Amjad Iraqi’s bad faith is a disturbing one. It is best demonstrated when he chooses, the 2003 order that halted family unification between Palestinians living in Israel, and Palestinian coming to Israel from the WB, Gaza, and elsewhere. As always, he avoids context. Instead he compares it to Israel law of return. A law he describes as giving citizenship to every Jew coming to Israel. The actual law is more of an asylum law than a naturalization law. And it is extended to non-Jews. I added a video that explains it in a good and brief way.
It is a good thing that he brought that law as an argument. To begin with, were does it say that immigration policies are an indicator of apartheid? But even if there is such a clause in international law, Israel doesn’t qualify. As Amjad Iraqi points out, Israel has an immigration law for non-Jews. It is the family unification act. Under this law 130,000 Palestinians immigrated into the state of Israel, from 1994 to 2002. This law still exists today. In 2003 it was blocked to Palestinians. The main reason it was blocked, terrorism.
On the 31st of March 2002, a Palestinian suicide bomber from Jenin blew himself up in the Matza restaurant in Haifa. He murdered 16 Israelis, and injured over 40. He was able to enter Israel because he had an Israeli id card; a blue card he inherited from his mother. She was an Israeli Arab citizen that married a Palestinian from the WB, and moved there to live with him. Their son was a second-generation Israeli citizen of this family unification law. And he was not the only one from these demographics involved in violent activities. He was just the deadliest. There was always some degree of involvement in violent activities against Israel, and Israelis, by Arab citizens of the state. The second-generation Arab Israeli citizens of the family unification law, are over represented in those activities. They are less than 5% of Israeli Arabs, but 15% of the perpetrators, (Hebrew link). These numbers are small, but the lesson of the Matza restaurant attack is that the threat should not be underestimated.
Ignoring this makes the critic dishonest, and hypocritical. As the late Israeli supreme court judge, Michel Chesin, pointed out at the time, Israel is asked to accept emigration from hostile territories that engage in violent activities against its civilians. And that is the whole point. No country in the world was ever held to such a high standard. No country in the world, had ever faced the demand, to accept immigrants from hostile nations. Especially when hostilities were taking place. When Israel was doing so it was going the extra mile on this civil-rights issue, ahead of any democracy on earth. The cost was deadly. In maintaining a secondary civil right for Palestinians, Israeli lives were lost. For Amjad Iraqi, this fact is not worth mentioning. I wonder why?
Israel’s record of not having a clear policy towards Arab civilians is an important argument against the lies and distortions of Amjad Iraqi. But it does not clear Israel from wrong doing towards them. Like most democracies Israel’s record towards its minorities is checkered. On one hand the state gave its Arab population voting rights. One the other hand, many of their communities were under military administration until 1967. Today there is a greater integration of Arab citizens into Israeli society, culturally, and economically. But the economic disparities continue. And, sadly, bigotry is also expressed in various social and official interactions.
The most acute situation exists in East Jerusalem. Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 when it reunified the city, after the victory in the Six Days war. The unification was done for two simple reasons. A divided capital city that is shared with an enemy is under a serious security threat. And East Jerusalem includes the most important places for Judaism, religiously, and nationally. The top of the list includes the Temple Mount, The Western Wall, and the Jewish quarter. However, Israel did not sort out the issue of the Arab residents of the places been annexed. An issue that remains open today. With losers on both sides. The Palestinian Arabs living there found themselves residents of a state they were not its citizens. And Israel found itself with large communities of non-citizens. A fact that undermines its sovereignty there. The most obvious solution, granting citizenship, has its drawbacks for both sides. For Israel there is the risk of incorporating a large hostile population. For the Palestinians the concern is that this will be seen as legitimating Israel’s existence; especially the annexation of East Jerusalem.
This vacuum was filled with substitutes. The Arab residents were allowed to keep their Jordanian citizenship. But this was revoked in 1988, by king Hussain of Jordan. In 1993, following the implementation of the Oslo Accords, they were given the right to vote for the institutions of the PA. But this right became meaningless when these elections ceased to take place.
While other factors contribute to this situation; Israel as the ruler of East Jerusalem, has the responsibility to resolve it. That means finding a solution that won’t be booby-trapped by the political standoff. Think of a left-wing, Israeli politician trying to resolve this. On one hand civil rights values will suggests giving Israeli citizenship to all the Arab residents of East Jerusalem. But that will collide with the ideological position of considering re-dividing the city as a part of a peace deal. Right wing politicians will have to confront something they keep avoiding. What role do they give minorities in a state that define itself as Jewish? In emphasizing their collective identity, they run the risk of othering and alienating local minorities, living alongside them. This is one of the problems with the nation state law. This law, like the city of Jerusalem, creates a focus on this issue, and enhances the problems involved.
Jerusalem brings a great emphasis to a lot of issues on both side. The Palestinians have to come to terms not only with the technical existence of a Jewish state. But also, with the connection Jews and Judaism has with this land; especially Jerusalem. This political deadlock traps everybody. But no one is more affected by it than the Arabs of East Jerusalem. The current position of the Arab residents of East Jerusalem under Israeli law, is that of permanent residents. This is an improvised solution that solved that tried to use a law meant for people from other countries and do not wish to become citizens. Under this law they can vote for the municipality of Jerusalem but not in the general elections. They get welfare services from the Israeli state. And they can travel to any part of the state. But if they stay too long outside of Israel, they can lose this legal status. And since today many of them have no other citizenship, they could become stateless. This legal status also contains a path to Israeli citizenship, with its share of bureaucratic hurdles, enhanced by security concerns and mutual suspicions. Since 1967, around 20,000 residents became Israeli citizens. And around 15,000 lost their residency status, mostly during the 90’s. (This was criticized at the time as been a deliberate policy of expulsion). While the overall population had quadrupled.
