“Israel Apartheid”: Truth or Hoax?

Today, Israel’s enemies are waging a sustained propaganda campaign depicting Israel as an “Apartheid State” reminiscent of the despised white minority regime that once ruled South Africa. Their aim is to turn Israel into an international pariah, isolated and boycotted by the other nations of the world until it is eventually forced out of existence.

Is there any basis to this comparison? Before answering this, we need to clearly understand what Apartheid actually was.

Apartheid in South Africa was the imposition of institutionalized race-based separation in every conceivable field, from the political arena through to place of residence, citizenship, public amenities, education, politics, the labor market and even the bedroom. It blatantly discriminated in favor of the white minority. Non-whites lived in a legislative strait-jacket, their every movement controlled by patently iniquitous laws and their natural desire to better themselves deliberately hamstrung by a system that explicitly aimed at keeping them in a state of permanent subservience.

Apartheid in South Africa was based on racial criteria and such racism was mandatory. Even whites opposed to racist policies had no choice but to comply with them. Courts had to enforce apartheid legislation, no matter what the personal feelings of the judges might have been, universities had no choice but to base their admissions policies on racial criteria and businesses could not employ qualified blacks in senior positions.

Non-Whites – Blacks, mixed race people and Asians, mainly Indians – suffered from the legalized deprivation aimed at imposing white domination on the rest of the population. The law not only denied the vote to Non-Whites, but legislated to force discrimination in every conceivable way.

The comparison between apartheid-era South Africa and modern-day Israel is a palpably false one. In reality, of all the countries in the Middle East, Israel is the least discriminatory, particularly with regard to the rights of religious minorities. It would be much more plausible to make a case for Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and other neighboring states to be ‘apartheid’ societies.

Apartheid was not just a word, but an entire legal and social system, an all-encompassing system of repressive laws that enforced racial segregation in all walks of life at the expense of the non-white majority. In order to make the Israel=Apartheid analogy stick, one has to be able to compare those laws with the situation as it exists in Israel. Doing so quickly reveals the comparison to be false in virtually every detail. Check it out for yourself: [Attachment: Israel and Apartheid: Let’s Really Compare Them]

Israel’s policies in the West Bank, specifically Jewish settlement activity and the increasingly stringent security measures imposed on the Palestinian population after September 2000, are often compared to similarly repressive methods of population control inflicted on the black majority under apartheid. For example:

  • Roads and checkpoints in the West Bank isolate Palestinian communities
  • Israeli policies restrict the movement of goods between Israel and the West Bank, and into the Gaza Strip
  • Israel is accused of planning to divide the West Bank Palestinians into three separate areas completely surrounded by Israeli forces or settlements. This fragmentation is compared to “the Bantustans of South Africa”.
  • All these and other Israeli policies do indeed impact very negatively on the day to day life of Palestinians. However, Palestinian violence has left Israel with no other choice.
  • Those who accuse Israel of apartheid-like practices in the West Bank play down or ignore the security threats that underpin such policies. These threats did not exist in Apartheid South Africa. In March 2002 alone, for example, more than twice as many Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinian terrorism than the number of white South Africans killed in terrorist attacks over more than thirty years during the apartheid era. The two situations simply cannot be compared.
  • Israelis were killed and 6596 injured between September 2000 and the end of 2006.Suicide and other bombing attacks, the kidnapping and subsequent murders of individual Jews, sniper attacks, drive-by shootings and ambushes, aimed at soldiers and civilians alike, were a daily occurrence during this period and still occur to this day. The impact of this “total war” against soldier and civilian, young and old alike on a society that, like Israel’s, has a relatively small population cannot be under-estimated.
  • Apartheid in South Africa was based on not on what people did but on their skin colour. However repressive Israel’s current West Bank policies may be, it is in the power of Palestinians themselves to bring them to a swift end simply by abandoning terrorism and committing themselves to living in peace with Israel. For their part, the great majority of Israelis want nothing more than to end the occupation and live a normal life with their Palestinian neighbors. ‘Apartheid’ and the Palestinian Territories

In reality, of all the countries in the Middle East, Israel is the least deserving of the title “apartheid state”. Discrimination, including the denial of equal political, religious and economic rights to minorities, is not the exception but the norm throughout the region. Legalised discrimination is usually based on religion but sometimes also on ethnicity, as is the case in Syria and Lebanon.
Attachment: Discrimination in the Middle East – Four Case Studies


  • Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote.


  • Arabs currently hold 8 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.


  •  Israeli Arabs have also held various government posts, including Israel’s ambassador to Finland and the deputy mayor of Tel Aviv.


  • Oscar Abu Razaq an Israeli was appointed Director General of the Ministry of Interior.


  • Ariel Sharon’s original cabinet included the first Arab minister, Salah Tarif, a Druze.


  • Arab children attend Israeli schools.


  • In 2002, the Israeli Supreme Court also ruled that the government cannot allocate land based on religion or ethnicity, so the claims on that basis are FALSE!


  • The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel is that the Arabs are not required to serve in the Israeli army. This is to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren.


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