Arecent article in The Q called Israel an apartheid state. I have lived in Israel and been around the people and culture of Israel. I have also seen the effects that apartheid can have on people from studying abroad in the only country who can truly say they have been a part of an apartheid state: South Africa. They are not one and the same. Israel is not an apartheid state.
I disagreed with the points made in the previous article. I admit I grew up being taught to love and fight for the state of Israel, but like everyone else when they grow up, I chose my own side. In 10th grade, I had an opportunity to go to and learn about the state of Israel. There, I was exposed to both sides of this controversy. I met Palestinians who are Israeli citizens and Palestinians who are not. I saw the effects that the war has on all citizens. I also saw Palestinian and Israeli children playing in the streets together. I have seen Jews, Muslims, and Christians pray together in Jerusalem. True, there is hatred and spite in some parts of Israel and between people on both sides. But in the end Israel is the only true democracy of the Middle East. But more importantly it is the only place Jews can truly call home.
I have seen how apartheid can affect people. The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes apartheid as, “a former social system in South Africa in which black people and people from other racial groups did not have the same political and economic rights as white people and were forced to live separately from white people”. I participated in the ICA to South Africa in 2013, and was able to see first-hand the effects of apartheid: children with almost no essentials, people with little to no education. Apartheid crushed people. It kept the non-whites in a lower class social status. Non-whites were not given the ability to have a say in their government and the world. The non-whites were second class citizens their own country.
People say Israel has no respect for the Palestinian people, but that is a misconception about Israel. Prior to the Six Day War, though this sight was impossible. Jews were not allowed to pray or go to one of its most holy sites, the Western Wall. The Jordanians were controlling it. Now Jews are once again being persecuted, not being allowed to pray at the Temple Mount where the Temple once stood and now the Dome of the Rock stands, another holy site for Jews. During the war this summer supplies were sent into Gaza and hospitals were set up on the borders to help the citizens of Gaza. According to the Israeli Defense Force as of July 9th, 2014 about 1,228 tons of food and three medical trucks were sent into Gaza. These supplies were meant to help the citizens of Gaza. This was all happening while Hamas placed and fired rockets all from within United Nation schools and hospitals. Places to learn, places to heal, places for people to be safe, places that were meant to bring hope to the Palestinian people suddenly were made into places that hurt other people. Along with these bombs, Hamas placed their own people on top of these hospitals and schools.
Israel is not and should never be considered an apartheid state. Palestinians hold seats of power in Israel’s government and have every right to vote. They can own land, go to Israeli public schools, own businesses, take the same public transportation, and serve in the Israeli army. So how can one call Israel an apartheid state when Palestinians can learn, work, and live alongside their fellow people as equal?