Israel's enemies, critics, and even some far-left leaning Israelis equate the Jewish state to the South African Apartheid regime, claiming that Arabs in Israel and in the Palestinian territories are treated similarly to the blacks in pre-Mandela South Africa. What these people are missing is the truth. It's time to lay down some of the facts.
Once you make a genuine attempt to dig and ascertain, you'll find that Israeli Arabs are represented in the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, by their brothers. They speak their minds; some criticize the state, yell, and curse the "Zionists" while delivering their hostile message to the public over the official pulpit. It's their right, and they use it.
Israeli Arabs vote freely in the general elections, teach, study and rally at Israeli universities, represent their Israeli clients in courts, serve as judges on the Supreme Court; Israeli Arabs, doctors and nurses, provide medical services in Israeli hospitals; others serve as managers in Israeli companies, overseeing Jewish citizens. In short, they are involved in everyday life to the same degree as their Jewish counterparts.
In my latest visit to Israel, one week ago, I interviewed the deputy director of the Hematology and Oncology Department in the Rambam hospital in Haifa, Professor Myriam Ben Arush, MD. She explained that Palestinian children—one-thousand from Gaza and two-thousand from the West Bank, the so-called Palestinian territories, a.k.a. Israel's enemy territories—cross into Israel on a daily basis for treatment in Israeli hospitals. They stay in the same rooms with Israeli Jewish children, receive identical treatment, and their accompanying adults stay overnight in special hostels, provided by the hospitals for these particular purposes. Most children from the Palestinian territories are badly brain-washed by the Palestinian propaganda upon their arrival; they are scared and anxious at first, but quickly learn that they are welcome and loved just like their Jewish roommates. I have enclosed a video portion of my interview with Professor Ben Arush, where she describes a couple of interesting incidents with children from Gaza.
It should also be noted that Israel is being flooded on a daily basis with thousands of illegal immigrants from Africa who cross into the Jewish state from the Sinai to seek refuge and peace in a country that their Muslim tormentors label an Apartheid state. These refugees find work in the major Israeli cities, but they also contribute to a notable upsurge in the crime statistics. The Israeli government finds it extremely difficult to deport them due to its Jewish heritage concerning the Holocaust, where Jewish refugees were denied entry to safer havens.
One interesting fact that most people in the world are not aware of when speaking critically of Israeli settlements is that the local Arab Palestinians do most of the construction work in these settlements. And notwithstanding their contribution to the Palestinian economy, the Palestinian Authority imposes heavy penalties ($15,000 fine and prison-terms of up to five years) on those Palestinians who are caught working for the Israelis. Still, many Palestinians are willing to take the risk and work for a living in these communities.
One incredible fact that people may find amazing is rooted in the prospects of the so-called "Peace Process," leading to a Palestinian State. When trying to map the boundaries of a future Palestinian state, Israel has proposed some territorial swaps. Israel offered to retain key settlement blocks in Judea and Samaria in return for major Israeli Arab villages adjacent to the West Bank, which would be adjoined to the new Palestinian State. It could have been a fair exchange barring a biting refusal by the Israeli Arab residents of these villages who would not go along with the idea. Although they were Palestinians, they rebuffed the thought of replacing their Israeli citizenship with a Palestinian one. What's more, Palestinians living around Jerusalem have been moving to Israeli Jerusalem, outside the boundaries of what they feared would become part of a Palestinian state. Don't they want to be citizens in their own country? Do they prefer an "Apartheid State" to the dream of independence? It seems that way.
The Palestinian economy is highly dependent on Israel. The Jewish state provides electricity, oil, medicine, banking services, food and other wares, to all of the Palestinian territories. There are extensive commercial ties between Israel and the Palestinian territories, without which the Palestinians would not be able to maintain their comfortable (relative to many neighboring Muslim states) livelihood. Still, Palestinian politics continues to deny Israel's right to exist; it continues to glorify terrorists, killers and suicide bombers; it keeps on brain-washing the young with its custom-made hate-dipped propaganda; it maintains its anti-Semitic cant over their government-controlled media; it rewrites history to justify its objectives, and it calls for genocide of all Jews in Israel and beyond.
