What Apartheid? Israeli Arabs Reject Palestinian Identity—and Overwhelmingly Identify as Israelis
Dear Friend of FLAME:
An Israeli mother posts on her Facebook page a photo of Muslim-Israeli and Jewish-Israeli healthcare professionals dancing together at a Hadassah Hospital staff function and writes the caption, “How dare anyone call my country an apartheid state? If Jews are so horrible to Muslims, why do they work here, send their children to Israeli schools and dance with us? These Muslims are happy and thriving in Israel.”
Indeed, a new poll by the Jewish People Policy Institute provides proof that most non-Jewish Israelis identify with Israel—not the 'Palestinians'—and are content living there. Here are some facts:
A massive majority—85%—of non-Jews in Israel feel comfortable being themselves in Israel
Fully 23% of non-Jews in Israel identify as Israeli (up from 5% in 2019), and 51% identify as Arab Israeli (up from 48% last year)—that’s 74% who have a positive Israeli identity.
A paltry 7% of non-Jews in Israel identify as Palestinian —down from 18% just last year.
Some 91% of non-Jews disagree that to be a “real Israeli,” you must be Jewish
If Arab Israelis are increasingly assuming an Israeli identity, how can proponents of BDS accuse Israel of being an apartheid state?
First, the Israel haters don’t say that the Arab Israelis are second-class citizens—because that’s indisputably false.
Rather, it’s because, strangely, instead of supporting the right (and responsibility) of the Palestinian people to determine their own destiny, the BDS crowd holds Israel responsible for Palestinian destiny.
The BDSers argue that Israel—and the Trump peace proposal—want to isolate the Palestinians into small areas, either disconnected from one another or linked only by narrow land bridges.
This argument is absurd, of course.
The United Nations, Israel and the U.S. have proposed a completely integrated Palestinian state in 97% of Judea-Samaria (the West Bank), plus Gaza—with a capital in Jerusalem—numerous times. However, the Palestinians have rejected this opportunity for sovereignty every single time.
As geopolitics have changed dramatically since Israel’s last peace proposal in 2008—with the growth of al Qaeda and ISIS, Hamas’ violent seizure of Gaza, the Syrian civil war, plus Iran’s takeover of the Lebanese terror group Hizbollah and its increased imperialism in the Middle East—Israel’s willingness to risk allowing yet another avowed enemy on its borders has understandingly vanished.
But that is precisely the threatening option Israel faces from terrorists supported by the Palestinian Authority in Judea-Samaria or by thousands of missiles launched by Hamas in Gaza.
Both these groups obstinately refuse to recognize the Jewish state and both have continued their incitement to terrorist violence against Israeli civilians for decades.
In the meantime, in recent years, Israelis have increasingly expanded or established new communities in Judea-Samaria, their ancient Jewish homeland. Today some half a million Israelis live in these disputed territories.
Remember, these are not “Palestinian territories”—the Palestinians have never had sovereignty over an inch of the Holy Land.
Jewish communities in Judea-Samaria help create more living space for Israel’s rapidly growing population, now over nine million. They also increase Israel’s security, which has always been precarious—even life-threatening. Current borders leave Israel with a narrow geographical “waist” of just nine miles in width between the Mediterranean and Jerusalem’s eastern city limits—making it virtually indefensible.
In short, the arc of recent Middle East history—and Palestinian recalcitrance—have simply forced previous offers of a Palestinian state—in all of Judea-Samaria, connected with Gaza—to be taken off the table. Past offers will not be repeated.
At the same time, Arabs living within Israel have grown comfortable with the equality, liberty, professional opportunities and prosperity they enjoy as Israeli citizens. Who would not?
Israel has become one of the most successful nations on earth, let alone among those only 72 (or even 100) years old. For most Arabs living in Israel, it’s a dream come true—with advantages unattainable anywhere in the Middle East or in most other parts of the world.
Israel’s two-million-plus Arab citizens are simply the most economically successful and politically free Arabs on earth. As they further embrace their Israeli identity, their lot only continues to improve.
On the other hand, Israel’s neighboring states (Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Turkey) and non-state entities, like Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, have either disintegrated or become increasingly belligerent . . . or both.
In short, Israel does not owe the Palestinian Arabs a state, especially when over decades—after billions of dollars of international aid—they have failed to build a political and economic infrastructure capable of supporting one. Especially when they have rejected every offer from Israel and the U.S. of land for peace. Especially when they continue to promote Israel’s destruction.
If the Palestinians are left with an ever-diminishing territory—or discrete enclaves—in Judea-Samaria, this is not apartheid. Rather, it’s the natural result of shrinking possibilities due to one fact only: The failure of Palestinian leaders to seize many generous opportunities history has presented to them.
I hope that as you discuss Israel’s relationship to its Arab citizens with friends, family and colleagues, you’ll emphasize the high level of satisfaction the overwhelming majority of Arab-Israelis feel toward their country. Please also clarify that there is no apartheid in Israel, and that Palestinian rulers are solely responsible for their statelessness on territory they control.
Jim Sinkinson President, Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME)