Wednesday, August 24, 2011

No Apartheid in Israel

Note: From time to time, I'll be sharing posts from other bloggers who have greater credibility or authority than I have on the subject they are addressing.  This post was originally written by journalist, Stan Goodenough on Wednesday, March 9, 2011. Stan and his family live in Jerusalem, Israel.

This post originally appeared at his blog, Jerusalem Watchman "No Apartheid Here" 

Stan, who is from South Africa, has a unique understanding of what we call "apartheid." Here is Stan's edited post. ( I have posted a link at the bottom if you want to read it in its entirety.)

Anti-Israel groups and individuals in about 14 countries are currently caught up in claiming that Israel engages is apartheid against the Palestinians who live there. 

The goal of these outraged organizers, their purpose is to force Israel to convert to a one-man-one-vote democracy. They hope to achieve in Israel what they did with South Africa.

Luminaries who promote the idea that Israel perpetrates the same sins South Africa once did are former US President Jimmy Carter and Liberation Theology “Christian” Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Together with United Nations investigators and human rights groups, they have all rallied around this “sexy” lie: Israel is an apartheid state.

Is there any justification for this? Any at all?

What was apartheid?

In 1948, the year Israel declared independence, South Africa’s white government began enacting laws to enforce the segregation of different races.

Known as the “Apartheid Laws,” they would apply to people who, until that time, had all been South African citizens; they would solidify the power and dominance of the whites.

Like carefully placed bricks in a wall, the legislation established an enduring edifice of institutionalized racial discrimination. It would persist for 46 years and wreck tens of millions of lives with massive injustice and suffering. The minority whites, for our part, directly benefitted from the system, enjoying one of the highest standards of living in the world.

Dismantled in the early 1990s – largely due to intensified international pressure – its painful legacy wracks that nation until today – a woe for which there is no anticipated cure.

I am a South African who was born into, and lived through nearly half of, the apartheid era. During my childhood and teenage years my family relocated repeatedly, living in every corner of that country. I changed schools 13 times, and in three years as a member of the South African Defense Forces I was stationed in five different military bases across the land. I know South Africa well.  I know apartheid well. I know Israel well.

And believe me, no factual or accurate comparisons can be drawn between that South Africa and this Israel.
None whatsoever.

Let me tell you what Israel would have to do to qualify as an apartheid state. But first, a couple of clarifications:

The charge is that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian Arabs is similar to White South Africa’s treatment of South African black citizens (which included full-blood “Africans,” mixed-race “coloreds” and the descendants of immigrant Asian laborers).

The whole argument collapses right there, because the Palestinian Arabs have never been Israeli citizens. Nor did/do they have any national history as “Palestinians” – neither in Israel nor anywhere else. They are Arabs – their country of origin is Arabia.

For starters, then, it is fallacious to compare Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian Arabs in any area to the apartheid governments’ relationships with their black South African citizens.

Let us then turn to the Israel’s Arab citizens. Most are also Palestinian Arabs, but unlike the majority of their people – who remain stateless – they were willing to take citizenship and be integrated into the country of Israel.

Israeli Arabs comprise a little over 1.5 million of Israel’s 7.7 million citizens – approximately 20 percent of the population. They are, therefore, a minority. They live in 15 towns and cities, mostly in and around the Galilee. They have full voting rights. Five Arab political parties are represented in the Knesset; there are 14 Arab members of Knesset, one has attained to a ministerial portfolio, one is a former and another is a current deputy Knesset Speaker.

Israeli Arabs enjoy complete freedom in their country. They can live, study, work and travel where they please. They have national health coverage and enjoy the same benefits as their fellow, Jewish, citizens.

What they do not have to do, is serve in the IDF (although some Druze and some Bedouin choose to do so and have served with distinction; even laying down their lives.)

The majority of Israel’s Arabs identify their nationality as “Palestinian.” Many, including some of the parliamentarians, openly support the PLO goal to destroy Jewish Israel and replace it with a Muslim Palestine.

To suggest that Arabs in Israel live in any way comparable to the miserable existence endured by black South Africans is to do a terrible injustice both to Israel and to apartheid’s victims.

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