Tyler Levitan's recent Huffington Post Canada op-ed entitled "Israel's Actions In Palestine Are The Definition Of Apartheid" is a perfect example of how when baseless accusations are left unanswered, they risk becoming accepted as conventional wisdom.
Levitan's libeling Israel as an "apartheid" state is wholly disingenuous and lacks substantive argumentation. As his preferred instrument of choice, Levitan employs empty rhetoric to blacken Israel's name and to isolate it through boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns.
The goal is to force Israel into making dangerous, one-sided concessions that make defensible borders porous and impossible to maintain. Ultimately, Levitan's modus operandi serves to demonize and stigmatize Israel, to malign the Jewish state's hard-fought reputation and to tarnish its standing in the community of nations.
As such, a full refutation of the "apartheid" libel must be stated for the record. For posterity purposes, here are 10 reasons why Israel is not an "apartheid" state:
1. All people living in Israel have full equal rights.
There are no inferior or second-class citizens, unlike non-whites in South Africa or minorities in Islamic or Arab countries. Moreover, Arabs occupy senior positions on the Israeli police force, the Knesset and the Israeli judiciary. For example, Salim Joubran, who currently serves on the Israeli Supreme Court, is a Christian Arab. South Africans living under apartheid could only dream of obtaining these types of positions.
Ishmael Khaldi, an Islamic Bedouin, is currently a diplomat in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Majalli Wahabi (Druze) was the acting president of Israel in 2007. These are just a few examples out of the many minority groups holding prominent positions in Israeli society.
2. An Arab judge, George Karra, sentenced an ex-Israeli president Moshe Katsav to prison for seven years.
When an Arab judge sentences a former Israeli president to jail -- this is truly a testament to Israel's equality amongst all citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity.
3. In 1953, the Bantu Education Act was passed.
This separated blacks from whites in the South African educational system. The government created a new curriculum for black people in which they were taught skills related to manual labour and serving in their Bantustans. In Israel, citizens are given equal opportunity in the workplace and educational department as evidenced by the fact that there are Palestinians and Arabs in Israeli universities who both study and teach as professors.
Today in Israel there are hundreds of Arab schools. Furthermore, education in the Palestinian areas of the West Bank is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Courts, laws, taxes, police etc. are also under PA jurisdiction in the majority of the West Bank.
This is the polar opposite of apartheid in South Africa, whose government specifically passed incendiary racist legislation.
5. Arabs and Israelis receive the same treatment in hospitals.
The Hadassah Medical Organization which operates two hospitals in Jerusalem, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize due to its push for peace in the Middle East and its equal treatment of Palestinians and Israelis. Furthermore, Arab and Israeli children are born amongst each other in the same hospitals.
Even during Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, Palestinians receive top-of-the-line treatment in Israeli hospitals. During apartheid, blacks were specifically given limited access to health care.
6. Non-whites in South Africa had separate amenities.
These include hospitals, beaches, buses, restrooms, drinking fountains and even designated park benches to sit on. None of this discrimination is prevalent in Israel and a law prohibits discrimination in public places.
7. Israeli Arabs have their own political parties in the Knesset -- some of whom are Israel's harshest critics.
The Joint List is an example of this. They received 13 seats in the 2015 Israeli election. Furthermore Arabs have equal voting rights, whereas coloured people during apartheid were not allowed to participate in the political process.
8. Arab citizens are allowed to seek redress through the courts and government if they feel they have been wronged.
Arab citizens also receive trial based on the facts, not ethnicity. This is nothing compared to apartheid South Africa, where discrimination was authorized from the highest position in the government.
9. Arabs in Israel have more fundamental rights than other Islamic and Arab countries in the Middle East.
Ironically, they have more rights than they do in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.
10. In Israel, there are 1.6 million Arab citizens integrated within Israeli society.
They make up 20 per cent of Israel's population. There was no such integration in South Africa. Furthermore, according to a poll done by Harvard University, 77 per cent of Arab citizens living in Israel would rather live there than any other country in the world. If these citizens were experiencing "apartheid," why are so many of them supportive of Israel?
To proclaim that Israel is an "apartheid state" is to undermine and trivialize the harsh and actual struggles many blacks went through during that dark time of human history. These are the words ofmanySouth Africans who would also concur that Israel is not an "apartheid" state.
Arabs have the right to move freely, vote, obtain an education, work in prominent positions, receive world-class health care, own land and speak freely. Blacks in South Africa had none of these rights.
Regardless of the unfounded criticisms, Israel will still strive in the face of growing adversity. Those who seek to delegitimize, malign and deprecate Israel have lost their moral compass.
While those who are able to discern the truth for themselves, are able to recognize the fact that Israel is a beacon of freedom and democracy in the Middle East.
To see 15 more reasons why Israel is not an "apartheid" state click here.
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