This Apartheid Week, Read the Report Israel Doesn’t Want you To See

(By Ben White)

This week has seen the promotion of yet more anti-democratic legislation in Israel. A new law that received final approval by the Knesset gives, for the first time, separate representation to Muslim and Christian Palestinian citizens on a national employment commission. The bill’s sponsor, Likud MK Yariv Levin, was clear about his motivation: “[the Christians are] our natural allies, a counterweight to the Muslims who want to destroy the country from within.” An editorial in Israeli newspaper Haaretz described it as “racist legislation” by “nationalist zealots”.

Meanwhile, an amendment has been proposed to the NGO Bill – again, by a member of Netanyahu’s ruling party – which seeks to ban certain groups from registering with the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits. Activities targeted by lawmakers include “advocating the boycott, divestment, or sanctioning of Israel or its citizens” and “denying Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state.” In the words of MK Miri Regev: “Israel is not a regular country that can allow itself to lose its identity”.

These developments take place as the annual Israeli Apartheid Week is marked with dozens of events around the world. The response by the Israeli government and various lobby groups to the accusation of apartheid is a mix of tokenism, whatabouttery, and smears. But there’s one report Israel particularly hopes people don’t read.

The document in question comes from the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and contains the concluding observations following Israel’s periodic review in 2012. It should be read in its entirety, but I will highlight some of its findings. It blows out of water the excuses, obfuscations, and outright denial of international law typically used by Israel and its apologists.

  • “Israeli society maintains Jewish and non-Jewish sectors…[including] two systems of education…as well as separate municipalities: Jewish municipalities and the so-called ‘municipalities of the minorities’”
  • Israel is urged “to make every effort to eradicate all forms of segregation between Jewish and non-Jewish communities.”
  • “A number of discriminatory laws on land issues…disproportionately affect non-Jewish communities.”
  • “Discriminatory laws especially targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel”.
  • “Increasing difficulties faced by members of [Bedouin] communities in gaining access on a basis of equality with Jewish inhabitants to land, housing, education, employment and public health.”
  • “The proliferation of acts and manifestations of racism that particularly target non-Jewish minorities in the territories under the State party’s effective control.”
  • “policies and practices which amount to de facto segregation”, such as Israel’s implementation “in the Occupied Palestinian Territory of two entirely separate legal systems and sets of institutions for Jewish communities grouped in illegal settlements on the one hand and Palestinian populations living in Palestinian towns and villages on the other hand.”
  • “two groups, who live on the same territory but do not enjoy either equal use of roads and infrastructure or equal access to basic services and water resources.”
  • Israel reminded of “the prevention, prohibition and eradication of all policies and practices of racial segregation and apartheid” and urged to “prohibit and eradicate any such policies or practices” which violate Article 3 of the Convention (on “racial segregation and apartheid”).
  • A “discriminatory planning policy, whereby construction permits are rarely if ever granted to Palestinian and Bedouin communities and demolitions principally target property owned by Palestinians and Bedouins.”
  • Israel’s “policy of ‘demographic balance’, which has been a stated aim of official municipal planning documents, particularly in the city of Jerusalem”
  • “two sets of laws, for Palestinians on the one hand and Jewish settlers on the other hand who reside in the same territory, namely the West bank, including East Jerusalem”.
  • Israel urged “to end its current practice of administrative detention, which is discriminatory and constitutes arbitrary detention under international human rights law”.

To which Israel responds with – ‘But, but, we have an Arab in the Supreme Court!’

The reason why the Israeli government sees talk of apartheid as so problematic is because it shifts the discussion from a ‘security’ paradigm to a framework of institutionalised racism. When Netanyahu or AIPAC speak of ‘delegitimizaiton’, what they really mean is that Israel’s pursuit of policies most of the world considers illegitimate – segregation, collective punishment and ethnic cleansing – is being subjected to unprecedented scrutiny and opposition.

