While Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians is an important issue, to say that it amounts to apartheid is just not true. The use of the word apartheid suggests a systematic segregation of citizens based on race. The Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza are indeed segregated from Israelis, but the difference is that they aren’t Israeli citizens; they are under an occupation. If Jon Booth considers it apartheid that Israel treats the residents of its occupied territories differently from its own citizens, I suppose the United States is an apartheid state, too, since Iraqis under American occupation don’t enjoy the same rights as U.S. citizens.
Arabs who are citizens of Israel, on the other hand, are completely equal in the eyes of the law. They are free to live where they want, do what they want, and vote how they want. This is nothing like the apartheid of South Africa. In fact, Israel is arguably the most free and democratic place in the Middle East for Arabs to live, given the shameful state of human rights in many Arab countries. If I were a gay Arab, I would much rather be in Israel, which legally protects LGBT citizens from discrimination, recognizes same-sex marriages, and allows gay adoption, than in of one of the many Arab countries where homosexuality is punished with years in prison or death.
I’ve been disappointed lately by the level of hostility coming from pro-Palestinian groups on campus. It’s great that students at McGill are passionate about the welfare of Palestinians, but using inflammatory and inaccurate terms to demonize Israel does their cause more harm than good. If groups like Tadamon! and QPIRG focused less on Israel-bashing and more on bringing people into a reasonable discussion, maybe more moderate students like me would be encouraged to participate.