The media has recently been covering a ‘bombshell’ report from Human Rights Watch (HRW), that details how Israeli abuses against Palestinians define Israel as an apartheid state.
Of course, for the US calling this apartheid is too scandalous for the Biden administration. After all, republican or democrat, as we’ve discussed before, US support for Israel, despite what can at times seem like hints at consciousness of reality, is unwavering. Press Secretary Psaki has even worked for an Israeli company that provides technology for surveilling and spying on Palestinians.
The level of denial is at time dumbfounding:
[Former Senator Boxer (D-CA)]
[After Derek Chauvin verdict]
We’ve also seen AOC change her tone from one of solidarity with Palestinians to one of unnuanced confusion, in efforts not to lose any potential support from the Israel lobby. There was no mention of the HRW report on her Twitter feed. To Ilhan Omar’s credit, she did mention it.
Apartheid and the Palestinians
An Afrikaans word used to describe the division of blacks and whites in South Africa, HRW points out that “apartheid” now has clearly defined legal terms, based on the Apartheid Conventions and the Rome Statute. HRW quotes them as:
An intent to maintain domination by one racial group over another.
A context of systematic oppression by the dominant group over the marginalized group.
They note in the report that “movement restrictions, land expropriation, forcible transfer, denial of residency and nationality, and the mass suspension of civil rights” demonstrate the type of inhuman acts carried out by the Israeli state.
Alhamdulillah, some organizations—especially one with the international clout like Human Rights Watch (regardless of what one thinks of their stances on other subjects)—are willing to speak more openly about what the Israeli state is doing.
But, we know what they are doing ultimately amounts to more than apartheid. We know when Israeli military commanders tell soldiers to shoot at whatever they see, that fits the definition of apartheid and then some. It’s an inhumane act, yes, but it’s more than seeking and maintaining domination. It’s seeking extermination.
In The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe provides a definition of “ethnic cleansing” that demonstrates how clearly Israel is performing it:
“The Hutchinson encyclopedia defines ethnic cleansing as expulsion by force in order to homogenise the ethnically mixed population of a particular region or territory. The purpose of expulsion is to cause the evacuation of as many residences as possible, by all means at the expeller’s disposal, including non-violent ones, as happened with Muslims in Croatia, expelled after the Dayton agreement of November 1995.
This definition is accepted also by the US Department of State. Its experts add that part of the essence of ethnic cleansing is the eradication, by all means available, of a region’s history. The most common method is that of depopulation within an atmosphere that legitimises acts of retribution and revenge. The end result of such acts is the creation of a refugee problem.”
From the 1940s, when Jewish haganah militias were active in Palestine, killing Palestinians, to 1948, when Palestinians were told to leave their homes and other Jewish militias with haganah support massacred a village, to now, where Israel continues to condone settlement building in territory that not even the UN considers to be Israel’s and Israel continues to wreak havoc on Gaza and ensure it stays as an open prison.
Pappe documents the way in which the Israeli government has worked to ensure that Israel maintains a Jewish majority in Israel. He explains that this effort, combined with Israeli violence towards Palestinians, is what makes clear the genocidal attempts of the Israeli government. They are essentially presented with a dilemma: either ensure that Jews maintain their majority or face justifying a “Jewish” state that is not majority Jewish.
In other words, what we have is a pretty standard case of settler colonialism, as we saw in, for example, the US, Australia, and Canada. Colonists come, they decide that they want to make a land their home, but that they would rather not share it with the people who are already living there. They wage war on them, force them out of their homes, slaughter them, and allocate small bits of land to survivors. Some even got to be re-educated so they could better fit into the place that was once their home. Chomsky has pointed out that it seems fitting that the biggest supporters of Israel are other settler colonial nations—the US, Australia, and Canada.
Why Muslims Should Demand More
All of this is important to talk about so that what happened to other native peoples does not happen to Palestinians.
Defining what Israel is doing as “apartheid” describes some of their actions, but group all of these actions together—including indiscriminate killings, refugees who still have the keys to their homes that they were kicked out of, and the overall history of this 73 year-old state—and those will exceed the definition of apartheid.
It’s probably also why Israel has stated that they “will not co-operate ” with the International Criminal Court’s investigation of their “possible” war crimes.
Consider this found in a New York Times article on the HRW report:
With all respect to Abu Diab, what he describes is more than apartheid. The Israeli state didn’t want him to expand his family. They do not want Palestinian families growing and ruining their ‘Jewish’ state. Rather than just keeping Jews and Palestinians apart, the Israeli state would rather see them disappear altogether.
- From Chapter 1, An Alleged Ethnic Cleansing? ↑