The Globe & Mail reports,

An event organized by the Arab Student Collective at the University of Toronto, to debate what it calls the Israeli apartheid state, is raising the ire of religious and human-rights organizations throughout the city.
Israeli Apartheid Week, is scheduled to begin today and has been organized by the collective, a recognized club at U of T.
Groups including B’nai Brith Canada and the Evangelical Association of Canada have publicly condemned the University’s decision to permit the event, saying that it will incite hatred against Jewish students on campus.

I dunno, after having been here for a little while, I think you’d have to be blind to think Israel is anything other than an apartheid state, and after hearing Jeff Halper and Tamer Nafar speak recently, I’m pretty much convinced it is.
Of course, there are cosmetic attempts at integration — bilingual schools and the like. But this society is so segregated — just a brief glance at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel’s website, let alone awareness of Jewish-only & Arab-only communities, schools, hospitals and other civil services, is enough to make a compelling case that it’s state-sanctioned (despite being illegal according to both Israel’s Declaration of Independence and one ruling after another by Israel’s Supreme Court), and in that, it’s enough to make anyone look ridiculous for contending otherwise.
[Update] Many of the laws which established South Africa’s apartheid regime are reflected in laws currently on the books in Israel.

  • SA: The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (1949); Israel: “The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law bars Israelis married to Palestinians from the Occupied Territories from living together in Israel.”
  • SA: The Population Registration Act (1950); Israel: “Israeli authorities require members of the public to carry ID cards on their persons at all times. The Israeli ID card heirarchy is as follows: blue cards, specifying the ‘nationality’ of the bearer to distinguish between Jews and non-Jews, for Israeli citizens (the two main ‘nationalities’ being ‘Jewish’ and ‘Arab’); blue cards for permanent residents indicating, for example, their East Jerusalem residency; orange cards for West Bank (outside of Israeli defined Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip residents, indicating their place of residence and their religion; green cards for persons considered by Israel to be ‘security risks.'”
  • SA: The Group Areas Act (27 April 1950); Israel: “Public land in Israel is administered by the Israel Land Authority which as a public body has a legal obligation not to discriminate against citizens. Yet the ILA is heavily influenced by the Jewish National Fund, which acts in the interests of Jews only, and uses a number of methods to limit the land available for development for the benefit of the Palestinian Arab community.”
  • SA: The Bantu Education Act (1953); Israel: “Government-run Arab schools are a world apart from government-run Jewish schools. In virtually every respect, Palestinian Arab children get an education inferior to that of Jewish children, and their relatively poor performance in school reflects this.”
  • SA: The Mines and Work Act (1956); Israel: “The overall number of Palestinians working in Israel has decreased by about 100,000 compared to pre-Intifada levels. One may notice a consistent strategy of diminishing the Palestinian workforce, in the way of replacing it gradually by migrant workers from the Philippines, China, Thailand and Eastern European countries.”
  • SA: The Promotion of Black Self-Government Act (1958); Israel: “Israel’s cabinet adopted a series of measures Sunday, aimed at facilitating Palestinian elections on January 9.” … “Many Palestinians fear this is another setup so when the inevitable failure brought about by Israeli intransigence occurs, this will be another opportunity to blame the Palestinians, and accuse them of missing an opportunity once again.”

Which brings us, finally, to the Black Homeland Citizenship Act (1971). Discrimination against Arabs within Israel is hardly the sole or even gravest purpose for criticizing Israel as an apartheid regime. The greater question is in relation to Israel’s intentions for Palestinian statehood. People often tout Barak’s offer at Camp David as being the end-all, be-all evidence of Palestinian rejectionism: “We offered them everything!” But what were they really offered?
A quick perusal of this map outlining Barak’s offer demonstrates the existence of a Palestinian state within five non-contiguous territories, divided by Jewish settlement blocks and surrounded by Israeli controlled territory on all sides. This reflects precisely the bantustan system within apartheid South Africa:

Bantustan refers to any of the territories designated as tribal “homelands” for black South Africans during the Apartheid era. The term “bantustan” was first used in the late 1940s and was coined from Bantu (meaning “people” in the Bantu languages) and -stan (meaning “land of”), and was based on Hindustan. It later became a disparaging term used by critics of the Apartheid-era government’s “homelands”.
These homelands were allocated to blacks by the white Apartheid government of the Republic of South Africa and were designated to become independent states under a plan called “Separate Development”. This plan would have given independence to blacks in these newly created tribal states, while stripping them of their South African citizenship, leaving whites as the majority in South Africa. Originally, there were to be about ten Bantustan-Homelands. These small, quasi-sovereign regions were established under the 1951 Bantu Authorities Act, and began to be given “independence” in 1976.

As Israel proceeds in drawing “facts on the ground” in the form of its security barrier and its expansion of settlement blocks, and Mahmoud Abbas makes overtures to the acceptance of a Palestinian state within these designated territories, this scenario has already become the situation Palestinians find themselves in. Thus, in light of these facts, I ask you: Is it so absurd or contentious to make the claim that Israel is an apartheid state?