Israel Is A Democracy

Israel Today

Israel is the only country in the Middle East where all citizens, including Arabs, have representations in the government, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and women's rights. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, a region dominated by authoritarian and military regimes, and stands out as the only country in the region with regular, competitive elections.

It is mandatory that all citizens of Israel, including women, enter the army at 18 years of age. The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel is that the latter are not required to serve in the Israeli army. This is to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren. Nevertheless, Bedouins have served in paratroop units and other Arabs have volunteered for military duty. Compulsory military service is applied to the Druze and Circassian communities at their own request.

Israel Is Not An Apartheid State

Even before the State of Israel was established, Jewish leaders consciously sought to avoid the situation that prevailed in South Africa.

Today, within Israel, Jews are a majority, but the Arab minority are full citizens with voting rights and representation in the government. Under apartheid, black South Africans could not vote and were not citizens of the country in which they formed the overwhelming majority of the population.

The situation of Palestinians in the territories - won by Israel in a defensive war forced upon it by its neighbors - is different. The security requirements of the nation, and a violent insurrection in the territories, forced Israel to impose restrictions on Arab residents of theWest Ban and Gaza Strip that are not necessary inside Israel's pre-1967 borders. The Palestinians in the territories, typically, dispute Israel's right to exist whereas blacks did not seek the destruction of South Africa, only the apartheid regime.

If Israel were to give Palestinians full citizenship, it would mean the territories had been annexed. No Israeli government has been prepared to take that step. Instead, through negotiations, Israel agreed to give the Palestinians increasing authority over their own affairs. It is likely that a final settlement will allow most Palestinians to become citizens of their own state.

Meanwhile, Palestinians from the territories are allowed to work in Israel and receive similar pay and benefits to their Jewish counterparts. They are allowed to attend schools and universities. None of this was true for South African blacks.

The map above is of Modern Day Israel. Click to enlarge it.