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SPD head 'sorry for Israel apartheid comment'

The Local · 15 Mar 2012, 16:27

Published: 15 Mar 2012 16:27 GMT+01:00

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Gabriel, one of three possible Social Democratic challengers to Chancellor Angela Merkel in next year’s general election, later admitted he had used a “very drastic formulation,” but said that he was only describing the situation as experienced by people in the town.

"For Palestinians this is a lawless zone," Gabriel wrote on his Facebook page. "It is an apartheid regime, for which there is absolutely no justification."

He had previously met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and wrote about his desire to see a stop to Israeli settlement expansion.

He said he had told Netanyahu that support for Israel among the German and European public was being harmed by his settlement policies.

His next entry is his comparison between Hebron and apartheid, the system of strict racial segregation imposed on the people of South Africa from the late 1940s until 1994.

Hundreds of passionate comments and a longer description of his opposition to Israeli settlement policy later, Gabriel returned to the fray to clear things up.

He said it was clear to him that the apartheid comparison was an extreme one. “But Palestinians experience exactly that in Hebron in their situation. The drastic description is what I, and not only I, thought of during the discussions and tour in Hebron.”

But he apologised to Israel for the comparison. “If my formulation led to the misunderstanding that I wanted to put Israel and its government on the same level as the old apartheid regime in South Africa, I am sorry," he said. "I did not and explicitly do not want to do this, as this comparison would be more than unfair to Israel and would downplay the old South Africa.”

He said he had simply tried to express the anger he felt even as a supporter of Israel, at what he had seen the Palestinians experience in Hebron.

Story continues below…

Gabriel’s comments drew instant condemnation from the Christian Democratic Union whose Secretary General Hermann Gröhe said in Die Welt that the SPD leader should apologise for what he described as a “diatribe,” while CDU foreign policy spokesman Philipp Mißfelder told the Bild newspaper he found Gabriel’s comments unacceptable.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:29 March 15, 2012 by Dizz
And I thought the sacred cows all live in India.
17:39 March 15, 2012 by derExDeutsche
Whenever someone says there is no Apartheid in Israel, I ask, 'then why are there no Muslims living in Israel?' All one needs see is all the happy Jewry and Christians, living in Peace all over the Muslim world to understand why Israel is the apartheid state.
17:41 March 15, 2012 by yourkeau
Well, he is definitely right. Arabic population of the West Bank do not have Israeli citizenship and do not have the rights of being Israeli citizens, unlike Jewish population. Although West Bank is technically the part of Israel, people living there are considered to be foreigners. What is this, if not apartheid?

Although, for this situation both sides are to blame. The situation is really difficult and the only solution is to create two separate countries.
17:50 March 15, 2012 by klaus stoiber

Herr Gabriel was correct to say that. Why apologise for this? The facts are that the Israeli state continues to steal land from Palestinians. The problem I have with this besides blatant theft,is that most Jews in Israel today are not of Hebrew descent but descendents of people who converted to Judaism many centuries ago and therefore have no historic right to biblical land in Israel Theft is one of the acts that goes against God's values,its a sin, and this is what it is when one steals land from other people. Go read up more on the Khazar people, and discover where the majority of todays Jewish people originate from.

Israel is very much an apartheid state. You have people confined to basically an open air jail, limited movement, limited rights. If it is not an apartheid state, then what is it then? Someone will say that Arabs are sitting in the Knesset, and Islamic worship in Israel is allowed, but non-whites sat in the all white apartheid South African government as well, worship of whom and whatever was also allowed.

Now lets see theLocal's staff delete my posting for speaking my mind based on historical facts
19:16 March 15, 2012 by vonSchwerin
Israel -- within the internationally recognized pre-1967 borders -- is not an apartheid state. Citizens of Israel can live wherever they want and vote equally, regardless of religion or race.

What goes on inside the West Bank is a different story. There is a military occupation and separation of the groups in the West Bank. And it is for that reason that many Zionists believe that Israel needs to withdraw from the West Bank (in whole or part). Israel is officially a "Jewish and democratic state." If Israel keeps the West Bank, because of the rapidly growing Palestinian population, the Israeli government may have to decide if Israel will be "Jewish" or "democratic." With the West Bank as part of Israel, it cannot really be both.

BUT, within pre-1967 Israel, the state can have a Jewish majority, a democratic state form, and equal rights for all citizens regardless of faith.


There actually are hundreds of thousands of Muslims living inside of Israel with Israeli citizenship. Most of them live in northern Israel, in the Galilee region.
19:45 March 15, 2012 by yourkeau
The worst thing is when you criticize Israel for reason, you automatically end up being in the same basket with neo-Nazis and other anti-Semitic idiots, including some of the commenters here.

