Gil Troy is an American academic. He received his undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees from Harvard University and is a professor of History at McGill University.
The author of eleven books, nine of which concern American presidential history, and one of which concerns his own and others' "Jewish identity," he contributes regularly to a variety of publications and appears frequently in the media as a commentator and analyst on subjects relating to history and politics. Twitter: @GilTroy. Website: www.giltroy.com.
Sat Feb 28, 2009 12:54 pm FIGHTING ANTI-ISRAEL WEEK
FIGHTING ANTI-ISRAEL WEEK
Friends, with Jewish students across the world girding for a week-long hatefest, wherein anti-Israel activists besmirch the Jewish state and the Jewish people with a false, odious comparison between Israel and the now-defunct racist South African regime, I am sending out some materials that I hope will help. Below are four articles I have written over the last two years suggesting strategies and arguments, followed by an article on Apartheid from Africana Encyclopedia.
* try to avoid linking the word “Israel” with that hateful word
that describes racism “Apartheid” – put as many words between the two to undermine the growing popularity of the phrase
* learn about “Apartheid” – and note that it was a racist
color-conscious system; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a national not racial struggle, with dark-skinned Israelis and light-skinned Palestinians (as well as the opposite)
* the motives behind using the Apartheid libel are to obscure this
national struggle and accuse Israel of the great crime of racism while also establishing the analogy that just as South Africa’s Apartheid regime was ostracized, boycotted and ultimately destroyed that should be the Jewish state’s fate.
* Be strategic – do not give anti-Israel forces more publicity than
they deserve; you will not convince them they are wrong, your focus should be on the other Jews on campus, and the non-combatants on campus who need to see this for what it is – a vicious propaganda campaign.
* Push the argument that it is insulting to blacks in general, and
South Africans in particular to dilute the historical crime of Apartheid with false, inaccurate analogies.
* Use this as an opportunity to mobilize against Durban II – and
CELEBRATE Israel – the best defense is a good, constructive, fun offense.
Good luck – and feel free to use all or some of this material as you wish and feel free to call on me and other professors for advice and counsel.
Sat Feb 28, 2009 2:06 pm Fight anti-Israel week by rejecting the apartheid smear
Fight anti-Israel week by rejecting the apartheid smear
By Gil Troy
The Jerusalem Post
December 28, 2008
How could it be that in 2008, whenever a certain professor mentions the market meltdown, he blames specific economists and businesspeople whom he identifies as Jewish - but never mentions other people's religion? (And this before Bernard Madoff became anti-Semites' newest poster child even though he most hurt Jews.) How could administrators dither as Jewish students feel bullied during the week perpetuating the libel that Israel is recreating South African racist apartheid? How could a campus "free speech forum" feature one speaker after another bashing Israel, with hecklers shouting down anyone who defends Israel? These are some of the challenges Jewish students on one Canadian campus are facing.
AS SOMEONE who has spent his life in the university, it pains me to identify campuses as centers of the new anti-Semitism. The new anti-Semitism is subtler than the traditional, more recognizable, type.
But recent conversations with Jewish students reminded me how vulnerable many feel, how unsettling this new epidemic is for many.
Analyses of campus anti-Semitism must acknowledge that Jews are enjoying a golden age on campus. There never have been so many Jewish students, professors and university presidents. Most North American campuses are neither anti-Jewish nor anti-Israel battle zones. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore many students' distress - or fail to help them.
The new anti-Semitism is not wholly dependent on the controversies surrounding Israel. The Israel-Palestinian conflict has legitimized the hatred and confused the issue. The growth in blatantly anti-Jewish remarks, the insensitivity to Jewish concerns despite hyper-sensitivity to racist, sexist or homophobic epithets, and the singling out of Israel and Zionism for particular hatred, not just condemnation, transcend Israel's policies. It often feels that too many university communities accept Count de Clermont-Tonnerre's proposal to the French National Assembly of 1789: "The Jews must be granted everything as individuals - but nothing as a nation."
THIS CAMPUS hostility toward Israel and Jews collectively is rooted in the 1960s. Students' noble fight against Southern segregation curdled into attitudes romanticizing Third Worlders while demonizing whites and Westerners. The great modern sins became colonialism, imperialism and racism - along with sexism, heterosexism and now, the latest, Islamophobia.
Palestinian propagandists cleverly tagged Israel with the first three sins - caricatured as a colonialist, imperialist project of racist Zionists. This labeling is absurd. Jews returned to their historic homeland; they did not join a colonial expedition. Moreover, Palestinian Jews fought against the British Empire in the 1940s. And calling Zionism racist is itself racist, singling out Jewish nationalism for special disapproval in a world organized by nation-states.
