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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Apartheid?! In Israel?!!

This is the time of year when "Israel Apartheid Week" takes place. "Israel Apartheid Week" is an annual series of university lectures and rallies. The series is held in February or March. According to the organization, "the aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement."

So is the State of Israel an apartheid state? The very use of the word conjures up pictures, in the minds of some of us, of South Africa, and the total segregation of the black population from those of Caucasian descent. We may think, also, of the southern states of the USoA in the 1950s and 60s, and the segragation that led to the Civil Rights Movement. If this is what is happening in the State of Israel, today, then that State deserves all of the condemnation that it receives.

"If this is happening ..."! Permit me to share some factual information about life in modern Israel - and then judge for yourself whether, or not, the accusation of apartheid holds any water. Here are just seven reasons that give the lie to any such claim - there are many more!

1. Voting. Israel is a multi-ethnic democracy. All citizens vote in elections on an equal basis. Israel's Arab minority participates fully in the political process.

2. Equal Rights. Minorities in Israel are guaranteed equal rights. Discrimination based on ethnicity is against the law, and the Courts are effective in countering unfair discrimination.

3. Integration. This is, of course, the total opposite of segregation!  Unlike apartheid South Africa, and the segregated southern states in the USoA, there is no segregation on public transport in Israel. Universties in Israel are fully integrated. Jews and Arabs work together; eat together; and live, side-by-side, in the same areas.

4. Economic gaps. Since the report of a Commission in 2000, Israel has been steadily closing economic gaps between Jews and Arabs; opening up the civil serice to Arab citizens; equalising welfare; introducing Arabic as a language to be learned, into Jewish schools; and improving access to higher education for all.

5. Arabic. Arabic is, in fact, Israel's second official language, and there is a thriving Arabic-language mass media, literature, and theatre scene.

6. Politics. There are twelve Members (MKs - the equivalent of UK MPs) in the current Knesset (Parliament). Arabs have also held Cabinet posts in the Government; and have served in the civil service, and the Supreme Court! Perhaps someone will remind me of any Arab country in which Jews are able to hold such high office! Oh, wait a minute! There aren't any!  On the contrary, those travelling on an Israeli passport are banned from Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen - even if they only wanted to enter for a brief holiday!

7. Popularity. In research done through Harvard University, 77% of the Arab citizens of Israel said that they prefer living in Israel to living in any other country in the world - and many of them back up that claim be serving in the IDF (Israeli Defence Force).

I have a very dear Jewish friend from the UK who has family living in Israel, and who visits the country frequently. When he does, I always receive a collection of photographs that he has taken during his visit. Many of those photographs provide, themselves, adequate proof that Israel is NOT an apartheid state. It is, in fact, as Nikki Haley, the new US Ambassador to the United Nations emphasised in her first news conference since taking up her post, "the one true democracy in the Middle East".

Let all who value truth be no longer fooled by the anti-Israel rhetoric that emanates from bodies such as the UN; by the attempts, by the UN and the strong Muslim lobby within its fold, to re-write history by denying the Jewish connection with the historic city of Jerusalem; by the false claims made by organisations such as the BDS (see the link above). Rather, let us be purveyors of truth that, by God's grace, it may triumph.

If we are praying people, let us pray regularly for the state, and the nation, of Israel. If we are disciples of Jesus, let us remember that He was born, in the flesh, into a Jewish family; that He was raised as a Jewish boy; that He lived and worked as a Jew; that He taught as a Jew; that He was crucified as a Jew.

And let us oppose anti-semitism wherever it raises its ugly head, by any means open to us.

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