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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Guest Commentary

‘Apartheid’ doesn’t categorize Israel

Every year, supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement gather in colleges and cities around the world for Israeli Apartheid Week, a time when organizers pass on anti-Israel rhetoric to anyone who will listen.

BDS supporters believe that by forcing Israel into economic submission, the country will dismantle vital security measures without any concessions from the Palestinian people.

This year, Students for a Democratic Society have decided to join the BDS movement by holding various events at the University.

It is ironic that students who supposedly support democracy would cry apartheid against one of the few democracies in the Middle East.

Apartheid was an oppressive system created by a white minority in the South African government to segregate the black majority. Blacks were discriminated against through inferior separate facilities, lack of political power and a racist legal system.

The system was rightly denounced by the world and is in stark contrast to modern-day Israel.

All Israeli citizens, be they Jewish, Arab or otherwise, have equal rights. Israeli Arabs are free to practice their chosen religion, travel unimpeded throughout the country and pursue higher education at the best schools.

Arabs play a vital role in the democratic process by having the right to vote and serve in the Israeli government.

Freedom of speech is evident by the many Jewish and Arab critics of Israel who are allowed to disseminate their opinions without fear of governmental oppression. They are able to hold demonstrations as freely as SDS is this week.

All Israelis are also equally protected by a security barrier, which has been proven to stop suicide bombers from killing innocent civilians, including Arab Israelis. Such measures would not have been necessary had Palestinians accepted an offer for peace and a state of their own.

In 2000, Israel offered the Palestinians 97 percent of the West Bank, all of Gaza, a 5 percent land swap, East Jerusalem and compensation for refugees. Palestinian leaders rejected the offer, refused to make a counter-offer and proceeded with the Second Intifada (a period of uprising and violence).

As civilian death tolls mounted, Israel had no choice but to ensure security for all its citizens. To say such defensive measures are in line with a racist policy is an insult to black South Africans who suffered from a true apartheid state.

As with any democratic society, Israel allows and even encourages honest criticism to help make the country a better place.

What happens during Israeli Apartheid Week is dishonest and ultimately hurts Palestinians, who do not need hate attached to their cause. One need only look at the facts to see that Israel does not fit the racist accusations thrown at it.

If SDS’s idea of promoting peace is to demonize a democratic society, perhaps it should rethink its values.

Michael Green is a biology senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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