In Apartheid South Africa from 1948 to 1994, racist laws and policies severely oppressed the black majority population. The government explicitly classified and segregated South Africans by race, restricting where people could live, work, attend school, etc based on skin color. The black majority could not vote, hold office, or legally protest against the system. They faced arbitrary arrest, forced removals from homes, and restrictions on movement through internal pass laws and segregated public facilities. South Africa’s white minority government promoted racism, punishment and exploitation.
In the USA under Jim Crow laws in many U.S. states, rigid segregation was legally enforced between white and black Americans in all public facilities from the late 19th century until the 1960s civil rights movement.
In transportation, black people had to sit in designated separate railroad cars, streetcars, and sections of buses. Waiting rooms, train platforms and airport facilities were segregated.
In education, black and white children attended separate public schools and colleges. Black facilities received far inferior resources and funding.
Restaurants, drinking fountains, public restrooms, hotels, theaters and other venues were segregated by race with blacks excluded or given inferior accommodations. Signs often specified “Whites Only” or “Colored” areas.
Public swimming pools, parks, beaches and recreational facilities were segregated, usually denying access to black citizens entirely.
State and municipal codes prohibited interracial sports, dancing, concerts, cohabitation and marriage.
This pervasive and degrading segregation system denying equality to African-Americans was upheld by discriminatory courts and enforced by threat of arrest, fines, intimidation or violence. The civil rights movement eventually repealed these unjust Jim Crow laws through prolonged advocacy and courageous activism.
Now compare this to the condition of a Israel’s 2 million Arabs.
– Arabs make up about 20% of Israel’s population. They have full voting rights and some even serve in the Israeli parliament.
– Arab citizens have equal legal rights and protections under the law. They can own property, live where they choose, receive healthcare and social services, file grievances in court, etc.
– Arabs participate in civil society as activists, journalists, business owners, professionals, and more. Some have risen to positions like Supreme Court justices, diplomats, and directors of hospitals.
– The official languages of Israel are Hebrew and Arabic. Road signs, currency, and public services are often available in both languages.
And here’s the remarkable case of an Arab Judge who sent a Prime Minister of Israel to jail.
Salim Joubran served as a permanent justice on the Israeli Supreme Court from 2003 to 2017. He was the first Arab to join the court in a permanent capacity.
In 2012, Joubran was one of a three-judge panel that convicted former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of breach of trust. It was the first time in Israel’s history that a sitting or former prime minister was convicted of a crime.
The conviction stemmed from a real estate corruption case against Olmert during his term as mayor of Jerusalem years earlier. Joubran’s inclusion on the panel and support of Olmert’s conviction demonstrated the independence of Israel’s judiciary and its willingness to prosecute senior government officials impartially regardless of ethnicity or religion.
While there are many examples that explain how different Israel is from South Africa or the US until the 60s the case of an Arab Judge sending a Jewish PM to jail illustrates a reality incompatible with a concept of an Apartheid state.