Israelis Should Avoid Using Term 'Apartheid'

Discrimination Exists But No Enforced System of Segregation

Separate But Not Equal: Comparisons drawn between Israeli and apartheid policies are facile and misleading.
Getty Images
Separate But Not Equal: Comparisons drawn between Israeli and apartheid policies are facile and misleading.

By Philologos

Published November 05, 2012, issue of November 09, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

“Most Israelis support an apartheid regime [mishtar apartheid] in Israel,” announced the lead headline in the October 23 issue of the left-liberal Hebrew daily Haaretz, Israel’s most internationally prestigious newspaper. “Survey: Most Israeli Jews advocate discrimination against Arab citizens,” was the translation of this headline in the same day’s English edition of the paper.

Any way you look at it, it’s shocking — though, as we shall see in a minute, not quite true. Nevertheless, “apartheid” and “discrimination” are two very different things. “Apartheid,” a word first used in its now accepted sense in Afrikaans in 1929, means the systematic segregation of one people, race or group from another, such as existed in South Africa until 1990 and in the American South, where it was commonly known as “Jim Crow,” until the early 1960s.“Discrimination” means the systematic favoring of one people, race or group over another, such as exists in numerous countries around the world today. Did the English Haaretz simply mistranslate the Hebrew Haaretz’s headline — or did it justifiably correct it?

Let’s look at the Haaretz survey. Here are some of its findings:

When a sample of Israeli Jews was asked whether there was “apartheid” (the question was posed in Hebrew, using that word) in Israel, 39% said there was “some,” 19% said there was “a lot,” 31% said there was “none” and 11% had no opinion. Asked whether Israeli Jews should be given “priority” over Israeli Arabs for government jobs, 59% said “yes” and 34% said “no.” Asked whether there was anti-Arab discrimination (aflaya) in the Israeli workplace, 50% agreed there was and 29% thought there wasn’t. Asked whether they would deny Arab citizens of Israel the right to vote, 59% said they would not, 33% said they would. Asked whether they would object to an Arab living in their building, 53% said they would not, 42% said they would. Asked whether they would object to Arab children being in their child’s class in school, 49% said they would not, 42% said they would.

Other questions in the survey had to do with attitudes toward Palestinians in the occupied territories, but the answers to these are more subject to different interpretations. What are the conclusions that can be drawn from those given here? Here are a few:

1) A majority of Israeli Jews is in favor of anti-Arab discrimination in some areas, such as government hiring. A majority is against it in other places, such as the ballot box.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.