Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
 
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Dr. Mohammed Wattad. Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

 
ISRAELI ARAB LEGAL SCHOLAR: ISRAEL IS NOT AN APARTHEID STATE

By Rhonda Spivak

Dr. Mohammed Wattad, an Arab Israeli  Muslim who is a senior  lecturer at Zefat College’s School of Law  and editor of the International Journal on Medicine and Law  told an audience here  that Israel is not an apartheid state.

The very articulate Dr. Wattad spoke at the University of Manitoba during Israel Apartheid Week [IAW], but  virtually none of the  IAW organizers and supporters came to hear his lecture.  

Dr. Wattad said that “As an Israeli citizen, I belong to a political entity...I have no other home than the State of Israel. I am a proud Israeli citizen but that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize it…At the same time I am a proud Arab national. I like Arab culture, people, etc... Whenever something wrong happens to the Arab world, I feel it. These are not contradictory things.”

He added, “Don’t tell me Israel can’t define itself as Jewish and democratic… This doesn’t mean that Israel is innocent in all of this [conflict], but there are others here that also aren’t innocent.”

Dr. Wattad, who was sponsored by the Jewish Students Association/Hillel  pointed out that “Israeli Arabs, for example in the Galilee, decided upon the State of Israel’s birth to stay and take citizenship, to be an Israeli citizen or not…That was their choice…”

In 2007, Dr. Wattad, was the recipient in Italy of the an award for  the ‘‘Best Oralist for Legal Arguments” given by  the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Science.  At the University of Manitoba he spoke about the difference between discrimination and apartheid.

“Is there discrimination in Israel? Yes-there is discrimination against women, elderly, Arabs, Russian Jews, Christians,…But the same goes for Canada. Is it good-No?  But it means we have to deal with the problem from within…. The existence of discrimination in a state does not mean it is an apartheid state…There is a big difference between apartheid and discrimination,” he said.

“In an apartheid regime, there is no possibility of judicial review, because the judges are appointed by the regime and all serve one ideology. This is not the case in Israel…There is a very strong, independent Supreme Court in Israel.  In an apartheid regime [unlike in Israel] there is no place to go to argue against the government,”  Dr.  Wattad added.

He further noted for example that in the case of   Israel’s security “fence”, there were “‘more than 163 judgments of the Supreme Court where they decided that the fence  had to be re-routed/rebuilt.” He also said that Egypt also has a fence between it and Gaza.

Regarding Israel’s national anthem ‘Hatikvah’, Dr. Wattad, is of the view that the  Hebrew words “nefesh yehudi” (the Jewish soul/spirit) ought to be changed to be inclusive of Arabs, Christians and  non-Jewish citizens. He proposes that the words in “Hatikvah” be changed to refer to “an Israeli spirit” rather than a “Jewish spirit.”

According to Dr. Wattad, the “big problem is the right of return. Is it a right of return to  West Bank and Gaza or a right of return to Jaffa and Haifa?  One possible solution is for Palestinians to receive an apology in addition to compensation.  After World War II, the Jewish people got an apology from the Germans as well as money (reparations). It was very important that they got an apology which was an acknowledgement of collective responsibility.”

In Wattad’s view, after Hosni Mubarak’s reign is over, Egypt could end up falling into the hands of the Moslem Brotherhood.

“I am not so sure that as an Israeli it is good to have democracy in other Arab countries, such as Egypt, given what the majority believes,” he said.

Regarding Hamas, Dr. Wattad said that a “big opportunity was lost,” saying that Hamas started launching missiles, when instead they ought to have used their ‘golden opportunity to build a state.”

As for Hezbollah’s Hassan Nassrallah, Dr, Wattad noted that he caused the death of a large number “of Israeli Arabs” who were hit by  missiles in the Second Lebanon war.

Dr. Wattad, who is a member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, said that according to the Knesset website, “Israeli government protocols show that East Jerusalem was not intended to become part of Israel.”

When asked about the campaign to boycott Israeli academics, Wattad responded that it was as “idiotic”, saying that academic institutions should be “a marketplace of ideas,” and that academic boycotts means that even “left-wing Israelis aren’t able to speak or write.”