Casting the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a racial rather than national struggle demonized Israelis as Western whites stealing noble, colored Palestinians' land - despite the many non-Western, non-white Israelis, the many white-looking Palestinians and the fact that some Arab Palestinians who left in 1948 were as new to Palestine as some European Jews, because Mandatory Palestine attracted many Jews and Arabs.
These distortions underline the latest anti-Israel smear, the odious attempt to link Israel with South African racism. When we simply repeat the name of the week that is often observed in early February, without putting many words between the Jewish state and the word apartheid, we fail. Repetition creates a link just as Jewish nationalism was linked with that awful word racism. We should rename the week "Anti-Israel Week."
AS THE first semester winds down, now is the time to plan for the inevitable attack. Zionist activists should fashion a strategy based on these principles:
* This is politics, not physics; not every action demands a reaction.
The goal is not to try dissuading Israel's enemies. If Israel's attackers are being ignored or - as frequently happens - alienating bystanders by being aggressive, leave them alone. Only engage in battles which can build Jewish pride or present Israel to those who are open-minded.
* Learn from feminists. In opposing sexual harassment, feminists have sensitized us to "hostile environments," the subtle ways intentional or unintentional aggression can make people feel demeaned. Students, their parents, alumni and professors must demand that administrators foster safe learning environments. The feminist idea of "taking back the night," is to celebrate where others may simply defend. So use the Z-word "Zionism" even if it is maligned, and turn "anti-Israel week"
into a week-long celebration of Israel's accomplishments and Zionism's righteousness.
* Students should be good consumers. If professors commit educational malpractice by not listening, or being so biased they squelch debate, students should file detailed complaints not against bad politics but demanding good education.
* Find allies. The established Jewish community should find former black South Africans who endured apartheid and African scholars to explain apartheid's pernicious racism. We should seek South Africans offended by propagandists hijacking apartheid just as Jews resent hijacking the Holocaust to score cheap political points. Every comparison of the Israeli-Palestinian national conflict to apartheid dilutes the evil, racist injustice South African blacks and "mixed colors" endured under the color-conscious, depraved system which is not similar to the security measures Israel adopts in response to Palestinian terrorism.
* Fight the upcoming Durban conference. Rather than simply reacting defensively, let this year's anti-Israel week become a consciousness raising moment for the university and broader Jewish community about the attempt to recreate the Durban conference this April in Geneva - again targeting Israel. Rather than stewing, and accepting the anti-Zionist agenda, use the attacks to fight the epidemic of Jewish apathy and mobilize a powerful pro-Israel response.
SADLY, PREPARATION for the next semester must be political not just educational. But we must master political jujitsu - a negative force, if properly met, can be transformed into a positive one. This February let us transform anti-Israel week's negative force into a positive force celebrating Israel, redeeming Zionism and moving forward with an effective, upbeat response to Durban.
The writer is professor of history at McGill University and the author of Why I Am a Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today.
Sat Feb 28, 2009 2:07 pm On Jimmy Carter's False Apartheid Analogy
On Jimmy Carter's False Apartheid Analogy
By Gil Troy
History News Network
February 18, 2007
Mr. Troy is Professor of History at McGill University and the author, most recently, of [url=http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=978
0700614882&itm=1]Hillary Rodham Clinton: Polarizing First Lady[/url]. He is a member of HNN's Advisory Board.
Jimmy Carter has appeared on “Meet the Press,” Larry King, Charlie Rose, and elsewhere making his latest book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, a best-seller. Apparently, Carter’s publisher postponed the publication date until mid-November so as not to distract Democrats with a campaign controversy about their ex-President’s anti-Israel prejudices. By alleging that Israel practices Apartheid, Jimmy Carter’s title reflects a sloppy and nasty form of historical analogizing seeking to delegitimze Israel and Zionism, perpetuated by pro-Palestinian groups on campuses and elsewhere.
Carter has defended his title, by using “Apartheid” as a synonym for “apartness” and saying the division is economic not racial. But he has repeated the South African analogy to drive home his rhetorical point.
Using the “Apartheid” label without seeking to impute racism, would be akin to calling Carter a redneck and claiming it only has to do with his tanning habits. If Carter is so innocent as to be unaware of the resonance that term has, he is not the expert on the Middle East or world affairs he purports to be.
