Palestine vs. Israel: Pinning the 'Apartheid' Label on the Right Donkey
In recent years, Palestinian propagandists and their international supporters have attempted to brand Israel with the label of "apartheid," the despicable South African policy of racial discrimination that reduced the African non-white population to a decidedly inferior position akin to chattel. In many international circles, this political charlatanism has succeeded in giving the Middle East's one and only democracy a black eye. However, the reality is quite the opposite of what the Palestinians peddle to a very gullible world.
In Israel, contrary to the Palestinians' fictional portrait of the Jewish state, not only are Arabs citizens with equal rights and protections under the law, but Arabic is an official second language. And many Arabs serve in a variety of positions in the government, including Deputy Speaker of the Knesset (Parliament) Majalli Wahabi of the Kadimah Party, as well as officers in the armed forces like Lieutenant Hesham Aborea and police such as Deputy Inspector-General Jamal Hakroush, deputy commander of the traffic division. Arabs are free to live anywhere in Israel, although most choose to live within their own ethnic, cultural, and religious communities. Arab students are welcome in the nation's universities and colleges and serve as professionals in all areas of the national life.
By contrast, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has stated that no Jews will be permitted to live in a Palestinian state. The Palestinian Christian Arab community has shrunk drastically in the last eighteen years since the PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority took over in the West Bank -- to the point where today, Beit Jalla, once a Christian town outside Jerusalem, is without a Christian population, and Bethlehem, once the most Christian of cities in the Holy Land, is now peopled with a Muslim majority. So, too, do Palestinian Christians face a determined campaign of forced conversion to Islam by the Hamas government of Gaza, which permits only one Jew to reside in Gaza: the five-year captive kidnapped Israeli soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit.
So if the term "apartheid" still refers to unequal treatment under the law, forced segregation, or outright exclusion on religious, racial, or ethnic grounds, then it's the Palestinian donkey that should be pinned with the "apartheid" label. Palestine -- where the president and the prime minister hold their offices without benefit of popular national elections, where non-Arabs are prohibited from owning land, and where the sale of land to a Jew is a capital crime.
Of course, the Palestinian BDS movement doesn't want the world to pay attention to any of these facts, and its international supporters will conveniently ignore the evidence, but anyone with a modicum of intelligence and a reasonably open mind will want to seek a Palestinian response to my charges. Nabil Sha'ath and Saeb Erekat: the world is awaiting your response, lo sema-hát (if you please), Inshallah.
Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Zucker is founder and chairman of the board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching the public and its elected officials of the need to promote genuine democratic institutions throughout the Middle East as an antidote to the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism. He may be contacted at contact@ADME.ws.