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US Black Students Demand Arabs Stop Calling Israel Apartheid

An African-American student group in the U.S. is standing up against use of the term “apartheid” to blast Israel.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/10/2011, 10:08 PM / Last Update: 4/11/2011, 12:15 AM

The African-American student organization Vanguard Leadership Group is standing with Israel when it comes to use of the term “apartheid.” The term is “false and deeply offensive” when applied to Israel, the group said in advertisements published on Thursday.

The Vanguard Leadership Group spoke out in response to “apartheid” claims from the group Students for Justice in Palestine. Under an ad titled, “Words matter,” the group said, “We request that you immediately stop referring to Israel as an apartheid society and to acknowledge that the Arab minority in Israel enjoys full citizenship with voting rights and representation in the government.”

“It is highly objectionable to those who know the truth about the Israelis' record on human rights and how it so clearly contrasts with South Africa's,” the group said.

Students for Justice in Palestine “has chosen to manipulate rather than inform with this illegitimate analogy,” Vanguard Leadership said. “Decency, justice, and the hope of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East compel us to demand an immediate cessation to the deliberate mischaracterizations of Israel.”

Ceasing use of the term “apartheid” when discussing Israel would be a “first step toward raising the level of discourse,” the letter concluded.

Anti-Israel groups have long accused Israel of being an “apartheid state,” borrowing the term from South Africa, where for many decades a small white minority ruled the black majority by force. Racial discrimination was enforced by law, and black residents were denied citizenship, given inferior public services, barred from using white theaters, pools, churches, and other facilities, and judged under different laws.

In Israel, Arabs and other non-Jewish minorities are full citizens, with the same rights and obligations as any other Israeli. One exception is the fact that Arab citizens are not required to serve in the IDF, although they are allowed to do so, and a handful choose to enlist.

Palestinian Authority Arabs are not granted rights as citizens because they do not wish to become citizens, but rather, hope to create a new Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Similarly, Israelis have no rights under PA law, and in fact, are forbidden to own land or even to enter PA-controlled areas.