This unconscionable, inaccurate label insults anyone who supports the modern Jewish state of Israel as well as everyone who suffered under South Africa’s evil Apartheid system. Apartheid was a racist legal system the Afrikaner Nationalists dominating South Africa’s government imposed after World War II. The Afrikaners’ discriminatory apartness began with their racist revulsion for blacks, reflected in early laws in
1949 and 1950 prohibiting marriages and sexual relations between whites and non-whites. Apartheid quickly developed into a brutal system that tried to dehumanize South Africa’s majority nonwhite population.
Beyond the historical definition, international law emphasizes that Apartheid involves intentional, mandated racism. In 1973 the United Nations General Assembly defined Apartheid as “the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” The fact that Israel’s Declaration of Independence – and founding document – promises to “uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex,” proves that Israel rejects racism and by definition cannot be accused of Apartheid.
Injecting “racism” into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is absurd. It is a sloppy attempt to slander Israel with the accusation du jour, a statement as trendy and ahistorical as equating Zionism with European colonialism, another folly given Jews’ historic ties to the land of Israel. Since the Nazi attempt to annihilate Jews as a “race,” the Jewish world has recoiled against defining Jews as a “race.” Zionism talks about Judaism, the Jewish people, the Jewish state. The Arab-Israeli conflict is a nationalist clash with religious overtones.
The rainbow of colors among Israelis and Palestinians, with black Ethiopian Jews, and white Christian Palestinians, proves that both national communities are diverse.
Sadly, Israeli and Palestinians do not enjoy the kind of harmony the Israeli Declaration of Independence envisioned. Carter and his comrades use “Apartheid” as shorthand to condemn some of the security measures improvised recently, especially since Carter’s late friend Yasir Arafat unleashed the latest wave of terrorism in September 2000. Israel built a security fence to protect its citizens and separate Palestinian enclaves from Israeli cities. Ironically, that barrier marks Israel’s most dramatic recognition of Palestinian aspirations to independence since Israel signed the Oslo Accords in 1993.
By accusing Israel of practicing Apartheid, Jimmy Carter has endorsed the latest Arab attempt to demonize Israel. In a world organized by nation states, singling out Jewish nationalism, meaning Zionism, as racist was so ridiculous even the United Nations ultimately rescinded its 1974 resolution. Applying the Apartheid label tries to ostracize Israel by misrepresenting some of the difficult decisions Israel has felt forced to make in fighting Palestinian terror. Israel’s opponents are trying to transfer onto Israel the civilized world’s justifiable contempt for South African oppression. This charge is particularly ironic coming from so many Arab states, which perpetuate discriminatory citizenship policies against Christians, women, and even other Arabs from different regions.
No country is perfect or above criticism. But the one-sided zeal of critics like Carter, singling out Israel in inflammatory ways, raises doubts about the critics more than the criticized. Many seem all too eager for Israel to fail, happily pouncing on any Israeli mistake, while blindly ignoring crimes others perpetuate systematically, especially Israel’s Arab neighbors.
Jimmy Carter’s decision to use such a loaded, misleading, sloppy term is especially suspicious given his denunciation of those who “choose certain emotional issues for demagoguery” in foreign policy and his willingness to befriend dictators around the world. Not only has Carter palled around with Yasir Arafat, Kim Jong Il, Fidel Castro, and the Chinese oligarchs, he has always bristled at those who dared label his buddies “terrorists” or “dictators.”
Historians of all political stripes should warn against the dangers of promiscuous and ahistorical analogizing, which tends to distort the past and inflame the present. In fact, in his 2002 Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, Jimmy Carter condemned the human tendency “to dehumanize our opponents,” for “Once we characterize our adversaries as beyond the scope of God's mercy and grace, their lives lose all value.” In branding Israel with such an intemperate, counterproductive, dehumanizing label, the man who parades around as the world’s most charitable mediator has given a green light to Palestinian terrorism and extremism. He and the others perpetuating this ahistorical, immoral lie owe blacks and Jews, Africans and Israelis, historians and other thinking souls, an apology.
Sat Feb 28, 2009 2:07 pm Will they ever love their children enough?
Will they ever love their children enough?
By Gil Troy
Canadian Jewish News
February 18, 2008
In early February, I wandered into a coffee shop directly across from Concordia University's main building in downtown Montreal. As I entered, I saw a big poster that read "End Israeli Apartheid," which detailed all of Israel's alleged crimes from its founding to the Second Lebanon War.
As usual, the charges were distorted, hysterical, one-sided and completely wrenched out of context. Moreover, the main accusation falsely linking Israel (and Zionism) with the South African crime of apartheid not only misrepresents today's realities, it robs South Africans of their own authentic historical experience -- and suffering.
South Africa's apartheid system in South Africa treated blacks as biologically and legally inferior to whites. To equate the resulting South African crimes against humanity with the fallout from a nationalist clash between Jews and Palestinians turns history on its head and minimizes South Africa's real evil.
