Anti-Israel propagandists claim that Israel is an apartheid state that discriminates against Palestinians on a racist basis. They repeat this accusation over and over like some kind of mantra, in order to make it stick to the image of Israel, regardless of the truth.
There are a number of questions that should be asked of the PR wizards who invented this line of assault:
1. Are the Palestinians a distinct race? If not, how could they be victims of racism? (The same can be asked about Israelis: are they a race? If not, how can they be perpetrators of racism?)
2. Does Israel have any security threat coming from Arabs both inside and outside the borders of Israel? And if so, does Israel have a right to protect itself?
3. Do people in all countries, communities and neighborhoods around the world enjoy the same standard of living, freedoms and rights?
4. Do Arab residents of Israel really have it that bad?
The “Palestinian Apartheid” issue has been used by demagogue Arab leaders (and others) as a distraction from real pressing issues for ages. Citizens of Israel’s neighboring countries have been indoctrinated for decades to believe that the Jewish state is their biggest threat and the core of all of their worries, while in fact they have been abused and oppressed by men like Gaddafi, Assad, Arafat and others. Over the past year, those living under Arab regimes have begun demanding their basic rights and freedoms. Some are realizing that Israel is not the real cause of their hardships.
In Israel (West Bank area included,) Arab residents enjoy the kind of freedom and security that many in neighboring countries can only dream of - but they generally expect Israel to be better than others. The fact that Arabs are being oppressed, beaten and slaughtered by dictators in Arab countries is of no consolation to Israeli Arabs who are delayed at security checkpoints.
But are security checkpoints a sign of racism or a real security need brought about by terrorists who have come from largely Arab population areas and tried to transport bombs and weapons into largely Jewish population areas? There are security checks at all major airports throughout the world. Are they a form of racism, or a similarly necessary response to a known threat?
Israel has constructed a security separation barrier meant to obstruct the transit of terrorists and their weapons. Anti-Israel propagandists call the security barrier an “apartheid wall.” My question is: how could it be defined as an apartheid wall if there are both Jews and Arabs who live on both sides of the wall? My family and I, along with hundreds of thousands of other Israelis, live on the east side of the wall.
Non-Jewish Israelis - members of Christian, Muslim and Druze faiths (all considered Arabs) - serve in Israel's army and parliament. Members of each of these communities have served as judges in Israeli courts, officers in Israel's police force and other respected positions. Those who fulfill their civil obligations are rewarded with all of the same benefits as Jewish Israelis.
Very few Muslim or Arab countries have Jewish residents at all, due to the great expulsion of Jews from Arab lands that paralleled the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. Most, if not all, Arab countries have laws forbidding Jews to own land or have other basic rights. Even those Arabs who have signed treaties with Israel - Egypt, Jordan and the PA - do not provide rights for Jews in their countries (not that this is very surprising in light of the fact that rights even to Arabs in those countries are very limited.)
All this boils down to two core points. First, Arabs under Israel might very well have a better standard of living than what is available in neighboring Arab regimes. Second, Israel is forced to deal with constant security threats. In an ongoing effort to keep the country safe from terror, some inconvenience is caused to the population. Jews and non-Jews alike are checked at entrances to shopping centers, public institutions and even hospitals.
David Ha'ivri is the director of the Shomron Liaison Office. He and his wife Mollie live in Kfar Tapuach, Shomron with their eight children. You can follow him on Twitter @haivri