“93% of the land of Israel is for exclusively jewish use. In South Africa, we used to talk about the fact that 13% of the population had control of 97% of the land. In Israel it is worse.”
Na’eem Jeena reflects on the challenges and victories of the BDS movement, drawing parallels to the 30 year BDS movement that helped bring down the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
Nada Elia at 2010 Israeli Apartheid Week
Tanya Reinhart on Israeli apartheid: ‘It’s trying to get as many Palestinians out of the land as possible … it’s about driving them out of the land.”
While Ran Greenstein in this article defines Israeli apartheid as that practised throughout ‘Greater Israel’, he sees solutions to broach it through a staggered approach, due to the occupation – that making Israel a state for all its citizens is more immediately achievable than achieving this in ‘Greater Israel’.
It is worse, not in the sense that apartheid was not an absolutely terrifying system in South Africa, but in the ways in which the Israelis have taken the apartheid system and perfected it, so to speak; sharpened it. For instance, we had the Bantustans and we had the Group Areas Act and we had the separate schools and all of that but I don’t think it ever even entered the mind of any apartheid planner to design a town in such a way that there is a physical wall that separates people and that that wall denotes your freedom of movement, your freedom of economic gain, of employment, and at the same time is a tool of intimidation and dehumanisation. We carried passes as the Palestinians have their ID documents but that did not mean that we could not go from one place in the city to another place in the city. The judicial system was absolutely skewed of course, all the judges in their judgements sought to protect white privilege and power and so forth, and we had a series of what they called “hanging judges” in those days, but they did not go far as to openly, blatantly have two separate justice systems as they do for Palestinians [who are tried in Israeli military courts] and Israelis [who are tried in civil, not military courts]. So in many ways the Israeli system is worse.
Another thing that makes it even worse is that when we fought our battles, even if it took us a long time, we could in the end muster and mobilise international solidarity on a scale that enabled us to be more successful in our struggle. The Palestinians cannot do that. The whole international community almost conspires against them. The UN, which played a fairly positive role in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, takes the disastrous position of not wanting to offend its strong members like the United States who protect Israel. So even in the UN, where international law ought to be the framework wherein all these things are judged, where international solidarity is not an assumption but is supposed to be the very foundation upon which the UN builds its views on things and its judgements as to which way it goes, the Palestinians don’t even have that.
Palestinians are mocked in a way that South Africans were not. In a sense, the UN tried in our case to follow up on its resolutions to isolate the apartheid regime. Here, now, they make resolutions against Israel one after the other and I don’t detect even a sense of shame that they know there is not going to be any follow up. Under Reagan the United States was pretty blatant in its so called constructive engagement programme and in its support for the white regime in South Africa, but what the United States is doing now in the week that UNESCO took the decision to support the Palestinian bid for a seat in the United Nations, to withdraw all US financial support; to resort immediately to economic blackmail, that is so scandalous. So in all those ways I think we are trying to say that what is happening in Israel today is a system of apartheid that in its perfection of that system is more terrifying in many ways than apartheid in South Africa ever was.
Recently retired South African ambassador to Israel, Ismail Coovadia, says he rejected a symbolic gift from the Israeli government due to the country’s discriminatory treatment of Palestinians:
Ismail Coovadia made the statement in a letter to pro-Palestinian activists.
In it, Coovadia explained his decision to reject a symbolic gift from the Israeli government — planting trees in his honor in a national park named after South Africa.
He said Israeli policies that discriminate against Palestinians appeared to be reminiscent of his experiences under South Africa’s apartheid system. South Africa’s post-apartheid government frequently identifies with the Palestinians.
Coovadia, who completed his four-year term in January, confirmed the letter’s contents on Tuesday.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Coovadia did not made such complaints during his term. Israel routinely rejects the apartheid comparison.
Attitudes in Israel
Michael Ben-Yair, Israel’s attorney general from 1993 to 1996, has written that following the Six Day War in June 1967, “We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities.
“Passionately desiring to keep the occupied territories, we developed two judicial systems: one ? progressive, liberal ? in Israel; and the other ? cruel, injurious ? in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture.”
That oppressive regime exists to this day. Avraham Burg, Israel’s Knesset Speaker from 1999 to 2003 and former chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, has long determined that “Israel must shed its illusions and choose between racist oppression and democracy,” insisting the only way to maintain total Jewish control over all of historic Palestine would be to “abandon democracy” and “institute an efficient system of racial separation here, with prison camps and detention villages.” He has also called Israel “the last colonial occupier in the Western world.”
