Israel is Jewish – Part Two: Israel is not Apartheid

Image credit: Gulf News – not other specifics cited

In Part One of this series, I covered pretty effectively not only that the long-term history of Israel from ancient times was undeniably (even though people deny it all the time) Jewish, but whatever you want to call “Palestine” is not and never has been Arabic.

I know a lot of people don’t like to face that because of the common and mistaken idea that the Arabs were living in Palestine until the Jews came and subjugated them in 1948. However, that’s not objective history, but propaganda.

Let’s start with the basics. What is “Apartheid?”

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Apartheid (Afrikaans: “apartness”) is the name of the policy that governed relations between the white minority and the nonwhite majority of South Africa during the 20th century. Although racial segregation had long been in practice there, the apartheid name was first used about 1948 to describe the racial segregation policies embraced by the white minority government. Apartheid dictated where South Africans, on the basis of their race, could live and work, the type of education they could receive, and whether they could vote. Events in the early 1990s marked the end of legislated apartheid, but the social and economic effects remained deeply entrenched.

In fact the term is totally embedded exclusively in the history of South Africa. So much so, that a search of Google (at least a casual one) doesn’t easily turn up a list of other nations that practiced the same policies.

So why do people call Israel (which obviously is not South Africa) “apartheid?”

A 2017 report by The Washington Post was headlined Is Israel an ‘apartheid’ state? This U.N. report says yes. Yet when I clicked the link to read the actual report, I got a “Page Not Found” error. Either the report was moved to another URL or it was pulled entirely.

The article begins:

If being an apartheid state means committing inhumane acts, systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, then Israel is guilty, a United Nations panel has determined in a new report.

The findings from an Arab-led group were not cleared or fully backed by U.N. leadership and do not set new policies toward Israel. Yet they reflect another attempt to use a U.N. forum to denounce Israel and seek to put its Western allies on the defensive at a time when some have questioned Israel’s hard-line approach, including expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

Okay, the allegation already sounds a tad suspicious. I mean even the U.N. didn’t fully endorse it.

Actually, I looked pretty hard, but it was difficult to find a reputable source that supported the idea that Israel was apartheid. The Guardian published an op-ed piece last year who sees similarities between Israel and South Africa based on experience of fighting South African apartheid:

As a Jewish South African anti-apartheid activist I look with horror on the far-right shift in Israel ahead of this month’s elections, and the impact in the Palestinian territories and worldwide.

Israel’s repression of Palestinian citizens, African refugees and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza has become more brutal over time. Ethnic cleansing, land seizure, home demolition, military occupation, bombing of Gaza and international law violations led Archbishop Tutu to declare that the treatment of Palestinians reminded him of apartheid, only worse.

That statement was to some degree based on a 2014 Haaretz article where Desmond Tutu said that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians reminded him of Black South Africans.

Incidentally, this is also probably the attraction of America’s Black Lives Matter to the Palestinian “cause” if we can believe they are all the same thing.

But as we’ve seen, apartheid isn’t simply racial or ethnic differences or tensions.

Interestingly enough, an older article by The Guardian was titled Israel has many injustices. But it is not an apartheid state. In part, the writer says:

I have now lived in Israel for 17 years, doing what I can to promote dialogue across lines of division. To an extent that I believe is rare, I straddle both societies. I know Israel today – and I knew apartheid up close. And put simply, there is no comparison between Israel and apartheid.

The Arabs of Israel are full citizens. Crucially, they have the vote and Israeli Arab MPs sit in parliament. An Arab judge sits on the country’s highest court; an Arab is chief surgeon at a leading hospital; an Arab commands a brigade of the Israeli army; others head university departments. Arab and Jewish babies are born in the same delivery rooms, attended by the same doctors and nurses, and mothers recover in adjoining beds. Jews and Arabs travel on the same trains, taxis and – yes – buses. Universities, theatres, cinemas, beaches and restaurants are open to all.

