Much ink is expended in accusing Israel of being an apartheid state (as was the case in Daily Maverick 8 June 2021) citing the checkpoints, the security fence and segregated roads, but nothing about pass-laws, forced segregation, anti-gay legislation, and racial laws, which don’t exist in Israel but do in surrounding countries. Critics focus on the border between sovereign Israeli territory and the disputed territories of the West Bank ignoring the efficacy of controls that keep civilians from being murdered.
The security barrier, for example, has been very successful in protecting civilians. In 2000, the Palestinian leadership launched a massive wave of suicide bombers into Israel, leading to more than 1,300 civilian deaths and 10,000 injuries. Today, after the erection of the barrier, these terrifying figures have been reduced to almost zero.
The same can be said about separate roads for Israelis (of whatever culture or religion) and non-Israelis. After prolonged attacks on Israeli civilians that have taken a mounting toll of lives, Israel has taken steps to limit the ability of West Bank Palestinians to slaughter Jews. Separate bypass roads, inspections of Palestinian cars, and the revoking of permission for family members of killers to work in Israel, makes it harder for Palestinian terrorists to treat pedestrian precincts as killing grounds.
Indeed, in the last 20 years alone, Palestinian Authority leaders rejected US and Israeli offers in 2000, 2001 and 2008 without proposing counter offers. The 2008 offer would have provided Palestinians with 93.7% of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), a capital in eastern Jerusalem, and land swaps for the remaining 6.3% of “West Bank” territory. That offer served as the basis for US proposals to restart negotiations in 2014 and 2016 — the latter made by then Vice President Biden himself.
All were rejected out of hand, despite the fact that the Oslo Accords, which gave rise to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), call for outstanding issues to be resolved in bilateral negotiations. As part of Oslo, Palestinian leaders promised to “renounce the use of terrorism and other acts of violence,” to promote peace and stability, and to amend the Palestinian National Charter, which denied Israel’s right to exist. This still remains part of the Hamas charter as well.
In major and purportedly detailed articles, such as that in the Daily Maverick, correspondents fail to detail any of the rejected peace offers. It is as if they never happened. Instead, they indulge in false equivalency, writing that “Top Biden aides have said they can’t pursue a peace deal when neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis appear ready for serious conversations.” Yet, as noted above, Israel has made serious proposals and as a gesture halted all construction work in disputed territories for ten months during which discussions were due to commence, the Palestinians refused to turn up.
The apartheid claim becomes even more offensive in the larger context of apartheid practices in the entire Middle East including Palestine and excluding Israel. For example, the PA has a law invoking the death penalty for selling land to Jews. The PA has declared that no Jew will be allowed to live in Palestine. (Israel welcomes Arabs, Muslims, Christians and all others across religious and cultural divides to settle, own property and work there. Right now there are 2-million Muslims with full citizenship rights living in Israel.) Arab countries with large Palestinian populations, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and others, practice legal apartheid against Palestinians, including denying them the right to work in most professions, attaining citizenship, passports, education and freedom of movement.
In Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims are severely discriminated against by the government, yet those who accuse Israel of apartheid seem never to complain about such official discrimination. And so it goes on. To any unbiased reader there is no doubt that true apartheid resides in countries other than Israel, which remains a bastion of freedom and democracy.
The denial of Israel’s right to exist is the cornerstone of the entire Palestinian, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iranian, BDS strategy. Israel has made valiant attempts on at least five occasions to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians, although as victors in all the wars it was forced into, it had no moral obligation to do so. In every case its overtures were rebuffed, and the infamous “Khartoum 3-No’s” are still in place and – until the Abraham Accords – formed part of every Arab manifesto bar Egypt and Jordan: No peace, No negotiation, No recognition of Israel.
Besides the antisemitic strategy to delegitimise the only Jewish state and to hold it to different standards from the rest of the world, critics of Israel hide behind the argument that they are not antisemitic but “anti-Zionist”, all the while seeking to blur the distinction between the two concepts. They disregard Jews’ right to self-determination, despite promoting their distorted definition of Zionism as an apartheid system that seeks to take over control of land and resources, forcibly remove Palestinians and engage in ethnic cleansing. Even more so, they seek to rewrite any manifestation of Jewish identity that does not fit their propaganda in which they align Jews with the South African apartheid regime.
Those promoting the Palestinian cause devalue their argument by quoting from propaganda and not from independent sources. One such independent source is Freedom House, which evaluates countries throughout the world and apportions a percentage score dependent on each country’s human rights performance. Israel, (79%) despite facing constant terrorism, ranks above every country in the Middle East and North Africa, with Syria scoring a low of minus-one and Jordan a high of 37%. Israel’s record is better than South Africa’s (78%) and just behind the USA (86%).
The countries and territories that refuse to have any Jews, Christians or any other religions in their areas of their jurisdiction, persecute those who have not yet fled to the USA, Europe and, yes, to Israel where they can freely practice their religions, work and live where they like, achieve and rise to the highest levels in the land. Where, then, is the apartheid? The West Bank? Syria? Iraq? Lebanon? or democratic Israel.
If the Palestinians were to use the billions they receive to build dams instead of attack-tunnels, educational structures instead of colleges of hatred and indoctrination, water conservation infrastructure instead of rockets and other weaponry, Israel would be the first to offer a hand of friendship and cooperation. Vide the Abraham Accords.