Oversimplified apartheid claim
Fadi Kiblawi, in his recent column (“Perspective of Middle East conflict skewed,” Sept. 15, p. 4), tries to assign blame to one side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and label the activities of that side as obvious apartheid. In reality, attempts to point fingers threaten to only prolong the conflict. Contrary to what Kiblawi writes, using dubious logic to oversimplify a complicated matter is not necessarily going to contribute positively to ending the conflict.
First and foremost, Kiblawi simplifies the situation by trying to label Israel’s dealing with the Palestinian people as fitting the definition of apartheid. He says that Israel denies “a member of a racial group the right to life and liberty of person,” and discusses how the right to life and liberty has been taken away from a group of people. Yet Kiblawi fails to show that the group that has had these liberties taken away from them is indeed a racial group. In fact, Israel provides full rights of citizenship to Arab-Israelis within Israel; Arab-Israelis sit on parliament and enjoy full freedom to vote and to practice whatever religion they choose.
Kiblawi does claim that Israel “takes measures calculated to prevent a racial group from participating in the political, social, economic, and cultural life of the country,” and supports his claim by citing an IDI report that states that there is political and economic discrimination against the Arab minority in Israel. But nowhere does Kiblawi show how these discriminations are “calculated.” In fact, the same can be said about the African American and female populations of the United States, but few would claim that our country is an apartheid state.
Israel has undoubtedly taken away certain rights from a specific group, but that group is geographical in nature, not racial. This does not in any way justify Israel’s violent actions against the Palestinian people; it just complicates the topic at hand. The Israeli people and the Palestinian people have been and are at war. The complicated nature of the conflict should be the crux of our intellectual debate on how to bring an end to the fighting and make way for the creation of a Palestinian state. Attempts to oversimplify the matter are fruitless and stand in the way of expeditious resolution of a conflict that has plagued the people of Israel and Palestine for far too long.
-Michael Winn, Law Student