Yossi Sarid, who served as a member of the Knesset between 1974 and 2006, has written of Israel’s “segregation policy” that “what acts like apartheid, is run like apartheid and harasses like apartheid, is not a duck – it is apartheid.”
Yossi Paritzky, former Knesset and Cabinet minister, writing about the systematic institutionalization and legalization of racial and religious discrimination in Israel, stated that Israel does not act like a democracy in which “all citizens regardless of race, religious, gender or origin are entitled to equality.” Rather, by implementing more and more discriminatory laws that treat Palestinians as second-class citizens, “Israel decided to be like apartheid?era South Africa, and some will say even worse countries that no longer exist.”
Shulamit Aloni, another former Knesset and Cabinet member, has written that “the state of Israel practices its own, quite violent, form of Apartheid with the native Palestinian population.”
In 2008, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel released its annual human rights report which found that the dynamic between settlers, soldiers and native Palestinians in the occupied West Bank was “reminiscent, in many and increasing ways, of the apartheid regime in South Africa.”
Ehud Olmert, when he was Prime Minister, told a Knesset committee meeting, “For sixty years there has been discrimination against Arabs in Israel. This discrimination is deep?seated and intolerable” and repeatedly warned that if “we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.”
Ehud Barak has admitted that “[a]s long as in this territory west of the Jordan river there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic. If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”
Shlomo Gazit, former member of Palmach, an elite unit of the Haganah, wrote in Ha’aretz that “in the present situation, unfortunately, there is no equal treatment for Jews and Arabs when it comes to law enforcement. The legal system that enforces the law in a discriminatory way on the basis of national identity, is actually maintaining an apartheid regime.”
Last summer, Knesset minister Ahmed Tibi told the Jerusalem Post that “keeping the status quo will deepen apartheid in Israel as it did in South Africa,” while Gabriela Shalev, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, told The Los Angeles Times last year that, in terms of public opinion of Israel, “I have the feeling that we are seen more like South Africa once was.”
Council on Foreign Relations member Stephen Roberts, after returning from a trip to Israel and the West Bank, wrote in The Nation that “Israel has created a system of apartheid on steroids, a horrifying prison with concrete walls as high as twenty-six feet, topped with body-ravaging coils of razor wire.”
In April 2012, Benjamin Netanyahu’s own nephew, Jonathan Ben Artzi, wrote that Israel’s “policies of segregation and discrimination that ravaged (and still ravage) my country and the occupied Palestinian territories” undoubtedly fit the definition of Apartheid.
Linguist, cultural anthropologist, and Hebrew University professor David Shulman wrote in May 2012 in The New York Review of Books that there already exists “a single state between the Jordan River and the sea” controlled by Israel and which fits the definition of an “ethnocracy.” He continues:
“Those who recoil at the term ‘apartheid’ are invited to offer a better one; but note that one of the main architects of this system, Ariel Sharon, himself reportedly adopted South African terminology, referring to the noncontiguous Palestinian enclaves he envisaged for the West Bank as ‘Bantustans.’”
B’tSelem: Land Grab
“For those of us who live here, it is something we take for granted. But visitors from abroad cannot believe their eyes: segregated education, segregated businesses, separate entertainment venues, different languages, separate political parties … and of course, segregated housing. In many senses, this is the way members of both groups want things to be, but such separation only contributes to the growing mutual alienation of Jews and Arabs.”
“Despite its best intentions, Israel has created a system of separation in the West Bank which fits the textbook definition of apartheid. According to Michael Ben-Yair, Attorney General of Israel throughout the nineties, “In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the Occupied Territories immediately following their capture. That oppressive regime exists to this day.” He is not alone in asserting this perspective. Many notable Israelis like Meron Benvenisti, Akiva Elder, and Shulamit Aloni, to mention a few, agree that Israeli style apartheid is a reality.”
Mitchell Plitnick’s contortions in an effort to hang onto zionist hegemony through a perverse form of federalism are embarrassing – still he recognises the egg can’t be unscrambled.
Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC) study : Israel is practicing both colonialism and apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
Full report of the South African Human Sciences Research Council [.pdf]
Israel/Palestine and the Apartheid Analogy: Critics, Apologists and Strategic lessons (Part 1) by Ran Greenstein
Israel/Palestine and the Apartheid Analogy: Critics, Apologists and Strategic Lessons (Part 2) by Ran Greenstein
Israel/Palestine: Apartheid of a special type? by Ran Greenstein
Israel singles itself out – as Professor Ran Greenstein of the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa says, Israel has ‘imposed severe sanctions and used violent means of censure against numerous targets in the last two decades: PLO, Hamas, Burma, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Belarus, Serbia and, most recently, Libya and Syria, have been subject to sanctions and military campaigns far more aggressive and violent than Israel is likely ever to face. Israel has been singled out indeed, for receiving vast sums of military and financial aid that allow it to entrench the occupation, and diplomatic immunity by the USA for its acts of violence against civilians.’
