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Is Israel An Apartheid State?

Is Israel An Apartheid State?

I am sure most of you have at one time or another heard the accusation, “Israel is an Apartheid State!” This is usually followed up with excuses why you should stand up against it, why movements like BDS is such a great idea. The enthusiasm of these people is great, but I must say, their understanding of what Apartheid is, it is not so great.

If you are going to make such an accusation, and we have all heard such things done in the past, to make it out of ignorance is no excuse, before you label you should have an idea of what facts are. And I must say, if Israel is an Apartheid State, then we and the rest of the world would be 100% correct to stand up against it and force such an evil practice to be halted. 

Before we start to dig too much, I think the most important thing here to do is to look at the actual meaning of what Apartheid is; Webster defines it as:


Racial segregation; specifically : a former policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa .

We see that the definition points out South Africa, and there is a good reason, this is the only nation that has ever instituted the practice as their national policy, so next, let’s look at what they implemented to bring apartheid about. 

Apartheid (South African English pronunciation: /əˈpɑːrtd/; Afrikaans: [aˈpartɦəit], lit. “separateness”) was a system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination that existed in South Africa between 1948 and 1991. It was based on white supremacy and the repression of the black majority (Coloured, African and Indian) of the population for the benefit of the politically dominant group, Afrikaners and other whites. (This is more clearly defined definition by Greg Myre in his article “South Africa ends racial classifcations” published June 18, 1991)

But let’s dig a little deeper, what exactly was apartheid put into a national policy, what was the laws that made this a reality? In South Africa this came down to laws that were put in place to enforce this policy, the first was the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949, this was very much like the same laws that were in place in the Southern States in the US at this time. The law was an apartheid law in South Africa that prohibited marriages between “Europeans” and “non-Europeans”, the same way that anti-miscegenation laws were in place in the US until the Supreme court made them illegal with Loving v. Virginia. While the US did see the error of this, slowly through the courts started to challenge such laws, South Africa actually continued to refine their laws to further discriminate against their Black Population. 

The next law that came on the books was the 1957 Immorality Act ((Act No. 23 of 1957; subsequently renamed the Sexual Offences Act, 1957) this repealed all former intermarriage laws, made any sexual contact between blacks and whites illegal). We see rather than ramp down like the US and much of the Western world, the South Africans chose to ramp up things. 

Next, there was the Population Registration Act, 1950, this forced all people to be registered with authorities where they were classified into one of four groups, these were  “black”, “white”, “coloured“, and “Indian”, the last two of which included several sub-classifications [1].

Next places of residence were determined by racial classifications, if you were not of the right classification you were forcefully evicted from your home and put into camps, this occurred between 1960 to 1983, 3.5 million nonwhite South Africans were removed from their homes and forced into segregated neighborhoods. [2]

This was then followed by stripping all people not white, that were moved into what was then camps of their citizenship [3], with this they lost all their rights as a citizen, their right to vote, to be represented, to own any property, to work in any government job. In addition to this the ones stripped of legal citizen status were also stripped of any right to equal protection under the law, South Africa took care of this by instituting one law for the Whites, then another for the rest of the races, although there were also laws that dealt with Indians, and mixes that gave varying degrees of protection, more then the black population had. 

Is Apartheid Practiced in Israel?

The first thing to look at is if the society is separated under the law so that different races have different laws that apply to them. According to liberal activist groups like Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign they do, but is this correct? If you look at Israel, they have 20% of their citizens that are Arabs, these Arabs are governed under a unified code of laws, there is no difference between what they are subjected under the law and any Israeli Jew is, so in Israel proper that would not hold true.  

But what about the West Bank (we will not concern ourselves about Gaza, they are not under any Israeli control, there is no courts, any Israeli legal authorities within Gaza, so their policies have nothing to do with Israel). In the West Bank settlements that are filled with Israeli citizens, these are governed by Israeli civil law, the area’s outside, where Arabs are not Israeli citizens, these are governed under either Israeli military law or by Palestinian Authority laws, as is stipulated in the Oslo 2 accords.

To say that Palestinians are not ruled by Palestinian law is incorrect, when they are caught in an act of terror, or are caught up in a checkpoint, or by Israeli authorities, sometimes they are passed to the Palestinian Authority courts, if they are involved in terror, then they are processed through Israeli Military courts. The reason for this is simple, the Palestinian Authority openly has not only supported terrorism against Israeli in official statements, they pay out blood money to terrorist while they are in prison, it is highly likely that no justice would be dealt with them if they passed through Palestinian courts. 

As is reported by the Palestinian Authority, their courts consist of:

Palestinian Courts In 2006, there were 37 courts in the WBGS, including:

• 20 Magistrate’s Courts (14 in the WB and 6 in the GS);

• 11 Courts of first instance (8 in the WB and 3 in the GS);

• 3 Courts of appeal, in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Gaza;

• The judicial system also includes the Higher Courts which consist of the High Court of Justice and the Courts of Appeals and Cassation;

• In addition, there are two courts of appeal for income tax, one in the WB and another in the GS.

In 2006, there were 140 judges at the regular courts, with 93 in the WB and 47 in the GS. Among these judges, 14 were women, with 9 of them working in the WB and 5 in the GS.