This time, I was also struck by the nihilism of Palestinian nationalism.
There was nothing positive about Palestinian identity in the poster. It was only a bill of indictment against Israel. And it's not just one poster. Examine the websites promoting what I call "Let's-make-a-false-equation-between-Israel-and-the-racist-South-African
-Apartheid-regime Week." Program after program bashes Israel, demonizes Zionism, and bemoans Palestinian suffering.
Compare that hurricane of hate to the websites celebrating Israel's 60th anniversary. If anything, those websites could be accused of barely acknowledging the complexity in Israel's history -- actually, in any country's history. But ask yourself, with which movement would you rather associate -- and which has a greater chance of success?
This is the great weakness of Palestinian nationalism. Golda Meir captured it decades ago with her observation that has become a truism:
there will not be peace until they love their children more than they hate our children. The weakness is also reflected in the jab that one of my peacenik friends once made at one of his Palestinian friends: "Your problem is that you say you want justice and mostly mean you want revenge. Zionism wanted to solve problems -- and it did."
Palestinians and their fellow travellers will attribute this difference to the fact the Israelis won and the Arabs are oppressed. But this difference between the two movements could be found in the 1940s, after Jews lost six million people in the Holocaust, and one per cent of Israel's Jewish population during the War of Independence -- more than 6,000 people.
Nationalist movements only work if they are forward-thinking, if they are building something. Becoming addicted to hatred of the other fosters a temporary state of unity, but it ultimately degenerates into violence and destructiveness. Too much of the Palestinian national movement -- and far too much of it on campus and in North America -- is devoted to Israel bashing. It creates a culture of martyrdom that celebrates suicide bombers rather than nation builders. It honours leaders such as the late Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat, who preferred the purity of perpetual violence to the complexity of compromise. It results, as we now see, in a cult of violence, so that when Hamas turned on Fatah, Palestinians took the violence they directed toward Israelis and turned it on each other.
The entire Arab world seems engulfed by this irrational hatred of Israel and Zionism. Even when Arabs draft an Arab Charter on Human Rights, they include a gratuitous assault on Zionism. The fact that people such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, failed at first to see that perversion demonstrates just how ubiquitous and automatic it has become. History will judge enablers such as Arbour harshly for failing to warn the entire Arab world of the danger of succumbing to this mass demonization.
In contrast to all this negativity, over the last 10 years, for every Israeli that was murdered by Palestinians, nearly 1,000 Israeli children were born. Nefesh B'Nefesh, the organization that has brought thousands of North American Jews to Israel over the last few years, began with the founder's desire to balance Palestinian murders by bringing more Jews to Israel.
Closer to home, Montreal's Hillel decided to respond to this year's Israel apartheid hate-fest by embracing the beleaguered citizens of Sderot.
History is clear: in the long run, bet on those who love life, not those who worship death.
In early January, you supported former U.S. president Jimmy Carter's inaccurate, inflammatory accusation that Israel is guilty of practising "apartheid." You must be pleased with yourself. Your article has been widely posted around the Internet. Googling "Shulamit Aloni" and "apartheid" generates 70,000 hits.
I am, however, appalled. Not only did you fail to make the case, but I challenge you to see how your article is being used. I do not believe that all critics of Israel are anti-Semites. Nor do all critics call for Israel's destruction. But I wonder how many anti-Semites -- how many people devoted to destroying Israel -- will post your article and lovingly quote your words before you take responsibility for fanning the flames of hatred against your people and the country you served as education minister.
You repeated the term apartheid nine times in your nearly 1,100-word article, yet only one paragraph discusses the term. Citing international law, you define apartheid "as an international crime that, among other things, includes using different legal instruments to rule over different racial groups, thus depriving people of their human rights."
Having shown that Israeli soldiers disrupt Palestinian travel you ask:
"Isn't freedom of travel one of these rights?"
That's the wrong question. The relevant question is whether the Israeli-Palestinian clash is a racial conflict and whether the State of Israel has imposed a systematic, racist South-African-type regime. You contradict your title when you say that "we, too, used very violent terror against foreign rule because we wanted our own state." If Palestinians are fighting "foreign rulers" then how is the apartheid label relevant? Apartheid, with its network of laws separating black citizens from whites, institutionalized white supremacy. Neither you nor Carter have justified that charge.
Unfortunately, this is more than a legalistic debate. By supporting Carter's term, you are advancing a growing worldwide campaign to delegitimize Zionism and expel Israel from among the community of nations, which is the correct punishment for an "apartheid" state. Your article -- and your career -- demonstrate many other eloquent ways to condemn Israeli policies without using an incorrect, destructive analogy.
