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It is often claimed by those who oppose Israel that it is an apartheid state that imprisons its Arab population, both in Israel itself as well as in the West Bank and Gaza.
Like much that is said about Israel, however, this claim has little to do with reality, and in fact, as I said yesterday, turns reality on its head.
Inside Israel, Arabs have the option (though some have decided not to take it) of becoming full citizens. Thus, not only are Israeli Arabs among the most prosperous Arabs in the Middle East, they have more rights under the Israeli democratic government than most Arabs in every other Arab country. They can vote, and have even served as elected members of Parliament.
Compare that with the way Arabs treat their religious minorities. Jews are of course forbidden. Christians meanwhile are fleeing the Islamic Middle East because of its persecution of non-Muslims.
Inside the West Bank, the situation is more complex, but hardly oppressive for the Arab population. According to the terms of the 1993 Oslo Accords, this territory is divided into three areas, dubbed Area A, Area B, and Area C. Area A is controlled entirely by the Palestinian Authority. Area B is under the civil control of the Arabs but here the Israeli military maintains order jointly with the Palestinians. Area C is under full Israeli military control and is where the Israeli West Bank settlements are located. The three areas constitute approximately 18%, 21%, and 61% respectively of the West Bank.
West Bank Arabs are free to travel in all three areas. Israeli citizens, however, are expressly forbidden from entering Areas A or B. See on the right the local map of the area around the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut, where I stayed last week. Note the area labeled “Area B Entrance Forbidden” near the top. Such areas pop up everywhere on West Bank maps. They are areas that Jews are expressly forbidden — by international treaty — to go.
Let me repeat that. Arabs, while likely not to enter Jewish settlements for many reasons, are still free to do so and in fact do it all the time for work. Jews however are denied access to Arab settlements by treaty, merely because of their ethnicity. To my mind, that means it is the Arabs, not the Jews, who are practicing apartheid.
And then there is Gaza. In 2005 the Israelis unilaterally walked out, leaving the place entirely in Palestinian hands. To do so they literally evicted Israeli settlers from their homes so that no Israelis would be left in Gaza once the Israeli authorities left.
The result? By choice the Palestinians outlawed all Jews from Gaza. The citizens then elected Hamas to run the place, a recognized terrorist organization whose charter states that it “owes its loyalty to Allah, derives from Islam its way of life, and strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” Under this leadership the citizens of Gaza have hurled rockets into Israeli territory and have supported and condoned repeated terrorist attacks in which both Israeli women and children have been brutally murdered.
In fact, it is very instructive to compare the founding documents of Israel and these various Palestinian organizations. Above I included one quote from Hamas’s charter, though there are many others that illustrate its intolerance. For example, that charter also states:
The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. No Arab country nor the aggregate of all Arab countries, and no Arab King or President nor all of them in the aggregate, have that right, nor has that right any organization or the aggregate of all organizations, be they Palestinian or Arab, because Palestine is an Islamic Waqf throughout all generations and to the Day of Resurrection. Who can presume to speak for all Islamic Generations to the Day of Resurrection? This is the status [of the land] in Islamic Shari’a, and it is similar to all lands conquered by Islam by force, and made thereby Waqf lands upon their conquest, for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection.
This doesn’t seem to leave much room for compromise, does it? Nor does it appear to leave much room for any Jews to live peaceable in the Middle East.
Then there is this from the charter of the Palestinian Authority:
Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and geographical base for world imperialism placed strategically in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes of the Arab nation for liberation, unity, and progress. Israel is a constant source of threat vis-a-vis peace in the Middle East and the whole world. Since the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East, the Palestinian people look for the support of all the progressive and peaceful forces and urge them all, irrespective of their affiliations and beliefs, to offer the Palestinian people all aid and support in their just struggle for the liberation of their homeland.
Note that to the phrase “Zionist presence” in Arabic is generally a euphemism for the state of Israel, which means this clause, as well as others in this charter, is essentially a call for the destruction of Israel.
Remember too my post from yesterday, where I describe how the PLO has made it illegal for any Palestinian to sell land to a Jew, simply because they are a Jew. If anything, this seems to be the hallmark of racial and ethnic discrimination.
Now, compare these statements with these words from the Israeli 1948 Declaration of Independence, written and released to the world even as the entire Arab world was attempting to destroy the Jewish state:
In the midst of wanton aggression, we yet call upon the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to return to the ways of peace and play their part in the development of the State, with full and equal citizenship and due representation in its bodies and institutions – provisional or permanent. We offer peace and unity to all the neighboring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. [emphasis mine]
So I ask, who are the bigots here? Who is practicing apartheid? Who is expressing hate and a desire to destroy?
And who is asking its neighbors and citizens to live in peace, together, without hate?
An honest assessment of both sides makes it pretty clear the answers to these questions. And that answer is not Israel.