Of the world's many great lies, this is among the greatest.
How do we know it is a lie? Because when South Africa was an apartheid state, no one accused Israel of being one. Even the UN would have regarded the accusation as absurd.
Israel has nothing in common with an apartheid state, but few people know enough about Israel -- or about apartheid South Africa -- to refute the slander. So let's respond.
First, what is an apartheid state? And does Israel fit that definition?
From 1948 to 1994, South Africa, the country that came up with this term, had an official policy that declared blacks second-class citizens in every aspect of that nation's life. Among many other prohibitions on the country's blacks, they could not vote; could not hold political office; were forced to reside in certain locations; could not marry whites; and couldn't even use the same public restrooms as whites.
Not one of those restrictions applies to Arabs living in Israel.
One and a half million Arabs live in Israel, constituting about 20 percent of that country's population. They have the same rights as all other Israeli citizens. They can vote, and they do. They can serve in the Israeli parliament, and they do. They can own property and businesses and work in professions alongside other Israelis, and they do. They can be judges, and they are. Here's one telling example: it was an Arab judge on Israel's Supreme Court who sentenced the former president of Israel -- a Jew -- to jail on a rape charge.
Some other examples of Arabs in Israeli life: Reda Mansour was the youngest ambassador in Israel's history, and is now Consul General at Israel's Atlanta Consulate; Walid Badir is an international soccer star on Israel's national team and captain of one of Tel Aviv's major teams; Rana Raslan is a former Miss Israel; Ishmael Khaldi was until recently the deputy consul of Israel in San Francisco; Khaled Abu Toameh is a major journalist with the Jerusalem Post; Ghaleb Majadele was until recently a Minister in the Israeli Government. They are all Israeli Arabs. Not one is a Jew.
Arabs in Israel live freer lives than Arabs living anywhere in the Arab world. No Arab in any Arab country has the civil rights and personal liberty that Arabs in Israel enjoy.
Now, one might counter: "Yes, Palestinians who live inside Israel have all these rights, but what about the Palestinians who live in what are known as the occupied territories? Aren't they treated differently?"
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