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More Emperor's Clothes articles on antisemitism and its history, and on the Arab-Israeli dispute.


Is it Antisemitic to Criticize Israel?
Is Israel an 'Apartheid State'?

by Jared Israel
[Posted 27 January 2004]



It is now commonplace for those attacking Israel to call it an 'Apartheid State.'  EC Editor Jared Israel examines one piece of evidence for this accusation and finds it to be a clever lie.  Mr. Israel argues that the answer to the question, "Is it all right to criticize Israel?" is that it's the wrong question.  The right question is: "Is it all right to lie about Israel?"  The comparison between South Africa under Apartheid and Israel is examined and found to be absurd. In conclusion, Mr. Israel comments on the attempt by the pro-PLO forces to claim Martin Luther King as their own, providing evidence that, once again, it's a lie.

Jared Israel's text follows. 

-- John Flaherty
Editorial Assistant, Emperor's Clothes


Over the past year I've received several emails which claim Israel is an 'Apartheid state'. The writers make this accusation quite casually, as if they were mentioning an established fact.

The most recent such email was from one John Schultz, who wrote:

"When Israel gets criticized some people become defensive and say the critic is an anti-Semite. I wonder if this is how you might feel about an article by John Catalinotto of the ANSWER coalition [i.e., Ramsey Clark's group - JI]. They had a rally addressed by an Israeli Arab leader named Mohamed Kanana. He criticized Israel for its apartheid policies giving the example that Arabs are 20% of Israel but that this "Twenty percent of the population own only 3 percent of the land". I have been impressed by your exposés on the PLO but now I would like to see an even-handed exposé of the other side or do you believe that because Mohamed Kanana criticizes Israeli apartheid this  means he is an anti-Semite?" [1]

Mr. Schultz has asked a loaded question. First, the word 'criticize' suggests honest intent, as when one says, "Don't get defensive; listen to my criticism." But Mr. Kanana, whom Mr. Schultz is quoting, is not criticizing Israel; he is lying about the facts.

Second, the statement, "Mohamed Kanana criticizes Israeli apartheid," assumes that Apartheid does in fact exist in Israel. As I will show, this is absurd.

Is it all right to criticize Israel? Sure, but it's not all right to tell lies which generate support for terror. If someone spreads the rumor that you are a serial murderer, and you aren't, and if a lynch mob gathers outside your window, you are not likely to consider this 'criticism.'

The Western Establishments and their junior partners in the Arab countries (and most of the supposed Left as well) are engaged in a campaign to delegitimize Israel. This campaign is powered by systematic distortions in the mainstream media and lies by Western and Arab leaders, academics, and anti-Israel organizers.

Is Mr. Kanana personally antisemitic?  I don't know him so I can't say, but I can say this: he's a liar, and his lie does contribute to antisemitism, about which more later.

First let us attend to this matter of land ownership.


A clever lie


Is Mohamed Kanana factually wrong about Arab land ownership in Israel?

No, not factually wrong.  Israeli Arabs do make up 20% of the population and they do own 3% of the land.  So then how is he lying?  Cleverly - by omission. He leaves out a crucial fact: Jews make up 80% of the population of Israel but own only 3.5% of the land!

Consider the figures:

               % of Israeli population       % of land owned in Israel

Arabs           20%                             3%

Jews             80%                            3.5%

Do you see? Jews and Arabs own about the same amount of land even though there are 4 times as many Jews as Arabs. Or to put it differently, Israeli Arabs own more than twice as much land as you would expect based on their percentage of the population.  This is the opposite of what Mr. Kanana communicated with his "Twenty percent own only 3%" argument. Indeed, if we were to follow his logic it would be the Israeli Jews, not Arabs, who suffer 'Apartheid'.

Mr. Kanana knows that his audience is unaware that 93.5% of land in Israel is state-owned or state-controlled. Only 6.5% is available for private purchase. Of that, a disproportionately high share is held by Arabs.  The other 93.5% cannot be sold, it can only be leased to the general public, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish.


