Consider that Arabs living in Israel today:
· Have grown grew in number from 200,000 in 1948 to 1.6 million in 2013
· They have complete religious and political freedom, far more than their colleagues under Hamas and the PA (or the surrounding Muslim nations)
· They represent 10% of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset)
· They have a seat on the Supreme Court
· Some of them are now advocating fighting in the Israeli military, although they are exempt from having to serve
· The great majority of them do not want to be under the rule of Hamas or the PA (chew on that for a moment)
· An Arab woman was even named Miss Israel in 1999
Is this what an apartheid state looks like?
As for the Arabs/Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank, these remain Israel’s declared enemies, to the point that when Israel releases hundreds of Palestinian prisoners as yet another peace gesture, those prisoners who have blood on their hands – in other words, the murderers of Israeli citizens – are hailed as heroes and celebrities by the Palestinian leadership. Is this what a real peace partner does?
As for the security barrier (falsely called an apartheid wall), it absolutely does create hardships for the Palestinians living on the wrong side of the barrier. But it was erected to keep murderers out (the small parts that are actually a wall rather than a fence were especially built to thwart snipers), and so it is the Palestinian leadership that is to blame for the barrier, not the people of Israel.
This is not to whitewash Israel or to deny that there are Israelis who are hostile to the Palestinians or who have mistreated and denigrated them. Nor is it to deny that Israel had sometimes failed to treat all its Jewish citizens with equality.
But the reality is that Israel has already proven that, given the chance to live peacefully with the Palestinian population, it will be anything but an apartheid state. Its 1.6 million Arab citizens prove this point every day.
Put another way, the people of Israel have demonstrated that if you don’t try to blow them up and kill them, they will treat you fairly. In stark contrast, the Palestinian leadership has made clear that, in the event of a two-state solution no Jews would be welcome to live in their state.
So, the Palestinian Authority can advocate for a Judenrein state of its own, and there’s hardly a word of criticism. But when Israel protects itself from terrorists, it is branded an apartheid state by its critics, with even Secretary of State Kerry using the ill-advised term.
Is anyone surprised?
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.