Co-existence? or Apartheid?
Israeli soldier with Darfur refugees
"Co-existence”, peaceful and even friendly co-habitation of different ethnic, religious and other groups, would be the ideal status, unfortunately never in the world fully achieved. There is a lot to do to reach this ideal state of affairs, and there are not many states on earth where so much has been done with so much success within such a short time as in Israel.
Co-existence’s antonym, “Apartheid”, (literally separateness), would mean racial discrimination, defined by the UN as “...any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin...”. Unfortunately, by this definition apartheid is ‘alive and well’, not only in the third world, but to some extent also in the West - but not in Israel.
Though of course not perfect, in fact, Israel is probably one of the best examples of good co-existence against all odds, and one of the least racist states on earth. Let’s see the facts. To begin with, Israel’s Jewish population is mixed from a hundred countries with as many languages. Israel’s Declaration of Independence ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or gender. Israeli Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Druze and other minorities enjoy the same civil and political rights as Jews. They serve in the Knesset and in the High Court of Justice and can speak freely against the government. Israel’s 1.2 million Arab citizens live in relative wealth and enjoy human rights far above their brothers in any of their 23 Arab countries.
The castigation of Israel as an apartheid state is a sophisticated propaganda tool, without much basis, used both to libel Israel and to cover up to the abhorrent human right records and racism of Israel’s principal accusers like Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, the Palestinians and Iran. Even in that alleged bastion of racial freedom, Britain, the BBC reported that society is becoming more divided by race and religion, fully fledged ghettos happen there, and the Independent Race and Refugee News reported 52,694 racist incidents in 2004 and alarming increase also in racially motivated murders.
Israel has demonstrated historically unprecedented goodwill towards to along its whole existence, when while being involved since its birth in existential wars with Arabs, has never exerted any limitations or punitive measures on its Arab minority akin with the enemy – like all other countries on earth have invariably done.
Israel invited and has been absorbing lovingly and without any material gain 100,000 Ethiopians with Jewish roots; poor and oppressed black Africans - unprecedented again in the history of mankind. Proportionally it would be welcoming 5 million black Africans in the US or in Europe within a few years.
Tiny Israel was the first to give home to hopeless Vietnamese "boat-people” in the 70-s and since 2005 similarly to refugees from genocide in Darfur, Sudan, mostly black Moslems. Several newly created Israeli voluntary organizations are providing care and assistance to them.
An article in News.Scotsman.com of March 4, 2006 tells the personal story of a Darfurian, working in a kibbutz. Despite being jailed for a year before reaching that kibbutz, Sanka is remarkably upbeat about living in the Jewish state. "The Israelis are really a free people, with an open mind," he said. "The Jewish people I've met understand my plight. Funnily, for the first time in my life here in Israel I feel free"
Unfortunately some greedy politicians and frustrated academicians make a living of libeling Israel as ‘apartheid’. But, let’s leave alone theoretical arguments. Within a few hours spent in the quarter-million strong Israeli city of Haifa one can visit a few shopping centers, the city’s best hospitals, a children’s Luna Park and the Haifa beach; to see Muslim and other minorities strolling and mingling leisurely everywhere. You yourself can judge and choose between the validity of actual co-existence in Israel or of singling out Israel as the “apartheid state”.