September 6, 2007 - It has become fashionable to throw charges of "apartheid" at Israel, regardless of how little that word may actually apply. The political sloganeering needs to be balanced by a consideration of reality.
Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit has announced plans to grant Israeli citizenship to several hundred refugees from Darfur. He stated that "Just as prime minister Menachem Begin acted to grant citizenship to refugees from Vietnam, the same ought to be done today."
According to UN estimates, over 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million made refugees since 2003 when the fighting in Darfur began. As David Frankfurter observes in his report, a country the size of Israel cannot be expected to grant asylum to 2.5 million. But Israel is doing its part. The Muslim communities of the world are not doing theirs.
Look at how Egypt responds to the Darfur crisis. One day last August four Sudanese refugees were trying to cross the Egyptian border into Israel (yes, these Muslims seeking shelter felt their chances were better in Israel). As they ran towards the border fence Egyptian soldiers fired on them, killing two and wounding a third. As the fourth refugee ran to the fence an Israeli soldier reached out a hand to help him cross. It was too late. Two Egyptian soldiers began pulling at the man's legs.
"It was literally like we were playing 'tug of war' with this man," said the Israeli soldier. "They were aiming loaded weapons straight at us, I was afraid they were going to shoot us." He was forced to release his grip. The Egyptians carried the man off several yards, then beat him and the wounded refugee with stones and clubs until they died.
"What happened there yesterday was a lynch," said the Israeli soldier. "These are not men, they're animals. They killed him without even using firearms. We just heard screams of pain and the sounds of beatings. Then the screams stopped."
The entire incident was captured on video.
These were not the first Sudanese refugees whom the Egyptians murdered. In late July, Egyptian police fired on a group of 22 refugees, mostly from Darfur, who were trying to enter Israel. They shot and killed a woman and seriously wounded four others.
Egypt's response to the Darfur crisis? It warned Israel that it would not take back any African refugees attempting to enter the Jewish state, and defended the use of force to stop them. "If those crossing refuse to heed the orders of authorities to stop, then authorities are forced to deal with them in such a manner to ensure respect for the law," stated the Egyptian foreign ministry.
So which government is really practicing racism on an organized scale? Consider the message sent when Muslim countries do not do their share in stopping it, neither in accepting Darfurian refugees nor in condemning the violence perpetrated against them by Sudan's Arab government.
Look at Darfur, whose racism goes unchallenged in the Arab world. Look at places like Saudi Arabia, whose Jews were long ago driven out and where non-Muslims cannot be citizens. Look at the status of Christians in Egypt and in Palestine. Who is really practicing apartheid?
Associated Press. "Egypt Says Won’t Take Back Refugees Who Cross into Israel." Sudan Tribune, August 11, 2007.
Associated Press. "Four Sudanese Refugees Killed at Israeli Border by Egyptian Troops." Sudan Tribune, August 3, 2007.
Frankfurter, David. "Darfurian Israelis." Letter from Israel, September 6, 2007.
Jerusalem Post Staff. "Egyptians killed 4 Sudanese on border." Jerusalem Post, August 2, 2007.
Mualem, Mazal. "Interior Min.: Israel Will Naturalize Scores of Darfur Refugees." Ha'aretz, September 5, 2007.
Peace with Realism