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Letter from Larry Shapiro to Harvard Prof. Penslar re his position that Israel is an apartheid state

Nov. 9, 202

Derek Penslar,

Center of Jewish Studies


Dear Professor Penslar,

I think you need this.

One of the common libels against Israel is that it is an apartheid state. Assuming that critics of Israel apply the definition of apartheid learned from the South African experience, there is no comparison between the two states.

In South Africa, it was illegal for blacks and whites to date and marry. In Israel there are thousands of Jewish Arab marriages.

In South Africa. there were separate hospitals. Black doctors were forbidden from touching the bodies of white people. In Israel, Arab and Jewish doctors and nurses work together to treat people of all colors and ethnicities. Unlike South Africa, Israel does not have separate hospitals for Arabs and Jews.

In South Africa, there were separate rest rooms, drinking fountains and schools. In Israel, Arabs and Jews learn together, teach together, work together in research institutes and in jobs after graduation. Arabs and Jews use the same public toilets.

Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh noted that, "Among South Africa's Apartheid laws, the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act effectively stripped all Blacks of their South African citizenship and of the right to vote." Israel's Arabs have the right to vote, have their own political parties one of which was part of Israel's ruling collation and are equal citizens. An Arab serves on Israel's Supreme Court. Many Arabs serve in the IDF to, as one Arab stated to defend my country.

When this is pointed out to Israel's critics, they say, well maybe Israel is not apartheid but Israel's treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories is apartheid in nature. This falls apart when one reads statements from Palestinian leaders forbidding any acts of normalization such as Palestinian and Jewish mothers wanting to set up day care centers. Palestinian mothers who persevere are under powerful pressure to stop cooperating with Israelis. Any separation of people in Arab governed areas is self-inflicted, not imposed by Israel.

Apartheid should also not be assumed from Israel's security measures like check points and security fences. For 75 years, Israel has been under attack, if not always by neighboring countries, by Palestinian "resistance groups". Measures undertaken by Israel to protect its people that are used by hundreds of other countries confronted with terrorism are designed to save lives not separate people.

One of Palestine's most passionate supporters is poet Mohammed el-Kurd. In a writers' symposium in Australia, he stated that he knows there is no apartheid in Israel, he just calls it that to insult it. He should know, he lives in Jerusalem. If there are professors at Harvard that want to insult Israel, then let them have at it, Israel has broad shoulders, but please be clear, there is no apartheid in Israel.

Sincerely yours,

Larry Shapiro,

Calgary, Alberta

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