Israel. The un-apartheid state. A comparison with Australia

The author, Andrew Hamilton, is an Australian solicitor working for Shurat HaDin – The Israel Law Center in Tel Aviv. He recently brought a complaint under Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act against one of the leaders of the BDS movement in Australia, Prof. Jake Lynch of Sydney University. Link: Shurat HaDin


Israel is one of the most un-apartheid states in the world, with a record of successful multiculturalism, protection and integration of minorities that puts most western countries, including Australia, to shame.

The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Movement justifies its racist persecution of Jewish Israeli businesses in Australia, the UK, Europe and North America with the accusation that Israel is an apartheid state.

They like to imagine that their campaign of aggressive protests around tiny retail cosmetics stands and chocolate shops is comparable to the mass protests against the Springbok rugby team that characterized the campaign against South African apartheid in the 1970s and ‘80s.

But the analogy between Israel and apartheid South Africa is false on every level. A comparison of Israel with Australia, a country generally admired for its freedom and successful multiculturalism, reveals this clearly.

As will be demonstrated below, Israel is one of the most un-apartheid states in the world, with a record of successful multiculturalism, protection and integration of minorities that puts most western countries, including Australia, to shame.

APARTHEID SOUTH Africa had a system of strictly enforced laws that enshrined racial discrimination against “blacks” and “coloreds” in every aspect of South African society. This was similar to, but more extreme than, the system of racist laws that Australia had in place prior to the recognition of indigenous Australians as equal citizens in 1967 (by Constitutional amendment).

In contrast to Australia and South Africa’s foundational racism, Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 guaranteed “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.”

Unlike South Africa and Australia, Israel has never had laws that overtly discriminated between citizens on the basis of race.

Today, just like Australia and most western countries, Israel has strong anti-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, land of origin, sex, sexual orientation, political views, personal status or parenthood in a broad range of contexts. Israeli law also prohibits incitement to racism.

These laws are more stringently enforced in Israel than in Australia because of the plethora of NGOs, well funded by the EU, that specialize in searching out and bringing to court any cases of indirect racism against Arabs or Muslims. Unlike Australia, Israel allows NGOs to bring such cases directly to its Supreme Court.

But there is more to the elimination of racism in a society than repealing racist laws and passing laws outlawing racial discrimination. Practical outcomes of successful multi-culturalism and integration of minorities at all levels is the true measure of the elimination of racism in a society.

And it is by this measure that Israel puts Australia and much of the western world to shame.

The practical reality in Israel is that minorities achieve prominent positions at a far higher rate than in Australia.

This is true in all areas of society:

• Politics: In Israel, 10 percent of Israel’s Knesset are from Arab minority groups (Christian, Muslim and Druse).

This includes over 4% from parties with racially mixed composition. This large representation of minorities has been a consistent feature since the early days of the state.

Nawaf Mazalha. Muslim Arab MK

Three members of religious and racial minorities, Nawaf Massalha (Muslim Arab), Salah Tarif and Raleb Majadele (both Druse) have served at ministerial level in the Israeli government, including the latter two as Cabinet ministers.

By contrast, only 1.3% of Australia’s current federal Parliament are from religious minorities (one Muslim and two Jews) and this itself is a huge increase from previous Parliaments that often featured less than 0.5% non-Christian representation. While there have been a similar number of Australian Jews who have served as ministers, no other religious minority has been so represented.

• Judiciary: Israel has a judge from the Arab minority serving on its highest court (Salim Joubran). Sadly, Australia has not had a single High Court judge from a racial or religious minority for over 80 years, since Sir Issac Issacs!

• Military: Israel has three Druse generals currently (or recently) serving in its defence forces (Major-General Yusef Mishleb and brigadier-generals Imad Fares and Hasson Hasson). Disturbingly, it appears Australia has not had a single general from a religious or racial minority for over 80 years, since Sir John Monash! The legislature, judiciary and military are the key sources of hard power in any society and the success of racial and religious minorities reaching these corridors of power is a litmus test of the true openness and lack of racism in a society. Australia’s scorecard on this test compares very poorly to Israel’s.

But success of minorities in areas of soft power is an equally important measure, and here, too, Israel outclasses Australia.

• Socioeconomic Statistics: In Israel the life expectancy, educational attainment and earnings of the Arab minority are on par with, if not better than, that of Arab minorities in virtually all Western European countries, and far above that of other Arabs in the Middle East. In Australia the life expectancy, educational attainment (including basic literacy) and earnings of indigenous Australians is nothing short of appalling, worse than many third world countries.

• Popular Culture: An Israeli Christian Arab, Lina Makhoul, won The Voice Israel this year. In contrast, not a single person from a minority religion has won the equivalent Australian Idol.

