It has become fashionable to use the word “Apartheid” as an adjective to Israel these days, particularly since the first Durban conference in August 2002. We have the “Apartheid wall” and “Apartheid roads” and are regularly called an “Apartheid state” as alluded to by former US president Jimmy Carter in the title of his recent book “Peace not Apartheid.”

Israel is not an Apartheid state. I know. I came from one. To compare Israel to Apartheid South Africa demonstrates ignorance and, in many cases, malevolence. Apartheid South Africa was unique and should be remembered as such lest it be repeated.

Elements of Israeli society may be guilty of racism, and there is no denying some discrimination against Israeli Arabs, but this is no Apartheid South Africa. And Israel’s occupation and settlement of the West Bank may be unfair, unjust, and brutal, but it is a result of a clash of nationalisms over territory, not the imposition of economic and social slavery though a codex of laws aimed at discrimination for the benefit of a tiny minority of the country’s population. Yes in some places there are separate roads for Palestinians and Jewish settlers and the separation barrier is hideously ugly, but these are responses to security problems, not the imposition of a pre-meditated discriminatory system.

In Apartheid South Africa there was no independent legislature, no free press, no open and accountable government, no representation, and no independent judiciary. Apartheid meant total economic exploitation by two million Whites who enslaved, abused and systematically discriminated against people ten times more numerous than them. It was a system of madness that was dedicated to forcibly moving millions upon millions of people from their tribal lands to Bantustans, leaving people with no means of support other than to work for minimal wages in the country’s mines or as domestic servants.

Apartheid South Africa carried out more judicial hangings than any other country on earth, including Black men who were found having sex with a white woman, something automatically assumed to be rape. It was a place where people disappeared into the night never to be heard of again if they opposed the regime, including anti-Apartheid activists from among the Jewish community.

If you were Black you needed a pass to be in the city and if caught without one you were summarily sentenced to months of hard labor in prison work gangs, and if you were Black you lived under curfew, and you had to have a note from the master or the madam allowing you out after hours, something I remember providing for our servant Grace when I was nine.

It was a dark horrible regime of fear with no intention of ever making peace with the Black people, only to continually exploit them. Say what you may about Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians at least the sides are engaged in some form of conciliatory process, at least people on both sides can see a theoretical resolution of the problem. In Apartheid South Africa no resolution of the conflict was ever intended and if international sanctions had not brought the Apartheid regime to its knees those behind it would still be firmly in power.

There was the Shoah and there is genocide. There was Apartheid South Africa and there is discrimination, racism and occupation. These things should not be confused.