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Monday, June 10, 2013

On Apartheid and Cheeseburgers

Recently Alicia Keys –a singer I rarely listen to her music- was called upon to cancel her upcoming tour in Saudi Arabia and to join the international boycott campaign against Saudi Arabia on the claim that Saudi Arabia is an apartheid state that should not get away with its criminal conduct.

Yes dear reader, you guessed correctly; this was merely a joke, an ironical version of what is really happening. The truth is that no one is boycotting Saudi Arabia, and of course Alicia Keys is too sexy for Saudi Arabia, and unfortunately no one in the international community is accusing Saudi Arabia of apartheid. But for me it’s more than irony, it is what should be happening in place of the current ridiculous show that is taking place; as usual someone is calling for boycotting the Jewish state. The traditional image is usually otherwise, an Arab attacking Israel and calling for a total boycott on the apartheid state, while some non-Arab defending Israel.  But now you get the luxury to witness the ironical abstract of non-Arabs attacking Israel and an Egyptian Arab defending it.

Calls for a boycott against Israel are as old as Israel itself, the Arab world decided to boycott Israel since the moment the Jewish State was born. The new thing however, is the major campaign in western democratic states to do so which started to grow since the 90s. The essential claim for the boycott has always been that Israel is an apartheid state that should be encouraged, supported or dealt with in anyway. One is really sorry to hear the echo of these words from prominent scientific figures like Stephen Hawking, and artistic ones like Roger Waters –one of my most favorite musicians.


Israeli MacDonald's menu lacking any cheesy item
I find those claims of Israel being an apartheid state to be absurd and ridicules. The only sort of apartheid that I may accuse Israel with is the horrible segregation between cheese and burgers to conform with kosher food laws. This is not just lasagna we are talking about here, this is the good old double double. Many MacDonald's branches in Israel do not offer dairy products along with the meet and moreover they do their burgers of charcoal. Yet, we cant really call that a successfully implemented apartheid for its still not hard at all to get some cheeseburgers. But, any good fan of American food would still find this no cheese of meet policy to be discriminatory. 
Now back to the serious apartheid boycott campaign. This campaign was lead, designed and orchestrated by Arabs who hate Israel, Arabs who hate the Jewish people and celebrate Herr Hitler in many occasions. Countries like Sweden and Belgium already having wide scales boycotts in the country. Voices in the UK, France, Germany and the US are calling for a complete cultural, educational and educational boycott of Israel. Honestly I don’t know if it is the oil money that is causing the trouble, but I will discuss that allegation to best of my knowledge and convictions.


What is the legal definition of Apartheid?

According to the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid for a situation to be identified as such it should include some basic elements and practices like the ones used to be in South Africa, mostly of discriminatory nature which can be summed in the following:
1.      Denial to member/s of a racial group the right to live (murder, torture, physical harm etc.)
2.      Imposition of a racial group aiming to eventually eliminate their physical existence.
3.      Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, to leave, to freedom of speech, to nationality etc.
4.      Any measures, legislative not, designed to separate a population based on racial or ethnic lines, creating ghettos and such.
5.      Forced labor.
6.      Persecution of anyone opposing apartheid. (http://untreaty.un.org/cod/avl/ha/cspca/cspca.html)

Does any of the above apply to the state of Israel? Definitely not.
Since its birth, the deceleration of independence clearly stated that that the State of Israel would ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex, and guaranteed freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.
Arabs living inside the state of Israel have full citizenship and are able to practice full political rights, they have political parties, they join the parliament as full members and they have the right to vote in any elections. There are no measures in Israel that can apply to the term “an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group". Israeli Arabs form 20.5% of Israeli total population; over 1,617,000 persons. As a matter of fact there are more Arabs in Israel than there are in some Arab countries like Bahrain and Qatar. Arabs in Israel enjoy many human rights that almost all residents of the Arab world are deprived from like freedom of religion. There are no laws in Israel which discriminate between the Arab citizen and the Jewish citizen. Arabs have been living in Israel since the establishment of Israel, they were able to leave to any other Arab country of their choice but they never did, instead many of them chose to serve in the Israeli Army.
There are four main Arab political parties in Israel; Hadash (which is a joint Jewish Arab party), Balad, Ta’al, HaRshima HaAravit HaMe’ochedet. The Arabs also have large political non-party movements like the Islamic Movement. There are currently 10 Arab members in the Israeli Knesset. There has not been a single one Knesset in the history of Israel that had no Arab members. Many Arabs served in high positions in the Israeli government as ministers. Majalli Wahba in 2007 became the first Arab president of the State of Israel.
The state of Israel has always taken measures to make sure that its Arab citizens are well represented even in its civil service. For example in 2004 Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared that every state run company had to have at least an Arab on its board of directors.
Arab judges have served in the Supreme Court of Israel since 1999. Israel has appointed Arab diplomats 
Arab Israeli IDF soldiers, Tel Aviv 1949
and ambassadors. Arabs have always formed special brigades in the Israeli Army voluntarily and many Arabs held high ranks like Major General Hussein Fares. Arabic language is recognized as an official language of the state of Israel.
It is true that Arabs in Israel may face some challenges regarding a sort of non mainstream social discrimination in the Israeli society, but those challenges are not much different than the ones faced by Englishmen of African origins in the UK, African Americans and Hispanics and the US, or many other groups in the modern world which can never apply to the term of apartheid. It is a social problem that exists in nearly every human society, and the state of Israel tried hard to maintain a free, democratic and equal society. The people should of Israel should be proud to be citizens of a state that banned an outlawed the racist Jewish group of Kach, a group which called for Jewish supremacy and expulsion of Arabs. The Israeli government officially considered the ideas as terrorist and racist, banning them once and for all and detaining most of the movement leaders.
The Israelis are doing their best to make their state democratic and free, facing many difficult problems of demographic threats, terrorism and a hostile neighborhood. Yet the Israelis are trying to make sure that every citizen of Israel gets the same rights regardless of their religion or race. It is better for the world to encourage the Israelis to make further remarkable achievements on the the situation of their Arab citizens not to boycott them. Boycotting Israel for a false reason will not lead to a resolution to the problems of Israel but to a more tense and troubled atmosphere.
The other concern might not be Israeli Arabs, but the Arabs who live in the occupied territories. Not only me but many other great Israeli Jews know and state that inequality and injustice do exist in the West Bank. The lives of the Palestinians in the west bank are full of problems related to IDF checkpoints and settlements. But we have to admit that none of those Israeli actions are rooted in the Israeli legislative system, but unfortunately stem from security threats and concerns of terrorist activities, not based on racist bias agenda. The apartheid state of South Africa was a legally segregated society with laws that officially discriminate inhumanly between the white and the black residents of the country. The state of Israel is not. The problems of the residents of the West Bank are the problems of any population living in a conflict zone. A conflict which boycott will only strengthen.

Still think it is an apartheid state?


In a survey made in 2000 by Kul Al-Arab, an Arabic newspaper in Israel, 83% of the Arab Israeli residents of Um Al-Fahm preferred to stay in Israel in case a Palestinian state was established in the future. 54% of those said they prefer to stay in a democratic country with high living standards, 18% said that they were totally satisfied with their present situation and they do not want to move. (Kul Al-Arab (Nazareth, Israel), 28 July 2000, cited in "Um Al-Fahm Prefers Israel", by Joseph Algazy, Haaretz, 1 August 2000.)

If you still think that Israel is an apartheid state after this, then either the Israeli government have mastered some hypnotization techniques that made those Arabs want to live in such a horrible state, or that Israeli Arabs are the largest group of patients in recorded history to suffer from Stockholm syndrome. Or maybe me dear reader, somebody has just been lying to you and to the whole world.

On the other hand other Arab countries actively and many times legally discriminate against citizens based on religion, race, gender and ethnic group. I’m so sorry that the legal definition of apartheid does not include “gender” because of so, I’m sure that Saudia Arabia would be on the top list. Saudia Arabia a country that discriminates and dehumanizes women. A woman in Saudia Arabia can’t be responsible or legally accountable for herself, she has to have a male guardian.  Women cannot vote or be elected in the consultative assembly. Women are legally prohibited from driving. Women are required to avoid men, not to
deal with them and to cover their bodies totally in black sheets. Women are prohibited from entering many public places like malls, markets, restaurants, movies, gyms, governmental offices. Males and females are segregated everywhere. A woman in Saudi Arabia hold very limited economic rights; her right to a private property is limited to a male guardian approval. Saudi women are prohibited to practice many sports to the extent that Saudi Arabia has no female delegation in the Olympics. Before 2010 women were not entitled to get identification cards or official documents. Saudi Arabia is a country that has taken clear legislative measure to insure a male dominant regime and male domination in all aspects of life degrading the life of women to some very hard circumstances. For me, regardless of the international community, this is a straightforward apartheid state. I wish that Prof. Hawking and the other respectful figures of science and art would launch a campaign as furious as the one launched against Israel to boycott the oil money of this inhumane country. But well all know that oil money is too important for all of us, so we know that it will never happen. Saudi Arabia will keep discriminating women and other non-Sunnah minorities living there. And not only Saudi Arabia, talk to me about the Copts in Egypt, the non-Muslims in Iran, the non-Arabs in the Sudan, tell me what did the world do for those harshly discriminated minorities? Nothing, the Arabs in Israel are living their daily lives normally like all Israelis enjoying healthcare, political rights, civil freedom and economical stability, while those minorities all over the middle east are persecuted and discriminated, yet Israel is the one to be considered an apartheid state?! Damn you oil money.

3 comments:

  1. thank you, shukran....

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  2. Great article for all those "apartheid" junkies .. do you have a Twitter account???

    ReplyDelete