Ran Greenstein: Israeli Jews, Palestinian Arabs and the Apartheid question – at the Russell Tribunal
Israel 2007: worse than apartheid by Ronnie Kasrils, SA Minister of Intelligence
Israel/Palestine, South Africa and the ‘One-State Solution’: The Case for an Apartheid Analysis (whole .pdf of the article is here [Bakan, Abigail B. and Abu-Laban, Yasmeen(2010) 'Israel/Palestine, South Africa and the 'One-State Solution': The Case for an Apartheid Analysis', Politikon, 37: 2, 331 — 351])
Our South Africa Moment Has Arrived : Omar Barghouti [03/18/2009]
Israel knows apartheid has no future by Mustafa Barghouti
“Boycotts work”: An interview with Omar Barghouti
Why Is BDS a Moral Duty Today? A Response to Bernard-Henri Levy
Reap what you have sown by Nawal El-Saadawi
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967
Why Israel is an Apartheid State
Women’s emancipation in the Arab region is closely linked to the regimes under which we live, regimes which are supported by the US in most cases, and the struggle between Israel and Palestine has an important impact on the political situation. Besides, how can we speak of liberation for Palestinian women without speaking of their right to have a land on which to live? How can we speak about Arab women’s rights in Palestine and Israel without opposing the racial discrimination exercised against them by the Israeli regime?
Israel should be given the South African treatment : Antony Loewenstein and Moammar Mashni
Adalah, ‘The Inequality Report: The Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel’ (pdf) – important document
South African scholar Na’eem Jeenah trapped at Istanbul airport after Israeli interrogation, confiscation of passport
Yishai wants to affirm ‘Jewish nationality’ highlighting the lack of any ‘Israeli nationality’. This segregationalism is consistent with Grand Apartheid.
the ASA released a ruling on 5 July 2011, dismissing each and every complaint made by the SAJBD against the advert and instead ruled in favor of the submissions made by SA Artists Against Apartheid. The ASA also refused to provide any sanctions in favor of the SAJBD.
Reggae DJ, “The Admiral”, and member of the SA Artists Against Apartheid collective, welcomed today’s decision:
“The ASA decision is significant due to our own history of Apartheid. The decision sends a clear message to the Zionist lobby that the time has come for an end to the baseless accusations of “discrimination” and “hate speech” whenever criticism of Israel is voiced. Calling Israel an Apartheid state is legitimate because Israel practices Apartheid. The boycott of such an oppressive regime should be supported as it was in our own Anti-Apartheid freedom struggle.”
On how Apartheid South Africa was unfairly demonized — like Israel
The crime of apartheid : Israel on trial at the 3rd International Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in November, 2011 in Cape Town
Israel and Apartheid: Is It a Fair Comparison? – quotes several Israeli indignitaries describing existing or future apartheid
Brothers in arms – Israel’s secret pact with Pretoria
Boycotting Israeli Apartheid: Evoking South Africa’s Legacy
Israel and South Africa: A Natural Alliance
‘Israel will look like South Africa during the apartheid’ — Israeli ambassador Shalev
UN OCHA MoveMent and access in the West Bank September 2011: This is Israeli apartheid, and it’s growing:
“-522 roadblocks and checkpoints obstruct Palestinian movement in the West Bank, compared to 503 in July 2010.
- So far in 2011, an additional 495 ad-hoc ‘flying’ checkpoints obstructed movement around the West Bank each month (on average), compared to 351 in the past two years.
- 200,000 people from 70 villages are forced to use detours between two to five times longer than the direct route to their closest city due to movement restrictions.”
In July 2008, 21 South African activists, including ANC members, visited Israel and Occupied Palestine. Their conclusion was unanimous. Israel is far worse than apartheid as former Deputy Minister of Health and current MP Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge explained:
“What I see here is worse than what we experienced – the absolute control of people’s lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw….racist ideology is also reinforced by religion, which was not the case in South Africa.”
Sunday Times editor, Mondli Makhanya, went further: “When you observe from afar you know that things are bad, but you do not know how bad. Nothing can prepare you for the evil we have seen here. It is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of apartheid.”
