Israel is not an apartheid state. I say this as an ex-South African who had lived in South Africa during the height of the apartheid years when a person's skin colour determined a person's future. A black person was considered inferior and was denied equal opportunities.
There was also "petty apartheid" - racial segregation enforced primarily in public transportation, hotels, restaurants and other public places. There was never a phenomenon of "petty apartheid". Whatever is humiliating racially cannot be considered “petty”.
Blacks were viewed as inferior to the whites and heinous legislation was introduced to ensure that remained so until eternity. Racism and prejudice are evil no matter under whatever guise.
Although Israel is not an apartheid state there are certain acts of legislation that do have some similarity especially attitudes and laws enacted towards the Palestinian population in the occupied territories. It is enough to see that roads are being built in the occupied territories for the use of Jewish settlers only. Palestinians are forbidden to use these roads. The excuse is always the all embracing one word definition - SECURITY! This is not always relevant.
This is the conclusion of a B’tzelem Report from which I quote:
Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality. This regime is the only one of its kind in the world, and is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past, such as the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
Under this regime, Israel has stolen hundreds of thousands of dunam of land from the Palestinians. Israel has used this land to establish dozens of settlements in the West Bank and to populate them with hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens. Israel prohibits the Palestinians as a group from entering and using these lands, and uses the settlements to justify numerous violations of the Palestinians' human rights, such as the right to housing, to earn a livelihood, and the right to freedom of movement. The drastic change that Israel has made in the map of the West Bank prevents any real possibility for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state as part of the Palestinians' right to self-determination.
The settlers, on the contrary, benefit from all the rights available to Israeli citizens living within the Green Line, and in some cases are even granted additional rights. The great effort that Israel has invested in the settlement enterprise - in financial, legal and bureaucratic terms – has turned the settlements into civilian enclaves in an area under military rule, with the settlers being given priority status. To perpetuate this situation, which is a priori illegal, Israel has continuously breached the rights of the Palestinians.
Particularly evident is Israel's manipulative use of legal tools in order to give the settlement enterprise an impression of legality. When Jordanian legislation served Israel's goals, Israel adhered to this legislation, arguing that international law obliges it to respect the legislation in effect prior to the occupation; in practice, this legislation was used in a cynical and biased manner. On the other hand, when this legislation interfered with Israel's plans, it was changed in a cavalier manner through military legislation and Israel established new rules to serve its interests. In so doing, Israel trampled on numerous restrictions and prohibitions established in the international conventions to which it is party, and which were intended to limit infringement of human rights and to protect populations under occupation.
The settlements are unlawful, and their presence leads to the violation of human rights. Accordingly, B'Tselem demands that the Israeli government act to vacate all the settlements. This process must take place while respecting the human rights of the settlers, including payment of compensation.
Today Israel is ruled by a right wing coalition composed of parties not devoid of racism. Eli Yishai, the Interior Minister and leader of Shas, has been instrumental in introducing bills that are bordering on racism with bigoted religious overtones. The Yisrael Beiteinu Party of Avigdor Lieberman, the Foreign Minister, is another party that is doing much to bring Israel closer to a quasi-apartheid society
This party is not different from the defunct Moledet Party of the late Rehavim Ze'evi, which believed in transfer of Israel's Arab population.
It is unfortunate that while Israel is not an apartheid society and nothing in Israel's laws that even hints at racial discrimination, there are incidents in Israel that may have some resemblance to apartheid that are causes for concern.
Avigdor Lieberman is under suspicion of money laundering, bribery, corruption and defeating the ends of justice. A police enquiry into his affairs is still going on and a final decision to lay charges has not been made by the state attorney. Lieberman has uttered words bordering on racism against Palestinians and Arab people in general. He would like to transfer Israel's Arab population to so-called Palestine which is occupied by Israel. If his will were carried out, we would have a close resemblance to apartheid South Africa's Bantustan policies. Blacks in South Africa were forcibly transferred to Bantustans so that white areas would remain free of blacks.
Lieberman is no credit to Israel as Foreign Minister nor is his side kick, Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, any better. Both these people are racists judging the statements they have made in the past. The latter created an unnecessary fiasco in his humiliating treatment of the Turkish Ambassador in Israel a few months ago. The right wing government is bringing Israel closer to an apartheid-like society even though at this stage, Israel is still far from that.
The behaviour of Israeli settlers in the occupied territories is also shocking. Religious zealots have done much damage to Palestinian property and none of them has been charged in a court of law. This is similar to the way the white farmers in apartheid South Africa treated their black servants. Beatings, verbal abuse and displacement from their homes to relocation in the Bantustans were common. There is an uncanny resemblance to the treatment meted out to Palestinians under occupation. If the Israeli authorities ignore these abuses as they have been doing surely one cannot deny the similarities in the treatment of blacks in apartheid South Africa.
It is unfortunate that Israeli Arabs do not have a sense of belonging or patriotism towards Israel. Nothing has been done to create a common Israeli patriotism that allows Israel’s non-Jewish minorities to feel an integral part of Israel’s society. The reason is the emphasis on Israel’s Jewishness which does not allow the Arab community in being part of a common loyalty. Israeli Arabs cannot buy homes in Jewish settlements. Here there is a similarity to the infamous Group Areas Act of 1950 in apartheid South Africa. Blacks were never allowed to buy homes in white areas.
When Independence Day is celebrated, the Israeli Arab does not celebrate. If Israel is a true democracy then all its citizens should share a common patriotism towards it. The Israeli National Anthem, Hatikvah, does not reflect the aspirations of all its citizens.
It is true that there are no discriminatory laws against Israel’s non-Jewish minorities, in practice this is not always the case. Evictions of Arabs from their homes in East Jerusalem do occur to allow Jewish Israelis to take over and build their homes in their place. This does result in many Arab homes in East Jerusalem being demolished. Arab Palestinians, citizens of East Jerusalem need permits to live there. This is similar to the infamous pass system in apartheid South Africa. Blacks without a pass (or permit) were also evicted and even arrested for illegally living in an area reserved for whites. Here we cannot deny the similarity to apartheid South Africa. The Israeli Authorities unfortunately lack the sensitivity to treat these cases of eviction with sensitivity.
While PM Netanyahu pays lip service (under world pressure of course) to a “two state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, we are all aware that his utterances are meaningless and hypocritical. While evictions of Palestinians from their homes are taking place and encroachment of Israeli illegal settlements in the occupied territories by enlargement of existing settlements and the building of new settlements, the two-state solution will never come to fruition. Mr. Saeb Erakat, the veteran Palestinian negotiator, is well aware of this. He has stated that Israel’s right wing government’s policies are destroying the two-state solution. What is the alternative? A one-state solution could result in a total apartheid-like society. A settler oriented right wing government dominating the Palestinian People who will always remain inferior to Israel’s Jewish citizens. This would destroy Palestinian aspirations towards independence resulting in the establishment of an apartheid-like society.