The claim that Israel is an apartheid state has always been a malicious falsehood. The origins of the falsehood lie in the 1970s and the deliberate manufacture by authoritarian Russia (in its guise then as the Soviet Union), the Arab states (none of which was democratic), and the non-aligned Countries (with ‘non-aligned’ more of a joke than fact). The objective of the malicious lie was to make Israel a pariah state, a condition that was supposed to lead to the country’s elimination. What couldn’t be achieved on the battlefield was to be achieved through subversive machination.
By 2014, all that the libellous falsehood had achieved was, simply put, to create a hindrance to peace talks and a barrier to the advancement of peace talks which might have ended the Arab conflict with, and aggression against, the Jewish state.
What the lie also managed to do, however, was create a smokescreen which blinded us to the reality in the countries of the Arab world surrounding Israel and in those states that created the falsehood. It is in the Arab world that apartheid exists, not in Israel.
If Israel were an apartheid state the following could not have happened:
- an Israeli Arab judge sitting in the High Court
- an Arab judge presiding over the trial at which a former president of Israel was convicted
- a Druze, Majali Wahabi, serving as acting president of Israel
- an Arab captain of the Hapoel Tel Aviv soccer team
- an Arab member of the Israeli National Football Team
- an Arab women, Yityish Aynaur, becoming Miss Israel
- a Druze historian and poet serving as Israel’s ambassador to Ecuador
- an Arab director of the Emergency Medicine Hadassah Medical Centre in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem
- a popular Bedouin pop singer reaching the top of the Israeli charts
- a half-Arab and half-Russian Christian becoming Miss Israel Universe
- a Druze becoming a major-general in the Israel Defence Force (IDF)
- a trio, composed of an Arab Israeli woman, a male German convert to Judaism, and a Jewish Orthodox woman, competing in 2014 to be Israel’s Master Chef.
It is not simply that little cross-section of daily achievement that expresses the lie that Israel is an apartheid state. Simon Deng has also exposed the lie.
But who is Simon Deng? Simon Deng is a Sudanese human rights activist and victim of child slavery. In September 2011 he managed to defy the anti-Israel lobby at the UN and spoke up at the 3rd United Nations Durban Conference (Durban III) held in New York and praised Israel as a state of people forming a rainbow nation. By contrast, he held that Africans are the ‘victims of Arab/Islamic apartheid’. The Arab response to events in Darfur was genocide he said, and ‘nobody at the U.N. tells the truth about Darfur’.
So then… Is it the Arab countries rather than Israel that should be considered apartheid states ? Probably.
Almost to the last one, they are certainly guilty of flouting the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (adopted in 1998 and coming into force in 2002). Among other things, their policies and practices include depriving or limiting people of civil, religious, and political rights; practicing discrimination; infringing on freedom and dignity of people; subjecting them to arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment; and preventing groups from participating in the political, social, economic, and cultural life of their countries.
It is easy enough to illustrate the general picture in Arab countries showing racial, ethnic, religious, and gender discrimination against black Africans, the Kurds, Christians and Jews, and women, but there is also the more specific denial of rights to ‘Palestinians’ living in Arab countries. This can even come down to denying medical treatment for Palestinians in hospitals. Compare this with the very real hospitality of Israeli hospitals that have treated thousands of Palestinians every year, even wounded would-be suicide bombers, from the West Bank and Gaza.
The policy of Arab apartheid was made clear by Resolution 1457 of the Arab League in 1959. Although there is supposed to be an ‘Arab nation’ and the concept of ‘ummat al-Islamiyah’ (the Islamic nation), the Arab countries through Resolution 1457 would not grant citizenship to applicants of Palestinian origin deliberately in order to prevent their assimilation into their host countries. The Resolution placed Palestinians into a permanent state of limbo. This was confirmed and complained about by the current Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) , in a statement published in the official PLO journal in March 1976. He said that the Arab armies that invaded Israel ‘forced [the Palestinians] to leave their homeland, imposed on them a political and ideological blockade and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live in Eastern Europe’.
In the slaughter-house which is modern Syria, Palestinian refugees had been granted partial rights in 1954, though not political rights. For many years they were not allowed to hold property, and they have never been allowed to become citizens. The Assad regime – controlled by the Alawites, 14% of the population – is in charge of not only the government, but of a considerable part of business. The Kurds too have traditionally been excluded from the political, economic, and cultural life of the country and have been subjected to denial of basic human rights, to persecution, to mass murder, and to arbitrary police behaviour.
In Lebanon, Palestinians do not have Lebanese citizenship and so do not have Lebanese identity cards. They are barred from owning property and until late-2010, employment required a government-issued work permit. In spite of these recent amendments, other legal restrictions bar them from employment in at least 25 professions, including law, medicine, and engineering.
Although Jordan has been the only Arab country to grant citizenship to Palestinians, from 1988 it began arbitrarily withdrawing nationality, without any notice, from thousands of them. In 1983, Jordan also introduced different colour-coded travel cards for Palestinians travelling to and from the West Bank. This has created different levels of citizenship rights for access to all levels of education, and in fees for drivers’ licenses. Above all, Palestinian non-nationals require a residency permit, thus suffering in the job market. They are still not generally allowed to practice in some of the organised professions.
And so, once again, back to Israel and the falsehood of ‘apartheid’ levelled against it. Today, within Israel, Jews of multi-various origin form a majority in the country, but the Arab minority are full citizens with full voting rights and representation in the government. As said above, a truly rainbow nation.