Ever Wonder, 'Is Israel an Apartheid State?'

Sunday, April 24, 2016 |  Chaim Singerman

Many have heard of the Boycott , Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) against Israel. This is a growing international movement, calling people, educational institutions, and governments to place sanctions on Israel for perceived wrongs against the Palestinians.

A major tenant of the movement is that “Israel is an apartheid state!”

Many are quick to jump on the bandwagon, passionately repeating such slogans (there are 55 universities around the world hosting Israel Apartheid Week each year), without ever stopping to think about what they are really saying.

As one who is raising my family in Israel, I have some thoughts I would like to share, based on my experiences of living here, and talking to my Muslim neighbors.

What is Apartheid?

It was a system of racial segregation in South Africa, from 1948 to 1994, in which the white minority ruled, and the black people were eventually denied their South African citizenship. During this time, 3.5 million non-white South Africans were forcibly relocated, and put into segregated communities. They had no voice in the government. All education, medical care, beaches and public services were segregated.

Is Israel Apartheid?

Clearly, the answer is no.

Who am I to say this? Well, I am Jewish, and have a Jewish family, living in Israel since 2008. We live in a Muslim village called Abu Ghosh. It is a very unique Muslim village, in that the people of this village accepted the U.N. Resolution 181 on Partion Night, November 29, 1947, in which it was decided that the Jewish people did have a right to a homeland in the historic land of Israel (the only homeland the Jewish people have ever had, dating back to the me of Joshua in the Bible, about 1400 B.C.).

As I said, the people of Abu Ghosh accepted this decision and welcomed the Jewish people back to the land. However, in defiance to the U.N. decision, the rest of the Muslim villages in the land of Israel, as well as the surrounding Muslim nations, rejected this decision, and attacked, seeking to annihilate the Jewish people.

In an Apartheid state, the minorities do not have citizenship and cannot vote.

The Muslims in my village have full citizenship in Israel. They can and do vote. They have all the same rights as Israeli citizens that my family has.

In an Apartheid state, the minorities are not represented in the government.

Israeli Arabs have been represented in every government in the modern State of Israel, starting in the first Knesset in 1949, and continuing up to present time. There are currently 17 Arab members in the Knesset.

In an Apartheid state, minorities are forcibly relocated and put into separate neighborhoods.

The Muslims of Abu Ghosh are in the same village in which they have lived for centuries, and they have freedom to travel and live anywhere in Israel.

In an Apartheid state, education, health care, beaches, and public services are segregated.

In Israel, the Arab Israelis have free access to public education, health care, and all public services. On every beach and in every park, you will see Muslim families side-by-side with Jewish families, all enjoying the same public facilities.

The following is a quote from Benjamin Pogrund, a journalist who saw Apartheid up-close in South Africa for 26 years:

“I have now lived in Israel for 17 years, doing what I can to promote dialogue across lines of division. To an extent that I believe is rare, I straddle both societies. I know Israel today – and I knew apartheid up close. And put simply, there is no comparison between Israel and apartheid.

"The Arabs of Israel are full citizens. Crucially, they have the vote and Israeli Arab MPs sit in parliament. An Arab judge sits on the country’s highest court; an Arab is chief surgeon at a leading hospital; an Arab commands a brigade of the Israeli army; others head university departments. Arab and Jewish babies are born in the same delivery rooms, attended by the same doctors and nurses, and mothers recover in adjoining beds. Jews and Arabs travel on the same trains, taxis and – yes – buses. Universities, theatres, cinemas, beaches and restaurants are open to all.”

The Muslim village I live in is peaceful and has never had even one issue of interracial violence! This fact about Abu Ghosh is well-known by the Jewish people, and, because the village is known as a peaceful place, it is flooded every weekend with Jewish people, coming to frequent the restaurants here.

It is a clear testimony that any Muslim community in the land of Israel can live peacefully and be fully accepted, enjoying the benefits of living peacefully in the democratic State of Israel.

The Muslims living in Israel have more freedom than the Muslims living in any other neighboring country (which, incidentally, are all Muslim countries).

Are the Palestinians creating an Apartheid state?

The amazing irony is that if a person wants to identify an Apartheid state, he needs to look no further than the Palestinians, the very ones making the accusations toward Israel!

How can I say this? Let’s take a look.

In an Apartheid state, the minorities do not have citizenship and cannot vote.

In the “West Bank,” the Jewish residents (approximately 600,000) are not accepted as citizens, have no voice in the Palestinian Authority, and cannot vote in the Palestinian government.

In an Apartheid state, the minorities are not represented in the government.

In the “West Bank,” the Jewish residents have absolutely no representation in the Palestinian government .

In an Apartheid state, minorities are forcibly relocated and put into separate neighborhoods.

In August 2005, this very thing happened. Under international pressure, 21 entire Jewish communities in Gaza and 4 in Samaria (the “West Bank”) were forcibly uprooted from their homes and forced to move. There were over 8,600 Jewish people evicted from their homes, and subsequently had their homes demolished, along with 26 synagogues that were destroyed by Arab mobs.

Incidentally, this has made Gaza a “Judenfrei” zone (Judenfrei is a Nazi term, designating that a particular area had been “cleansed of all Jewish presence” during the Holocaust). This is now a reality in Gaza, and it is the intention of those wanting a 2-state solution by creating an autonomous Palestinian state in the “West Bank” that is Judenfrei.

It may be argued that the Palestinians are not the ones forcing out the Jews. But clearly it is in response to international pressure. And obviously this international pressure is a result of the demands of the Palestinians. This is the issue every time a Jewish home is built in the Jewish communities in the “West Bank” and the Palestinians cry that this is the block to all peace efforts in Israel.

The assumption is that this 2-state solution will produce a Palestinian state that has no Jews (like Gaza, where the Jews were evicted). And therefore any further building (ie. building an apartment for your children when they get married) is condemned, since it is moving in the opposite direction from the Jew-free state that is being proposed.

So the Palestinians decrying Israel as an Apartheid state is a case of “the pot calling the kettle black.” Or perhaps you could better say it is the pot calling the checkered kettle black!


Chaim Singerman and his family own and operate the Jerusalem Hills Inn, located in the picturesque village of Abu Ghosh near Jerusalem.

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