So, I would like to add, that I wish all the best to the people of Israel, both Arabic and Jewish, and hope that someday we will see something like Palestinian Union, a Middle-East equivalent to the EU, with its Schengen and freedoms. Let's hope.
20:02 March 15, 2012 by Sayer

20:12 March 15, 2012 by alex533
His comment seems very uneducated. Either he has a great lack of knowledge or he is a Nazi.
20:36 March 15, 2012 by MaKo
Alex533, I don't think those things are mutually exclusive =)
20:36 March 15, 2012 by christopheuk25
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:38 March 15, 2012 by derExDeutsche
@ vonSchwerin

I was not being serious. I was monkeying the idiots.
20:49 March 15, 2012 by Navigator_B
Gabriel said "This comparison would be more than unfair to Israel and would downplay the old South Africa." This comparison is more unfair to the racist South African regime which never treated black people as badly as Israel treats Palestinians. 

The apartheid system killed many innocent people, for example in Sharpville and Soweto, but not as many as Israel has killed and continues to kill today in the name of "security". 

The leaders of the apartheid government saw reason in the end and allowed the old system to be dismantled. No Israeli government has shown any sign that it would allow a truly independent Palestinian nation that would be more than just a province under Israeli control.
22:30 March 15, 2012 by melbournite
"There is no such thing as a Palestinian people" - Golda Meir

Apartheid does not go nearly far enough in describing the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israeli state. Even the Palestinians living inside Israel are systematically discriminated against.
22:54 March 15, 2012 by Navigator_B
yourkeau #3, The West Bank is not technically the part of Israel. No country in the world officially recognises it as part of Israel. Even Israel itself doesn't even though it claims all of Jerusalem as part of its own territory. It likes to see the West Bank as being in a limbo state of "disputed territory" so that it can ignore its own responsibilities. Israel likes to think that in that way it can avoid the legal obligations of an occupying force and at the same time  avoid giving full citizen's rights to palestinians living in the West Bank.
00:53 March 16, 2012 by Larry Thrash
Muslims live in Israel in Peace, unlike Christians, and Jews in Muslim countries. By-the-way Muslims send rockets into Israel daily and there is no condemnation of these Palestinians by Europeans. It's shocking how otherwise intelligent people are so irrational when it comes to the Jews. It's pure irrational hatred.
09:28 March 16, 2012 by intensive_care
Till 1988 Nelson Mandela and his party was declared as terrorists by US and Israel, because they both supported apartherd system in SA.

@Larry Thrash

Get a life and open your eyes, you expect Palestine to honour their commitment when Israel with the help of EU and America is ignoring their own comitments. No one is irrational to Jews, the focus of most of the criticism on Jews is thier Zionist movement which is not a representative of their masses.
12:28 March 16, 2012 by Sayer
When someone as erudite as Bishop Desmond Tutu calls Gaza an open prison, maintained by an apartheid Israeli occupation, then I'm inclined to believe him. Nobody cares about the religion of the oppressors. They'd just like them to stop it. It's the atrocities which bring the condemnation, regardless of their 'faith' or perceived chosenness. It's not Judaism at issue here, it's Zionism.

I saw a great sign at a protest in NY recently: "All Land is Sacred, All People Are Chosen." Says it all!
13:59 March 16, 2012 by SchwabHallRocks
So far so good... some of you (not many though) are aware the rules are different in Israel proper vs. the West Bank, for "non-Israeli citizens / Arabs" and that Israel proper is nothing like an apartheid state.

Now... why does Israel continue stay in / occupy the West Bank since the 1967 war which was 45 years ago?

Let's see if our readers can answer that. Then, we can start to have a more rationale discussion.
16:44 March 16, 2012 by Bruno53
Not me, buddy. Israel IS an apartheid state. Not exactly like South Africa but quite close.
17:04 March 16, 2012 by raandy
The treatment of the Palestinians , is disgraceful. The comparison to apartheid may not be a perfect fit but it has a serious tread of truth running through it.
02:10 March 17, 2012 by bubagain
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
00:08 March 20, 2012 by PierceArrow
Sigmar Gabriel definitely needed to apologize. The Paletinian politicians are despicable Islamofascists who encourage violence against Jews and Christians. Those corrupt and vicious Palestinian politicians follow in the footsteps of Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al-Hosseini, the evil collaborator with Adolf Hitler.
06:57 March 24, 2012 by yuri_nahl
Google "the stern gang". "Chosen People"? Rhymes with "Master Race".
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