“Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination,” reads Amnesty International’s recent report accusing Israel of enforcing “a system of oppression and domination against the Palestinian people.” Human Rights Watch, too, claims that Israel is guilty of the “Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.”

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch’s decision to use the charged rhetoric of “apartheid” was no accident. They know that this language has real consequences at every level of the political arena: the Harvard Crimson editorial board just endorsed Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions—a movement whose explicit aim is to see Israel wiped off of the map, and Northeastern University’s student government nearly passed a bill condemning the “deadly exchange,” an antisemitic characterization of joint training programs between U.S. and Israeli law enforcement officers.

And they have to know that this language is inappropriate and inaccurate. Israel—the state founded to protect Jews from persecution that guarantees equality in its constitution—is no more an apartheid state than North Korea is a democratic one.

Arab Israelis hold significant positions of power in the Israeli government and receive tremendous amounts of government aid. In June 2021, the Arab Ra’am party joined forces with Israel’s dominant coalition for the first time in Israeli history, giving Arab representatives and their constituents critical influence over Israeli legislation. Earlier this year, Israel’s Judicial Selection Committee selected Khaled Kabub, an Israeli-Arab, to replace George Kara, another Israeli-Arab, on Israel’s supreme court.

Annually hundreds of Arab Israelis volunteer to enlist in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), and the Israeli government just pledged to invest $9.2 billion in Arab communities. In fact, Israel’s government sets aside money specifically for Arab-women-owned businesses and expanded operations in 2021 to assist all Arab-owned businesses. Importantly, aid to Arabs is not only a recent phenomenon; government assistance programs date back decades. Apartheid regimes don’t accept oppressed minorities into their government and allocate billions of dollars of aid to those in need.

Additionally, Arabs living in Israel are, for the most part, happy. One Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University poll finds that 57% of Israeli Arabs see their situations as “good” or “very good.” Another survey from Tel Aviv University reports that 63% of Israeli Arabs feel that Israel is a “positive” place to live; including Israeli Arabs, Israel is the 9th happiest country on Earth. Oppressed minorities living under apartheid aren’t relatively happy to live that way.

It is also worth noting that Israel’s government has, time and time again, sought diplomatic ends to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So far, Israel has offered Palestinians independent statehood four times: in 1947, 2000, 2001, and 2008.

When Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch cast accusations of Apartheid, they tend to focus on Arabs living outside of Israel in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip rather than Arabs within Israel. For instance, both organizations condemn Israel for its blockade of the Gaza Strip, which restricts economic imports into the region, and blame Israel for the circumstances created by the internationally brokered Oslo Accords.

However, Israel only enacted these policies because Palestinians’ leadership in Gaza and the West Bank refuse to recognize Israel as an independent nation and frequently attack it.

In 2005, Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza and the international community donated considerable aid to Palestinians in the region. Yet, immediately, looters ransacked $14 million worth of agricultural infrastructure. Indeed, within a year of Israel’s withdrawal, Palestinians in the strip elected Hamas, a terrorist organization, to power, and Hamas militants snuck into Israel, killing and kidnapping Israeli soldiers. Israel’s (and its neighbor Egypt’s) blockade of Gaza was a response to these aggressions. Since then, Hamas has not only attacked Israel but targeted “…most of the overcrowded areas… the civilian society.”

Meanwhile, in 2004 the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank cemented terrorism into its legal system. The Prisoners and Released Prisoners law No. 19 grants Israeli prisoners, incarcerated for “struggle against the [Israeli] occupation,” a monthly salary and exempts released prisoners from school tuition and health insurance payments. Israeli prisoners, the law says, “…are a fighting sector and an integral part of the fabric of the Arab Palestinian society.” In 2016, the PA paid these prisoners or their families more than $300 million, 7% of the PA’s entire annual budget. Palestinian Media Watch reports similar numbers for 2018: more than $350 million in payments to Israeli prisoners or their families amounting to 7.5% of the PA’s budget.

There is discrimination in Israel, as there is in every country on Earth, but it does not rise anywhere near the level of Apartheid; when the Social Progress Imperative directly compared Israel to 168 other countries, Israel ranked 62 in the category of “Equality of political power by social group,” among the top 50%.

Apartheid is when races are forcibly segregated on buses, in schools, and throughout the government. It is when the South African government forbade Black people from voting and forced them to live on “native reserves,” barred mixed marriages, and refused to educate Black students.

There is no world in which Israel is an apartheid state. Claims to the contrary are lies.

This article was originally featured in the Northeastern Political Review.

arrow-rightArtboard 2arrowArtboard 1awardArtboard 3bookletArtboard 2brushArtboard 2buildingArtboard 2business-personArtboard 2calendarArtboard 2caret-downcheckArtboard 10checkArtboard 10clockArtboard 2closeArtboard 2crownArtboard 2documentArtboard 2down-arrowArtboard 2facebookArtboard 1gearArtboard 2heartArtboard 2homeArtboard 2instagramArtboard 1keyArtboard 2locationArtboard 2paperclipArtboard 1pencilArtboard 2personArtboard 1pictureArtboard 2pie-chartArtboard 2planeArtboard 2presentationArtboard 2searchArtboard 2speech-bubbleArtboard 1starArtboard 2street-signArtboard 2toolsArtboard 2trophyArtboard 1twitterArtboard 1youtubeArtboard 1