The Washington Post

Israel has its faults, but apartheid isn’t one of them
The Washington Post

The use of the word has become commonplace — Google “Israel and apartheid” and you will see that the two are linked in cyberspace, as love and marriage are in at least one song. The meaning is clear: Israel is a state where political and civil rights are withheld on the basis of race and race alone. This is not the case.

The Israel of today and the South Africa of yesterday have almost nothing in common. In South Africa, the minority white population harshly ruled the majority black population. Nonwhites were denied civil rights, and in 1958, they were even deprived of citizenship. In contrast, Israeli Arabs, about one-fifth of the country, have the same civil and political rights as do Israeli Jews. Arabs sit in the Knesset and serve in the military, although most are exempt from the draft. Whatever this is — and it looks suspiciously like a liberal democracy — it cannot be apartheid.

Yet Israel’s critics continue to hurl the apartheid epithet at the state when they have to know, or they ought to know, that it is a calumny. Interestingly, they do not use it for Saudi Arabia, which maintains as perfect a system of gender apartheid as can be imagined — women can’t even drive, never mind vote — or elsewhere in the Arab world, where Palestinians sometimes have fewer rights than they do in Israel.