Context: Apartheid

The term "apartheid" is often used to describe Israeli oppression of Palestinians. In 1973, the United Nations defined the crime of apartheid as the systematic domination of one racial group over another, encompassing practices of segregation and discrimination. The term has been applied to Israel/Palestine not only by leaders of the fight against South African apartheid, but even by high-ranking Jewish Israeli leaders and journalists themselves for years. The term does not demonize Israelis or Jews; it accurately describes a political system.

Israeli apartheid takes many forms. It covers all aspects of life, including the very concept of Israel as a Jewish state—that is, a state that defines itself as a Jewish state rather than a state for all its citizens. More than 50 provisions of Israel’s principal laws discriminate, either directly or indirectly, against non-Jews.

One example of the extent of apartheid within Israel is the fact that there are now separate maternity wards for Jewish and Palestinian mothers.

Under Israeli military occupation, millions of Palestinians face the following conditions:

  • Physical separation from Israelis and from each other by Israel’s 403-mile-long “separation wall”  
  • No right of free speech, assembly, or movement
  • Arrest and imprisonment without charge or trial
  • Night raids and house searches
  • Land appropriation, home demolitions, and destruction of crops
  • Assassination, extra-judicial murder
  • No right to vote for the Israeli government that controls their lives
  • Separate transportation systems and Jewish-only roads
  • Israeli control of all Palestinian borders, all imports and exports, and all movement between towns and cities 
  • Total impunity for settlers who take over Palestinian property, livelihoods, and lives
  • Unequal legal systems
  • Unequal educational systems
  • Unequal access to water  
  • Separation of families
  • Unequal health care and lack of access to hospitals
  • Lack of self-determination in all areas of life
 

Structure of the Separation Wall according to Israel Defense Forces. [Source: Atlas of the Conflict (Shoshan, 2012)]. Click image to enlarge.

 
A 20-foot-tall statue of Nelson Mandela given to the West Bank city of Ramallah by the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela had stated: “We know all too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

A 20-foot-tall statue of Nelson Mandela given to the West Bank city of Ramallah by the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela had stated: “We know all too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”