If you were enlightened by all of the above, yet astonished by the Palestinian negative reactions to all the benefits they derive from living next to the Jewish State, don't be bewildered. Your Western logic and rationale doesn't rule the roost of the Middle East. Israel's Arab neighbors follow the laws of the desert as they were laid out by their seventh century prophet. It's a sad fact, another truth, which western leaders fail to comprehend and are tripped over time and again.
The most prominent Apartheid states in this world are the Muslim states since in following the Qur'an they treat non-Muslims as inferior beings—as dhimmis. Calling Israel an apartheid state and counting the Arabs out of that sphere is like watching an undeveloped film negative and calling it the final true color masterpiece.
It happened while I was driving in downtown Haifa. They were standing in a busy intersection, all six of them, flashing signs—“For Israel…. Against Occupation.” I wanted to stop and ask them if they understood the contradiction, since Palestinian Arabs refer to Israel-proper as “The Occupation.” Unfortunately, the heavy traffic behind my car made me move on, and the clueless leftists were spared of my attempt to educate them. It would not have mattered anyway, I told myself. These simple-minded folks believe in their mission as if it were their God-given religion.
That evening I was lucky to enjoy supper in the company of a couple of my old Israeli friends. As the conversation evolved we (unintentionally) touched on the subject of my earlier sign-spotting experience. My host agreed with the protesters, “We must separate from the Palestinians,” he claimed. “We should stop the occupation.”
I smiled. I wanted to agree with my friend. I dreaded the notion that the Arabs should become a majority inside the Jewish state. Separation is a noble ideal. Problem is, it’s an ideal; it cannot be presently implemented, not while maintaining state security at the same time. But then, I pressed my friend, asked him to spell out details of his views. “Should Israel reestablish itself to the west of the cease-fire lines of the pre-1967 border (a.k.a. the Green Line)? Should Israel evacuate the Jerusalem neighborhoods, or the large Jewish towns built on grounds absorbed following the six-day-war in 1967? Or should Israel trust the Arabs not to smuggle heavy weapons from the state of Jordan into the West Bank Palestinian towns, then withdraw it’s military from the Jordan valley, transfer control over the border-crossing to the Palestinians.
To my amazement, my friend’s answer to all of the above was a hesitant “No.” He realized that evacuating large neighborhoods in Jerusalem, or large towns immediately across the Green Line was impractical. He realized that recent history in connection with the evacuation of the Gaza/Egypt border allowed Hamas to smuggle heavy arms into Gaza, only to follow by consistent rocket attacks on Israeli towns, and then war—a lesson, a warning for what would happen when the Israeli military ceases control of the Jordan valley. He realized that Israeli Arabs resist joining a Palestinian state controlled by a Palestinian Authority (PA) located in the West Bank, even though their towns are adjacent to the potential border of that potential state. Israeli Arabs prefer their Israeli citizenship, some even buy land outside of what they fear will become a future Palestinian state—a detail affecting the promise of significant territorial exchange between Israel and a future Palestinian state, making it much less practical.
“So what’s the answer?” I kept asking. “How can we stop the occupation?”
“We should keep everything you mentioned,” he answered. “We should leave the rest for the Palestinians.”
My friend did not respond to my comeback. “But this is unacceptable to the PA,” I said. “They will not sign any peace agreement under these conditions. They are not willing to compromise on any inch of land. And that includes “occupied” territory such as major Israeli cities like Tel Aviv, Haifa, Natania, including your home.”
We were interrupted at that point by the wives who realized that the temperature in the room was approaching a boiling point. They changed the subject. Coffee and cake took center stage.
We remained friends.