A number of students at Concordia University seek to accuse Israel of being an “apartheid state.” The aims of Israeli Apartheid Week are to bolster opposition towards what they term as “Israeli Apartheid.”
This accusation contains no substance and is an insult to actual victims of apartheid. As students we have a responsibility to critically analyze such a dubious claim.
Apartheid is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a former system in South Africa in which black people and people from other racial groups did not have the same political and economic rights as white people and were forced to live separately from white people.”
Contrary to what IAW supporters would like you to think, there is no system of Jewish exclusion of non-Jewish residents in Israel or the territories it administers. They would do well to contrast the horrors of real apartheid to Ariel University, located in what would be termed as a West Bank “settlement” by IAW proponents.
Their student body consists of Jews, Arabs, Druze, and Circassians. An estimated six hundred Arab-Muslim students are enrolled. In December 2011 AU held a conference titled “Best Plans for a Peaceful Israel/Palestine,” which Jews, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians alike from Palestinian Authority-controlled areas in the West Bank attended and lectured at.
This is hardly comparable to the now-defunct Rand Afrikaans University, a predecessor institution to the University of Johannesburg, which limited enrollment to white South Africans and banned prospective Black students from attending. Israel is a democracy which protects the human rights of all its citizens and residents, including those in the so-called “settlements.”
Based on 2007 statistics, about 1,300 of Pisgat Ze’ev’s 42,000 residents were Arabs. In nearby French Hill, nearly one sixth of residents are Arabs, which included students at the neighboring Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Neve Yaakov, with 20,000 people, has a population of 600 Arabs according to the Israel Center for Jerusalem Studies.
The absurdity of IAW’s accusation can be observed in the upcoming Israeli Elections. Salim Joubran, the Israeli Arab Supreme Court Judge, is serving as the Chairman of the Central Election Committee and will be in charge of overseeing Israel’s parliamentary elections. The Committee is in charge of registering lists of political parties running for election, campaign financing, election logistics, tallying results, and dealing with challenges to the results.
IAW puts forth inaccurate generalizations concerning the State of Israel that are at odds with reality. Its proponents do not comprehend the horrendous injustice of what apartheid truly represents.
Bradley Martin is a Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) fellow and a student at Concordia University.