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In the last few weeks, students across the UK have been involved in Israeli Apartheid Week. Second, that its army defends this racist status with acts of illegal and immoral violence.
Invited by the Zionist Federation UK, last week I was able to attend campuses up and down the country specifically to address and counter some of the claims involved. First, that Israel is an inherently racist and therefore unacceptable country, comparable to Apartheid South Africa.
An order from Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion on officially set up the Israel Defense Forces as a conscript army formed out of the paramilitary group Haganah, incorporating the militant groups Irgun and Lehi.
The IDF served as Israel's armed forces in all the country's major military operations—including the 1948 War of Independence, 1951–1956 Retribution operations, 1956 Sinai War, 1964–1967 War over Water, 1967 Six-Day War, 1967–1970 War of Attrition, 1968 Battle of Karameh, 1973 Operation Spring of Youth, 1973 Yom Kippur War, 1976 Operation Entebbe, 1978 Operation Litani, 1982 Lebanon War, 1982–2000 South Lebanon conflict, 1987–1993 First Intifada, 2000–2005 Second Intifada, 2002 Operation Defensive Shield, 2006 Lebanon War, 2008–2009 Operation Cast Lead, 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense, and 2014 Operation Protective Edge.
Differences include the mandatory conscription of women and its structure, which emphasizes close relations between the army, navy, and air force.
According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, the population in 2011 was 75.4% Jewish, 20.6% Arab, and 4.1% minority groups. While the Basic Laws of Israel that serve in place of a constitution define the country as a "Jewish state", these Basic Laws, coupled with Knesset statutes, decisions of the Supreme Court of Israel, and various elements of the common law current in Israel, offer some protection for free practice of religion in the country.
Legal accommodation of the non-Jewish communities follows the pattern and practice of the Ottoman and British administrations with some important modifications.
One in 12 Syrians is an Alawite, practitioners of a secretive sect of Islam dating to the ninth century. Alawites are accused of using a veil of Islam to hide their radical beliefs. President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria is a member of the sect.
Some of these faiths are made even more obscure by limiting their deepest mysteries to the initiated. Ibn Battuta, the 14th-century chronicler, noted they did not attend mosque or maintain those provided for them.
Israeli law officially recognizes five religions, all belonging to the Abrahamic family of religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Druzeism, and the Bahá'í Faith.