What is apartheid? If we take this word literally, etymologically, the “apart” element indicates a separation, while the “theid” aspect refers to the practice of extrication of one set of people from another.
There are separatist movements in Canada—some citizens of Quebec wish to go their separate ways from the rest of the country. Some Basques desire to disaffiliate from Spain. These efforts qualify as a yearning for apartness, or apartheid if we stick to the very narrow definition of this concept. Similarly, the U.S. War of 1861-1865 also involved secession and thus apartheid.
The point I am making here is that there is nothing necessarily problematic about apartheid, at least not in terms of separation. Those who engage in it merely depart from others—they should not be considered criminals.
Did South Africa engage in apartheid of this sort until a few years ago? No.
There was no real separation of the races in South Africa. Blacks worked in the homes, factories, and stores owned by whites—rarely, vice versa. The white minority, in a myriad of ways, trampled on the rights of the black majority.
Let us now leave off etymological correctness and use this word according to everyday parlance. It has little to do with mere separateness. Rather, the left depicts a powerful group exploiting, ruling over, and unjustly imprisoning innocent members of the victimized group—the South African apartheid situation for many decades.
Does it also take place in Israel? Of course not.
Yes, there are Arabs who are imprisoned in that country, but they were duly found to be criminals in a civilized court of law; the rule of law was followed to a great degree. Does this apply 100 percent of the time? Certainly not. No legal system organized by human beings can be perfect. However, in terms of how nations in the world rank insofar as the rule of law is concerned, Israel is placed 33 out of a total of 193 countries. That places it in the second decile, not too shabby for a country with widespread hatred amongst its citizenry. It outranks more internally peaceful countries such as Spain (42), Malta (44), and Chile (48).
In sharp contrast, what crimes have been committed by the Israeli hostages now held by Hamas? None. Zero. Do the Israelis typically violate the rights of their Arab citizens? Certainly not. Yes, there are not a few who are imprisoned, and even killed, in Judea and Samaria for their unjustified attacks on the settlers, but this is not a rights violation. Rather, it constitutes the upholding of justice. It cannot be denied that the Jews in Israel are wealthier on average than their Arab fellow citizens. But this is true in many other countries, such as the U.S., which is also not an apartheid state in this sense of the word.
Nor do the Israelis even wish to be apart from the Arabs. They desire to buy from them, sell to them, invest with them, employ them, and be good neighbors with them. Thousands of Gazans had permits to work in Israel, before October 7, 2023.
What about the fact that Israel is a Jewish State and fervently intends to remain as such? Is that not part and parcel of apartheid?
Well, yes, it is, but only in the non-problematic etymological sense. Israel is an apartheid country in the same sense that Japan is a Japanese nation, China is a Chinese state, Korea is a Korean political entity, Brazil is a Brazilian country, Norway is a Norwegian nation, Nigeria is a Nigerian state and France is a French political entity. There are only a few countries that are truly multi-ethnic, such as the United States, Canada, and Switzerland. These are the exceptions, not the rule. Israel, here, is with the overwhelming majority.
Is Israel an apartheid state in the bad sense of South Africa? No, a thousand times no.
In Israel, there are Arab judges, Arab politicians, Arab political parties, Arab policemen, Arab members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and etc. For example, Balad is an Arab political party; its leader is Sami Abu Shehadeh. There are roughly 1,500 Bedouin who are members in good standing in the IDF. There are Arab judges scattered throughout the Israeli judiciary; there is even one who is a member of its Supreme Court. He is Khaled Kabub, appointed to this august position in 2022.
A black person in apartheid South Africa would not have enjoyed any such accomplishments. Israel treats its non-Jewish citizens in a civilized manner. If you doubt this, look at the population patterns. Arabs vote with their feet: they want to stay in Israel, not leave it. For example, the Arab population in Israel was 1,536,000 in 2009, it moved to 1,713,000 in 2014 and then again to 1,956,000 in 2020. Their population increased absolutely, and even slightly relatively—from 20 percent to 21 percent to 21 percent in those three years. They grew in population side just about equally with the Jews. If they were mistreated, compared to what they faced in other Arab countries, this would not likely have been the case. Women are allowed to drive there. Homosexuality is legal there. It is a democracy in which they are allowed to take part, not a dictatorship. The same cannot be said for most Arab countries.
Are there any true apartheid states in the bad sense at present? One candidate is China, based on its maltreatment of the Uighurs. Another is South Africa itself, given the way the newly powerful black majority mistreats its white minority. Do white people immigrate to South Africa or emigrate out of it? Of course, the latter. This is the exact opposite of what occurs in Israel vis a vis the Arabs. If Israel mistreats them, why do they prefer to locate there, instead of the Arab countries of their origin?
Apartheid is a totally unjust criticism of Israel.
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