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Why Israel is an Apartheid State

March 5, 2010

In the Palestinian village of Susya, a woman sits by a dried out water cistern; the land around her is parched and barren. In the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Sussia, sprinklers irrigate vast green fields and children play in the pool.

This is not a story of natural disaster, but of calculated discrimination. The deadly drought that grips the village of Susya has been deliberately created by an Israeli Government that is set on driving Palestinian civilians off the land they have lived on for centuries. (Amnesty International)

It’s not hard to see the striking similarities between the Jim Crow Law in 1950s America, the Apartheid regime in South Africa and Apartheid in present-day Israel. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz states that apartheid in Israel is actually worse than the one practiced in South Africa. The difference lies is the way Israel’s apartheid works. In PR-savvy Israel you won’t see a sign that says ‘Jews Only’ like a water fountain in Tennessee once said ‘Whites Only’. No, as witnessed by Shulamit Aloni, former Education Minister of Israel, it goes a little something like this:

“On one occasion I witnessed such an encounter between a driver and a soldier who was taking down the details before confiscating the vehicle and sending its owner away. “Why?” I asked the soldier. “It’s an order–this is a Jews-only road”, he replied. I inquired as to where was the sign indicating this fact and instructing [other] drivers not to use it. His answer was nothing short of amazing. “It is his responsibility to know it, and besides, what do you want us to do, put up a sign here and let some anti-Semitic reporter or journalist take a photo so he that can show the world that Apartheid exists here?” Shulamit Aloni, former Education Minister of Israel.

This sign-free apartheid runs very deep in Israel. It is clearly seen in marriage laws, education, political rights,travel and movement – epitomized by the infamous separation wall – and the use of Teudat Zehut, the Israeli identity card. The card, required of all residents over the age of 16, indicates whether holders are Jewish or not by adding the person’s Hebrew date of birth. The Guardian reports that the ID system determines: “where [Arabs and Jews] are permitted to live, access to some government welfare programmes, and how they are likely to be treated by civil servants and policemen.”

Amnesty International has reported that in the West Bank, Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers who engage in abuses against Palestinians, including unlawful killings, enjoy impunity from punishment and are rarely prosecuted. However Palestinians detained by Israeli security forces may be imprisoned for prolonged periods of time, and reports of their torture and other ill-treatment are not credibly investigated.

Israel does not have a constitution. What it has is something called the Basic Laws, designed to serve as the basis of a constitution when enacted. To this very day, there is still no Basic Law that guarantees equality for all citizens without discrimination on the basis of religion or ethnicity.

This week’s ‘Boycott Israel’ campaign might not lead to an end to the occupation, and it might not signal an end to the increasing radicalization of Palestinian society, but glancing back at history, it might just be a good start.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. amal permalink
    March 5, 2010 3:53 pm

    Why the world is turning their eyes away from the truth….Why humanity is fast asleep??

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