Ilan Pappe, interviewed by Eric Ruder at Socialist Worker, explains the status of Palestinians inside Israeli society:
Ruder: A chief component of Israel's "fight against delegitimization" is to claim that it's "inappropriate" to refer to Israel as an apartheid state. Israel's defenders assert that Palestinian citizens of Israel have the right to vote and form political parties, so Israel is not at all like South African apartheid. How would you characterize conditions facing Palestinian citizens of Israel?
MY BOOK The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel examines this at length, but there are three levels of discrimination.
First, there's the legal level. And in Israel, this is carried out by separating the community into two kinds--those who serve in the army and those who don't serve in the army. By law, those who don't serve in the army don't have the same property rights, the same rights in terms of national security, insurance, welfare benefits, accommodation in universities and so forth.
Now, you can say it's not racist because it's not based on national identity, but Jews who do not serve in the army are not affected by this law. So in practice, these laws only apply to the Arab citizens of Israel--who, by a tacit agreement with the government, don't serve in the army. So that's a very legal basis, very clear legislation.
Then there is the semi-legalistic, more-gray area of regulations. Israel still has intact a set of mandatory emergency regulations that can be enacted at any given moment. These regulations are enacted every now and then, and then only against the Palestinian community, which gives a military government absolute control over the lives of people.
You can be arrested without trial, you can be distanced by force from your home, you can be expelled, your home can be demolished, the area in which you live can be cordoned off and declared a "militarily closed area" without any outside world intervention. And there, the military government can do whatever it wants.
The last time Israelis used these emergency regulations was when they implemented a newly passed law that Palestinians from Israel who married Palestinians from the West Bank could not live in Israel, they had to live in the West Bank. So they expelled these couples by force by declaring certain Arab villages in the center of Israel literally closed areas. And they used that to remove them.
The third level is the one that regulates daily contact between Palestinian citizens and Israeli authorities--the tax collector, the policeman, the judge. I will just give you one example, but there are many others. Even Israeli research shows that when Palestinians and Jews are brought before a court, Palestinian defendants who committed the same offense as a Jewish defendant will always get a stiffer sentence.
There are hardly any Jews who have ever been shot by the police as petty criminals, but quite a few Palestinians. When it comes to Palestinians, there is a very different posture taken by those who represent the establishment and the government. The most notable circumstance has to do with the airport, public transportation, railways and so on, where Palestinians are subjected to very humiliating searches, and sometimes are not allowed even to board a train or a domestic flight, let alone an international flight, just because they are Palestinian.
So it encompasses all walks of life. You are a second-rate citizen by law, you are a second-rate citizen according to the emergency regulations that can be enacted at any given moment, and if you forget about these two, your contact with whoever represents the official state reminds you of that.