They go on to state:

However, Israeli Arabs – Palestinian citizens of Israel – do suffer discrimination, starting with severe restrictions on land use. Their generally poorer school results mean lower rates of entry into higher education, which has an impact on jobs and income levels. Arab citizens of Israel deeply resent Israel’s “law of return” whereby a Jew anywhere in the world can immigrate to Israel but Arabs cannot. Some might argue that the Jewish majority has the right to impose such a policy, just as Saudi Arabia and other Muslim states have the right not to allow Christians as citizens. But it’s a troubling discrimination.

A major factor causing inequity is that most Israeli Arabs do not serve in the army. While they are spared three years’ compulsory, and dangerous, conscription for men (two years for women) and annual reserve duty that continues into their 40s, they do not receive post-army benefits in housing and university study.


How does that compare with the old South Africa? Under apartheid, every detail of life was subject to discrimination by law. Black South Africans did not have the vote. Skin colour determined where you were born and lived, your job, your school, which bus, train, taxi and ambulance you used, which park bench, lavatory and beach, whom you could marry, and in which cemetery you were buried.

Israel is not remotely like that. Everything is open to change in a tangled society in which lots of people have grievances, including Mizrahi Jews (from the Middle East) or Jews of Ethiopian origin. So anyone who equates Israel and apartheid is not telling the truth.

If I were to stop here, we could reasonably conclude that Israel is not a perfect country, and yes discrimination does exist, but the nature of that discrimination does not resemble apartheid.

The article concludes:

So why is the apartheid accusation pushed so relentlessly, especially by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement? I believe those campaigners want Israel declared an apartheid state so it becomes a pariah, open to the world’s severest sanctions. Many want not just an end to the occupation but an end to Israel itself.

Tragically, some well-intentioned, well-meaning people in Britain and other countries are falling for the BDS line without realising what they are actually supporting. BDS campaigners and other critics need to be questioned: Why do they single out Israel, above all others, for a torrent of false propaganda? Why is Israel the only country in the world whose very right to existence is challenged in this way?

An story says:

No such [apartheid] laws exist in Israel, which in its Declaration of Independence pledges to safeguard the equal rights of all citizens. Arab citizens of Israel enjoy the full range of civil and political rights, including the right to organize politically, the right to vote and the right to speak and publish freely. Israeli Arabs and other non-Jewish Israelis serve as members of Israel’s security forces, are elected to parliament and appointed to the country’s highest courts. They are afforded equal educational opportunities, and there are ongoing initiatives to further improve the economic standing of all of Israel’s minorities. These facts serve as a counter to the apartheid argument, and demonstrate that Israel is committed to democratic principles and equal rights for all its citizens.

Moreover, Israel’s acceptance of a two-state solution as the outcome of bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations belies accusations that Israel’s goal is the persecution of Palestinians.

The Algemeiner presents eight critical points about why Israel is not apartheid, and even an op-ed piece by The Los Angeles Times declares “Israel isn’t, and will never be, an apartheid state”.

The evidence I’m presenting may not be exhaustive, but it is extensive, and you’ll need to click the links I’ve provided to get the full context.

The term “apartheid” is being aimed at Israel in an attempt (and a seemly successful one, oddly enough) to stir up an emotional, rather than a reasoned response, to Israel, painting them with the same broad brush as South Africa so that no one will have to consider anything except how they felt about the injustices against the black majority population by the white minority.

Even though the two nations and their bodies of law are not similar, some people will believe anything they hear because they want to. It confirms their biases that at least Israel, if not the Jewish people as a whole, are unjust and even criminal.

Like I said, it’s not like Israel is completely free of discrimination. But that doesn’t make them apartheid.

In Part One, I established the historic right of the Jews to the land of Israel, and that the Arabs did not have such an historic claim. Just now, I addressed why Israel is NOT an apartheid state. In Part Three, I’ll talk about why Israel is not “occupying Arab land.”

