Report from the Israel Information Centre accuses Israel of being an Apartheid state
Older readers will remember the news bulletins from South Africa during the Apartheid era. Pictures of white police officer beating black people, townships being bulldozed and signs on buildings and entrances saying ‘Nie Blankes’ the quaint ‘European Ladies only’ and ‘Caution, beware natives’. These and other signs divided the country into a variety of areas into which people of colour could not travel unrestricted. There were many other laws which severely restricted the lives of non-white South Africans.
Years of struggle finally ended the regime in the years 1990 – 1994. The campaigns involved civil disobedience, boycotts and international pressure.
The system of separation, restrictions of movement and second class status applies in many similar ways in Israel and their treatment of Palestinians. This is set out in some detail in a report by B’Tselem the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Entitled: A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid – published this month (January 2021). It sets out in considerable detail the methods by which Israel has created a divided state with one law for Jewish people and another law for Palestinians. These include not allowing Palestinians to move between different parts of Israel if their status would improve as a result; non-Jews have no rights to settle in the country; Palestinians not being allowed to live in certain areas for reasons of ‘cultural incompatibility’; not being allowed to demonstrate, and a whole range of laws which effectively confirms their second class status. There are many more listed in the report.
Gaza of course is an egregious example which is almost a prison. Movement in or our is tightly restricted and there is no port or airport. The wall cuts a swathe through Palestinian territory.
The similarities to Apartheid are many. Whereas it was based on race and colour in South Africa, in Israel it is based on nationality and ethnicity. The report concludes:
As painful as it may be to look reality in the eye, it is more painful to live under a boot. The harsh reality described [in this report] may deteriorate further if new practices are introduced – with or without accompanying legislation. Nevertheless, people created this regime and people can make it worse – or work to replace it. That hope is the driving force behind this position paper. How can people fight injustice if it is unnamed? Apartheid is the organizing principle, yet recognizing this does not mean giving up. On the contrary: it is a call for change.
A future of peaceful coexistence seems unachievable while Israel maintains and continues to expand a two state country, with one group of citizens with all the freedoms of a modern state and another group denied most of these rights.