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African-American Zionist says Israel Apartheid is “anti-truth”

  • AnselBrown2
Comparing Israel with apartheid is “historically and morally false and anti-Semitic”, says visiting African American Professor Ansel Brown.
by NICOLA MILTZ | Apr 04, 2019

Brown, assistant clinical professor of political science at North Carolina Central University, is passionate about what he sees as the strong parallels and similarities in the past experiences of African Americans and the historic plight of the Jews.

Married to an Ethiopian Jew, Brown and his wife adhere to Jewish traditions, regularly attending synagogue and observing Shabbat and festivals.

As an expert in the African diaspora and pan-Africanism, Brown is touring South Africa this week to coincide with Israel Apartheid Week. “Israel Apartheid Week is anti-truth, anti-peace, and is all about delegitimising the State of Israel,” he said.

Brown believes the comparison of Israel with apartheid is a form of contemporary anti-Semitism. “The equation of Israel with what the world knows to be one of the most evil, notorious political regimes in our modern era is a form of anti-Semitism that is rooted in a moral and historical bankrupt narrative of the truth,” he said.

Brown also commented on the University of Cape Town’s (UCT’s) toying with the idea of an academic boycott of Israeli universities. “A boycott flies in the face of academic freedom and intellectual progress and collaboration,” he said. “Any credible university must have academic freedom. Israeli technology and innovation, research, and scholarship have contributed invaluably to the world. So I’d be curious as to whether those who support boycotting Israel as an apartheid state, which is the furthest thing from the truth, would be interested in boycotting Israeli research and scholarship and technology, and breakthroughs in medicine. The whole thing is absurd.”

Brown delivered a lecture at UCT on Monday in which he shared his experience in the diaspora as an African American. He discussed the prospects for pan-Africanism while drawing from inspirations of the Jewish plight, which he insists has strong parallels with experiences of African Americans.

Brown was brought up in a spiritual home with his father a pastor and his mother a minister. He was very familiar with the Jewish story of the exodus from Egypt. He was also familiar with the African American experience of slavery, the injustices of segregation, and institutionalised racialism.

“I always had a deep yearning and desire to be reconnected with my African roots. In my yearning to be reconnected with Africa, I became knowledgeable about the ugly legacy of colonialism in Africa. It resonated with the Jewish story of the diaspora,” he said.

“Growing up, I was very familiar with the ancient Jewish story of enslavement, and how the Jewish nation was birthed out of slavery. This has inspired African Americans through generations. A lot of African American spiritualism is inspired by the Jewish story of Moses and the exodus and ‘let my people go’ idea.”

He added that “even during the civil rights movement, African Americans and leaders of the Jewish community marched together. Some spilled their blood alongside their African American brothers and sisters.”

“Dr Martin Luther King, at his last sermon before he was slain at the height of the civil rights movement, said: ‘I may not get to the Promised Land but I have seen it.’ In this, he drew directly from the 3 000-year-old Jewish story.

“This is the connection: the Jewish experience of exile, persecution and alienation, and being demonised and scapegoated in Europe and all around the world in the diaspora, is very much parallel to the African American experience of exile, oppression, demonisation, and brutality.

“We have much to learn and draw from one another. It is time we tell the truth about our experiences, and that we stand together against this false narrative that the Jewish land is somehow a foreign, colonial apartheid experiment. It is the exact moral and historical opposite of that.”

Brown said Jews worldwide were “undergoing a very ugly campaign of modern, contemporary anti-Semitism. The target is not the innocent Jewish boy walking down the street with a kippah. The target now is the Jewish state, and we have to stand against this.”

Brown agreed that Palestinians deserved a better future. “The truth is Palestinians have been denied what is their rightful place in this world by rejectionism within the Palestinian leadership. Time and time again, the Palestinian leadership has made a strategic and tragic choice to opt for focusing on the destruction of Israel and the Jewish homeland in lieu of committing to the self-realisation of the Palestinian people.

“Arab leadership have rejected countless offers over the years. I can go on and on about the betrayal. Israel settled about 850 000 Jews who were exiled from Middle Eastern countries, but the 700 000 Palestinian refugees, who have mushroomed into the millions, are being held in refugee camps in Arab countries. The Arab and Palestinian leadership has betrayed the trust of the Palestinian people.

“The Palestinian people deserve a better future, but it will take a leadership within the Palestinian and Arab world that believes in peace and the Palestinian cause more than it believes in the destruction of Israel.”

Brown earned his doctorate from Harvard Law School. As a law student, he co-founded the Harvard Alliance for Israel, and wrote his third-year paper with a renowned legal mind, Professor Alan Dershowitz, critiquing the 2001 Durban Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. “In the paper, I critiqued what I believed to be the unjust treatment of Israel at the (conference).”

While in South Africa, Brown has spoken to students on campuses, Christian organisations supportive of Israel, and with members of the community in a bid to “build bonds of solidarity” with what he believes to be the true narrative of Israel.

“Israel is not a colonial apartheid state. It is the Jewish homeland that has a 3 000-year history. It is a story that should inspire Africans and African Americans everywhere of what’s possible through resilience, through steadfastness, and through hope – hatikvah – the hope that Jewish people have held on to in the face of true oppression. It should be hope to the rest of us.

2 Comments

  1. 2 Stephen 06 Apr
    thanks to Professor Brown for speaking truth
  2. 1 Beth G Goldstein 09 Apr
    Powerful and erudite
    Refreshing and articulate

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