Is Israel an apartheid state?
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See also: Is Israel an Apartheid State?
Like most other Western democracies with a sizeable minority population, Israel still has a great deal to do before absolute equality can be achieved. However, the disparity between the situation of Arab-Israelis and the situation that existed in South Africa is so vast that no legitimate comparison can be made. Indeed, when such parallels are drawn, they are far more indicative of the approach towards Israel of those making this judgment than they are of any reality in Israel..
As there is no genuine justification for making this charge, there can only be two possible explanations for it - either it is being made by someone who is totally ignorant of the situation in Israel or it is being made by someone who harbors a great deal of hatred for Israel. Moreover, this comparison does a great disservice to those who truly suffered under apartheid by diminishing both the agony of their situation and by denying the peaceful means that they used to end this horrific regime.
While the status of Arab-Israelis in Israel is still open to much improvement, a great deal has already been accomplished towards reaching the goal of absolute equality. One only has to look at the rise of Arab-Israelis in the public sphere to realize this; Arab Israeli can be found on the Supreme Court, in the Knesset (parliament), in ambassadorial positions, as mayors and even in the government (currently, Raleb Majadele serves as Minister of Science, Culture and Sports and Majalli Whbee serves as Deputy Foreign Minister). Prominent Arab-Israelis can be found in almost every sphere of Israeli life, including playing on Israel's national soccer team.
Indeed, one of the ideals on which Israel was founded was that of equality. Israel's Declaration of Independence states that the State of Israel "will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions." Moreover, it goes on to appeal "to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions." Subsequent legislation and judicial decisions have upheld these principles.
These texts are taken from material published by the Israel Ministry of Foreign affairs. with additional comments and hyperlinked materials. They were apparently published in connection with the Annapolis peace conference of 2007, but they have extensive applicability beyond it. They explain fundamentals of Israeli policy as well as the meaning of Zionism and history of the conflict.
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs text is at Israel, the Conflict and Peace. Original text is copyright by Ami Isseroff and Zionism-Israel Center.
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