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Thursday January 12, 2012

Can We Say Apartheid?

Posted by Omar Baddar at 3:57 pm

Apologists for Israel’s treatment of Palestinians are always quick to cite the fact that 20% of Israelis are ethnically Palestinian as some sort of evidence that Israel is an open society that welcomes diversity. Missing from this picture is the regular characterization of Israeli Arabs as a demographic threat, and the frequent proposal to redraw the borders to place predominantly Arab towns outside of Israel. This is no fringe proposal, but one made yet again just 3 days ago by Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

While any person with Jewish ancestry is allowed, indeed encouraged, to “return” to Israel, Palestinian refugees who were driven out of their homes are not allowed to return. And when an Israeli citizen marries a Palestinian, that Palestinian is not permitted to gain permanent residence in Israel, let alone acquire Israeli citizenship. Just today, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld the legality of the law that prohibits Palestinian spouses of Israelis from moving to Israel to be with their loved-ones.

It’s important to note that we’ve only been talking about Israel so far. Palestinians within the occupied territories live under even more blatantly separate and unequal conditions, being forced to drive on separate roads from Israelis and Jewish settlers, forced into absurdly unequal distribution of their own water (most of it gets diverted for the use of Israel and its settlers), and systematically denied home-building permits while illegal settlements continue to expand.

Those who are truly outraged with the “apartheid” characterization of Israel should spend less time condemning their opponents and more time combating Israel’s discriminatory policies so they can erase the ugly reality that will guarantee enduring conflict.

Tagged as Issues, Palestine, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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