Monday, November 25, 2019



As Israel gets closer to not just energy independence but to becoming an actual energy exporter, I’m reminded of a move the BDSers took once Israel entered the energy game to try to generate interest in a new phrase: “Apartheid Oil.”

Might this refer to the Apartheid policies towards women, gays and religious minorities in the Arab petro-states?  Or the cover those wealthy oil states provided countries like Sudan as they murdered millions of black Africans?  Or the robust oil-for-gold trade between the real Apartheid South Africa and the Gulf states?

Heavens no!  For the champions of human rights and justice have suddenly got religion on oil politics once Israel was on the verge of having some.

Discoveries of shale and natural gas in Israel (coupled with recently developed extraction techniques) are what has led the nation to reach beyond energy independence over the last few years.  And while such finds present environmental concerns (not to mention the risk of the oil curse), these are not the issues critics of “Apartheid Oil” are really troubled about (although they occasionally hide behind them).

No, their problem is not that oil and gas is being extracted from the earth (with all the upside and downside that brings) but who gets to benefit from it.  When it was simply Qatar or Iran using oil money to fund police forces dedicated to beating women for exposing their foreheads or exporting Islamist ideology around the world (or Saudi Arabia, before they become a less dependable BDS ally), they could live with that.  But now that it is Israel that may finally get a piece of the action, suddenly the link between oil wealth and human rights rockets up their priority list.

The use of the term “Apartheid Oil” is particularly rich, given that the BDS movement itself is the inheritor of investments made in the 1970s and ‘80s by the very petroleum tyrannies who maintained massive trade with Apartheid South Africa during all the years they were falsely claiming to partake in an energy embargo of the country.

After all, one of the few mineral resources South Africa lacked was oil.  Yet somehow they managed to maintain a modern, oil-driven economy during the Apartheid years.  And as far as I know, Saudi Arabia is distinctly lacking in gold mines.  And yet they had (and have) shopping malls dedicated solely to the sale of gold (including South African gold) during the Apartheid era.

And while this oil-for-gold alchemy was going on, these same Middle East states used their wealth and power to condemn Israel for its (far more minimal) trade ties with South Africa, going so far as to get the  United Nations to condemn Zionism as a form of racism during debates over Apartheid.

The African nations that were asked to line up behind the Arab states on these condemnatory UN votes were none too pleased that their own concerns about banning trade with South Africa were being ignored, with the Kenyan Daily news summing things up nicely when it pointed out: “Arabs are buying South African gold like hotcakes, thus helping to sustain that country’s abominable practice of Apartheid.”

Even now when South Africa’s Apartheid system is just a memory, with truth and reconciliation hearings come and gone, the fact that Apartheid stayed afloat on a sea of Middle East oil remains a topic beyond discussion within the BDS community.  And yet, this same BDS community exists as the inheritor of the propaganda campaigns, the UN condemnations, and the corruption of the human rights community and vocabulary bought with blood gold traded for with genuine (not imagined) “Apartheid Oil.”


Confront a BDSer with these facts and (just as they do when confronted with any genuine human rights issue) they will simply ignore you and move onto their next accusation against Israel.  But the next time you see them marching in the streets comparing Israel to South Africa, keep in mind that it is BDS, not the Jewish state, that exists because of the legacy of Apartheid economics.



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