Israel does not practice "apartheid"

By
  • Sarah Brammer-Shlay, University student
May 01, 2012

When discussing the topic of Israel, individuals often get caught up in an extremely one-sided fight. The University of Minnesota is not a strongly politically charged campus, particularly regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Therefore, I truly welcome discussion and dialogue. I lived in Israel for five months last year; I saw both the ugliness and the beauty. Palestinians face daily treatment that we would not want to face ourselves such as waiting in checkpoints sometimes for up to two hours, water inequality and other treatment that should not be experienced in a democracy. I will be the first to admit these inequalities.

However, it is not as some call it “apartheid,” and this term needs to stop being used to describe Israel. Apartheid can be defined as “racial segregation” done through governmental policies. The purpose of the “separation wall” is not to divide two races, as this is not even conceivable in Israel due to the fact that 20 percent of Israel’s population is Israeli-Palestinians and Arabs. Using such strong language that triggers high emotions, like “apartheid,” is dangerous and unproductive in this context. Discrimination is not apartheid, apartheid is not a phrase ever used to describe a current system of discrimination in the United States, and the “apartheid regime” of Israel is simply inaccurate.

I support the self-determination of the Palestinian people. Stating that one aligns itself with the Palestinian people’s cause, though, is troublesome, due to its creation of a dichotomy where individuals are forced to choose a side.

Through personal experience, I can say that is a detrimental way of approaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The complexity and layered history of this region and these peoples are oversimplified when using terms such as apartheid or lumping an entire people’s cause together. Palestinians feel differently regarding the solution to the conflict; a cause insinuates a shared resolution, which is untrue when discussing the Palestinian or any people for that matter.

Therefore, I urge the University of Minnesota to become more engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian situation but in a manner that does not force individuals to “take a side,” ignoring the possibility of another narrative.

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