, cut off from one another and from the outside world and surrounded by walls and checkpoints, so that the Israeli army can more easily control the Palestinian population. Meanwhile, within Israel’s internationally recognized pre-1967 borders, approximately 93% of the land is state-owned and controlled by the Israel Land Authority and quasi-governmental agencies like the Jewish National Fund, which systematically discriminate against non-Jewish citizens in its allocation. Combined with private discriminatory rental policies, Israeli government policies have ensured a concentration of the non-Jewish Arab population into several geographically constricted, overcrowded and underserviced ghettos.
- In apartheid South Africa there were whites-only areas, while inside Israel there are more than 300 rural Jewish-majority towns that under Israeli law can reject residents who do not meet a vague “social suitability” standard. Critics, including Human Rights Watch, have slammed the law as an attempt to allow Jewish towns to keep Arabs and other non-Jews out. In the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel has built a network of Israeli-only roads that Palestinians are barred from traveling on, while Jewish settlers living right next door in exclusive housing can use them.
Click here to read the full IMEU fact sheet, Is Israel an Apartheid State?
Livia Bergmeijer | 11 Dec 2013
On the 4th December 2013, Yasser Faisal, an Iraqi Al Jazeera cameraman, was killed by rebel groups while covering the war in Syria. On Sunday, he was laid to rest in his hometown of Fallujah. While he may have survived the battles that raged during the civil war in Fallujah, he met his death in the midst of the unfolding civil war in neighboring Syria. Below is a beautiful tribute to Faisal by fellow colleague and Baghdad correspondent at Al Jazeera, Jane Arraf.
A lot of people who didn’t know Yasser Faisal know a part of Iraq through him.
His images were the ones we saw in almost every story from Fallujah and Ramadi and the most volatile places in Iraq.
Yasser’s courage and passion were the reasons we saw any of those images at all.
Whether it was covering the Friday protests in Anbar when security forces sealed off the cities or interviewing women who had been imprisoned and mistreated, Yasser’s work made it possible for us to shed some light on parts of Iraq the world rarely sees.
Yasser and I worked together for almost four years for Al Jazeera English and, more recently, for Al Jazeera America, on stories ranging from the Iraqi-Syrian border in western Anbar to Mosul to the southern port of Basra. If you needed something done, you knew Yasser could do it – and do it beautifully.
Our last assignment was in November for America Tonight in Basra and the southern marshes.
“He has a beautiful eye” is what we say about cameramen who capture those details that bring images to life.
You can see Yasser’s in the lyrical images of boatmen gliding through the water, in the gorgeous sequences of men building a guesthouse straining to lift bundles of reeds.
Because his heart was as expansive as his talent, he also noticed things that not everyone would.
In a dimly lit hallway at the Basra hospital while I talked to the mother of kids with heart defects, he zoomed in on her young son and his cousin shyly holding hands while they waited to be seen by a doctor.
Yasser was both substance and style. For a correspondent he was a dream come true - not only skilled and incredibly hard-working and good-natured but full of ideas about how to film a piece to camera and making me do it over if my hair was out of place.
For a macho guy from Fallujah, he was always eager to offer wonderfully specific opinions about colours and make-up.
Yasser was … “dashing” is the word that comes to mind in the way of film stars when film stars had both charm and an easy elegance.
He was gallant.
“Ladies first,” he would say, opening a vehicle door even in a war zone or passing around chocolate he had brought for his colleagues.
Read the full tribute to Yasser Faisal here.