On August 17, 2015, Bradley Burston, Haaretz Correspondent, finally “had it” with the Israeli policy towards the Palestinians and decided to bluntly accuse Israel for its so-called apartheid policy. On August 25, 2015, Noam Chomsky described the actions of the Israeli occupation as “worse than South African apartheid”. These accusations align with what seems to be a global trend to bash Israel and blame it for pretty much everything that is wrong in the world. This phenomenon is quite common on college campuses in the US and the UK. The “Apartheid week”, which has become a yearly routine, is sponsored by the BDS movement (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions), which accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, colonization, racial discrimination etc. More examples can be found in many places in the world.
According to its definition, apartheid is a policy/system of segregation or discrimination on the grounds of race. Between the years 1948-1994, South Africa enforced through legislation an apartheid regime, which harshly discriminated the non-white racial groups. This discrimination encompassed every aspect of life, such as the right to vote, job opportunities and education. It also encroached on aspects of simple, everyday life: which road you could walk on, which park bench you could sit on, at which beach you could go swimming; even intermarriage between whites and non-whites was strictly forbidden. What is important to emphasize is that these people, despite being grossly discriminated against, were in fact, equally defined as citizens by the South African laws.
Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East, and 20% of its population are Arabs. Totally contradicting the above accusations, any form of discrimination against the non-Jewish minorities is strictly forbidden by law in Israel. Thus, the Arab-Druze population is fully represented in the Knesset by sixteen Arab/Druze-Israeli members. Likewise, the judiciary is typified by equality between Jews and Arabs. In this way, the Supreme Court judge, Salim Joubran (incidentally an Arab), found the former Israeli president, Moshe Katsav (Jewish), guilty and sentenced him to serve seven years in prison (http://goo.gl/FgwvSk). Another example of this policy of equality, is provided by the IDF Colonel Ghassan Alian, a Druze-Israeli, the commander of the Golani brigade, which is one of the leading infantry brigades in the Israeli Defense Forces.
Similarly, Jewish and non-Jewish students study side by side in colleges and universities; Jews and non-Jews receive exactly the same medical treatment under the same roof, and use exactly the same means of transport. In short, NO SEGREGATION! In fact, Israeli-Arabs are considered among the best and brightest in the Arab world. For example, in 2013, the level of illiteracy in Egypt was 28.6%, in Syria 20.4%, in Lebanon 13.5%, in Jordan 10.1%; and how much the Israeli-Arabs? 6%. So, still accusing Israel of apartheid? Ludicrous.
Okay, so if not the Arabs (Palestinians) who are Israeli citizens, what about the Palestinians who are not? First, the Palestinians who live in the West Bank are NOT Israeli citizens, and therefore cannot receive any citizen benefits from the Israeli government (I don’t mention Gaza because Israel withdrew from the territory and it is now completely controlled by the terror organization, Hamas). This actually reflects the essence of the entire conflict: the Palestinians in the West Bank, fighting for an independent state, fiercely opposing the Israeli presence. The Palestinian leadership audaciously manipulates the already complicated situation on the ground, by spreading misinformation that present Israel as an apartheid state. Palestinians in the West Bank are citizens of the Palestinian Authority; this authority should be the sole address to their demands for equality in economy, education, employment etc.
The critics will say that it does not matter, because Israel occupies and oppresses the Palestinians anyway, depriving them of political freedom, and economic/educational advancement. In fact, more than 90% of the Palestinians in total (Gaza + West Bank) live under Palestinian sovereignty. Why are there no Palestinian elections? Because the last time they did, Hamas, a terrorist organization (recognized as such by the US, UK and EU) won and took over the rule of the Gaza Strip in 2006. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), is on his 11th year as president, seven years beyond the due elections (which never took place). Hamas and the PA (aka Fatah) are practically enemies, and only because of the cooperation between Israel and the PA, Hamas failed to overtake the rule over the West Bank as well.
Just another point – the Palestinians are among the most educated people in the Arab world, according to the World Bank report. As for 2013, in Gaza and the West Bank, 80% graduate from high school and 50% from college. Far more extensive than most Arab/Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen. Cruel oppression? It doesn’t seem like it.
One of the major claims implicating Israel of apartheid policy relates to the security/separation wall. This wall stretches with minor deviations along the green line, which separated the West Bank from Israel before the 1967 war. Before this wall was erected, there was hardly any separation between Israel and the Palestinians. The life of the Palestinians in the West Bank was evidently more comfortable, but this does not imply by any means the existence of one state with equal citizens. In practice, there were two separate entities: Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with open borders, as explained above.
So how did the wall come about? The horrendous suicide bombings of the Palestinian terrorists that swept Israel in cafes, restaurants, buses and clubs took the life of over 1,137 citizens, throughout the Oslo accords process in the 90s and early 2000s. These atrocious attacks caused the Israeli government, led by Ariel Sharon, to create a security wall in order to prevent terrorists from entering Israel. The number of Israeli victims from terror attacks was immediately and dramatically reduced. Yes, The Palestinians deserve better; the open border state as in Europe, could serve as an ideal example to peaceful coexistence. However, they need to stop pretending that they are innocent, they need to take responsibility for their actions, and they need to know that there are implications to their extreme actions. Therefore, calling this safety wall “an apartheid major instrument”, would appear now insane.
These days, we in Israel are experiencing another wave of terrorism from the Palestinians, killing Jews indiscriminately everywhere. Any effort to try to justify this violence by calling Israel an apartheid state is utterly disgraceful.