Enough with the apartheid....
Israel does not engage in apartheid.....
Toward the end of last year, Jimmy Carter apologized for some of his very harsh statements about Israel. In an "open letter to the Jewish community" -- and with a vagueness that ill becomes him -- he airily mentioned criticisms that "stigmatize Israel" but omitted his own contribution: the implication that Israel is, like the racist South Africa of old, an "apartheid" state.
Carter used the term in his book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." It could be argued that he meant the label to apply only to the West Bank, but even so the use of the term was incorrect and deliberatively provocative. Carter was waving the bloody shirt of racism, and he knew it.
What can be said about others who apply the term to Israel in general? No apology has come from them -- and the way things are going, none will be forthcoming. The use of the word has become commonplace -- Google "Israel and apartheid" and you will see that the two are linked in cyberspace, as love and marriage are in at least one song. The meaning is clear: Israel is a state where political and civil rights are withheld on the basis of race and race alone. This is not the case.
The Israel of today and the South Africa of yesterday have almost nothing in common. In South Africa, the minority white population harshly ruled the majority black population. Nonwhites were denied civil rights, and in 1958, they were even deprived of citizenship. In contrast, Israeli Arabs, about one-fifth of the country, have the same civil and political rights as do Israeli Jews. Arabs sit in the Knesset and serve in the military, although most are exempt from the draft. Whatever this is -- and it looks suspiciously like a liberal democracy -- it cannot be apartheid.
The West Bank, more or less under Israeli military rule, is a different matter. But it is not part of Israel proper, and under every conceivable peace plan -- including those proposed by Israeli governments -- almost all of it will revert to the Palestinian Authority and become the heartland of a Palestinian state.
Yet Israel's critics continue to hurl the apartheid epithet at the state when they have to know, or they ought to know, that it is a calumny. Interestingly, they do not use it for Saudi Arabia, which maintains as perfect a system of gender apartheid as can be imagined -- women can't even drive, never mind vote -- or elsewhere in the Arab world, where Palestinians sometimes have fewer rights than they do in Israel.