Co-existence – or Apartheid in Israel?
"Co-existence", peaceful and even friendly co-habitation of different ethnic, religious and other groups, would be the ideal status; unfortunately rarely - if ever, anywhere - fully achieved. There are not many countries where so much has been done for it 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.
Israel, though not perfect, is in fact probably one of the best examples of good co-existence against all odds, and one of the least racist states on earth. Let's examine the facts. To begin with, Israel's Jewish population is a mixture from a hundred countries and 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 trick without any 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 has reported that society is becoming more divided by race and religion. The Independent Race and Refugee News reported 52,694 racist incidents in 2004 and an alarming increase in racially motivated murders.
Israel has throughout its entire existence exercised historically unprecedented goodwill: although involved in existential wars with Arabs, Israel does not exert any limitations or punitive measures on its Arab minority akin with the enemy - like all other countries have invariably done.
Israel invited and has absorbed lovingly and without any material gain 100,000 Ethiopians with Jewish roots; poor and oppressed black Africans - unprecedented again in the history of mankind.
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 them care and assistance.
An article in News.Scotsman.com (2006.03.04) tells the story of a Darfurian, working in a kibbutz. Despite being detained in jail for a year before, Sanka is remarkably upbeat about living in Israel. "The Israelis are really a free people, with an open mind," he said. "They understand my plight. Funnily, for the first time in my life, here I feel free"
Some greedy politicians and frustrated academicians in the world make a living of libeling Israel as ‘apartheid'. But, let's leave their theories alone. Within a few hours spent in the quarter-million strong Israeli city of Haifa one can visit 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. Then you can judge the validity of actual co-existence in Israel and of singling out Israel as the "apartheid state"
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