I have always found it false and misleading to characterize Israel as an “Apartheid State,” as Amnesty International has done in a new report. Within Israel itself, though Palestinian Arab Israelis are second class citizens whose full rights must be addressed, they have the right to vote, the right to serve in the Knesset (one Arab Muslim Party is part of the ruling government coalition), the right to serve as judges (one of the Supreme Court Judges is a Palestinian Arab), and the right to use social services including hospitals, etc.
Life for Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, however, is different and harsh, but Israel’s military administration overseeing the occupied territories does NOT look like the former South African Apartheid regime. It is something else altogether, unjust to be sure, but NOT Apartheid. To call Israel an Apartheid state is to de-legitimize Israel’s right to exist by equating it with racism at its core. Israel remains, within the Green Line, the only democratic state in the Middle East, and to suggest otherwise belies deeper anti-Israel proclivities in the accuser. This is not to say that there is no merit in the AI report. There is. Palestinian rights to a state of their own alongside Israel is the only solution that can bring justice and peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.
J Street just released our statement of protest against AI calling Israel an “Apartheid State.” As J Street has done consistently over the years, advocates for a negotiated resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states for two peoples living peacefully and securely side by side.
See J Street’s full statement at the link below:
“The release of Amnesty International’s new report on human rights in Israel and the territory it occupies shines another bright spotlight on the injustice of Israel’s occupation and the illegality of deepening de facto annexation of the territory it has occupied since 1967. The ongoing denial of fundamental rights and freedoms to millions of Palestinians in occupied territory runs counter to the values on which Israel was founded and undermines its security and international standing. J Street does not endorse the findings or the recommendations of the report, nor do we use the word “apartheid” to describe the situation on the ground. At the same time, we urge Israel and its friends around the world not to use issues with the report as an excuse to avoid grappling with the day-in and day-out realities of occupation and the moral and strategic catastrophe it represents for Israelis and for Palestinians.”