The current smear against Israel being popularized by anti-Zionist organizations and people is that the country practices a form of apartheid. Specifically, they consider that Israel discriminates against and segregates its non-Jewish population.
Not only is the charge absurd, but it is a deliberate attempt to deflect the anti-Semitism and xenophobia of the Palestinian Arab population.
Ban on citizenship
At inception, Israel granted all of the people who lived in the land citizenship, and as the country annexed additional territory such as the eastern section of Jerusalem, it afforded all residents there to apply for citizenship as well, regardless of religion. Today, roughly 74% of the country is Jewish, with over one quarter belonging to other faiths. It stands as a uniquely diverse country in the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
This is in sharp contrast to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The president of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, declared that “we will not see the presence of a single Israeli (read Jew) – civilian or soldier -on our land.” Indeed, in the lands administered by the PA – Gaza and Areas A and B – the demographics is 100% Arab. Not a single Jew can be found, per the PA’s anti-Semitic stated mission.
Ban minorities buying land
Israel allows everyone to purchase homes or apartments. In Jerusalem, the Israeli government greatly expanded the number of homes for non-Jews which resulted in a +188% growth in units for Arabs between 1990 and 2019, compared to only +64% for Jews.
This is in sharp contrast to the PA which has kept in place a Jordanian law which bans the sale of land to non-Jews. The penalty for doing so can be hard labor or even death. It has produced a terrible scheme where Arabs who want to sell land to Jews are forced to use middlemen and shell companies to avoid being killed by either the government of fellow Arabs’ vigilante anti-Semitic violence.
Ban minorities voting and being in parliament
All Israeli citizens can vote and run for the parliament. There are a few Israeli Arab parties in the country’s multi-party system. In 2022, an Arab party sits in the governing coalition and can collapse the government should it decide to do so.
As the Palestinian Authority has no Jews, it is not surprising that there are no Jews in parliament.
Ban minorities being prime minister
Israel has no religion litmus test as to who can become prime minister. That is compared to surrounding Arab countries like Syria where the PM must be a Muslim.
Ban minorities being judges
Israel allows all of its citizens to be part of the legal system including being lawyers, judges and using the courts. The Jewish State has an Arab sitting on its Supreme Court.
The PA has no place for Jews. Anywhere.
Ban minorities being in army
Israel has a draft system which calls on its citizens to serve in the army at age 18. However, the country does not enforce the law for Arabs and Ultra-Orthodox Jews, but it welcomes them joining.
The PA has no place for Jews.
Ban on religious houses of worship
Israel allows all of the various religions to practice their faiths openly. There is no ban on minarets on mosques (as exists in Switzerland), no ban on halal meat (as exists in Iceland), no ban on burkas or hijabs (as exists in Turkey). The Bahai faith has major houses of worship and the Israeli government actually helped Mormons build their church in Jerusalem.
The PA is only oriented around Arab Muslims and Christians. In Jordan – which is majority Palestinian – the Bahai faith is outlawed and Jews carrying religious articles are turned away at the border.
Ban minorities visiting holy places
Israel allows people of all religions to access their holy places. The Israeli government reversed the Muslim ban on Jews visiting the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, as well as the Cave of the Jewish Matriarchs and Patriarchs in Hebron when it took the city back from Jordanian Arabs in 1967.
Palestinian Arabs (who were Jordanians from 1954 to 1967) had banned Jews from their holy sites. The PA and Jordan continue to try to limit Jews from visiting Judaism’s holiest site to this day. Palestinian Arabs have also ransacked Jewish holy sites under their control, such as the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus.
Ban minorities praying at holy places
When Israel reunified Jerusalem in 1967 after Jordan attacked it, it nevertheless allowed the Jordanian waqf to administer the Jewish Temple Mount. That decision has caused Jews to continue to be banned from praying at its site while hundreds of thousands of Muslims are able to do so multiple times a day.
When Jews visit their holy sites in or adjacent to PA-ruled territories, they must have security details or be lynched by Arabs.
Ban minorities from universities
Israel’s leading universities such as Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University have large populations of non-Jews. In sharp contrast, no Jews attend Palestinian universities, and some have a history of banning Jews – even anti-Zionist ones – from even stepping foot on campus.
Ban or limit free speech and assembly for minorities
All Israeli citizens have freedom of speech, assembly and press. Israeli Arabs often launch demonstrations against the government, as do other minorities. In Gaza, only one opinion is allowed to be expressed – that sanctioned by the Islamist regime of Hamas.
Denial of minority history and culture
The Israeli government acknowledges the backgrounds, cultures and history of its diverse citizens. It teaches various histories in its schools and posts official signs in Hebrew, Arabic and English. Meanwhile the PA only uses Arabic in all official communications and actively denies the history of Jews in their holy land, including that their holy temples were in Jerusalem.
Government inciting violence against minorities
Israel is a pluralistic society with Jews and non-Jews participating in each part of society. However, the PA is effectively at war with Jews and the Jewish State and calls on Arabs to attack Jews.
Government reward murderers of minorities
Israel prosecutes criminals that commit crimes – past presidents and prime ministers have gone to jail.
The PA actually rewards criminal activity, especially violence committed against Jews. It calls the terrorists “martyrs” and names schools and squares after them, while paying their families thousands of dollars.
Major political parties’ xenophobia
The Israeli declaration of independence welcomed all people and to this day. The major Israeli political parties including Likud, Yesh Atid, and Blue and White all have charters and position papers that advance a just society for all citizens.
The Palestinian constitution is written for Arabs, with Islam as the official religion. Hamas, a designated terrorist organization by many countries, has a charter full of anti-Semitic smears and conspiracy theories. It calls for a war between Jews and Muslims.
Xenophobia and racism of population
Palestinian Arabs voted the anti-Semitic Hamas political-terrorist party to 58% of the parliament the last time elections were held, and polls show that Hamas would win presidential elections, if held today. The Anti-Defamation League did a poll in 2014 that showed that Palestinian Arabs were the most anti-Semitic in the world, with 93% holding anti-Semitic beliefs.
Israel has created a liberal democracy in the heart of the xenophobic and anti-Semitic Middle East. Those calling the country an apartheid state are not merely engaging in anti-Semitic lies, but doing so in the hope of drawing attention away from the deeply anti-Semitic and xenophobic beliefs of Palestinian Arabs.