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Israel's not perfect but how many states are?

Published 04/05/2016

In all the airtime given to the debate about anti-semitism and anti-zionism, most people who contributed seemed to agree that anti-semitism was wrong, but that it was reasonable to condemn the so-called 'apartheid' behaviour of the state of Israel - the only democracy in the Middle East.

These are the facts: when the state of Israel was formed, the Arabs were not expelled. Many chose to stay and nowadays roughly 21% of Israel's more than eight million citizens are Arabs.

The vast majority of the Israeli Arabs - 81% - are Muslims. Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights; in fact, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote. Arabs currently hold 10 seats in the Knesset.

And Arabic, like Hebrew, is an official language.

The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens is that the latter are not required to serve in the Israeli army. This was to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren. Nevertheless, many Arabs have volunteered for military duty.

Israel's existence is under constant threat from its neighbours and its apparently controversial actions must be seen in the light of it acting in defence. This tiny country is surrounded by those who wish to wipe it from the face of the earth.

Of course, some of the acts of the citizens and government of Israel should be condemned. There is no country in the world which can claim that it and its citizens are perfect.

AMALIA MICHAELS

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