Salma Fiomy-Farij, a hijab-wearing Israeli Muslim Arab, came second in this year’s Israeli Master Chef (the winner was a German convert to Judaism).

In Australia Master Chef has not had a single winner from a religious or racial minority.

THUS BY both legal and practical measures Israel is a less racist country than Australia and as far from apartheid South Africa as any country could possibly be. Israel truly is an un-apartheid state, one of the freest, most open and non-racist societies in the world.

The false accusations and Israeli Jew-targeting protests of the Australian BDS movement are not only racist and anti- Semitic, they are also completely hypocritical when Australia has so far to go to overcome its own racist past.

Originally published at the Jerusalem Post. Here

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7 comments

  1. It’s so ridiculous to call Israel an apartheid state that you’d think no intelligent person would fall for this falsehood. So why are so many in the media and academia happy to jump on the ‘apartheid Israel’ bandwagon? These people are supposedly not stupid, so what can be motivating them?

    I believe that it is pure anti-Semitism by the prime movers, but that because it is couched in terms of human rights, many otherwise rational people feel obliged to continue the lie, as they don’t want to be seen to be lacking in compassion.

  2. Yeh Israel is a real apartheid state it has Arab/ Muslim Political parties, Arab/ Muslim politicians[ most of which side with the enemy ] ,Arab/Muslim news papers, Mosques , freedom of religion, Arab /Leftist Israeli anti- Israel organizations , Israelis can view Al Jazeera and other Arab News sites go Figure ?

  3. There is an error in the article re winners of Masterchef Australia never being of minority ethnic extraction:

    Adam Liaw (born 8 September 1978) is an Australian lawyer and television chef. He was the winner of the second series of MasterChef Australia, defeating student Callum Hann in the final.[1]

    Liaw is the son of a Malaysian-born Chinese father, Dr Siaw-Lin Liaw,[2] and a Singaporean-born English mother, Dr Joyce Hill AM.[3] He is the second of three children, with an older brother Aron, and younger sister Amber Dawn. After his parents divorced and his mother moved to New Zealand, Liaw lived with his paternal grandmother Kwei-Eng Chew, whom he credits with a huge influence on his cooking and his life.[4]

    Liaw completed Year 11 at Prince Alfred College at age 14 and enrolled in university at 16. He graduated with a double degree in Science and Law from the University of Adelaide at 21.[5]

    After graduation Liaw was employed by Kelly & Co Lawyers in Adelaide where he worked in technology, commercial / corporate law, business advisory and international trade. He was also a committee member, legal adviser and secretary of the Hong Kong Australia Business Association,[6] assisting South Australian companies to expand their business into Hong Kong and mainland China.[7]

    In 2004 Liaw moved to Japan where he worked in media law for The Walt Disney Company.[8]

    • There’s no point putting that on here, Andrew won’t see it. I suggest you make comment on the Jerusalem Post web site, or send it to Shurat HaDin, to be forwarded. Litsana will do that for you. I have his email address but won’t give it out without permission.

  4. Sadly, it doesn’t matter that there is overwhelming evidence that Israel is not an apartheid state and that every Arab country is an aparthied state. Bigots don’t want evidence when they realise propaganda is much more effective in influencing people.

  5. And yet , I’d venture that Israel could be seen as an apartheid state.
    Save for all the realities listed here by which not only Jews may advance in any field of activity in Israel, except for being “anointed”” Rabbis and President , any Israeli citizen or not quite so, would be proscribed from his/her freedoms in a classic apartheid fashion if:

    – he/she does engage in any criminal activity, say blow up busses, cars, ice cream parlors, hair dressing salons, pretzel vending carts, say ANYTHING. He/she who intends or succeeds in such activities would be somehow proscribed. This is , most definitely a SINGULAR, particularly oppressive measure, found ONLY in oppressive Israel. I am not saying that such stuff DID happen, G-d forbid, but I understand why certain people would call Israel an apartheid state if such IMPOSSIBLE occurence escaped their astute intellect.

    – non Israeli citizens attempt to enter the State of Israel using false documents or no documents at all. Unlike what goes on at Sydney Int’l Airport, for instance, where there are NO passport/visa controls, Israel, just to engross the apartheid type regime, Israel constantly attempts to impede those who, for reasons of their own, wish to enter another state defiant of the draconic Israeli singular – again- terrorist rules of so called border control.

    All I am saying is that we should be a lot more tolerant and accommodate other people’s views, opinions, no matter how incredibly absurd, idiotic they are. ( I didn’t say people, that would be the biggest “NO NO” they call “ad hominem” in Hungarian or whatever, I only said ” views and opinions” ). I know what I am talking about, just ask Vivienne Porzsolt or that old lady Green or grey hair Senator, whatshername…………………