What? You were expecting a bit more, were you? Why don’t we start with the definition of apartheid.
Apartheid: racial segregation; specifically : a former policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa
Lets assume for the moment, that the reference to South Africa is due to the fact that the term was coined in response to the affairs there, and that apartheid is not something specific to that region. Apartheid describes, “racial segregation,” including, but I’m sure not limited to, “political and economic discrimination.”
This would suggest, that in an apartheid state, one racial entity would have total control, with the other or all others having no presence in politics, medical care, or economics.
Pushers of the “Israel is an apartheid state” credo often state as well, that Israel is participating in “ethnic cleansing,” and further that “Israel is the same as,” or similar to, “Nazi Germany,” in its relationship with the Arabs there. Unfortunately for those who levy this argument, nothing could be further from the truth.
What are the facts? Without a pro-Israel bias, a few of the unadulterated facts of the situation are this:
-Israel is a multi-racial state, in which equal rights is not only the law but is also the norm, in every facet of society. Sure, individual racism occurs–as it does in all societies–but there is no stance condoning such acts in the government.
-There are Israeli-Arabs. In fact, 20% of the Israeli population is Arab.
-Israeli-Arabs are present in the Supreme Court, Knesset (Parliament), University (as both students and professors), medical, commerce, and even in the IDF where–although their service is not mandatory–many serve with distinction.
Considering these facts, plus the numerous others, no logical comparison can continue to be found between an apartheid state and Israel. And in order to conclude that Israel is like Nazi Germany, we would also have to see the round-up and wholesale slaughter of innocent arabs–which is impossible to see unless you have your eyes closed.
But what of the “occupied” territories of “The West Bank and Gaza?”
In 1947, after the arabs rejected the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine proposal of an independent arab state, and an independent jewish state, the region was gripped in civil war. The Jews were able to turn the tide in their favor, and 250,000 arabs either fled, or were expelled from these territories. 250,000 would be a very significant number, if it weren’t for the fact that between 1922 and 1948 and estimated 300,000 arabs immigrated to these lands. Why does this make it less significant? The argument that is levied is that the jews must return the ancestral homeland to the refugees who fled the region during this time. Considering that the fleeing of arabs was immediately preceded by the immigrating in higher numbers, it is not difficult to believe that they are not able to provide documentation for their ancestral ownership of these lands.
To complicate matters further, in 1948–immediately after Israeli statehood was declared–TransJordan, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq invaded Israel in a war of aggression. When peace was reached between israel and her aggressors, TransJordan occupied and annexed the territories now known commonly as The West Bank. Egypt occupied the Gaza strip. To put it bluntly, the palestinian arabs have never had self-determination in these lands, and the implication that they were ever a sovereign state is simply misinformation.
In 1967, Israel was once again attacked by her neighbors, and once again was able to turn the tide in her favor. By the time peace was reached between the parties, Israel had fought her way through the Gaza strip and the West Bank, and captured both Jerusalem and the Sinai Peninsula. All of the territories that Israel’s opponents call “occupied territories,” are these lands that the state captured in defensive combat against multiple foes. In an attempt to retain peace with the occupants of these areas, Israel has maintained a military presence there for the last 40 years, in exactly the same way that the U.S. military has retained a presence in every area it has fought. And yes, those settlers that everybody hears about so much, they are Jews who are building neighborhoods in these territories, but they are building them on lands that are either purchased from arabs, or have no owner.
The next item of business that is often cited as “proof” of “Israeli apartheid,” is the building of the wall separating Israel from “The West Bank.” The wall was begun in 2003, and the three year period following its beginning was marked by an 84% reduction in suicide attacks from the three years before, resulting in a 79% reduction in fatalities from such attacks. The wall is inconvenient to many arabs who live on the Israeli side (in places, the wall places parts of the west bank on the Israeli side), but there is no denying that it has been a significant factor in the reduction of such heinous crimes.
I would like to talk about the Boycott Divestiture and Sanction (BDS) movement that is being urged on by so many celebrities, but it is already too late, so I will save that for another post. I would also have liked to talk about the practice of apartheid in South Africa–where the term was coined–so that there could be an honest comparison, but that will likewise have to wait.
Most opponents of Israel simply repeat that which they’ve heard from people whose opinions they consider valid, even if these people know nothing about what it is they are talking about and are just riding the groundswell. The next time that somebody tells you that Israel is an apartheid state, think of the jewish patients who receive care from the arab doctors, and the arab patients from jewish doctors; think about the tolerance within the Knesset even for radical arab members who openly call for the destruction of Israel; think about the arabs and jews who work together or adjacent to one another in business, or those who fight side by side in the IDF; or think about the restaurants, bathrooms, theaters, and swimming pools where arabs are welcome alongside jews. Then think for yourself. Don’t even be quick to formulate an opinion based upon this short treatise, but don’t condemn a nation you are unfamiliar with on the testimony of those who argue without facts.