Jeremy Havardi’s letter published in The Guardian
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Jeremy Havardi takes issue with an article in The Guardian
Report by Jeremy Havardi
Aida Touma-Sliman MK makes some unfounded allegations in her piece (Netanyahu will be known as the first prime minister of Israeli apartheid, theguardian.com, 23 July). Apartheid is not alive and well in the Jewish state. The Arabs of Israel can vote, access the judiciary, serve in the country’s army (if they choose), study in the same schools and universities as Jews and travel on the same public transport. The discrimination they sometimes face is institutional, not constitutional, and requires time to be eradicated.
Nor are Arab political or social rights affected by the new nation state bill. The legislation entrenches the fact that Israel is a project for Jewish national self-determination, something that has been established since the British mandate of 1922. There are also dozens of states around the world whose official flags, anthems and languages reflect the values and traditions of a dominant culture, including the UK. This does not imply a second-class status for minorities.
Democratic and egalitarian values are fundamentally underpinned in Israel’s other basic laws and upheld on a day-to-day basis. Nonetheless, it is still vital to work towards a just solution to the conflict and this requires compromises on both sides, including recognising that the Jewish state is a permanent fixture in the region.
Director, B’nai B’rith UK’s Bureau of International Affairs