Trivializing the term 'Apartheid' and slandering Israel


If Mr. Kanana were right that Arabs own disproportionately little of Israel's land (as noted, the evidence he himself has put forth suggests the opposite) it would not prove Israel is an 'Apartheid state'. Apartheid does not mean discrimination in land use. (By that standard, virtually every country would be an Apartheid state because there is discrimination everywhere.) The term 'Apartheid' refers to the system that existed in South Africa, with draconian laws dividing the population into 'races' defined according to a Nazi-like ideology. It means the segregation of these supposed races, with radically different conditions of life prescribed for each. It means the official sanctioning of hate speech; racism becomes state ideology. 

If Israel were an Apartheid state, the enemies of Israel could point to laws based on a theory of supposedly superior and inferior races and they could point to secret police terror to enforce those laws.  They could point to statistical evidence of the results of Apartheid: there would be extreme differences between Jews and Arabs in telltale statistics such as infant mortality and life expectancy, just as there were between blacks and whites in South Africa. The professional Israel-bashers never mention such statistics because the figures indicate that Israeli Arabs live better than Arabs in any other country in the Middle East. [2]

A notable feature of South African Apartheid was that black people were deprived of all democratic rights. Those pushing the "Israel-is-Apartheid" line want us to believe that Israeli Arabs are in the position of South African blacks.  But Israeli Arabs run for office and vote for a parliament that decides the government of Israel. 

By way of comparison, how do Arabs fare in the so-called 'Arab countries'? Do ordinary Arabs have democratic rights in Saudi Arabia?  Not unless you mean the right to support the ruling family. (There are 11 secret police organizations in Saudi Arabia to accommodate those who do not support the ruling family.) If Arabs in Libya or Egypt oppose the official antisemitic hate propaganda or call for friendship with Israel they risk jail or worse. What about Jordan?  It is a monarchy, remember? Do Arabs have democratic rights in Sudan?  In Baath-run  Syria? These are vicious dictatorships.

What Kanana has done is typical of anti-Israel propagandists. He has taken advantage of the widespread fantasy-view of the Middle East in which groups like the PLO are supposedly freedom fighters similar to Martin Luther King's Civil Rights movement, minus the non-violence. Anti-Israel propagandists build on this false image, likening Palestinians to blacks in South Africa under Apartheid or in the US under Segregation, and likening Jews to racist whites in these countries. Kanana knows that his audience is ignorant of basic realities in the Middle East, where half of Israel's Jewish population are refugees from terror in Arab-run countries, and where Arab racism against Jews and sub-Saharan Africans is common. Taking advantage of the fictional model of a Middle East that resides only in Western heads, Kanana and other propagandists throw out massive quantities of lies, knowing most will stick. [3]

Aside from the fact that Arabs live better in Israel than in any Arab country, the attempt to liken Israel with South Africa under Apartheid ignores other facts.

For one thing, white people are fairly recent arrivals in South Africa. But the situation in the Middle East is quite different.  The only state that has ever existed in the area now occupied by Israel was the ancient state of...Israel. Following the Roman genocide of the Jews 2000 years ago, Jews have continuously lived in what was their country despite mockery and abuse, about which see Karl Marx's account of the plight of the Jewish majority in Jerusalem in the mid-19th century. (And keep in mind that Marx was an antisemite and therefore the plight of the Jews must have been extreme for him to write a sympathetic report on their suffering.) [4]

Another thing: South African Apartheid was a nightmare, rooted in the crackpot "science" of 'Eugenics', which the South African racists  apparently picked up in Germany, which received it from the pillars of the US Establishment. Eugenics is especially contemptuous of two groups: dark skinned people from Tropical Africa and... Jews. [5]

Eugenics assumes the existence of 'racially inferior' groups, but racist speech and discrimination are illegal in Israel. By contrast, in the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian institutions preach that Jews are subhumans who should be killed. (What German Nazi leader does that remind you of?)  [6]


Lying about Apartheid; lying about Dr. King


A few days after I received the email from Mr. Schultz, I got one from a pro-PLO group, exhorting everyone to join them in celebrating Martin Luther King's birthday in (supposedly) the "most fitting way " by "marching against Israeli Apartheid." Ages ago I participated in the Civil Rights movement. One of my heroes was John Lewis, who led the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee from 1963-66.  Lewis was a friend of Martin Luther King, so he is a knowledgeable witness concerning Dr. King's views on Israel. The following is from Congressman Lewis' Website:

[Excerpt from comments by John Lewis starts here]

During his lifetime King witnessed the birth of Israel and the continuing struggle to build a nation. He consistently reiterated his stand on the Israel-Arab conflict, stating 'Israel's right to exist as a state in security is uncontestable.' It was no accident that King emphasized 'security' in his statements on the Middle East.

