The Guardian’s reporting of B’Tselem’s ludicrous claims that Israel is an undemocratic, apartheid state is unhelpful to building peace and understanding in the Middle East.
I presume B’Tselem takes their inspiration from a core Jewish value, found in the first chapter of the Old Testament, that everyone on earth was created equal, B’Tselem, in the image of God. This noble and universal lesson is being twisted maliciously by the organisation of that name.
Their latest claim is insulting on a number of levels.
It is insulting and belittling the historic struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
It is insulting to Israeli Arab citizens who, despite living in a complex clash between their civic and religious identities, overwhelmingly choose Israeli citizenship. In fact that trend is also growing among Jerusalem Arabs. Israeli Arabs are currently represented by the second largest party in the parliament and an Israeli Arab Supreme Court Judge recently served as the head of the Central Election Committee. It should go without saying that every Israeli Arab and Jerusalemite is as equally entitled as a Jewish citizen of Israel to the coronavirus vaccine.
This hit piece reads as a cynical attempt by a donor-funded NGO to raise funds abroad whilst targeting those brave voices, both Jews and Arabs, who at the start of Israel’s general election campaign are beginning to audibly advocate cooperation and partnership. True, there has been historic discrimination, a flaw recognised and being fiscally readjusted and dramatically improved even by a Netanyahu Government, but this is in no way comparable to the horrors of Apartheid.
It is also insulting to the intelligence of the Palestinians to deny them agency. They are living through a tragedy partly a result of their own catastrophic historic decisions. It is absurd to deny that their current predicament is partly due to the adoption of terrorist tactics in the past, even as Hamas remains in control in Gaza. Even here, as we end the Trump era, quietly Israeli – Palestinian civic and security cooperation is resuming. This process should be encouraged not scorned. There should be hope that a new US administration, learning from the mistakes of both Trump and Obama, engages the sides in a supportive balanced role and encourages rebuilding trust to bring them back to negotiations in the future, based on mutual respect and recognition.
This article was placed in the foreign media, not in an effort to make substantive contribution to the debate here in the Middle East, but to act as a spoiler to really significant changes underway in Israel’s relations with the wider Arab world, evidenced by multiple peace deals, currently being complimented by engagement with Israeli Arabs and maybe even in the future with the Palestinians.
Finally , it is of course insulting to Israelis and many Jews. Israel is a melting pot of cultures, backgrounds and contradictions, it is wonderfully flawed democracy in many ways, but also tenacious and essentially liberal. Post coronavirus I encourage you to visit and see the reality.