Israel and apartheid

Apr 19, 2022
Supporters of Palestine rally Melbourne
Apartheid, of course, embraces the domination of one race or people over another. Image: Flickr / Matt Hrkas

Readers will be aware that earlier this year Amnesty International released a report which made a determination that Israel was an apartheid State. The report was titled ‘Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians, a Cruel System of Domination and a Crime Against Humanity’.

The report caused much consternation amongst Israeli supporters. Israel and the lobby dismissed it as ‘biased’, and seeking the destruction of the State of Israel. Both assertions are here addressed.

The Amnesty determination followed on the heels of two other similar allegations. The first was by B’Tselem in January 2021. B’Tselem is the Israeli human rights organization. As an Israeli organization one might think that it was not biased. The second was by the New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW). The 200 page plus report was published in April 2021. HRW has a distinguished history. It is an international non-government organization, headquartered in New York, founded in 1978, the object of which is to pressure governments, companies, and so on to respect human rights. Its status was acknowledged in 1997 when it shared the Nobel Peace Prize as a founding member of the international Campaign to Ban Landmines. With such a history one might wonder why HRW would bring a particular bias to the issue.

Amnesty International is an international non-government organization, UK based, focused on human rights. It was founded in 1961. It too has a Nobel Peace Prize, that of 1977 for its defence of human dignity against torture. It’s reputation is solid. It’s raison détre relies upon the weight which States, organizations, and people attribute to it. But more than that, this particular Amnesty report documents hundreds of incidents, laws, regulations, etc., which compel the finding of apartheid. The most significant law of course is the ‘nation state’ law in 2018 which enshrined Jewish supremacy over the country’s Arab citizens.

Apartheid of course is a word which was given to the World by the white-ruled South African Africaans regime of the 20th Century which ended when de Klerk brought the regime to an end and freed Nelson Mandela resulting in he forming a non-racist government in 1994.  Mandela was supported in his campaign by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. One might have thought that both were well placed to recognize apartheid when they saw it.

Apartheid, of course, embraces the domination of one race or people over another. It embraces systematic oppression, inhumane acts and persecution. Domination is evidenced by a superior status in relation to civil rights, access to land and water, and freedom to move and build on the land of Palestine.

Mandela made his position clear on Israel in 1999 when he expressed vehement opposition to Israel’s continuing occupation of the Occupied Territories. Tutu expressed a strong position on Israeli apartheid right up to his death in 2021.

The other answer given by Israel and its supporters is that such findings by human rights organizations are seeking the destruction of the State of Israel. That is not true. They seek the destruction of the apartheid State of Israel. They do not seek the removal of any Israeli citizens from the country or countries that occupy the land that was Palestine. Whether a one state or two-state solution to that issue, they demand states whose citizens enjoy equal rights before the law.

The reader should have no doubts. Israel is an apartheid state. As such it is an abomination. It has no place in our 21st Century world.

And so where to from here? Will the recognition of this reality impact upon Western governments, including our own? Will it impact upon cultural and sporting organizations, and events: events such as the Sydney Festival, the European Song Contest, and sports organizations like the IOC, FIFA, and UEFA? One can only hope so.

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