That’s the Way It Was in South Africa

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When I saw Knesset member Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) blabber away with uncontrolled anger, which he directed at the president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed as a person, and as a native of this land. I heard the phrase “The Holy One, Blessed be He, gave us the land and this is our land.” I knew that even the Master of the Universe never imagined that this sentence would be interpreted in such a lording and arrogant fashion.

Yogev spoke as if his fundamental assumptions were also the basic assumptions of the residents of the European Union, and maybe he thought they would start to declaim his opinions until they became convinced that there was no problem here − not Israeli, not Palestinian and not regional. Yogev not only does not receive his inspiration from the Master of the Universe, he also gives his way of thinking a dimension that does not have a drop of humanism. That does not characterize the Jewish way of thinking for all generations.

Without intending to, when I saw Yogev’s chutzpa in telling off Schulz, I traveled in my mind to South Africa in 1993, and couldn’t not see the similarities between people such as Yogev and the heads of the apartheid regime in South Africa. In 1993 I arrived for an official visit in South Africa. Those were days filled with belief and hope. My visit came about a month before the white regime cleared out in favor of the black majority.

At a dinner at our ambassador’s at the time, Alon Liel, I sat next to the interior minister of Pretoria. A white man, full of criticism of the actions of the last white president Frederik Willem de Klerk, who prophesized a black future for South Africa after the change. The conversation revolved around the roots of apartheid and the minister explained at length how right the regime was: It protects the superiority of the whites, who contribute more to the country, and advances the blacks in an evolutionary fashion. “De Klerk,” he said, “surrendered to external pressures despite that he believed in apartheid as the correct method for South Africa.”

Without being asked, he continued and explained to me that the people showed poor resilience faced with the sanctions, and he especially spoke of South Africa being a leper nation for the entire world. He spent time on the economic boycott, and that the country could not participate in a single sporting event, in the region and around the world.

I am not making an analogy between the government of Israel and the apartheid government. The facts are different. But Yogev’s personality and his childish defiance against the honored guest reminded me of the sparkling eyes of the minister from Pretoria, who believed in discrimination based on race and had no patience for public criticism.

Yogev seemingly lost control since Schulz raised the issue of water quotas and criticized the settlement enterprise. But he could not see the reality and discern the injustice and discrimination against the Palestinians in just about everything. After all, it is impossible to look at things this way and then continue to build more houses in the settlements that are not destined for us and which have no place in our future.

I am aware that Yogev, like Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel from Habayit Hayehudi, will not agree with me. After all, according to their approach we are not occupiers; we have returned to our homeland. But from the heights of demagogy and populism they know that the governments of Israel have agreed to divide the land and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid down this agreement in his speech at Bar-Ilan University.

I don’t wish us the reality of South Africa, but Bennett and Yogev are making every effort to bring us there, and they are doing so with skill and an impressive ability to navigate. I can see the crestfallen face of the South African minister and also the eloquent explanations with which he justified the white supremacy.

MK Yogev is a creation in accordance to discrimination and arrogance, as if they received the blessing of the Creator of the Universe without ever leaving even a hint that this was his opinion.

Director of the Government Companies Authority, Ori Yogev.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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