I have been to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid. I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women, and children made to wait hours at Israeli military checkpoints routinely when trying to make the most basic of trips to visit relatives or attend school or college, and this humiliation is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and regularly insulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.
Parallels Between Apartheid South Africa & Israeli Policies : Quotes
“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians.” — President Nelson Mandela, Pretoria, December 4, 1997
“Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.” — Former South African President Hendrick Verwoerd, Rand Daily Mail, November 23, 1961
“When I come here and see the situation [in the Palestinian territories], I find that what is happening here is 10 times worse than what I had experienced in South Africa. This is Apartheid.”
- Arun Ghandi
“As someone who lived in apartheid South Africa and who has visited Palestine I say with confidence that Israel is an apartheid state. In fact, I believe that some of the atrocities committed against the South Africans by the erstwhile apartheid regime in South Africa pale in comparison to those committed against the Palestinians.” - Willie Madisha, in a letter supporting CUPE Ontario’s resolution.
“They support Zionism, a version of global racist domination and apartheid based on the doctrine that Jews are superior to Arabs and therefore have a right to oppress them and occupy their country.” – Current COSATU President, Sidumo Dlamini.
But we can also say that the practical manifestations of Israeli apartheid are in many ways worse than South African apartheid ever was.There was never a “security wall” built around Bophuthatswana or any of the other Bantustans. There was never a time when only certain people could drive on certain roads. There was never a serious debate about the right of exiles and refugees to return to South Africa. Therefore, over and above your situation containing the essence of apartheid, it is in many ways worse than apartheid, and we call on the world community to condemn the Israeli occupation as such.
Yours is also, in our view, a typical colonial situation whereby the colonizers claim the lives and land of the colonized. Furthermore, your situation is exacerbated by the West satisfying their guilt for the Holocaust at your expense. We reject this utterly and call on the West and their allies across the world to take responsibility for the situation that they have created.
‘Israel discriminates against Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in favour of half a million Israeli settlers. Its restrictions on freedom of movement, manifested in countless humiliating checkpoints, resemble the “pass laws” of apartheid. Its destruction of Palestinian homes resemble the destruction of homes belonging to blacks under apartheid’s Group Areas Act. The confiscation of Palestinian farms under the pretext of building a security wall brings back similar memories. And so on. Indeed, Israel has gone beyond apartheid South Africa in constructing separate (and unequal) roads for Palestinians and settlers.
Apartheid’s security police practiced torture on a large scale. So do the Israeli security forces. There were many political prisoners on Robben Island but there are more Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.
Apartheid South Africa seized the land of blacks for whites. Israel has seized the land of Palestinians for half a million settlers and for the purposes of constructing a security wall within Palestinian territory – both of which are contrary to international law.’
The Russell Tribunal verdict (Johannesburg Nov 7/2011): ” The Tribunal finds that Israel subjects the Palestinian people to an institutionalised regime of domination amounting to apartheid as defined under international law. This discriminatory regime manifests in varying intensity and forms against different categories of Palestinians depending on their location. The Palestinians living under colonial military rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are subject to a particularly aggravated form of apartheid. Palestinian citizens of Israel, while entitled to vote, are not part of the Jewish nation as defined by Israeli law and are therefore excluded from the benefits of Jewish nationality and subject to systematic discrimination across the broad spectrum of recognised human rights. Irrespective of such differences, the Tribunal concludes that Israel’s rule over the Palestinian people, wherever they reside, collectively amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid.”
has passed a resolution ordering a first probe into how Israeli settlements may be infringing on the rights of the Palestinians.
The resolution was adopted on Thursday, with 36 votes in favour and 10 abstentions. Only the United States voted against it.’
UN report on Israel is the ‘most cutting recognition and condemnation of a legal system of segregation since apartheid South Africa’
UN Committee 2012 Session Concludes Israeli System Tantamount to Apartheid
Settlers Attack Local, International Law Professors In Hebron: Palestinian researcher, professors of Refugees Studies at Oxford University, Abbas Shiblaq, stated that “this attack is a proof of the fascist nature of the Israeli occupation and its settlers” who aim at uprooting the Palestinians from their homeland, and a proof that Israel’s policy if based on “voiding the other”.
Shiblaq described the situation in Hebron and the illegal Israeli violations as a system that is deeper and larger than the former apartheid system in Southern Africa. He added that what the media reports about the violations carried out by extremist settlers and Israeli soldiers, in Hebron, barely reflects %5 of what is happening on the ground.