12 thoughts on “Israel is Jewish – Part Two: Israel is not Apartheid”

    1. As I read that report, Marko, I agree that it appears to be the one that James referenced. I was struck by its nature as a superficial accusation with zero supporting data. When one investigates the claims, one finds a very different reality in Israel, much as James cited in other references here. This particular report illustrates well the expression “tissue of lies”; and the motivation behind it is not difficult to identify, to wit, Muslim Arabs wish by all means possible to eradicate the Jewish presence from the mideast or the NEA region, because their continued existence is deemed an affront to Islam and its hegemony. Thus they deem the current situation even worse because Israel is a sovereign Jewish state that obtains international support from western democracies that share similar non-Islamic values. They have been militating against this for the past century, since the dissolution of the Islamic Turkish Ottoman Empire after WW1 and the San Remo agreements of 1920 which partitioned the former Palestine region along the Jordan river (viz: Article 25 therein). They will, no doubt, continue to do so even after Israel’s sovereignty is finally applied to the entirety of the territory then allocated for Jewish settlement and self-determination (i.e., statehood).

  1. As I recall. James, you mentioned in one of these essays the Irish sectarian conflict, which no one deems to fit the model of “apartheid” even though these folks do separate themselves into distinctly separate enclaves. Yet too many are primed to accept the false Arab accusation against Israel and point to similar separation between Arab settlements, towns, neighborhoods, et al, and Jewish ones. They ignore the distinctive customs that encourage each group to congregate in their own characteristic enclaves, as if the existence of such enclaves were akin to the legally-enforced South African exclusion of blacks from white neighborhoods and cities. They ignore cities like Haifa that are well integrated, as are several other towns where friends of mine have lived in the Galilee region. And they ignore the aspects you pointed out whereby Arab citizens serve in political, professional, and educational roles within Israeli society.

    Now, matters are more problematic for Arabs who are not Israeli citizens, who therefore cannot vote in Israeli elections any more than Canadian citizens could expect to vote in the USA. Non-citizens are subject to greater security scrutiny, and for good reason given many decades of recent historical experience. Therefore this form of “discrimination” is justified because it continually saves lives — and Jewish lives matter, as do all others who are just as much endangered when buses or stores or shopping malls are blown up or otherwise attacked as they have been.

    Perhaps in a subsequent essay you might address the citizenship question for Arabs who are not citizens of Israel but who own property therein and wish to continue living and doing business there.

  2. Benjamin Pogrund said (and James quoted): So why is the apartheid accusation pushed so relentlessly, especially by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement? I believe those campaigners want Israel declared an apartheid state so it becomes a pariah, open to the world’s severest sanctions. Many want not just an end to the occupation but an end to Israel itself.

    Tragically, some well-intentioned, well-meaning people in Britain and other countries are falling for the BDS line without realising what they are actually supporting. BDS campaigners and other critics need to be questioned: Why do they single out Israel, above all others, for a torrent of false propaganda? Why is Israel the only country in the world whose very right to existence is challenged in this way?

    I also wonder why Saudi Arabia, and their interests [and violences], are among our (United States) top concerns and Israel’s best buds. It’s “funny” how the Muslim as enemy is both situational and totalized — involving a lot of cognitive dissonance — with the totalizing promoted for the ordinary man or woman.

    I noticed that the old article (from a little more than five years ago) began with a contrast against an actually proposed law, in Israel, to require Arabs and Jews to take separate buses; the law was eventually rejected based, at least in part, on pointing out that such a decision would be metaphorically traveling down the road of apartheid [as, certainly, also it’s real contemplation had been].

    Then I remembered that there are roads, in Israel, that are separate. Depending upon the color of your license plate, which is dependent upon your ethnicity and other factors, you will be more or less restricted. Or not be able to go on some roads at all (this has mainly to do with Palestinians).

    There is a new road in the works as well.

    From early March of 2020:
    … meant to serve as a solution to a controversial settlement plan, known as E-1, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revived [in February]. The plan to construct 3,500 homes, has been put on hold for years largely due to international criticism …..

    1. You didn’t happen to mention who proposed the law about separate buses, that was rejected as potentially apartheid in character, or which party was represented. It is quite possible that it was proposed by an MK from a party that has since been barred from running candidates for public office, on the grounds of racism. There have been calls also for certain Arab MKs to be barred on similar grounds, as contrary to the rights enshrined in Israel’s Basic Laws that operate in lieu of an actual constitution.

