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Why are you protesting Israel? (YouTube)

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I think there's a confusion in the video clip, and in the ensuing discussion here, between Israeli Arabs on the one hand and Palestinian Arabs who reside in the territories (particularly in the West Bank) on the other.

A direct comparison between Israel and South Africa is not apt, and to call Israeli policies "apartheid" in the sense of what that word meant in South Africa is really not appropriate.

As the video clip correctly notes Israeli Arabs who reside in Israel are full citizens with full citizenship rights. They vote, they have representation in the Knesset, they travel freely, they are able to study in Israeli universities, travel on public transportation and on the highways of the land, work in public and private sector jobs, etc. None of those things were true for black citizens of South Africa during Apartheid. It is also true, however, that Israeli Arabs are on the low end of the socioeconomic spectrum. Their towns, villages, and neighborhoods are often in worse disrepair, their health clinics and schools less well funded, etc. That situation is similar to the status of blacks and Hispanics, say, in the US. While there is no official segregation, there is still plenty of discrimination and institutionalized lack of opportunity for advancement. This doesn't make Israel non-democratic, it merely means that it is no different than other countries such as the US in having issues of class and prejudice.

However, the situation in the territories (Gaza and the West Bank) is decidedly different. There, Israel quite intentionally has a pursued policies of not annexing the territories and making them into Israel proper. That leaves the residents as non-citizens who have no right to vote or participate freely in Israeli society. Israel did directly administer the territories from 1967 until handing over civil authority to the PA in the 1990s. Even now the Israeli military shares many of the administrative responsibilities particularly for roads, checkpoints, border security. It's this uneasy situation of on the one hand pursuing Israeli settlements in the territories and having real day to day control and influence over them, while on the other hand suppressing basic civil rights of democratic representation, travel and mobility, choice of employment, or even things like land use and zoning decisions that do come under fair criticism, in my view. I wouldn't use inflammatory words like apartheid since that's really not reflective of the nature and history of the situation. But I do think Israel has an existential choice facing it: It can pursue the full territory of Israel+WestBank and deny democratic rights to 1million+ residents, or it can pursue a 2 state solution with Israel's bordered in a smaller contiguous piece of territory (approximately on the Green Line) that has a majority Jewish population and with full democratic rights for all residents.

I prefer the latter approach. The latter is the stance of the Israeli Left, but at this time it's the Right that is ascendant in Israel and they seem to be pursuing the former approach. Only time will tell what happens.

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