Ben White is a writer and researcher for Middle East Monitor and Journal of Palestine Studies. A second edition of his book ‘Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide’ has just been published. He is also the author of ‘Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy’.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Related Video

Richard Falk UTUMC Seattle June 8, 2012 on the Cost of War

Published on Jun 9, 2012

Princeton University Prof. Emeritus Richard Falk speech, “The Economic, Legal and Moral Cost of War: A Forum on Israel, Palestine and the United States.” UTUMC Seattle June 8, 2012 recorded by Todd Boyle

4 Responses

  1. Great, and pithy little article. This is the sort of thing that people who haven’t looked at the issue closely can read and quickly absorb.

    In general, the Israel/Palestinian issue provokes so much outrage that the weight of its arguments get lost in fully justified indignation and exasperation. And that’s before a bunch of very smart, highly-experienced, and incredibly well-connected apologists, move-in to deceive, obfuscate and smear them.

    Good Job.

  2. This and related materials are one the most profound article that I have read on Israel racism. The Lecture by Professor Falk was elegant, enlightening, and exceptional.

    The noblest way Israeli racism can be revealed and confronted is the tongue of the people of Jewish fate. Unless this is applied soon, Israel will be shattered by Israeli leaders. The people of Moses must read two documents to realize they are in slumber.

    Several steps must be taken by Jews to reduce animosities against Jews and a future Israel. First, ask American legislators stop accepting bribes or campaign contributions and free vacation to Israel. Second, accept the AIPAC is a tool of Israel in cajoling Congress.

    To realize this truth please scan the prized book by Grant Smith and the 1963 Hearings held by Senator James William Rockefeller as the Chair of Senate Foreign Relation.

    Pressure Groups & Spying
    Where Did AIPAC Come From?
    Grant F. Smith
    October 9, 2007
    link to

    Foreign Agents: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee from
    the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal
    link to

    According to Mr. Smith, Arkansan Senator Fulbright held the “1963 Senate Foreign Relations Committee” hearings on foreign proxies in a series of closed sessions. The May 23 and August 1 meetings were dedicated totally on Israel-related functions…….Fulbright established a direct line of funding flowing from a key government official and an Israeli-government-founded, quasi-governmental entity – the Jewish Agency in Israel – to AIPAC’s precursor within several minutes. ……Fulbright …….did not see “precedent of anything like it in any other instance…”. Decades after Fulbright’s investigation, the Jewish Agency and its U.S. partners would be found by Israeli prosecutor Talia Sason to have engaged in laundering $50 billion toward numerous illegal overseas activities.” This spy agency of Israel must be denounced and its officials and main leaders and sponsors must be put on trial for treason against the United States.
    A third point of major contention is the number of Jews in hall of powers in this country. Currently, Jews constitute 2% of the population. Yet, their representation in Senate is six times higher (12 Senators vs 2). In the House, 22 Representatives out of 435 are Jewish. This means other religions and races are not well represented. The Congress and Senate must have similar numbers males and female legislators.
    Congress, Senate, and Jewish allies have been responsible for initiating legislations to support Israel brutalities. For these barbarities, Israel has lost no man! Our heroic citizens died and received lifetime injuries for Israel for 12 years! The victims here and in other countries would be miserable for a generation for the sole benefit of Israel. Our tax dollars, not in billion, but six trillion will be used to sustain our veterans for at least one generation. Americans are exhausted by repeated wars for Israel. You are not in the midst of the Americans to appreciate the level of disgust by families. Racist Israelis are the roots of our difficulties, setbacks, and crises. The reason is Israeli occupiers intentionally do not intend to come to peace with homeless Palestinians for 65 years.

  3. So true. We need to think as a human not as a Christian, Muslim, Jew etc. Our conscience is our sharpest tool for discerning right and wrong. I hope Palestine gets justice in my lifetime.

  4. Re: Israel’s “……current practice of administrative detention”:

    I have seen estimates that well over 6,000 Palestinians are kept in Israeli jails without criminal charge for months or even over a year at a time. They are purportedly suspected of collaboration with terrorist activities – though insufficient evidence exists to bring formal criminal charges.

    The legal concept of administrative detention originated in the early days of the Soviet Union and was described extensively in the “Gulag Archipelago” by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn. It is the same legal theory that gave rise to millions held at concentration camps under Stalinism.

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