Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wikipedia Wanderings: Israel-South Africa Relations

In the latest MJ Rosenberg thread there has been a lot of discussion about Israel's relationship with apartheid-era South Africa. Mostly pushed by Rosenberg himself, I might add. So I thought I would take a look at Wikipedia and see if I could find some more information about the relations between those two nations, since I don't have time to read a whole history book. Here's what I found:

-Through the '50s and '60s Israel very much worked against South Africa, including voting against a speech defending apartheid and (in 1963) complied with the military boycott and recalled it's ambassador. Apparently, things didn't last.
-In the mid '70s things changed following the end of many African countries' diplomatic relations with Israel following the Yom Kippur War. Somewhere along the line, apparently, Israel helped South Africa gain nuclear weapons.
-In 1987 Israel was one of the last countries to still have full diplomatic relations with South Africa. Despite this, on March 18, 1987 the Inner Cabinet of the Israeli government denounced the Apartheid policy of South Africa and limited Israel's security ties with Pretoria. On September 16, 1987 the Israeli Cabinet approved a series of measures designed to limit trade, sports and cultural ties with South Africa. Among them was a clause in the "measures" package stating that effective immediately, only colored, Indian and black students would be allowed to attend leadership courses held in Israel.

Israel's government certainly worked with South Africa's apartheid government, and they should be condemned for that. But I wrote this article because I wanted to make a couple of observations:

1) It seems clear that collaborating with South Africa was not Israel's first choice, and it seems clear that if other African countries hadn't tried to isolate Israel than Israel would not have turned in that direction. I find it amusing that the same anti-Zionist who call for the world to "isolate" Israel are then shocked and horrified that Israel would then find allies among the less-than-stellar nations. It's your fault, BDSers!

2) Many anti-Zionists (including Rosenberg, I have a feeling) bring up Israel's relationship with South Africa because they like to claim that Israel loves racism and built their society around it, the same way the Afrikaners did. The truth, of course, is that Israel's relationship with South Africa was based on realpolitiks, even over the heads of a decent amount of Israel's people. There's a reason why the AZs don't like talking about the details of Israel's relationship, unless it is through a particular lens (as in the case of that book Rosenberg keeps pushing). Digging deeper sometimes turns up information that doesn't fit their extreme points of view.

3) If the anti-Zionists bring this up to imply that Israel is judged by the company in which it keeps (which according to my parents is a fair assessment) then why do they get so offended when we point out how the Palestinians worked together with the Nazis, the Soviets, Saddam Hussein, etc? Or that Israel also has very good relations with the USA and the European Union? Again, facts are contorted to fit the theory.


  1. Well, now we point out to them that Israel is a part of the OECD, which makes it as legitimately first-world as it gets. The cockles of my deep black heart are warmed every time I think about it.

  2. Yep. The Jews are accused of doing what every one else does. That's not a crime - oh wait - I forget that offending the rest of the world is the original sin for which the Jewish State will never be forgiven.