How Israel Took a Stand against Apartheid

Nov. 12 2021

Yesterday Frederik Willem de Klerk, who as president of South Africa oversaw the end of apartheid, died at the age of eighty-five. As it happens, this week also marks the 60th anniversary of an impassioned speech at the UN by Israel’s then-ambassador Arieh Eshel condemning the racism of the South African regime. Eshel’s stance, writes Colin Shindler, was typical of the Jewish state’s attitude:

In July 1961, Ben-Gurion told the visiting president of Upper Volta [now Burkina Faso] that Israel condemned the South African government’s policy of apartheid as well as the Portuguese dictatorship for its conduct in its colony, Angola. . . . Golda Meir later contemplated the closure of the Israeli diplomatic mission in South Africa and the cessation of El Al flights. For both Ben-Gurion and Meir, this was a founding principle of the Zionist experiment. In May 1901, Theodor Herzl, influenced by the Welsh social reformer Robert Owen, had confided to his diary: . . . “Once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.”

Menachem Begin [later] argued that it was not in Israel’s interests to antagonize the South African government. Begin condemned apartheid, but was more concerned that the Jewish community might come to harm. Sections of the Afrikaner press at the time were adamant that Jews in South Africa had to choose either Pretoria or Tel Aviv—but not both.

The Afrikaners had looked upon Israel after 1948 with admiration and viewed its rise mainly through the lens of religion. They erroneously understood Israel as similarly taking the path of racial separate development. [After Eshel’s 1961 speech, the South African foreign minister Eric] Louw described Israel as “ungrateful and hostile.”

Yet Louw was no friend of the Jews. He had told [his country’s] parliament on the eve of the Second World War: “I am convinced that if it were possible to remove Jewish influence and pressure from the press and from the news agencies, the international outlook would be considerably brighter than it is today.”

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Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: apartheid, David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Menachem Begin

How China Equips the Islamic Republic to Repress Its People

In its dedication to bringing totalitarianism into the 21st century, the Chinese Communist party has developed high-tech forms of surveillance using facial-recognition software, a vast system of “social credit,” and careful control over its subjects’ cellular phones. Even stricter and more invasive measures are applied to the Uyghurs of the northwestern part of the country. Beijing is also happy to export its innovations in tyranny to allies like Iran and Russia. Playing a key role in these advances is a nominally private company called Tiandy Technologies. Craig Singleton describes its activities:

Both Tiandy testimonials and Chinese-government press releases advertise the use of the company’s products by Chinese officials to track and interrogate Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang province. According to human-rights groups, Chinese authorities also employ Tiandy products, such as “tiger chairs,” to torture Uyghurs and other minorities.

Iran has long relied on China to augment its digital surveillance capabilities, and Tehran was an early adopter of Beijing’s “social-credit” system, which it wields to assess citizens’ behavior and trustworthiness. . . . Iranian government representatives have publicized plans to leverage smart technologies, including AI-powered face recognition, to maintain regime stability and neutralize dissent. Enhanced cooperation with China is central to those efforts.

At present, Tiandy is not subject to U.S. sanctions or export controls. In light of Tiandy’s operations in both Xinjiang and Iran, policymakers should consider removing the company, its owner, and stakeholders from the international financial system and global supply chains.

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Read more at FDD

More about: China, Human Rights, Iran, Totalitarianism, U.S. Foreign policy