TEL AVIV – An Arab Muslim citizen of Israel blasted the anti-Semitic charge that the Jewish state is an “apartheid” regime, saying people should be “ashamed” of using that term to describe the only country in the Middle East that provides “freedom of belief, the right to educate, to elect and be elected” to all minorities.
In a video that went viral this week on Facebook, Dema Taya, who lives in the central Israeli city of Qalansawe, said on an Arabic-language news channel, “Israel is not an apartheid state and anyone who believes this should be ashamed of himself.”
“You live in this country and enjoy the full benefits of its citizenship. You are free to work, study, express yourselves and whatever you desire,” she told the host. “You lead and educate the next generations in a state that respects you. Look at Syria, Iraq, Egypt and the rest of the Arab countries. What have they done for the good of their people?”
Taya is currently in the U.S. on a speaking tour as part of a delegation organized by Reservists on Duty to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) and tell of their personal experiences growing up as members of Israel’s minority communities.
“I’m proud to stand up and speak for Israel and that I’m an integrated part of it,” Taya said in the interview.
“I hope that all Arab countries will adopt the Israeli democratic regime – and for your information, 90% of Gaza Strip citizens and the West Bank wish they were under such a regime,” she concluded.
Jonathan Elkhoury, an Israeli-Christian resident of Haifa who joined Taya on the speaking tour, said he had been accused by Palestinian-Americans on U.S. college campuses of “stealing their language” – i.e., Arabic.
“I’ve been before on several campuses, but at Irvine it was the peak in personal attacks against me and also in attacks against Israel,” he said.
“It was the essence of the anti-Israel activity on the campuses that categorized me as a Jew. I was accused by a girl who was born in the United States and barely speaks Arabic, ‘You steal my language.’ I told her, ‘How do I, as a Christian Arab, who grew up in Lebanon and lives in Israel, steal something from you?’ She had never been to Israel and her Arabic was less than basic. She tells me that I am a liar and in the same breath tells stories that in Haifa, my city, there is an apartheid regime with separate buses for Arabs and separate schools.”
No such separation policy exists in Israel.
Watch a video of Taya’s interview below: