Posts Tagged ‘apartheid’


Damning report by human Rights Watch published

A damning report accusing the Israeli government of Apartheid was published today (27 April 2021). The 213 page report goes into copious detail about the wide range of actions by the Israeli government, which in the view of HRW amount to the crime of Apartheid. The report echoes the previous report published by B’Tselem in January alleging the same thing.

Apartheid as a policy of discrimination against an ethnic or racial group is closely linked to South Africa where the white settlers practised a wide range of discriminatory policies against the black population. The practice was defined in 1973 by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the 1998 Rome Statute (not ratified by Israel) to consist of three elements:

  • An intent to maintain domination by one racial group over another
  • A context of systematic oppression by the dominant group over the marginalised group
  • Inhuman acts.

The actions by the Israeli government against Palestinians are extensive and include systematic discrimination against them. A range of abuses are carried out the report says including sweeping movement restrictions, confiscation of vast swathes of land in the West Bank, forcible transfer of Palestinians out of their homes – thousands of which are demolished – denial of residency rights and the suspension of basic human rights to millions of Palestinians.

“Denying millions of Palestinians their fundamental rights, without legitimate security justification and solely because they are Palestinian and not Jewish, is not simply a matter of an abusive occupation. These policies, which grant Jewish Israelis the same rights and privileges wherever they live and discriminate against Palestinians to varying degrees wherever they live, reflect a policy to privilege one people at the expense of another” Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, HRW.

The report draws on years of human rights documentation, case studies, and a review of government planning documents, statements by officials and other sources. HRW wrote to the Israeli government in July 2020 but received no reply. Even during the Covid-19 crisis, twenty times more Jewish people have received vaccination in comparison to Palestinians.

Inhuman acts include expropriation of land and property, creation of separate reserves and ghettos, and the denial of a right to leave and return to their country.

The Israeli government has acted with continuing impunity safe in the unwavering support it receives from the USA. It has repeatedly denied access to the UN Commission on Inquiry into Gaza. It also denies access to Amnesty and other human rights organisations researching allegations of war crimes during the various conflicts.

Human Rights Watch argues that this report, and others, should prompt a re-evaluation by the international community into the nature of its engagement with Israel. They should adopt a more human rights centred approach rather than continue to cling to the stalled peace process. Arms sales and security equipment should be conditional on Israeli authorities taking concrete and verifiable steps to ending the commission of the crimes described in the report. Countries persist with viewing the occupation as temporary whereas in reality, the oppression of Palestinians has reached a permanence which meets the threshold of apartheid and persecution.

The Israeli government dismissed the report as ‘preposterous and false’ but did not respond to any of the central assertions within it. (Sky News, 27 April)

Sources: Amnesty International; Guardian; Human Rights Watch; B’Tselem; Sky News

UPDATE: We have added Israeli Campaign Against Housing Demolitions to the list of contact addresses at the bottom of this site (30 April). This followed a presentation at a SCIP meeting (29 April).


UPDATE: 30 JANUARY 2021

Press release from Amnesty International on this subject.

UPDATE: 19 January 2021

In the BBC’s World at One on Radio 4 today, programme went someway to rectify the complete failure to mention Palestinians in their earlier broadcasts.  They had a lengthy clip and an interview with Tom Bateman in which this matter was discussed.  Whether this was in response to complaints about their previous bias we cannot know.  Amnesty was mentioned in the clip.  


Serious bias in BBC report on progress with vaccination in Israel

Last week, on the BBC’s radio 4 programme PM which is broadcast between 5pm and 6pm each day, the presenter, Evan Davies interviewed a journalist from the Jerusalem Post about the rapid progress being made in Israel with vaccinating its citizens.  Around 12% had already had their first vaccination and Evan Davies was clearly impressed.

What neither he, nor the journalist, mentioned it was only Jewish citizens who were being vaccinated, not Palestinians in the occupied territories or in Gaza.  Perhaps this news item was put together in haste and slotted into the programme as it was a rare good news story in the current gloom.

However, a detailed report has been produced six days ago by B’Tselem, based in Israel, which analysed in considerable detail the second class status of Palestinians (not just with vaccinations) and their report, called This is Apartheid, concludes that Israel is effectively an Apartheid state.  The BBC cannot claim ignorance.

BBC fails to mention that no Palestinians are being vaccinated in Israel

It is therefore very surprising and extremely troubling that on the BBC’s World at One programme today (18 January 2021), Sarah Montague hosted a 4 and a quarter minute clip – including an interview with the BBC’s Jerusalem correspondent, Tom Bateman – again lauding the rapid progress made with Israel’s vaccination programme which has now reached 20%.  The interview was again a fulsome piece about what is happening in Israel but shockingly, neither of them mentioned that no Palestinians are being vaccinated.

Human Rights Watch points out that Israel, as the occupying power, is obliged under the 4th Geneva Convention to ensure that adequate medical supplies are available including for contagious diseases and epidemics.

The reasons for Israel’s actions are complex and they claim they have insufficient vaccines to give and that they have not received any request from the Palestinian authorities.  Given the pace of the vaccination programme, the former seems a weak argument.  Whatever the reasons, there seems no credible reason why the BBC, which is supposed to provide balanced reporting and impartiality, should twice broadcast pieces and interviews and completely fail to mention the lack of vaccination of Palestinians.

See our earlier blog on the B’Tselem.

The Israeli Government has strongly denied the Apartheid claim.

Sources: BBC; Independent, HRW


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.