Israel is not an apartheid state | READER COMMENTARY

In his recent letter to the editor, Charles Cooper falsely labels Israel as an apartheid state (”Israel remains an apartheid state,” June 7).

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a complicated issue with diverse interpretations and narratives. Pro-Palestinian groups claim Israel as an apartheid state, repressing and killing Palestinians in the disputed territories. It is vital to examine the situation critically, consider the broader context and challenge the apartheid characterization.


The term apartheid, historically associated with South Africa, signifies a system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination. However, consider this: Israeli Arabs partake in the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament), have served on the Supreme Court, attend Israeli universities and work in all professions. There is no attempt to exclude them from almost any facet of Israeli society. Understanding the seriousness of this term and its historical context is necessary before applying it to any situation.

Contrary to the apartheid label, despite security concerns, Israel actively supplies humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the disputed territories. It facilitates the transfer of essential goods, including medical supplies and food, acknowledging the importance of meeting Palestinian’s needs. The oppressive and destructive actions of Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization that governs the region, have posed security threats that have led to claims of a complete blockade on Gaza, leaving the Palestinian population nearly powerless. The blockade aims to prevent the smuggling weapons and materials used for terrorism. Israel continues to allow significant amounts of humanitarian aid, including food, medicine, and construction materials, into Gaza through supervised channels.


Speaking about the impact of terrorism on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is vital. These attacks have resulted in the deaths of Israelis and Palestinians and disrupted both populations’ lives. Groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad have launched thousands of rocket attacks, suicide bombings and other acts of violence targeting Israeli civilians.

The development of Israeli settlements in the disputed territories remains controversial. However, it is critical to realize that the legal status of settlements is subject to international law, not to a belief on the street that they are illegal.

Like any sovereign state, Israel has the right and duty to defend its citizens against terrorist threats and attacks. While any loss of life is tragic, placing the blame exclusively on Israel and not managing the Palestinian rise of violent anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hate in the schools, mosques, homes and media oversimplifies a centuries-old conflict.

The Israeli-Palestinian dispute requires education and a broad understanding that contains multiple perspectives. Labeling Israel as an apartheid state downplays the situation, overlooks decades of Israeli efforts to make peace and improve the lives of Palestinians, and ignores facts and history.

— Caren Leven, Pikesville

The writer is executive director of Baltimore Zionist District.

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