BDS and apartheid
More on the University of Johannesburg boycott decision
The Israeli government has been quite explicit that it uses culture as a propaganda tool in its war against the Palestinian people.
“We see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between propaganda and culture.” (Ha’aretz; 21/09/05)
Linkin Park played Israel 15 November 2010, and posed with Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem when the day before his engineer announced 3,000 more jews only homes including in East Jerusalem.
A zionist propaganda site is established to capitalise on and collect the quotations of artists who have played Israel.
Recently, the US-based Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) — a group of US entertainment industry leaders — was formed with the explicit intent to crush the BDS movement as it pertains to the cultural boycott against Israel. In an October article, the Jerusalem Post reported that:
Creative Community For Peace (CCFP) pledges to use a wide range of measures to bolster the resolve of artists who sign contracts to perform in or travel to Israel and then face calls from various “boycott groups” to cancel their trips, according one of its founders, Steve Schnur.
Schnur is a worldwide executive of music and marketing for Electronic Arts and president of Artwerk Music Group, and is responsible for licensing music for some of the most popular computer video games.
“We felt that if we could create a place where artists can get information from other artists and from people they know who understand what Israel is really about – the freedom, the democracy and equal rights – and not rely on the disinformation they’re given about ‘apartheid’ Israel, then maybe we could change things,” Schnur said in a phone call this week from Los Angeles.
“Our aim isn’t to applaud the fact that artists have come to Israel, but to enable others to continue to go there.”
The boycott issue has always been present with regard to international artists and Israel, but in the past few years, pro-Palestinian organizations abroad have stepped up efforts to bombard scheduled acts with e-mails, letters and Facebook campaigns urging them to cancel.
Earlier this month, as The Electronic Intifada reported, a coalition of artists — Artists Against Apartheid — called for a comprehensive boycott against CCFP, which they categorized as a “complicit propaganda institution seeking to normalize Israeli apartheid and strongarm entertainers into its service.”
CCFP is also closely linked to StandWithUs (SWU), a US-based pro-Israel and anti-boycott organization devoted to expanding Israeli propaganda on US college campuses and crushing Palestine solidarity activism in local communities. As The Electronic Intifada reported, SWU has tight ties with the Israeli government to combat BDS.
Origins of Zionist Racism
Lessons from the South African Anti-Apartheid Campaign
David Newman, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Ben-Gurion University.
The list is a long one: Preventing the funding of propeace and pro-human rights organizations, intervening within the judicial system and politicizing the appointment of Supreme Court justices, challenging the status of Arabic – the mother tongue of over 20 percent of the country’s population – as an official language, threatening to intervene in the curriculum of the country’s universities, turning a blind eye to attacks on left-wing peace activists, forcing an oath of loyalty on those citizens whose ethnic and national background is neither Jewish nor Zionist, and the rounding up, imprisonment and physical expulsion of helpless refugees without the right to a fair hearing or trial.
It has become almost second nature for Israelis to view the Arab and Palestinian residents of the country as citizens with lesser rights than those of the Jewish majority. But the ease with which those rights have been denied, is now spreading to the Jewish majority.
So who is driving who into the sea? “In the case of South Africa the aim of apartheid was to set up a situation where blacks were confined to Bantustans, but there was no intention to drive the black people out of the area all together. They wanted to exploit the labor of the black people. This is the big difference with the overriding purpose of the apartheid system across of Mandate Palestine. The overriding purpose here is population transfer. The idea is to drive the Palestinians out completely and to bring the Jewish settler population in, so it becomes an exclusively Jewish state.”
Israel’s gone way beyond apartheid – Frank Barat interviews Jeff Halper, who says: ‘Prisoners can rise up in the prison yards but prison guards have all the rights in the world to put them down. That’s what Israel has come to. They are terrorists and we have the right to put them down. In a sense Israel has succeeded with the international community, and the US especially, in taking out of this situation the political. It’s now solely an issue of security, just like in prisons. It’s another concept that does not have any legal reference today but we’d like to put that in because warehousing is not only in Israel. Warehousing exists all over the capitalist world. ‘
Samer Abdelnour in Al Shabaka: “Much analysis of Israeli apartheid focuses on comparisons with South Africa. Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Samer Abdelnour argues that the specific characteristics of Israel’s unique brand of apartheid need to be better understood in order to successfully dismantle it. He identifies three inter-locking dimensions of Israeli apartheid: physical, architecture, and ideological. Examining apartheid through these dimensions, he reveals Israeli apartheid to be far more sophisticated than that of South Africa and suggests directions for thinking and action to overcome Israel apartheid.”