Amos Goldberg, a prominent Holocaust professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has authored a forceful response asserting that labeling Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as “apartheid” does not constitute anti-Semitism. This assertion was published in a guest post for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).
Felix Klein, Germany’s commissioner for Jewish Life and the Fight Against Anti-Semitism, contends that employing the term “apartheid” in such contexts constitutes an “anti-Semitic narrative.” He expressed this view in an interview with Die Welt, a major German newspaper.
Goldberg contends that the Israeli government opposes fundamental principles of human rights, democracy, and equality, instead promoting ideals of “authoritarianism, discrimination, racism, and apartheid.”
He emphasizes that branding Israel’s actions as apartheid is not inherently anti-Semitic; rather, it reflects the actual situation on the ground. This portrayal of Israel as practicing apartheid represents a growing consensus among voices, including prominent Israeli scholars, who use the term to characterize the treatment of Palestinians under the current regime.
Goldberg points out that if Klein’s perspective were accurate, it would label well-known Holocaust and anti-Semitism researchers, from various parts of the world, as anti-Semitic.
He cites the “Elephant in the Room” petition, co-initiated by historian Omer Bartov, a Holocaust and genocide studies professor at Brown University. The petition asserts that under the current circumstances, there cannot be democracy for Jews in Israel while Palestinians live under an apartheid regime. It has garnered over 2,000 signatures from academics, clergy, and public figures.
Goldberg criticizes Klein’s assertion that branding Israel as practicing apartheid is anti-Semitic. He argues that this viewpoint aligns with right-wing extremist politicians in the Israeli coalition government, who prioritize the Jewish character of the state over its democratic essence.
Bartov shares this stance, stating that labels like “self-hating Jew” or “antisemite” are used to distort reality and avoid confronting the actual situation on the ground.
Goldberg concludes that while Klein may not be receptive to this reality, an increasing number of individuals around the world, including those in Israel, are coming to recognize it.