Not an "Apartheid Wall"
By: HonestReporting.com / HonestReporting.com
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Debunking the outrageous comparison between Israel and racist South Africa.

Anti-Israel ideologues have a well-worn tactic of taking the latest world outrage and foisting it upon Israel, no matter how absurd the comparison or epithet. So in the 1960s Israel was branded a "colonialist power," in the 1970s Israel became an "apartheid state," in the 1990s Israel practiced "ethnic cleansing," and at the Durban conference in 2001 the Jewish state was called "genocidal."

The latest is a throwback to the '70s: Israel is accused of constructing an "apartheid wall" ¯ a term gaining currency in world media coverage of Israel's security fence. To cite just two recent examples, on Feb. 2 the Hartford Courant granted op-ed space to an academic "calling for an end to U.S. aid to the Israeli apartheid system" as evidenced by Israel's "apartheid walls," and the Feb. 11 edition of The Australian ran the headline: Israel to cut 100km off 'apartheid wall'.

Since the South African apartheid system was dismantled over ten years ago, many today are unaware of what exactly that nation's racist land policies were. The South African government established nine bantustans ¯ sectors for black segregation ¯ in the 60s and 70s, in the effort to separate non-white South Africans from whites, and from each other. To demonstrate just how fallacious the comparison to Israel's security fence is, we summarize South African apartheid policy here, alongside the facts of Israel's anti-terror security fence:



Apartheid South Africa

 Israel's Security Fence

Goal of separation

 The explicit goal of bantustans was the elimination of rights of the majority South African black population, to ensure white hegemony.

The explicit goal of the security fence is preventing surreptitious terrorist entry to Israel, which has caused the murder of hundreds of Israeli civilians.


 A central goal of official apartheid "separate development" was to strip black South Africans of their citizenship.

West Bank Palestinians were never citizens of Israel. (Arabs, meanwhile, constitute 15% of the Israeli citizenry.)

Forced transfer

  Between 1950 and 1986, about 1.5 million Africans were forcibly removed from "white" cities to rural reservations.

The security fence causes no transfer of population.

Opposition to nation

 South African blacks, cordoned into bantustans, did not seek the destruction of South Africa, but rather the removal of the apartheid regime.

The majority of Palestinians in the territories dispute Israel's very right to exist; this has bred terror, and ultimately, the need for the fence.


South African bantustans were an effort to force a permanent international status on lands, and the black population living there. The security fence is a temporary defensive measure, not a border; inconveniences caused by the fence are reversible.


South African "separate development" was an outgrowth of imperialist, colonial policy.

Israel is "colonial" neither with regard to the source of its population (mostly refugees), nor their deep historical relationship to the land.

The Israeli security fence, therefore, differs from South African measures in its rationale, its goals, its effect, and its historical context. A far more appropriate comparison can be made, therefore, between Israel's fence and other democratic nations' border fences, such as the British "peace line" in Ireland, or the US border fence with Mexico.

As media outlets continue to grant legitimacy to the "apartheid wall" myth, HonestReporting encourages subscribers to respond directly when the distortion appears in news stories or opinion pieces, debunking the latest effort to associate Israel with a racist, immoral political policy.

For additional information on the security fence, see the Israeli Foreign Ministry's website: Saving Lives: Israel's Security Fence.