No, Israel Is Not An Apartheid State
JERUSALEM - AUGUST 18: An Israeli flag flies from the Kidmat Zion Jewish settlement community on the outskirts of the Arab village of Abu Dis, where the Old City with its golden Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine is seen in the background, August 18, 2008 in East Jerusalem, Israel. The settlement, a stand-alone apartment building which houses a number of families, is a former Arab home purchased by the Ateret Cohanim organization which is dedicated to expanding Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, the half of the city that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.
David Silverman/Getty Images

As another conflict rages between the Israeli military and Hamas terrorists, anti-Israel advocates have resorted to their standard collection of inaccurate accusations.

Perhaps the most despicable among them? That the Jewish nation is an “apartheid” state.

This is a common allegation leveled against Israel, with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) saying “It is our duty to end the apartheid system that for decades has subjected Palestinians to inhumane treatment and racism,” and “comedian” John Oliver claiming that “Palestinians are essentially being governed by a form of apartheid.”

This argument is simply an anti-Semitic attempt to delegitimize the world’s only Jewish state.

What is an “apartheid” state?

“Apartheid” is a South African term describing a system of institutionalized segregation based on race which was imposed in South Africa and South West Africa (now Namibia) from 1948 until the 1990s. It was essentially a system of white supremacy which ensured racial dominance throughout society.

Apartheid included the prohibition of marriage between white people and other races, required black people to hold permits to run businesses in areas deemed “white South Africa,” and imposed segregation in public transport, education, and hospitals. 

According to the BBC, the three most important blocks of legislation regarding Apartheid law were:

  • The Race Classification Act. Every citizen suspected of not being European was classified according to race.
  • The Mixed Marriages Act. It prohibited marriage between people of different races.
  • The Group Areas Act. It forced people of certain races into living in designated areas.

Not only that, non-white South Africans faced routine and consistent discrimination in the electoral system.

Why Israel is not an “apartheid” state

In terms of demographics, approximately 75% of Israel’s population is Jewish, while almost 21% are Arab of any religion other than Jewish. This includes both Christian and Muslim Arabs.

Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights, and Israel is one of the few countries in the Middle East where Arab women are permitted to vote. In Israel’s parliamentary democracy, four members of the Knesset are members of “Ra’am – United Arab List.”

As Rich Lowry of National Review noted, “Arab Israelis are full participants in Israeli society.”

“There are Arab justices on the Supreme Court. About 20 percent of doctors in Israel and about half of pharmacists are Arab,” Lowry added. “Roughly 17 percent of students seeking an undergraduate degree are Arab, a number that has roughly doubled over the past decade.”

Benjamin Pogrund, who was born in South Africa in the 1930s and witnessed apartheid, expanded on this point for The New York Times in 2017, writing, “In hospitals and clinics, Jewish and Arab doctors and nurses, secular and religious, work together, giving care equally to Jewish and Arab patients — unthinkable under apartheid.”


When presented with these inconvenient facts, critics will often reference the Palestinian territories as further proof of Israel’s enforcement of apartheid. However, the Gaza Strip is entirely under Palestinian control, with Israel withdrawing from Gaza in 2005. The subject of the so-called “West Bank” is more complicated, but critics ignore that Palestinian leaders have effectively turned down full Palestinian control on multiple occasions, and that Israeli military control of the region only occurred after Israel successfully repelled an Arab invasion in the 1967 Six-Day War. The notion that Muslim nations can repeatedly invade Israel, retreat after being defeated, and still claim “ownership” of land risked as a consequence is simply absurd.

According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, there are two contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life which are relevant to accusations of “apartheid.”

  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

By making the demonstrably false claim that Israel is an apartheid state, the goal of outspoken “critics” of Israel is clear.

They are working to delegitimize Israel, and the fundamental right to self-determination, in order to destroy the home of Judaism which pre-exists both Christianity and Islam.

Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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