This is not the complete picture. The Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are intertwined with this. And the human dimension is missing from this review. But it is a vital perspective. One that has to be be given in order to understand the complexities and dilemmas involved. Especially when facing the fallacies behind Amjad Iraqi’s argument. [East Jerusalem has been the subjects of research and study for quite some time; as do other aspects of Israeli society. Some of it politicized, some of it less so. Therefore, there is no shortness of information on this issue. The purpose of this article is to critic Amjed Iraqi’s accusations against Israel and Zionism.]
To those tempted to call it apartheid here are some challenging facts. The population of Israeli citizens includes Israeli Arabs that are of the same ethnicity and religions as they are. Residency laws exists in many countries on earth. Calling it apartheid is therefore another wide common denominator. This law does not create a fixed condition. While apartheid laws were meant to be perpetual. The apartheid regime in SA created a crisis. This complex situation is caused by a crisis.
Calling it apartheid is like trying to fix a medical condition with a magic potion. Rather than heal, it will make things worse. Just look at Amjad Iraqi’s argument. From all the aspects of the ongoing crisis in East Jerusalem, he chose the 1980 law. This law annexed East Jerusalem to the state of Israel. It was largely a symbolic act, motivated by the connections Israeli Jews have to that part of the city. The actual annexation took place 13 years earlier. All the problem described above begun then. This symbolic law had no effect on the Arab residents of East Jerusalem. It did not made things worse. And it did not made things better. If anything it obligated the Israeli government to take care of all the inhabitants of the city, (item 4a). It expresses the Jewish national identity. Identity that has many of its leading symbols in that part of the city. If this is apartheid, one the most immoral systems of government in modern times, then the very existence of Judaism is equally immoral, and has no right to exist. How does criminalizing an identity, be it Jewish or Palestinian, help resolve the conflict? The conflict can only be resolved through mutual acceptance. Amjad Iraqi does the opposite, he criminalizes one of the identities involved.
In his defense one may argue that it was a random pick. And he could have easily picked other dates in the history of East Jerusalem since 1967. The problem is that it is a part of a pattern. One that is consistent and uniform. Every example he brought is something he and his magazine chose. He is an editor, not just a columnist. What does he find apartheid in the behavior of the settlers? Based on the two examples he brought, it is not how they treat the Arab population around them. He chose two pictures where the settlers are harming no one. And all the service they get from the IDF is the defense of their lives. If there is apartheid, and the settlers are the driving force behind it, then the begging settler would not have begged. He would have ordered the armed soldier next to him to expel the crowd that came to support the elderly Palestinian confronting him. Instead, he is begging. This means that the armed soldier is there not to resolve the dispute, just to keep the settler safe. In choosing these two pictures Amjad Iraqi demonstrates that for him, living, breathing, settlers are apartheid. It is one thing to have a political and ideological opposition to the settlers and the settlements. It is something completely different, wanting them dead.
And it is not just settlers that he wants to see dead. It is every Israeli Jew that he wants to see dead. Each of the examples he brought has its differences. But most of them have one thing in common, they kept Jews alive. The 1950 absentee’s property law did so by solidifying the end of a brutal war. And by helping in absorbing Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Military operations in the WB do it every minute of every day, by preventing terrorist activities. The 2003 act, is the direct result of murderous terrorism. For Amjad Iraqi everything that keeps Jewish Israelis alive, is apartheid. One of the most immoral systems of government in recent history. An evil that must be abolished wherever and whenever it does exist. But that evil is a system of government, not the very existence of human beings. But for Amjad Iraqi that what apartheid is, the very existence of Israeli Jews. For him the very connection Jews have to their holly sites in Jerusalem is also apartheid. This choice not only fit the pattern; it expands its genocidal intention to every Jew on Earth. This is why, we, the Zionist Jews, cannot afford to tire from disproving the apartheid libel. Our lives depend on it. Amjed Iraqi demonstrates that this blood libel isn't just antisemitic, it is genocidal.
From the point of view of the history of blood libels against Jews, this is not unusual. Most of them, if not all, ended in the mass slaughter of Jews. And it happened in the Muslim world just as it happened in the Christian world. What is new is the use of the language of civil right to justify it, and aid it. By twisting facts, and history, he twists the language itself so murder and genocide will become acceptable to those that cherish civil rights and human rights. In doing so he makes the genocide acceptable to those that read uncritically any left-wing literature on human rights. The wide common denominators create the false association between Israel and apartheid SA. The lies and the selective examples extend that association to the very existence of living, breathing Jews in the land of Israel, and beyond. The idea is to make them accept atrocities against Israeli Jews, should they recommence on a massive scale. It happened before. 20 years ago Israelis were subjected to an horrific wave of suicide bombing knows as the second intifada. Nearly every day there was some kind of an attack that murdered several Israeli civilians. It was made possible by pressure from European governments on the Israeli government. That pressure kept Israel from using effectively its armed forces to end the atrocities. The reason Europe helped this mass murder campaign is because its media, along with major sections of its public, bought the language of the Palestinian propaganda. Then it rationalized the war crime as caused by the “occupation.” Now the far nastier charge of apartheid is there to facilitate greater atrocities. The Palestinian armed groups don’t have the means to deliver it. But Hizzbulah, and Iran, with the backing of Russia and China might.
Why did the PA support the Chinese crackdown in Turkestan?
What do they expect in return?
Related links in Hebrew about Jerusalem from the Jerusalem Institute.