For Many Israelis Who Grew Up in Apartheid South Africa, Annexation Brings a Horrible Sense of Déjà Vu
There was a time when such comparisons would have made them very defensive, even angry. After all, having grown up in apartheid South Africa before leaving for Israel, they had witnessed institutionalized racism and discrimination up close. They knew what it was, they could say with authority, as well as what it was not.
True, the Israeli occupation was not a pretty situation. True, it raised many moral and ethical dilemmas. And true, it often challenged their deep-seated beliefs in equality and justice – beliefs born out of their exposure to a system that was inherently unequal and unjust.
But comparing Israel to an apartheid state?
Apartheid, these South African immigrants would explain, was a system based on different classes of citizens living within one sovereign state. It was a system of discrimination based on skin color. And it was a system in which a small minority ruled a majority. None of these descriptions, they would argue, applied to Israel.
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