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Readers share their views.

A Difference of Opinion

To the Editor,

Forty years ago John Minto and I were on the same anti-apartheid side as I, in CARE and working as Tom Newnham’s researcher, picketed visiting all-white South African sports teams, fronted for CARE on numerous anti-apartheid platforms and used UN Committee on Apartheid facts to confound ‘Friends of Rhodesia’ Colonel Blimps. Today, on Israel, John and I differ.

More fair and nuanced observers like Colonel Richard Kemp, Britain’s former military commander in Iraq, hold strong contrary views on Israeli policies and military operations: “… during Operation Cast Lead, [in 2009] the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in the combat zones than any other army in the history of warfare.”

Richard Goldstone, himself a former South African Constitutional Court Justice, in 2011 stated:

I know all too well the cruelty of South Africa’s abhorrent apartheid system … In assessing the accusation that Israel pursues apartheid policies, which are by definition primarily about race or ethnicity, it is important first to distinguish between the situations in Israel, where Arabs are citizens, and in West Bank areas that remain under Israeli control in the absence of a peace agreement.

In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute … [E]qual rights are the law, the aspiration and the ideal; inequities are often successfully challenged in court. The situation in the West Bank is more complex. But here too there is no intent to maintain ‘an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group. ’”

Similarly, Jacques De Maio, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2017: ‘‘The Red Cross was very familiar with the regime that prevailed in South Africa during the apartheid period, and we are responding to all those who raise their claim of apartheid against Israel: No, there is no apartheid here, no regime of superiority of race, of denial of basic human rights to a group of people because of their alleged racial inferiority. There is a bloody national conflict, whose most prominent and tragic characteristic is its continuation over the years, decades-long, and there is a state of occupation. Not apartheid.’’

And I confront one vile Palestinian lie – there are no ‘Jew-only’ state highways in Israel. That’s why Palestinian drivers year after year are able to ram, shoot, bomb and stab so many Israeli soldiers and civilian motorists!

Rev Gary Clover

Richmond, Nelson