• Mon. Oct 3rd, 2022

The apartheid accusation is a fabricated lie

Den israelske forfatter Benjamin Pogrund var sidste taler på MIFFs Israelkonference. (Foto: Bjarte Bjellås)

The Israeli author, Benjamin Pogrund, was the last speaker at MIFF’s Israel Conference in Gjøvik on Sunday 11 June 2017. Pogrund is originally from South Africa, and was a good friend of Nelson Mandela. In South Africa, Pogrund worked as a journalist for an apartheid-critical newspaper. He reacts strongly to the accusation of apartheid in Israel.

– Those who claim that there is apartheid in Israel have no idea what they are talking about. Either they have no idea what apartheid is or they know nothing about Israel. The apartheid indictment is a fabricated lie, the 84-year-old author said.

For 26 years as a journalist, he has worked against discrimination and apartheid, which is why he has a unique insight into how racial segregation worked in South Africa. He listed: beaches only for whites, own buses, own cinemas and so on. Here black people did not have access. That is not the case in Israel, he said.

The Israeli Arabs have exactly the same rights as I do. They have the right to vote just like me. Arab judges can sentence Jews to prison. If you go to a hospital in Israel, there are both Jews and Arabs there. Religious and non-religious. Everyone is treated equally. Many of the doctors are Arabs. And then people talk about apartheid? That’s absurd.

Pogrund’s work against apartheid also led him to eventually come into close contact with Nelson Mandela. He was the first non-family member to be allowed to visit Mandela while in prison on Robben Island. He later wrote a biography of the South African Nobel Peace Prize winner, and the two became close friends.

  Pogrund told a little about his friendship with Nelson Mandela. (Photo: Bjarte Bjellås) [/ caption]

Now he believes the BDS campaign, which fights for a boycott, for investment and for sanctions against Israel, is abusing the word apartheid to demonize the state of Israel.

– It was the BDS movement that began with the apartheid accusation against Israel. There is a carefully thought out strategy behind it. The goal is for Israel to be treated as South Africa was, with international isolation and a boycott. That is the purpose of BDS. It must help meet their goal of wiping out Israel, Pogrund said.

He stressed that he had been a journalist all his life, and did not represent anyone but himself. Therefore, no one can accuse him of being a propagandist, or of representing political parties or the Israeli government.

– I just tell what I know and what I have experienced through a long life as a journalist.

Pogrund also talked a bit about the peace movement in Israel and how it has lost faith.

There was a large and strong peace movement in Israel, but it disappeared due to terror and suicide bombers. Terror has destroyed so many opportunities for peace. Many are critical of the Oslo agreement, but I am not. It could have been a turning point. We had a hope, but it was destroyed by the terror, the Israeli author said.

You can see the whole lecture here

Notes, sources, and references (with links)

Originally published in Norwegian on June 11, 2017. In Danish by Jane Hoffmann.

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