The Spirit of Apartheid: Why “Palestine” will not be an ‘Rainbow Nation’

Yesterday, Harriet Sherwood reported on the “parallels” some Palestinians are now evidently drawing between their movement and “Mandela’s anti-Apartheid struggle”.


The fact that some of the people she quoted to give credence to this argument includes extremists (such as Khaled Meshaal) who, contrary to Mandela’s support for Zionism, don’t believe Jews should live anywhere between ‘the river and the sea’ evidently didn’t provoke the slightest cognitive dissonance in Sherwood – a fact which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been following this blog’s commentary on their reporters’ consistent lack of intellectual rigor.

Moreover, those who would liken the Palestinian struggle with Mandela’s overlook one glaring and irreconcilable difference between the two movements: Mandela’s South Africa championed the values of ethnic, cultural and religious pluralism – a vision of a “Rainbow Nation” representing the antithesis of what will almost certainly be a homogeneous and exclusivist Palestinian State.  


Those (like most Israelis) who support the creation of a Palestinian State must acknowledge that, based on statements by Palestinian leaders and past history – in addition to what will almost certainly be an undemocratic state which will oppresses women, gays and political dissidents – ‘diversity’ will not be a value championed by the state or promoted by its institutions.

In contrast with South Africa, which – consistent with Mandela’s vision – largely embraces its mix of whites, blacks, coloured, Asian and Indian populations (as well as Jews, Christians, Muslims and African ethnic groups such as  Xhosa and Zulu), the new state of Palestine will almost certainly be entirely Arab Muslim.  There will of course be no Jews and (if trends throughout ‘Palestine’ and the Arab Middle East continue) almost no Christians.

All of this leads us to conclude that while Palestine will likely not  become an apartheid state – as such state codified racism first requires the critical mass of racial diversity which they will not possess – it will become the kind of racial exclusivist state which Mandela and South Africa’s liberals found so abhorrent.

While such observations should not be misunderstood as an argument against a vision of a Palestinian State living peacefully alongside Israel, those who so enthusiastically champion Palestine’s creation should acknowledge that the 23rd Arab State will not embrace diversity or liberalism, and certainly won’t show fealty towards the values of tolerance championed with such courage and moral consistency by Nelson Mandela. 

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