On March 25, 1968, less than two weeks before his tragic death, he [King] spoke out with clarity and directness stating,

'peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity.  I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.'

[Excerpt from comments by John Lewis ends here]

You can read Rep. Lewis' comments in full at

These were King's words almost a year after the Six Day War - that is to say, after the Arabs provoked a war with the intention of committing genocide and lost, leaving Israel in possession of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. All these areas had been used as staging grounds to launch military attacks on the state of Israel and/or terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. Immediately after the war, Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol offered to turn over much of this land to the Arab states in exchange for a mere public promise of peace.  Egyptian President Nasser rejected the offer and the Arab League then voted to refuse even to negotiate with Israel, suggesting that Arab leaders were committed to their oft-repeated public promise to wipe out the Jews. Dr. King did not fall for the phony issue of the supposed occupation because the Arab leaders had made it clear that if they got back these lands they would be used again to try and destroy Israel.

So please, no more attempts to murder Dr. King twice by spreading the lie that he was an apologist for anti-Israeli terror. 

Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor's Clothes

* Footnotes, comments and further reading follow the appeal *


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Footnotes, comments and
further reading


[1] Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark is now hyped as a Leftist leader, but he identified himself with the antisemitic wing of the Right throughout the 1980s. Along with Pat Buchanan and the Baltic-American groups which constituted the extreme fringe of Right wing antisemitism in the US, Clark called for reconciliation with Nazis and crusaded for Nazi criminals whom the Justice Department was trying to deport. See documentation in "How Ramsey Clark Labored to Protect Nazi Émigrés," at

[2] We are preparing an article comparing Israeli Arabs with Israeli Jews, and Israeli Arabs with Arabs from surrounding countries, using statistics on life expectancy and infant mortality. Already I can say with certainty that based on these statistics, Arabs live appreciably better in Israel than in so-called Arab countries. If a Martian saw the stats he might ask, "Do  Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Libya discriminate against Arabs?" 

[3] The Website, Jimena (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa), has much information about the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees driven from Muslim lands in the past 60 years, and about their lost cultures. It is at

Why is the Western media silent about these refugees?

[4] Marx's account of the Jews in Jerusalem in the mid-19th century can be read at

[5] As most people do not know, Eugenics, the pseudo-science of supposed race improvement, was openly practiced in the US during the first half of the 20th century. The goal, which was to eliminate supposed undesirables (for example, black people, Jews, whites in Appalachia) and produce a 'pure' Nordic-German 'race' was pushed by leading professors from universities including Harvard. Eugenics 'research' was financed by the leading foundations. Eugenics policies, such as the forced sterilization of thousands of poor whites, were enforced in many states. Eugenics was supported by the State Department. It was exported by the Establishment to the Nazis who used it as the basis of, and rational for, the slaughter of  'untermenschen' - Jews, Slavs, etc. This is discussed in Edwin Black's superb book, "War Against the Weak":

"Eventually, out of sight of the world, in Buchenwald and Auschwitz, eugenic doctors like Josef Mengele would carry on the research begun just years earlier with American financial support, including grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institution."

The above is from Chapter 1. To read the informative Introduction and Chapter 1 of Mr. Black's book, please go to

South African Apartheid was apparently inspired by German Eugenics. And it was Hitler's Eugenics, with its loathing for Jews, that endeared him to the Arab extremist, Hajj Amin al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who murdered his way to dominating the Palestinian movement and then led it for 50 years, indoctrinating the current top leaders with his gangsterism and race hate. Hajj Amin was a strong influence on the Final Solution.    

[6] Regarding the violent racism of the mass media of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Media watchdog group, MEMRI, has translated sermons broadcast by PA television over the past three years.  They can be accessed at

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