When asked whether he thought an economic boycott of Israel would be effective, Wattad answered that they would be “useless” because “Who of the Arab states will boycott Israel economically? … They will help Israel out,” he said.

He noted that notwithstanding the official position of Arab states, they ‘are doing business with Israel,” such as in Dubai.”

“The biggest gas pipeline in Israel is jointly owned by Israel and Iran and has been that way since it was established.”

He further noted, that in the case of war with Iran, Saudi Arabia will allow Israel to use its airspace.”   

Dr. Wattad believes that a ‘real chance for peace was lost” when former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered.  He also is of the view that Rabin’s murderer Yigal Amir ought not to have been given the  right to pro-create while he was in jail.

Dr. Wattad asked if there was an Arab person present in the audience, but there wasn’t.
He noted that usually when he speaks there are a lot of Arab students  in the audience who are “against the idea that an Arab Muslim  guy is speaking for Israel.”

However, he clarified that he says what he says because “I believe it to be so,” and he is aware that what he says can be “provocative.”

Dr. Wattad is one of the founders of Zefat’s Legal College in Northern Israel. He told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that the new public college is “a baby.’

He said that “It’s something to be part of building it.  When you work at a place like this, you can lead.”

According to Dr. Wattad, this past year only 70 out of 200 students who applied were accepted, but 20 were dismissed by the college during the year for not coming to enough classes.  “We are strict,” he said.

Condensed versions of this article will appear in the Canadian Jewish News and the Vancouver Jewish Independent. 

 
<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Fillmore Riley
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Winter's Collision Repair
  • Gray Academy
  • Jacqueline Simkin
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Joyce Rykiss
  • CHW
  • The J Hansen HVAC Group
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • The Lazareck Family
  • Imperial Soap
  • GTP
  • Piston Ring
  • Nick's Inn
  • Lori Shenkarow
  • Roseman Corp.
  • Tyler Bucklaschuk
  • TD Canada Trust
  • Sobey's
  • Daniel Friedman and Rob Dalgliesh
  • The Lipkin Family
  • Booke and Partners
  • Bruce Shefrin Interior Design
  • Fair Service
  • Daien Denture Clinic
  • Thovaldson Care
  • Laufman Reprographics
  • Amalgamated Drywall Systems Ltd.
  • Maric Homes
  • Artista Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Commercial Pool
  • Lanny Silver
  • Fetching Style
  • Rudy Fidel
  • Shindico
  • Dakota Chiropractic Office
  • Myrna Driedger
  • Shirley and Bob Freedman
  • The Chisick Family
  • Carol and Barry McArton
  • The Shinewald Family
  • Dr. Ted and Harriet Lyons
  • Munroe Dental Centre
  • Ixtapa Travel
  • Hill Sokalski Walsh
  • D'arcy and Deacon
  • The Charach Family
  • Esther and Sid Halpern
  • Myers LLP
  • The Lazar Family
  • Dr. Marshall Stitz
  • Cavalier Candies
  • Cdn Visa
  • Kowall Chiropractic Centres
  • Dr. Brent Schacter
  • Doheny Securities
  • Ambassador Mechanical
  • Peerless Garments
  • Pitblado
  • Cindy Lamoureux
  • HUB International
  • Philip Kahanovtich
  • Global Philathropic Canada
  • Sorrento's
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Aziza Family
  • Western Scrap Metals
  • Cascade Financial Group Inc.
  • James Bezan
  • Larry N. Maguire
  • Malaya Marcelino
  • Candice Bergen
  • Safeway
  • John Orlikow
  • Ross Eadie
  • Orthodox Union
  • Saul Simmonds
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Chochy's
  • City Sheet Metal
  • Superlite
  • Stephen Rosenfield
  • Abe and Toni Berenhait
  • The Lofchick Famiy
  • Stringer Rentals
  • John Wishnowski
  • Ingrid Bennet
  • Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education
  • Asper Jewish Community Campus
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Grant Kurian Trucking
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • Kristina's
  • West Kildonan Auto
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
  • Maric Homes
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.