Our friend, Rolene Marks, wrote a post titled “Bearing Witness” a few weeks ago about the embarrassment that was the Russell Tribunal “trial” in Cape Town. I hadn’t heard of this “tribunal” before reading Rolene’s post and now that I have, I can’t help but think how absurd it and the Apartheid metaphor are. The problem is that, as a metaphor, it is a powerful one. The word “Apartheid” evokes powerful emotions and memories of injustice, discrimination and oppression. Unfortunately for its proponents, it is totally inaccurate but that doesn’t matter. The reason for using this metaphor isn’t to accurately depict Israeli society, it is to stir up irrational opposition to Israel and, ultimately, support for Israel’s negation. Fortunately, people like Rolene stand up and fight these characterizations.
I now focus on Israel. I am proud to be an Israeli citizen, it is the realisation of a lifelong dream. Yes, this country is defined along ethnic lines – as was legally voted in by the United Nations and is no different from the countries, and there are many, who define themselves according to their Islamic identity. I live the day to day reality and it pains me to hear my country so erroneously compared to South Africa. Visit any Israeli hospital where Arab doctors treat Jewish patients and vice versa. Take the public transport and revel in the fact that there are no seats marked “Jews only”. Attend any of our Universities which are fully integrated. Visit the beach. Enjoy your lunch or coffee in any of our restaurants and coffee shops. Find your way around our country in Hebrew or Arabic (and yes sometimes even English) as they are our official languages. Vote for the Arab parties if you so wish. Have your case heard before Arab Supreme Court judge, Justice Joubron. Serve in our army or foreign service. Rest assured these are not positions reserved for Jews only. I am proud of our imperfect yet pluralistic democracy.
I couldn’t help but think of a video I saw on Vimeo a while ago titled “This Isreal” (not a misspelling but a pun). This video was shot by a Matthew Brown traveling through Israel and his intention was to capture Israeli society from a traveller’s perspective. It is also a visual representation of an integrated society, despite its security concerns: