As a movement we recognise the legitimacy of Palestinian nationalism just as we recognise the legitimacy of Zionism as a Jewish nationalism. We insist on the right of the state of Israel to exist within secure borders, but with equal vigour support the Palestinian right to national self-determination.Martin Luther King, Jr.: "The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist ..."
Yasser Arafat recognizes a Jewish state (Israel) as well as a Palestinian state:
In The Apartheid Smear, Alan Johnson, a member of the Dissent magazine editorial board and Senior Research Fellow at BICOM, the British Israel Communications and Research Centre, an organization that "believe[s] in the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, just as we believe in the rights of the Palestinians to statehood," takes on the claim, persistently peddled by some among us, that Israel is an apartheid state.
Although I do not agree with every argument or nuance of Professor Johnson's pamphlet, and have inserted a few italicized criticisms, [like this], I think it well worth bringing to the community's attention. I continue to hope, not only in the achievability--soon, in our days--of a two-states-for-two-peoples peace settlement, but also in the possibility of a substantive, civilized discussion of different opinions and viewpoints.
That said, here is a substantial selection from the Executive Summary. Note that permission to reproduce is granted "with due accreditation to BICOM".
Why Israel Is not an Apartheid State
• Israel is not an apartheid state for the 20 per cent of its citizens who are Arabs, as is sometime claimed. Although they are critical of a range of discriminations and inequalities, 77 per cent of the Arab citizens of Israel say that they prefer living in Israel to any other country in the world.
• Israel is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic democracy. The Arab, Druze and other minorities in Israel are guaranteed equal rights. All citizens vote in elections on an equal basis. Discrimination based on race is against the law. The universities are integrated. Some Israeli towns and cities are mixed Arab-Jewish (e.g. Acre, Haifa, Jaffa, Lod and Ramle). The Israeli Courts are effective in countering unfair discrimination. Israel’s Arab minority participates fully in the political process.
• Israel’s Arab citizens also hold some collective rights as a national minority. Arabic is Israel’s second official language, and there is a thriving Arabic mass media, literature and theatre scene.
• The Israeli government is working to reduce the gaps between the minority and majority. Especially since the Or Commission of 2000, Israel has been closing the
economic gaps, opening up the civil service, equalising welfare, introducing Arabic into Jewish schools, and improving access to higher education.
Zionism is not Racism
• The Apartheid Smear says that Zionism is a form of racism. It isn’t. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, calling for the restoration of sovereign Jewish life in the land of Israel after 2000 years of exile and persecution. The persecution of Jews was a constant of European life culminating in the Holocaust.
• Mainstream Zionists always believed that a non-Jewish minority would live alongside the Jewish people. Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948 promised the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel ‘full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.’
• The right of the Jewish people to create a national home in Palestine was recognised by the British in the 1917 Balfour Declaration, and then approved by the League of Nations (the forerunner of the United Nations) in 1922. In 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved the partition of Mandate Palestine into ‘Independent Arab and Jewish States.’
• In 1948 the Jewish community declared the establishment of Israel in line with this UN resolution. Five Arab armies immediately invaded. The Palestinian refugee problem was born of war, not by design. Reaching a just and agreed resolution of the refugee question is rightly central to the peace process.
Being a ‘Jewish State’ does not Make Israel an Apartheid State
• ‘Jewish state’ does not mean that Israel is a theocracy (rule by clerics) or a state exclusively for Jews. Israel is a democracy, governed by the rule of law as drafted by an
elected parliament, the Knesset. All faiths vote. All enjoy freedom of worship. The Declaration of Independence explicitly provides for the protection of minorities.
• Yes, Israel is the national home of the Jewish people. But many states around the world are both national homelands for a majority ethnic or racial group and democracies. Such states are still democracies because of their systems of government and because the rights of the minority are protected.
Israel and the Territories
• Since 1967 Israel has occupied the West Bank after winning the Six Day War against Arab armies that were once again massed on its borders, intent on ‘driving the
Jews into the sea.’
• The occupation persists 47 years later not because Israel wants to rule over the Territories but because peace talks – in which Israel seeks recognition and security
guarantees in return for the creation of Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank – have failed thus far. [This is true only as far as it goes. It ignores, for example, the vital difference between administering occupied territory pending a peace settlement and the actual existing occupation.]
• Israel’s actions in the Territories that are mis-labelled ‘apartheid’ – such as the so-called ‘apartheid Wall’ – are actually security measures. Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians reached unprecedented heights during the Second Intifada (2000-2004). [This is simplistic. It is true that neither the actions nor the barrier qualify as apartheid measures. And, in all events, they speak to the character of the occupation, not to the State of Israel itself. But Israel could have routed the security barrier more or less along the Green Line, as the original, "peace camp" proponents of the barrier advocated. The fact that much of the land on the western side of the barrier is likely to end up in Israel following a peace settlement, with Palestine compensated by land swaps, doesn't alter the fact that the barrier does more than help protect the security of the State of Israel.]
• Israel does not give Israeli citizenship to West Bank Palestinians because they do not wish to become subject to Israeli law. They want their own state, and Israel is prepared to make an agreement on that basis. [A significant minority of Israelis, with strong representation in the current governing coalition, neither is prepared to support an agreement that would enable the Palestinians to have their own state alongside Israel, nor is willing to grant Palestinians in the West Bank Israeli citizenship. Whether or not their minority vision for the future fully qualifies as apartheid, it is insupportable.]
• Israel’s does not simply walk out of the West Bank without any peace deal or security guarantees because in recent experience, Israeli withdrawal from territory
(south Lebanon in 2000 and the Gaza Strip in 2005) has led to Iranian-backed extremists taking over and using the territory as a base to attack Israel. So Israel seeks a negotiated solution. [Perhaps Israel would have achieved a more satisfactory result if it had withdrawn from the Gaza Strip in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, rather than unilaterally. Regardless, just a Palestinian words and deeds affect Israeli public opinion, so, too, do Israeli words and deeds affect Palestinians.]
• Israel is serious about dividing the land through negotiations. In 1937, 1947, 1967, 2000, 2001, and 2008 Israel made or accepted proposals to divide the land. It has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. Every Israeli government since 2000 has endorsed the creation of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state in a two state solution. The Israeli people back the two state solution by a solid two-thirds majority. [Yes, but there is reason to question Netanyahu's sincerity. One test will be whether the Israeli government, and the Palestinian Authority-PLO, for that matter, accept Secretary Kerry's forthcoming U.S. framework for a peace settlement. If Netanyahu does so, his current governing coalition most likely will break up. But Labor has indicated a willingness to join the government to support a real peace process; parties to the left of Labor most likely won't vote to bring down a government engaged in a serious peace process; and Shas, the ultra-Orthodox, Sephardi party also might join a reconfigured government.]
• The pamphlet challenges some powerful myths about the Territories. For example, settlements have not killed the two state solution: a final peace settlement is expected to see the restitution of almost all of the West Bank to the Palestinians. The exceptions – the land along the ‘Green Line’ that contains about 80 per cent of the settlers – will be compensated by ‘land swaps’, a principle which has already been agreed with the Palestinian negotiators, and is endorsed by President Obama and the EU and, since April 2013, the Arab League.
The Apartheid Smear Damages the Peace ProcessHere's hoping that we can unite in support of American, Israeli, and Palestinian efforts to achieve a two-states-for-two-peoples peace settlement; that we can demonstrate, both here and outside dKos, that it is possible, by being pro-peace, to be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine; and that, even if we disagree, we can discuss with civilly and with a decent respect for all concerned.
The Apartheid Smear works against peace. It poisons hopes for a peaceful resolution of this national conflict by encouraging extremists, demoralizing moderates, and fostering a destructive 'boycott' activism in the West.
The Apartheid Smear and the linked BDS campaign consume energies that should be invested in a different kind of activism; pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli: pro-peace. Many organisations do just that, by bringing Israelis and Palestinians together, including One Voice, Parents Circle - Families Forum (PCFF), MEET (Middle East Education Through Technology), and The Peres Center for Peace.