Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

Oh, that pesky apartheid.

Posted by lchaimlover on February 2, 2007

I am going to start this entry in a very cliché way. I’m going to give you a definition:

 Apartheid: racial segregation; specifically : a former policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa

Ok so now that you’ve been reminded what that word means, I want you to tell me why we are throwing this word around so freely these days? Between President Jimmy Carter’s controversial book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, and the new club at Stanford called Students Confronting Apartheid in Israel, that word is becoming very popular, and not what I would call a good way. So what do we as Jews do with this? How do we fight this idea that Israel is an apartheid state? At a Stand With Us conference in December, they had two approached. A) Fight Fire with Fire. This of course means to argue with people. Learn the facts and beat them into submission. B) Fight Fire with Water. Instead of talking about politics, mention all of the amazing things Israel is doing for the world, and then say “With all this in mind, how can Israel be such a bad place?” Both very good strategies, but this doesn’t solve the problem of this pesky word. Let’s be honest, this word applies, as it says in the definition, to a very specific event in history and out of fairness to the real apartheid, let’s use the word appropriately. This bothers me, and should bother you, in the same way that the misuse of the word “Rape” bothers me. Ever heard it used as slang? “Man that test raped me,” or “I just got so raped playing basketball.” Sound wrong, doesn’t it? So when someone uses that word, as great Israel advocate Neil Lazarus says, react as a liberal would, start by saying “I’m offended, I’m offended by the use of that word.” Be sincere, be honest, and let’s start using a little sense in our vocabulary. It may seem like such a small thing, misusing words and being vulgar every now and then, but as my nana used to say “Vulagarity is the first sign of a defeated wit.” Make ‘em work for it people.



5 Responses to “Oh, that pesky apartheid.”

  1. I agree lchaimlover,
    Taking a word describing a specific event in history and latching it onto everything one dislikes cheapens the original event and its victims and diminishes the current event one is attempting to describe as well.

  2. Dusty said

    This is becoming more and more of a problem in the Bay area, especially. The arguments are being framed with emotionally loaded words (apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide…) simply for shock value, and they detract from events and places where these atrocities are very real.

    We’ve started a blog to address some of these issues- we’d love to have you and other Bay area folk visit and contribute. We just went live this week. We call it Blue Truth. Our mission statement:

    BlueTruth is devoted to refuting the accusations and exposing the lies that are being told on the streets and in cyberspace about Israel, Jews and pro-Israel organizations. A severe campaign of disinformation is underfoot that relies on anti-Semitic stereotypes, intimidation, half-truths, and outright lies. Until now, these campaigns have gone almost completely unanswered. That grace period has now ended.

  3. Oyster said

    Hi Dusty,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m an old hand at pro-Israel activism. Drop me a line sometime. And mazel tov on the blog!

  4. Pearl said

    Apartheid: racial segregation – The word seems an apt description of some policies of the state of Israel.

  5. Oyster said

    Pearl: There are many instances of racial segregation around the world. That alone is not the only standard that defines an ‘Apartheid’-like system. The other defining characteristic is when a minority “race” is dominant over a majority “race” (I use so-called ‘scary quotes’ because I don’t think race is the only or even dominant factor by which people can be oppressed or discriminated against).

    If you choose to use your more broad definition, then please leave a comment listing all the other countries around the world which fall into this category. Otherwise, your comment smacks of a double-standard.

    Thirdly, the majority of Jewish Israelis are non-European. They are Mizrahi Jews from the Arab world (forcibly expelled from their homes, but why would you want to talk about that?), or Ethiopian Jews (the first large migration of Africans brought out of Africa not into slavery, but as a free people) . So I’m not sure what you mean when you say “racial” segregation. If you are going by the far-Left “the darker the better” philosophy of human rights, then Israelis are just as “colored” as the Palestinians.

    I welcome your response.

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