As we can see, the fiction that there are no courts but military courts for the Arab population simply is not true for the general population, the military courts are reserved for acts of violence, sedition or terror, the rest is handled by the Palestinian Authority courts. This does away with the fiction that there is legal apartheid, just like the US has military courts that deal with territories that are not part of the US where such acts are committed, so does Israel, it makes it no more a practitioner of apartheid then the US is in relation to the law. 

So what about intermarriage, is that illegal? Yes and no, Israel will not marry, that is due to the Rabbi’s are involved in such things, but if you get married elsewhere, they do recognize mixed marriages. There is also the case that each religion is allowed to control its licensing and giving in marriage, thus the Jews, Christians, the Druze, and the Muslims control their own marriages.

The fact that the faiths control the marriage does not make Israel show signs of apartheid, the fact is it is not illegal if you come to the nation already married in a mixed marriage, but if you wish to do so, not so much due to race, this is more a religious mixing, you will have to go elsewhere to have such a thing done. This also would not meet the definition of apartheid. 

Next, you have land ownership, there is no issue with this, as long as you can show deeds, race nor religion has anything to do with this, your ownership is held. There have been cases where the government has seized property for government use, as a rule, this is not under private ownership, to understand this further, I would suggest you look at to the series I wrote, “Did Israel Steal the Ancestral Homes of the Palestinians Part 3,” this shows how the land ownership was broken down under the Ottomans and later the British, why much of the claim of stolen land is not correct. 

The fact is there is no prohibition to purchasing land if you are an Arab, but due to terrorist activities, it is understandable why the Israeli’s don’t allow a hostile people to move in the middle of a Settlement or in an all Israeli Jewish housing project. To have such a practice in place shows no more practice of apartheid then such an act in gated communities show it in the US or in Europe. 

Further, in Israel the right to vote is given to all citizens, race does not matter. In the Israeli Knesset 20% of their members are Arabs voted in by their peers, the third largest political party in Israel is the Joint List, this is an Arab unity party. An Arab could be a Prime Minister if he could put a coalition together, the fact that they have not yet had one shows nothing. The US took over 300 years to get their first Black President, one could hardly accuse the US of apartheid. The claim of discrimination here in any way is false. 

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As to the West Bank and Gaza, they control their own elections, the leaders once elected in have stopped all elections, not Israel, to blame them is outright false, there is no apartheid in this either, well unless you count in the fact that the Arabs will not allow any Jew to live in their controlled zones or to vote. 

Last, the South Africa blacks were not allowed to hold t government job, this simply is not the case in Israel, in the Knesset as we said earlier, 20% of their members are Arab, an Arab Israeli sits on the Supreme Court, he is going to be replaced with the first Muslim Arab on the supreme court ((

Image result for Arab woman in the IDF

But even more, there are Arab mayors, Arabs that have fought and died for Israel in the IDF, in fact, they fill all walks of life, to say an Arab is not able to have a job in an official government function simply due to their race, this is pure nonsense, there is no truth to this. 

The claim of Apartheid has been shown here to be a lie, does not mean it will not be continued to be claimed, the truth is of little concern to the people that want to attack Israel, they would rather tell a lie than deal with the facts that show this is a lie. As Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels said long ago:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” 

We see this with the government of the world that are perpetrating this lie, groups that support it are too happy to go along with it, but as we have shown, when exposed to the truth, the lie quickly is exposed for what it is, A LIE!

I would suggest if you wish to see apartheid in actions, Israel is not the right place to look, instead look at the ones yelling about it. Can anyone tell me how many Jews are allowed to live in Gaza, what about Ramallah? Are any Jews allowed to vote in their elections, to have representation, is there equality in the law afforded to them? This claim is nothing but a projection of what they are doing, they use it to keep the focus of others off of what they are doing, nothing else, if you want to see apartheid, you will never find it in Israel. 

  1. Baldwin-Ragaven, Laurel; London, Lesley; du Gruchy, Jeanelle (1999). An ambulance of the wrong colour: health professionals, human rights and ethics in South Africa. Juta and Company Limited. p. 18
  2. South Africa – Overcoming Apartheid”. African Studies Center of Michigan State University. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  3. Crompton, Samuel Willard (2007). Desmond Tutu: Fighting Apartheid. New York: Chelsea House, Publishers. pp. 34–35. ISBN 978-0791092217.

About The Author

Timothy Benton

Student of history, a journalist for the last 2 years. Specialize in Middle East History, more specifically modern history with the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Also, a political commentator has been a lifetime fan of politics.


  1. Ron Barak

    what was the laws that made this a reality -> what were the laws that made this a reality

  2. Ron Barak

    supported terrorism against Israeli in official statements -> supported terrorism against Israelis in official statements

  3. Ron Barak

    Yes and no, Israel will not marry, that is due to the Rabbi’s are involved in such things, -> Yes and no, Israeli Jews cannot lawfully marry non-Jews, since the marriage has to be officiated by a Rabby (or a Priest for Christians, or a Qadi for Muslims, etc.),

    • user

      This only applies in Israel, if they marry outside of Israel to a none Jew, it is recognized in Israel as a marriage.
      But I will admit I have issue with this.

  4. Ron Barak

    race nor religion has anything to do -> and neither race nor religion has anything to do

  5. Ron Barak

    Israeli’s don’t allow a hostile people to move in -> Israelis don’t allow hostile people to move in



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