If you doubt how the apartheid accusation is being used against Israel, I invite you to surf the web and meet your new allies.
When I appeared on the left-leaning American radio and television network Democracy Now to condemn Carter's use of the term, I received a wave of abusive anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic e-mails. Most critics blamed Israel exclusively for the entire Mideast mess, putting Israel's actions and "the Jews" at the centre of all the world's troubles.
I was told that the Jewish state should be in southern Germany, not on Palestinian land, that we Jews thought we were better than everyone, and that as a "Jewish New Yorker" I spoke "Yinglish" not English. Most critics triumphantly referenced your article or other similar articles from Israelis "proving" that Israel practises apartheid -- as if it's impossible for an Israeli to be wrong, too.
You are, of course, free to believe what you wish and write what you wish. That's your right. You live in a free county. But had you lived under South Africa's apartheid regime, you would have had to write such attacks from outside the country or from inside a jail cell.
My question then, is, what is your responsibility? When your words, consistently, are used by others to smear Israel, to delegitimize the state, to rationalize terrorism, and to peddle anti-Semitism, at what point do those actions implicate you?
The time has come for you to stand up and say, "Yes, my anger about the situation in the territories remains but, no, don't delegimitize my state, don't libel my people, and don't use my heartfelt words to advance your despicable agenda." You and many of your comrades on the Israeli left seem to have forgotten that in the Internet age, your words resonate, making you foot soldiers in the "electronic intifadah" that seeks Israel's destruction. I challenge you and your buddies to take responsibility for the anti-Semitic effects of some of your rhetoric.
You cannot deny your impact.
The old saw falsely attributed to Lenin still holds -- you don't have to recognize that you're a "useful idiot" to be one.
Apartheid, social and political policy of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by white minority governments in South Africa from 1948 to 1994.
The term apartheid (from the Afrikaans word for "apartness") was coined in the 1930s and used as a political slogan of the National Party in the early 1940s, but the policy itself extends back to the beginning of white settlement in South Africa in 1652. After the primarily Afrikaner Nationalists came to power in 1948, the social custom of apartheid was systematized under law.
The implementation of the policy, later referred to as "separate development," was made possible by the Population Registration Act of 1950, which put all South Africans into three racial categories: Bantu (black African), white, or Coloured (of mixed race). A fourth category, Asian (Indians and Pakistanis), was added later. The system of apartheid was enforced by a series of laws passed in the 1950s: the Group Areas Act of 1950 assigned races to different residential and business sections in urban areas, and the Land Acts of 1954 and 1955 restricted nonwhite residence to specific areas. These laws further restricted the already limited right of black Africans to own land, entrenching the white minority's control of over 80 percent of South African land. In addition, other laws prohibited most social contacts between the races; enforced the segregation of public facilities and the separation of educational standards; created race-specific job categories; restricted the powers of nonwhite unions; and curbed nonwhite participation in government.
The Bantu Authorities Act of 1951 and the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act of 1959 furthered these divisions between the races by creating ten African "homelands" administered by what were supposed to be reestablished "tribal" organizations. The Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act of 1970 made every black South African a citizen of one of the homelands, effectively excluding blacks from South African politics. Most of the homelands, lacking natural resources, were not economically viable and, being both small and fragmented, lacked the autonomy of independent states.
Though the implementation and enforcement of apartheid was accompanied by tremendous suppression of opposition, continual resistance to apartheid existed within South Africa. A number of black political groups, often supported by sympathetic whites, opposed apartheid using a variety of tactics, including violence, strikes, demonstrations, and sabotage - strategies that often met with severe reprisals by the government. Apartheid was also denounced by the international community: in 1961 South Africa was forced to withdraw from the British Commonwealth by member states who were critical of the apartheid system, and in 1985 the governments of the United States and Great Britain imposed selective economic sanctions on South Africa in protest of its racial policy.
As antiapartheid pressure mounted within and outside South Africa, the South African government, led by President F. W. de Klerk, began to dismantle the apartheid system in the early 1990s. The year 1990 brought a National Party government dedicated to reform and also saw the legalization of formerly banned black congresses and the release of imprisoned black leaders. In 1994 the country's constitution was rewritten and free general elections were held for the first time in its history, and with Nelson Mandela's election as South Africa's first black president, the last vestiges of the apartheid system were finally outlawed.
Alonford James Robinson, Jr.
See Also Afrikaner; Mandela, Nelson Rolihlahla; De Klerk, Frederik Willem.