      There is no more than one road of which I have ever heard that separates traffic per licence plates, and it was built deliberately to bypass Arab towns that were notorious for trying to destroy, by various means, passing Jewish vehicles which were identified by their Israeli license plates. There are certainly others planned in order to comply with the US “Peace for Prosperity” proposal. However, this is a quasi-national security separation, not motivated by racism but by protection from murderous violence. There are other roads that Israelis would justly fear to travel, despite the lack of any legal restriction, because of danger from Arab violence. If there is a tendency toward any semblance of racist apartheid in western, cisjordanian “Palestine”, it is instigated by Muslim Arabs under PA auspices. It is the security problem that has impelled proposals to separate roadways.

      1. That is very interesting, PL. Thank you for mentioning it, the fact that some people and a party are barred from running for public office — based on exhibited or proposed racism.

        I’m also glad you used the word “quasi-national” — as most people don’t understand that Palestinian areas or lands are sometimes referred to as part of Israel and sometimes spoken of as another country, effectively, with words like border, government, and so forth; by the same people.

        There is another realm of uncommon understanding. It is not the case that Arabs or Muslims or Arabs and Muslims are the main dividing line, from Jews or any other category: the issue is Palestinian and not. These people were already looked down upon by the surrounding Arab countries before 1948. They weren’t considered rich or sophisticated. (I don’t think they were considered violent.)

        As for the roads, I have not been in Israel. I haven’t ever seen or experienced driving there. I will share this map, which came up when I did a search that yielded the article I posted earlier.
        I don’t know when the map was composed or last updated.

      2. The comments below the map shown on that link seem to be between 7 and 8 years old, Marleen. The map itself is not labeled to identify the roads depicted. In my experience driving around Jerusalem, south to Arad and Beer Sheva, north to Tiberias and Haifa, and west to Tel Aviv, and southwest to Ashkelon, I have not encountered segregated roadways, and I have seen my fair share of Palestinian license plates. I can only guess that this map is purely propaganda. Now, I can think of one road I’ve seen that runs between several Arab villages east of the Seam Line near Gush Etzion, that I’ve never driven because I’ve never had any reason to visit those villages. I’ve not seen, however, any signs prohibiting entry to vehicles per one or another license plate.

      3. Yes, I remember reading this article, and this is that one road to which I referred. The article mentions in passing that there are others, but qualifies that they do not feature the same security barrier. It also mis-states that Palestinians are not allowed into Jerusalem. That is not true, though as non-citizens they are subjected to security scrutiny that requires them to enter at a checkpoint equipped to do so, unlike the streamlined one for regular citizen commuters associated with this newly-deficated highway. The “immigration” procedures are less convenient, especially if one must do them frequently, but they are part of the “security fence” that successfully reduced terror attacks by 99% virtually overnight when it was established a couple decades ago.

        Perhaps there do exist other roads that are dedicated to one demographic or other in the territories, to ensure against vehicular violence such as has been demonstrated in several incidents in Jerusalem where an Arab attacker rammed his car into people simply waiting at a bus stop. One such infamous incident killed a baby in a stroller along with his mother, another killed a young mother pregnant with another child. Trying to protect innocents from such carnage by means of traffic controls and checkpoints is not apartheid.

  3. An update for Marleen: Yesterday I took a closer look at a sign posted near an intersection between a fast bypass road I travel frequently and the road I mentioned previously that I have seen which connects several Arab villages in “the territories”. Apparently it really is illegal for Israeli-licensed cars to enter that road. I suppose I’m relieved that my curiosity has never tempted me to explore across the countryside along that unfamiliar road, for which the warning was posted that it is dangerous for Israelis to do so (which is why, I presume, that it is also illegal). I have not seen any comparable signs prohibiting Palestinian-licensed cars anywhere. It makes me wonder just whom is the actual target of discrimination when there are places not far from home where I can’t go as an Israeli; but I do know that there are limitations on non-citizen Arab entry into western green-line Israel as well. Nonetheless, I look forward to a day when such security separations can be eliminated and inter-communal matters are “normalized” under Israeli law. Maran-ata!

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