Why I use the term ‘Apartheid’
This week is Israeli Apartheid Week, a week to raise awareness of Israeli policies. Using the term Apartheid to describe Israel’s policies has been controversial. This is because Apartheid is an accusatory term akin to calling someone a racist. Throughout the Internet I’ve read debate about whether or not it’s appropriate to use the term.
None of the posts have done what seems obvious to me: Define the term, and see if it’s applicable. So I decided to do it myself. Luckily for me an International Convention defined Apartheid in 1973, so that’s the definition I’ll use. I read through it and looked to see if Israeli policies were guilty of the practices in the definition. I went through the 6 sections point by point. Here’s what I came up with (my stuff is in red):
International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid
For the purpose of the present Convention, the term “the crime of apartheid”, which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa, shall apply to the following inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them:
(a) Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person:
(i) By murder of members of a racial group or groups;
(ii) By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
(iii) By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;
A is split into 3 subgroupt, so let’s tackle them one at a time:
i: Israeli soldiers have killed civilians without being punished. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/5016115/Israeli-soldiers-admit-shooting-dead-civilians-during-Gaza-war.html
ii: The UN wrote a report saying Israel does not only have these policies against Palestinian’s but inflicts them on Palestinian children. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/20/us-palestinian-israel-children-idUSBRE95J0FR20130620
iii: Israel does “Training Arrests” to Palestinians without telling said Palestinians it’s a training. This sounds arbitrary to me, and is called a human rights abuse, so that makes it illegal too. The practices are not done to Israelis. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/12/palestinian-israeli-training-raids-mock-arrests-human-rights
Israel is guilty of part A of the definition of Apartheid.
(b) Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;
There is an Israeli policy to limit the amount of calories of food allowed into Gaza, where only Palestinians live. Clearly this is ‘imposition calculated to cause physical destruction’
(c) Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognized trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;
So this covers a lot of ground. I’ll focus on a few of the most egregious violations on this list:
Right to Education: This is one I’ve been working on a lot, Palestinians get this right taken away in many different ways though all Israeli children are guaranteed the right to education. Here’s one report on the issue: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CCkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.stopthewall.org%2Fdownloads%2Fpdf%2FUnderOccupation.pdf&ei=gpMOU_-IFuKQyQHkuYGwCw&usg=AFQjCNFLDJtvq2GtcrAb5Y4FGynxfeUxpg&sig2=uwP-GGx06DBCZwmjXrFj3A&bvm=bv.61965928,d.aWc
Right to leave and return to their country: There is a Palestinian organization called Right to Enter, because this right is so often under attack. This is not even counting refugees’ right of return which they are denied, but I don’t know if that’s what this sentence is referencing. Any Jew is automatically given citizenship in Israel while Palestinians who have lived there generations have difficulty entering the West Bank. http://www.righttoenter.ps/
Freedom of expression: Organizations in Israel can be punished for using the term Nakba, the Palestinian reference to the catastrophe to them that was the war of1948. http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/chilling-effect-of-the-nakba-law-on-israel-s-human-rights-1.430942
Peaceful Assembly: Non-violent Palestinian assemblies are often violently repressed, while Israeli ones are not.
Israel is guilty of violating many of the rights mentioned in C.
d) Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;
Here’s another multi part one Let’s tackle one issue at a time:
Ghettos: The West Bank has been split into 3 sections, Israel does not allow it’s citizens into areas under Palestine Authority, Here’s a sign:
Mixed Marriages: Technically Israel doesn’t ‘prohibit’ marriages, but it makes if very difficult with laws that don’t allow spouses to live together.
Expropriation of Landed Property: That is the definition of Israeli Settlements: building Israeli only apartments on land expropriated form Palestinians. The military is part of the expropriation as well, as seen in Firing Zone 918 http://www.btselem.org/publications/fulltext/918
Israel is guilty of every section of part D
(e) Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour;
This report claims Israel does exactly this:
E is applicable.
(f) Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.
Here’s a list of organizations and persons who have been denied entry for being critical of Israeli policies. (Including myself) http://electronicintifada.net/tags/denial-entry
F is clearly applicable.
So Israel has policies covered under parts A,B,C,D,E, and F of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid definition of Apartheid. This is why I am comfortable using the term Apartheid in regards to Israel, because it is appropriate. For those who don’t want this term used to refer to Israeli policy, I would recommend complaining to Israel to discard their policies that are the very definition of Apartheid. At least that’s what I’m trying to do.