What we mean when we talk about Israeli apartheid
I think there’s some confusion about this topic.
Based on what I’ve perceived, both domestically in Israel and internationally, it isn’t clear to many people, what activists and human rights groups mean when they or we talk about apartheid in Israel. Of course, many Israelis instinctively dismiss this claim, simply because it’s easier, and also because they aren’t aware of the meaning of the word itself.
So they start yelling, denying loudly, and all in all, trying to erase the picture of an oppressive Israeli regime from their heads.
Building on the idea of simple misinformation and denial, I see many social media creators try to ‘bust the myth of Israeli apartheid’ as well, in which they walk on the streets of, for example, Tel Aviv, and simply point out the presence of Arabs who wear hijabs.
I always think that this is quite a cheap and lazy tactic, but it seems to be working on Jewish Israelis. Some people are claiming that we are an apartheid state, but a fellow citizen of mine refutes this claim in a TikTok video, so the claim must be false.
Some activists or simple observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict think that every Arab in the whole territory under Israel’s control is stripped of all their human rights. And while this may seem trivial, and maybe it is, that’s not the whole truth. Arabs with Israeli citizenship, whose families lived inside the so-called Green Line (Israel’s borders after the war of Independence in 1948), are theoretically equal to their Jewish counterparts.
It’s true that their schools are funded less, and that, for example, there are far fewer Arab judges, (less than ten percent of all judges are Arab) than Jewish ones, but simple Arab citizens of Israel, of which there are about two million, are mostly free to live their lives.
On the other hand, we have two million Palestinians living in the West Bank, without any citizenship at all, whose lives are completely and utterly controlled by Israel, the IDF, and the Palestinian Authority, which cannot function by itself, and by design has to rely on Israel. We saw this when, in response to the PA denying further military cooperation with the IDF, Israel took all Palestinian tax revenue from the PA.
Additionally, there’s the Gaza Strip, also with about two million Palestinians, that is controlled by Hamas since the time of Israel’s “disengagement” in 2005. Despite this disengagement, Israel has imposed an economic blockade on Gaza, which makes the lives of the two million miserable and unbearable, including water and electricity shortages.
When we talk about Israeli apartheid, we mainly talk about the IDF mishandling the lives of millions of people, who have nowhere to turn for help. With no citizenship, they have no human or political rights at all. We talk about beatings, evictions, and killings the soldiers of the IDF commit in the Arab cities and villages of the West Bank, where the victims are often the weakest.
When we talk about Israeli apartheid, we don’t talk about Arabs in Tel Aviv or Haifa, or Ramat Gan. The mythbusters that try to refute claims of apartheid by filming or writing about the two out of six million Arabs who do have a level of protection against a racist policy, are not aware or don’t want to be aware of the truth.
When Israelis want to turn a blind eye and reject claims of apartheid by yelling antisemitism, they reject the thousands of Palestinian deaths caused by Israel, of which there are nearly seven a week.
When we talk about Israeli apartheid, we ask for empathy, not denial. Help and not attacks.
Not more attacks.
When we talk about Israeli apartheid, we ask Israel to withdraw from the West Bank for good, so it can become what it always was: Palestine.